My second trip to Italy, in the summer of 2000, included a visit to the Campania region. This is the region where Montefalcione and Lapio are located. My great-grandfather was born in Montefalcione and my great-grandmother was born in Lapio. My hope was to visit at least one of these two towns while staying in this region.
I met a friend who would be joining me on my Sorrento leg of my trip in Florence the day before we were to travel to Sorrento. We traveled by train the following day. After a day or two, we stopped at the tourist information booth where I inquired about directions and transportation options to get to Montefalcione. The man at the desk offered to take us if he would be going that way during the week while we were in Sorrento, and if not, he would try to find someone else to take us there. I was thrilled as I thought the only way to get to Montefalcione would be spending most of the day on trains and buses. That evening, he called me and said that his brother, Luigi, would be able take us the following day.
Luigi arrived at our hotel at 8am the following morning. After years and years of genealogy research, Wednesday, July 5th, 2000, would be the day I would finally step foot on the land of my great-grandfather's birthplace! I was a little nervous at first not knowing this man, but he turned out to be a very kind person. It took us about two hours to get to Montefalcione because part of the Salerno to Avellino autostrada was closed for construction. We had to take a long detour up and down a mountainside, stopping for directions a few times along the way. I know I would have never found it on my own. Montefalcione is located up high on a mountainside (monte=mountain). It seemed to me to be a pretty modern little town. We drove thru part of the town and then parked the car.
Luigi took the picture of my great-grandfather along with my genealogy list with of all my relatives' names from Montefalcione and started to ask some of the people if they knew if any of my relatives were still living in the town. Because Montefalcione is not a town where many tourists visit, we seemed to be quite a curiosity to many of the residents of the town. They seemed quite amazed that I came all this way looking for relatives. We did find a woman whose mother had the same last name as my mother but her mother was very old now and would not be able to help us.
We then went to the main piazza. This is a picture of Luigi and the main street in the town. Pictures in this post were scanned into my computer. Unfortunately I did not have a digital camera at the time and did not take that many pictures of the town.
After we parked the car, I noticed a sign above the police station with the name “Montefalcione” on it. I started to take a picture of the sign. A female police officer was just walking out of the door as I took the picture.
She was upset at first that I was taking a picture of the police station. However, once I explained who I was and why I was taking the picture, she devoted the next hour helping me find any of my possible relatives in the town. It was a good thing Luigi was there to help with the translation. They both were wonderful. I would have given up long ago and would have just been happy seeing the town, but they were determined to help me find a relative.
The police officer had us follow her as we drove to a house up on a hill of a woman who may have known some information about my relatives. She unfortunately was not home. We then drove to a to the house of a man with the same last name as my mother. He did not think that we were related.
View from his house:
When doing my genealogy research and looking at the microfilms from the town of Montefalcione, it seemed to me that many of the people in the town married close relatives as there were not many surnames in this town back in the 1880’s. The police officer told me that there were many Martignetti’s still living in Montefalcione (my great great grandmother's last name).
While wandering through the town, we walked by a few churches. One of the churches had the the name Angelo Raffeale Martignetti on it! My great-grandfather’s name was Angelo Raffaele and his mother’s name was MariaTeresa Martignetti. I was pretty excited to see my family's name on this church. It was also on the gate of the church.
Close up of the name on the church:
Close up of a little boy peeking out at me while I was taking the picture of the church:
I don't have a picture of the biggest church (which I assume was the main church) in the town as it had scaffolding on it. This is a picture of another church in the town:
My guess is that I was probably somehow related to many of the residents of the town. I could have even been related to the police officer who helped me. Even though I did not find any definite relatives, just finally standing in the town where my great-grandfather was born was very exciting! I was greeted warmly and everyone I met was very kind to me. I treasure the memories of this trip and hope to return some day as well as to visit Lapio, another town nearby, where my great-grandmother was born.
This is a picture of my great-grandfather, Angelo Raffaele and my great-grandmother, Giovanna on their wedding day. They were married at Sacred Heart Church, in Boston's North End, on April 6, 1902.