We cannot find the words to express the appreciation to Mirella Ammirati for all that she did to make our trip to Italy in June 2014 such a memorable and special one. During the planning stages of our journey, Mirella was there to give us suggestions of places to stay not only in Abruzzo but in Molise and Venice, routes to take, and answered our emails quickly when we asked for general advice. All communications with Mirella is with such warmth and professionalism.
While in Abruzzo, we spent the day with Mirella visiting Castel Roccascalegna, a castle high on a mountain. Mirella contacted the castle in advance and we had a private tour, the only people in the castle. This was, as we learned, how all our tours would be – private and the only tourists in the sites! Perhaps the time of year but it was wonderful.
She also took us to a lunch at Azienda Agrituristica where everything is grown on the farm. Delicious! In the afternoon we visited Pennadomo, a hill town in the rocks and ended our day with a tour of Lanciano. Mirella is knowledgeable about everything she speaks of and her English is amazing.
We asked Mirella also to trace the genealogy of my great grandparents (Mary) in Musellaro, a small town of 150 people west of Pescara in the mountains. Prior to our journey, we sent her information and pictures although the genealogy was not complete.
Mirella did a fabulous genealogy search and found beautifully handwritten birth, marriage and death certificates in the town hall of Bolognano which now stores the records for Musellaro. With the help of local people, (especially the retired postmaster who has cousins in Newington, Connecticut – a town close to our in the US), Mirella found the house where my great grandmother was born.
We walked the paths my grandparents walked, visited the church where they were baptized and married and also found the graves of their parents and siblings who stayed in Italy. The town of Musellaro is nestled in the mountains within a huge and beautiful National park. The scenery is spectacular. This is day we will always remember. I can’t wait to share what I found with the rest of the family.
If you are thinking of attempting to do these things on your own to save a few dollars, we would encourage you to reconsider. Mirella did so much for us we would not have been capable of.
For example, many of these beautiful and historic churches are locked. Mirella called in advance to the person(s) who had the key to make sure the church was open for us. Another example — many of the castles, churches, towns and archeological sites have important stories you will not find in guide books.
As far as her expertise in genealogy research, these records precious and the town halls are protective. Mirella has a way of getting access that would not have been possible for us on our own.
One more thing — she loves and respects the elders in these towns and recognizes that as they pass, much of the town history will die with them. She treasures their stories and is patient and kind as they talk to her, which she then translated for us.
Mirella is so knowledgeable and passionate about the history of Abruzzo which she loves dearly. We highly recommend Mirella for tours of Abruzzo and also for genealogy research.
Mary Rustico and Joan Adams