One of the main reasons for my family’s most recent trip to Italy was to visit the towns where my great grandparents came from. We knew the specific towns where my great grandmother and great grandfather were born and raised (Santa Lucia di Serino and Fisciano, respectively) and had quite a bit of information on my great grandmother’s family tree but didn’t have much information about the towns and had no family contacts in Italy. At that point our plan was to visit the towns and “see what we could see.” (We had tried to contact some locals in Fisciano with the same last name, but didn’t get very far with that.)
That’s when I decided to contact Mirella at Southern Italy Travel and I must say it was the best decision I made. Mirella was so friendly and easy to work with throughout the planning process.
Engaging Southern Italy Travel (Mirella worked with a colleague, Alessandro, for our tours) took our visit not just to the next level, but several levels beyond what we could have imagined. She and Alessandro obviously put in a great deal of time and effort to make our visit very, very special.
I will provide more information below but if you want to stop reading here, please know that I highly recommend Southern Italy Travel to you. If you are planning to go “back to your roots” in southern Italy, Mirella and her team will help to make your trip a truly once-in-a-lifetime event.
I sent Mirella all the research that I had about our family and she and Alessandro were able to verify that information, and also able to find quite a bit more. They provided us with copies of birth, marriage, and death records for several of our relatives, and put together family trees for us. (Mirella even went the “extra mile” and tracked down and gave me a book that I had read about that describes the history of S. Lucia di Serino.)
For both towns, Mirella and Alessandro arranged for us to visit the town halls and see the original birth records of my great grandmother and great grandfather. (In Fisciano, we even got to meet the mayor and take pictures with her!) We toured around the towns and saw all the important sites, including an incredible medieval church inside a grotto high up on the mountains overlooking Fisciano. Everyone we encountered in both towns was so friendly and warm and went out of their way to make our trip memorable.
The highlight of the 2 visits, though, was that Mirella and Alessandro were able to find relatives who we never knew about. They arranged for us to spend time with our relatives and every single one was so genuinely happy to meet us. In Santa Lucia di Serino our relatives spent the entire day with us, touring around the town and then invited us back to their home for a 3-hour lunch; the courses just kept coming and coming. In Fisciano, it turned out that our relatives still owned the house where my great grandfather was born and raised and we were able to take a tour of the old house where he and his parents lived over 100 years ago.
Throughout our visit Mirella and Alessandro served as our hosts/tour guides and interpreted for us (which was important, since we did not speak Italian and many who we met did not speak English).
They helped us to create memories that will last a lifetime and helped us re-establish family connections that were temporarily lost over 100 years ago.
In retrospect I can’t imagine making this part of our trip without them.