Panini Girl

My obsessions-Italy and Cooking

November 5, 2007


Calitri-What I Discovered

It was really a shame that we had only a day and a half to spend in Calitri. It was a charming small town and I had hoped to find out more information on my family. The desk clerk at the hotel directed us to the cemetary and we spent quite a bit of time reading the names on the tombs, as I knew a variety of my family names. Unfortunately I did not see the names of my great grandparents. We visited a wonderful panetteria with a father and daughter working behind the counter and as she was packing our biscotti, she asked why we were there. We explained and her dad knew a little English and asked “What is your family name?”. When I told him “Maffucci” he exclaimed “We are Maffucci-half the town is Maffucci!”.

While wandering aroung the village we came upon a monument that brought a tear to my eye. It was dedicated to all those that had left the village for foreign lands. I wondered how my grandparents made the trip to Naples to get the boat to America. What had it been like for them to say good-bye to their parents and siblings?monument.jpgWhen we left the town on the bus headed for Avellino (once again we had a school girl help us in finding the correct bus) and then on to Salerno, we knew that at some point we would be back for a longer visit. My non-Italian husband was immediately enamored with the area and inquired about rates for renting a furnished apartment for a month. We were charmed by the un-touristy aspect of the town. To be honest, on this quick trip we did not have the opportunity to interact with many people, but those we did meet were all very nice to us. We had never traveled this far south in Italy before and decided that there was a lot more exploring to do. We knew that next time we would come by car!

Since that visit I’ve done a lot more genealogical research on my family. I have information on my grandfather’s family here in Calitri going back to the early 1700’s. I’ve found a little on my grandmother’s and still need to keep digging. It was her family that was “Maffucci” so I hope at some point to connect with some relatives since there are so many left in the area. I’ve also discovered that soon after we left, a British company bought up a great portion of the centro storico that had suffered in the earthquake and along with the town and local tradesmen have renovated and sold many of the dwellings-right where we had been exploring. We hope to go back and maybe rent one of them as a base for exploring the area.

Visiting this part of the country was what really prompted me to start studying Italian. I’ve always loved languages and thought that at some point I might attempt to learn Italian, but I really saw the need to be able to communicate with the locals in their language, even if it is at a very rudimentary level at this point. In the large citites it’s easy to lapse back into English as so many people in shops, restaurants and hotels are very gracious and accommmodating to the English speaking tourists. I hope that when we are next in Calitri I’ll be able asking questions about the menu, the bus and the people we meet in their language! Until that next visit, I will think about this dooway with the chilies hanging-I like to think that maybe my grandmother lived behind this door when she was a girl.chilies.jpg


41 thoughts on “Calitri-What I Discovered

  1. Hello, I have enjoyed reading your stories and your pics on Calitri. My grandparents also were from Calitri. Their last names were Vallario and DeRosa. I understand that the Vallario’s are still the town “butchers”. I have never been to Calitri cause I don’t fly. Did your grandparents come to the US? If so, where did they live? Do you belong to the Calitri listsever?

    • My father vito zampaglione was born in calitri on Sept 29 1904 he came
      To USA in 1921. He married my mother Angelina Simone in 1930.
      They had 3 children vicent,John and rose marie.. lived in new rochelle
      Ny. I am the only living person in the family (john I do not know how
      Many siblings my father had. I know he had 1 brother who was a professor at Rome university but that’s it

      • John-I think my grandmother originally lived in New Rochelle with relatives when she first came to NY. Later my grandparents settled in No. Tarrytown where I grew up. I was lucky to get all the genealogy info on my family from Jason Gervase-I believe he has done research on many of the Calitri families. Maybe he can help you with info on your family.

  2. Hi Darlene-my grandparents came to NY and ended up in a small town north of NYC. They met once here in the US. I’ve never heard of the Calitri listsever-what is it? Where did your grandparents live?

  3. Here is the website for the Calitri Connections group:
    and here is a description of it:
    This group is for descendants of immigrants from Calitri, Italy who want to exchange information, meet new cugini, talk about ancestry, and exchange the occasional recipe or stories they have heard about the old country.
    We talk back and forth with the group through emails. We have found that most of us are related. You can follow the directions on the website to join the group if you want to.
    One of our members, Mario Toglio, just published a book this year called “They came by Ship, The Stories of the Calitrani Immigrants in America”. The book has over 100 stories that were mostly written by members of the Calitri group. Most of the stories are about our grandparents/parents who immigrated to the US. It is a wonderful book.
    My grandparents originally came to City Island in NY. Then they lived in Stamford CT and then Dobbs Ferry, NY. Dobbs Ferry is where my mother was born.

  4. Thanks for the great info. I will definitely check it out. My family was near Dobbs Ferry in Tarrytown.

  5. I just came accross your blog…and noticed that I took a photo of the very same doorway with chili peppers last Augus in Calitri. (and put it on my blog, under abut” too!) Can’t wait to read more and see your pther photos as well!

    p.s. the English company (who are actually Italian, but set up a business in the UK) didn’t buy up the homes…they were only acting as an agent/broker and arranginig restoration for locals selling:-) a local real estate agent is now doing the selling and organizing restoration work (as far as I know)…lots of changes going on – the Comune recently recieved a grant to restore the Piazza and what’s left of the castle…Borgo streets are being re-paved, etc. – very exciting to see things being restored to the way they were…and the local economy benefiting from all the new work!

  6. Hi southern italy-I appreciate hearing what really is going on with the borgo. I’m happy to know that it’s not a British company! Did you buy one? I saw a site the other day offering a rental and saw that picture of the door and the chiles-is that you?

  7. that’s me (I think anyway…perhaps someone else took the same pitcture :-)!) I bought my home about two years ago and “closed” on it about a year ago.

    We’ve met the previous owners (brothers that grew up in the house) – one of the owners we bought from actually lives in White Plains, NY – there is such a strong connection to the US around the town; seems everyone knows someone who left for America (and we met some who returned years later). We’ve never felt more welcomed anywhere! We were fortunate enought to get to spend about a month there fairly recently…usually it’s just shorter trips.
    (my blog – for photos of my home and around Calitri)

    p.s. I know some Maffucci’s too 🙂 One is a nieghbor of mine in the Borgo.

  8. Hi…So nice to see that the next generation remembers their heritage..Yes, Maffucci is a Calitrani surname cento per cento. Perhaps, you would like to write a story about your Maffucci grandparents for our next book…Did you see the review for the current book in your local Tarrytown paper, the Crusader. It appeared on October 12th?

  9. Hi Mario-I did not see the article (I’m in California) but will ask my mother who is in Tarrytown. Our other family name-which I have more genealogical info on- is Capossela. I plan on finding your book and reading it soon!

  10. Beautiful blog! I have relatives over there by the name of Maffucci. If you’d like information on your family, I’d be happy to send you…I would just need info on your immigrating ancestor (names would be a good start).

    Hope to hear from you.


  11. Jason-I would love any info that you might have. I will get in touch. Thanks so much!

  12. There was a wonderful article in the NY Times last week about a friend and neighbor of mine who returned to Calitri – thought you might be interested in reading it (has some beautiful photos too):

  13. whoops! just read your recent post and saw that you’ve already seen it 🙂 sorry for the duplication!!

  14. Hi, I found your blog when doing some research about Capossela’s from Calitri. My mother is a Capossela and she and I have made 2 trips to Calitri in past 2 years. We found 2 living relatives there and are looking for descendents of one other here in US. We are looking for links to Michelangelo Capossela who settled in White Plains around turn of century. My great grandmother was his sister, Maria Francesca.

    Please reply to the email I submitted. grazie.

  15. Hi Panini Girl

    Came across this growing forum discussion about Calitri, Italy and Italian food today. Please keep it up! About your family name – we picked grapes there recently with Angela Maffucci and there is a Matilde Maffucci who runs a services cooperative there.
    We live in New Hampshire and for about a year now have owned a home in the Calitri borgo. The ‘British Co’ (‘Tricali’), really Italian, which was mentioned, handled it all for us. They have stopped operation now but may pick back up in the future. Our place in the borgo, down Via Berrilli from the Piazza della Repubblica, is available in case you ever want to spend more time there someday. One source of current sales, apartment rehabs and rentals is through . Emma, the owner, manages our place for us (‘Casa della Feritoia’).
    For about a year now, I’ve also have been writing stories about Calitri and posting photos (see In fact, the last entry was about the ‘Statue of the Émigré’ you mentioned. Unfortunately, I have no local relations in Calitri – we’re from the Lake Lugano area of Italy, way up north. We love Calitri, however, and think about it daily. Don’t worry about not being fluent in Italian. You can get by with a smile there!

    P.S. Daughter just happened to made Paninis for lunch today for all of us here as it snowed!

  16. Paolo-thank you for your comment. I just spent time looking at all your wonderful photos! I am jealous! I have actually looked at pictures of your place before since we are considering renting in Calitri at some point in the future (I love your red wall). We wish we had purchased a place back in ’05 when it was just being renovated.

  17. To me it is necessary to find

  18. #14 Joan – my mother is also a Caposella we live in Westchester County, NY… We are planning a trip to Calitri in June of this year (2008) can you please suggest a place to stay while we are there

  19. paninigirl –
    my mother is a Caposella… we are planning a trip to Calitri in this June (2008)… can you please recommend a place to stay.. we will only be there 2 days…

    • My grandmother was Concetta Maria Capossela from there. She was born in 1874 died 1957 in Stamford ct. She was married to Beniditto Mallozzi. Her dad was Vito and her Mom was Flora Manna. The family settled in Bayonne NJ

  20. Joan-where in Westchester are you from? My family is in Tarrytown.
    Annette and Joan-when we stayed there a few years ago we stayed at Hotel Ambasciatore-very simple, but clean and inexpensive. In the newly re-done borgo there’s small inn called Palazzo Zampaglione and I also just read about another place called Il Borgo degli Angeli. I’d love to hear about your trip there!

  21. Hi Panini Girl, I came across your site by accident and was thrilled to read your story of Calitri. I have been there a couple of times and still have family there. My grandmother was a Maffucci and grandfather a Cianci – both very Calitran surnames. I would love to know more about my family history. Not as easy as I thought. It takes some time. I will have to get back at it some day.
    Keep it up.

  22. hi I just stumbled on this site, I am searching for my mothers family, The Maffuccis of Calitri and Avellino… i will continue to search through your site for any possible connection. thanks k butler

  23. Kelley-have you used Roots.web at all? I was able to trace my grandparents family back two hundred years. I didn’t have as much luck with the Maffucci side of the family because my grandmother’s mother wasn’t listed.

  24. Paolo
    We are actually staying at Casa della Feritoia. I have been emailing Emma to help with the reservations. She is a great help. My family and I are looking forward to staying there… We will be there June 6 – June 9th.. Love the red wall!!!

  25. Hello, I will be visiting calitri this sept,o8 My grandfather is Raphael Maffucci and my grandmother’s name was Theresa Miele. They left calitri around 1902. Landed in Boston. I am looking forward to my visit. My uncles also came from calitri, last names of DeMilia. Trying to get a reservation at a hotel called hotel ambasciatori. Has not yet answered my request.

  26. Hi Paninigirl,
    It is nice to see that so many people are interested in their heritage. I have both DeMilia (DiMilia) and Maffucci ancestors. I visited Calitre 20 years ago for only one day unfortunately. It was a side trip from Sorrento via Naples and Avellino. We immediately met a young man who showed us around town and introduced us to the manager of the office of births and deaths. He opened the office for us even though it was a Sunday afternoon and let me poke around. I saw my grandfather’s birth entry in the tidy 1800’s ledger. There were records going back hundreds of years with the oldest being a small neat stack of yellow ragged sheets (not paper as we know it today). He had at the time an index card for every individual that ever lived in Calitre listing their spouses, children, etc. He introduced me to a very, very old cute couple who knew my great grandfather. (Their description matched my family’s description.) Apparently we have some skeletons in our family closet. I read the NY Times article about Angela Paolantonio. One of her relatives was a Cestone. The manager of the birth/death office was named Bertolomeo Cestone. I just came across a thank you letter he wrote me for the gift I sent him for his generosity. Everyone we met was very warm and friendly. We were invited to have Sunday dinner at two homes. My friend did not want to stay and I regret it to this day. I have some photos of the town and a few people. My Calitre family originally settled in Brooklyn. I was raised in Queens. Now most of my relatives are in New Jersey and I am in New Hampshire. I would love to sign up for the Calitre connection thing. I enjoy your site. Thanks.

    Darlene D.

  27. Darlene-thank you for checking out my blog. I recently looked at the Calitri Connection group. You should check it out. If I lived in the NY area I would definitely get in touch with them. Do you think you’ll ever try to visit again?

  28. It was really interesting to find your blog. I have chosen Calitri as the place I want to buy a property in Italy having lived in southern Italy many years ago. Saving hard to get a house in this village

  29. Lynda-I am so jealous. We wish that we had purchased a place 3 years ago when the renovations were just starting.

  30. I stumbled upon your website today.

    We are Calitri decendants – Paolantonio – my grandparents came over in 1920.

    Thanks to a friend I have my ancestors back to the 1600’s – it’s amazing – we’re all related!

  31. To all those who have responded to this site, and to those of Calitrani descent who visit here, our group would like you to know that we have started collecting stories about the Calitrani immigrants to America. This will be a sequel to our first successful book, They Came By Ship: The Stories of the Calitrani Immigrants in America.

    At the moment I am working with descendents of immigrants to Dobbs Ferry, NY, Dunmore, PA, North Tarrytown, NY and Batavia, NY. Our group is looking for anyone with ties to Torrington, CT, Mount Vernon, NY and Massachusetts.
    Please visit the website Calitri Connections to learn about our project. Thank you… Mario

    • My father vito zampaglione was born in calitri on Sept 29 1904 and came to USA in 1921. I believe he had relatives in Torrington ct not sure.he
      Married my mom Angelina Simone in 1930 and lived in new rochelle Ny
      Until he died in 1991

  32. I am blown away right now, I’ve been searching for information about my grandfather ( Vito Zampaglione) for more than a decade, and finally think I’m getting somewhere.
    My mother, Rosemarie Zampaglione ( Campbell ) passed away in 1998, and since then I’ve been researching my family.
    I’m thankful for this site and hope to make some new connections, and perhaps visit Calitri to actually SEE where I come from.
    If anyone has any information about my grandfather Vito and his parents / family, I’d love to hear from you.

    • Stephen-I hope you take a look at all my posts on Calitri. I’m sure they could help you at the Commune in town to find out some information on your grandfather. When we were there last year we spent over an hour with a wonderful gentleman at the commune who found my grandparents actual birth certificates. I hope you do plan a trip there-it’s an amazing place. Let me know if I can answer any more questions for you.

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