Chapter 53: Unanswered Questions

As I continue examining my Italian identity, I keep tripping over so many unanswered questions about my family.

Family members repeatedly mentioned that my nonno, Cesare Sacco, was raised by his sister or aunt, Elisabetta. They weren’t sure which. Yet, I’ve found no records at the municipio di Miglierina pertaining to her. I did see my nonno‘s postcard to his nipote (niece), Elisabetta, postdated in 1959, yet there is no trace of her either. In other words, two mysterious Elisabettas!

If Cesare Sacco had been raised by a sister or aunt, what happened to his parents Cesare Sacco and Maria Esposito? My nonno‘s certificato di nascita lists them as his parents. Since my nonno was born in 1890, his parents must have been born somewhere between 1865 to 1870, shortly after Italian reunification.

So you might say: “Well, go to the municipio and get their birth and death certificates?”

Not so fat! The municipio burned down in 1875, barbecuing most of the records I need. Their baptismal records are available at the Parrocchia Santa Lucia, but the parish priest would not allow me to examine them–even with a bribe-filled handshake.

Once I get back to Miglierina¬† for a few weeks, I’ll locate everything I need and answer most questions. And bring more “gifts” to the parish priest and the municipal workers. Just like we do in Chicago!

But, I still would have some additional unanswered questions.

When did my Zio Francesco (Zio Cicuzz’) go to Argentina? What happened to his sister Antonia, the older sister of my nonna, Giuseppina Cittadino? No one has ever mentioned Antonia to me!

How did my nonni meet? Why did they get married so late in life? (They were 23 and 22 respectively–old for miglierinesi!)

So much information is just outside of my reach. If I could only find two more generations–my great, great, great grandparents, I would find Cesare Sacco, born in 1794. He is listed in Padre Antonio Caccetta’s history of Miglierina as a brigante. The briganti are Calabria’s version of Robin Hood–beloved by the contadini and hated by the baroni.

So many questions! So many mysteries!

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About growingupcalabrese

Professor of French and Italian at San Diego State University
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