My father is first generation Italian American. He is a full-blooded Italian, and with his marriage to my mother, that makes me half Italian. I’ve always been curious about my heritage, and resources like the Ellis Island Foundation’s website have made it much easier to learn more about my family history.
My grandfather, Leonardo Vicario, left Montefalcone, Italy in 1920. He traveled to the U.S. on a ship called the Ferdinando Palasciano. My grandfather had an uncle who had found work in the iron ore mines in Upper Michigan, so he set out to find a new path for him and his family in America.
I know very little about where my grandparents are from, other than it was a very poor and rural mountainous village northeast of Naples. Like a lot of U.S. immigrants, my grandparents were in search of a better life.
I think it was so brave of my grandfather to travel to America, by himself, leaving his wife and daughter behind, as he searched for work and better opportunities in America. A couple years later, once he saved up enough money (I assume), he sent for my grandmother, who brought over her young daughter, my Aunt Mary.
They settled in the tiny town of Ishpeming, MI and expanded their family to include four daughters and two sons. Unfortunately, my uncle Peter Rocco Vicario died fighting in the marines during WWII when my dad was still a baby (my son Rocco is named in his honor).
In the first picture, you can see my grandparents, my three aunts and my dad as a baby. The second picture is of my dad with his parents. I love these old pictures because they tell me stories of my family history. Even though I didn’t get to know my dad’s family, lest one of his sisters, I feel lucky to have these sweet family photographs (plus, look how stylish my aunts were!).
At the very top of my bucket list is a trip to Italy. I want to visit Montefalcone. I want to see where my family is from. I want to experience just a piece of my family history. Somehow, I feel like it will connect me even more to my roots, to my family that I never got to know. Some day soon.