My Family Trip to Nicolosi (by Larry Ardito)

Larry Ardito, a UNICO member, recently traveled to his town of origin to meet his Italian relatives together with our researchers. Thank you, Larry, for sharing your family story with us. We were delighted to help connect you with your living relatives in Sicily.

GUEST POST “MY FAMILY TRIP TO NICOLOSI” by Larry Ardito

This past June, my wife Linda and I, traveled to Nicolosi, Sicily to visit the homeland of my mother, Angelina Toscano.  Prior to our trip, we researched my mother’s family history and discovered we had relatives still living in the region! 

Upon our arrival in Nicolosi we were warmly greeted by the researchers MY ITALIAN FAMILY provided to us, Francesco and his wife Maria, who took us to the local Municipal Archives where old family records are stored. How fantastic to see my maternal grandfather’s birth record handwritten in the Birth Volume from 1882!


My mother was born in the US, but we knew that the family went back and forth several times, before making Lawrence, Massachusetts their permanent home. It so happens that my mother went back to Italy with her parents in 1912 and there she remained, living with her paternal grandmother, for eight years. Eventually she was called by her parents and sailed back to the US in 1920 at the age of 11 on board of the Duca D’Abruzzi.  Once the ship arrived at Ellis Island, all passengers were quarantined. By researching US records, we discovered that my grandfather Sabatino Toscano, who traveled to New York to greet her, could not wait for his daughter to be released, so he signed an affidavit giving permission to the Red Cross to take custody and escort her home to Massachusetts.

Back in Nicolosi and armed with Family Lineage information, we were introduced to the local director of tourism who had arranged for us to meet the LaRosa family who descended from a sister of my Grandfather!   First, they accompanied us to the local cemetery where many of our mutual relatives were laid to rest; later they entertained us at their home where we shared family photos (the picture below shows my paternal grandfather, Sabatino Toscano with his wife Anita Reitano). They even took us to the workshop of a local sculptor who creates works of art from Mt. Etna's lava and gifted us with several pieces of art including the Trinacria, the 3-legged symbol of Sicily.

A wonderful day could not end without a fabulous family dinner; it was held at a local farmhouse restaurant where we met 16 relatives who welcomed us with hugs, tears and photos.   We were entertained by musicians who encouraged everyone to sing along to songs that were favorites of ours, as well as our relatives. 

The evening of music, wine, and delicious food brought us all together as a family for the first time. We took many pictures of us, together, something I would have never dreamt it possible, and promised to stay in touch as the evening came to an end.

Without the extensive research into my Italian heritage, I would never have been able to discover my family in Nicolosi.  This was a memorable and life-changing trip that my wife and I will cherish forever.

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