76 – Tracing Our Italian Family Roots

Over the past couple of years we have had the pleasure of meeting a number of visitors who have come to this area of Italy to try and trace their Italian ancestry, some with relatives who came from the Val di Comino area.


I have family who came from Atina in the region of Central Italy. Some bravely chose to pull up their family roots and emigrate. Indeed many other Italian families did the same during this era of the 1800’s and early 1900’s. 

My grandparents headed for London. My grandfather had a sister and a brother who had already been settled there for a number of years and they had encouraged my grandfather to make the move.

Here are my grandparents. They had four children in all. Two were born in Atina, namely Rosina and Roberto. The other two Giuseppina and my mother Concetta were born in Clerkenwell London.

Family Group

A few years back I decided to create a website about my grandparents’ home town of Atina. Since then we have got to know several people who have family who also came from this little town. We have received many enquiries from people with ancestors from this area.

Aldo De Angelis and his wife June from Scotland are tracing his family roots in Atina and Belmonte Castello – family surnames: De Angelis, Delicata, Ianetta, Notarangelo.


Whilst in Atina recently we asked at the Comune and at the local library whether there was a list of the graves in Atina Cemetery, but nobody there seemed to know.   The main cemetery is located near the ruined church of Santa Maria and San Marco and the ancient church of San Pietro.

So, Paul and I have spent many hours browsing around and looking for the graves of my relatives.  Some of the graves have some wonderful statues.


If anyone wants us to go and look for graves of  family members who have passed away, and who may have been laid to rest in Atina Cemetery, we are happy to go and look for them whilst we are visiting our family in the area.

Common surnames of Atina include:

Amata / Amato, Bastianelli,  Bove, Caira, Coppola, Di Angelis, De Luca   Delicata, Di Duca, Di Paolo, Fortunata, Mancini, Marini, Nardelli, Rossi, Sabatini, Tamburrini, Tortolani, Visocchi , Volante.

Yes we are sad family history “anoraks” !!!

Sadly we got addicted years ago, and there’s little hope for us now.

Also I have  been considering making an application for my Italian citizenship through what is known as  “jure sanguine”.

As both of my grandparents were both born and married in Atina,  and they did not became naturalised British citizens during their life-time I should be entitled to Italian citizenship.  Amongst the documentation required to obtain this is my grandparents’ marriage certificate and their birth certificates.

I know that they were both born in Atina and even have details of their parents and grandparents, as I have seen their families listed on the “Stato di Famiglia” held by the Comune of  Atina.  So recently we visited the townhall to ask for copies of the above certificates.  Sadly, the staff there were not exactly welcoming and accommodating.  They said they would take the information and that we would have to come back another day.  I recently heard from my cousin in Atina that the Comune had failed to find the requested documents, so I am somewhat down-hearted.

But … I will persevere !!!

This is Italy !!! Nothing is simple, especially regarding bureaucracy.  I have tried to organise an opportunity to look through some of Atina’s church registers, but to no avail, it seems that they are guarded with a rod of iron by the Parish Priest.

As yet Italians just don’t seem to “get” family history, indeed it is far from the popular pass-time in the UK where within County Halls and libraries there are departments dedicated to giving the public access to the Saint Catherine’s Index of Births, Deaths and Marriages, numerous Censuses, Church Registers, old newspapers etc. etc.

Italians still fail to realise how important it is for people to be able trace one’s family roots and learn so much about local social and cultural history.  If you ask Italians about their ancestors, they sometimes get quite nervous and seem guarded, perhaps suspicious that some stranger may be after some money or trying to claim back some old derelict house of piece of family land !!!  There are so many family disputes regarding ownership of land in Italy.

Anyway, I will keep you posted on our progress with my goal of obtaining my Italian Citizenship.

Anyone with ancestors from the Atina  area –

We’d love to hear from you !!!

Do feel free to Contact Us

All photos © Louise Shapcott

My Atina Website:  http://atinaitaly.com

#juresangine #italiancitizenship #atina #frosinone #italy


Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga Beaches and Historic Itri, South Lazio, Italy


One thought on “76 – Tracing Our Italian Family Roots

  1. I’m glad I found your blog today! My brother and I are very interested in doing what you have described here. We’d like to return to our grandmother’s hometown in Basilicata. We found by chance online some pictures of the area. It is a breathtaking little village in the Apennines. I’m not sure if we will be moving there permanently or not, but we’d definitely like to make an extended visit to learn more about the culture and practice of our ancestors. I have to speak to my aunt who would have more information about it, and then we will try to contact some of our relatives there. Do you have any advice for someone trying to do this? How has your adjustment been? Unfortunately, our grandmother did become a citizen of the United States, so I don’t think we have any recourse to citizenship as things stand. I’ve heard the taxes (etc.) are quite bad (at least from an American perspective). How do you find that to be? Thanks for all your time.

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