Saturday, October 24, 2009


"Si nun vennu li morti, nun camminanu li vivi"
"Vennu li morti pri camminari li vivi"
"Dddopu li morti caminanu li vivi"
Pitrè, "Proverbi siciliani


I have many memories about growing up in the 1940s in the town of Librizzi. Certainly holidays are part of these memories, the Festa dei morti is one of the more colorful and festive holidays that I remember.

The “Festa dei Morti” is celebrated on November 2, but the preparations for the Festa would begin several days before. Each year on the first of November, my brother and I were sent to the homes of relatives and friends to collect the flowers which would decorate the family tombs in the cemetery. In Sicily the traditional flower for the dead is the Chrysanthemum, a flower that I very much like. Mom would stay home to prepare the traditional Ossa dei Morti, hard teeth-breaking white cookies in the shape of skeletons and bones. Once the cookies were out of the oven, she would go shopping for the other traditional dolci for the Festa dei Morti. These sweets were made of marzipan and shaped into every imaginable fruit, colored and decorated. They were works of art and at first glance they truly looked like the real pear, peach, orange, lemon, strawberry, etc.

In Palermo these artistic creations are called Frutta Martorana. The Palermitani also prepare the ‘pupi i zuccaro’. The Pupi are made from a sweet dough, in the form of statuettes and cleverly hand colored. The Pupi may represent the classic characters from fairy tales such as Cinderella or Pinocchio, or current characters such as Pokemon!


For the children this was a very festive time because we knew that during the night our dead relatives would stop by the house and leave small gifts under our pillows including the Ossa dei Morti, the marzipan fruit, lots of unshelled nuts, and real fruit. We also knew that the same kind of gifts were waiting for us at the homes of relatives and friends (I guess this phase of the holiday is similar to Halloween in the USA). Everywhere that we went we could hear the musicians practicing the musical selections to be performed at the cemetery on the day of the Festa.

When the Festa dei Morti finally arrived, children, parents, grandparents, assorted relatives, the young and the old, all went to the cemetery to decorate the tombs with flowers, listen to the Priest, recite prayers for the dead, enjoy the musical offerings which were actually lively marches (not too different from the New Orleans festive funeral processions), and above all to socialize with the living. The Festa went on well into the night when everybody returned home to eat a special holiday meal.

The Festa di Morti in Sicily doesn’t represent a day of sorrow, but rather it is a happy day especially for the children.

I grew up during a very nasty war and the holidays were a welcomed excuse to forget the reality that surrounded us. My memories from those times are bittersweet but I am glad that I can look back and know that the celebration of the dead actually brought joy into our lives.

I do not recall reciting any sayings or little rhymes but I have read that children in various parts of Sicily do recite little rhymes the day of the Festa di Morti. The following is one of the popular rhymes in Sicilian, Italian, and a translation into English:

Armi santi, armi santi,
Iu sugnu unu e vùatri siti tanti:
Mentri sugnu ‘ntra stu munnu di guai
Cosi di morti mittitimìnni assai.

Anime sante, anime sante,
Io sono uno e voi siete tanti:
Mentre sono in questo mondo di guai
Cose di morti metteteneme molte.
(regali dei morti mettetemi in abbondanza)

Saintly souls, saintly souls,
I am only one but you are many:
While I live in this troubled world
Leave me lots of gifts.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009



According to the Librizzi records that I have read, the first Muscarà in Librizzi was is Il Magnifico dottor Pietro Muscarà.  I already knew about him from the book “Librizzi” by Antonino D’Amico, pages 141-142.  In this section of the book, D’Amico writes about a ceremony which took place in Librizzi on December 20, 1567. On this day the cornerstone for the Monastery of the Carmelitan Priests, was set in place. The legal contracts for the building of the Monastery and maintenance of the building were written by il magnifico Pietro Muscarà segreto of Librizzi.  During the ceremony a speech was given and the names of the important dignitaries present were read.  The church bells rang throughout the ceremony.
The list of the dignitaries from the “alta borghesia e al ceto medio della terra di Librizzi” included  “Il Magnifico Pietro Muscarà segreto di questa terra”,  and “lo spettabile Gio Matteo Muscarà”.  I have ascertained that Gio Matteo was Pietro’s son. The Monastery was built to give thanks to S. Maria del Carmine for her divine intervention in ending the plague in Librizzi.   Records show that the plague started in Librizzi in June of 1577 and ended two years later with the death of the last victim, Mastro Perseo Greco.
The Riveli of Beni e Anime (Census Records) for the years 1584 and 1594 are the earliest Librizzi records filmed by the Family History Center.  The Riveli of 1584 contain the first records of a Muscarà living in Librizzi, he is the above mentioned Pietro Muscarà.  It is possible that other Muscarà lived in Librizzi before 1584 but those records are not available to the public. Interestingly Pietro was not a Librizzese but came from nearby Sant’Angelo.  The Riveli of Sant’Angelo declare that Pietro was “secreto et jurefiscale.  Et giudice del spiritual de detta terra”.      
The same records indicate that Pietro was 46 years old and that his wife was Petronilla. 
Their children were: Gio Matteo age 16, Francischello age 9, Rocco age 5, Georgio age 1, and
Two of their servants were Paulo Marra age 16, and Diana Granata. 
Pietro owned many houses in Librizzi, land in many areas of Librizzi, cattle and breeding compounds, received payments for the use of his lands by many people, etc. etc.  The taxes that he paid on his assets were 10% or more of everything that he possessed.   He and his family lived   in ‘quarterio de bello vidiri’, the quarterio was a complex of houses belonging to the Muscarà family.  This location is constantly mentioned in most of future Muscarà Census records.  Some of the land that Pietro owned was located in the areas of Pantano, Tri palmenti, Spinello, Lacquicella, Valluni de la vina, Fontana de la vina, …
"Il Magnifico Pietro Muscarà SEGRETO di questa terra", what was a ‘Secreto’ also spelled Segreto?

The book “Librizzi” on pages 178-179 gives a definition for the position of SEGRETO: “(ogni Uditore di Rota, giudice della Sacra Romana Rota, poteva scegliere due aiutanti di studio, se era un decano anche tre.  Ogni aiutante veniva denominato SECRETO, qualifica di un magistrate al grado iniziale e riconosciuto ufficialmente dal collegio rotale). A Librizzi nel 1587, il Magnifico Pietro Muscarà ricopriva la carica di Segreto della Nostra Terra." This definition is not sufficient to explain the title of Il Magnifico.  Information gathered from other sources gives a clearer explanation for the role of a Secreto.  
During the reign of the Spanish Kings in Sicily, the actual ruling entity in Sicily was a Spanish Viceroy. The central government was located in Palermo and consisted of several administrative bodies.  The most important administrative body was that of the Magna Regia Corte which had jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters. Another principal administrative body was the Curia Magistri rationum also known as the Tribunale del Real Patrimonio (Tribunal of the Royal Finances). This legislative body controlled all of Sicily’s financial matters, sat at all sessions of the Sacro Regio Consiglio (Superior Tribunal), and often dealt directly with the Spanish King bypassing the Viceroy.  The Secreto was the principal magistrate of the Curia Magistri rationum. He headed the central administration of all ‘beni demaniali’ and had jurisdiction in all financial matters, including financial judicial matters. He also appointed all local Vice Secreti. 
Il Magnifico Pietro Muscarà was ‘“secreto et jurefiscale.  Et giudice del spiritual de detta terra”. “Detta terra” refers to the Kingdom of Sicily.
Sant’Angelo is a town that abuts the territory of Librizzi, particularly in the area of Librizzi called Pantano.  In fact it is in Pantano where at least since 1560, the Muscarà have owned huge tracts of land.  Even today the family, including myself, own land at the Pantano.  The next phase of my research was the reading of the Sant’Angelo records, almost immediately I found il Magnifico Pietro Muscarà in the Census records of February 1560.
The Sant’Angelo document is very interesting as it discloses that Pietro Muscarà has been delegated by the King of Sicily, Carlo I of Sicilia e Napoli (Carlo II of Spain) to appoint the royal officials who would conduct the documentation for the Riveli di Beni e Anime. The document spells out exactly what the king expects and why. In fact there are two documents, one is written in the Italian of the times and the second one is written in Latin by Pietro himself.                                Pietro is to appoint the four officials who will lead the collection of the data for the Census and who will levy the amount of taxes owed to the King, and in what form the taxes will be rendered.  Some of the officials to be appointed are the Capitano and the Iuraris or Giudici.   This document makes it clear that Pietro was a high official from the Royal Court of the Kingdom of Sicily, located in Panormous (Palermo).  
Il dottor Pietro Muscarà died between the years 1587 and 1594. The Librizzi Census records of 1594 show that his wife Petronilla Moscarà (notice the o instead of u in Moscarà) is now the capo di casa, the head of the household.  The document states that she is a widow and that her maiden name is Fossi, it was unusual for those times for the wife’s surname to be actually mentioned.   She is the guardian of her minor children the Clerico Rocco, who had holy orders for minors, age 13; Georgio age 8. Her adult children are il dottore gio.Mattio age 25, and Francesco age 17.  In the house  also lived Vicenzo di Gregorio age 30, servant;  Gironimo Rocco age 60, servant; Domenico Prestiani age 18, servant; Gio.Maria di Gregorio age 18, servant; Caterinella di Gregorio, servant.  The census document is 13 pages long because Petronilla’s assets are extensive. In 1594 she and the family still lived in Quartiero de bel vedere.  This is not surprising as the Muscarà family still owns part of the ancient Muscarà compound. 
The names of the people who owned the land and houses next to the Muscarà is important because it is an indication of close family relationships, for this reason I am going to indicate some of these names as documented in Petronilla Fossi Muscarà Census records. The house in Bel Vedere abuts that of Cardonia Gugliotta. Other houses in Bel Vedere abut those of Gioseppi Prestianni, Garegolo? Di Gregorio.  Petronilla owns land, houses, breeding compounds for cattle in the area of Pantano abutting the land of the inheritors of don Andrea la Maya, and land of Pietro Gugliotta.  Land in contrada di L’acquicella abutting that of Francesco Stuppia and Eliseo Monteleone.  Land in the area of Tripalmenti, abutting the land of the inheritors of Geronimo Ruffino,  and that of the inheritors of Mazzei Sabella.  Land in Contrada di lo Vallone di lavina    abutting land of Gioseppe Calcagno.  Land and vineyard in the Contrada di Spinello, abutting the vineyard of Micele Lamana,  and the land of Lorenzo Sinagra.  Land in Contrada della Chiana or Giana abutting the land of the inheritors of Giovani Grioli.  Land in Contrada di Filici, abutting the land of don Antoli Tudisco and land of Simone Gregorio. The names mentioned are possibly related to the Muscarà through marriage.  In the same document there is a mention of Dominico Moscarà, who lives in Sant’Angelo.  Domenico is one of the many names mentioned who owe gravezze to the estate of Petronilla Fossi Muscarà.  I assume that Domenico is a family member, taking into account that Petro Muscarà is originally from Sant’Angelo.
Petronilla is found again in later Census records.  In the Census of 1616 she declares that Georgio is 30 years old and that she is his guardian.  In a separate 1616 document Petronilla declares the contents of Giorgio’s estate, the same record states that he is medically incapacitated.  The records clearly show that the Pietro Muscarà estate has been inherited by his sons: il dottor Francesco Muscarà, il dottor Gianmattio Muscarà, il dottor Rocco Muscarà, and Georgio Muscarà.  Georgio’s inheritance is vast and it is obvious that he is economically independent, but he is dependent on his mother for medical care and other needs. If Lauriella inherited part of her dad’s estate, it is not mentioned.  This is not surprising since the female members of a family usually did not receive an inheritance.  Daughters did however receive a dowry which might include land and houses. 
The following is the available information about Pietro and Petronilla’s children.
1.      Gio Matteo was born about 1567 in Librizzi, later he is known as ‘Lo Spettabile il dottor Gio Matteo Muscarà. He and his wife Gratiosa Mamone had the following children (all born in Librizzi): 
 Pietro, born circa 1597;  Andrea, born circa 1599;  Catherina, born circa 1605;  Angela; Antonia;  Silverio, born circa 1613 and died in 1622;  Agata;  Anna;  Carlo, died in 1622. 
In the Riveli di Beni e Anime of 1607 there is an interesting entry for his ‘schiava’.  Her name is Maddalena and her color is negra, black! In the thousands of Librizzi records that I read, this is the only time that I found a record mentioning that someone was black!
The name Gio Matteo is written sometimes in Latin as Ioannis Matheo Muscarà, sometimes as one word as in Gianmatteo.  I found many records in the Riveli di Beni e Anime that deal with his estates, he is included in the “Librizzi” book, and he is listed in the Librizzi baptismal records as being godfather to many of the town’s children. The death records of 1622 declare that Gio Matteo’s children, Silverio and Carlo, died that year.   
The Riveli di Bene e Anime of February 1616, indicate that Giomatteo was 50 years old  and that his wife was Gratiosa Mamone.  The full name of his wife was given as well as the names of his children. 
Also the names of his servants are given, Cono Spartà, age 30, servitor; Vincenzo Spartà, age 15, servitor; and Giovanna Muscarà, sua schiava. 

Gio Matteo lived in the quartiere di bello vedere.  In front of his house were the houses of don Rocco Muscarà and del dottor Francesco Muscarà.  He also had other houses in quartiere de bello vedere adjunct to the house of Minico Merenda; in quartere of San Leonardo abutting the houses of Cico Stopia and that of Minico lamaia.
Gio Matteo’s record is interesting because it lists houses and land in the town of Nohara, today known as Novara di Sicilia.  One of the houses is located in quartere del Castello and it abuts the house of il Dottor Silverio Mamoni.  This Silverio is more than likely Gratiosa Mamone’s father, especially since one of her children is named Silverio.  Gio Matteo also owns land in Nohara, contrada del Cunio.  Other estates are located at the Pantano in Librizzi next to his mom Petronilla Muscarà’s land.  More land is owned in contrada di Filici next to don Rocco Muscarà’s land, I assume that this Rocco is his brother, he also owns land in the area of Spinello.

There is a long list of people who owe Gio Matteo “la bulla”. (A Bull in English is a Papal decree which is sealed with the Papal Bulla (Seal).  The extension of the meaning is a decree by the Ecclesiastical authorities which determines the amount of taxes owed to the Church.  People with feudal lands and assorted other assets owed the Bulla (tithe or tax) to the local Dioceses and to the Spanish King as well.  In turn, vassals and serfs who used the land, owed the Bulla to the owner (usual barons or counts).   Some of the people who owed bulla to Gio Matteo were: Salustro Lauria, Giovantonio Merenda, Filippo Prestianni, Bartholomeo Lamanna, Luciano Spatula, Paschale Ventura, Sabbatino CULLURAFFI, Filippo Saitta, Geronimo Merenda, Armiranti Laurea, Silvestro Granata, Rocco Prestianni Gioanmaria Grioli, Giandomenico Trombetta, Giovanni Planellaro, Giancomo Grioli.  Blasi Ferraro, Paulo Sabbato , Petro d’accampo, Filippo Miloto from Nohara,  Andrea MAMONE, Nino Pizzolo, Lucio Ferraro, Petro Valenti, this last group are all from Nohara and the land is in Nohara.

Gio Matteo himself owes bulla to his mother Petronilla Muscarà, to the Convent of Santo Rocco in Librizzi, to the Church of Santa Caterina in Patti, to the Bishop of Patti, the bulla is owed on his inheritance as specified in the deed by his deceased father. 

The following is an aside on the surname Maimone.  According to my research Maimone is a Jewish surname.  During the times of Gio Matteo and Gratiosa Mamone there were in Sicily about 50 towns with large numbers of Jewish people.  Nohara or Novara was one of the towns where there was a large Jewish community, in fact, even today there is in Novara a street named Vico G. Maimone.  Historically the Jews in Sicily were treated well and contributed to all fields of the Sicilian society. When the Normans came to Sicily, the Jewish population was tolerated by the Normans and Jews enjoyed the same rights as the rest of the population.   However when the Spaniards came to Sicily things changed.  In 1492 King Ferdinand of Spain issued the Edict of Expulsion of the Jews unless they converted to Christianity. Some Jews left Sicily while most converted to Christianity.  Those who converted Latinized their names; one of the Latinized names in Novara was Maimone. The Jewish ancestors of Gratiosa Maimone converted and remained in Nohara.    

Lo Spettabile Gio Matteo Muscarà and Gratiosa Maimone were the parents of the illustrious Librizzese DON ANDREA MUSCARA.  His story will be told in a future blog entry.

2.      Rocco, born circa 1579.  The custom of the times was that in certain upper class families one of    the sons was designated for the priesthood.  Rocco was the son who by the age of 13 was already a “clerico d’ordini minori”.  In the riveli of 1594 Rocco is already listed as a clerico.  The title don written before the given name meant that the person was a priest or a religious official.

The following is some of the information found in the book “Librizzi” that contains the name Rocco Muscarà (may or may not be the same Rocco) :  Feb. 7, 1628 don Rocco Muscarà baptized Iacopo Rinaldo;  Feb. 10, 1630 archiprete Don Rocco Muscarà baptized Domenica Montileone;  April 4, 1630 Rocco baptized Carlo Muscarà, son of Benedetto and Giulia Muscarà;  …….

3.      Georgio, born circa 1583. This is the Georgio who suffered from an incapacitating disease or impairment.   In the baptism records at the Chiesa Matrice I found a Georgio Muscarà who frequently was godfather to several children.  For example, in 1599  Georgi was godfather to Giuseppe Marescalco; in 1600 a Giorgio baptized a member of the Maniaci family; in 1604 a Giorgio was godfather to Maria Lantiani?  The name Giorgio was not a common name in those times and I conclude that this Georgio is indeed the son of Pietro Muscarà and Petronilla Fossi. 

4. Francischello was born circa 1575-1577, as an adult he was known as Il dottor Francesco Muscarà.  He and his wife Thomasa had the following children:
 Andrea, born circa 1617;  Anna; Petronilla; Caterina; Antonia; Elizabetta; and Clerico don Placido, born circa 1619.
          Il Dottor Francesco Muscarà son of Pietro declared his assets in both the towns of Patti and Librizzi.  The Riveli of January 1637 indicate that he had two schiave living in his house, Margarita Muscarà and Marta Muscarà.  He also had a servant named Gironimo Mirenda, age 16.  The schiave Margarita and Marta carried the last name of the capo di casa, this is not unusual for those times. Favorite house servants often were given the owner’s last name, especially if the children’s father was the owner himself. Today in Librizzi there are two different lines of Muscarà, both lines quickly will tell you that they are not of the same lineage.  
Francesco owned a magazeno in the città di Patti located on the street San Bartolomeno.  He owned land in Patti near Don Beneditto Tinghino and Antonino Barbaro.  In Patti he also owned a vineyard which was “di migliara cinque”, five thousand hectares.  He owned more land in other sections of Patti.   Francesco also received ‘rendite’ from several people in Patti, some of his debtors were Thomasi Giuttati, Gioanni Abbati, Giloramo Caiazone, Francesco Florio.  Francesco Muscarà was assessed taxes on everything that he owned in Patti, so he was paying taxes to the city of Patti as well to Librizzi.  He also paid taxes to the convento del Carmine and to several people in Patti.  
In the Riveli of 1637 Francesco also declared his assets in the town of Librizzi. 
In addition to his personal Riveli, there are two documents one in Italian and the other in Latin declaring the renunciation by his son Don Placido Muscarà of his inheritance.  The renounced inheritance was donated to the Church.   The donated estate included land in Pantano next to the land of Ioanni Mathei Muscarà (his brother Gio Matteo).  The documents are signed by the father Francesco, by Placido himself, and several officials.  One of the officials is Andreas Muscarà.   
The just mentined Don Placido Muscarà was the son designated for the priesthood by Francesco and Thomasa. 
I do not have much information on Anna, Antonia, Petronilla, and Elizabetta.  Information about female members of a family, were usually not included in the Census records.
 5. Lauriella, the Riveli usually do not give the dates of birth for a daughter, nor are they listed as ‘capo di casa’ unless they were widowed or were the last survivors of a particular family.
(In the records of 1616 I found a Laurea Muscarà married to il dottor Gioandomenico di Thodaro from Montalbano and living in Librizzi.  It could be Lauriella but Laurea could also be the daughter of  il dottor Francesco Muscarà (This is not the Francesco who is Pietro’s son. This Francesco is probably Pietro’s brother.)  and his wife Masulla Arlotta (Wrongly spelled as La rotta in the book ‘Librizzi).  She could also be a totally different Laurea Muscarà.  The fact is that there is a son who is 20 years old. Is he from a previous Thodaro marriage?  I record the information from the 1616 Census in case at some point I can tie Laura Muscarà to the correct parents.
Il Dottor Gionadomenico di thodaro, age 40
His wife is Laurea Muscarà
Their children are:
Dottor Claudio di Thodaro, age 20
Cesare di Thodaro, age 18
Giovanni di Thodaro, age 10
Paolo di Thodaro, age 8

Oliverio Garza, his servant, age 50
Francesco di thodaro, his schiavo, age 20
Antonina di thodaro, schiava
Giovannella di thodaro, schiava
Dominichella di thodaro, schiava
Il dottor Claudio di Thodaro, son of Gioandomenico and Laurea Muscarà became a priest.  He is the one who in 1656 brought to Librizzi the statue of S. Michele Arcangelo.  The interesting story of the statue and its odyssey to Librizzi is found in the book “ Librizzi”, pages 113 115.)

End of Part I, Part II will be  in the  next blog entry.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


I am saddened about the recent events in Messina caused by the October 2, 2009 mudslides, tornado, and floods.

Unfortunately Messina has a history of incredible and devastating disasters such as the earthquake that occurred in the early morning of December 28, 1908. Within minutes the earthquake was followed by a 40 feet Tsunami. Ninety one percent of the structures in Messina were destroyed, and over 100,000 out of 150,000 residents were killed. Estimates of the disaster vary but most agree that up to 200,000 people died in Messina and Calabria (Calabria across the Strait of Messina was also devastated by the same earthquake).

Messina is only one of the many cities in Sicily that has suffered tremendous losses due to natural disasters. Historically, earthquakes, floods, and mudslides have wrecked havoc all over Sicily, including the town of Librizzi. Across the centuries, not many of the Librizzi families have escaped the fury of Mother Nature, my own ancestors often were victims of natural disasters as well.

Perhaps the worst year for my ancestors was the year 1852. The 1852 Librizzi Death Records indicate that huge numbers of people, young and old, died throughout the year, especially during the months of January, February, March, and August. I assume that many of the people who died were victims of influenza or some other contagious disease, but many of those who died at the end of January and in the next two months were victims of the mudslides that occurred in January.

In addition to the Death Records, there are other documents and letters that confirm the events of 1852. Archiprete Francesco Gregorio,the Librizzi priest at that time, wrote a letter to the Bishop of Patti in which he states that this particular year (1852) was beset with "cattivo tempo", bad weather. The mayor Giuseppe Arlotta also wrote a letter stating that the Church della Catena needed repairs due to damages caused by "cattivo tempo". Indeed on January 27, 1852 there were a series of alluvioni e frane (floods and landslides) which smothered to death many Librizzesi. My ancestors were among the many victims that year, especially relatives from the following families : Procopio, Marziano and Gregorio on my father's side; Adamo, Salemi, and Gatani on my mother's side.In fact, in the mudslides of 1852, entire families of my ancestors were wiped out within hours of each other.

I record the following names in memory of my ancestors who lost their lives in the year 1852, included are the ancestors who died as a result of the January 27 mudslide.


Carmelo Tinghino age 1, January 28;
Antonino Gugliotta, age 13, March 21;
Don Natale Procopio, age 34, March 29;
Michele Collorafi, age 2;
Maria Concetta Finicchiaro, age 2, August 4;
Antonia Sinatò, 9 months, August 12;
Rosalia Muscarà, 10 months;
Gaetano Merenda, age 44, September;
Antonino Ficarra, age 8, October 12;
Giuseppe Gugliotta, 10 months, November 12.

Aunts and uncles:

Teresa Salemi, 2 days, January 27(daughter of Angela Adamo and Mastro Gaetano Salemi);
Donna Maria Gregorio, age 40, March 30;
Pietro Merenda, age 88, June 8;
Eufrasina Marziano, age 10, July 2;
Anna Adamo, age 65, December 12.


Donna Carmela Gregorio, age 70, January 27;
Angela Adamo (grandmother on the Luca side of the family), age 45, January 27;
Mastro Gaetano Salemi(husband of Angela Adamo) age 40, January 27;
Carmela Adamo age 44 (Grandma Angela’s sister. Aunt Carmela was also my grandmother on the Calabrese side of the family), January 27;
Teresa Gatani, age 80, August 30. 


Third great grandfather Don Domenico Procopio, age 61, husband of Donna Anna Cilona and son of Don Antonino Procopio and Donna Marianna Muscarà). Don Domenico was "ritrovato morto nella contrada Prato or Ceruto? perchè soffocato da burrasche". He was found dead, suffocated by 'mudslides'. The date was December 24, 1852. I am sure that for my ancestors it wasn't a very merry Christmas that year.
An aside comment: When I was a young child mom used to point out the remains of a demolished house and then she would tell me the story of an avalanche that occurred in the early 1930s. The avalanche destroyed the house and killed its occupants, who were related to us. She then would point to a house next to it which miraculously wasn't touched at all by the avalanche! This past June I met the daughter in law of the people who died in that house, she confirmed the story of the avalanche.

During my June visit to Librizzi I was given a copy of a hydrogeological report of Librizzi and surrounding areas. The report documents a series of mudslides that occurred in Librizzi in the 1800s, specifically the one in 1852 which involved the Quartiere Forgia of Librizzi. It is precisely in Quartiere Forgia where my Adamo-Salemi ancestral family resided when their lives were snuffed out by the mudslides. Sadly a two days old ancestor also died.

May the above ancestors, and all of the Librizzesi who died in 1852, rest in peace.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mudslides and flooding in Messina



AT THIS TIME I DO NOT THINK THAT THEY LIVE IN THE AREA OF THE MUDSLIDES (I am not sure where exactly the mudslides occurred. More later...)

Page last updated at 11:51 GMT, Friday, 2 October 2009 12:51 UK

At least 13 people have died and more are missing after heavy rain triggered mudslides in the Italian city of Messina in northern Sicily.

The violent mudslides and flooding destroyed several buildings, swept away cars and blocked road and rail links.

Some of the victims were trapped when mud and debris engulfed their homes following the overnight storm.

Rescue dogs were being used in the search for survivors, Messina Mayor Giuseppe Buzzanca told Italy's Sky TV.

He added that the rescue efforts were being hampered because some areas were only reachable by foot, and urged doctors, nurses and volunteers to go to the stricken zone to help.

More than 100 people left their homes when the mudslides struck, officials said.

Some 40 people have been treated in hospital.

Gente sui tetti, messina sud isolata, vigli del fuoco in arrivo da Catania e da Roma

Messina - E' allarme in Sicilia per il maltempo, una regione messa in ginocchio da nubifragi e trombe d'aria come quelle che hanno colpito la zona del messinese, ma anche trapani e Palermo. Sono state registrate trombe d'aria anche a Lipari nelle isole Eolie, senza causare vittime fortunatamente. I vigili del fuoco lavorano sul campo nelle zone isolate del messinese e stanno arrivando rinforzi, via elicottero, oltre che da Catania anche dalla Capitale

Nella galleria Briga dell'autostrada Messina-Catania per quasi tutta la notte ci sono stati mezzi pesanti e camionisti bloccati all'interno. Numerose anche le ruspe in azione per cercare di liberare le strade.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October Greetings and Good Wishes


In the beginning God created the heaven
and the earth, then in His exact
day he set the lights in heaven
and on the seventh day He rested.

After millions of years, man,
made in His image and likeness,
never resting, with his
secular intelligence,
without fear, in the serene sky
of an October night,
set other luminaries like
those that turned
since the creation of the world. Amen.


In principio Dio creò il cielo
e la terra, poi nel suo giorno
esatto mise i luminari in cielo
e al settimo giorno si riposò

Dopo miliardi di anni l'uomo,
fatto a sua immagine e somiglianza,
senza mai riposare, con la sua
intelligenza laica,
senza timore, nel cielo sereno
d'una notte d'ottobre,
mise altri luminari uguali
a quelli che giravano
dalla creazione del mondo. Amen.

Salvatore Quasimodo
Sicilian, Nobel Prize recipient

Translated by Allen Mandelbaum