Many years ago before I could speak Italian we visited Caprarica del Capo, the home of my forefathers, during a family holiday in Puglia. We were interested in our family history and visited Palazzo delgi Sparasci the old house once owned by the family, the local cemetery which had many monuments dedicated to family members and the public records office. We trawled through papers and books looking for any mention of our surname – we photocopied everything we found and brought it back to England in a file. It has remained in said file for the last 15 years!
I’ve been meaning to go back and look at the family history but never seem to find time. Finally I’ve got copies of the documents and started to look through them. My favourite extract explains how far back the family name dates:
Mettendo a raffronto l’elenco delle famiglie esistenti nel 1455 con quelle annotate nel catasto redatto nel 1676 e con i risultati del censimento del 1920 si possono trarre le seguenti conclusioni. Famiglie che esistevano nel 1455, che si trovano citate nel 1676 e che sopravvivono ancora, sfidando il corso dei secoli: Piri, Raeli, Legari, Marra, Sparasci, Nuccio.
By comparing the list of existing families in 1455 with those recorded in the register drawn up in 1676 and with the results of the 1920 census can be drawn the following conclusions. Families that existed in 1455, which are cited in 1676 and which still survive, defying the centuries: Piri, Raeli, Legari, Marra, Sparasci, Nuccio.
This extract is from Aneddoti di Storia Tricasina by Alfredo Raeli (I imagine his interest in writing the book are similar to mine for reading it!).
I find it fascinating to know that long before my own birth, long before the birth of my grandfather and even long before the country of Italy was born there were relatives of mine living in Salento just like there are today. I wonder what my long distant relatives would make of my life in England far away form the olive mills and searing heat of Piazza sant’Andrea in Caprarica del Capo… I like to think they would be proud of my grandfather leaving Italy and creating a new life in England but I’m sure they’d be pleased that we still remember where we came from and always will.