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Monday, January 16, 2012

My Grandfather came from Polizzi Generosa

the town of Polizzi Generosa in the Madonie Mountains




When we lived in Sicily, Italy, in the month of January, we went to the town of Polizzi Generosa, near Palermo, in the Madonie Mountains, to search for the birth records of my maternal grandfather, who was born there.


We learned that Martin Scorsese, the American film director, can trace his origins to this city. As can Vincent Schiavelli, the actor, author and cook who died recently at the age of 57, and who wrote one of my favorite "memory" cookbooks, "Bruculinu, America"... a collection of personal stories and recipes handed down to him from his grandfather, Papa Andrea, who was born in Polizzi Generosa. Anyway, my family isn't famous like these guys, but they are from Polizzi Generosa! 

Polizzi Generosa, on the western slopes of the Madonie Mountains  attracts hikers, cyclists and skiers to the nature reserve, the Parco Regionale delle Madonie, with its footpaths and biking trails in the summer and ski runs during the winter. There was ice on the roads as we reached the city, in its high position there in the mountains. The highest of these peaks reaches about 6000 feet and there was snow visible at the higher elevations. The four seasons were represented in the terrain around us. There was the snow, some trees just turning fall colors of orange and golden, with wildflowers and green fields below! 

Landscape of the area near Polizzi Generosa
They have an archeological museum that houses the treasures from a Hellenistic necropolis unearthed when they were building a school there in the year 2000! It's a wonderful collection of pottery and household objects that date from the 4th century BC. Like Palermo, the town traces its history through Byzantine, Arab and Norman influences. In fact, in 1082, Roger I gave the Polizzi territory to his niece Adelasia, who greatly influenced the development of the town. It is said that the people of Polizzi were always welcoming and kind to all the noble and royal families who passed through and was nicknamed "Generosa" (kindness) by King Frederick II of Swabia in 1232. It was also quite progressive, as in 1901 it was the first Sicilian town to have electric lighting! I was able to search back as far as the records go - to the 1700s - but still have this sense of wonder about how far back my family's roots go in this beautiful, ancient village.

Me, happily finding my grandfather's name!
The name "Gandolfo" (my maternal grandfather's first name) is well known in this town and many of the man have the same name. St. Gandolfo is the patron saint of the village, which may explain this fact. 

I was just reminiscing about this today, since it is about the same time of year as when we were there and thought I would share this with you. Our upcoming exhibit at the Dover Art League will include some of Bob's images from Sicily.
The books they searched in

3 comments:

Brad said...

What was your grandfather's surname?

Brad said...

What was your grandfather's surname?

Bob and Rosemary said...

His name was Lore. Sometimes spelled LoRe or Lo Re. Why? Do you have a connection to Polizzi Generosa?