Friends and Contributors in Sicily

We are very fortunate to have consultants for our website that not only live in Sicily, but are active in the daily life of Poggioreale.  Our list of friends in or near our ancestors' old home is growing and are ever vibrant in the relationships we are creating as we enrich our PIA mission to "build bridges between the Sicilian Village of Poggioreale and the thousands of Poggioreale descendants living in the United States."

Anna Todaro, Poggioreale

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Her Story:  Born in Poggioreale, she lived in her hometown until the 1968 earthquake when she migrated to Australia with her parents, younger brother Pietro, older sister Teresa, and younger sister Rosalia.  All three attended high school in Sydney.  There her father, Giovanni Todaro, worked on building and repairing houses and became well known not only for his work, but for his wonderful personality, she recalls.  Her mother, Rosaria Fasullo, was a housewife whose cooking skills were outstanding.  Anna remembers her mother's weekly dinners that included exctended family.  they enjoyed a very happy life in Sydney.

While in Sydney, Anna worked at an Italian newspaper; her sister Theresa worked at a competing newspaper. In 1974 she returned to Italy for a holiday in Palermo and to stay with her aunt.  There she met her husband, Ernesto Maniscalco, who was introduced by a friend while they were out socializing.  It wasn't until two years later that they married.  They lived in a grand house in Palermo for many years; there they had two children, Sara and Luigi.

In 2011, Anna and Ernesto moved back to Poggioreale where she resides today with their son.  She reconnected with the families of her hometown.  She became involved with the Poggioreale Antica Association where she found herself meeting many groups of people who came to Poggioreale from all over the world.  She greatly enjoyed meeting them, often acting as translator, and sharing with them their stories and history.  She also worked with the local government in tryng to restore the old town and to try to maintain the cleanup work that had been done.  While she is no longer a part of the association, she still works with groups of Poggiorealesi around the world, especially in the USA where she has discovered a large group of cousins previously unknown to her! She feels very strongly about creating these valuable connections because she, like us, strives to maintain Poggioreale's heritage and family ties.

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During his many years working in Partanna, from time to time some Americans came to the city office asking him to build a family tree from the records, and to help them find any living relatives living in the town. He found great pleasure in fulfilling their requests and witnessed the joy in the Americans and their Sicilian relatives.  He liked to bring these people together and share their joyful emotions, and he wanted to continue doing family research for people as he, too, found great satisfaction in this. After forty years of service in the municipality of Partanna, he retired.  With his extensive experience with registry, his ability to speak English, and the growing popularity and growing demand from Americans of Sicilian descent wishing to create their Sicilian family trees and connect with local relatives, he created his own Facebook page, “Sicily - Land of your Ancestors.” In 2018 alone he organized over twenty-five meetings between Americans and their local families, building or completing their family trees, and providing them with documents.  He also acted as a guide in visiting the places of their ancestors, helping them to locate the the houses of their ancestors, to visit the family graves, and translated documents found in the municipality or the church. 

 

Rosario is a frequent visitor and researcher in Poggioreale and has become known by many for his experience.   We asked him in 2019 to be our travel guide and local family researcher in Sicily for the first PIA Trip to Poggioreale in September 2019.  See photos on this website for our activities.

Feel free to contact Rosario Sanfilippo:

 Email at sanfilippo.rosario55@gmail.com

Facebook Message at "Sicily, The Land of Your Ancestors"

Phone +39 348-844-0951

Rosario Sanfilippo, Partanna, Sicily

His Story:  Rosario lives in Partanna, a town which is only 20 minutes away from Poggioreale.  There he lives with his wife, Rosanna, who is a teacher; they have two children,Calogero and Marianna. As a child, his city was also affected by the 1968 earthquake. He was only twelve years old and remembers that, at night, they had to run away from the house because the walls were rocking.  He and his family spent many days camping out in the cold.  After a few months, they moved to tents that the Italian army had prepared; in the summer they moved to barracks that were installed.  Those were not good days, he recalls, he remembers, because of the heat in the summer and the cold in the winter.  There were no comforts.  Construction of houses began after ten years; Rosario and many others spent their youth in the barracks.  Later he attended the University of Palermo graduating in foreign languages at the age of twenty-four. He immediately started working at the Civil Status Office the Municipality of Partanna, also working at the Registry and Electoral Office.

Girolamo Cangelosi, Sindaco (Mayor), Poggioreale, Sicily

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His Story:  GIROLAMO, known as Mimmo, was born on 19 May 1969 at home. Like so many families from Poggioreale of that period, he and his family were living in a temporary structure set up by the government to house the community who was affected by the devastation caused by the earthquake of 1968. In spite of these surroundings, young Mimmo enjoyed a happy childhood. He is remembered as a smart, popular and engaging young man. He lived near the church and actively participated in the religious activities of the town assisting the priest, Father Giuseppe La Rocca. These were formative years for young Mimmo.

In 1982, after successfully finishing school, he continued his studies in Alcamo at the Technical Institute of Geometry where he graduated in 1987 with excellent grades. During this time, he met Giuseppina Salvato who was also a student from Poggioreale. They fell in love and married in 1996. From their marriage two children were born, Calogero in 1998 and Alberto in 2002.

 

In 1988 Mimmo left to complete his military service. Once completed, he returned to Poggioreale where he started working in his father’s shop. He continued to be active in his beloved community in Poggioreale and pursued many roles for the betterment of newly-built Poggioreale, only kilometers from the ruins of Poggioreale Vecchia.

 

From 1990 to 2018 Mimmo held a variety of important roles in Poggioreale's civic and religious life. In 2018, he was elected Mayor of Poggioreale. During this period of time, he became acquainted with the founders of Poggioreale in America and their mission of preserving and promoting the memory of the immigrants who had to leave their town for another country. He graciously offered to help them in many ways as they built their organization. In June 2019 he accepted their invitation to visit America to attend their first Poggioreale in America Reunion in Bryan, Texas. There, as Sindaco Cangelosi, he addressed the group of more than 300 for a memorable presentation. He joined Ross Todaro, President of PIA, representing thousands of American descendants, and Cav. Pietro Maniscalco representing thousands in Sydney, Australia. Together, the threesome created the historic landmark where three continents of Poggiorealesi descendants came together, in one place and at one special event, to honor all of the descendants of Poggioreale throughout the world.

Poggioreale in America is proud to work with Sindaco Mimmo Cangelosi. He is a great example of a Poggiorealese who made a memorable mark in the name of our descendants, past and present, and who continues to promote the memory of an outstanding community that thrives today on many continents.