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Friends and Contributors to Poggioreale in America



Research & Genealogy

Marilyn is a native Houstonian with 75% of her Sicilian families from Poggioreale and 25% from Alia, Sicily. Family history and the study of genealogy were brought to life in 1989 by her mother’s double cousin who shared many stories and information about their Sicilian heritage and families. With that seed planted, Marilyn attended numerous classes and seminars, researched at on site facilities, including archives, libraries, courthouses and other repositories across the country to learn how to find additional details about the families. During that process, she became active in both the Austin & Houston genealogy societies, holding several positions, including President for 2 terms each. She was also active with a local POINTers chapter in Austin – one of the first national Italian genealogy groups – Pursuing Our Italian Names Together. Her newest collaboration with the Poggioreale in America group has brought about a new passion and excitement to learn more about the family stories that will someday be lost to time unless shared and to help promote the people and town of Poggioreale. Her contribution of ideas and work during the founding of our First PIA Reunion in 2019, and this website, comes from her love of family and Poggioreale and will always be remembered and appreciated.

Catherine Candela of PIA

Catherine has devoted over 35 years to her own family's genealogical research. Her intense interest in family was inspired as a little girl. She was heavily influenced by her nonna and uncle who immigrated to Michigan in 1938.  Although her mom was born in 1940 America, she raised Catherine steeped in Poggiorealesi traditions and Italian was her first language! Her love of family was inspired by her relatives, and early on she started collecting 150 years of photos of family and events in Poggioreale and other towns like Roccamana, Partinco,  & Palermo. Her collection boasts rare books, including a first edition 1956 book written by and signed by Father Francesco Aloisio, along with other documents.  Catherine created her family tree and history by hand based upon her personal discussions with living relatives and studying their precious photos. Catherine’s grandmothers both taught her not only the Sicilian language, but also many of their important traditions like St. Joseph’s Day. Catherine has kept in close contact with  her families from Sicily and looks forward to retiring there one day.


Special Projects & Photos

Marjie Montalbano 2021_IMG_8922 cropped.

Marjie is a lifelong resident of Bryan, Texas and now, a citizen of Italy as well! Marjie states that she was very blessed to grow up with two full sets of grand parents and three, yes she said three, sets of great grand parents all living in the same town and all very active in her family's lives. Both paternal and maternal families are from Sicily with the majority from Poggioreale. Her Sicilian roots go deep, so the from the first time she visited Sicily she fell in love with everything about it.  It was a dream come true to see where her great great grandparents grew up, played, went to church was surreal.  She stood on the same cobblestone streets where they once stood.  For her, going to Sicily was about going home.  So it's no surprise that she became a travel expert; she has been in the travel industry for over twenty years. Is it any wonder that Sicily remains timeless and most treasured to Marjie?  Her special delight is in planning trips for Sicilian Americans, particularly Poggioreale descendants, for them to have the most exciting and memorable experience possible.


Travel Consultant & Agent

Gino Corte of PIA

Gino remembers Poggioreale before the earthquake since he lived there until he was almost 14 years old. His father made Kansas City their home in 1961, but Gino never forgot his roots, his Italian, or his knowledge of Sicilian culture and cooking.  He is a frequent visitor to Poggioreale and has many friends there.  Always at the ready to share his memories and knowledge with us, he has given the PIA founders and friends his support and assistance on many levels. Retired, Gino stays busy with many activities, the latest of which is videotaping his cooking lessons on YouTube. Gino created a rich and successful life in Kansas City where he still resides with wife Paula, daughter Nunzia, son-in-law Reggie, and two grandchildren, Anabelle and Stella. Gino is a frequent contributor to our PIA studies whether it is behind the scenes or, now, as a contributing writer of special interest pieces on this site. Be on the lookout for more from Gino!

Gino Corte

Raised in Poggioreale and Kansas City, MO

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