A Personal Introduction
Many of us are ﬁrst and second generation Poggiorealesi, that is, our grandparents or parents were born in Poggioreale and we are their American oﬀspring. We ﬁrst learned of the small town called Poggioreale through animated, vibrant stories told to us by these proud, hard-working people who left their homeland to create new lives for themselves, and for us, in America. They talked of the gorgeous, verdant hillsides and landscapes of Sicily, the rich soil that produced succulent fruit and vegetables, the delectable foods prepared by their mamas and nonnas as they grew up in Poggioreale.
We were told of the seemingly never-ending stairs that led up, up to the ornate main church with its now-iconic bell tower that rang throughout their daily lives. The smaller churches in town were described in loving detail; the shops that served the needs of daily life were described. There were lively activities in the square that bustled all day with animated conversations; colorful street festivals ringing with music and song were held on holidays. The wonderful old well was a place for obtaining water and more socialization. The life they described sounded simple and idyllic. The visions they created in our minds made us want to go there. Their loyalty and longing for home was evident even though they grew old. And, even though we were young,we saw the look in their eyes and felt their reverie as they talked of
And so we grew up and started our own families. The family love in our lives and hearts multiplied and made us want to preserve these stories and to preserve those photos. Some created family trees, organized or attended family reunions and — for the most inspired — travel to Poggioreale ourselves to see and feel with their own eyes and hearts. But I know that most of us knew little, if nothing, about the history of Poggioreale. Finding photos of pre-earthquake life was diﬃcult to ﬁnd. Written material about the town and its people was very scarce during our early days of research.
So, fellow Poggiorealisi, it is for this reason that we of the Poggioreale in America group created our Facebook page in February 2018, and this website in 2019. We have collected a variety of historical information for you to properly begin your quest for information. We hope to give your learning journey a great start right here on these web pages! Read about Poggioreale ancient and modern, pre-earthquake and post-earthquake. Get to know “home” with us. Your heart will be ﬁlled with loving discovery of your roots in Sicily.
In summary, we hope to introduce this generation to Poggioreale ancient, old, new, and current. In the tradition of peoples before us, we want to pass this precious history and information on to you. Poggioreale’s old town is slowing crumbling due to age and circumstances beyond our control. We ﬁrst and second generation Poggiorealesi are growing old as well, and it’s time we help YOU get to know our mutual “home”.
Tina Tondola Anderson
Co-Founder, Poggioreale in America
Editor's Note: Tina's maternal great grandparents, Nicolo Spina and Agnese Piccione, moved to Poggioreale, were married there, and raised their children, her great uncle and great aunts. Her grandparents Salvatore Todaro and Rosa Spina were born in Poggioreale as were two of their children, her uncles Tom and Nick Todaro. Except for her great grandmother who died in Sicily, they all moved to America to make their lives mostly in the Chicago area.