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, their beloved Madrice, with its broken yet still iconic bell tower that rang throughout their daily lives. The smaller churches in town were described in loving detail; they had their favorite place of worship. They lovingly talked about the shops in the Piazza Elimo or on Corso Umberto that served their practical needs. There were lively activities in the square that bustled all day with animated conversations; colorful street festivals ringing with music and song that 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 the years they actually visited grew more distant. And, even though we were young, we saw the look in their eyes and felt their reverie as they talked of “home."
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 for our own children and grandchildren, and to preserve their photos for all time. Some of us created family trees, organized or attended family reunions and — for the most inspired — some even traveled to Poggioreale themselves to see and feel with our own eyes and hearts. Yet most of us knew little, if nothing, about the history of Poggioreale. Finding photos of pre-earthquake life was diﬃcult. 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 2020. 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 the loving discovery of your roots in Sicily.
In summary, we hope to introduce present generations to Poggioreale old, new, and current. In the tradition of peoples before us, we want to pass our precious history and information on to you, our family, friends, and offspring. Poggioreale’s old town is slowing crumbling due to age and circumstances beyond our control yet it still stands for all to see. We ﬁrst and second generation Poggiorealesi are growing old as well, yet at the same time we are breathing new life into our native home by telling our stories, and it’s time we help YOU get to know our mutual “home.”
Christine (Todaro) Anderson
Co-Founder, Poggioreale in America
June 2020, Updated September 2021
Editor's Note: Tina's maternal great grandparents, Nicolo Spina and Agnese Piccione, moved to Poggioreale and were married in 1886. There they had four children, her great uncle Guiseppe and great aunts Rosa, Rosaria and Girolama. Her maternal grandfather, Salvatore Todaro, was also born in Poggioreale from an early Poggiorealesi family name, as were two of her uncles, Antonino Todaro and Nicolino Todaro. Except for her great grandmother who died in Sicily, they all moved to America, mostly in the Chicago area where they are buried.