A Journey to my Ancestral Town (by Lisa Tamburini)

For as long as I can remember, I have had an interest in my Italian roots.  I was very curious of my paternal grandfather's heritage because he died before I was born.  Then, recently a friend told me that the US allows its citizens to have dual citizenship with Italy, which sparked my interest even more.  Knowing so little about my Italian side of the family, I decided it was time to discover Italy and my family history.

My grandfather, Frank Tamburini, grew up as a 1st generation American raised by my Italian great-grandparents, Virgilio and Pasquina Credi Tamburini. My great-grandparents relinquished their Italian citizenship and became United States citizens in the 1940's.  Grandpa Frank was their first child born in the United States and was a combat engineer with the 1st Infantry Division for the United States. Through online research, I was able to get most of the US information myself but I needed help with the Italian side of the documentation and research.  I reached out to My Italian Family for assistance.

My first project was a five-generation research project on Virgilio Tamburini.  Bianca and her team found a lot of information about his family.  He came from Iola, a hamlet of the town of Montese located in the province of Modena in Emilia Romagna and had two sisters and a brother. The Tamburini family had been in this area of Italy for a long time. 

My second project was the research of Pasquina Credi Tamburini who also came from Iola. After having My Italian Family provide me with such interesting information and superior services, I thought the ultimate experience would be to meet family in Iola if any were still in the area.

On October 3, 2013, I traveled to Iola which is in the Apennines Mountains with Olivia, a researcher with My Italian Family. Olivia had found my relatives in Iola. As we were driving up the mountains, I was just so excited to meet them. Did they know about us? Did they know that Great Grandpa Virgilio came to America?  

As we reached the meeting place, I met Ornella, Paola, and Alfredo in front of the museum in Montese. Ornella is a granddaughter of Virgilio's sister Liduina. Paola was the great-granddaughter of Liduina and Alfredo was her husband. They did not know that Virgilio's descendants were in the United States. They thought that his branch was somewhere else in Italy. They must have been shocked to hear that they had a cousin from the United States that was interested in meeting them!!!   

We toured the museum.  It had a lot of artifacts from World War II and had information about life in Montese/Iola. Ornella shared childhood stories about her life under Mussolini. I was fascinated. We visited homes that housed my relatives, the cemetery and the town hall. We went out to lunch where another granddaughter of Liduina's met us. Bruna drove all the way from Bologna to meet me.  We spent all day together sharing family stories. Even though we spoke different languages, we still were able to communicate (in part thanks to Olivia's heroic ability to serve as a translator). It was very memorable. I am very lucky to have family in Italy that was interested in meeting me and able to spend all day with me. They are wonderful people!

It was difficult to leave as I wanted to hear and experience more. Since my return to Chicago, we have exchanged emails (using an online translator) and pictures. I have introduced them to my family here and they have introduced us to other members of their family in Italy. Without My Italian Family, this meeting would not have happened. I am forever grateful to Bianca and her team. 

As I reflect on my journey, I go back to where it started, to my Great Grandpa Virgilio.  He left the Apennines Mountains to journey to the United States in 1908. He went through Northern Italy to France and got on a boat headed for United States. He landed on Ellis Island only to be sent home.  After a second trip, he was admitted into the United States. Once he got settled in Taylorville, Illinois, my great grandmother and great aunt came to the United States.  

After reaching America, it is unlikely that he ever saw his parents or siblings again because they remained in Italy or in other parts of Europe. Now, more than 100 years later, his family is reunited again! 

A special THANK YOU to Lisa Tamburini who traveled to find her Roots and Relatives and kindly offered to share her amazing and very emotional experience with all of us.