Surprises abound when you are connected to your roots!
I belong to a private group on FaceBook called Chei da Chastelfon. Members are either from my ancestral village of Castelfondo in Trentino or have family members who were born there. A few days ago I found this fantastic black and white photograph on Chei da Chastelfon’s group page. It was posted by Luciana Genetti, one of my Italian cousins. Luciana and I share my 3rd great-grandparents, Antonio Genetti and Veronica Panizza. In official cousin terms, we are 3rd cousins, once removed.
Luciana’s beautiful vintage photo was captured sometime around 1916 and is the Castelfondo home of Genetti Lanci. Yes, my ancestors were “Lanci” – a sopranome or nickname used by a particular branch of our family. I have been told that “Lanci” was originally from old German meaning Lance. I have no idea where or how this sopranome became attached to our branch of the Genetti family other than it is noted in baptismal records as early as the 1600’s. You can still see the sopranome used today on family markers in the village cemetery.
Luciana’s photo caption reads: “Cento anni fa i soldati austriaci davanti a casa nostra (Lanci). Viva la Pace e la Convivenza!”
Since my Italian is limited, I ran this through Google Translator. It translates as: “One hundred years ago the Austrian soldiers in front of our house (Lanci). Alive Peace and Coexistence!”
If you remember world history, at the time this photo was taken it was during World War I. Tyrol was, and had been for centuries, part of the Austrian-Hapsburg Dynasty. Only in 1918, after WW I, was Tyrol turned over to Italy to become the Northern Italian province of Trentino. That is why many of our ancestors who immigrated to America around 1900 considered themselves Tyrolean (not Italian) and had Austrian passports.
Here is what Casa Lanci looks like today. As you can see, the home has been restored and updated. The structure dates to the mid-1500’s (or possibly older). It now houses five apartments, several of which are owned by Luciana and her sisters. The beautiful fresco of Madonna and Child, seen on the front side wall, was restored in 1998 with funds donated by Adriana Genetti, Luciana’s sister.