Tillie’s Notebook, Part 2

Sometimes the universe offers help when help is needed!

Last week I published my first post about Tillie Genetti Zambotti’s 1902 school notebook. Since I don’t speak Italian, I admittedly felt over-my-head in attempting to translate this beautiful family heirloom shared by Tillie’s granddaughter, Anne Marie Shelby. Never one to give up, I decided to do the best I could with my limited knowledge of Italian and the help of Google Translator.

On the same day that I published my post, it was shared by Giovanni Marchetti on the closed Facebook group, Chei da Chastelfon, of which I am a member and Giovanni is the Group Administrator. Within 24 hours I received a message from someone in the group, stating that she had read the post and would like to help with translation! I was overjoyed and responded immediately!

Yes, I thought, this is an angel from Val di Non who can help me!

Our Trentini angel is Loretta Cologna who lives in the city of Cles. Loretta grew up in Castelfondo (Cologna is a very old surname from the village). She is a retired school teacher and taught English in the Cles school system for many years. I couldn’t believe our luck! After several emails back and forth, I learned that we had at least three surnames in common from our family trees: Zambotti, Marchetti and Cologna. It’s probably a good bet that Loretta shares some DNA with our family line. She has generously offered to translate Tillie’s notebook in her spare time. Over the next year, we hope to work our way through the journal and publish a weekly post with a translation.

I am completely thankful, Loretta, for your kind and gracious generosity! Grazie di tutto!

Here is the next translation in our series courtesy of Loretta Cologna:

Bottom of page 1:

Castelfondo 24 II [February] 1902

Dear classmate, Genetti A.

While I was walking with one of my sisters on Thursday, she told me that you had told our teacher a bad lie. Bad my darling, very very bad my darling, this…(incomprehensible word) the good things that your teacher did for you.

(click on image to enlarge)


Page 2 (left side):

What I love

I love God, creator of a lot of wonders, beginning and end of all things, the greatest good. I love God because through holy Baptism he adopted me as his child among the many people he created.

I love the Holy Mary because through her we can get the favors of God.

I love my guardian angel because he is always near me and he defends me from dangers. I love my parents because they gave me life and because after God they are the greatest benefactors. Moreover I love my parents because they give me a lot of care and have a lot of expenses to support me.

I love my little brothers because they care about my troubles. I love my brothers.

Castelfondo 28 February 1902

(click on image to enlarge)

PDF file of 1902 School Notebook by Ottilia “Tillie” Genetti


  5 comments for “Tillie’s Notebook, Part 2

  1. Loretta Cologna
    September 4, 2019 at 5:50 am

    Thank you for your kind words

    • L.Roach
      September 4, 2019 at 7:13 am


  2. September 4, 2019 at 4:01 pm

    Very happy for your connection with Loretta. I met her once (I think) when my wife was a member of an English speaking women’s group in the Val di Non (circa 2005). Believe me, as a translator, I can say nothing beats a native speaker from the area. Good luck with the project!

  3. Erin
    October 12, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    thank you Louise and Loretta………this is a wonderful wonderful gift to read……….I am also related to Marchettis from Castlefondo. Perhaps we can see if there is a connection. Louise helped me by figuring out the Marchetti and Cologna on my line. Again Thank you

    • L.Roach
      October 12, 2019 at 2:30 pm

      So glad you are enjoying our project Erin! Anne Marie, Tillie’s granddaughter, will be happy to read your comment. She is the “keeper” of this 1902 notebook. Loretta, our translator, found me by accident in a Castelfondo FB group and now she and I are “partners” in deciphering this little family treasure.

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