Category: Trentini

Trento to Innsbruck via Bolzano

Today’s guest blog post comes from one of our readers, John Fellin. Since many of us make pilgrimages back to our ancestral roots in the Trentino-Alto Adige, John’s post will be of particular interest to our travelers. My husband and I often travel by train while visiting Northern Italy and I found this to be very helpful information. Mille grazie John!

 

John:

Below is a translation from the regional newspaper Il Dolomiti about a new train service uniting three great Tirolean cities. The service restores a previous service that was severed when Italy annexed the South Tirol. It means that if you’re visiting the Val di Non, you can take “al tram” (the light rail line) to Mezzacorona and transfer to this new service to go to Innsbruck. “ÖBB train” stands for the Austrian Federal Railways (German: Österreichische Bundesbahnen or ÖBB).

 

Il Dolomiti (English Translation):

For the first time a direct, round-trip train will be established between Trento/Trient, Bolzano/Bozen and Innsbruck. In addition to this there will also be an Italo return train from Bolzano/Bozen to Rome.

This is the news from December 9th that will come into force with the new timetables for trains and buses in Trentino – Alto Adige/SudTirol.

There will be an ÖBB train which will depart in the morning and in the evening, will connect Trento/Trient, Bolzano/Bozen and Innsbruck in both directions. In the morning it will start from Trento/Trient at 6:40 am and with intermediate stops in Mezzocorona/Kronmetz (6.52 hours), Egna/Neumarkt (7:05 am) and Ora/Auer (7:10 am), arriving in Bolzano/Bozen at 7:28 am, arriving in Innsbruck at 9:02 am. Departure in the evening from Innsbruck is at 9:00 pm, arrival in Trento/Trient at 11:59 pm.

There will be a new connection between Bolzano/Bozen and Trento/Trient, departing from Bolzano/Bozen on weekdays except Saturday at 20:06.

You can read Il Dolomiti at: https://www.ildolomiti.it/ 

 

About John Fellin:

John is a second generation, 100% Tyrolean American, with all of his grandparents hailing from the Val di Non. He speaks both Italian and Nones, and has remained in-touch with his Trentini cousins. His father’s family is from Revo and his mother’s side is from Vigo Ton (Vich per Nones).

100th Anniversary of Armistice and How It Changed Our Heritage

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Map prior to 1803 of Tyrol with Bishopric of Trent and Bishopric of Brixen

One hundred years ago on November 11, 1918, the ethnicity and homeland of the Tyrolean people changed. For on that day the Armistice of World War I was signed, breaking apart the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Shortly afterwards, on September 10, 1919, the Treaty of Saint Germain was signed, formerly annexing German-speaking South Tyrol and Italian-speaking Trentino to Italy. For centuries this entire area was inclusively known as “Tyrol”. With signing of the 1919 treaty, the region of Tyrol located south of the Alps was transferred from Austria and now became the northern Italian provinces of Trentino-Alto Adige.

According to Lou Brunelli, publisher of “Filò: A Journal for Tyrolean Americans”, Tyrol had a long cultural history stretching back 915 years under Austrian sovereignty:

  • 800 years under the Bishopric of Trento
  • 115 years under the Austrian Empire

In comparison, Italy was a young country, having only become a unified Kingdom (a monarchy) in 1861. By 1922 it fell into a Fascist dictatorship under Mussolini. After World War II, Italy became a democratic republic on June 2, 1946.

View of the Dolomites from Bolzano/Bozen, Alto Adige (South Tyrol)

For most of the past millennia our ancestral lands were influenced and controlled by Austria. Although our ancestors spoke Italian and regional dialect, their nationality and passports prior to 1919 stated that they were citizens of Austria, as they had been for centuries. Now with the stroke of a pen (and much political maneuvering by Italy), the region became Italian. (The events that lead up to Tyrol becoming part of Italy and the subsequent suppression of Tyrolean culture is a complicated and involved story. If you would like to read more about the history of this region, I have provided informational links at the end of this blog post.)

View of Val di Non from Castelfondo, Trentino

Since most Tyroleans emigrated to the United States prior to the 1918/1919 annexation, they came to America as Austrian citizens, and were never really considered Italians. However our relatives who remained in Trentino, now officially became Italian citizens. Mr. Brunelli told me that 97% of USA-bound immigrants arrived before the annexation and were not subjected to the subsequent Nationalism fueled by Fascism that occurred particularly in the Province of Alto Adige/Sud Tirol. 

The confusion of ethnicity for Tyrolean immigrants is reflected in the United States Federal Census. My immediate family is identified in three different censuses as: Austrian, Swiss and Italian! I have seen other Tyroleans listed in census as Bavarians and Czechoslovakians. But when you research our shared genealogy, you realize that all of these families are from the same region of the Val di Non, often from the same village! For those unaware of historical events, the 1900, 1910 and 1920 US Censuses can seem bewildering when it refers to ethnicity. Are we Austrian, German or Italian? Is Tyrolean an ethnicity if it doesn’t exist as a country?

San Genesio/Jenesien with view of Dolomites, Alto Adige (South Tyrol)

In the latest issue of Filò (Volume 19), publisher Lou Brunnelli (a 1st generation Tyrolean American) offers an insightful answer to the cultural and ethnic questions that plague American descendants of Tyrolean ancestors. He has given me permission to reprint this issue’s Introduction here:

Dear Tyrolean American …

Father Bolognani, the historian, sociologist, and apostle of our Tyrolean American community asserted the following … “A strange situation hindered the immigrants from the Trentino, making life more difficult for them then for other ethnic groups that arrived as the same time. Though they spoke no German and were Italian by language, they belonged to the Austrian empire and held Austrian passports. Considering themselves Austrian, or Tyrolean, they did not settle in cities as did most Italians. A search for their identity was difficult.” In other words, our people sought their definition, their differentiation from other groups. As their homeland, the ancient Tyrol was annexed by President Wilson and the Allies without a plebiscite [direct vote by eligible voters to decide an important public question] to Italy, they literally became ethnic orphans as Italy adopted a process of Italianization, becoming Fascist and then our [America’s] political adversary as they declared war on us in their affiliation with the Axis Powers. Defeated in the war and recovered with our American help, Italy became culturally adverse by no longer differentiating our history [Tyrolean] and our identity and imposing on us an identity that they had evolved while forgetting ours. What happened after the annexation, happened there and not here [America] … to them and not to us.

The Filò does not engage in a political polemic but legitimately and justifiably seeks to differentiate, to enhance the literacy and legitimacy of our historic existence and experience. Article by article it asserts with pride and joy: that who we are is who we were! ~ Lou Brunnelli

Image result for italian map trentino alto adige

Modern map of the northern Italian provinces of Trentino (dark pink) and Alto Adige (light pink)

I find it fascinating that our immigrant ancestors brought to America a culture that they kept alive in small communities, but that 100 years later many might say no longer exists in their ancestral homeland. Even today there is a conflict brewing between Austria and Italy concerning the proposed dual-citizenship for German-speaking South Tyroleans (see articles noted below).

Many of us were told as children that we were Tyrolean, not Italian. This concept might seem confusing to our cousins in Italy. But our grandparents and great-grandparents arrived in America as Austrians, became United States citizens and never accepted the label of “Italian”. From the scribbling and crossing out of country origins I have viewed in the US Census, our ancestors were just as confused about their ethnicity after the annexation as we are today attempting to describe our own background as Tyrolean Americans.

In conclusion, I take no sides and make no opinions concerning the ethnicity of Trentino-Alto Adige. I present this information only as a means to bring understanding to our shared Tyrolean American experience, place our ancestry in context to the 1918 Armistice and grasp how the events of the past century have changed Tyrol and its people.

My thanks to Lou Brunelli for sharing his knowledge and insights of Tyrolean culture. I highly recommend subscribing to Lou’s publication Filò: A Journal for Tyrolean Americans. It is a quarterly magazine provided free of charge to the descendants of Tyrolean immigrants.

Click here to register for a subscription to Filò

 

For more information see:

Filò: A Journal for Tyrolean Americans (where you can scroll through current and past issues of Filò)

World War I Armistice Signed: November 11, 1918 – 100th Anniversary

History of South Tyrol

Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1919)

South Tyrol: A Minority Conflict of the Twentieth Century (Studies in Austrian and Central European History and Culture)

Italy and Austria at odds over South Tyrol dual-citizenship

Italy’s South Tyrol: where an identity crisis lingers

Iceman – New Movie About Otzi

I can’t wait to see this movie! “Iceman” is about Otzi, the world’s oldest preserved mummy and an ancestral Tyrolean. He lived 5,300 years ago during the Bronze Age in what is now the Italian Alps.The fictional story line was created around facts discovered about the famous Iceman, such as his death was a result of being shot with an arrow. In an interesting twist, the movie was filmed using the ancient Rhaetian language, spoken by the people of the Eastern Alpine region (Northern Italy, Southern Germay, Eastern Switzerland, Slovenia and Western Austria) during the pre-Roman and Roman periods.

I hope “Iceman” is made available to US audiences soon!

Click here to see the movie trailer for “Iceman”!

Want to know more about the Rhaetian Language? Click here.

FYI – Some interesting news!

garygenettipodcastOur cousin, master glass artist Gary Genetti, was interviewed recently for “Inspirational Creatives” podcast. I love listening to podcasts and this show was of particular interest to me since I also have a background in the arts. Gary’s interview is very insightful, offering a personal glimpse into his creative and life philosophy. Find “Inspirational Creatives” at iTunes. Congrats Gary – great job! Click here to access their website and listen to Inspirational Creatives Podcast. Gary’s episode is #194.

And from one of our cousins in Italy, Chiara Dalla Nogare, here is information about an exchange opportunity between youth in Trentino and the descendants of Trentino immigrants. If you are a Genetti descendant whose family originated in Castelfondo, Trentino – and a young adult, you might be eligible for this fantastic program. The information is available in Italian, English and Spanish. Click here to access the website MondoTrentino. Thank you Chiara for sharing this wonderful program with your American cousins.

More About Ötzi, The Iceman

Otzi The Iceman

This life size model of Otzi, created by Dutch artists Adrie and Alfons Kennis, is on display at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy. Photograph by Robert Clark – National Geographic.

For all of you Ötzi fans, The Iceman has been making the news recently.

PBS just aired an informative NOVA episode, “Iceman Reborn”, filming the unique process used to create an identical replica of the Tyrolean mummy. Ötzi’s twin will be available to scientists who are unable to observe the famous ice mummy in person.

Paleo-artist, Gary Staab, worked for five months to reproduce the first of three copies utilizing cutting edge techniques in 3-D printing combined with his extraordinary talent of observation and artistic skill. I loved the program!

Read an interview with artist, Gary Staab at the Smithsonian: http://goo.gl/ZZHSOz

Or, watch the PBS NOVA episode at: http://www.pbs.org/video/2365669542/

In other Ötzi news – The Iceman Speaks! Well … not quite. Scientists are in the process of recreating Ötzi’s vocal tract, including his vocal cords and mouth. The experiment will then combine the replica with software that will approximate what Ötzi’s voice sounded like 5,300 years ago.

Of course scientists have no idea what language was spoken by the famous Tyrolean, since the earliest written inscriptions by humans appear around 1500 BC. Ötzi’s birth date is between 3359 and 3105 BC. According to project coordinator, Francesco Avanzini, “We should be able to recreate the timbre of his vowel sounds and, I hope, even create simulation of consonants.” How exciting!

Click here to read the article “Can mummies talk? Scientists find out” by The Christian Science Monitor.

See more photos of Ötzi, published in the March 2016 issue of National Geographic, click here.

Want to get up-close and personal with The Iceman, then hop on over to Ötzi’s home at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology: http://www.iceman.it/en

 

 

Felice Anno Nuovo

New Year's Eve Celebration 1955

New Year’s Eve Celebration at the Genetti Ballroom located in the Genetti Food Center, N. Laurel St. in Hazleton. Year: 1955. The gentleman wearing a bow tie is Stanley Genetti, one of the four Genetti brothers of Hazleton, PA.

Looking back on 2015, it has been an amazing year of exploration into our shared genealogy! So many new discoveries, so many new cousins! I feel truly grateful to everyone who has supported our family website/blog. Thank you for your contributions in the form of research, photographs, emails and encouragement (and yes – sometimes even monetarily). Your support has helped grow our website into an amazing resource for Tyrolean families throughout the world. Mille grazie!

At the end of each year, WordPress (the hosting company for our website/blog) compiles an Annual Report with stats on how we did during the past twelve months. Here are a few details from 2015:

  • Our blog was viewed about 9,400 times in 2015.
  • 89 new photographs were uploaded in 2015 (about 2 photos per week).
  • On our busiest day, August 27th, we had 140 views of the website.
  • We’ve had visitors from 86 countries!
  • Most visitors came from: The United States, Italy and Brazil.

As we bid farewell to 2015, here are a few words from our ancestors in the form of Tyrolean proverbs (courtesy of Filo Magazine: A Journal for Tyrolean Americans):

Dialect: Chi che vol ben viver, l’toghe i mondo come l’ven.
English: He who wishes to live well, should take life day-by-day.

Dialect: Chi è stret di man, l’è stret di cor.
English: He who is tight with his hand is tight with his heart.

Dialect (Val di Non): Col tem e la paia s’è Madura achja I nespoli.
English: With the passage of time and with patience, all things mature.

Buon anno a tutti!

 

 

Buon Natale!

San Nicolo

Altar piece of the San Nicolo Catholic church in Castelfondo

Did you know that the patron saint of Castelfondo is San Nicolò? That’s right, the church of our ancestral village is named after San Nicolò in recognition of an early christian saint who is the inspiration for Father Christmas, aka: Santa Claus. In English he is known as Saint Nicholas.

San Nicolò di Bari lived during the 3rd to 4th centuries AD in a Roman colony that is now modern day Turkey. He died on December 6, 343 AD of old age.

There are several legends and miracles attributed to San Nicolò. One in particular may be the beginning of the gift-giving tradition associated with Father Christmas. Upon hearing of a poor man who could not afford dowries for his three daughters, Nicolò (then the Bishop of Myra) gifted part of his wealth to the daughters in the form of three bags of gold, saving them from a life with no husbands and most likely, forced prostitution. To read the entire story, (which includes one sack of gold being thrown down a chimney!) I recommend visiting the site: Life in Italy. This informative page includes the historical details of San Nicolò’s life and the explanation of how his legend morphed into today’s Santa Claus.

The photograph above pictures a prominent painting gracing the baroque altar of Castelfondo’s beautiful church. During my 2011 visit to the village, I was given a tour of San Nicolò by a lovely little woman who is the caretaker. She took me by the arm and escorted me around the altar, all the while describing paintings, frescoes and statues that adorn the church. Of course her explanation was in Italian! I nodded dutifully as I caught a word here and there. I was so appreciative that she had turned on the lights for us. Her obvious devotion to the church and the history it represented touched my heart. While she spoke, I could feel the spirit of my ancestors fill the pews. Generations of Genetti, Marchetti and Zambotti had worshiped in this church for hundreds of years! They had walked this very isle where I now stood. I’m sure they had a family pew where they knelt to pray, just as I had as a child in Hazleton, PA attending church at St. Gabriel’s with my father. I was awed and overwhelmed by that moment … reaching through time to share a moment with the ancestors who had shaped my life.

As we gather with our families this Christmas, remember to thank your ancestors. Without their bravery, determination and Tyrolean values, our lives would be so different. How wonderful it is to know our roots and inherit a rich culture that we share with many cousins around the world.

Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo a tutti i miei cugini!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of my cousins!

 

New Video!

CastelfondoVideo

Photo of Castelfondo by Cristina Paternoster

I just added a new video to our Gallery Video Page. Created by Cristina Paternoster (from Castelfondo), this is a wonderful representation of modern day Commune di Castelfondo. The video clip offers beautiful views of the village, upper pastures, mountains that border the town and mountain huts known as Malgas. Cristina posted the video yesterday on the group Facebook page of: Chei da Chastelfon. I knew it would be the perfect addition to our Video page, offering a glimpse of Castelfondo to those who have never visited our ancestral home.

Thank you Cristina for sharing this video with your American cousins. Grazie mille!

If you are on Facebook, I recommend visiting the public group Chei da Chastelfon (this title is in the Nones dialect – not Italian! It translates as “People from Castelfondo.”). All photographs posted to this group page are little pieces of history and shared by Castelfondo natives. Just click the “Join Group” button and you’ll receive updates in your newsfeed when new photographs and videos are posted. Who knows, you may even spot an ancestor or two among the photos uploaded by your Italian cousins!

 

New Book Review

OurFirstYearI just added a lovely book to our family’s online Bookstore. “Our First Year: Sketches from an Alpine Village” was written by a fellow Tyrolean American named Allen Rizzi. He has returned to live in the home of his ancestors, the tiny village of Tret located in the upper Val di Non. This eBook is a treat for those who yearn for their Tyrolean roots.

Visit our Bookstore and read my review! Available as an eBook for $2.99 or Audible book for $6.95, “Our First Year” is a bargain and a heartwarming read.

Click here to shop at the Bookstore.

The Nones Language on YouTube

If your ancestors are from the Val di Non as are the Genetti family, your family’s native tongue is a dialect called “Nones”. An ancient Rhaeto-Romance language, Nones is now considered an endangered language with only about 40,000 people in the Non Valley of Trentino who can still speak the dialect.

Today I stumbled upon a surprising YouTube link by the Endangered Language Alliance. It was a five part video series of three members of the Flaim family telling of their life as Tyrolean immigrants in New York City. I recognized the family surname right away, as we have several Flaim women  who married into the Genetti family and are listed on our family tree. Also the Flaim family originated in the village of Revo located near Castelfondo in the Val di Non. As it happens, one of my great-grandmothers was Catterina Lucia Fellin (married to Giovanni Battista Marchetti). Catterina’s family was also from Revo.

So I was absolutely delighted to view these video clips. Giovanna Flaim speaks of her family in her native dialect, although I’m certain that Italian was also mixed in with the conversation. The old photos used to illustrate the videos are marvelous. It was well worth an hour of time listening to their words, beautifully melodic and foreign, awakening my ear to the language of my great-grandparents.

To view all of the Flaim family clips on YouTube, click here!

You also may be interested in a short webpage by Carol E. Genetti, a Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Dean of the Graduate Division at UC Santa Barara (and yes Carol is a descendant of the Genetti family who originally immigrated to Wyoming from Castelfondo). To read more of Carol Genetti’s experience with the Nones dialect, click here.

And finally, you can view an interesting section on the website maintained by “Filo: A Quarterly Magazine for Tyrolean Americans” describing the Nones dialect, written by Lou Brunelli, Editor of this enterprising publication. Lou grew up hearing dialect spoken in his home. He includes several word lists of dialect along with their Italian and English translations, plus a history of the Nones language. For this link at Filo, click here.

Wishing all of my Genetti kin a happy and prosperous New Year!