Category: Tyrolean History

Gifts from the Genetti Shop

Products with Genetti Coat-of-Arms

Mug with Genetti Coat-of-Arms. Also available as a stein and stainless steel travel mug.

With Christmas fast approaching, remember to shop for personal family gifts at the Genetti Shop! Here you’ll find mugs, T-shirts and mousepads with the Genetti family coat-of-arms; books about our Tyrolean culture; fine art prints of the original family tree and much more.

It’s not too late – order today and surprise you’re family with unique gifts that celebrate our family ancestry.

Click here to start shopping!

The Old and the New

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The view of Castelfondo from the hill outside of town. Probably about 1900.

 

I love old photographs! Particularly fascinating are “then and now” images comparing hundred-year-old photos with updates of the same location today. Sometimes the area looks completely different and unrecognizable from the original photo; sometimes little has changed and it appears time has stood still.

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Castelfondo today. Photo from the “Commune di Castelfondo” website. Click photo to access this website.

Here are a few photographs from Castelfondo – the village in Northern Italy where the Genetti family originated. You judge for yourself how much has changed … and how much has stayed the same.

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Castelfondo’s central well, photographed June 8, 1921.

The village well (fountain) is located in a little piazza near the center of town.

The town’s women would gather here to do laundry.

Photo provided by Dino Marchetti of Castelfondo.

 

 

 

 

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The town well today. This is not from the same view as the older photo.

The town well today is completely restored and mostly ornamental in function.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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San Nicolo, late 1800’s.

The interior of San Nicolo church photographed in the late 1800’s and San Nicolo today.

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San Nicolo, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Damiano Genetti standing in the doorway of the Genetti homestead in Castelfondo, about 1937.

The doorway of the Genetti Family homestead in Castelfondo.

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Louise Genetti Roach standing in the same doorway, 2014.

 

 

 

New Book in the Genetti Shop

TheHiddenFrontierWhy not stop by our Book Shop to peruse our sampling of personally selected books about the Tyrolean culture? If you are interested in learning more about your roots or are planning a future trip to Trentino-Alto Adige, you’ll find just the right book to help you in your adventure.

Today I added a new book that was suggested by Chiara Dalle Nogare, one of our Genetti cousins who lives in Trento, Trentino. “The Hidden Frontier: Ecology and Ethnicity in an Alpine Valley” is a fascinated study of history and culture in the Val di Non. Well worth the read if you really want to understand your Tyrolean roots!

Click here to visit the Book Shop!

Filo: A Journal for Tyrolean Americans

FiloIf you are Tyrolean American and would like to learn more about your heritage, you need to subscribe to Filo Magazine. First published in 2011, this quarterly magazine is available as a paper version or online – both are free. Filo (pronounced fee-lo) was the Tyrolean word for the daily gathering in the stables of the Trentino. Each day after work and chores, villagers would come together to tell stories, sing and socialize. Filo Magazine is published in the United States, but has many ties to Trentino. Their goal is to reach as many Tyrolean Americans as possible “to provide you with the background of your roots and ancestry.”

I have been receiving Filo since 2012. Through the magazine I have learned so much about our culture, food and language, as well as been intrigued by family stories that are publish in each issue.

To receive the free magazine, simple register at: http://filo.tiroles.com/registration.html.

Or to browse their extensive site, go to: http://filo.tiroles.com. If you are interested in learning more about dialect and in particular, the Nones language of the Val di Non (which is what the Genetti ancestors spoke), check out their dialect section. Quite fascinating!

In closing, here is a bit of dialect from Filo: ‘sa fente, nente o stente? Which translates into: What should we do, stay or go?

 

What Is a Sopranome?

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The grave marker for Famiglia Genetti Lanci in Castelfondo’s San Nicolo cemetery.

During my visit to Castelfondo, Italy in 2011, I had the good fortune to meet a distinguished gentleman by the name of Andrea Cologna. Born in the village, Andrea had left as a young man, living most of his adult life in Canada. He had recently returned to his childhood home of Castelfondo. Luckily Andrea was fluent in English, Italian and the local dialect of Nones. He was the perfect guide, telling me stories of the old days, explaining important village landmarks and helping me walk in the footsteps of my ancestors.

When we visited the small cemetery next to San Nicolo church, there were many surnames I recognized … of course among them, many Genettis. Andre brought me to a very specific part of the cemetery and pointed to several grave markers. “These are your family, the Lanci. The other Genettis aren’t from your branch. Damiano (my great-grandfather) was a Lanci,” Andrea said.

I was mystified, what was a “Lanci”? I had never heard this name before. So I took a few photos of the stones that read “Famiglia Genetti Lanci” and decided to look into this odd name later. About six months after my trip, I began researching the old church documents. And there it was again! The name “Lanci” was attached to Genetti in most birth, marriage and death records of my branch of the family, but not to other branches. It appeared in different forms such as Lanchet, Lancia and Lanci. Andrea wrote that he had done a little research on his own and found that the original form of the name was “Lanchet” which was Old German for the word “Lance”.

After a bit more research into Trentino history, I soon learned this “second name” was commonly used by large Tyrolean families to designate different sections of the family. It was called a sopranome or nickname. The sopranome had several purposes. It helped delineate close blood relatives so you didn’t accidentally marry your cousin, which could happen in a small, isolated community. It also identified a specific person. At any one time there could be five or six men named Giovanni Battista Genetti living within the village, as children were often named after parents, grandparents or other relatives. By adding the sopranome to the surname, one could tell the difference between Giovanni Battista Genetti Lanci and Giovanni Battista Genetti di Raina. Besides Genetti Lanci, I also found Genetti Onz, Genetti di Ovena (of Ovena) and Genetti di Raina (of Raina). These seemed to signify the main branches of the Genetti family tree.

Closely examining each generation in the ancient ledgers, I discovered the first ancestors in my direct line to have Lanci documented in a birth record was Pietro Genetti born in 1650. Most likely his father, Georgio Genetti (born 1623) had begun using it during his lifetime and passed it on to his children. And so this sopranome continued through at least eight generations, but was not used by the families that emigrated to the Americas. When my great-grandfather returned to Castelfondo to live out his later years, he was known in the village as Dominic Lanci. With the passing of three generations, the tradition of the sopranome has faded from our memories. What a shame! I rather like the idea that my Italian name could have been “Aloisia Anna Genetti Lanci”.

Am I Italian?

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Modern Italy showing the provinces of Trentino-Alto Adige. The village of Castelfondo is located in Trentino (marked by a very small dot on the enlargement of this map!)

As a child, I was told that I was “Tyrolean”. Of course, I didn’t know the meaning of “Tyrolean”, but I knew it was a source of pride for my family. As I grew older, I wondered where exactly was this mythic country called “Tyrol”. I couldn’t find it on any map. And why did I have an Italian last name, but I wasn’t Italian? Oh so many unanswered questions …

Growing up in Buffalo, New York in the 1970’s I had many friends of Italian ethnicity. But none were Tyrolean. Usually when someone asked if I was Italian, I just gave in and said “Yes, yes I am”. Because how can you explain to someone that your heritage is from a country that you can’t find on a map?

Let’s jump ahead to 1991. Something on the nightly news catches my attention. Hikers have found a man frozen for over 5,000 years in the Alps … the Tyrolean Alps! Something awakens inside me and I proclaim to my husband, “Look he’s a Tyrolean, just like me! The iceman is one of my ancestors!” At the time my husband thought I was a little crazy. But there was a spark of recognition that, yes indeed, I did come from an ancient people. Today we know this man as Otzi – The Iceman and he is a treasure to the people of South Tyrol.

A few more years roll by. In 2010 I began genealogy research to find my family. Right away I saw there were discrepancies in the United States Census information. The 1910 Census stated that my great-grandfather’s family was from Austria. In the 1920 Census their birthplace is listed as Switzerland. And by 1930, the census taker became really confused! The family is first documented as Austrian. Then this answer is crossed out and Italy is scribbled over the category of birthplace. “OK,” I thought, “even the census is confused by my ethnic background!”

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Map of Austrian Tyrol drawn in 1882. Portions of these regions now belong to Italy.

Thankfully we live in the age of the internet with answers right at our fingertips. In 2010, it didn’t take long to solve the mystery of my ethnicity. Apparently the region of Tyrol is smack in the middle of Europe. Because of its central location, the fact that it is land-locked with several bordering neighbor countries and that it guards important mountain passes between eastern Europe and southern Europe – this area has been invaded and controlled by many tribes, countries and governments throughout history. Human settlements in Tyrol can be traced back to 12,000 BC. Otzi is a mere 5,300 years old! Yep, we’re talking ancient!

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Modern Tyrol today – Pink areas belong to Austria; Orange area is the province of Alto Adige or Sud Tirol (South Tyrol) and belongs to Italy; Purple area is the province of Trentino and also belongs to Italy.

We’ll save the long history of Tyrol for another blog post. For now the short answer of modern ethnicity is that Tyrol belonged to the Austrian Habsburg Dynasty, (that later became the Austro-Hungarian Empire) for about 550 years. There was a short period of rule in the 1800’s under Napoleon in which the country was given to Bavaria, then later returned to Austria. After World War I, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was dismantled and the region of Tyrol was divided with the southern portion given to Italy. By 1919 this area became the Italian provinces of Trentino and Alto Adige (or South Tyrol). The little Austrian village of Castelfondo, ancestral home of the Genetti family, was now Italian!

So there you are – the Genetti Family is of all three ethnic backgrounds: Tyrolean, Austrian and Italian. I will always consider myself to be Tyrolean and from the same beautiful part of the world where Otzi, The Iceman once lived.

Read more about the History of Tyrol, click here.

Find out about the famous Tyrolean, Otzi – the Iceman as the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, click here.