This map shows southern Italy including northern Sicily:

This detail from the eastern coast of the province Reggio di Calabria (green square 1) shows Gioiosa Ionica whence came the Coluccio's to the United States.  Somewhere nearby is tiny Ligunia where, circa 1880, Diego Coluccio was the butcher for the Baron. Later, his son Francesco would ride by horseback from Gioiosa Ionica to Rocella Ionica to court Maria Teresa Schirripa. After emigrating to New York and having children, Francesco dropped the "o" from the surname in common usage and his son, Albert Colucci(o), later moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Gioiosa Ionica
Gioiosa Ionica 

Below is a detail from the northeast tip of Sicily (green square 2 on the 1st map above).
San Filippo del Mela in the province of Messina, Sicily is the place from which Antonino Valenti came to Canada in 1912 (eventually settling in Toronto).

Current Weather Conditions
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About San Filippo del Mela:
A small village with a population of 7244 set on the river Mela 40 km west of the city of Messina, San Filippo del Mela rises on a hilly area along the coast and is 123 metres above sea-level. The main economic activity is agriculture producing citrus fruit, wine-grapes, olives, corn, fruit.

San Filippo landscape
The surrounding landscape of San Filippo del Mela (photo by Richard Valenti)

San Filippo del Mela derives its name from the abbey of San Filippo founded there by the Norman, Count Roger. The town was founded by Normans around the abbey in the XI century.

The Cathedral in town was built in 1760 by Giovan Battista Vaccarini (1702-1768).
Vaccarini's church
(photo by Richard Valenti)

San Filippo Corso Garibaldi
Corso Garibaldi, the site of the old abandoned Valenti homestead - view from the pathway across the street which leads down to the surrounding countryside

Cattafi is a small community about two miles northeast of San Filippo del Mela, halfway to Pace del Mela.  Cattafi was home to the Di Paola's whence came Antonino's wife, Anna Maria Carmela Di Paola.

About Cattafi:
“Cattafi has about 800 people... There really is only one main street that runs on a ridge and then the town falls off to valleys on the east and west sides. There is a little post office, a pharmacy, 2 small supermarkets, the Hotel Royal where we stayed, 3 restaurants including the one at the Royal, a butcher, a hardware store, a little odds and ends store called "Un pui di tutti", barber, hair dresser, elementary school and church, and soccer pitch. There is some new building activity- fairly handsome 4 storey apartment buildings and some substantial new single family homes. I am sure people commute to Milazzo or Messina from here for work. It seems fairly stable as a community seeing as it is in a commuter shed...It is an attractive retirement location and the apartments probably have a fair number of seniors living in them - but a bit on the quiet side!” - Chris DeMarco, 2004

View looking northwest from Cattafi
View looking northwest from Cattafi towards Milazzo (photo by Chris DeMarco, May 2004)

Cattafi main street
The main street in Cattafi (photo by Chris DeMarco, May 2004)

Many of the Valenti's came to Canada. The Di Paola's scattered to Lake Como in northern Italy, Milan, the U.S. and Canada although Anna's brother Santo Di Paola and his family stayed in Cattafi.

This map shows the epicentre in the Straits of Messina of the great earthquake in 1908 which was experienced and recounted by Antonino Valenti from 40 km away.  Within the red circle the quake was rated XI on the Mercalli Scale which means "Few, if any masonry structures remain standing. Bridges destroyed. Broad fissures in ground; earth slumps and landslides widespread. Undergound pipelines completely out of service. Rails bent generally."

Useful Links:

1) Italy GenWeb site. Useful information about researching relatives in Italy.

2) Official website of Gioiosa Ionica.
3) Information on San Filippo del Mela.
4) Systran web site for translation of various languages including Italian.


Site maintained by Norman Franke. Last modified October 12, 2008