A Place To Find Your Family History


The first emigration of Albanese to Italy came in 1448, before the death of Skanderbeg. In that year Alfonso I of Aragon, King of Naples, unable to put down a rebellion of the Calabrese, called Demetrio Rerez from Albania, a skilled and brave leader who reduced them to obedience. It was the Rerez people who founded the first three Albanese colonies in Italy.

The second emigration was between 1461 and 1464 at the time Skanderbeg made the expedition to Italy to come to the aid Ferdinand of Aragon. At that time many Albanese longed to live a less difficult life, so rather than returning to Albania, they settled in various places in Puglia (fill) calling others of their countrymen to join them. And it was this time no doubt, that marks the second emigration. Many Albanese families, seeing Greece decimated of its inhabitants, took a fancy to the pleasantness of Italy and decided to make it their permanent home.

In the vicinity of Greci they had fought under the command of their Duke and had shed their blood in defense of the Kingdom of Naples, and here they settled, so they might hand down the memory of their deeds to later generations.

Agostino Tocci, Albanese of S. Cosmo in Cosenza province, in one of his manuscripts that goes back to the sixteenth century, says that after the death of Skanderbeg many Albanese, to escape subjugation by the Turks, arrived in Naples after a thousand painful episodes led by Giovanni Castrioti, son of our hero. There they were welcomed kindly by the Aragonese and were accommodated in the Castel Nuovo. These people lived in their own way and in a manner completely pleasing to the customs of the Neapolitans, however the King of Naples came to the painful decision to turn them out by the force of his armies.

Giovanni Castriota, (fn2) unable to persuade the king to be more lenient, went to Rome to implore the Pope to intervene with his good offices. (Se non che?) Odum Romae consuliturO, the King of Naples, (per via di fatti?), turned the refugees out of the city. But these people, continues the manuscript, (ajutati dagli?) Albanese that they live near Ariano di Puglia (fn3), (? riuscirono a sconfiggere lOesercito regio).

Now, on the basis of the (sifatta?) narration, though not (autentica=official?), one has to suppose that the Albanese who settled in Greci, the only ones that live near Ariano di Puglia, settled in the time we are talking about, between 1461 and 1464.

Later, after the death of Skanderbeg, there would be another five emigrations that came at various times, from the time of the King of Aragon up to the time of the Bourbon King Ferdinand IV.

After the terrible events in their homeland the Albanese were like masts of broken ships, like shreds of worn out clothes, helter-skelter groups, as a tribe. More came from the lands of lower Albania, since those in the mountains of high Albania were better able to defend themselves from the arrogance of the Turks. With tormented hearts, they searched for a refuge, a shelter in the hospitable land of Italy, scattering here and there in these southern provinces and populating at least sixty colonies in which they all still dwell now.

Some believe that the Albanese of Greci were not permanently settled until 1522 because that is when they started paying the OadoaO, a kind of feudal tribute, to Regio Demanio. (Sifatta?) opinion but it does not hold up. Since their starting to pay this feudal tribute in 1522 does not mean they had not established themselves many years earlier.

I would like to say that for fifty or so years these people lived in Greci more albanesium that is to say, more militum , and with few means for earning a living. And only after a certain period of time after their settlement, after they began to receive some profit from the industry of their herds and cultivation of the fields were they obligated to pay the said tribute.

Here and there in the territory of Greci are found many places that bear (prettamente?) Albanese names. These are:

1) Scesci Chicute (Cicute)
2) Pili
3) Fisa
4) Gama Scpothite
5) Scenegnui
6) Malli
7) Vresctate
8) Proimolese
9) Proinusuate
10) Proigasite
12) Fraskeri
14) Brigna
17) Rescalatti
18) Schelchi
19) Arra-dhoja

The names of these and other places in the territory of Greci have been handed down. A few names are from heads of families, and others from places that their ancestors left in Albania before taking refuge in Greci. They reveal how, even in this country where they carefully selected their new place to live, they felt a certain sense of nostalgia. They wanted to hand down the memory to posterity, and feel less bitter about how far they had come from their poor dear homeland, after leaving it at the mercy of the Turks.

The Albanese who settled in Greci, like almost all the Albanese who came to Italy, were catholics of the Greek rite in their hearts. In their homeland they had fought for the faith of Rome, until in such case they did not have the power ever to catch on the Greek schism. And here in Italy in their respective homes, as time passed, they peacefully practiced the catholic religion in the Greek rite.


However, deprived of their own pastors, and subject to the jurisdiction of the latin bishops, they gradually lost their rite and in large part became assimilated by the latin catholics, in the liturgy, in their weddings and in the songs, that yet are a large part of the national life of the people. And (sifatta?) deplorable change was especially to prove the case in the Albanese colonies of Puglia, Molise, and the provinces of Catanzaro and Reggio Calabria.

Among us, only Villabadessa in Abruzzi had the strength to preserve the Greek rite, in spite of the not always fatherly demands of the bishop of Penne. In Calabria, specifically in the province of Cosenza (as in five Albanese colonies of Sicily where the Albanese lived together longer and almost continuously) the Greek rite was defended by those brothers, and even protected by the Roman pontiffs, so it is preserved almost completely today in all its vigor. (fn4 )

.............. (more to come about church affairs)............



(fnl) - The Albanian countrymen that are found in these lands, without counting the many others in Calabria and Sicily, are: 1) Greci, in Avellino province
2) Chieuti and Casalvecchio, in Foggia province
3) S. Marzano ofS. Giuseppe, in Lecce province
4) Campomarino, Portocannone, Ururi and Montecilfoni, in Campobasso province
5) Villabadessa, in Teramo province
6) Maschito, Barile, and Ginestra, in Potenza province.

In this same province on the Calabrese side are also found S. Paolo Albanese, S. Constantino Albanese and Farnera. Castelluccio del Sauri, in Foggia province, and some other places in Lecce province and in Molise that were Albanese are completely Italianized today. Italianized are Mongrassano and Cervicati and some other places is Cosenza province. In Lecce province are some Greek places like Kalimera, Zollino, Castrignano del Greci, Soleto, Castii and some others.

(fn2) - John Castriota, son of Skanderbeg, died in Naples and was buried in the church in the courtyard of Castel Nuovo, and his tomb can still be seen there. His son, Costantino, bishop of Isernia, died very young. In his honor, Andronica Commendo, his paternal grandmother and wife of Skanderbeg, erected a magnificent monument in the bascilica of S. Maria La Nova in Naples. The monument bears the date of 1500.

(fn3) - After this episode of the armies, the Albanese refugees were permitted to go and settle in the fiefdom of Monte S. Angelo in Trani and in S. Giovanni Rotondo which Ferdinand had already granted to Skanderbeg. However, because of continued complaints by the local inhabitants in these places, who badly tolerated the presence of the Albanesi, the refugees went on to live in S. Pietro in Galantina in Lecce province which the King of Naples gave to them as a fiefdom in place of the others they had left.

Since the Albanese Ferrante Castriota, son of Giovanni (husband?) of Erina, her daughter, lived in Calabria with Pier Antonio Sanseverino, Prince of Bisignano, a good number of the Albanese refugees, abandoned Lecce province, where they were not well liked, and went to Calabria to populate the fiefdoms of this prince. And as Erina’s brother Achille became governor with residence at Cassano al Jonio, these people have their origins as descendants forever surviving from the Castriotis who live in Naples.

(fn4) - A Greek seminary was established in Palermo forthe Albanese of Sicily on petition by P. Giorgio Guzzetta in 1734 (1784?). (Poscia?) the Pope Pius VI, by the Pontifical Bull “Commissa Nobis” on 6 February 1784? instituted by the same, a Greek bishopric and consecrating P. Giorgio Stassi of Piana dei Greci as first bishop on 25 June 1785. The Albanese colonies over which the bishop exercised the jurisdiction, in a simple liturgical way, are: Piana dei Greci, Contessa Entellina, Palazzo Adriano, Messojuso and Cristina Gela.

For the Albanese who preserved the Greek rite in Calabria, in 1732, Pope Clemente XII, by Papal Bull – “inter moltiplices” erected a Greek college in the Albanese colony of S. Benedetto Ullano in Cosenza province, and D. Felice Samuele Rodota was named as Rector, and later named Bishop by OBreve of 16 August 1735.

Translation Draft by Dick Vara - 4/15/97