Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 28, 2016

Searching for family

Fellow blogger, Victoria, who writes, has been staying with me. She was very keen to visit the Garfagnana area after finding out that her maternal grandparents were born there.

Her mother’s family came from Castiglione di Garfagnana, a beautiful fortified town on top of a hill surrounded by the magnificent mountains of the Appenine and Apuan Alps.

Castiglione Garfagnana

We went to the Comune office where we were helped by a charming young woman called Christina.


She searched records and found the family, but not the birth records of Victoria’s grandmother. It seems she was probably born in an outlying community and her birth was not recorded at the Comune. Christina promised to look further into church records when she had more time.


After wandering through the pretty town and chatting to several locals we went on to Pieve Fosciana to search for Victoria’s grandfather.


Pieve Fosciana is just a few kilometres from Castiglione di Garfagnana, on the flat plain below.


The Comune office was closed, but as luck would have it, we came upon a helpful gentleman named Francesco who searched one of the old books and found the records of her grandfather and his marriage.


He then walked us around the corner to the house where her grandfather was born. It was quite emotional.


Of course the house has changed in the last hundred years, but it is still there.

We were delighted to find 2 helpful people who didn’t hesitate to help with our enquiries. It is great that these records are so accessible and that is possible to look through history. It would be wonderful to know the stories of the names on those pages.



  1. How wonderful that you were successful with one of her searches! Yes I totally u serata bd the emotion of this experience! Have fun. Wish I were there with you both!

    • It would have been great to have you with us.

  2. Wonderful story

    • We were very lucky to find such lovely people to help us.

  3. What a lovely, heartwarming story!

    • I think it is excellent to find your roots.

  4. How rewarding! I have done similar searches without Victoria’s luck

    • It was great to find the records and people happy to help.

  5. Italy is full of wonderful people including yourself. How nice of you to be with Victoria. I am so happy for her 🙂 Wishes from Delhi to both of you

    • Thank you Ishita. It was a great thing to be part of.

  6. What a quest, I got goosebumps when I read that you successfully found Victoria’s family roots.

    • It is amazing to see those names on a page. Their stories would be interesting.

  7. Beautiful story Debra!

    • We have traced our family back a long way. It is good to know where you come from.

      • Yes indeed! My great uncle actually did a ton of research on my dad’s family the Andersons who came from Sweden. An entire group still are there. I don’t know as much about the other sides as they came from all over Northern Europe. Would love to trace it!

  8. Great story! From our own experience, tell Christina to go through church records. Births around the 1860’s and before are not recorded in the town hall as the Anagrafe started operating after unification. Some of these book entries are written in Latin.

    • That was Christina’s suggestion. I’m sure Victoria will follow it up.

  9. […] the year there were many visits to lovely Lucca, fabulous Florence, marvellous Modena, Castiglione Garfagnana with Victoria, Bologna and Parma with Cathy for the antique fare (I’m going back with a truck […]

  10. […] чрез Търсене на семейството – Бани ди Лука и Отвъд […]

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