My Family From Atina

Ciao !!! I’m Louise.  My ancestral family originated from Atina. 

My Italian Grandparents

My maternal grandparents came from the beautiful mountain community of Atina in Italy.  In this area, at the beginning of the 1900’s, for many life was very hard.  Thus my grandfather Benedetto felt restless, as many Italian families departed for distant lands, to America, Argentina, France, Belgium, Germany, Scotland and England.  Some members of his family members, namely his elder brother and sister, had already moved to live in London. Consequently Benedetto longed for adventure and was also enticed by the prospect of emigration to a new land of opportunity.

photo – Archivio Biblioteca di Atina

photo – Archivio Biblioteca di Atina

Little Italy in Clerkenwell London

The Leonardi / Del Prete Family

My Mother Concetta Leonardi

Therefore in the Summer of 1911 my Italian grandparents first set foot on English soil, and made their way to the city of London, to the district of Clerkenwell, the Italian quarter know as Little Italy or The Hill.

They rented a dilapidated Victorian house at the end of Little Saffron Hill, close to St Peter’s Italian Church, which was to be their family home for many years to come.

Here, my mother Concetta (Tina), was born and she was brought up in the Italian community.

You can read more about my Italian family who settled in Clerkenwell London at another of my websites that is dedicated to my mother:

 Clerkenwell – Our Little Italy

I too was born nearby in the heart of London, “within the sound of Bow Bells”, so I suppose I could be considered to be an “Italian Cockney”.

I have always had a true passion for Italy and all things Italian, and felt a real need to see for myself the land of my forefathers, to visit Atina and walk in the footsteps of my grandparents.  Sadly I never had the opportunity to know them, as they passed away well before I was born. So there somehow seemed to be a missing link in my family’s history, many frayed loose threads that somehow required weaving back together to create an ancient “tapestry”.

So, over 20 years ago my husband and I spent a memorable fortnight staying with some of my Italian cousins and their family in Atina. We were so warmly welcomed and received into the family fold. Atina transpired to be even more charming than I could ever have imagined.

Moving To Live In Italy

We holidayed several times in Italy before we finally set our heart on moving to live in Italy and create a new life for ourselves. We puchased an old farmhouse near the towns of Itri and Sperlonga.  We set about renovating the property.  It had no water, electricity of gas. Gradually over time we transformed it into a home. We also have a large olive grove.

We are so luckly to be surrounded by the beautiful scenery of the Aurunci  and Ausoni Mountains and local hillsides clad in olive trees. We are situated a short drive from the beautiful coastline of South Lazio, roughly midway between Rome and Naples. It is  about an hour’s drive from Atina, so we try to visit there as often as we can.

The Historic Town of Itri

Itri in the Aurunci Mountains

The Castle of Itri

Medieval Town of Gaeta

Sperlonga Coastline

Sperlonga’s Harbour and Old Town

Our Home

I enjoy writing about our new life and our adventures at my Tre Cancelle Blog

We often have guests staying with us that are tracing their family roots in the South Lazio area and we enjoy trying to help them.

Researching Family History

One of my favourite hobbies is photography and another is researching family history.

We are registered with the Guild of One Name Studies and are carrying out

a “One Name Study” of our surname Shapcott

We also belong to the Anglo Italian Family History Society

I am researching the following surnames in the Atina area:

Leonardi, Del Prete, Rossi, Farina, Salvia, Bracciale, Tortolani, Di Fiore, Pesce, Massa, Capogrossi, Rolfi.

Italian Heart

Photos have been accredited to the photographer / owner.  Images marked * are in the Public Domain. 

Photos marked with  are believed to be in the Public Domain due of their age.

All other photos I have taken myself –  © Louise Shapcott