The research done by Anthony Vermandois at Imagines Maiorum-Ancestors from Campania forms the basis for this exploration into the lives of our ancestors who lived in Agropoli.
Imagines Maiorum includes a compilation of vital statistics for families who lived in Agropoli, Atripalda, Castellabate, Laureana Cilento, Monte san Giacomo, Padula. New data is being compiled for the residents of these towns who immigrated abroad.
A bride from out-of-town
We were not able to find in-depth material about the traditions associated with courtship and marriage in 19th century Southern Italy. Since some of the matriarchs that married into our branch families were from outside of Agropoli we questioned how a match would be made between a male relative who lived in Agropoli and a bride who came from another town. This posting presents some of the scenarios we considered.
Our ancestors were Roman Catholics. In this tradition the marriage banns are published from the church of the future bride since the marriage would take place there.
A bride from another town who married into a family from Agropoli most likely married in the parish church her family attended in her hometown. This is one reason why the banns of a marriage performed outside of Agropoli do not appear in the data Anthony has compiled for the families of Agropoli. We found the inclusion of a wife’s home town valuable as we searched among our extended family for a bride another town who married into a family from Agropoli.
Meet Rosa from Laureana Cilento
My Uncle and I considered the specific situation of Rosa d’Amico who came from Laureana Cilento before her marriage to Carlo Figliola of Agropoli. We know her home town because Anthony has included it in the entry of her vital statistics at Imagines Maiorum-Ancestors from Campania.
Our relationship to Rosa d’Amico and Carlo Figliola is through the Scotti Family
Family Tree for Rosa Scotti showing her parents, Antonio and Marianna. Her Grandparents Carlo and Rosa are at the top of the tree.
Rosa d’Amico of Laureana Cilento married Carlo Figliola of Agropoli. Their daughter Marianna was born circa 1826 in Agropoli.
Marianna Figliola married Antonio Scotti. They had a daughter whom they named after Marianna’s mother. This daughter was Rosa Scotti.
Rosa Scotti married Gennaro Serrapede. Gennaro and Rosa (nee Scotti) Serrapede were:
• Uncle Sammy’s Great Aunt and Uncle
• Emily Ann’s Great-Great Aunt and Uncle
Family tree showing relationship between the children of Luigi and Angela Maria Serrapede. Our direct line ancestors mentioned in this section are on the left.
Our direct Serrapede ancestor was Sabato Serrapede (our line is on the left side of the family tree) who was Gennaro’s brother (his family line is on the right hand side of the tree).
Carlo Figliola and Rosa d’Amico: Looking for a marriage partner
Carlo’s profession is given as “Lavoratore” which means laborer. He was born before 1810. During this period the wealth and landholdings in Italy were concentrated in the hands of a few powerful families. We do not believe Carlo’s search for a wife would involve the intricate negotiations that took place amongst the better off.
Carlo’s aspirations would be very simple: to meet a healthy woman close in age, someone compatible that he felt would be a good mother and helpmate.
Rosa, too, would want a husband she was compatible with and who could provide for her. It was essential for him to have some means to make a living. It would also matter that she be comfortable with his family since she would be leaving her own family behind when she moved to Agropoli.
For both, it would be essential that their parents gave their approval and blessing. If all was in order, the marriage could be entered to the town registry with the signatures of the bride, groom and their parents.
Preparations for Marriage
The families with money and property prepared a dowry for their daughter that included gold jewelry, linens, flatware, cookware and table service. The gold jewelry would remain the bride’s property which she could sell in the event of her husband’s death or when there was an emergency that required her to get money into the household should her husband be away. It was a form of insurance.
The man’s family would provide a new dwelling or room in the existing dwelling for the new wife. He would have to have employment so a job would be found for him if he did not have one.
Money would be put aside to entertain the bride’s family and exchange gifts once the couple finalized their engagement and future marriage date.
We have observed such preparations at work while the first and second generation of our Italian-American family members were alive. These patterns did not develop after they came to America but were taught by their parents who brought them from Agropoli to America.
Although Carlo and Rosa’s family were of modest means there would still have been some form of these preparations carried out in a manner they could afford. Of that we are certain.
We think that extended family members played the roles of matchmakers when people from different towns got together. Family events, church festivals, and visits between relatives living in different towns would provide the opportunities for parents and relatives to introduce eligible marriage partners to each other.
Possible scenarios for how Carlo met Rosa
• Rosa’s family may have gone to Agropoli for the wedding of a cousin.
• Perhaps Carlo went to Laureana Cilento for the baptism of a relative’s new child.
• The Figliola and d’Amico families attended a church festival at a town mid-way between Agropoli and Laureana Cilento. During the festival they stayed with relatives who suggested an introduction between Carlo and Rosa.
In such a setting amongst their respective families the comfort zone for introductions and socializing would be very strong. There were already common bonds in place that took some of the guesswork out of getting to know each other.
Since time and energy were needed for work rather than prolonged socializing, the manner of introduction and courtship would need to be very practical and forthright.
Carlo travels to meet Rosa
Google maps satellite photo of the road from Agropoli to Laureana Cilento.
How would Carlo Figliola and his family travel from Agropoli to Laureana Cilento to meet Rosa d’Amico and her family?
Google maps shows that the distance from Agropoli to Laureana Cilento is 8.8 km (about 5 1/2 miles). By car the trip is 15 minutes.
In the 1830s railway service was available in Southern Italy but we have not found any English language material yet that specifically covers the topic of when the railway first came to Agropoli.
I thought of the following possibilities of transportation:
• cart drawn by donkey
• cart drawn by horse
Uncle Sammy thought that none of these were feasible because:
• If the Figliola family had a horse or donkey, it was put to better use carrying produce to market or working on the land where they may have been employed.
• Walking the 5.5 mile distance could be done in one day, my Uncle said. If the family brought provisions, they could picnic along the way and stay overnight or a few days once they arrived in Laureana Cilento.
A stay of 2-3 days would be enough for Carlo to assess whether or not Rosa was suitable. It would also give Rosa’s family a chance to consider Carlo’s family members that came along on the trip.
After considering the scenario my Uncle offered it is the one that makes the most sense to me.
The next visit would be from the d’Amico family to Agropoli. Rosa and her parents would be entertained and introduced to their daughter’s prospective in-laws. Rosa would also have the opportunity to see where she would live after marriage.
After this visit Rosa and Carlo would be given some time to think about the proposed match. Any details about what the bride brought to her new home and what the groom had to provide for her would be finalized. The couple would visit the registrar in Laureana Cilento and the banns would be published after that.
After the wedding, Rosa returned with Carlo to Agropoli to begin her new life as Rosa d’Amico Figliola.
Map of route from Agropoli to Laureana Cilento
Google Maps: http://tinyurl.com/pegevtl
We have listed the following articles that were read while researching marriage customs in Southern Italy during the 19th century. Most of this material fell short of what we needed. However, these articles are interesting and worthwhile because they present the subject of 19th century Italian life or Italian marriage customs in a clear and concise manner.
Life in 19th Century Italy
Life in Italy-arranged marriages– http://www.giorlando.net/ken/docs/19th.html
Life in Italy during the 19th century-RISORGIMENTO
Marriage Italian Style
History of Rail Transport in Italy
Italian Wedding Traditions, Yesterday and Today