19c-Coppola Family: Our Paesanos and Cousins in Agropoli and America


Imagines Maiorum is a website dedicated to Anthony Vermandois’ genealogical research of families who lived in Agropoli, Atripalda, Castellabate, Laureana Cilento, Monte san Giacomo, and Padula.  New data is being compiled for the residents of these towns who immigrated abroad.

We have used the charts of decent for the Serrapede, Muro, Scotti and Coppola families of Agropoli to prepare this posting.

A Name from the Past comes back into the Present

Uncle Sammy Serrapede had one of those “AHA” moments while we reviewed the marriages made by the children of Francesco and Rosolia (nee Patella) Scotti.

The mention of the marriage of their daughter Carmela brought back memories he had of a family who frequently called and visited his parents while he was growing up.

What brought about the “AHA” moment:  Carmela Scotti and Ignazio Coppola

Carmela was born circa 1850 to Francesco and Rosolia (nee Patella) Scotti in Agropoli.

 On February 20, 1869 Carmela married Ignazio Coppola.

Their children were:  Fortunata b.1871, Maddalena b.1873, Evangelista b.1875, Filomena b.1877, Antonia b.1881, Carmine b.1884, Emilia b.1886, Rosalia b.1892

Carmela Scotti Coppola was the sister of Sammy’s Great Grandfather Carmine Scotti.  Carmela was Sammy’s Great Aunt.

Aha!  The Coppolas were our paesanos!

A paesano (masculine) or paesana (feminine)is a person from one’s home town in Italy.

When discussing Carmela Scotti’s marriage with my Uncle Sammy on March 8, 2015 he mentioned that the Coppola family were very close paesanos to his parents.  He remembers that the Coppola family members his mom Josie knew lived in Brooklyn, NY.  There were also family members in Burlington, NJ and Wilmerding, PA.  Whenever the Coppola family of Burlington, NJ came to Brooklyn to visit their extended family they would stop by to visit the Serrapedes.

My Uncle Sammy said his father Sam also had paesanos from the Coppola family.  He wanted to know if the relationship went any further.

On Saturday, March 14, 2015 we reviewed the genealogical tables created by Anthony Vermandois and the pedigree charts on our family tree at Ancestry we made a discovery that explains why there were frequent visits by the Coppola family as he was growing up:  in addition to sharing the same hometown, there were ties of blood and marriage that brought the families together.

The Scotti, Serrapede and Coppola Families, Paesanos & Cuginos!

Maternal Line:  Carmela was the daughter of Francesco and Rosolia Scotti.  Her pedigree chart displays the name of her spouse Ignazio Coppola and her siblings.  Her brother Carmine Scotti is Sammy’s Great Grandfather.  Ignazio and Carmela were his Great Uncle and Aunt.

For Uncle Sammy the relationship to the children born to Ignazio and Carmela Coppola is First Cousin 2x removed.  This is because their lineage goes back two generations through his mother Josie and before that through his Grandmother Letizia.

Paternal Side:  The pedigree chart for Luigi Serrapede displays his wives and children, as well as his siblings.  Sammy’s relationship is through his Grandfather Gennaro Serrapede. Luigi and Lucia were his Great Uncle and Aunt. 

We also reviewed Anthony Vermandois’ genealogical charts for the Serrapede family and discovered that on Sammy’s paternal side there are also cousins in the Coppola family.  His Great Uncle Luigi Serrapede’s second wife was the former Lucia Coppola.

Getting Acquainted with Great Uncle Ignazio Coppola

Ignazio Coppola was born circa 1849 in Agropoli.  He was the son of Giuseppe and Fortunata (nee Pecora) Coppola.  Ignazio’s occupation is given as colono, contadino.  Both words mean “farmer”.

We are learning that 19th century Italy was very stratified and there were very explicit meanings to the manner in which one’s occupation was described.  The word used not only described the occupation but also had subtle implications of the social standing usually attached to it.

We wanted to know if there were differences between peasant farmers and farmers described as contadino.  A forum discussion at ItalianGenealogy.com provided the insight we needed.  A forum member asked the same question we did.  The difference between a cafone (peasant) and a farmer (contadino) is explained by forum member Suanj:

“… normally the “contadino” was a man that [was] working in own farm or working in a farm of another owner; instead the “cafone” was a peasant (as contadino) but the word meaning a peasant of a very, more humble condition, illiterate…

the word origin is: “ca’ fune” ( with rope) for to say a people that used the rope for the pants instead of to use the belt.” (1)

My Uncle and I think it is possible that since he was a contadino, Ignazio was treated differently from what a cafone would be treated like in Agropoli.

Ignazio’s Mother was from out-of-town

Ignazio’s mother, Fortunata, was from the town of Perdifumo, also in Salerno.  Most of the literature online is in Italian so we would welcome any details about this town in English.

According to Google maps Perdifumo is a 17 minute drive inland from Agropoli on the coastline.

What is very impressive here is how the families formed networks spanning out from Agropoli to other nearby towns.  Through families and their townsmen they connected to other towns for match making, socializing and maybe even employment opportunities.

Our understanding of what paesano means

So we now have a better understanding of the dynamics between the relationships of the Scotti, Muro, Serrapede and Coppola families.  The links of kinship and hometown in Agropoli remained in place after coming to America during the first generation of the Serrapede and Muro family member lifetimes.

A transalation of paesano from Italian to English defines the term as:

“paesano m (plural paesani, feminine paesana)

1.fellow countryman

2.fellow Italian

3.comrade or friend (usually from the same neighborhood, city, or region)

4.peasant, rustic villager” (3)

Uncle Sammy and I know the word paesano by the third definition.

In Agropoli, everyone was a paesano to each other because they shared the bond of living in the same locale.  When Grandma Josie or Grandpa Sam used these words I knew it meant something very different from the word “amici” (friends).  A paesano came from all the way “over there” in Agropoli.  It implied that the peasano/paesana had come from “over there” and was now living in Wilmerding, PA or Brooklyn, NY.

My Uncle always understood the word as used to describe anyone who came from the same hometown back in Italy.

My Grandparents never used it to describe another Italian family or Italian-American family that they did not know and who came from different towns or regions in Italy.



(1) ItalianGenealogy.com Discussion regarding peasant and contadino:  http://www.italiangenealogy.com/forum/italian-history-culture/25867.

(2) Route from Agropoli to Perdifumo by Google Maps:  https://www.google.com/#q=distance+from+agropoli+to+perdifumo

(3) Translation of paesano: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/paesano

Researched and Drafted March 7th-8th, 2015
Discussed and Reviewed:  March 8th and 14th, 2015
Draft finalized:  March 14, 2015 5:00 p.m.

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