27b-Spring Break-Roosters of legend in Italy

“Rooster Ruckus” art glass miniatures by Lenox.

When the sunlight is bright I love to photograph the little figurines my late Mom collected.  Sunlight has a quality like no other form of lighting I’ve noticed when I take photos.  It is alive.  I can see subtle variations between the way things look when I focus the camera and just a few second later when the image is captured into the camera memory.  The photos of the rooster and chickens captured the light and mood I associate with Springtime.  To me these little figures are a reminder that the sleepy, reclusive days of winter are coming to an end.

I had some time this evening to surf the web to see if there were any stories about roosters in Italian folklore.  I found a few interesting stories plus a blog about a retiree raising chickens in Italy.  It’s pleasant reading if you have some leisure time so I’m providing a summary here along with links at the end of the posting.

*In many cultures having a decorative object with a rooster on it brings good luck to the household.  The rooster also symbolizes prosperity.

*In a Northern Italian region the logo for a brand of Chianti wine is a black rooster.  Legend tells of a dispute between two families that arose when each questioned the boundaries for their lands.  A challenge was accepted by each family to ride across their lands from early morning until the time when they caught up with each other.  That meeting point would mark the boundary they’d agree on.  One of the families kept their black rooster very hungry prior to the day they had to ride out.  The poor, starving rooster crowed much earlier than the rooster from the other family.  The owners of the black rooster rose earlier and covered more land by the time they met up with the rider from the other family.  The rooster belonging to that other family had crowed much later because he was not hungry and so could sleep until dawn.

*Another legend concerns Giuliano di Medici.  His roosters raised a ruckus when a group of assassins sneaked onto his lands with the intention of killing him.  Because his roosters roused the men who protected Giuliano, the assassins met a quick end.  In gratitude to the roosters, Giuliano commissioned artisans to create ceramic pitchers shaped like roosters.  He gave these as gifts to his friends.  In modern Italy a gift of such a pitcher carries with it the message that the giver hopes the recipient’s home remain safe from all harm.

You will also enjoy reading about Charlie, the Italian rooster that turned out to be a hen.  Her owner describes the delight in finding an egg every other day in Charlie’s nest along with watching all the hens run around the yard.


“Tradition of a Rooster in Kitchen”
By Benna Crawford
“In Search of the Black Rooster”
January 22, 2013
by Victoria DeMaio
“Legend of the Rooster Pitcher”
“A rooster in athe kitchen will bring good fortune”
by Martha Salinas-Veksler
July 14, 2010
“Chicken Stories From Italy: A Great Beginners Guide to Chickens”
The Grow Netowrk
December 9, 2015

27a-Spring Break 2016


Tammy, our little office assistant at Through The Byzantine Gate, is looking forward to springtime in Bay Ridge.

Uncle Sammy and I are going on Spring Break starting this week.  There are so many holidays coming all at once.  It’s impossible to stay with a routine!  There is St. Patrick’s Day, Palm Sunday, the first day of Spring, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and April Fool’s Day.  A break is in order.

A mood of gaiety is setting in as the buds on the trees become fuller, the days longer and bright yellow daffodils fill the flower shops.  Little by little Winter is leaving.  Two weeks ago I polished the curio cabinet and set up the collectibles and mementos my late Mom left me.  A small votive candleholder with painted pink roses has written across it:  “Bright Spring, New Beginnings!”

We hope this is true for everyone in a wonderful and beautiful way.  We’ll be back to regular posting in April.



27-A Widow in Agropoli-Giuseppa Ruocco Muro-What will she do next?


The genealogical research conducted by Anthony Vermandois forms the basis for the exploration of our ancestral families who lived in Agropoli. Anthony presents the vital statistics, marriage banns and immigration data for Southern Italians in the towns of Agropoli, Atripalda, Castellabate, Laureana Cilento, Monte San Giacomo, and Padula.  Please visit Imagines Maiorum to look-up information about families from these towns.

For this posting we have used the Charts of Descent for the Ruocco, Muro and Mazzeo families.




Artwork used in this posting is within the public domain. Links are provided in the Resources section.

Relationship Notes

Chart for Giuseppa Ruocco.

Giuseppa Ruocco Muro was:
–Sammy’s Great Grandmother
–EmilyAnn’s Secong Great Grandmother

1883: A year of Great Change

Pietro Muro died in 1883 at the age of 41. He left behind 5 small children.  Giuseppa waited 4 years before she married again.

Uncle Sammy and I questioned how Giuseppa could remain single for so long. We were unable to locate any resource materials concerning the life of widows in 19th century Southern Italy so we took an informal approach to consider how Giuseppa might have gotten through those 4 years.

Continue reading “27-A Widow in Agropoli-Giuseppa Ruocco Muro-What will she do next?”

26-The Muro Family in Agropoli: Pietro and Giuseppa


At his website Imagines Maiorum-Ancestors from Campania, Anthony Vermandois presents the results of his research on families of Agropoli and nearby towns. Families are organized into charts of descent that provide dates of birth, marriage, immigration and death.  We have found Anthony’s research a valuable starting point as a means to get to know our ancestors from Italy.

We have used the charts for the Muro, Serrapede and Ruocco (part B) families for this week’s posting.

Links to the articles and public domain artwork used in this posting are given in the Resources section at the end of this posting.

Relationship Notes

Giuseppa Ruocco Muro is of special interest to us because her Granddaughter Josie was named after her. Josie was one of the important and beloved women in the lives of my Uncle and myself.  Josie was his mother and my maternal Grandmother.

Giuseppa was:

–Sammy’s Great Grandmother
–EmilyAnn’s Great-Great Grandmother

We think that if Giuseppa was anything like Josie, she would have been a very resourceful and forward looking woman.

Giuseppa and Pietro: What was their quality of life like?

Pedigree chart for Giuseppa Ruocco.

Giuseppa Ruocco was born in 1844 in Agropoli. She was the daughter of Nicola and Clarice (nee Serrapede) Ruocco.  On September 19, 1867 she married Pietro Muro.

Anthony has located information on the births of the following children of Giuseppa and Pietro:

Giovanni 1871-1871
Giovanna 1873-
Filomena 1875-
Rosa 1879-
Nicola 1882-1966

When Giuseppa and Nicola married, Italy had been a unified country for six years. Nicola, like his father before him, supported his family by working as a bracciante.

The word bracciante is usually translated as “day laborer or hired hand”. When we looked for an expanded meaning of the term we learned that it is mostly used to describe agricultural work.

Given that Italian society was highly stratified at this time we questioned if the Unification of Italy had made any improvements to the lives of people like Giuseppa and Nicola. The condition of a day laborer or agricultural field worker would not have been easy in any time.  Workers are subject to the weather conditions and have no guarantee of ongoing, long-term work.  We wanted to gain some insights into what that life was like.

Since my Uncle and I have very limited time for research, and we do not read Italian, it was a challenge to find material that presented a vivid but concise overview of the conditions of the kind of life Pietro and Giuseppa lived.

We took a creative approach by examining the depiction of Italian agricultural workers in the art of two 19th century Italian painters.  We then compared that to the factual information gleaned from two very well written and informative articles about the difficult lives of Southern Italians and Sicilians which the Unification of Italy did little to address.

The artwork that we found depicts the contadini (country people, farmers). Since they, too, were agricultural workers we used these paintings as a way to get us thinking about the lives of agricultural workers in general during the Post-Unification period of Italy.  We were unable to find paintings of the bracciante.

Continue reading “26-The Muro Family in Agropoli: Pietro and Giuseppa”