Three Helpful Tips For Finding Living Relatives In Italy

Finding living relatives TuscanyIs finding living relatives in Italy hard?  Well, I assure you, it is not as difficult as you may think it is.  Considering, all you have to do is invest a little time into putting the missing pieces of the puzzle together.   Ten years ago, during my first visit to Italy, I made some common mistakes.  As a result, it took much longer than expected to connect with my living relatives.

Now that I live in Italy, I am aware of a clear pattern of behavior amongst Italians.  Something interesting happens when I meet someone for the first time.  They notice my non-Italian accent and ask me about my origins.  Once they learn that I am Italian-American, they immediately open up to me.  Some tell me about a cousin who moved to Toronto after World War II.  Others recall a great Aunt who left Italy after a devastating earthquake.  It seems like every Italian I meet has at least one relative in The United States, Canada, or Australia.

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Consequently, they know you are out there.   There are many Italians that are just waiting for you to find them.  An ocean separates you, yet you are closer than you realize.  Simply follow these three tips to get you started on your journey of finding your living relatives in Italy.

Ask Questions – Listen To Stories – Learn About Your Living Relatives in Italy

Home sourcing is paramount and the first step in my FREE HERITAGE GUIDE.  Earlier, I mentioned that I made some mistakes.  The first and biggest mistake was not going to relatives and asking questions about the family.  After the fact, I learned that several of my second cousins went to my ancestral villages when I was only a child.  The stories that they shared with me helped me successfully connect with my cousins living in Italy.

Each family member has unique memories and can provide a different viewpoint.  The more relatives that you speak with, the more history, you will uncover.  Take the time to craft a handful of questions to help you understand how to get you back to your roots and in touch with your living relatives.  For example, Who immigrated?  When did they immigrate?  Where did they immigrate?  With three simple questions, I learned that my great-grandfather and all of his siblings came to the United States.  One of his cousins stayed in Italy, and the other went to Belgium.  Also, my great-grandmother left Italy four years later with four children.  While her husband went ahead to establish roots in America, she lived with her brother in a neighboring village.

The Internet And Social Media Make Finding Living Relatives Simple

Finding Living Relatives with social mediaNow that you have answers to all of your questions it is time to connect.  Probably the quickest way of finding living relatives is by way of the Internet.  Most people are on multiple social media outlets.  Combine social media with a little help from google translate, and you can most likely make initial contact very quickly.  Before Facebook was International, I connected with one of my cousins in Belgium through MySpace.  He spoke French and some Italian and English.  I spoke English and almost no Italian.  Although it was a bit challenging, we started a conversation that blossomed into a great relationship over the years.

Finding living relatives that don’t have social media profiles is still possible on the internet.  As long as you know the ancestral village you can search the local “pagine bianche” white pages for your living relatives surname and get a phone number and address.  Now it is time to mix old school and technology.  Write a letter with the help of google translate to introduce yourself.  You might want to attach your contact details, social media links, and copies of photos.  Earlier I mentioned that my great-grandmother stayed with her brother for four years.  I sent a letter to his granddaughter who was in her late 70s and did not use the internet.  She and her daughter read the letter and saw the attached photos.  They immediately knew that we were related because they had some of the same photos in their home.

Develop and Foster Relationships with Living Relatives By Regular Communication

finding living relatives and developing relationships
After finding your living relatives in Italy and connecting with them, you should actively communicate.  Communication is of particular importance if you are planning a visit to your ancestral village.  Google translate probably worked well enough to get you connected.  However, to keep the dialog going, you might want to consider learning to speak Italian.  The more that you get to know one another before you meet in person, the more rewarding you will find your overall experience. For instance, while visiting my many cousins in Belgium a year after our initial contact, I learned that only one of them spoke English.  Fortunately, I started learning Italian right away, and I was able to interact with everyone.  I learned even more about my roots in the boot than I thought was possible.

In conclusion, to be successful in finding living relatives in Italy, avoid the mistakes that I initially made.  Ask, listen and learn from your family.  Then connect and keep the communication going.  Have you already connected with your relatives in Italy?  Please leave a comment below sharing your experience.  

finding living relatives GrammarlySome links on this page are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, Digging up Roots in the Boot receives a small referral fee for helping you conveniently locate resources that are helpful to you

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LauraLee

I am a proud third generation Italian American dedicated to promoting the richness of Italian cultural heritage.

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