Saturday, June 9, 2007

The "Eighteen Families" of Loveno Grumello

Italy is made up of regions (Piedmont, Tuscany, Sicily, etc.), which are made up of provinces (like Brescia), which are made up of many little "communes." I'll just back up for a moment here. Usually the provincial name is the same name as the chief city and capitol of the province, which also has it's own commune. So the province (Milan for example) has the same name as the capitol city and commune. Like "the city and country of San Francisco," or "the city, commune, and province of Milan."

One of the Brescia province's "communes" is Paisco Loveno, which is located in the northern mountains (Valle Camonica). It seems to be made up of three villages. One is "Paisco." The other two are side by side, so they are under the same little town administration. They are "Loveno" and "Grumello," or simply Loveno Grumello.

There are officially 257 inhabitants in Paisco Loveno. Perhaps about half of that in Loveno Grumello. This little tri-village is truly located in some deep woods in the mountains, similar to the Smokey Mountains maybe. If you look at it from a satelite image, it's like a "Black Forest" from an old movie. You can't even see the villages!

Loveno Grumello is more than a village, but has quite a history. Eighteen families live there that go back centuries. They are:
Armeni, Baldoni, Calvetti, Calufetti, Degani, Filafusi, Fornoni, Franchini, Lucchi, Mansini, Mattia, Mitterpergher, Norini, Omassoli, Palazzi, Pedretti, Rondoni, and Stupendi.

Some of these names, like Calufetti, are only found in the Camunian Valley. Therefore, quite likely, every "Calufetti" (or Calufetti descendant) in the world is related to one another. "Rondoni" is a name which seems to be tracable right back to ancient Rome (Rondon?), branching out to the Perugia/Umbria area, and north to the Veneto, and finally, perhaps, to "Venetian Brescia" many centuries ago.

The name "Armeni" is interesting in that it literally means "Armenians" in Italian. It could be linked to either an Armenian family who lived in old Venice maybe, or to someone who merely (more likely) traded with the Armenians via the Venetian eastern trade routes. This type of name is somewhat common in Italy, where long ago governors or merchants were sometimes called by the name of the region they were linked with (Albanese, Greco, Francese, Germano, Turco, etc.) Also, this occurred via cities or regions within the Italian peninsula. For example, a Sicilian named "DiNapoli" (of Naples) or a Neapolitan named "Genovese" (a Genoan) or "Lucchesi" (person who is from Lucca). Once again, it's either originated from an ancestor who was a migrant, a trade merchant, or a governmental figure of some type.

Also interesting is the non-Italian sounding name "Mitterpergher." This, almost undoubtedly, is a name tracable right back to the invasion of the Lombards in the sixth century. Ninty-nine times out've a hundred, this type of foreign name is "Italianized" eventually. What is also very curious is that this German-sounding name is not found, with this very old spelling, in northern Europe that I know of. Perhaps it can be found in Germany with a shortened version, like "Miterperger." Needless to say, every name has a long history.

Immigrants from Brescia and the Camonica migrated all over the world. It's difficult to pinpoint exact numbers and percentages. The numbers were not especially large. Certainly Argentina is one of the main ones, and Australia. If we take the name "Calufetti" again, which is only native to the Camunian Valley, and if we were to search out anyone born a Calufetti in Buenos Aires, Montreal, Johannesburg, Melbourne, or Paris, they are literally "family" going back only a few generations.

It probably should be pointed out that Northern Italy has relatively few emigrants compared to Southern Italy and the German speaking lands. Even then, the vast majority were from big coastal cities like Genoa. Also, the vast majority migrated to the southern part of South America. This unusual emigration paradigm often makes it difficult to put many things into context, but it at least offers an explanation of why there are so few Lombardian descended people in America. I always say, if the Venetian Empire was located in Ireland or Sicily, we would have many movies, books, documentaries, etc., about it in English! Also, if the "Cinque Giornate Revolt" happened in Dublin, for example, we would have seen a major Hollywood motion picture about this very dramatic event! As they say, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. We can dig and sift through evidence of Lombardian communities around the world at a later time.

"Voce Camuna" online magazine featured an article about specifically these "eighteen familes," which is written in Italian. "Voce Camuna" means "Camunian Voice" and is probably a newspaper in the Valle Camonica. The very ancient history of the "Camunni tribe" is a whole subject in of itself. Don't be afraid to dig right into some of these regions, provinces, communes, and cities in the Italian wikipedia.

[Correction: "Voce Camuna" is a radio station, not a newspaper, although there are articles on the website.]

[Correction: The surname mentioned, "Germano," probably is from the first name of "Herman" in English. So that would be a surname of Herman. The Italian surname "Tedesco" means "German." "Tedeschi" means "Germans," and other combinations.]

[Note: The apparent North Italian surname "Parigi," which means "Paris," could possibly be based on an individual (perhaps from many centuries earlier) who was either a merchant or statesman who had key business or dealings with Paris or that general region.]

[8-14-09 ADDITION: It's interesting to note that one surname, very similar to Mitterpergher, and much more common in the north, is "Mittempergher." It's most likely of Langobard origin.]

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