by Guest blogger: Shana Nardi
I have been researching my family for years, especially trying to track down all of the siblings and ancestors of my mysterious Nardi line. For most of my life, I thought that I had no family left in Italy. After all, my great grandfather Carlo Nardi had immigrated to Connecticut with all of his siblings, some of their names not even known. During my year-long exchange to Italy, one of my host families drove me all the way from Caserta to Avellino, the birthplace of Carlo, since all of us assumed that no Nardis related to us had stayed in Italy.
But toward the end of my Grandpa Louis Nardi’s life, he told me or I remembered more and more of what he told me about his Nardi aunts and uncles. He said one of his uncles was in Italy. Carlo’s youngest brother had come to America but later returned to Italy, or maybe he had never left, so could there still be Nardi family in Italy?
I began researching this family by starting with ship manifests of Carlo Nardi and his siblings, which listed their last place of residence as San Potito Sannitico, a town in the Matese mountain region outside of Caserta. I wrote to Stati Civile of various towns, tracking the family’s frequent moves among small Matese paese, ranging from Caserta to Benevento to Avellino regions. Other family names and secrets emerged, and most of what my Grandpa told me was verified by documents. Yet I still had no name for the brother who supposedly stayed in Italy.
Then, I found the obituary for another brother and Italian World War I veteran Joseph Nardi, who passed in 1967 in Southington, Connecticut. It mentioned that a brother Patrick Nardi was still alive in Italy. Here was a name, but how would I find him with that Americanized name in the entire country of Italy?
I checked the ruoli matricolari on the websites of the Archivi di Stato of all of these regions, since the brothers’ birth towns have been in various military districts throughout their existence. At the Archivio di Stato di Caserta, I found both a Giuseppe Nardi and Pasquale Nardi listed—names which matched very closely with the Joseph and Patrick brothers that I recognized. I purchased photocopies of the military records, and sure enough, both were younger brothers of my great-grandfather Carlo Nardi, with the same parents. Pasquale was the Patrick Nardi that I had been searching for! Born in Bellona, the records said that he had four children by 1940 and his last military registration was in S. Potito.
On FamilySearch.org, I located Pasquale Nardi’s birth record, but there was no marriage notation on the side. His name came up in no Google searches. Plus, his death and his children’s information were recent enough that the Stati Civile would not have willingly opened up their record books for me. After several letters to Bellona went unanswered, I asked Ann’s help to obtain the local copy of Pasquale’s birth record, which might have a marriage notation and indicate where the family settled. Ann had to secure a lawyer, who wrangled with Bellona officials for nearly a year to obtain an abstract of Pasquale’s birth record, but it still showed no marriage notation. We were at a dead end.
For years, I have been acquainted with Mario Martini, a beloved former high school professore who spends his retirement writing copiously about the history, people, and culture of the Matese region. He is a Matese historian, a modern-day sage, publishing books yearly. He has been invaluable and more than generous to me during my Nardi family quest, adding color and personality to what their lives would have been like there so long ago. When I mentioned searching for Nardis in the area awhile ago, he quickly went to the Electoral Lists of Piedimonte Matese (largest city in region) and found that a Nardi woman was born there.
One of Mario’s friends knew the Nardi woman, who now lives in Alife, very well, but it was difficult for Mario to find or contact her himself. Mario then contacted an Alife post office worker, who did not know the local Nardi woman, but did know of another Nardi woman in nearby Alvignano who had been helping her father with his pension, but the postal worker had lost track of her. There were two male Nardi deaths in the area between September and January. Then, Mario called another friend of his in Alvignano who did not know the local Nardi woman, but found her phone number. Mario called the Nardi lady in Alvignano, who turned out to be a sister to the Nardi woman in Alife.
On May 9, 2021, the Nardi sisters visited with Mario and exchanged information. They are indeed my Nardi relatives, granddaughters of Pasquale Nardi! Only one of Pasquale’s six children survived, and she has confirmed all of the names and information of what I knew about the Nardis, both in S. Potito and in Connecticut! The final proof came when one sister sent me the exact same photo that I inherited, but had been unable to identify anyone. The sister identified all four people, pointing out the one surviving daughter of Pasquale, her aunt!
After searching for my Nardi family in Italy for years, once not even aware of their existence, I have finally reconnected with them! Within two days, I have gained an entire new line of Nardi cousins, our people in our Italian homeland! They can now share with me the stories, the traditions, the personalities of my Italian roots that were lost in the push for Americanization. We have already exchanged photos, documents, family trees, and love across the distance. My once-nebulous research trip to the Matese region now is a definite family reunion set for June 2022.
Mario gave me back my family, and Ann uncovered other family mysteries that have yet to be revealed…I can never thank them enough.
That is one great story. Sometimes it takes years to find even a single ancestor, but persistence pays off. To find a living relative, to exchange info is awesome! I’ve connected with 2 in Italia & several in the US, also gaining multiple names.
Ann also got me the marriage record of my Bisnonno e Bisnonna, with the names of my Bis-bis nonno & nonna. That got me siblings of that bisnonno. Still can’t find his DOB or DOD, but will keep trying. Your story gives me some hope . . .
Thank You Shana for sharing your incredible story