The Families of Poggioreale Sicily

The Belltower
Poggioreale, January 2022

I've been asked a lot lately about events and products being promoted for sale purporting to benefit the Poggioreale economy. The most headline grabbing is a proposal to sell buildings in the old town of Poggioreale to be rehabilitated by the buyers as vacation homes. This idea caught on after the mayor of nearby Salemi offered buildings there for sale at one euro with the condition that the property be renovated by the buyer. These proposals have largely been criticized as the gimmicks that they are. In the case of Poggioreale, there is absolutely no infrastructure or tax revenue to support such an undertaking and the depressed economy there and in Sicily in general, make it a very poor investment.

I have lived in Poggioreale for about 3 months out of every 12 to 18 months for the last 25 years. I have rented homes in town and in the countryside, bought a car, shopped for groceries, attended church, had coffee with friends in the local bars, stood in line at the post office, attended council meetings in town hall, established relationships in many archives all over Sicily, and met and interviewed everyone from mayors to many older everyday citizens who lived in the old town and experienced the earthquake. I say this because, while I have found Poggioreale to be full of generous and friendly people, I think it's important for those of us separated by generations from our immigrant ancestors and unable to spend time there, to understand that we may not have a realistic view of the town today or its past. I can testify that it is very unlikely that such a project in the old town would ever be well funded by any Italian entity, either governmental or private. Nothing would make me happier than to be proven wrong, as long as any development is tasteful and respectful, but I'm not holding my breath. For more details, please feel free to contact me at the address below.

I've also been asked about items that are being offered for sale, mostly on the internet, purporting to be products of Poggioreale. Over the years many people have contacted me complaining about inferior products that they purchased thinking they were supporting the Poggioreale economy. Do not be fooled by claims that residents of Poggioreale are suffering from poverty and neglect. It's simply not true. Despite the poor economy, everyone in Poggioreale has a very high standard of living thanks to government subsidies. Many of these products are being sold by people who do not live in Poggioreale and have spent very little time there. I cannot speak to the value of everything on the market today but "buyer beware" would be a good motto to live by. For details, drop me an email any time.

Following five very successful and well-attended reunions in Texas of Poggioreale descendants, organized by The Families of Poggioreale, Sicily , a different group is intent on capitalizing on the good will that we generated. Our reunions were just that, non-profit gatherings of related families organized by volunteers. Admission to our events was priced to just offset the cost of a meal and hall rental. No commercialism was permitted in any form. These new "reunions" appear to be sales opportunities and are organized largely by those who changed their minds about helping with our reunions when they discovered that they would not be allowed to offer goods for sale. I would suggest that if you wish to attend any future functions, you should evaluate products being offered for sale with a skeptical eye. There are also those who wish to associate themselves with our success by copying our name as closely as possible. If my opinion has any value to you, please be careful not to confuse these other groups with ours, The Families of Poggioreale, Sicily ©.

And lastly, please beware of "genealogy" information posted on the internet. My family history research in Poggioreale has been extensive and in person, using the original documents. A good portion of what you find posted elsewhere is based on speculation and assumptions. Some of the family charts I've been shown are complete fiction. Keep in mind that the first rule of genealogy is that anything that is not backed by reliable, first person documentation is highly suspect. If you want the truth, you can get it for free from me. I'm happy to answer any questions you may have about your Poggioreale ancestors and point you toward proper documentation.

If you haven't heard back from me in about a week, it's probably because your spam filter is overly aggressive and my reply went directly to your spam or trash folder. If you don't find it there, check with your internet access provider to see if my email was screened. AOL is particularly bad about this, so you'll need to write from another account, such as gmail or yahoo. There's nothing I can do about it from my end.

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