Albanese Family Genealogy Forum
"grotteria" (spelled with two "tt") and "mammola" are separate towns adjacent to one another. The last name "albanese" is very common in the part of the province of Reggio Calabria designated as the "Locride" simply because "Locri" was historically the major town in the neighbourhood. In Mammola alone, where I was born, there are at least a dozen different Albanese families, each with a separate tree. The same applies for Grotteria, Gioiosa Ionica, Gioiosa Marina, Gerace, San Giovanni di Gerace, Siderno, Locri, Roccella.... The usual way of distinguishing between individuals with same first and last name is to include the name of the father and mother. In my case, for example, there are several individuals with the name "Salvatore Albanese" in Mammola and to designate myself my name would be followed by birth date, name of father and name of mother. You might consider contacting the town halls in Grotteria and Mammola for more information about your family tree if you know the names of your grandfather's parents.
P.S. By the way, the last name "Albanese" is a Jewish family name as well. One of the most prominent families in Venice are Jews with the last name "Albanese". Where does the name originate? There are probably multiple sources, including the "Albingenses", members of a religious sect in the South of France persecuted by the Church and the French monarchy during the Middle Ages. Some of their survivors took refuge in Calabria and there are still towns in the province of Cosenza where a southern French dialect is spoken. The Albanian regiments recruited by the Neapolitan kings in the 15th and 16th centuries. These and their families, as well as refugees seeking to escape the Turkish conquest of Albania settled in Calabria and they still retain a separate linguistic and cultural identity. Finally, Jews escaping persecution in Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. Many managed to escape to southern Italy, mainly Calabria, with the intention of pretending to have converted to Christianity while in fact intending to retain their Jewish identity. Those who made their way to Calabria became, in effect, "marooned" in this isolated region and eventually became lost in the general population. Could we go even further? POssibly. A recent book by a Canadian writer, Farley Mowat, part fiction and part archaeological reconstruction, tells the story of the "Alb" people. At one time, before Greeks, Romans, Celts, Germans, and Vikings came on the scene in various parts of Europe, these people could be found in most of Western Asia and Europe. As a group, they were eventually pushed to the remotest part of Scotland, but their descendants, according to Mowat, probably contributed to most strains of modern Europeans; especially in mountanous and remote regions, such as Calabria. This account stands somewhere between myth and historical speculation. But does it really matter? The Albaneses in my home town alone come in all shapes, shades, and sizes of what pass for "Europeans". What is clear is that we can't all be possibly descended from one immediate common ancestor. Now if I were to tell you the story of my mother's maiden name.... Her name was (my parents are deceased) "Bruzzese", and this is the modern Italian word designating the people of the ancient "Brutti" tribe, the original Italic inhabitants of Calabria ("Bruzzi" in modern Italian). If you add to this the fact that an ancient Calabrese tribe the "Italo", gave their name to the country that we call Italy, consider what we get: The people of Calabria today are the victims of idiot prejudices on the part of other Italians. Is this deserved? Not if you are a Calabrese and know something about the history of Calabria. One thing that this history teaches us, though, is that the people of Calabria can trace their ancestry to a smorgasboard of all the major peoples that have contributed to Mediterranean and European civilization. So why worry about blood lines? We Calabresi are too cosmopolitan and too far removed from tribalism to be too concerned about purity of blood. We should leave these concerns for those whose names still help us recall their recent history as tribes and clans rather than as a people defined by a self-aware cultural identification with civilization. And "civilization" stands as the opposite of "tribalism". It's enough to be able to say: my grandfather was born in Calabria, and civilization flourished in Calabria long before the greatness of Rome, or the splendor of Florence and Venice. I hope that some of what I have said here will be in someway useful to you and all those other "Albaneses" searching for their roots. "Su calabrisi e calabrisi sugnu, e ammia soverchiarie non mindi fannu". Just a simple expression of Calabrese pride. It means: I am Calabrese and Calabrese I am, and no one will get the better of me. Use it as your mantra whenever the thought arises as to the extent of your Calabrese origins. I am sure that your grandfather thought of himself this way and this gave him the courage to make his way to a far away land: Una terra molto lontana (A far away land). Have a good day remembering that what ties us is common history, regardless of the accidental fact that we share a common last name.