Genealogist and Translator
Emilio Terrazzino (center holding book) was my genealogist and translator once I arrived in Casteltermini. With his help we were granted permission by the priest to search records in the Mother Church. Some of these books went back as far as the 1600's.

Mark Mondello

Articles published in La Gazzetta Italiana of Cleveland, Ohio

Genealogy in Sicily

If you are interested in learning more about your family history in Sicily, we can conduct a research project accessing civil and church records from your town of origin in Sicily. Certificates can be made if so desired.
Our report will include names and dates of birth of your ancestors born in Sicily as well as where in town the family lived and their occupations based on the records found. Dates of other events such as marriage and death can also be found depending on the records that exist.
Civil records in Sicily go back as far as 1820. Church records often go back to the early 1700’s.Research projects will also include photos and literature on your town of origin.
We can also try to determine if any lost relatives still remain in town, again based on the civil records that are found.
I have conducted family research projects in Sicily since 1995 and have worked for several distinguished members of the Genealogy Group of New York. With a Masters Degree in Education, I understand the importance of conducting research in a scientific and professional manner based on family records that are found during the research.

Town of Origin Tours:

If you plan to visit Sicily, we can conduct family research together as well as walk the same streets as your ancestors once did. We can walk the same street where your family lived many years ago during the difficult economic times before the great “exodus” to America. And if there are any relatives there to meet, we can all have a gelato together.

Finding Mamma in Marsala

Recently Andy, a 68 yr. old retired businessman from Boston and his wife Nancy, contacted me about finding Andy's mamma's grave in the Sicilian town of Marsala (yes, where the famous wines are made). You see, Andy's mom, Maria Rosa, died young (at 28) when Andy was just a baby; he was then taken to the U.S. by relatives, and Marsala, along with mamma, became something he only heard mentioned at the dinner table. Andy had no photographs or keepsakes from his mother- just an imagination of her. Eventually as we get older, we develop a need to close certain gaps in our lives, resolve certain conflicts, and try to bring issues to closure. As an ex-social worker in Cleveland and now a family history researcher in Sicily, I was more than happy to help Andy with his pilgrimage.
So the quest began. I picked up Andy and Nancy from their hotel in Palermo and we drove to Marsala, a pretty and historic town on the north-west coast of Sicily. We immediately found the cemetery, and since we had the date of death the custodians knew approximately where to look - and so we all looked together. An interesting thing about Italian/Sicilian cemeteries is that most tombs have a picture of the deceased on the tombstone. As we searched, the silence and tension began to build until Nancy froze and called out "I found her!" At that point, we all froze as we became oblivious to everything around us while gazing at the picture of this pretty 28 year old woman - Andy's mamma. Andy slowly approached his mother as the tears began to flow- he than wept openly as the rest of us shared in his emotion. Photos and film clips were taken of Maria Rosa's tombstone and picture, while Andy wept all the while - he finally met his mamma.
I think most Italian Americans, including myself, have a need to discover whatever we can about our family history- to find out more about where we came from, who our ancestors were, and to even learn a little more about ourselves. We may all be Americans or whatever, but we were Italians first.

Top 10 Things an American Would Miss Moving to Sicily

10) Wide Streets - and places to park for that matter. Italy has more cars per capita than any other country in Europe. Also, rush hour traffic in any medium sized town in Sicily is as frustrating as the big city traffic that we all know and love. And if you try to drive through Palermo at around 9am, it really helps to have a positive attitude- and a lot of patience.
9) Good Radio Stations - not much of a selection in Sicily, And if you're a country music fan, you'd have little to hoot and holler about. Of course, and rightfully so, you'll find plenty of Italian music, even Italian Rap music. As for T.V. shows, many Americans (including myself) might miss The Three Stooges- they just can't seem to find a good way to translate "hey Mo!"
8) Sleep, if you're an American sports fan. For example, the Super Bowl airs around 6pm EST - which is midnight in Sicily. World Series games are sometimes worse, often starting at 8pm EST- 2am here- these games usually end at the crack of dawn, just before the fruit vendors begin shouting.
7) Little league baseball and adult softball - a personal loss for me. I have yet to find a baseball field or anyone interested on the whole island. I guess if we build one, they will come.
6) Expiration dates on bread - the daily ritual here is to buy unsliced loaves fresh out of the oven.
5) Weight Watchers products folks here just seem to suffer less from being overweight than their American cousins. You won't find T.V. dinners he e either. Eating habits and physical activity really do make a difference- buon appetito!
4) Thanksgiving Day! The 4th of July and Martin Luther King Day go by unnoticed as well.
3) Golf courses actually there is one in Catania for those that live nearby- but it'd be a 2 hour drive each way for me. I'll just have to settle for playing put
2) Fast Food up until last year, it didn't really exist here in Sicily. But recently, two McDonalds sprang up in Palermo- the only fast food places in Sicily. However, I don't think Pizza Hut has much of a chance here.
1) Finally, the number one thing that most Americans would miss by moving to Sicily is the price of gasoline it’s over $8. per gallon here. If things get any worse, we’ll be back to ridding mules again.

Sicily: suggested places to visit

Palermo: The capital of Sicily- visit the Norman Cathedral, Parliament Palace, as well as many other museums and historic sites.
Monreale: Just south of Palermo, is where the famous Norman Cathedral is found.
Cefalu’: East of Palermo along the coast. Beautiful sea-side town with it’s own impressive Norman Cathedral. Very easy town to stroll in with many shops and historic sites within a short distance.
Segesta: Beautiful archaeological park southwest of Palermo towards Trapani with Greek temple dating back to the Phoenicians.
Selenunte: Archaeological park and Greek colony dating from the 5th century B.C -situated in a beautiful setting overlooking the Mediterranean sea. Located on the west coast of Sicily.
Agrigento: The Valley of the Greek Temples- a series of Greek Doric temples overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
Mt. Etna: The highest active volcano in Europe at 3,500 meters in altitude. Located near Catania.
Taormina: Wonderful mountaintop town that has everything- great views of the sea, 5th century B.C. Greek theatre, shopping area in a medieval atmosphere with easy walking, and great places to eat. Located up the coast from Catania.
Siracusa: The enchanting island of Ortigia-would take too long to describe but is highly recommended.

Other Related Sites: Domestic Travel in Italy Translation Services Italian Web Designer Research in Italy Italian Genealogy Pages Ellis Island Records