Zungoli, Italy

Volume 5, Issue 10; 07 Apr 2002

Zungoli, Italy

There are two train stations in Florence. In retrospect, Marco had carefully pointed out that we were departing not from the closer, priimary station a few minutes away, but from Campo de Marte. Unfortunately, we misunderstood.

How not to learn that Florence has two train stations:

  1. Get up at 4:00am, pull yourself together, and stumble down to the lobby at 4:45am.

  2. Check out and wait for the taxis (there were five of us).

  3. On the ride to Santa Maria Novella, marvel at the fact that traffic signs and signals, merely suggestions to drivers during the day, have no force whatsoever before sunrise.

  4. Spend five or ten minutes pondering why your 5:22am train isn't listed on any departure screen. Spend a few more minutes conversing with a friendly local who can explain your dilemma.

  5. Tear back out of the station at breakneck speed to find two more taxis. Heave your bags into the taxi. Explain your plight in broken English and Italian.

  6. Be reassured by your drivers casual agreement that you have plenty of time. You'd be slightly more reassured if he wasn't smirking.

  7. Have your reassurance dashed completely at the first traffic light when your cab driver says to the other, "cinqua-vente-due" and the other laughs so hard he nearly has trouble shifting.

  8. Tear through the streets of Florence from 5:12am to 5:20am at speeds causing the trafic lights (mostly red) to appear slightly less red due to the doppler effect

  9. Stumble into Campo de Marte at 5:21am and sigh with some relief (and shortness of breath) that your train is 20 minutes late this morning.

Ah, yes, the train. The train. The dining car was a little man pushing a cart and serving instant coffee in small plastic cups. But that is probably a good thing because the train was spectacularly filthy. I've taken many trains in Europe (and I'll certainly continue to do so) and never have I encountered anything even close. Enough said.

Mimo, our driver, was charming and provided a very comfortable van for the two hour drive to Zungoli.

In Zungoli, a fantastic little village situated at the top of a small hill and dominated by an ancient Norman castle, we met a small group of men in the square and one of them kindly volunteered to give us a guided tour. It was thoroughly delightful to walk through the narrow streets and passages. Deb and her family recognized dozens of names familiar to them from Dobbs Ferry.

After touring the town for an hour or so, we went up to the graveyard where we were able to find many more familiar names. Alas, the extant graves go back only about thirty years.

Our ride back to Sorrento, including a short, beautiful stretch of the Alfi coast around the Bay of Naples was pleasant and we were back in time for dinner with the rest of our tour group. They had an all-day bus ride, so we didn't miss anything.


My family came from Zungoli through Ellis Island around 1914 and I have many relatives in Dobbs Ferry, NY. I am planning a trip to Italy this summer, did you meet any Caporale's over there?

—Posted by Nikki Caporale on 28 Dec 2005 @ 10:18 UTC #

Unfortunately, scheduling constraints forced us to visit Zungoli on a Sunday so there wasn't anything open. We'd love to go back again on a weekday and actually visit the little monestary that's there and see some of the other records.

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 10 Jan 2006 @ 03:49 UTC #

my dad was born and raised in zungoli...ive been there many times..i love it..such a beautiful town!!

—Posted by marilyn on 23 Jun 2006 @ 08:33 UTC #

My dad was born in zungoli before being brought to australia by his aunty and uncle.My grandmother still lives in Zungoli and i will be visiting again in 6 weeks. Its a beautiful village and looking forward to seeing my family and learning more about my family history. Other than the cemetery is there any where else to trace back family history?

—Posted by Rachel Tarone on 19 Mar 2007 @ 02:22 UTC #

Like all of you my father and his father came from Zungoli, my father left Zungoli in 1959 to come to England to find work unfortunately he died in 1986.

He now lies in the Cemetery over looking The Castle in Zungoli were he said he wanted to be buried

He left 7 children in the uk with my mother I am the oldest. I return to Zungoli every year with my two sons.

The most important thing is that you never forget your roots so many scarifies were made to get us this far.

Peppino Nisco

—Posted by Peppino Nisco on 11 May 2007 @ 04:04 UTC #

I was in Florence late November 2007 and had an awful experience trying to get to Campo De Marte. The train doors were faulty and the sign was on the outside of the carriage so we were carried on past it to a quaint Italian town at 9pm at night where we missed out connection to Paris. I continued to travel by train as I enjoy train travel. After reading about the condition of your train I am glad I missed it. Pity I didnt see Campo de marte in daylight. Enjoyed Florence though and would definitely return.

—Posted by Pamela Thornton on 11 Jan 2008 @ 06:39 UTC #

I also have been looking to find any relatives in Zungoli. Both my father's parents emigrated from there in the late 1800's or early 1900's through Ellis Island.

I have written to the Ellis Island Foundation, but came up with no information.

If anyone knows of the Commisa/Cosentino (Constantino) families, please email me at the enclosed email address.

Thank you so much!

—Posted by J. Dorio on 15 May 2008 @ 06:55 UTC #

My father was born and raise in zungoli, very beautiful place, will definitely go back soon

—Posted by jason joe rago on 19 Feb 2009 @ 03:25 UTC #

My mother came over to england in1952 with her sister and 3 friends, Born and raised in zungoli ,Michelina and Angelina Raffa, Her father was Umberto Grande. I used to go every other year as a kid' Great memories.Any one out there know the family?

—Posted by marco cairns on 21 Feb 2009 @ 09:38 UTC #

I've heard my mother mention the name raffa.

—Posted by Mario Cairns on 28 Mar 2009 @ 11:15 UTC #

Both my parents were born in Zungoli. My mother's maiden name was Cammisa and my surname is Grande. They emigrated to Australia in 1960, settling in Melbourne. Any further information about these Surnames from Zungoli would be appreciated. Email me at wogchef@yahoo.com.au


Frank Grande

—Posted by Frank Grande on 25 Jun 2009 @ 04:24 UTC #

I love the pictures of Zungoli. My great grandparents came from Zungoli. Pasquale Raffa and Grazia Malavarco. They emigrated to Dobbs Ferry, New York, along with many other Zungolese. I have visited Zungoli twice and it is a charming and wonderful little town. We met someone named Federico DeMeo, who had relatives in Dobbs Ferry. He had given us a tour. I was lucky enough to have brought my father Ed, who couldn't believe he was there and became very emotional when he saw all the names in the cemetary. They were all the familiar last names of friends and relatives in Dobbs.. Raffa, Grande. I'd like to go back. If anyone is on Facebook, you can look up Zungoli and see wonderful pictures and join the Zungoli group and write your family history in English. It is very interesting.I"ve had many from the town respond to me. Norman, thanks for posting this page! I enjoyed it! Susan Raffa Larchmont, New York Altaraffa@yahoo.com Ciao Ciao tutti!

—Posted by Susan Raffa on 06 Feb 2010 @ 09:32 UTC #

Hi Susan I happened to see your post while viewing searches on the internet for Zungoli, Italy. I used to visit Angelina Grande in Dobbs Ferry when I was little. I went to Italy to visit family in Zungoli, to name a few people, Rosalie Grande, Stefano Grande and Jockie Grande. I know I have heard the Raffa name many times during my visits. Not sure but when I went to Zungoli I used to go visit a candy store that was my Mothers Dad's store. Her name is Adeline Vergalitto. Well if you are familiar with any of this please let me know. I love Zungoli and I would like to go back to visit someday. Take care, Anita Reino (Vergalitto)

—Posted by Anita Reino on 05 Jul 2010 @ 04:44 UTC #

I have read some of the comments from people who have relatives or ancestors in Zungoli, Italy. I would like to hear from any of them who knows the name Giandolfi. I am trying to find my father's parents, my father was orphaned early and lived in the Convent in the village. Any help would be appreciated.

—Posted by Elaine Grandolfi on 28 Dec 2010 @ 10:08 UTC #

Like most of you my father was born in Zungoli His Name is Raffaele Nisco he moved to Australia in 1960 and settled in a town called Murray Bridge in South Australia . I would like to here fromsome of the people with the Nisco sir name because i am trying to set up a family tree Thanks Vince Nisco

—Posted by Vince Nisco on 28 Jun 2011 @ 10:11 UTC #