F.A.Q.'s - Frequently Asked Questions

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The most effective way to avoid spam is to keep your email address to yourself. Spammers can't get your address if you don't make it public. Only give your address to friends, family and co-workers, and ask them not to circulate it. Don't add your name to Internet directories, and ask directories to remove your name if you are already listed.

However, your posting in a messageboard will be useless if other visitors who have the information you need cannot contact you. There are several different options that will help keep the spam away.

  1. Use a spam block filter if your Mail Service Provider has this service.
  2. Use a second email address. If your ISP doesn't provide a second address for free, you can get one from a free email provider. This way, all the spam will go to the secondary address, leaving your primary address free for legitimate email. Then check your "public" email address always through Webmail (not downloading to your computer) and remove the spam. When it gets too clogged just discontinue it, register another and in case repost your message.
  3. Scramble your address. This practice, known as munging or spoofing, means adding extra characters into your outgoing email address, so that Cary_Grant@isp.net become Cary_Grant_spamblock@deletethis.isp.net. The software that automatically collects addresses for spammers won't know that the address won't work, but you can add a note to your signature telling how to decode the address, for those legitimate responses to your post.

    Unfortunately spammer programs will soon find a way to decode any attempt of this kind.


  • One of the following documents (which someone among your relatives may also have ...) might give you the place of origin
    - an extract of death, to be requested from the administration (county etc) where your relative deceased
    - the immigration manifesto or naturalization paper
    - an extract of marriage, to be requested from the local administration or church where the marriage was celebrated
  • If the above documents are not available, proceed to find where your ancestor's surname appears in Italy. In this researhc consider that most emigration was from Southern Italy directed abroad and to Northern Italy and Rome, therefore the results you may obtain for Rome and Piedmont or Lombardy may not be reliable as indicators of a place of origin. To check where the surname you are researching appears nowadays in Italy, you can use Italian White Pages, where you can search throughout Italy or limit to a region or province, inserting your surname in the "Cognome" field, then leaving the "Nome" field blank, and inserting in the "Dove" field the name of the region, or the abbreviation of the Province, to search throughout a Province, or the name of the place, to see if that place exists. If you write the extended form of the name of the Province, for example Napoli, you will obtain only the results included in the capital town of the Province, that is the comune of Naples. If you write NA, the results will include residents of the whole Province. If you do not know the abbreviation of the Province, click here to open a new window, then close it to come back here. CLICK HERE FOR A MORE DETAILED EXPLANATION

Check in our lists of Regions and Comuni. It is possible what your parents or grandparents knew and told you is different now. Places that were municipalities in the past may now be included in another municipality, and some municipalities have changed province when new Provinces were established. Also a new region was formed (Molise), which was previously one with Abruzzo. We have a complete (we hope) List of "Comuni" for Italy, that you can browse by clicking on the label "Regions" in the top navigation bar.

If your ancestors came through Ellis Island, visit http://www.ellisisland.org/ and research only by surname. If you get a great many results, the website will tell you "Your search returns ##### records, please enter a first name or first initial to narrow down your search". At this point repeat the research with at least an initial (try with the most common: A, C, G, F, M, P, V). When you have the results, choose in the right column "Name of town - edit" and you will see a List of the places of origin in Italy. They will appear in alphabetical order, but some may have the correct spelling.

Your research may not be so desperate as it looks, but will require time, precision and patience on your part. Try to get also the surname of the wife/husband of the individual you are looking for, and if possible surnames for both his/her grandmothers. Then prepare a chart with the 2, 3 4 surnames you were able to get, and repeat the research through the Italian white pages listing all the Provinces and Comuni where the surname appears. Then see if you have places where all the surnames you were able to find for your ancestors appear.

There is no need to understand Italian, the results will appear as addresses in the form:
surname, name
zip code, town, province - street and number
If you want to search in a town, a province or region, or throughout Italy go to:
For more guidance, see our instruction page at Surname research through white pages in Italy

The Italian Railways have a convenient timetable online: http://trenitalia.com/. Instead bus lines are usually localized by region, you may find the proper links to bus companies in the official websites of the Italian regions. Their internet address is typically: http://www.regione.regionname.it (Ex.: the website for Lazio is: http://www.regione.lazio.it). Also the official website of the province may help: the address is in the form http://www.provincia.provincename.it (Ex., for the Province of Rieti it is http://www.provincia.rieti.it). And you could go down to the municipality website, in the form http://www.comune.placename.it/ (ex: http://www.comune.rieti.it/ is the address of the Comune of Rieti). But for small places beware that all domain names http://www.comune.placename.it/ for the over 8,000 Italian Comuni if not registered by the comune administration, were bought by Internet companies that aim at generating traffic and sales of their services on the Web, and just clone the same page over and over to all the unused Internet addresses of the small places.

If you need to request certificates, the request must be addressed to the "Municipio - Ufficio Anagrafe of the place. The addresses of the townhalls can be found in the White Pages http://paginebianche.it/ inserting "municipio", more rarely "comune" in the "cognome" field and then inserting the place in the "dove" field. The same applies to the "parrocchia" or "archivio".


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