An Incredible Adventure

I just returned from one of the most amazing experiences of my life.   Kara, my mother, my brother and his wife and our children attended a very emotional family reunion in Italy, that came together after plenty of genealogical research and some luck.   For the first time we met about 50 of our cousins, the nicest people you’ll ever meet.    It was incredible.

It took place in the Abruzzo region of Italy, the ancestral homeland of the Italian branch of my family.   We visited the farm where my great-great grandparents raised my great-grandfather, walked the narrow stone streets of his medieval town, and swam in the Adriatic Sea.   

I took some 900 pictures, and there is so much to tell after my jet lag wears off, so stay tuned.


20 replies »

  1. How wonderful Dennis! This summer, we are having one up in MA on what was the old family homestead(now a country club) with distant relatives that are part of the family tree. One of the distants did all the research tracing the family back to the 1600’s in Germany!


  2. Hi Dennis! I am SO happy for you and your family to have such a fantastic reunion in Abruzzo! I can’t wait to see the photos and hear more about your special experiences! I am sure that you, Kara and the rest of your family will return to visit. Abruzzo is a little piece of Heaven and a place that will always be SO special to me as my parents and grandparents came from there- a small town of Orsogna (in the Provincia di Chieti). Since I was a young child, I have been there many times to visit family and they have come to visit us up in MA (and CT). We also talk to them often via phone and communicate via Facebook. My kids went there for the first time almost two years ago and they can’t wait to go back!


  3. I am so glad you and Kara and the family are back. Really missed both of your broadcasts but knew you were Italy bound. There is simply nothing like learning about your roots to enhance your life. I’m happy you had this opportunity.


  4. Dennis, My family just had a similar experience. We recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of the arrival on Ellis Island and had the celebration there! Most took the tour of the museum and plenty of photo’s* were taken to celebrate. It was an emotional day as well! You can see our page on facebook@ Nassau Family. My sister (who lives in Norwood,MA) had spent countless hours searching through ships manifests and other documents to find the info. It was a fantastic day. You are welcome to view our posts. As you know, the experience was incredible.

    *There is a photo of the original siblings taken before they left for the US and one of their children here on E.I. (although not everyone could attend) as well as everyone that did. Please visit the page.

    The Nassau Family


  5. So glad you and your Family had a nice trip!! My family came over in 1903, from Russia & Poland, and I would love to go there and see where my Families’ started!!


  6. What a wonderful vacation idea.. something you all will remember for your lifetime.. We’ve only traced back 5 generations here — someday will research more from my side of the family.. JW


  7. How wonderful that is. My family is Italian-Polish, and we all live in the US. Irt would be wonderful to have a family reunion, too, I have cousins I haven’t met yet!!


  8. So glad that you and your family had a great time, I my self went to maine last week for a few . We have two great kids!! When we went away last week it was the first time in 5 years…


  9. Part of mine got off some how My daughter and her husband had a surprice 25th anniversary party for us. We had a great time. And Iam glad you did too


  10. What a fantastic vacation. I would love to do that someday, my nephew is on a genealogical search and we are learning a lot of info. It is so important to visit the land where your ancestors came from. Glad to have you and Kara back!


  11. Dennis and Kara, so happy you enjoyed yourself in Italy. I’ve been there twice to visit family in Bologna. Beautiful place! July 14, we are having our yearly family picnic at Lighthouse Park. We normally have over 75 cousins. Come join us, we would love to have you be our guest. Lots of Italian food!! Thank God you and your family are home safe.


  12. Hi Dennis…what an experience for all of you…there is nothing more beautiful than meeting relatives and spending time where your great-great grandfather lived. My Mom came from Naples and it was such a thrill for me to visit her homeland and the place where she was born…I’m the one in the family that always has family gatherings…now my family is down to 3 aunts, 1 uncle and of course many cousins…it is always great to be together. My immediate family is not with me any longer but I know that they see what I do for the family. Treasure this trip and all the experiences you and the family had.

    Marie L. Dixon
    Windsor, CT


  13. Hi Dennis, I am so looking forward to reading more about your wonderful trip and seeing pictures. I can identify because my parents were both born in Pratola Peligna, Province D’Abruzzo and I have been fortunate to have taken the trip several times. You and your family will cherish this experience always.


  14. How wonderful, we are glad you, Kara and family enjoyed your trip to Italy and had the privilege of meeting your cousins and other family members. Welcome back:))


  15. Dennis, Kara and family..You must have had a wonderful vacation. Going to Italy in itself is so exciting, but you had a beautiful reunion with family. I can’t wait to see all your pictures. The family picture you posted is beautiful. Glad to have you back on the 11:00PM news. Welcome back!!!


  16. Greeting Dennis! Found out about your story via a Facebook posting from NIAF. Wonderful story, and I loved the pictures. My family, also Chiullis, also come from Abruzzo – from the commune of Cugnoli, not far from Alanno. My great-grandfather, Dominick, his wife Antoinette, and their son Alfonso, came over in 1920. Most of the family is now located in/near NYC. My Uncle Don went to Cugnoli years ago to meet our family, and he also got a very warm reception. I am very glad that American Chiullis have been able to visit our ancestral homeland and hope to someday join that club. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story.


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