"A family tree can wither if nobody tends its roots."

Oct30th2010

Opi, Italy

by  Phyllis Zeck

Opi

My great grandmother was Elvira Ciolli.  Her mother was Filomena Ursitti and Filomena was born in the town of Opi.

Opi is about 5 miles south of Pescasseroli.  The current population is 459 and the town’s Patron Saint is San Giovanni Battista.  The surname of Ursitti is one of the top 5 common family names in the town, and records indicate there are 17 people still living in Opi with the name Ursitti.

According to some mythological beliefs, the name of the village derives from Ops, the Roman earth-goddess, sister and spouse of Saturn.   The name may come from the Latin word oppidum meaning “fortified castle”. Dating back to the year 1000, the village layout with its houses clustered one next to the other on the rocky edge actually forms a sort of defensive wall.

Opi features many places of interest including the 17th-century Town Hall, the baroque chapel of S. Giovanni Battista and the church of S. Maria Assunta with its 12th-century towering belfry. The church, repeatedly destroyed by earthquakes, was entirely rebuilt in the 17th century and holds three anonymous 19th-century oil paintings depicting the Baptism of Christ, the Beheading of John the Baptist and the Purgatory.Santa Maria Assunta

Many elements suggest that Opi was a sacred village as the names, still used today, given to ancient water springs show – Fonte di Giove (Jupiter’s Spring), Fonte Vertuno (Vertuno’s Spring) and Fonte Triareccia (a spring dedicated to the Moon considered to be a threesome goddess).

In early Middle Ages, the peoples living in the area of Molino di Opi were compelled to take refuge on the steep rocky hill-top, a natural shelter from ferocious enemy raids.

The following centuries were characterized by continuous controversies with neighboring Pescasseroli.  In 1816 the two villages agreed to join in an administrative union which lasted until 1854.   In 1884 a great number of people started emigrating to America, 520 people left Opi over 15 years.

On 31st July 1901 Opi was struck by a terrible earthquake with a heavy death toll among its inhabitants. Click here to visit their official website  http://www.opionline.it/index_en.html

 

39 Responses to Opi, Italy

  1. 6 years ago by Randy J Bozek

    My grandfather came from Opi to New York City in 1913. His name was Isadoro Mascia. Are you familiar with anyone by that name in Opi?


    • 6 years ago by Phyllis Zeck

      Hello Randy. Sorry but I don’t know anyone by the name of Mascia.


    • 5 years ago by paglia

      Hi,
      I liv in France and my father is Opiano. My grand father Berardino Paglia came in USA in 1906. I saw (by ellisisland site) that he was giong to join his uncle Amadeo Mascia. Hav you heard about him. I usually go to Opi ; it’s a very very nice place !
      I think that there are some people who’s name is Mascia in Opi.
      I give you these informations about all the “mascia people” I found out by ellisisland :
      FIRST NAME – DATE OF ARRIVAL – AGE – INFROMATIONS
      Nunziantonio 16/04/1902 -24
      Nunziantonio 03/04/1906 – 28 -going to join brother ? NY
      Nunziantonio 30/04/1909 -31- going to join brother Amadeo (NY)
      Nunziantonio 14/04/1914 -35 -going to join brother ? NY (name’s wife : Pasqua) ; coming with his son Isidoro MASCIA
      Amedeo 29/05/1901 -25 -going to join sister in law Angela Maria SABATINO
      Amedeo 19/07/1905 -38- going to join grandfather(?) Michele MOSCATO (NY)
      Amedeo 18/03/1913 -45- going to join brother in law Cesidio Di SANTI (NY)
      (name of his wife : Angelantonia GENTILE)
      Angelina 21/12/1910 -34- going to join husband Francesco SGAMMOTTA (Detroit) ; coming with sons (SGAMMOTTA Amodio ?) 6 years old
      and SGAMMOTTA Gerardo 3 years old
      Gerardo 15/05/1899 -49 -going to join brother in law Carmine GENTILE
      Gerardo 13/06/1901 -51 -going to join son in law Cesidio GENTILE
      Michele 16/04/1902 -26
      Ascenzio 05/05/1903 -21 -going to join brother Michele (Detroit)

      Ciao Pierre Paglia


  2. 5 years ago by Susan D-Reetz

    I live in Michigan and Boccia and Gentile are grandparents. Tatti is uncle’s name. DiSanti, DiPero, DeVito are other relatives from Opi. I wish to visit Opi June 2012 for patron saint festival. I wish to contact residents in Opi through email so I can prepare for my visit. Can you help with contact information?
    Susan


    • 5 years ago by paglia

      Susan, you can ask my cousin Berardino Paglia, he is the mayor of OPI. He will certainly give you any answers to you (I can give you his personal mail address if you whant). Contact me on my address : paglia.pierre@wanadoo.fr


  3. 5 years ago by Patricia (Boccia) Burchi

    Phyllis, this is for Randy Bozek. I am Susan Reetz’s aunt. Just to let you know, we know the Mascia family through marriage, etc. The family was one of the original members of our Opiani Club, The San Giovanni Batista. We are all , at least,
    Paesanos.


  4. 5 years ago by Lou Sabatini

    My family too is from Opi and I speak to a distant cousin who still lives there on facebook all the time. In fact, Berardino Paglia the mayor is also one of my facebook friends. Opi is a wonderful and beautiful little village. We have visited it during their august festa “ferraugosto”. But, I have never heard of an opiani club…


    • 5 years ago by Susan D-Reetz

      Lou Sabatini… It is so good to contact you. You can reach me at my email address s-greetz@comcast.net. My grandparents surnames are Boccia and Gentile, great-grandparents are Boccia and DiSanto. When the families came from Opi through New York, many moved to the Detroit, MI area. The families formed society of San Giovanni Battista. These families stayed together through the society for over 80 years. The surnames are: Boccia, Gentile, Tatti, DiSanto, Sabatini, DiVito, and more. There are Sabatini’s that live in our area that my Aunt Rosa and Aunt Patricia are still friends with. Please email me, so we can talk more… Susan


      • 5 years ago by MONA PAGLIA-SELBURN

        HELLO, I FOUND THIS SITE BY FATE. IT IS TIME FOR ME TO SERIOUSLY START PLANING A TRIP TO ITALY SO I STARTED TO GET INFORMATION VIA WEB SITES. MY GRANDMOTHER WAS (BOCCIA) AMALIA. MY GRANDFATHER-SABINO PAGLIA. MY FATHER IS ORAZIO PAGLIA. CAME FROM OPI ALSO. SOME OF THE NAMES MENTIONED SEEM VERY FAMILIAR TO ME AS MY DAD WAS ALSO HEAVILY INVOLVED WITH THE SAN FRANCISCO CLUB. I FOUND A LIST OF NAMES AND ADDRESSES OF RELATIVES AND WOULD PASS THEM ALONG TO YOU. PLEASE CONTACT ME MSELBURN@COMCAST.NET I LIVE IN HARPER WOODS, MI. 313 885 8393. ARE YOU RELATED TO JULIA TATTI OR PALMER TATTI. PALMER WAS MY GODFATHER. HOPE TO HEAR FROM YOU. I AM USUALLY HOME DURING THE DAY. I WORK FROM HOME.


        • 5 years ago by MONA PAGLIA-SELBURN

          oops San Giovanni Battista Club. meetings were always at San Francisco church. right.


  5. 5 years ago by Maria Di Vito

    My husband’s family was originally from Opi (pre 1800s). We have visited Opi – beautiful town to say the least. I have also done some research and am able to one connection prior to their departure to another town (Forme, Pr, Aquila). Domencio Di Vito born about 1765 married to Maria Domenica Leone; children Giuseppe 1793, Federico 1796 and Maddalena 1798.
    Maddalena married Pasquale Boccia and remained in Opi.
    Giuseppe
    Federico had two children Palmantonio and Giuseppe and he moved to Forme.


  6. 5 years ago by Susan D-Reetz

    Vaggio prima del vaggio – journey before the journey. Thanks to Pierre Paglia, I’ve been in contact with Berardino Paglia, the mayor of Opi and M. Cimini the secretary of San Giovanni Battista festa. N. Leone from Opi telephoned his cousin Angie (Paglia) who lives in the Detroit area. Angie called my two aunts, Patricia and Rose (Boccia) to say N. Leone wants to talk to me about our upcoming trip to Opi.
    Phyllis’s blog enabled our Opiani family the U.S. and Italy to link 360 degrees with each other. Amazing! Also, family in the US are contacting me. Family I have not seen since before SGBS disbanded in 2008 (100 year anniversary). Maybe this is a new beginning, since we are connected!! Susan D-Reetz


    • 5 years ago by Lou Sabatini

      Susan,
      I tried to email you at the address you gave, but no luck.
      Would love to hear more about the “opiani club” per my post above. I’m going to Italy in Sept. and plan to visit Opi. Always enjoy that peace and calm up there.o

      Please email me at roxo56@gmail.com so we can compare notes.


      • 5 years ago by Susan D-Reetz

        Lou… I am responding via the blog and personal email. Thanks for reaching out to me. We just returned from Italy, July 3 and spent three days in Opi June 22, 23, 24. We were there for the feste San Giovanni Batiste. It was great! The people were so welcoming and we had a wonderful time. We made many new friends that we will Facebook and email. We had such a great time with Nicolangelo Leone, 89 looking at pictures, pranza e vino rosso (lunch) and laughing. We all cried when we left, including Nicolangelo. We were asked to “saluti” our American friends and encourage them to visit Opi. Susan


        • 5 years ago by lou sabatini

          Susan,
          Glad you had a good time during the festival. I saw many piics on facebook of the event through fb friends I have in town. I’m looking forward to my visit at the end of september. Perhaps this blog could be expanded into an opi visit blog in lieu of the previous SGB club ? It could be a great place for gli opiani to meet ?
          Just a thought…
          LJS


  7. 5 years ago by Susan D-Reetz

    Opi – “Saluti” 22, 23, 24 June 2012 Feste San Giovanni Battiste
    The view from Via Salita La Croce is beautiful, unique and narrow. We stayed at Antica Rua B&B. From our doorway look right and the via ends at a little hotel at the downside of the village. Look left up the via toward the little castle at the village square. But there is more, higher, farther and narrower. The unofficial Ambassador of Opi, Nicolangelo Leone walked down the via to the B&B to welcome us and invite us to his home. We walked up, past the bar, past the castle through a narrow walkway, up the steps, past the church, turned left onto a smaller via, and arrived at Nicolangelo’s beautiful green door. Welcome! Benvenuti a cinque donne americane. Please come in….
    Side note: Every step you take in Opi is either up or down, since the village is built on the top of a mountain. Just imagine how healthy one must be to live in Opi. Nicolangelo is 89 and he’s turning 90 on 15 January 2013. In Italian, he told us he went to see a cardiologist for his heart. Oh no, we were instantly worried and concerned until he quickly presented to us his prescribed medicine – the package read for “indigestion.” Ooohh, thank goodness. O mio dio.
    Saluti Nicolangelo. You are a very charming man and you stole our hearts from day one!
    Susan DuBois-Reetz (Boccia)


  8. 5 years ago by Diane Donar

    Ciao! Yes fate brought me here too. My husband grew up attending activities at San Francesco Church in Detroit. His mother, Isabelle Ricci Donar, was a member of the SGBC because her mother Palma Boccia DeLiso was born in Opi. I believe that Palma’s husband, Ascenzio Ricci was born in Aquila. Isabelle’s sister Ann Ricci Kuchen and her husband Pete were members. And to add a twist to this story, my mother’s sister from Belgium, married Lodavacio “Tony” Ursitti in Detroit about 1930. He was born in Opi, and his parents were Mattai and Appolonia Ursitti. All were active in the SGBC in Detroit. Are any of these people familiar to any of your readers??? Thank you for your wonderful site! Diane


    • 5 years ago by Roger DeLiso

      Ciao Ms. Donar and all others on this journa which I have just stumbled across through a google search! My paternal grandparents were from Opi and over the years I have attempted to piece together some ancestral information. My grandfather’s named was Giuseppe DeLiso (born 1895) and my grandmother’s name was Laura Conti or perhaps Conte (DeLiso) (born in 1902). They immigrated (at different times) to Detroit. My great-grandmother’s surname was Cimini. I’m simply looking for ways to connect some of the pieces of the past and any information or knowledge of my family would be appreciated. Best to all, Roger DeLiso


    • 4 years ago by Dennis Allen (Ursitti)

      Hi. My family originated in Opi; Ursitti. In 1815 Dominic Ursitti moved to Villetta to marry. My grandfather, Carmine, moved to Barrea to marry Angela Maria Calderone. They lived there until immigrating to the U.S. I’d like to continue the search for my family “roots.” Could you respond? I’d like to establish some links to begin the search. Thanks.


  9. 4 years ago by Carol RIolo

    My Grandfather Daniel Gentile came to NY from Opi, his father’s name was Ralph..they worked on the Railroads in NYC until they were able to bring the rest of the family to NY.


  10. 4 years ago by Michael F. McLaughlin

    My great grandfather was Gaetano Gentile. He emigrated to NY in 1921 with his family. My family were members of the SGBC in Detroit during the 70s. The Cimini family is a close relation I think. I would very much like to go to Opi soon, but don’t know anyone there. With whom could I make arrangements for a visit? (Parlo un poco d’italiano)


  11. 4 years ago by Susan DuBois-Reetz (Boccia e Gentile)

    My grandmother was Grazia Gentile and her she immigrated with her parents and sister from Opi. My grandfather-Bengnino (Ben) Boccia and grandmother-Grace Gentile and my entire family, including me, were active members of SGBS in Detroit. SGBS ended in 2008 after 100 years due to lack of younger generations joining the societa and keeping it alive. Last spring, as I was making plans to travel to Opi, my Uncle Albert, SGBS Treasurer, asked me to hlep make arrangements so we could send SGBS money to Opi for the annual San Giovianni Battista festa. Maria Cimini was the festival coordinator. I made contact with Maria and Beradino Paglia, the Mayor. On June 22-25, 2013 we were in Opi, AQ, Italy for the festa. This was a highlight of my life. I would love to share more info and help you meet people. Please send me an email and I will give you my phone number.
    Susan


  12. 4 years ago by Vicky (Gentile)Henderson

    Awe thank you so much Susan D-Reetz for the post. Love to see the pictures. My father was Julius Alberto Gentile. My grandfather was Lucio Gentile and married Carmella Gentile. They immigrated to New York in 1901 from Opi per the manifest we found and then on to Detroit, MI. I now live in Oklahoma but grew up in Detroit, MI. I remember the Christmas parties the San Giovanni Baptiste club threw each year as a child in Detroit. My Aunt Grace’s name was Boccia, married to Ben Boccia. And our family Dr. was also a Boccia. All my relatives are no longer living and being the baby of the family, my husband had done some research for me back in 1997. He is now passed also. I was 15 when my folks both passed, so I did not now much history or relatives. I do know some other relatives are Di Pero. I believe we are all just one big family. Thank you so much, just love reading the post from everyone. I will pass on some of the pictures to my nieces and nephews. It is the least I can do as I don’t think any of them have any of it either.


  13. 4 years ago by Vicky (Gentile)Henderson

    Also my email address is vlhender@cableone.net just in case. I know there is also a cousing Michael Boccia that is my same age also.


  14. 4 years ago by Kevin Sforza

    My grandparents came from Opi. My grandmother (Antonia) married Crescenzo Sforza. They had four children: John, Michael, Carmella and Lena.
    Her sister (Leonore) was married to Archie Bocci. They had one child – Archie Jr. They all lived in the Bronx, NY. Some of the family lived in the Buffalo, NY area.


  15. 4 years ago by allan paglia my mother was an ursitti grandmother a dipirro

    my grandparents came to the us in late 1800s would love to hear from you one of my cousins has an extensive family tree (ursitti)


  16. 3 years ago by Enzo Paglia

    As president of the Federazione Abruzzese del Michigan (FADM), I search the internet to come up with articles on Abruzzo and it’s culture. Stumbling on this site is a god send because not only is it related to Abruzzo, but on Opi, may home town. I was born in Opi in 1952 and our family emigrated in stages, 1955 for my father and two oldest siblings and 1958 for my mom and 4 other siblings. I have met Susan Dubois-Reetz who has joined our group and we have had many discussions on Opi.
    The FADM is dedicated to keeping alive those traditions from Abruzzo and of the different clubs from the Region. That includes the Societa Giovanni Batistta club from Opi. If you are interested, check out http://www.fedabruzzo.org.


  17. 3 years ago by Amber Gentile

    Reading all of the posts has been amazing! My great-grandparents are from Opi. My great grandfather’s name was Giacomo Gentile, he married Corona Carmella (Testa). They came to America in the early 1900’s and later moved to Detroit, MI. They had three boys and one girl, Amilio, Giovanni Battista (my grandfather) Jimmy and Lucia. My father’s name is Count Gentile (named for a cousin named Charlie whom they called Count) we still live in the Detroit area as I see many Gentile’s ended up. Very cool!


  18. 2 years ago by Anthony

    Hi, it has been interesting reading all the posts I stumbled upon as I have been planning to visit Opi this summer. My grandfather’s father Angelo Ursitti and mother Rose Lucia Conte were both born in Opi and immigrated to NYC (Bronx) as children in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s. From what I know His (Angelo) mother was a Cellone, sister married a Gentile, and 3 brothers married 3 DePirro’s, Cousins are also Cimini and Leone. On her side (Rose) her parents were Nicolo Conte and Genevieve (maiden name Paglia). Other relatives of theirs also include Boccia (my grandfathers Godfather), Gizzi, Sforza, Tarquinio, Tatti, Cocuzza, Pescosolido, and Amoruso. I am most interested in finding out more about the Ursitti name and how our family roots back into modern day Opi. I look foward to visiting this summer and would like to find out more about how I can create better connections before my travels. Anthony


    • 4 months ago by Allan L. Paglia

      My name is allan paglia. My mother was an ursittil. Her mother was a DiPirro. My father’s mother was a Cimini.


  19. 2 years ago by Joanne Alfonso

    Anthony, Both my Grandparents came from OPI and my Grandmother’s Sisters were married to Ursitti – Bocia. Her maiden name was Mary Rose Sorfza My Grandfather was Bartolumeo Conte. Also I have been in touch with Leo Cimini – his family was very close to mine. I love reading all the stories!!


  20. 2 years ago by Joanne Alfonso

    To Kevin Sforza – You are directly related to Me!! Your Grandfather Crescenzo Sforza was My Grandmother’s Baby Brother I knew him as Uncle Johnny. I also remember your Grandmother and Leonore. Our Grandparents had a Sister Called Virginia she lived on Eastchester Road in the Bronx and Leonore was married to her son Archie! Many a Great Sunday afternoon at that house. Who are your parents? As I remember Michael his wife is Marie. Would love to get in touch with you.


    • 2 years ago by Phyllis Zeck

      Photss!! Would love some pictures and stories to share on this website Joanne! Phyllis


    • 1 year ago by Lori Pritchett

      Joanne I am Kevin’s sister. Was your grandmother Mary? Our parents were John and Florence.


  21. 1 year ago by Joanne Alfonso

    Lori, my Grandmother was Maria (Mary) Rose “Sforza” Conte. I believe the John you refer to was her Baby Brother!! He was married to Antonietta. They also had a brother Mike and sister Virginia. I know there were several more but can’t remember.


  22. 12 months ago by Tom Butch

    I just happened upon this site and have been amazed reading all of the posts. I have thought for a while now of making the trip to Opi. My grandparents both came from Opi in 1901 and 1903. They were Vincenzo Boccia and Leonarda Gentile. They settled in Leetonia, Ohio. I know that some of my grandfathers family settled in Detroit, so when I read Susan D-Reetz’s post that her grandparents were Boccia and Gentile also, I thought that we have to be fairly closely related.
    Thank you, Phyllis, for this website.


    • 2 months ago by Larry Romagnuolo

      I’m responding to Tom Butch’s post from ten months ago.
      My grandparents were Salvatore and Pauline Gentile that settled in Buffalo,NY.
      I believe Leonarda and Pauline were sisters .
      I’d love to hear more from Tom.


 

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