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


Victoria Di Nella’s Family

by  Phyllis Zeck

Victoria Di Nella is my 3rd cousin, she lives in Illinois.  In fact she now lives about 2 miles from the home where I was raised.  She joined Lori and I for lunch at Allen & Marie’s home in May.  Her great grandmother is Bibbiana Celestina Ciolli born on Jan 19, 1865 in Pescasseroli, Italy.  She was delivered by a mid wife named Gemma Di Nella.  My great grandmother Elvira and  Bibbiana Celestina were sisters.

Bibbiano Celestina Ciolli DiNella 1914 – 1915

This photo was taken about 1914 – 1915.  Bibbiano Celestina is seated.  The baby on her lap is Vickie’s father Emilio (Emil) who was born in 1914.  The woman standing is Maria Grazia De Rubeis Di Nella, her husband is Vito Di Nella.   The boy standing is Vickie’s uncle Carmello (Carl), born in 1910.  The little girl is Vickie’s aunt Anna Maria Antonia (Mary) Di Nella born in 1912.

The photo below is the passport photo of  Maria Grazia De Rubeis Di Nella (Vito’s wife) and their children; Emilio, Carmello, and Anna Maria Antonia. The same three children appear in both photos.

Maria Grazia DeRubeis DiNella 1920.

Bibbiana Celestina married Basilio Di Nella on Aug 18, 1883 and they had three sons; Vito, Pasquale, and Nicholas.

Vito (Vickie’s grandfather) was born in 1886, he married Maria Grace De Rubeis in 1910.  They had ten children. Vito arrived in the USA on June 20, 1913 aboard the ship Italia. When he left Italy his wife was pregnant with Vickie’s father. His wife and three children came to the USA in 1920.

Pasquale came to Chicago but returned to Italy to serve in WWI.  He was an Alpine soldier and was killed approx 1918.  His name can be found on the statue in the town square in Pescasseroli.

The Alpini are the elite mountain warfare soldiers of the Italian army.  Formed in 1872 they are the oldest active mountain infantry in the world.  Their original mission was to protect Italy’s northern mountain border with France and Austria.  

The soldiers were recruited from the local people who were used to the conditions and already had both good local knowledge as well as specialized skills for living and surviving in the mountains.

They also adopted the famous Cappello Alpino (Alpino hat) which included a white eagle feather for officers and a black raven feather for the men.

They distinguished themselves during World War I when they fought a three year long campaign in the Alps against Austro-Hungarian and the German Alpenkorps in what has since become knows as the “War in snow and ice”.  The Alpini saw heavy combat in the mountains and glaciers of the Alps suffering many casualties on both sides with over 12,000 Alpini casualties out of a total force of about 40,000.

Click on the memorial below to read it, then click the back arrow to return to the blog.

Pasquale Di Nella Memorial Plaque

Giuseppe D’Addezio Memorial Plaque

Paolo Del Principe Memorial Plaque







Nicholas lived in Pescasseroli his entire life. He had one child named Celestina.  She married N. Siciliano and lives in Varessa, northeast of Florence.

Vickie’s father was Emilio Alberto Di Nella and was born on Feb 13, 1914 in Pescasseroli, Italy.  He married Helen Zak and they had three children; Gerald, Victoria, and Joanna.

Vickie’s uncle Carmello (Carl) was in Pescasseroli Italy in February 1956.  He was an artist and was working on a painting when a terrible snow storm crippled the town.  Carl called his family in Chicago and asked for help for the town.  The photo above shows the relief truck that was sent to the village with the funds donated by Carl’s Chicago friends and relatives.

The Chicago Daily News printed the article and photo above on Feb 24, 1956. The arrow is pointing at the truck.  The text in the box says “Villagers of Pescaressoli, in the mountains of central Italy, gather around the first Red Cross truck (arrow) to arrive with relief food and first-aid supplies in many days.  The village is among hundreds in the region isolated by the heavy snows and the fierce European cold wave.”

Below are three pages from a memorial book for Maria Grazia De Rubeis Di Nella.  She died on Easter Sunday April 17, 1949.  Click on the pages to enlarge them, then click on the back arrow to return to the blog.  You may recongize many of the names, my grandfather Gilbert signed the guest book.













Thank you Vickie for all of the information and wonderful photographs that you’ve shared.  It was a true pleasure to meet you.  I look forward to much more correspondence between us as we continue to grow our family tree.



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