Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cecina, Italy and the Island of Elba

Marisa Tomeii was Friday’s featured celebrity on Who Do You Think You Are?  She was able to explore her Italian roots and focus on the mystery surrounding her great grandfather, Leopoldo Bianchi. The family legend told of a philandering Leopoldo being shot dead in a bar. This unflattering image had been carried down through the generations.

How flawed family legends can be.  As Marisa learned the Bianchi family story, the image of a scoundrel great grandfather slowly faded away.  The Bianchi family was in the business of making kilns and had acquired a partner who later fired Leopoldo’s brother for being disloyal. Disloyalty can mean many things in my mind but at that time and in the Italian culture disloyalty was a matter of honor; which led to an argument and the eventual shooting of Leopoldo Bianchi from behind. To make matters worse, the incident was declared to be self-defense and the assailant went free.

Original documents and archived newspapers gave evidence of the murder and the trial. We visited cemeteries, archives, and cafes on the beautiful Tuscan coast while listening to beautiful Italian names roll off Italian tongues. Who Do You Think You Are? takes viewers on genealogical research trips to the most amazing places.  Oh how I wish I were of Italian descent!

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