The DelGrosso Family

6 Jan

When I was a child, one of my earliest recollections of my “identity” as an Italian was watching my father and my uncle hang sausage in my uncle’s attic to dry, filled with the rich smells of the ground pork, the pungent fennel, the aromas of the spicy peperoncino. From that moment in time, I always thought of my Italian identity as one directly associated with food. We even make this association in American society, as we think every Italian we meet can cook, am I right?

My family (and the DelGrosso surname) originates from a town in Italy named Colle Sannita. My Great Great Grandfather was Guissepantonio DelGrosso, and his wife, my Great Great Grandmother, was Pasqualina Viola.

DelGrosso

Guissepantonio DelGrosso and Pasqualina Viola

They gave birth, to my Great Grandfather, Giorgio DelGrosso, who went on to marry Innocenza DiMuccio who then gave birth to my Grandfather, Giovanni DelGrosso. My Grandfather, together with his mother, and his brother, Antonio, immigrated to the United States in November of 1907 on a ship from Naples, Italy called the Principe de Piemonte (which, interestingly, was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine in 1917). From there, my Grandfather went on to marry Michelina DiMatteo and they had 6 children, one of which was my father Robert DelGrosso. I will save the family history of the DiMatteo family for another time, for now I want to salute the town of Colle Sannita, my homeland!

Wedding

Wedding Photo of my Grandparents

I have been told that there are two distinct branches of the DelGrosso’s from Colle Sannita, one of noble pedigree, and the other of peasantry. I imagine that since my family left Colle Sannita for a better future, we were lesser of the two branches of DelGrosso’s! In fact, there are still many DelGrosso’s in Colle Sannita today! The typical surnames of Colle Sannita are Del Grosso, Palmiero, Zeolla, Viola, Tosto, Iacobaccio, Piccirillo, Vessecchia, Mutino, Zerrillo, Nista, Boscarelli, D’Emilia, Nigro, Pannella, D’Agostino, Basile, Iamarino, Marino, Tedesco, Finella, Finelli, Di Paola, Martuccio, Scrocca, Pilla, Piacquadio, Mascia, Petriella, Viscio, Vignogna, (Alderisio, Paolucci, de Paulis, Meomartini, Palmieri, Grasso, Piacquadio and del Grosso were the nobles families of Colle in the past), and another famous American family the Basilone’s. Anyone ever hear of John Basilone?

Colle Sannita is small town in the Province of Benevento in the Italian region of Campania. It is located about 80 km northeast of Naples. The name of the town derives from the “hill”, where the historical center of the town lies and its history goes as far back as Norman times (1340’s). It is a beautiful town on a hill!

Colle Sannita

Colle Sannita, Italy

I have fortunately been able to make numerous connections to my past through my new friends (and possibly family!) in Italy. The pictures posted here were taken by one of those friends, Fabio Paolucci, who also was able to help me trace my family history as he is also a genealogist! He is the administrator of the Facebook group called Colle Sannita! Collesi e oriuni di Colle nel mondo! Fabio has also sent us the gift of a dish typical of Colle Sannita:

Cavatelli

(Piatto tipico di Colle Sannita)

Yield: 6 people

  • 1 kg. Durum Wheat Flour
  • 1 egg
  • Water
  1. Put the flour on a surface and make a well. Crack the egg in the center of the well and add the water a bit at a time.
  2. Pull the flour into the well a bit at a time until it is completely incorporated.
  3. Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, until it is firm.
  4. Cover and let dough rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Roll out the dough making the “pettola”, that is the dough rolled out to a thickness of 6-7 cm.
  6. Cut into 2-3 cm strips. Then cut each strip into small pieces.
  7. Each piece must then be “dug” (“cavato” hence the name cavatelli) with three fingers (index, middle, ring finger)
  8. Place them on a lightly floured baking sheet until ready to cook (You can freeze them by placing the sheet in the freezer first so they freeze separated, then placing the frozen cavatelli into a storage or freezer bag.
  9. Serve with a ragu and a sprinkle of parmigiano and a basil leaf.

    Colle Sannita

    Piazza Giuseppe Flora, Colle Sannita

Ragu ai Braciole

(Tipico di Colle Sannita)

Braciole:

  • 4 veal chops or cutlets, pounded flat
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggino, grated
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped fine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup White Wine

Sauce (Salsa):

  1. Prepare veal by pounding them thin and flat.
  2. Season with salt and pepper and spread some cheese and parsley on each chop.
  3. Roll up each chop and secure with some butchers twine (3 pieces of twine should do)
  4. Heat some oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat and brown the Braciole on each side.
  5. When all are nice and browned, add the white wine and reduce to its almost completely dry.
  6. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, Add the tomato sauce and the basil, season to taste. Serve with the cavatelli!

Saluti da Colle Sannita

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10 Responses to “The DelGrosso Family”

  1. MaryGrace February 9, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    Wow I just stumbled on your blog because I’m doing a project on Cavatelli. My family is from Naples and Procida and my job just dropped becasue it says that you met a Dimatteo family in Naples which is my grandfather’s family’s original name before it got changed off the boat. I’m in complete awe, please tell me everything that you know about that family becasue it could be mine!

    • cjdelgrosso February 10, 2012 at 1:41 am #

      Hi MaryGrace,
      Yes, my Grandmothers surname was DiMatteo. She was from a town called Chiauci, in the Molise region of Italy. She came to the United States with her family around 1918 if I remember correctly. They settled in Cleveland. Ohio. Her father was Bernardino DiMatteo. This is as much as I know currently. The DiMatteo surname is quite common in Italy.
      I hope this helps!

      • MaryGrace February 10, 2012 at 2:14 am #

        thanks so much for responding that quickly! I’ll talk to my grandfather and get back to you, it would really be something if there was some relation!

  2. F. Anthony DelGrosso, Jr. February 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

    My grandparents were both emmigrated from Colle in March of 1911, just a hundred years ago last Spring! My grandfather was Costanzo DelGrosso and Nonna was Lucia Piacquadio. They settled first in Geneva, NY and permanently in Galeton, Pa. One son, Antonio and a daughter Celeste were born in Italy, and they had 8 children here, one of which was my father, the youngest son, Furino. Strangely it was Americanized into Floyd, and I am Floyd Anthony DelGrosso, Jr., better knows as Anthony!

    Cavetelli and braciole were two of Nonna’s favorite dishes. How well I remember her making the cavetelli home made and savoring the braciole simmering in the sauce! She taught my mother, not an Italian, to make braciole which she does 2 or three times a year now that she’s 82 yrs. old! Now my dad is the only son left at 88 yrs. old! He is now the partriarch!

    • cjdelgrosso February 20, 2012 at 8:19 pm #

      Great story! Somewhere along the DelGrosso line (especially since they were from Colle also) we are related, most likely cousins!

  3. Kelly September 3, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    I stumbled on to this site looking for a recipe for a good regional sauce, like my great grandmother used to make. My great-grand parents were Iamarino’s from Colle. My grandmother was a first cousin of John Basilone. I can’t wait to try the sauce!

    • cjdelgrosso September 15, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

      Thanks Kelly! I hope you enjoyed the sauce.

  4. bobdelgrosso December 10, 2012 at 12:26 am #

    I’m a del Grosso too. But my paternal grandparents were from Borgo Val di Taro in Emilia Romagna, Go figure!

  5. Joseph P Altieri December 14, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    Wow, how nostalgic it was to view this website! My maternal grandparents (Nicola and Carlotta Paolucci DelGrosso) emigrated from Colle Sannita in 1913 and settled in Bronx NY’s Little Italy after a short stint in Columbus, Ohio. They had 8 children, two of whom are still alive, and I’m the first son of third-born ,Teresa DelGrosso. Small world!

    • Scott Sanzone July 19, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

      My great grandfather was Jovani DelGrosso and was born in 1883 in Colle. He married Rosaria D’Agostino and settled in Connellsville, PA, where grandmother was born, Columbia “Sue” DelGrosso. She married a Nichola Sanzone and so forth. If anyone has any information on the DelGrosso’s I would love to find a connection of my past to Italy. Please email at sanzone@yahoo.com

      Thanks,
      Scott Sanzone

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