Italian civil records don't exist prior to 1809 and often prior to 1860. However, the Catholic churches in Italy kept excellent, birth, marriage, and death records in bound books with indexes from the 1600s through the 1800s at least. Those records are the only true source for finding older ancestor generations. I know they banned the Mormons from digitalizing these records. Are there any other efforts going on to digitalize these records? Are there any sources for them now in existence? Particularly interested in records from Sicily in towns such as Racalmuto, Cerda, Polizzi Generosa, Petralia Soprano, Corleone; and also in mainland Italy for Altamura and Grumo Appula. If not, how do you find reasonably priced and dedicated genealogists close to these towns to do the research for you, especially for Racalmuto?
I am sure, by now, you have already been contacted by several of the professionals on this site. You might be interested in the article I wrote on choosing a genealogist. You can find it on my website. I search a lot of parish records and if they are indexed 3-4 generations can be expected in a 3 hour search.
no other genealogists have contacted me yet. In the past, Italian genealogists who contacted me said that they were too far away from Racalmuto, Agrigento, Sicily. I understand that it would be much less expensive to hire a local genealogist so that I would not have to pay their travel and hotel expenses. The records I want are kept at the Church of the Annunziata in Racalmuto. I was there in early May and found another generation of my Puma Family. I was very impressed at how well organized the records were, including index pages covering multiple year spans. Unfortunately, we only had about 30 minutes and had to return to our escorted tour. I am sure that I could have found a lot more information had there been more time to research. The driver found a priest in the nearby church of Maria del Carmelo who found a parishioner to open up the rectory for the Church of the Annunziata where the records are kept, and helped us find and interpret the records, plus take non-flash photos of the 1811 marriage record found which was on two pages. She took my email address and said she would keep researching, but I have not heard from her and I don't have her email address or name. A couple of weeks ago, I mailed a letter to the church with a willingness to make a donation for additional records, but past experience tells me it will never be answered.