As a nation state, Italy has emerged only in 1871. Until then the country was politically divided into a large number of independant cities, provinces and islands. The currently available evidences point out to a dominant Etruscan, Greek and Roman cultural influence on today's Italians.
I have been researching my genealogy and have found that my Italian ancestors have all come from the comune known as Elena. I have read that it was a comune that merged with Gaeta, separated, then merged again. I have not been able to find very much written about this comune. Can anyone give me a little history of Elena?
Gaeta (ancient Caieta) is a seaport at the Southern border of the Lazio and Campania regions. After the Risorgimento and until World War II, Gaeta grew in importance and wealth as a seaport.
The nearby town of Elena, separated after the Risorgimento and named after the queen of Italy, was reunited to Gaeta following World War I. Mussolini transferred Gaeta from the region of Campania, to which it is historically and culturally connected, to Lazio. However, the decades since World War II have been as difficult for Gaeta as they have been for most of Italy's southern regions. Its importance as a seaport has nearly vanished in favor of the nearby town of Formia. More recently, the city has turned to summer tourism and to specialized agricultural products, namely its tomatoes and olives.
The Gaetani speak a dialect of Italian that, while similar to the nearby Neapolitan, is one of the few Italian dialects to preserve Latin's neuter gender. Distinctive local cuisine includes the tiella, which resembles both a pizza and a calzone. The town is also notable for its splendid beaches (Serapo, Fontania, Sant'Agostino), and its distinctive brand of olives, marketed throughout the world. Gaeta has erected a monument to Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot), who according to many was born there (although other sources give Genoa)."
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I just saw your post. I too was looking through boat records when I found angela Valente and Giovanni Valente with angela's kids, Dierdra and Pelligrino (a common name in those parts, and I see it a lot on my tree.) coming from San Marco and Elena or Elona. I had no idea if it really existed. It must be near San Marco right? I am Mary Valente(y) and looking for my great grandfather's birth place, and couldn't find him in San Marco dei Covoti, where Mary (Maria)Michele was born. Now, I believe it is Elena. Michele Valente was married to Maria Michele from San Marco where they resided, before coming to America. Mary V856