Finding nonna – Part 2

In the previous blog, Cathy Crenna wrote about the first steps in her search to find her information about her nonna’s  family who were born in
Caselle di Altivoli, provincia di Treviso. Here, Cathy provides more details about how to start researching for family history.

DNA Testing
DNA testing is one of the most effective tools to build your family tree. DNA testing was a tremendous asset, particularly in finding relatives in North America and Australia. It is not as popular in Europe and many countries do not permit DNA testing so it is limited in scope.

Angelina, Vincenzo and daughter Guelphina, (Cathy’s nonna, nonno and mother), Ontario, 1964

A DNA test will match you with other members of the same genetic family lines, from all around the world.  Most matches will be very distant going back  4 or more generations – and not all matches will want to communicate with you. It is important to respect this choice.

My DNA testing (I used both Ancestry DNA and 23andMe) connected me with matches from everywhere! Once I had a few surnames to research I began to weave the story backwards in time.

A few of those surnames led me to the Veneto.  Two founding family names of Tonellato and Piovesan were showing up in DNA matches and in family trees from coast to coast in Canada, throughout the USA and in Australia and Brazil.  A Google search of the names brought me to the Veneto market gardeners 1927 website!  I was beyond excited to find this site.  It is what I was hoping for, a connection to ancestors from the same area of the Veneto – in my case, Treviso.

When I read the stories of the Veneto families, I immediately felt the familiarity of the family traditions, and customs.  These original families brought with them their love of family, culture, food and their ethic of hard work and saving. These were very traits that helped them be successful in their new homes here in Canada, in Australia and around the world.

The oral histories of the descendants of the Veneto Market Gardens are keeping their memories alive, not only for their families in Australia and Italy, but also for others, like me, who are searching for those very connections.

Vincenzo and Angelina, Guelph, Ontario, June 1951 (Photo taken on Cathy’s parents’ wedding day)

With the more recent popularity of Ancestry research, there are many more research tools available to us.

The FamilySearch Research Wiki for Italy is a free, online genealogical guide created and maintained by FamilySearch, a non-profit organization. It contains links to genealogy databases, websites, other resources, research strategies, and genealogical guidance to assist in the search for your ancestors. Articles included are locality pages for countries around the world and topic pages that include pertinent genealogy record types explaining how to use the record, what it contains, and how to find it: Click here to view the genealogy site.

This is also a useful Public Broadcasting Service (USA) episode specific to researching Italian Genealogy:

The Italian State Archives house many of the available digital records of births, deaths and marriages in Italy.  Not all church records are available, you may need to go directly to the church records for information. You will need to know exactly where your relative was born to request records.  (The Family Search Wiki will show you how to do this and provides samples of request letters). Click here to access the Italian State Archives.

If you are like me and have lost the ability to communicate in Italian, you can refresh your reading and writing skills by learning the language! Its free on the Duolingo application. To access the Duolingo site click here.

Immigrant Italian families are a testament to the grit, determination and love of family that sustained them.  Their loyalty, ethics of hard work, saving, and owning land that can be passed down to the future generations made them assets in their new land.  These traits established the Italian family that was a well- known and respected unit of labour.

While the early immigrants may have been fully participating in a new life in a new country, their hearts were always anchored in Italy. We the descendants of Italian immigrants who are scattered across the globe may not have the same intimate connection with our extended families that those who remained in Italy enjoy.  Many of us are searching for that connection.

It is important to remember and honour the sacrifices, traditions and courage of our ancestors.   I didn’t find Zia Amalia in my ancestry journey but I gained a better understanding of the depth and breadth of Italian family.  I found a family that spans centuries, crosses continents and nourishes my soul.  I found nonna.

Angelina Botter and Vincenzo Giovanditto, wedding, Guelph-Ontario, July 9 1927 (Witnesses: Nicola and Carmelina Finamore)

Thank you nonna for having the courage to and strength to make your journey.

Cathy Crenna
4 October 2020











Finding nonna

Guest blogger, Cathy Crenna, writes about her family history research and creating a  family tree for her nonna who was born in Caselle di Altivole, provincia di Treviso, Veneto, Italia. Part 2 will be posted on 4 October.

Catherine Crenna, summer garden, Belleville, Ontario, September 2020

My name is Catherine Crenna. I am Canadian, born in 1953 to an Italian mother Guelphina Giovanditto, and an Austrian-Hungarian/German father, Peter Fischbach.  I live in a lovely part of Ontario where I spend my time gardening, cooking, sewing and researching family history!

My nonna, Angelina Botter, born in 1900 in Caselle di Altivole, Treviso, Veneto, Italia arrived in Canada in 1927 at the age of 27. She landed at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia and travelled to Guelph, Ontario to a marriage arranged by her older sister Onorina who had arrived in Canada in 1926.  The man who was to become her husband, and our nonno, was Vincenzo Giovanditto, born in 1892 in Sannicandro Garganico, Foggia.

Bortolo Botter & Carolina Dametto, Caselle di Altivole, c 1900

Nonna had very few stories to share about her childhood growing up in Caselle.  It was arranged for her to go to Venice at the age of 16 to work creating fine needlework and embroidery for a wealthy Venetian family.  Her two elder sisters Amalia and Onorina also went into service at the age of 16, sending their wages back home to support the family. The poverty and lack of opportunity in the Veneto forced many to leave their home in search of a better life, a common immigrant story.  Some went very far, crossing oceans to the North American, South American, and Australian continents.   Sister Amalia remained behind.  We lost touch with her and her family. Old letters and postcards didn’t provide enough information to find her.  I wanted to find out more about Amalia.  I went searching for zia.

Amalia Botter – Milan, date unknown

Family Tree
The first step I used in researching family history was to create a family tree.  I would recommend you start by gathering information on your family using what you already know.  Look at family records, pictures, old birth and death notices and family albums. Check the newspaper archives in your country and in the country of your ancestor’s birth. Visit  a free service to locate family resting places. Click here to visit

Ask relatives to help fill in the blanks.  Visit grandparents, aunts and uncles and ask about their family stories. Tap into that wealth of information.  Once you have gathered your information, put it together in a tree. The Family Tree will help visualize your family and its connections to other families.

Angelina and Vincenzo wedding, Guelph-Ontario, July 9 1927
Bortolo Botter & Carolina Dametto - family tree screenshot
Bortolo Botter & Carolina Dametto – family tree screenshot

There are many online tools to help build a Family Tree. The largest and most comprehensive free website is Family Search . You can create your family tree and view the family trees of others. and are two of the largest commercial databases for building family trees.  They allow you to create your tree at no charge, but you cannot view other trees or do research on stored records without paying a fee. Also click here for a European focus.

However, your local library may have a subscription to the Library Version of Ancestry that will give you access to all the records for no charge. Some libraries will also help you create your family tree and advise you on where the best research resources are located.

Love of Italian language and cooking
I combine my fascination with Italian cooking and with the Italian language by watching cooking videos in Italian.  Two of my favourites are “The Pasta Grannies” and “Fatto in Casa di Benedetta”

They are fun to watch as well as being educational!

Cathy Crenna
20 September 2020

Insert Italian Text here

New items and an invitation

The beginning of September – spring in Australia …

A short blog this time to let you know about two new features on the website under the Resources button: video stories and eulogies.


Two videos recorded with Oscar Mattiazzo

Oscar, 90th birthday, 2013

In the first video Oscar speaks about his family and his arrival as an 11-year old in 1934 with his mother. His father had migrated in 1927. (11:14 minutes) Click here to view videos

Oscar recalls, in the second video, how he first came to visit the Lockleys market garden area, the Veneto families who lived there and the development of the area over many years. (9:45 minutes) Click here to view videos

Video recorded with Assunta Giovannini nee Tonellato Click here to view video

Assunta, Adelaide, 2012

Assunta speaks about her mother and being raised in the Tonellato family by her aunt and uncle. She also gives information about the various market gardener families. (9:36 minutes)


Eleonora Marchioro nee Ottanelli Click here to view video
Eleonora reads the translation of a letter written by her father-in-law, Vittorio Marchioro who married Angelina Marchioro by proxy in

Vittorio & Angelina Marchioro, Romano & Mirjana, Eleonora & Johnny, 1964

1937. In the letter Vittorio gives his wife advice before she leaves Italy. (1:16 minutes)




Five eulogies have been added to the website – a suggestion made by Aida Innocente. The eulogies are a valuable way to understand the lives of veneti who have been part of the community in Adelaide.

  1. Oscar Mattiazzo who died in September 2017 Click here to read eulogy
  2. Angelo Innocente who died in February 2012 – also in Italian Click here to read eulogies
  3. Elsa Innocente who died in January 2017 – Click here to read eulogiesAngelo & Elsa Innocente, 2011
  4. Enrico (Richetto) Rebuli who died in June 2020 – Click here to read eulogy
  5. Maria (Eti) Rebuli who died in July 2020 – Click here to read eulogy
Richetto & Eti Rebuli, February 2019





Invitation – thinking of writing a blog?

Over the past months it has been great to have so many guest bloggers contribute their family stories to the website. We learn so much from the accounts of individuals and how they started their lives as migrants in Adelaide. I love the family photos which always give an insight into how people lived.

If you would like to write about your family history, please contact me to talk about your ideas and to arrange a date for a blog. I am particularly interested in stories about how families celebrated Christmas and/or New Year.

Thank you …
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the website in recent months. Thanks to Michael Campbell, website administrator, who continues to work behind the scenes and makes everything work well. Thank you to Graziella Ledda for assistance with Italian translations – and Irene Zampin in Caselle di Altivole for occasional translations.

Madeleine Regan
6 September 2020

Nuovi fatti e un invito …

Il principio di settembre  … è primavera qui in Adelaide …

Un breve blog questa volta per farvi sapere che ci sono due nuovi fatti sul sito sotto “Resources” bottone storie video e elogii.

Ci sono quattro storie di orticoltori veneti registrate separatamente con tre intervistati.


Due video registrati con Oscar Mattiazzo

Oscar, Adelaide 2013

Nel primo video Oscar parla della sua famiglia e del suo arrrivo in Australia con la sua madre nel 1934 quando aveva 11 anni. Il padre emigrò nel 1927. (11:14 minuti) [Clicca qui]

Oscar ricorda nel secondo video come per la prima volta andò a Frogmore Road e incontrò le famiglie venete che abitavano là. Parla anche dello sviluppo della zona per tanti anni. (9:45 minuti) [Clicca qui]

Video registrato con Assunta Tonellato in Giovannini

Assunta, Adelaide 2012

Assunta parla di sua madre chi è morta dandola luce. Assunta ricorda crescendo nella famiglia Tonellato con i suoi zii e i loro cinque figli – ed anche gli orticoltori della zona a Frogmore Road. (9:36 minuti)[Clicca qui]

Eleonora Ottanelli in Marchioro

Vittorio, Angelina, Marchioro, Romano, Mirjana, Eleonora, Johnny, c 1964

Eleonora legge la traduzione di una lettera scritta dal suocero, Vittorio Marchioro. Lui si sposò con Angelina Marchioro per procura nel 1937. Nella lettera Vittorio da consigli a sua moglie prima di partire per l’Australia. (1:16 minuti) [Clicca qui]


Cinque elogii scritti in inglese sono stati aggiunti al sito – un consiglio dato da Aida Innocente. Gli elogii sono una via preciosa per capire le vite dei veneti che fanno parte della comunità di orticoltori in Adelaide.

  1. Oscar Mattiazzo che è morto nel settembre 2017.  [Clicca qui]
  2. Angelo Innocente che è morto nel febbraio 2012 – in italiano. [Clicca qui]
  3. Elsa Innocente che è morta nel gennaio 2017. [Clicca qui]Angelo & Elsa Innocente, 2011
  4. Enrico (Richetto) Rebuli che è morto nel giugno 2020. [Clicca qui]
  5. Maria (Eti) Rebuli che è morta nel luglio 2020. [Clicca qui]
Richetto & Eti Rebuli, February 2019





Per favore fatemi sapere se volete aggiungere un elogio per un membro della vostra famiglia.

Invitazione! Pensate di scrivere un blog?
In questi mesi passati è stato un piacere avere molti ospiti bloggers che hanno contribuito con la storia della loro famiglia. Abbiamo imparato molto su questi individui e come hanno incominciato la loro vita di immigranti. Le foto delle famiglie ci danno uno sguardo sulla loro vita privata.

Se potete scrivere e raccontare la storia della vostra famiglia, per favore contattemi per discutere i dettagli. Sono particolarmente interessata nelle storie che descrivono come hanno trascorso il natale e capo d’anno.

Grazie …
Grazie a tutti quelli che hanno contribuito nei mesi recenti. Grazie a Michael Campbell che fa l’amministratore e continua a lavorare duro e tutto quello che fa è ben fatto. Grazie anche a Graziella Ledda per l’assistenza con la traduzione italiano – e Irene Zampin in Caselle di Altivole per qualche volta per la sua traduzione.

Madeleine Regan
il 6 settembre 2020

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