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Janet Vitiello
(January 2003 -- Bedford, MA)

From where did your family emigrate and when? Who emigrated (self, parents, grandparents) and what were their names?
My maternal grandfather and grandmother emigrated from Cuorgne (TO) to Boston. My grandmother was born Albina Angelina Spriano in San Salvatore Monferrato in 1888. My grandfather was Giorgio Augusto Cerutto from Cuorgne, born in 1883. They met and married in Cuorgne where my grandmother's parents had moved around 1900. My grandparents left Italy for the U.S. in September 1908 immediately after marrying. At that time my grandfather had resided in Boston for three years (1905-'08). He had returned home to marry.

What led them to their destination (relatives already there, hopes of a job at a mill, mine, etc. Please explain)?
My grandfather was connecting with a friend when he first came to Boston. He was trained as a baker and candymaker. His purpose in coming to the U.S. was to establish a bakery and candy factory, make lots of money, then probably retire back in Italy. He took a job as a waiter at a prominent Boston hotel restaurant in order to save enough money to start his business and to learn English. He did in fact establish the business about 10 years later. The business was successful and the candy factory made his partner, my grandmother's brother wealthy after my grandfather's death in 1924.

Were they part of a migration chain?
I don't think so. What I know of my grandfather makes me think he acted on his own and his motive was economic opportunity rather than necessity.

Did they emigrate to another location before or after (Argentina, France, England, etc.)?


Did they settle among other Piemontesi and were they members of a Piemontese society (fraternal, mutual aid, etc.)?
When they first came, they settled near other Piemontesi, but after eight years they bought a house in the outskirts of the city in a neighborhood that was mainly Yankee and Irish.

Did your family maintain Piemontesi traditions -- language, culture, history, cuisine, etc.?
My grandmother spoke Piemontese to her family her whole life and when her children started school, they knew more Piemontese than English. I lived with my grandmother as a child and she spoke to me solely in Piemontese. She ultimately learned enough English to get by. She could also speak Italian, which she had learned in school and read both English (the newspaper) and Italian (the Sons of Italy newspaper). She cooked some traditional Piemontesi dishes, especially on holidays. Sunday dinner always included risotto, which she made with her own tomato sauce and chicken stock. Polenta with a sauce made of tomato and onions, was another staple. She sang Piemontese songs. She used colorful Piemontese epithets, which I could say, but not spell. She never mentioned the history of her region or even the history of her family. Her traditions died with her. Though her children could speak Piemontese in their adult lives they spoke to her only in English. Nobody cooks risotto or polenta and nobody can make her "buona minestra."

Did your family return home to visit or to live after the initial emigration? Did they maintain contact with family back home?
My grandmother remained in contact with her family for her whole life. They wrote to each other in Italian (not Piemontese). In 1923, when her husband was ill with his final illness (heart problems secondary to rheumatic fever contracted in childhood) they returned to Courgne for eight months. My mother's oldest sister maintained contact with her Piemontese cousins. I believe she wrote to them in Italian. That contact has been lost, but we still have the names and, in some cases, addresses. My mother and this sister visited Cuorgne and San Salvatore in the 1970s.

Do you identify yourself more as American, Italian or Piemontese?
I identify myself as an American of Piemontese and Irish descent.

Have you visited your family's town(s) in Piemonte? What was your experience like?
I haven't yet, but I am about to.

Have you studied your Piemontese genealogy? Please explain why.
I have investigated the Spriano link because I was lucky enough to connect with Sprianos via the Internet. I have no one to connect with on the Cerutto side. I was looking for roots. I have this whole language (Piemontese) taking up space in my brain with nothing to do. As I grew up with my grandmother, she was more like a mother to me, so I feel connected to the Sprianos.

Do you belong to the Piemontesi nel Mondo, Famija Piemonteis or any other organization?

I do not belong to any ethnic organization. Probably because I come from more than one ethnic group so am a "half breed" in either of them.

Il testo in italiano


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