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A lifetime in a day

by Steven Cofrancesco

Related papers

Ferdinando's Will
Traveling to Italy... meeting Cofrancescos

I recently had the opportunity to visit the location of my roots in Italy, Massa di Faicchio (40 miles from Naples), and to finally meet my cousin Pacifico.  We only had one day together, but it was a very full day – I think I did not fully appreciate it until I got back home and had a chance to reflect.


Steven Cofrancesco
Steven Cofrancesco
of Phoenix, AZ (USA)
1. At Massa with Pacifico and the Di Leone Family

We started by having lunch at Pacifico’s and  Anna’s beautiful house.  Anna’s family joined us (her sister, brother, and mother and father).  The food was fantastic, and the company was even better.  We drank red wine that Anna’s father, Michele Di Leone, serves also in his restaurant, which is homemade; it was very smooth and easy to drink.

Pacifico explained to me that the Cofrancesco name originates from S. Lorenzello, which is a neighboring town of Massa, and is where our bloodline is originally from.  He also explained it is possible that our name was different during the 16th century.
With Pacifico and the Di Leone Family
Together with Pacifico and Anna's Family at Massa
Front row, from left: Ada Di Leone, Anna Di Leone, myself, Pacifico Cofrancesco

Back row, from left: Antonietta Tacinelli & Michele Di Leone, Anna's parents
and Antonio Di Leone, Anna's brother

We went to Massa Di Faicchio and Cerreto Sannita, another town where many Cofrancescos live, and I saw several shops with the name Cofrancesco on it…  Amazing to me  because in the States our name is extremely rare and unique.  My amazement continued when we visited the local cemetery, where I counted approximately 25 Cofrancesco’s. 
Steven's Ancestors
    Simone Cofrancesco
(San Lorenzello, 1730 - Massa, 1778)
    Ferdinando Cofrancesco
(Massa, abt 1762 - Massa, 1827)
    Simone Cofrancesco
(Massa, 1808 - Massa, 1888)
    Ferdinando Cofrancesco
(Massa, 1888 - USA, ?)
Ferdinando, his wife, and all of their children immigrated to the United States between 1889 and 1900. Ferdinando was the oldest Cofrancesco to enter the USA, when he returned from a visit to Italy in 1909, after the death of his wife.

    Simon Cofrancesco
(Massa, 1867 - New Haven, CT, 1849) w
    Arthur Cofrancesco
(New Haven, CT - 1898 - Torrington, CT, 1986)
    Simon Cofrancesco
(New Haven, CT, 1928 - 2010) is Steven's father.
It is remarkable how the name Simon (Simone in Italian) has been used every two generations from the 18th century.

2. Where my great-great-grandfater Ferdinando lived

Via Fontana (Source Road) Pacifico showed me the actual building where my great-great grandfather, Ferdinando, lived with his wife and 9 children, and where my great-grandfather Simone was born. My grandfather, Arthur, was born in the U.S. in New Haven, CT.  Ferdinando is the one who emigrated to the U.S. with his entire family. He arrived at Ellis Island on Oct 6, 1889. Pacifico, was not sure exactly which of the three apartments in that building was “ours”, but it was amazing to stand in the place where my great grandfather grew up. I found myself looking up and down the narrow street, imagining them walking to and from their apartment, wondering what they looked like, how they dressed, and what their thoughts and feelings were.  While we were there a woman emerged from one of the three apartments. 
Concetta Cofrancesco Her name was Concetta Cofrancesco.  She showed us the inside of her tiny apartment, including the cantina in the basement, which was dark and damp with a curved, brick roof and a cement floor.  I have a picture of myself with her and her neighbor standing in the doorway of that apartment, which might be the place where my great grandfather grew up and lived...
The source Pacifico showed me the reason why he thought those buildings developed there: the local watering hole.  It is located about 50 yards from the apartment building, and I once again found myself imagining how my relatives probably carried water back to the apartment for cooking and cleaning. Pacifico also thinks that Ferdinando probably moved to the U.S. because he had so many children to feed, and they essentially lived in the “city” (they lived in the "centre" of Massa), meaning they did not own any land providing the opportunity for farming.  I had a strange thought of me growing up in this little village, on that little street, if Ferdinando and his children did not move to the U.S.  Of course, I might not even exist if he didn’t make that move, at least as I know myself today.
Ferdinando Cofrancesco's Family at Massa

Ferdinando's family
in a record of the second half of the 19th century in the Municipal Archive of Faicchio (Italy)

(Click to enlarge)


3. Driving around

As we drove around, I shot many pictures like a typical tourist, except that I was hoping to capture as many images of my family’s roots as possible (please write to me if you would like copies of my pictures: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

Cofrancesco's shop in Cerreto Sannita (Italy) Cofrancesco's company in Massa di Faicchio (Italy)

Shops with the Cofrancesco name
4. My closest relatives at Massa

Alessandro Cofrancesco and family I had the opportunity, thanks to Pacifico once again, to meet a Cofrancesco family, directly related to mine.  They own an iron works company in Massa Di Faicchio.  We visited them at their house; Alessandro Cofrancesco, his wife Anna, and Alessandro's mother, Marzia Cofrancesco were there!  They were very pleasant and cordial, and they have a small bed and breakfast on their property that anyone should make use of if visiting this area. They showed me their showroom with many beautiful items made from iron, such as coat racks, lamps, tables, and much more.  They even gave me a small painted iron butterfly as a gift, which now hangs on our wall in the kitchen here in Phoenix.


  Owned by Alessandro Cofrancesco's family at Massa

More information
5. A fantastic learning experience      [^][<]

Pacifico is such a gentleman, sincerely interested in providing me with a fantastic learning experience.  Anna is so sweet and kind, making a fantastic meal for me and always making sure that I was comfortable.  If you are a Cofrancesco or you simply want to visit a unique area of Italy, and you are fortunate enough to have Pacifico’s and Anna’s guidance, knowledge, and friendship, you would never go wrong by visiting this area and spending time with them.  Thank you, Pacifico and Anna, I am grateful and proud to have you as my family.
With Pacifico & Anna

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