20 Dec Adolfo Venturi
ADOLFO VENTURI, MY CENTO CONNECTION
Unfortunately, I never knew my Italian grandfather, Adolfo Venturi, and also knew little about him. The one fact that I did have from my American family was that he lived in Cento, Italy. Slowly, over the years, I began to put pieces together regarding Adolfo and my Italian family. The older generation of my family had been in contact with my Italian family, but they had passed away and the younger generation, like myself, did not have much information. As a result, I did a great deal of genealogical research in the States.
My grandfather, Adolfo, was born in Cento on June 14, 1873. I learned that he was the son of Emilio Venturi, born in 1829 in Sasso Marconi and Elisa Fortini, born in Cento in 1839. His paternal grandparents were Giuseppe Venturi and Luigia Vaccari, who, I believe were from Sasso Marconi. His maternal grandparents were Gaetano Fortini and Maria Maini, who lived in Cento. At the time, I did not know how important knowing some of the names of his family would be to making connections with my Italian relatives.
Adolfo had six siblings, all born in Cento: Adelina, b. 1860; Vittorio, b. 1862; Ersilia, b. 1863; Biagio, b. 1866; Alberto, b. 1869 and Davide, b. 1877. The family lived in Cento on Via del Teatro (formerly Vicolo Beccherie).
Interestingly, Adolfo was the only member from his family who immigrated to the United States. In the spring of 1897, he left Cento to board a ship to New York. When he arrived in New York, he travelled to Plymouth, Massachusetts, where he boarded at 48 Water Street with friends from the Cento area, Guido Barbieri, his wife Mary and their two children, Robert and Angelo.
I may never learn exactly why Adolfo decided to move to the United States. I know that he did not choose to settle in Plymouth to work at the Plymouth Cordage Company, as many other people from Cento, who immigrated to Plymouth did. When he first arrived in Plymouth, Adolfo worked as a peddler, delivering newspapers. At the time of his naturalization, February 1905, he gave his occupation as a clerk. Later he opened a small lunch restaurant at 50 Court Street in Plymouth.
Adolfo married my grandmother, Maria Luigia Zanotti, daughter of Petronio and Gaetana (Natalini) Zanotti, in Plymouth, Massachusetts, on September 15, 1904. Maria Luigia immigrated to the United States in 1897 from Italy. She joined her sister, Clotilde, in Boston, who immigrated earlier to the States. I am not sure how Adolfo and Maria Luigia met each other or whether they may have known one another in Italy. In any case, after they married they had five children, all born in Plymouth: Mafalda (b. 1 August 1905); Amelia (b. 9 April 1907; d. September 1907); Olindo (b. 22 July 1908); Vittorio (b. 19 April 1912); and my mother, Elisa Maria (b. 24 March 1913) who went by Elizabeth. Adolfo and his family first rented a place to live at 9 Water Street in Plymouth and later purchased their family home at 14 Howland Street in Plymouth.
When Adolfo naturalized on February 18, 1905, like all who went through the process, he was required to have two witnesses to his good character, who themselves had to be U.S. citizens. Listed on his naturalization record were Joseph Pioppi of 29 Cherry Street and Amilcare Anti of 165 Court Street, both in Plymouth.
In 1922, Adolfo returned to Italy to visit two of his brothers and his wife’s sister. During his visit, he sent postcards home from Cento to his wife and children, which his daughter, Elizabeth (my mother), kept in her possession. I found these postcards, which she saved, when I was cleaning out her home after she passed away. With these postcards, I began to wonder about Adolfo and his family back in Italy.
Sadly, on 24 January 1925, at the young age of 52, Adolfo passed away in Plymouth, Massachusetts. He, like so many other Italians in town, was buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Plymouth.
After exhausting all the records possible here in the United States to learn as much as I could about Adolfo, I realized I would have to turn to the records in Cento to find more information about him. I initially hired a genealogist who supplied me with some records. As a result, in May of 2015, my husband, Charlie, and I travelled to Italy to visit the town of Cento and to see Adolfo’s birthplace.
On our first day, when my husband and I arrived in Cento, we stayed at the White Palace Hotel. At the hotel, Nicoletta, who was employed at the hotel, was very kind and immediately wanted to help us find our “Venturi family.” Although this was not our intention at the time, my husband and I graciously accepted her help. She found two “Venturi” families listed in the White Pages. She called the first “Venturi” number, who owned a marble company in town. They said they did not have any relatives who went to the United States because their relatives went to South America. She then called the second “Venturi” number. A gentleman answered the phone and he said his relatives also went to South America. We thanked the nice lady in the hotel and went off to bed.
The next morning, Nicoletta informed us that her friend, the Assessore alla Cultura, Turismo, Sport, (Claudia Tassinari) was coming to the hotel to talk with us and that she may be able to help us with the search for our “Venturi family.” When she arrived, she had with her the Libro e DVD Nulla Osta Per Il Mondo L’Emigraziione Da Renazzo. She then opened to page 113 where I was shown a picture of Mafalda Venturi and Anthony V. Pioppi. I almost fainted, because this was my aunt Malfalda, my mother’s sister! Mafalda had married Anthony Pioppi in St. Peter’s Church in Plymouth, 19 April 1933. Anthony was the son of Joseph Pioppi who lived on Cherry Street—the same Joseph Pioppi who was one of the witnesses for my grandfather, Adolfo, when he naturalized. The story of the Pioppi family had been included in this book, along with some photos.
Claudia continued to explain to my husband and myself the important research project between Cento and Plymouth regarding the people who immigrated to Plymouth from Renazzo. She was also kind enough to give us contacts at the Pandurera and the Anagrafe where we did further research on our “Venturi family” during our visit in Cento.
Later that morning, Nicoletta informed us that the people at the marble company wanted to meet us to be sure that we were not related. They asked us to be at their place of business in Cento at Fratelli Venturi, via Armellini 10 at 5:00 pm that evening. We agreed and arrived there with a bottle of wine, Adolfo’s birth certificate and some of his family history.
Initially, we were greeted by Alberto Venturi, together with his two sons, Emilio and Leonardo, and Lara Govoni, the wife of Alberto’s nephew, Andrea Venturi. Lara spoke fluent English and graciously helped us with translation. We presented our information to this family, showing them that my grandfather, Adolfo, had a brother, Alberto. Adolfo’s brother, Alberto (born in 1869 and one of Adolfo’s six siblings), would have been the grandfather of Alberto that we just met at this marble company. They were surprised!
Lara immediately called her husband, Andrea Venturi, who was the genealogist for the Italian Venturi family. He checked his records to see who the parents were of his great-grandfather, Alberto. Sure enough, they were the same parents as my grandfather—Emilio Venturi and Elisa Fortini. Again, they were so surprised! As were we!
After hearing from Andrea, Lara’s husband, that we all were indeed related, Alberto and his family then called his brother, Lino Venturi, Andrea’s father, who previously worked at the marble business. Lino and his wife, Luciana immediately joined us. When they arrived, Luciana had a picture in her hand of two children, dated 1953. She did not know who they were. Again, I almost fainted and explained they were my cousins, the two children of my aunt Mafalda (Venturi) Pioppi and that their names were Brenda Louise Pioppi and Dennis Pioppi. Another surprise!
Lino said he remembered Anthony Pioppi, Mafalda’s husband, who visited the Venturi family after the Second World War. As it turns out, in 1953, Anthony Pioppi travelled to Italy with his friend, Enrico Ferrari, while his wife Mafalda remained in the United States.
Surprisingly, we learned that Emilio (Adolfo’s father) also worked in the marble business with his brother Davide Venturi. In 1862, Davide and Emilio were responsible for placing the statue of Guercino on a marble pedestal in Cento. This statue remains there today in the center of town. Davide Venturi became a famous international marble cutter. In 1840, he founded Davide Venturi & Son in San Giovanni in Persiceto, Italy and eventually moved his company to Bologna. Alberto and his sons, Emilio and Leonardo, of Fratelli Venturi, and Lino Venturi, who we had just met, their siblings and many other Venturi family members, who have worked in the marble business, have continued with the long family tradition. What a special feeling to know that there is a tangible reminder of my great-grandfather that I can see whenever I visit Cento.
To definitely verify my relationship to the Italian Venturi family, my husband and I went to the Pandurera in Cento and the Anagrafe in Renazzo to obtain official family documents to verify our Venturi relationship. Not only did our Italian Venturi family not know they had American relatives, they were unaware of some of my grandfather’s brothers and sisters in Italy, who were part of their family.
During the remainder of our time in Cento, we continued to do family research in Italy with my cousin, Andrea Venturi, and had the opportunity to meet many more Venturi cousins and enjoy our new-found family.
Again, in September 2016, my husband and I travelled to Cento and spent more than two weeks with the Venturi family and had an amazing visit with them. Andrea planned a family reunion and we met so many of our Italian relatives. Also, during that time, we continued our family research with Andrea.
In August 2018, Andrea and his wife Lara visited my husband and myself in America for 10 days, staying in our home in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. This was their first visit with us. A few years ago, they had been to New York on New Year’s Eve with some of their family members.
During their stay with my husband and I, they met some members of their American family:
• my two daughters, Kimberly Gardner (along with her husband, Brian, and their daughter Lucie); Jenny Gaynor (and her husband, Andrew, and their children, Jack and Ella);
• Leonard Venturi (son of Victor Venturi) who is my first cousin (and Leonard’s wife, Rita);
• Dennis Pioppi (son of Malfalda Venturi and Anthony Pioppi) who is my first cousin (and Dennis’ wife, Ann);
• and Peter Balboni (son of Brenda Balboni, daughter of Malfalda Venturi and Anthony Pioppi), who is my first cousin once removed (and his wife, Kimberly and their children, Isabella and Max).
Again, in March of 2019, we returned to Cento for ten days and visited our Italian family. Also, this time we extended our visit and rented an apartment in Bologna for four weeks. Here, we were able to spend more time with my relatives and continue our family research with Andrea.
The past few years have been an exciting time for me. My husband and I have attended many genealogical conferences and I have done extensive family research on my own. As a result, we have had the opportunity to travel to Italy on several occasions and gather so much information on my Italian grandfather and the Venturi family. During the past four years, I have continued to communicate by email primarily with my cousin, Andrea Venturi, and his wife Lara. We have also communicated occasionally with other family members in Cento by email and “Whats App.” Andrea has contributed so much of his time and effort to the research and continues to do so. Also, we have had the opportunity to work together in Italy on our family research and share information that we have gathered separately on the Italian side and American side of the family. My husband and I are looking forward to a long and continued relationship with Andrea and his wife, Lara, and our new-found Italian family.
Judith A. Elste
Granddaughter of Adolfo Venturi
Birth Extract of Adolfo Venturi
Adolfo’s siblings – my research at the Pandurea in Cento; Anagrafe in Renazzo
Davide Venturi information – from my cousin, Andrea Venturi
Naturalization Papers; immigration information
Adolfo’s children – birth certificates
Postcards my grandfather sent from Italy in 1922 – from my mother