The document above was shown to us by Don Ruggero Bencevenni, the Priest of the Church of St. Nicoli‘ in Castelvecchio Pascoli when we visited in 2005. I remember the occasion well as the camera wouldn’t work properly and I was feeling so in awe of the whole occasion, and of seeing this page with the marriage of my great-great grandparents. Since that first emotional visit we have now been back to visit the area and more recently had a family wedding performed in the same wee Church. Leonardo Quilietti and Eletta Brucciani had tied the knot and at that point the history of the Quilietti family was born. Leonardo had been brought up in an orphanage and ‘given’ this surname in 1839 in Lucca which is located about 30 miles further down the Serchio Valley.
Eletta Brucciani’s family were steeped in the history of the area and her ancestors were amongst the first documented since the records began in that wee Church in 1638. Their nearest town is Barga and Castelvecchio is only one of a dozen or so wee ‘hamlets’ or mountaintop villages scattered around that area.
The question we always asked was ‘why’, why did they leave such beautiful surroundings. And the answer has unfolded not only appertaining to our own family but to thousands of others who were forced off their lands at the time of the Unification of Italy in 1860. These farming peoples, working together in their enclave of “Little Italy”, were to become the pioneers of the modern day British ice cream industry, making and selling ice cream.
I have now visited Italy on many occasions, and not only back to Tuscany but to many areas of the land and been to the ‘paese’ of my origin. It is true that here I feel truly at home, even though I am Scottish born, and proud to be Scottish. To see the family houses that my grandparents lived in, the ancient farmland they worked, the churches where family generations were baptised, brings their way of life home to me. I can’t imagine what a wrench it must have been to leave their families, the picturesque mountain villages of their birth, and the force of the economic hardship that drove them away.
They arrived in their chosen cities with little money and even less knowledge of the English language. Many were classed as illiterate because of this but they went on to build thriving businesses from virtually nothing anyway.promote cultural Personally, I have nothing but admiration for their pioneering spirit, their resourcefulness, and ability to adapt to adverse circumstances.
What do we know about our heritage?
We have a unique surname, QUILIETTI but do we know where it came from? Is it Italian? Is it French? Could it be a mixture. Well to be sure it is not Scottish. But I am Scottish……..or am I?
In searching for our roots I have found names which are nearly the same, QUILIETTE from France and French Canada. QUILLET from Paris, France. QUELETTE again from France. The Pope’s Head of Security has surname GUILIETTI. Recent correspondence tells us that we have QUILETTI from Brazil. The correspondence was from Jose Carlos Quiletti. His family originated from Emilia Romania in the 1890s – CHILETTI pronounced QUILIETTI.
Remembering as a young child being asked about my heritage, and answering that I was Scottish, born in Edinburgh, not Italian as the teacher had suggested.
This I do remember. I remember being embarrassed by this question at that time, not for being Italian, but for being different.
But today, half a century later, I now know who I am, where I come from and am proud of my unique family heritage. It is unique because no other family in the whole world has my name. This I now know for certain. I have found out the answer to that question.
Our family is now together again, pulled together by two gentle folks, one a Quilietti by birth, Betty, and one a Dutch Merchant Seaman by the name of Carel Van Druten. This website will always be dedicated to them.
Without their help in finding our roots our family would be like falling leaves and not the strong tree it has grown again to be today.
Our family has scattered throughout the world and some of our descendents still do not know of their heritage. Perhaps with our website and the re-strenghening of our roots we can again establish our links with these individuals.
Amongst the descendents of our forefathers we have great artists, beautiful dancers, teachers, magicians, University Rectors and hardworking caring individuals too many to mention and all who and branches of our beautiful tree.
We lost our way a century ago with the early demise of Emilio Quilietti. He died not knowing that his descendents lives would be lost and now found again. His migration to a new land, his new environment, his homeland, his relations, his friends, the life he left behind and the cruel harsh climate that contributed to his demise. It is particularly important today for us all to try and understand what drove those early pioneers to leave their homeland, and many of them walked across the land, through France and over the English Channel. They did not speak the language but indeed they arrived exhibiting new skills and talents, or bringing new products and services to supply the local people.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIQfU1ZdZSk&feature=related
We are fortunate that today, people are more conscious than ever of heritage generally and the need to preserve what is happening currently for the benefit of later generations Although much of what is happening today may not seem at all remarkable or noteworthy to us today it will, indubitably, fascinate and amuse our children and grandchildren. We can call it nostalgia. It will be great in years to follow for our family to say ‘I remember that, that street, that building, that period in time, the dress, the shoes, the makeup.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5fqTMpoNuY&feature=related
The changes in the past two centuries have been so wide ranging that differences in building, transport, design, social activities, work and so on and so forth are quite marked enough to make any set of old photographs and stories instantly fascinating, and even so much more if these involve your own family.http://italia.indettaglio.it/eng/regioni/toscana.html
Please help us build this site into a wonderful gift for our own children and indeed their descendents, our heritage.
Helen Quilietti Stanton