Honoring a family: Italian Roots in Ripacandida

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We just received this story from Linda Hoffman. We helped Linda to know more about her family in Ripacandida (Potenza).

Here is my story. I never knew my grandparents, they passed away before I was born, but I grew up in a huge Italian family.
My mother was the youngest of 11 children. We always had large family parties and as the family grew so did the parties.
The traditions that my grandparents brought with them from Ripicandida Italy were always present.

My grandparents helped start St. Donatus Church in Blue Island, IL and we celebrated the Feast of St. Donatus every year. My aunt always made a candle house every year which they called a ‘gille” I have no idea how to spell it in Italian. It was a big deal to all of us. As a young girl my cousins and I carried the ribbons and as we got older graduated to carrying the candle house.
San Donato’s Church in Ripacandida

Money was pinned to the Saint and carried through the streets, and afterwards we all gathered at the family homes for our dinner. It was an all day affair.
Those memories will forever be with us. I am an only child but was always thrilled to tell everyone that I had 22 cousins, just on my mom’s side.
We celebrated Palm Sunday with homemade noodles and sauce sprinkled with fried bread crumbs, this tradition I have carried on in honor of my mother.
All of my aunts and uncles are gone now, and although we try to stay in touch it has become harder as everyone got married and had their own families.
But I started thinking, why don’t I know about where we came from. Yes I knew the town, and customs, but I wanted to know more.
Finding the ItalianSide website was exactly what I was looking for. I may never know my ancestors or anything about them, but being able to now know who my great great great parents were was so exciting to me. They have a name, I know where they lived and when they were born. For without these people I would not exist.
With this new information that ItalianSide gave me, I can now pass it along to future generations to keep it up. I have listened to other people tell me about how they can trace their ancestors back hundreds and hundreds of years, well now I can say the same.
When I eventually make it to Italy I can now stroll the streets they once walked, and I would hope they would know that their great great great granddaughter wanted to know more about them!
Honoring a family that I miss.

This is a picture of the Labriola-Rondinella family from Ripicandida. My mother is the youngest, kneeling next to her father on the right. She carried the traditions with her always. Especially with the food, cookies, pasta’s, breads. Something I am trying to keep up, but it’s not easy. So thank you for again helping us find more about our ancestors.


  1. Nicoletta says:

    I’m very excited about this site, I was blown away when I read that one of the cousins was searching for some info on his grandmother. I haven’t heard from him yet, but, to add to the original post;
    my father Nicola Candida actually accomapanied his sister Antonetta (Cirillo)and her little son Carmelo from Italy to Australia arriving in Adelaide on the 14th March 1925. They departed Italy from Naples on the ship Oronsay. After living at Pt. Pirie and they then settled at Hyde Park,an Adelaide suburb

  2. Karen Rascop says:

    Great job Linda! I am pretty sure that picture was taken on my mom and dad’s wedding day. Auntie Clara and your mom were their bridesmaids. Dad second in on top wearing his tux. Handsome and great smile. We are all lucky to have come from such a strong and loving family. I have fond memories of my aunties and uncles. Even though I didn’t get to Blue Island very often I still feel a strong connection to our family.

  3. Maddalena says:

    Dear Linda,
    I came to Blue Island in 1966 with my family. At the time the Village was a Little Ripacandida, it was fun and it alzo felt very safe. During the feast (I liived on Division St) just behind St. Donatus’ churc,we felt like being home, ad everiyone Spoke italian..
    I’m glad that you got to find relatives in Ripacandida and you were able to visit our town. Affer 20 years in The States, I returned here, but now I admit it, I miss Chicago and mostly my family. I still have two sisters that own an italian restaurant carring on the traditional lucanian dishes.

  4. Toni Labriola says:

    Thanks Linda, this is wonderful to know where my family and ancestors are all from, my name started many years ago. My grandfather Anthony aka (Tony) Labriola in the back middle.♡

  5. Noelle Skalnik says:

    I love this Linda! Thank you for doing it. Look at that hansome man on the end!! 🙂

  6. Paulette Cialdella says:

    Well done Linda!! Bravo!

  7. Debbie Lale says:

    Very nice Linda a true expression of all of our thoughts an honor to the Labriola family. You did great!

  8. Cousin Pam says:

    Well Said. I miss them too!

  9. jackie russo says:

    Great letter Linda, you done good! My Mom: Third from left on top! Miss them all so much!

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