I'm coming with family to visit my parents village -

josiesut52 Image
02/16/2022 - 10:24

I'm coming with family to visit my parents village - Fanna, Province of Pordenone - in 2022. 

I have not been there for over 30 years and have no surviving relatives that I know of.

How can I find out more about my heritage and make my visit enjoyable and educational re the Friuli region?



Hi Josiesut52 - My mother came from that area too. She grew up in the next town over, Cavasso Nuovo.  Some things to consider are, 1.  Go to the marcato in Maniago. It’s only open on Mondays. 2.  Cutlery museum also in Maniago.  This area has been making cutlery since the 1600s. 3.  For an authentic Friulian meal go to Trattoria Ai Cacciatori in Cavasso Nuovo. 4.  There’s a cool little museum at the municipio in Cavasso Nuovo that will tell you about the migration and impact people from the area had on the world. You’ll want to call first to make arrangements because it’s not always open.  5. Go to Pofabro and take a step back in time. It’s a small village with homes that are probably well over a hundred years old. 6.  There’s a mosaic school in Spilimbergo. You can spend maybe a half a day there learning how to make a tile mosaic.  This area is well-known for mosaic work.  All of these things should give you a good feel for our heritage. I hope this helps. Feel free to ask me more questions!

Hi there!

Thank you so much for your comments and thoughtful reply - really helpful tips.

I haven't been to Maniago for 50 years but I remember going with my father to buy some 'good knives' to take back to the UK.  He had been a woodsman in Fanna and then turned to mosaic & terrazzo to make a living in the UK with the Toffolos.  My parents lived in the Uk from 1952 and that's where I was born.  My older sibling was born in Fanna just after the war.

I have only been to Fanna 3 times in my life and I have visited Cavasso (is there another one or is Cavasso Nuovo the same?), whilst there and also Spilimbergo, and Udine.  La Madonna dela Strada was also a place he took me too and Monte Eouf, , Monte Cavallo and Profabro was a favourite place of my father's - I think he had friends or family there...  My father was called Domenico Girolami and my mother, Mariutta Toffolo.  

I will have limited time and there are a lot of family coming - I wonder if there would be an english-speaking guide I could hire for a small tour of the area?

I will definitely go to the museum & municipio!

Again thank you so much for your help :)






Sounds like you have fond memories!  

My mother emigrated to the United States in 1961.  Her maiden name is DeMarco, from Cavasso Nuovo.

My sister visits Cavasso Nuovo every summer.  Depending on travel dates, she said she would consider aligning her visit with yours.  However, she's not available until mid-July. 

I'm happy to exchange information but I'm not sure if there is a secure way of doing it.  I'm new to this website so I'm not familiar with its capabilities.  Do you have Facebook account?  If so, I can message you there privately.  You can search for me as well - Tim Barnett (Florida USA).

Hi Tim,

Thanks for this info - my mother emigrated to UK in 1951 - just 10 years ahead of yours!  My mother's father was also called DeMarco!!!!!  I'm not sure where he came from but it was in or near Fanna... He emigrated to USA (Chicago, I think).  Would be quite a coincidence, I guess... 

My mother died in 2013, my father in 2006.  

We are going to Italy from 13th Aug > 27th.

Yes I do have a facebook account.  Happy to contact on facebook messenger. I don't know this publication either...

Josie Sutcliffe (Devon UK)

hi Josie,

I have been using this site for quite a while, I think you will find it all above board and expats/Italians who often supply the info you may need. I live in Friuli near both Maniago, Fanna and Poffabro.,Know the area well I have been living here for the past 30 years though I am British by birth. Regarding researching your heritage you would need to contact the commune/town hall of your parents’birth and request relative documentation also the local priest keeps records.

Would be happy to be of assistance if I can when you are here in August.

Saluti, regards



Hi Liz,

Thank you so much for your message and your information - I have just visited the sites you mention and they are really helpful.

I will contact the commune in Fanna and the priest if I can find an address.  My cousin is Monsignor Adrian Toffolo, living in UK, but he is old and frail now.. I will try to find out the address of the priest in Fanna.  Living in the UK for so long has led to a split in the family heritage - I feel as if I don't know the Italian/Friuli side at all, I'm ashamed to say.  Both of my children are very keen to know more about their history.  We are coming (13 of us), to honour their heritage and mine and of course my parents, who as children, lived next door to one another in Fanna.  

My children are particularly interested in their grandfather's involvement - rescuing UK pilots shot down over/nr Fanna during WW2.  He helped them by walking them over the mountains to the then Yugoslavia.  I wonder if you might know where I might find out more about this?

It would be lovely to meet you and perhaps you could help us when we are in Italy in August?  I'm sorry to say my Italian speaking is very poor!  

Saluti a te



Hi Beppa/Josie,

I see  you have other suggestions on how to proceed  as far as the priest’s records  are concerned you would need to ask someone locally or when you are here in August - for the Commune  for other records - they do not close in August but contact them via  email even better   would be to contact by telephone or I could ask my husband to call on your behalf he is Friulano and a local. Kind regards Liz 

Hi Beppa/Josie,

I see  you have other suggestions on how to proceed  as far as the priest’s records  are concerned you would need to ask someone locally or when you are here in August - for the Commune  for other records - they do not close in August but contact them via  email even better   would be to contact by telephone or I could ask my husband to call on your behalf he is Friulano and a local. Kind regards Liz 

Hi Josie

Both my parents were born in Fanna, and both came over to live in Bristol, UK, in the early 1950s, and I was born over here. We used to go frequently when I was a child. Sadly, they have both passed away.

My wife and I both love Fanna, and  we have been visiting there every year, until Covid struck. With restrictions easing, we are hoping to go again this summer.

All the places mentioned in the above posts are excellent places to visit.

Regarding some of your questions about your heritage. I was told several years ago that all the records for the surrounding area were sent to central archives, in the provincial capital of Pordenone. I’m sure if you go to the “ Commune” (council) in Fanna, they will point you in the right direction. Regarding an English speaking guide. I’m not sure where you would find one, maybe the “Commune” might be able to help. Anyway, there are lots of information about Friuli on the internet & guide books as well. Unlike years ago, you will find lots more people speak & understand English.

Are you going to be travelling around at all? Because if you are, a car is essential. There is a bus service that goes through Fanna. It’s OK if you want to go local (Maniago or Spilimbergo), but further afield is more difficult.

What about shopping? There are about a dozen small outlets in Fanna, including a chemist a couple of groceries, newsagent, bars, Post Office and a Pizzeria. The only bank in Fanna closed a couple of years ago.

For a larger selection of outlets, big & small go to Maniago (or Spilimbergo). Unlike many years ago, outlets now take all major credit cards, but some still only take cash. So be prepared to use both. TIP. To comply with Italian Financial Laws, when purchasing anything, make sure you are given a receipt & retain it.

Are you planning to dine out? In Fanna there is ”Albergo Al Giardino”. They have an excellent restaurant there. It’s a little expensive, but the food & service is second to none. Our favourite restaurant is “Agriturismo Ponte Maraldi”, which is on the road between Cavasso & Meduno. They serve locally sourced food and is inexpensive. They are only open for limited hours & are always very busy, so booking is essential.

Another trip worth doing is to Barcis, which is about half and hour drive from Fanna, north of Maniago, up in the hills. It’s a beautiful village on the banks of an artificial lake, with walks around the lake & spectacular views of the surrounding hills & mountains. Here there are a couple of restaurants that we recommend, “Osteria Ponte Antoi” (near the dam) & “Rifugio Vallata”, which is on the opposite side of the lake to Barcis. Again, both get very busy, so booking is essential.

I could go on & on about the “Friul”. But I would probably fill the whole webpage!

Anyway, I’m sure you will have a great time, during your stay.

Buon Viaggio.












Hi Riccardo,

Thank you so much for your comments and TIPS!  I have already started looking at the restaurants :)

I'm so excited to know that your parents were born in Fanna too - this is such a lovely thing to know;  and that they came to the UK at a similar time and not so very far away either - my parents came to Totnes, in Devon.

I first came back to Fanna with my parents in 1963 when I was quite young.  My grandmother still lived there with my aunt (in Via XX Settembre).  I have only been back a few times as an adult.  I'm sorry I haven't been more often, or that I don't know more about who they knew in Fanna.

I will try the central archives in Pordenone to find out more.

I remember going to Barcis and Meduno.  Also to Udine to a restaurant called the Black Cat - my father had long held memories of eating there...

We have hire cars and so won't need buses but thank you for the advice!

We are all so excited now that it is only a few weeks away.  We aren't staying in Fanna so it will be quite a drive for us from our rental homes, but it will be great fun, I'm sure.




Hi Josie

You mentioned Totnes & Toffolo in your posts. My Dad had cousins in Totnes, Maria & Bepi Toffolo. Did you know them? They have a son called Joe, who still lives in the area. I believe they also had a daughter, but I do not know her. 
Regarding Father Adrian Toffolo, I’m sure I have heard is name before, but I can’t remember where. 
Regarding the parish priest in Fanna. Unless thing’s have changed in the last 2/3 years, I don’t think there is anybody permanent there. There seems to be all sorts of temporary clergy coming & going. I was told that a few years ago there were 3 monks from Brazil!!!
In your posts you not only mention a Toffolo in your heritage in Fanna, but also Via XX Settembre. I don’t know if you know/heard of Giacomo Toffolo, also know has “Jacu”, I think he lives in Via XX Settembre, and he also owns a bar there (Bar Da Jacu),  (adjacent to the parish church in the centre of Fanna). He might be connected with your family, so a chat with him might be prove productive (I’m not sure if he speaks English). You can’t miss him, he has a large Handlebar moustache!

Somebody else in Fanna who might be able to help is ELIDE FILIPETTO, I’m not sure where she lives in Fanna, I know she has written a book about people & places in Fanna of the past. She may have written other books as well. Her email is efpapia@teletu.it 

Regarding the archives in Pordenone, you say you will be there in August, at the height of the Italian holiday season (Ferragosto), when in the past all offices, factories etc. used to close for the duration. I don’t know what it is like now, because we very rarely go there that time of the year. 

If I think of anything else I’ll let you know, if you like.










Hi Riccardo,

Well it seems we may be related - small world isn't it!

Bepi was my Uncle Joe, his brothers Sante, Bert and Tony were all based in the area - Totnes and Torquay.  They had a mosaic & terrazzo business and my father, Domenico Girolami (also born in Fanna) and my brother Osi (Osvaldo) worked for/with them.

Maria Toffolo was my godmother.  Their daughter was called Adua and they lived up the hill from us.  Monsignor Adrian Toffolo was Sante's son (one of them - the other died of polio in the early 50's).  Bert Toffolo never married, although he had a girlfriend when he was young - his one and only love - called Josephine/Giuseppina.  I was named after her and I was his favourite.  he also loved corgis!  He taught me to drive aged 17yrs - I remain very grateful.

I haven't heard of Giacomo or his bar, but I will certainly check that out in August.  You may well be right about offices being closed in Aug and I wouldn't normally choose that time, it's only that all the grandchildren have to go during school holidays or not at all - I really want them to see where their ancestors lived....

Also Elide Filipetto, sounds fascinating - I will try and get hold of her book/s and try to find her.  

Thank you so much for all this information..

Saluti a te






Hi Josie 

I’m afraid this is not going to help you in your quest to find your heritage.                     Many, many years ago, my dad (Giovanni Petrucco Junior), told me who was who on his side of the family. Unfortunately, over the years I have forgotten many things that he told me, and annoyingly, nothing was ever written down.

I always assumed  that my dad and Maria Toffolo where direct cousins. 
Therefore, can you please tell me, was Petrucco, Maria’s maiden name?

If no, then I assumed incorrectly, If yes, then:-

My dad’s, dad (my Grandfather, Giovanni Petrucco Senior), and Maria’s dad, were brothers.

Maria’s dad would have been my Great Uncle.

My Great Grandfather & Maria’s Grandfather were the same person.

Hopefully this information is correct.

You called Bepi Toffolo, your Uncle Joe. Was he your direct Uncle, or was it a term of endearment?

If he was your Uncle, & the above information is correct, then we are related albeit by marriage!!

The reality TV star Georgia Toffolo, I believe is from Torquay. Is she related to any of the people whom you mentioned?

Regarding Elide. She is a very nice person. I spoke to her a couple times in Fanna, a few years ago when she was researching her book. I could only give her minimum information, because I only went there on holidays. She put me on her email mailing list & I have seen some of her mails written in English, so if you haven’t done so already, you can write to her in English.

Her book is called “Fanna, la sua storia nei vecchi cortili” (Fanna, it’s story in the old courtyards). If the book is still in print, it should be available at the newsagent in Fanna. If, not, I’m sure Elide might have a copy.

Another book, which is really worth looking at is:-

“Fanna, La Sua Terra, La Sua Gente” (Fanna, it’s land, it’s people). If it’s still in print, it’s only available in the “Commune”. It traces the history of Fanna from Roman days to the present.

Tanti Saluti










Hi Riccardo,

Apologies for the delay in responding to you, I have been away in Scotland and no access to my computer...

I'm afraid I don't know Maria Toffolo's maiden name - it might have been Petrucco, I will try and find out via my brother who still lives in Totnes.  He was born in Fanna.  I'm hoping his memory is better than mine!

My Uncles; Joe, Bert, Sante and Tony were related to my mother by adoption, they also had other siblings.  My mother was also called Toffolo and lived near them in via xx settembre - I don't know if/how they were related.  She was abandoned by her mother at age 4 and taken in by the above Toffolo parents.  She lived with and cared for them until they died and she married my father, over 20 years.  I don't know if it was a legal adoption or not but she went everywhere with them - including to Darlington (UK) for 5 years when she was 9yrs old.  She always thought of them as her family and so I guess so did I.  

Yes Georgia Toffolo is the daughter of Bert Toffolo who was Tony's (above) son.  He used to have a pub (The Sea Trout Inn, Staverton, Devon, around the corner from my married home...

Whether we are related or not, it has been a lot of fun being in touch with you, Riccardo and I thank you so much for all your help and the information you have shared with me.  If I find out anything more, I will let you know!

My email is: beppa12@me.com