I’m a Sicilian American

Dedicated to my parents Gaetano and Rosa Alessi Coniglio and my eldest brother Guy, who came to America in 1913 and 1914 from Serradifalco, SICILY.

 I’m a Sicilian American.

I’m a Sicilian American.

I’m the son of immigrants who left a land of history and beauty, of poets and dreamers, volcanoes and olive trees.  A land that taught the world what a modern nation could be, before most modern nations existed.  A land that formed the largest country, The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, from Naples and Abruzzo to Messina and Palermo, that was subsumed into the new ‘Kingdom of Italy’ after the ‘unification’.

My parents left because for all its lore and loveliness, and their fierce pride in it, Sicily was poor and demeaned, and could offer little hope for their family’s future.

I’m a Sicilian American.

archimede
Archimede

My heritage includes mythical Persephone, Vulcan, and Icarus; Greek scholars Archimedes, Empedocles and Diodorus Siculus; composers Bellini and Scarlatti, and writers Verga and Sciascia.

I’m a Sicilian American.

I’m Antonio Crisafi.  I came before there was a United States and in 1696 commanded the fort at Onondaga.

I’m Padre Saverio Saetta, who died in 1695 while bringing Christianity to the New World.

I’m Enrico Fardella, who fought against the Bourbons in Sicily, one of the first people’s revolutions in Europe, in 1848, and then became a brigadier general in America’s Civil War.

I’m a Sicilian American.

I’m a descendant of Southern Italian immigrants who formed 80% of the ‘Italians’ who came to America in the ‘Great Migration’ of the late 1800s and early 1900s, most, from the island of Sicily.

I’m one of the nineteen Sicilians who were murdered in New Orleans in 1891, in the largest mass lynching in American history.

I’m a Sicilian American.

I’m Chaz Palminteri, Frank Capra, Armand Assante, Sonny Bono, Iron Eyes Cody, Ben Gazzara, Frankie Laine, Cyndi Lauper, Chuck Mangione, Al Pacino, Louie Prima, Pete Rugolo, Frank Zappa, and thousands of others who have made the world wonder, laugh, and sing with our artistry.

I’m Frank Sinatra.

I’m a Sicilian American.

I’m one of millions of one-, two- and three-star mothers who anguished while their sons fought for the American Dream in World War II, in the freezing trenches of France or the steaming jungles of the Pacific.

I’m one of many mothers whose son never returned.

I’m a Sicilian American.

I say “Comu sta?”, not “Come stai?”  I answer “Bonu!”, not “Bene.”

Not “Dov’è?”, but “Unni è?”; not “La.” but “Dda!” 

I’m a Sicilian American.

I never met a mafioso, nor wanted to, nor played at being one.

I’m a Sicilian American, and proud to be one. 

~ Angelo F. Coniglio

Angelo Conigliohttp://www.conigliofamily.com
Angelo F. Coniglio is a retired civil engineer and university adjunct professor. Today Angelo is a genealogy researcher and author of the historical novella The Lady of the Wheel, set in 1860s Sicily. Details on the book and information on ordering can be found at www.bit.ly/ruotaia. For genealogy questions, Coniglio may be contacted at genealogytips@aol.com Coniglio is a proud son of parents who emigrated to America from Serradifalco one hundred years ago. He has traced his family, as well as his wife's, back seven generations to the early 1700's, and each and every one was Sicilian. See his history of Sicily at www.bit.ly/LaBeddaSicilia Order the paperback or the Kindle version at http://amzn.to/racalmuto

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Hi, Great info..Thank you..We need to hear more about us Sicilian American stories..It seems in Michigan we Sicilians defer to the Italians..Again Great Stuff..Philip D’Anna

    • My grandparents were D’Anna’s from San Giuseppe Jato and Fillppo was my nonno. My parents went to Chicago Papa died in 1939.

      • Hi Marge, Ok..well our family is from Balestrate,Sicily(near Palermo) my grandfather was also Philip..My Dad Joesph is one of 5 brothesr who all immagrated to the Detroit area..as early as 1908..Nonno died in 1943..tak to you soon..Phil D’Anna.

  2. I’m so dismayed that all people know of Sicily is the mob.
    Palermo is a thousand years older than Rome!
    My people came from Milazzo and Villabate.
    Thanks for your article.

    • Adele,
      Do not be dismayed, you said it yourself when you say ” all people know of Sicily”… take the opportunity to explain, teach or simply be informative…! You will be giving them new information to take with them. Perhaps you may make a friend and they will think of their new Sicilian friend!
      Laura

  3. Adele: We can help negate that image by rejecting it and not glorifying the gangsters. I correct anyone who suggests that Sicilian Americans are inferior to ‘Italians’.

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