Every Saturday I want to discuss one surname. I will talk about the people who belong to this name and the places they have lived. Keep in mind that while we may share a last name, it may not be of the same family line and not the same history as what your surname would have. But if you do happen to have one of these surnames in your family tree please, please, please, let me know in the comments! As a genealogist I am always eager to hear about new potential relatives!
This week I will begin with my maiden name – Mangani. It’s a name that has my family in a curious debate over whether we were originally from Ireland, our name changed from Mangan, to Mangani. I haven’t had too much luck researching this name so the possibility is still there, but let’s just say I am skeptical.
My Nonno’s family moved from Chiaramonte Gulfi to Ramacca when he was a young boy. And Chiaramonte Gulfi is really the only location that I can associate with Mangani. My great-grandfather Giovanni Mangani was born on the 28th April 1870 to parents Luciano Mangani and Giorgia Lio. He was a shoemaker, like his father before him, and died on the 7th of September 1946 in Mineo, a neighbouring town to Ramacca where he was working at the time. Giovanni was previously married to Concetta Metoldi and had two daughters with her. They later moved to Argentina. My grandfather has sisters and a brother who all still live in Ramacca.
Chiaramonte Gulfi, like Ramacca, is located in the Ragusa province. I never got to visit it on my 2012 trip to Sicily but from the photos on Google Images it looks stunning. It is situated on a hill-top and overlooks the Valley of the Ippari and its towns, Comiso, Vittoria, Acate, the Mediterranean sea to the south, Mount Etna in the north and to the Erean Mountains and Caltagirone if looking west.
Chiaramonte was founded by the Greeks in the 7th Century BC. Back then they called it Akrillai. I won’t get into the tumultuous history of how it exchanged hands because let’s face it, Sicily was pretty much in the middle of everything for a very long time. (Who wouldn’t want Sicily?) But long story short, Chiaramonte Gulfi was named after Manfredi Chiaramonte, who had been named Count of Modica by the Aragonese King Frederick III, and in the War of Vesper (1282 – 1302 AD) moved the survivors of the war to the hill-top and built a castle to protect them.
Records from Chiaramonte Gulfi are hard to come by and very frustrating to research. The Comune di Chiaramonte Gulfi are not as responsive as other Comunes and subsequently I have been left in the dark. I managed to get the little information I had about Giovanni and Luciano Mangani from Portale Della Storia Degli Italiani, the only online resource for Chiaramonte ancestors at the moment. Not even FamilySearch has any indexed records on Chiaramonte Gulfi yet. The only other resource is microfilms, which while useful, is slow to research and pricey. But if you are trying to find them, you can find them here.
Fun fact: The name Mangani is also a fictional species of great apes from the Tarzan novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and the invented language used by these apes. This is pretty much all you’ll get from googling the word ‘Mangani’.
Another fun fact: My grandparents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in January this year. At my wedding we presented them with messages of congratualations from Queen Elizabeth 2, the Governor-General of Australia and the Prime Minister of Australia. Check them out below! (Click to enlarge):
Unfortunately I don’t have anything else to add to the Mangani name, but now that I have written a short blog post about it I am reminded of how much more I have to research. An exciting but daunting prospect! Next week I will focus on the Sulfaro name / heritage.