Origins of the
Alessi and Abate

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        The earliest known ancestors of this line of the Alessi and Abate families include the DiGiugno, Cimino, and lo Guasto families.  The surname Alessi, a variation of the earlier Alessio,  is from Greek, meaning Alex or Alexander, from the Greek word ἀλέξω or aléxo, meaning "to defend".

        Modesto Alessi and Emmanuela Ferraro of
Marianopoli, Sicilia (Sicily), were the parents of Calogero Alessi who was born in Marianopoli.   Calogero moved to Serradifalco after his first wife died, and married and Angela di Giugno. She was born in the village of Serradifalco
(originally Serra del Falco: which means Mountain of the Hawk), Caltanissetta (Fort of Nicia, then Fort of Nissa) province, Sicilia, Italia.   To see a chart of the descendants of Calogero Alessi and Angela di Giugno, CLICK HERE.

         The pronunciation of the town's name in the Sicilian language is Serradifarcu (sair-uh-dee-FAR-koo).  Leonardo and Concetta had daughters Maria and Rosa who died as children, and four daughters who survived to adulthood: Concetta, Angela, Maria, and Rosa (Rosina)To see Rosa's ancestors, CLICK HERE, to see her descendants, CLICK HERE.

         I recently identified our first (known) American relatives who are relatives of, but not direct descendants of Rosa Alessi: they are the Loquasto family.  Like Rosa (and us), they're descendants of Libertino (Alberto) lo Guasto (born 1795 in Serradifalco), and Francesca LattucaLibertino and Francesca's children were Concetta, Salvatore, and Fedele lo Guasto.   Concetta was the great-grandmother of Rosa Alessi, and Salvatore was the progenitor of the American Loquasto family.

       The village of Serradifalco is a small "Comune" in central Sicily, in the Province of Caltanissetta.   It is not far from the provincial capital, the City of Caltanissetta, which was called "the fort of the Nissenes" by its 12th-century Arab occupiers.  Today, a local nickname for the city is "Nissa".   The area of "Serra del Falco" was a vast feudal "fief" or holding of the noble family Moncada as early as about 1400 AD.  The last Moncada to own the fief in which the town of Serradifalco was eventually founded was Guglielmo Raimondo Moncada VI, a direct descendant of El Cid, the legendary champion of Spain.  The Grifeo family acquired the fiefdom in 1617, and the incorporated Comune (town) of Serradifalco was founded in 1640 by Baron Francesco Grifeo.  Since he was only five years old at the time, the license was granted to his grandmother and guardian, Donna Maria Sarzana-Ventimiglia.  Just twelve years later, in 1652, the fief and town were acquired by Baron Leonardo Lo Faso Pietrasanta of Palermo, who was later named Duke of Serradifalco.  Many peasant legends whirl around the town's name.   One of these, recounted by the inhabitants of the "Falbaccaro" district, tells of a fabled falcon or hawk that lived in the cliffs during the time of the Moncada princes.   Serradifalco's coat of arms, showing a hawk, is reproduced above.   Like mainland Europe, Sicily once had a feudal system, with Baroni (Barons), Duci (Dukes), Signori (Lords), and Cavaliere (Knights); and many Sicilian families have "noble" origins.  Even more come from peasant stock, and it was generally they who emigrated to America and elsewhere, seeking a better life.

         In 1836, Serradifalco's Duke Domenico Lo Faso Pietrasanta was the  first president of Sicily's Commission of Antiquities and Fine Arts.   He was a public benefactor who sponsored the excavation and preservation of Sicilian historical sites like the temple of Castor and Pollux in Agrigento
That year, sculptor Valerio Villareale and archaeologist Francesco Saverio Cavallari unearthed and re-erected three ancient fluted Greek Doric columns there, by order of the Duke of Serradifalco.  He was also a reknowned archaeological historian and library curator, who produced the first modern archaeological map of Sicily.   In professional circles, he was called simply "Serradifalco".   During the "Rivoluzione Federale", a period of political upheaval in Italy, Serradifalco helped preserve Sicilian history by sending books on archaeology and architecture to the Library of Palermo for safekeeping.  Domenico died in Florence in 1863, at the age of ninety.

         The town still has its original layout, with ancient streets which now are called Via Roma, Corso Garibaldi, Via Crucillà, etc.   It is about 1,600 feet above sea level, in central Sicily, in an area rich in minerals and ores.  The patron saint of Serradifalco is San Leonardo Abate (St. Leonard the Abbot).  A French nobleman-turned-monk, he is also known as the patron saint of prisoners of war, expectant mothers, and those in danger from brigands, robbers, and thieves.  He died on November 6th in the year 559.    His official church feast day is November 6, but the town celebrates his festival each year on the second Sunday of August (it's much warmer then!). 

         Serradifalco is a small country village, but there are some local attractions:

         the Chiesa Madre (Mother Church of S. Leonardo) completed in 1678, with a gilded statue of San Leonardo, sculpted by Giancarlo Viviano in 1661.  The church also claims a relic, a nail from the cross at Calvary;

the Palazzo Ducale, or Ducal Palace, in the town square (Piazza del Barone);

          Lago Soprano
(Soprano Lake, also called "Cuba"), a migratory fowl preserve with unique hydrology.   It was formed only within the past hundred years, and has no surface streams flowing in or out; and

          in the
Grottadacqua district, a Micenean necropolis with prehistoric Sicanian domed tombs.

          The Alessio coat of arms in the background is that of an early Sicilian noble family, but no connection between that family and ours has yet been found.






Modesto Alessi
(b. ~1795 - d. ?)
Emmanuela Ferraro
(b. ~1802 - d. ?)

Leonardo Di Giugno
(b. ~ 1789 - d. 12/30/1833)
Michela Vella
(b. ~1798 - d. ?)

Giuseppe Abate
(b. ~ 1803 - d. ?)
Rosa Saetta
(b. ~1808 - d. ?)

Antonio Cimino
(b. 1818 - d. ?)
Concetta Loguasto
(b. 9/17/1821 - d. ?)

Calogero Alessi and Angela diGiugno
(b. 1815 - d. ?
                (b. 1831 - d. ?)

Gaetano Abate and Giuseppa Cimino
(b. 1835 - d. ?)    
             (b. 1841 - d. 7/29/1869)

Leonardo Alessi (b. 1857, d. ?) Married Concetta Abate (b. ?, d. ?)

Angela Alessi
(b. 8/14/1884 - d. ?)

Photo ~ 1916
Rosa Alessi
(b. 9/9/1893 - d. 2/19/1972)

Photo ~ 1938
Maria Alessi
(b. 10/11/1898 - d. 2/27/1974)

Photo ~ 1920

Concetta Alessi
(b.7/26/1905 - d. 6/23/1985)

Photo ~ 1960

Married 5/23/1903
Giuseppe Coniglio
(b. 9/8/1879, d. 12/21/1964)
Robertsdale, PA
Married 12/1/1912
Gaetano V. Coniglio
(b. 4/26/1889, d. 7/4/1944)
Robertsdale, PA

Married 9/12/1920
Andrea Salvo
(b. 9/6/1898, d. ?)

Married 5/30/1926
Salvatore Fazio
(b. 8/2/1900, d. ?)

Also three other daughters of Leonardo and Concetta:

Giuseppa Alessi
(b. 11/16/1888, d. ?)
Rosa Alessi
(b. 12/28/1891, d. 189?)

Maria Alessi

(b. 4/6/1896, d. 1897?)


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Gaetano Vincenzo Teresina


Leonardo Lorenzo Leonardo
Raimondo Angelo Concetta
Felice Salvatore
Maria Angela  
Angelo Felice  


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Site Index

Robertsdale, Pennsylvania







SerradifalcoCrestModSmall.jpg (4693 bytes)

SerraSmal.jpg (5441 bytes)
A Visit

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The Church

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La Societa'

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The Book

La Bedda Sicilia
Coniglio Family List Alessi Family List lo Guasto Family List