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Families from Marano Marchesato, Cosenza, Calabria

A brief History
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By:  Pete Belmonte

Marano Marchesato, province of Cosenza, Calabria, is located about five miles west of Cosenza, near the villages of Marano Principato, Rende, San Fili, and Castrolibero. The current population is about 2,200, and its altitude is 550 meters above sea level.

Although a plaque in its church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Maria SS. del Carmelo) states that a church has existed on this spot since about 1100 AD., the beginnings of the current village can be traced to 1638. In that year an earthquake devastated houses in the area, and refugees from Rende relocated in the older village. There then followed a dispute between the Marchese of Rende and the Prince (Principe) of Castelfranco over the villages in the area. In consequence, one village, Marano Marchesato, was assigned to the Marchese, and the other, Marano Principato, was assigned to the Prince.

The economy of Marano Marchesato is agriculturally based with grains, potatoes, olives, chestnuts, and grapes the chief crops. Beginning in the 1880s, with land scarce and taxes high, men from the village began a migration to North and South America. At that time the population was approximately 2,800. Early immigrants were mainly sojourning young men seeking jobs to provide funds with which they could return to Italy and establish their family. These men began a chain migration that flowed from Marano Marchesato to the Near West Side Little Italy in Chicago. From there, the laborers were hired as railroad workers, and they worked on track gangs in the West and Midwest. By the time the great migration slowed to a trickle due to immigration legislation in the US in 1924, hundreds of men and women had left Marano Marchesato for the New World. Other popular locations for these immigrants were Kenosha and Racine, Wisconsin; New York; Pittsburgh; Ohio; New Jersey; and Trinidad, Colorado. The flow actually continued slowly during the 1930s, resumed again following World War II and continued into the 1960s.

The main impact of the immigration from this area was felt in the Chicago colony and in Kenosha, where literally hundreds of paesani settled. Due to the large number of return immigrants, there was a closeness between the paesani in the US and those who stayed or returned to Italy; to this day there are immigrants and descendants of immigrants who return to Marano Marchesato to visit.

Anyone who would like to correspond on this subject is invited to contact: Peter L. Belmonte

(Additional reference: Dizionario dei Comuni Italiani, by Gustave Valente)
Originally appeared on the PIE homepage and resubmitted to this site by Pete Belmonte.

 

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