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Dedicated to San Fele, Potenza, Basilicata, Italia

SanFele (PZ) Italian Family Tree
Genealogy Connections

by  Paula M. Nigro
Sanfele is a town and comune (municipality) in the province of Potenza in the country of Italy. It is in the North-Western part of the Region of Basilicata, historically known as Lucania, and is part of the Comunit´┐Ż Montana del Vulture (a mountain community in the Province of Potenza) and is basically a rural town. SanFele (PZ) Italy is an agricultural center located 864 meters above sea level.  The houses are perched around two mountains; Mount Torretta and Mount Castello.  This area is also the location of one of the largest historical Catholic Sanctuaries in Lucania; The Shrine of Our Lady of Pierno Santuario Santa Maria di Pierno.
Historical VIDEO: La Madonna di Pierno (1965)

SanFele's Comuni confinanti (adjacent towns + municipalities) are: Atella, Bella, Castelgrande, Filiano, Muro Lucano, Rapone, Ruvo del Monte.[1]
Sanfele includes the Frazioni (hamlets) of Agrifoglio, Armatieri, Cecci, Cerrito, Difesa, Montagna, Pierno, Priore, Masone, Signorella.

Historical Overview of San Fele, Potenza, Basilicata, (Lucania) Italia
by Paula M. Nigro

  King Otto the Great the husband of Saint Adelaide of Italy ordered the construction of a fortress castle, situated on a hill, which eventually grew to become what we now know as San Fele Italy.

King Otto I , Crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 962 AD by Pope John XII, had advanced into Calabria and Puglia. Otto had marched for a third time to Italy, where he stayed from 966 to 972. After he subdued Rome he advanced into the Byzantine south of Italy. The region of Basilicata (which the Romans called Lucania) was located in the middle. King Otto saw it as a perfect location for his defense of the Holy Roman Empire from the South. The fortress he had built in San Fele was for protection against Byzantine incursions.

This elevated site, on what the locals call the pyramids, was chosen for its *obvious* defensive advantages. In 969 AD, the castle-fortress was completed. The constructors of the fortress, being from Venosa, "il principale protettore di Venosa e' S. Felice", dedicated this fortress to their protector-saint; San Felice. His massive castle had huge prisons where many famous leaders were kept; the first inmate was Henry the 2nd of Bavaria.

In 1036 the fortress was used to imprison male rebels who were captured when trying to overthrow the feudal overlord of Milan. About 70 years after the castle-fortress in San Fele was constructed, the first houses of the town were built along the outer walls of the fortress. When the prisoners were freed by Conrad II rather than return to Lombardy, which was experiencing an epidemic, many of the Milanese exiles married the women of the neighboring Valle di Vitalba, forming the first families of the city. These families resided on the side of the hill known as Monte Castello

Sanfele was later run by a succession of feudal lords who were appointed by different Kings to rule the estate at various times. During the Third Crusade San Fele was a Barony that was worth 20 ounces of gold.

In the 1100 to 1500 centuries San Fele, with its octagonal castle, was an important strategic point for the entire Vitalba Valley due to its impenetrable location. The castle was expanded several times, first in 1240 by order of Frederick II and later under the rule of Charles of Anjou in 1270.

In 1438 the ongoing instability and revolutionary activies occuring since the 1285 death of King Charles of Naples + Sicily (Carlo I d'Angi´┐Ż) led to the destruction of the castle-fortress in Sanfele by Antonio Caldaro.

In 1456, a terrible earthquake shook San Fele (immane terremoto), damaging the Church of Pierno.

In 1613 the Doria family bought the estate (now known as San Fele) and retained ownership until 1811

From 1734 to 1861 Southern Italy or Mezzogiorno was under the domination of the Royal House of Bourbon Two Sicilies ; a domination that lasted 127 years. The living conditions of the population were poor and San Fele still observed old rules granted by the feudal lords

In the chaotic aftermath of the Unity of Italy (Risorgimento), Sanfele was impacted by the famous Brigantaggio (bandits) like Giovanni "Coppa" Fortunato, Vito "Totaro" Di Gianni e Francesco "Tinna" Fasanella and they distinguished themselves as lieutenants of the infamous and notorious brigand Capo (boss) Carmine Crocco, also known as Donatello or sometimes Donatelli.

From this period the town of San Fele has followed along a little with all the events of Italian history. It has been disrupted by landslides and by the disastrous earthquake of the eighties. SanFele has been greatly reduced in population by ongoing emigration so now when someone marries the Sanfelesi have a saying, 'another empty house'

The first emigration phase started in the second half of the nineteenth century to the first postwar period. This period is often referred to as the Italian Diaspora. These immigrants headed overseas particularly to Brazil, Argentina, the United States and Canada.

From World War II (1939-1945) up to the present day, especially during the early economic boom, San Fele families moved to Switzerland (in particular the outskirts of Lucerne and Zurich), Germany, Belgium and Northern Italy (especially Piedmont, Lombardy and Tuscany). There are a highly significant number of Sanfele immigrants and their descendants in Australia. The city of Sydney AU has more Sanfelesi (born in San Fele and their descendants) inhabitants than are now living in their S. Fele village of origin in Italy.

The emigration of recent years has been younger Sanfelesi moving to larger Italian cities especially Torino (Turin), Milano (Milan), Firenze (Florence), & Roma (Rome).

Thank You for visiting this FREE San Fele Genealogy Family Tree Site.  Home to the genealogically researched official Sanfele Italy Surname List, San Fele Italian Family Tree Researchers Branches, and Sanfelesi genealogical photos.  

This site exists to help others freely connect to sanfele (sanfelesi) descendants throughout the world as a hobby of the Webmaster & all the SanFele genealogy researchers who are gathering ancestral records to Document their immigrant ancestors Family Tree Legends.

This official San Fele, Italy Global Genealogy Connections Website charges no_fees, collects no_dues and has no allegiance to any organization or particular belief system.  

This genealogy site for Sanfele surnames and S.Fele ancestor research freely exists to help all who are interested in their San Fele Roots learn about their emigrant ancestors and connect to Sanfelesi relatives throughout the world as a hobby of the Webmaster & the dedicated NOT-for-Profit genealogists listed on our San Fele Surname Search pages & SanFele Italy Historical Family Trees.  Hopefully our research experiences will benefit others looking for info on our S.Fele immigrant ancestral heritage and together we can continue to learn the stories of our SanFele, PZ, Italian ancestry and discover more Sanfelesi Family Tree "Genealogy" Connections.

Best Regards Always,

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Last Updated: 10 August 2019

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