Casa Stanga, Giornico, Switzerland
During a visit to Ticino we visited the Local Museum (Casa Stanga) at Giornico where we found out more about the day to day life in Valle Leventina and were delighted to find a deposited tool used for winding wool that had belonged to Stefano Diviani. His initials SD were on the handle. The coats of arms on the outside of the building were also very interesting and need to be explored further. One of them refers to Stathaltar, which is a Soprannome of one branch of the Diviani family. There are even more of these crests on the walls at the castle in Lugano.

Despite my language problems I have always migrated towards a bookshop even in a foreign country. Of course I was naive enough to hope that there might be some family or local history book for sale in Bellinzona written in English on sale for the passing English visitor. Of course there wasn't such a book there for me but I did part with nearly 100 Swiss francs for a book regarding the bringing of electricity to Ticino. No, I'm not interested in electricity  but it did have some really old photographs of houses in Faido, scenes of the railway being laid (Zurich - Milan) and general interesting photographs of the times. Perhaps one day I might even learn enough Italian to be able to understand the dialogue! A couple of years later in the same shop I made a purchase of Patrizie and Patriziate by Flavio Maggi. It not only shows the names of families and the places of their origins but also has a copy of a document concerning the Diviani family. This is a most useful reference book for anyone wanting to try and locate the Comune that their ancestors were part of.

Newspapers are a source of material too. The first from a historian point of view are the obituaries but recently there have been a couple of articles on Campello and Carì in La Regione Ticino and Il Binari. Both of these articles now form part of my collection. I also use the Internet and often get asked is it essential to researching your family? The answer is no. For years people have been conducting research into their families without the Internet and some will continue to do. I look on it as a finding tool, just like looking up the index or a bibliography at the back of a book I like to use Google as a search engine but I am sure information could be found using any of the other sites. Periodically I just “google” on Diviani and check to see if any more information is to be found that will lead me onto fresh research. I am extremely sceptical about any researcher who brags about tracing their lineage back to William the Conqueror without leaving his armchair! Information found on the Internet needs to be verified in the same way as written material; it doesn't replace the necessity to visit a repository where the original documents are.

Whenever I go researching I do go armed with a notebook and pencil. I then transcribe whatever I am looking at and in my initial days of research kept all the information in a card index file. As my research grew so did the card index and it was increasingly difficult to look through it trying to find the correct “Giovanni Diviani. The next option was to buy a computer which has now become part of me and goes to Switzerland whenever I go as it does have all my birth marriage and death records for all the families I research. For example my Diviani file now sports over 6000 entries of people who are related by birth or marriage to a Diviani and the database grows daily. I finished my “millennium project” in 2003, which was to fully transcribe the Baptism, Marriage and Burial Registers for Calpiogna and Campello. Copies of my transcripts are now lodged with the Society of Genealogists in London and L’Archivio Cantonale in Bellinzona as well as the Comune in Campello. Word travels fast and I now have copies some an adjacent parish’s records and am about to embark on a similar transcription project for this parish. Hopefully I will find some Baptism, Marriage and Burial entries for children of Diviani and Brentini women who married into families in this village.

Data protection is a sensitive issue. I have made a personal vow never to release personal information onto the Internet in order to protect the confidentiality of the living family member. As time has gone on people have respected this stance and give me information knowing my views. So on this site you will not find any personal information unless the person has given their permission for it to be shown.

A family Reunion was organised for the weekend of 2-3 August 2003. It coincided with the celebrations for the bicentenary celebrations of when Ticino joined the Swiss confederation. 30 descendants of Pietro Diviani travelled from England, Wales and Germany to Campello, many of them cousins, who met for the first time in the village of their ancestors. The weather was perfect we celebrated Swiss National day on 1 August, enjoyed polenta and stew al fresco and met the local Ticinese residents. On 2 August an exhibition was arranged in the Casa Comunale (Town Hall). In the afternoon we walked down the mountain to Fontanedo to see the restored chapel in the deserted village of our ancestors and in the evening 125 of us attended a beautiful meal in Faido. On 3 August after a beautiful “ a cappella” Mass we all went to the cemetery for the blessing and unveiling of a stone dedicated to Pietro Diviani. It is there as a tangible object to which I can relate and I now have a little bit of me in the village. It will be there for many years for future family members who visit the village of their forefathers.

We were very fortunate to receive coverage on Swiss Television, which was seen by a member of the Ferrari family in Valle di Blenio. He drove to Campello the next evening to show me his grandmother’s (who was born in 1881 in London) identity card that she had in England. The Reunion didn't’t just refer to the past but planned for the future too. The Comune of Campello has plans drawn up and voted money to preserve Casa Pierina one of the oldest houses in the village. Casa Pierina will also have space set aside for a small village museum and during our Reunion over 4,000 Swiss francs were raised in events and by donation that will be put towards equipping and maintaining this museum.

My next big research will be to try and examine the Swiss Census for the Leventina Valley. Hopefully this will help to identify and sort out some of the individuals I haven’t been able to link into families. I am in contact with Diviani descendants in South America whose ancestors arrived at the turn of the century from Mantova in Italy. Coincidentally there are Brentini residents there today, so a trip to Mantova is required to find out how Mantova fits in with these families. In the past 15 years or so I have learnt some of the history of Switzerland and have experienced a few of its customs and some of its culture. The geography of the region is fascinating and is imprinted in my memory so much that I could actually identify Valle Leventina from the air when I fly to Milan on my way to Ticino.

In common with most other genealogists my hobby has almost become an obsession and every day a new fact appears that send me down a new line of research or interest and I'm looking forward to many more years of finding out more about the Diviani family.

Copyright C Goodenough 2012