Saturday, August 30, 2008


Was Frank Sinatra Sicilian or Ligurian? Both, according to this report in La Sicilia today. The singer's father was from Lercara Friddi in Palermo province [though Frank once claimed that his father was from Catania], whilst his mother, from whom he inherited those stunning blue eyes, was from Lumarzo in Liguria. When Frank's father was one year old, the family emigrated to the USA.

Well, the two Italian towns have decided to share Francis Albert and a festival in his honour has already been held in Palermo. The Ligurian location will honour Ole Blue Eyes during the week beginning 6th September and a delegation of politicians from Lercara Friddi will attend, on their own initiative and at their own expense.

How nice to see cooperation here and not a "war", as in this case , which I wrote about some time ago. [You will need to scroll down to the last paragraph of the post.]

Three Coins in the Fountain


CherryPie said...

I think I will make a wish or two xx

Maria said...

Wow! I love that movie and that song. It was my Mother's favorite! Thanks Welshcakes for sharing that video, the fountains look amazing! Tossing my penny from America so are dreams may come true!

All the best to you and Simi,

Dragonstar said...

Lovely that the two places have agreed to share like that - and unusual, too. What a voice that man had!

Richard Havers said...

According to Frank Sinatra’s ‘Certificate and Record of Birth’ executed on December 17 1915 his father was Anthony Sinestro (born USA) and his mother Dollie Garaventi. Anthony’s occupation was listed as chauffer, age 22 and Dolly’s as housewife, aged 20.

It seems most likely that the clerk executing the birth certificate had similar problems in establishing the correct spelling of the family names to the immigration people at Ellis Island. Research shows nobody with the family name Sinestro arriving at Ellis Island prior to 1915. Conversely there are 206 men, women and children named Sinatra who arrived at Ellis Island between 1892 and 1910.

In her book ‘Frank Sinatra – An American Legend’ Nancy Sinatra says that her great grandparents John and Rosa Sinatra were born in Agrigento in Sicily and took Anthony Martin to America soon after his birth (this would have been in the mid 1890s). As grape growers in rural Catania she says their prospects were not good and the decision to leave was made. Perhaps they moved from Agrigento to Catania. Even ‘grape growers’ may be an exaggeration. By implication it sounds like they grew grapes to sell, when it is more likely they worked for one of the oppressive Sicilian landlords and merely tended his vines.

The only record of an Antonio Sinatra, of about the right age, arriving at Ellis Island is on December 21 1903 when a 9 year old of that name arrived on board the Citta di Milano from Naples. His place of residence is given as Perlanno, which is a likely misspelling of Palenno, which is in Sicily. He arrived with two sisters, Angela aged 7 and Dorotra aged 4 years and 11 months. Many years later Frank himself said, “ One of my father’s sisters, Dora, was married in an elaborate church event.” There is no mention of a mother or father travelling with them on the same boat, although a 46 year old married woman Pierta Saghinbeni is next to them on the passenger manifest and came from the same town. Further research of the Ellis Island immigration records and ships manifests reveals a Giovanni Sinatra arriving in America on March 27 1902. This 26-year-old married man travelled on the Calabria from Naples and came from Termini S, which is in Sicily. He travelled with a Michelle Sansone a married woman aged 23 who also came from Termini S, Could they possibly have been married and travelled ahead of their children to get settled?

Neither of these names appears to relate to the John and Rosa Sinatra who Nancy says are Frank’s grandparents. What further shrouds this whole episode in mystery is the fact that just about every other source names Frank Sinatra’s maternal grandparents as John and Rosa! Some claim that John was an Americanization of Giovanni.

According to Nancy Sinatra, Frank mother’s family name is Garavente. Nancy tackles the confusion of the birth certificate head on saying it was the fault of a non-Italian clerk. Natalie Catherine Garavente was born sometime around 1895 and according to some she travelled to America with her parents when she was two months old. Another source says that Natalie’s middle name was Della, hence the derivation Dolly. Nancy does not definitively say when the family arrived. She contents herself with the fact that the Natalie was the daughter of a well-educated lithographer from Genoa.

Checking the records from Ellis Islands shows no Garaventes or similar arriving from Genoa around the mid to late 1890s that fit the family description. In fact the only Garavente that appears to have arrived at Ellis Island was one Stefano who travelled from Rotterdam, originating in Turilia in 1893. There are a number of men and women named Garaventa who travelled from Genoa during the 1890s but none appear to have travelled with children and there are no obvious couples amongst the passenger lists. One couple Named Giovanni and Raffaela arrived in April 1892, but this seems too early to be Frank’s grandparents. There are so many possibilities amongst men with the name Garaventa that any theories are pure speculation. To add a twist to the tale Frank Sinatra in 1941 filled out a form for the Police at MGM Studios in which it stated his Mother was born in Hoboken. Frank also stated he was born in 1917 on the same form, so it’s veracity is questionable.

The non-Italian clerk syndrome would probably account for the fact that in FBI files from 1957 Frank’s uncles are listed as Champ (Dominic) and Lawrence Garaventi. Whatever is the truth, it all adds up to an unsolvable mystery.

The young first generation Italian American’s, Anthony, known as Marty, Sinatra and Natalie, known as Dolly, Garavente were Frank’s parents. How they arrived in America is not the point, the point is they were there and they would eventually meet and fall in love. It was in Hoboken, New Jersey that both families settled when they arrived in America.

marymaryquitecontrary said...

I sat on the wall of the fountain and threw three coins over my shoulder. I will return it just hasn't happened yet.

Mu Tai Dong said...

Is Frank Sinitra stil alive? He also learn way to read the ENGLISH better?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hope your wishes come true, cherrypie. x Ciao, M. I hope all your dreams come true, too. Glad you likes this. Dragonstar, indeed he did. He put such feeling into his singing. RH, thank you for this invaluable information. Fascinating about the Ellis island episode. As you say, the important thing is that F's parents somehow got there, met and fell in love. From my reading, Dolly was quite a character!
MM, you will return there, as will I !
Mu Tai Dong / Mutley, sadly, no. His English always seemed fine to me!!

jmb said...

I was never a fan of Frank Sinatra in his younger days but he is one singer who got better and better over the years and I did come to really like him in his later years.

Richard's comment makes me want to read that book.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, jmb. Yes, the voice mellowed a lot as he grew older.

James Higham said...

Yes, nice to see it done this way.

Hans Roelofs said...

It is sure that the 46 year old woman Saghinbeni (?) was the wife of Francesco Sinatra, Frank's grandfather.
If you look at the original ship manifest ( > surname Saghinbeni) you can find that information in her answer to the question who she is going to join in the USA.
In the original ship manifest you can also see that her first name was indeed Rosa but was later wrongly spelled as Pietra.


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