Aliza Giammatteo

Roots in the Boot’s Owner, Aliza Giammatteo, comes from a long line of storytellers* and has become a sought-after storyteller in her own right.

In addition to her regular columns in La Voce (Las Vegas, NV area), La Voce Italiana (Houston, TX area), and La Gazzetta Italiana  (Cleveland, OH area) she writes feature articles for Italian American publications across the United States, such as: Ambassador Magazine, the publication for NIAF (the National Italian American Foundation),,, Bella Italia (Georgia), L’Incontro (Casa Belvedere, Staten Island, NY) to name a few.

Aliza’s writing can also be found in the permanent collections of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage in Rome, Italy and the State Archive (Archivio di Stato) of Caltanissetta, Sicily.

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*Aliza Giammatteo is the daughter of Giacomo Giammatteo, an admired storyteller, just like his father and his father before him. Giacomo is the author of several critically-acclaimed, bestselling books, including:  Murder Takes Time , Murder Has Consequences and A Bullet For Carlos. According to eNovel Review, Giacomo “…may be the Mario Puzo of our time”.

“Ancestry Angels” You Never Knew You Had

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Do you believe in angels? I’m no expert on spiritual angels so I’ll leave that topic for someone else. But I am an ancestry expert and I can tell you for certain that ancestry angels do exist. In fact, not only do they exist, they’re everywhere. If you research your family history, you’re bound to find one.

The myth that refuses to die: “Ellis Island changed our name”

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In honor of Ellis Island’s 120th anniversary, 1892-2012 Originally published in the National Italian American Foundation’s (NIAF’s) Ambassador Magazine How do you wipe out a myth that is so pervasive, so persistent, so popular, that if it were a book it would’ve spent a century on the bestseller list? Maybe you can’t, but I think […]

6 Expert Italian Genealogy Tips – Trace Your Tree Like a Pro!

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Tip #1: Check your surname first Do a quick surname check so you know what kind of search you’re in for up-front. There’s a useful website ( that maps out where your surname exists in Italy. Just click on the map of Italy until you see the search box up top. Enter the surname in […]

La Voce Readers Discover Their Italian—and American—Roots

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Italian immigrants, and their descendants, are an important chapter in the history of America. They helped shape the cityscapes and landscapes of our country. In this article, Aliza shows how our ancestor’s American stories are just as important as their Italian stories by showing how two very different Italian immigrants who settled on opposite sides of the country each contributed to our American story.

A Peasant’s Pride Still Inspires, 150 Years Later

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For Rocco Siciliano, and All of Our Roccos, Past and Present  If you ask my friends they’ll tell you I’m rarely at a loss for words. I spend a lot of time in libraries (digging through family history records) but that hardly means I’m the quiet, library type! So imagine my surprise when I came across a […]

To Know Yourself, Know Where You Came From

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To Know Yourself, Know Where You Came From Casa di Amore does, and it Shows I come across interesting stories all the time as a family historian. Maybe you have seen some of my previous articles — like the one about the immigrant who missed an earthquake and tsunami that flattened his town by mere days—but […]

Just in Time: Discovering an Immigrant’s Near-Miss Story

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The traditional word that’s used to describe my profession is “genealogist,” but “storyteller” might be a more fitting term. When most people think of “genealogist” they probably think about tracing a family tree. But finding a name in a family tree is only one part of the mystery that I aim to solve.  It’s what’s […]

Two People, Two Countries, One Dream

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“Last of the Capizzis” no Longer In his own words, Giuseppe was the “last of the Capizzis” in his hometown, near Licata, Sicily. Some relatives left for the US long ago and lost touch over the generations. The ones that stayed behind had all passed away. He always hoped that a long-lost relative from the […]

Italian vacations get personal: Ancestry tours take off

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I got off the phone with Monica Surfaro Spigelman and was reminded why I keep a box of Kleenex on my desk. I’m fortunate enough to have a job that often brings me to tears (the happy kind), and it was Monica’s retelling of her trip to Italy that had me reaching to dry my […]