Going to Italy

This guide was last updated in 2009

A visit to your ancestors' birthplace will always be worthwhile, even if it is just to get a flavour of their lives – the food, architecture, local history, occupations and living conditions.

If you hope to inspect the parish registers you should write to the curia vescovile (diocesan office) in advance for permission to consult the registers, though even with such permission a parish priest has the right to refuse access. It is advisable to write to the parish priest for an appointment when you have received diocesan permission.

If you're planning to visit the comune archives, prior permission is also necessary. In larger towns and cities you may have to submit a written request on a special form and opening hours may be limited.

The provincial archives (archivio di stato) are easier to visit and prior permission is not required but there may be restrictions on the number of records you can consult each day. Check opening hours before you go – most are closed afternoons and for the summer holiday.

Always write letters well before your planned visit as it may take weeks to receive an answer and further letters may be needed. It's best to write in Italian and there are a number of web sites that provide form letters for these occasions.

Catholic records in Great Britain
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