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Italian Genealogy
Form Letter #5
David's Examples of Italian Letters to send to Italy

This is Page 5 of Italian Genealogy Form Letters 1 > 2 > 3 > 4 > 5 > 6

Courtesy of David E. Zerga
we have the following help for Italian Genealogical Research:

Letter asking for copies of Italian Vital Documents. Includes other useful information to use when writing for copies of vital documents including the names of the documents...

Follow-up when you have not received a response. Here he refers to a public law which requires that an official respond to a request for information within 30 days of the request.
Letter to send to potential relatives in Italy. Friendly letter of inquiry to people who have the same surname you are researching.
Letter to Bishop requesting Italian Parish information - Including several ways to find a church.
Letter to a Parish Priest in Italy - includes some helpful advice on local Parish Diplomacy.

Requesting Vital Documents
Here are copies of form letters in Italian and English plus more information you can use when you write for copies of vital documents. Months are not capitalized.
(# Editor's note: Italy is now using the Euro dollar. Therefore, change all references to Lire in the Sample Letters below to Euros. Click here to read further advice on page 1 of Italian Genealogy Form Letters

15 febbraio, 1994

Egregio Direttore [Gentile Direttrice to a woman]:

Sono alla ricerca della mia storia famigliare, gradirei, se le fosse possibile, richiedere il suo aiuto.

Per favore, mi potrebbe spedire i Certicati di Nascita di Eugenio Vittorio Zerga, nato il 13 marzo, 1863 e Teresa Nicoletta Zerga, nata il 15 ottobre, 1868. Se questi certificati includono anche i nomi dei loro genitori, se per cortesia, potrebbe inviarmi anche i loro.

Includo, in questa mia, l'equivalente approssimativo di Lire 10.000, in modo che lei possa coprire sia le spese di certificazione sia le spese postali di risposta.

Egregio Direttore [Gentile Direttrice to a woman], la ringrazio infinitamente del suo aiuto. Nel caso che i dati non siano disponibili la pregherei di inviarmi comunque una nota negativa.

Inoltre, se i documenti non ci sono per quel periodo, o se Lei conosce altre fonti, Le sarei grata se potesse suggerirmi come proseguire la mia ricerca.

Le invio i miei piu' sinceri e cordiali saluti.

Dear Director:

I am trying to complete a history of my family and I would like your help.

Can you please supply me with the Certificates of Birth of Eugenio Vittorio Zerga, born 13 March, 1863, and Teresa Nicoletta Zerga, born 15 October, 1868. Please send the extracts with the names of the parents.

I am enclosing the approximate equivalent of 10,000 lire, to cover the cost of the certificates, and two International Reply Coupons which are for the postage stamps required for your reply.

Distinguished Director, I thank you infinitely for your assistance. In the event that the data is not available, I would however beg that you send me a reply in the negative.

Additionally, if the records do not exist for that period, or if you know of other sources, I would be grateful if you could suggest how my research could be pursued.

Thank you for your help, I hope to hear from you soon.

I send you best wishes.

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Italian Names for Vital Records
( These are Primary Source Documents : )
Birth certificate is ..."atto di nascita"
Death certificate is ..."atto di morti"
Marriage certificate is ..."atto della solenne promessa di celebrare il matrimonio"

For military records request the...
Conscription record -  "registro di leva"
Register of service -  "Registro dei fogli matricolari"
Discharge record -  "foglio di ruolo"

C A U T I O N: (Editor's note)
Before reading the older notes beneath the red line below, please know that things change and *now* it is best to send a request to Italy before enclosing any payments. *OR* send a small "donation" to show your good intentions to pay for their shipping and handling costs. Various things can happen depending on the policies of the individual archives.

"For instance" ... I sent a request to the Province Archives in Potenza for photocopies of my grandfather's Military Records. I included a personal check and International Reply Coupons. The "Archivio di Stato" filled my order, sent me photocopies of the records, returned my personal check and IRCs and told me to send them Euro or American Dollars, which I did. It had a happy ending.
Ciao, Paula Nigro
[--- End of Caution Statement ---]

The going rate seems to be $5-10 (US) per document. This is the one time I have sent cash. I am told that it is quite expensive to cash a money order in Italy- about 10 to 15 percent of the face value.   Some people purchase international drafts through Ruesch International 800-424-2923. The company issues drafts in lire drawn on an Italian bank with offices in the United States. I have used this service for genealogical research and non-genealogical business. I ordered a draft by telephone, mailed in my check and received a draft within 3 to 4 days of my call. Reusch has increased its fee to $15 which may not be cost effective for smaller orders.  For one document you would send the equivalent of 5,000 lire.

You can purchase the International Reply Coupons at a Post Office. They cost about $1.75 each. Do not send US stamps for return mail. You cannot mail a letter in the US with foreign postage. The same is true in Italy. By International convention, each IRC can be used in Italy to purchase the equivalent of 1 airmail stamp.

When you mail your letter don't use the 'make-up' series stamps. Stamps on mail to another country must show a money value.

Don't put the Italian postal code at the end of the address. I am told that US postal employees might confuse it with the ZIP code.  Most of the mail I have received from Italy has a return address as follows:
16040 Genova [or GE, the postal abbreviation] Italia

Be prepared to wait. Most people experience long delays in receiving a reply from Italy. On the other hand, it took 10 weeks for San Francisco, California to mail me a death certificate and I live only 180 miles away!

Very truly yours,

David E. Zerga

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Follow-up where no response

Ciao a tutti,

This is a letter to follow-up where you have not received a timely reply to your initial request for records.

I jokingly call this my 'death threat' letter, although the tone is hardly threatening.

The public law referred to requires that an official respond to a request for information within 30 days of the request. 

This letter is powerful. I have always gotten a prompt reply.

Accludo una copia della mia lettera addi 22 febbraio 1996. [Optional-Questa e la seconda lettera che Le invio in quanto non ho ancora ricevuto risposta.]

Dopo tre mesi non ho ancora ricevuto alcuna risposta.

Temo che la mia lettera sia andata persa o sia stata dimenticata.

Vorrei chiederLe, ai sensi della legge 241/1990 sul diritto d accesso ai documenti amministrativi, se puo gentilmente interessarsi a questo caso, affinche io possa ottenere una riposta entro un tempo ragionevole.

La ringrazio per la sua gentilezza. Attendo con fiducia una risposta.


Enclosed is a copy of my letter of [date]. [Optional- This was my second request to you without receiving your reply]

After almost 3 months, I still have received no reply.

I fear that my letter has been lost or forgotten.

I would like to ask you if you could kindly intervene in this case, according to law 241 of 1990 regarding access to public documents, so that I may receive a reply within a reasonable time.

Thank you for your kindness. I trust to hear from you soon.


Very truly yours,

David E. Zerga

(I guess that if I still did not receive a reply, I would write to the mayor and request his or her intervention.)
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Form letter to send to potential relatives in Italy:

My name is David Zerga.
Il mio nome e' Davide Zerga.

I live in Fresno, California USA.
Abito a Fresno, California STATI UNITI.

My father Davide Zerga, was born in Cicagna and migrated to the USA in 1911.
Mio padre si chiamava David Zerga , e' nato a Cicagna ed emigrato negli Stati Uniti nel 1911.

I am trying to contact my relatives still living in Cicagna.
Vorrei mettermi in contatto con qualche mio parente ancora residente a Cicagna.

I do not know which of the Zergas living in Cicagna are related to me.
Non saprei dire se sono imparentato con qualcuno che porta il cognome Zerga residente a Cicagna.

I am writing to those Zergas with the same given name as my father or grandfather or great grandfather.
Mi rivolgo a chiunque porti il cognome Zerga ed abbia lo stesso nome di battesimo di mio padre o di mio nonno o bisnonno.

My father David Zerga, was born on December 31, 1888.
Mio padre, David Zerga e' nato il 31 dicembre 1888.

My grandfather, Victorio Eugenio Zerga, was born circa 1868 in Cicagna.
Mio nonno, Victorio Eugenio Zerga, e' nato nel 1868 (circa) a Cicagna.

My great-grandfather, Antonio Zerga, was born about 1840 in Coreglia Ligure'.
Mio bisnonno, Antonio Zerga, e' nato all'incirca nel 1840 a Coreglia Ligure'.

My grandmother was Teresa Nicoletta Solari, and she was also born in Cicagna.
Mia nonna si chiamava Teresa Nicoletta Solari, anche lei nata a Cicagna.

My great grandmothers were . . .
Le mie bisnonne si chiamavano

If you think we may be related I would be very grateful to receive a letter from you.
Qualora Lei ritenga che possiamo essere imparentati, Le sarei grato se vorra rispondere a questa lettera.

If we are not related but you know of a Zerga that may be related to me please give this letter to them.
Nel caso, invece, che fosse dell'avviso che non fossimo imparentati ma dovesse conoscere qualcuno che si chiama Zerga che possa essere imparentato con me Le sarei grato se vorra' consegnare questa lettera a quella persona.

I have enclosed a self addressed envelope and an International Reply Coupon which can be used to purchase postage.
Assieme a questa lettera trovera' una busta gia' completata con il mio indirizzo ed un Buono Internazionale di Risposta utilizzabile per affrancare la lettera di risposta.

Accept my sincere greetings.
Voglia gradire i miei sinceri saluti.

David E. Zerga

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Letter to Bishop requesting parish information:

Rev. Vicario Generale
Curia Vescovile di _____________

29 luglio 1999 [months are not capitalized]

Rev. Vicario,
Il mio nome e' Davide Zerga. Abito a Fresno, California STATI UNITI.
Sto facendo delle ricerche sulla mia storia famigliare e le sarei molto grato se potesse aiutarmi a risalire alle sue origini.
I miei famigliari provengono da [ TOWN NAME ]. Vorrei scrivere al parrocco per ottenere informazioni su di loro. Purtroppo non conosco ne' il nome del parroco ne'l'indirizzo, e non so se [ TOWN NAME ] sia una parrocchia indipendente.

Le sarei veramente grato se potesse indicarmi a chi posso scrivere per avere queste informazioni.
Le invio i miei piu' sinceri e cordiali saluti.

Distinti saluti,

I am trying to complete a history of my family, I would appreciate it, if you could assist me to discover the origins of my own family.
My ancestors originated in {TOWN NAME}. I would like to write to the parish priest for more information. Unfortunately, I do not know his name or address, or even if {TOWN NAME} is an independent parish. 

Thank you for your help, I hope to hear from you soon.
Best regards,

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There are several ways to find a church.

The one I have used is to simply address a request for documents to Chiesa Madre Latina with the town name. Most towns or areas have a church that serves as the mother church- the administrative center.

The Latina is used if you are writing to the Roman Catholic Church especially in those areas where there is a strong Orthodox presence.

The yellow pages of the Italian telephone directories also give the addresses and telephone numbers for many of the parishes.
If you do not have a directory for the area, you can access the Italian Yellow Pages [Pagine Gialle] on-line at:

or Click here for a list of Italian Phone Books Online on the Italy Genealogy Help page.

[Editor P.N. updated directions in 2007 and in 2017 because paginegialle changed its format and also since Pagine Gialle no longer has an English Language version.]
On the search screen fill in the first blank with
Chiesa cattolica - servizi parrocchiali
Next fill in the name of your town. You can also search by Region or Province.

For the Bishop's Office and Church administrative offices
use the words
Cattolica Arcidiocesi
Chiesa cattolica - uffici ecclesiastici ed enti religiosi
--Be sure to look under their results for their "suggested searches"

If Pagine Gialle doesn't help you find what you seek, then try to use the Catholic Church Lookups on the Italian Genealogy Help Page[ - pmn-editor-]

The PIE page has a search engine to find Italian parishes by town name: [Read Editor's Note below]

[--Editor's note - I used the PIE lookup once or twice some years ago, however the "PIE" church-lookup has not been online anytime in the past year when I tested it. Perhaps Mr. Cimorelli only turns on his server when he can monitor it.

Some parishes are 'defunct' and no longer listed in the yellow pages and the local Church is serviced by a priest from another community.

If you cannot find a listing for your town, then you can write to the local Bishop for information as to the records.

Very truly yours,
David E. Zerga

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Letter to Parish Priest
Here is a letter you can use to write to the parish priest. The priests do not always respond to requests for information. Rather than enclose money or a check, you are asking what form in which to make a donation.

Reverendo Parroco,

Il mio nome e' David Zerga. Abito a Fresno, California STATI UNITI.

Sono alla ricerca della mia storia famigliare, gradirei, se le fosse possibile, richiedere il suo aiuto.

Cerco l'atti di nascita del mio antenato, Vicini Pietro nato addi 25 settembre 1835, e di suo padre e madre. Non conosco i loro nomi. 

Vorrei anche l'atto di matrimonio di suo padre and madre.

Vorrei chiederLe se, per favore, puo' essere cosi' gentile da ricercare quest'informazioni e trascriverli per esteo sui certificati parrocchiali di nascita e di matrimonio che cortesemente Le chiedo di inviarmi.

La ringrazio fin d'ora per la Sua gentilezza e premura. Vorrei mandarLe un piccolo contributo alla parrocchia, ma attendo che Lei mi scriva come posso effettuare questo pagamento. Accetta assegni in dollari?

Distinti saluti.

My name is _________________ .  I live in UNITED STATES.

I am trying to complete a history of my family and I would like your help.

I am searching for the birth records of my ancestor Vicini Pietro, born on 25 September 1935, and of his father and mother. I do not know their names.

I would also like the marriage record of the father and mother.

I would like to ask if you could be so kind as to search for this information and transcribe onto parish certificates the birth and marriage acts in their entirety.

I would like to thank you for your kindness and thoughtfulness. I would like to send you a small offering for your parish, but I will wait to hear from you so that I will know how to make this offering. Do you accept checks in dollars?

Best regards,

Very truly yours,

David E. Zerga

SYSOP Genealogia Section,
Compuserve's Italian Forum ITALFOR
[email protected]
POINTer 2230
Fresno, California
Coreglia Ligure and Dezerega, Genova, Liguria

AMERICA - It's A Fine Italian Name

David E. Zerga's Italian Form Letters appear on "Italian Genealogy Online and all things Italian" with his kind permission, which was sent to me by him on:
Date: Thu, 01 Jun 2000 13:21:46 -0700

If someone is charging you to view these letters, file a complaint & have them return your money.
Best Regards to All, Paula Nigro [editor]

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