Ettore Moschino
(Page 2-3)

But the works in which Bellini’s inspiration rises to infinite heights, brushing there with a luminous wing: I Capuleti e i Montecchi (The Capulets and Montagues), il Pirata (The Pirate), la Norma (Norma), and the one which was the song of the Swan of Catania, i Puritani (The Puritans), will all re-echo with joy for the new and future generations of Italians in their full, pure and immortal beauty.

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Much more will be spoken about the Maestro, of his brief and adventurous existence, of his sudden end, of a mysterious love romantically dramatised. But amidst all the research and revelations it does not seem to me inopportune to recall here and now the family origins of this great musician, not to detract from Catania’s pride at having given birth to him, but rather to demonstrate that it is useful to recognise in Abruzzo too the glory of a common motherland for him.

Because it was precisely in this land that his ancestors were born and lived; precisely in one of these villages, raised up between the mountain and the sea, that the musical lineage was planted, like a robust oak tree, that would later branch off to the sunny isle. That village is Torricella Peligna in the Province of Chieti. It must have arisen during the barbaric times of the Medieval period, when the family lived on one of the spurs of the Maiella, but following the destruction of Juvanum[2] they moved to a hillside centre. A fresh hillside, covered with olives, perfumed by broom, melodic with the many rivulets that run from the west down through the valleys to feed the Aventino; and with the great, brackish, salty gusts that blow from the other direction, bringing the health of the Adriatic. White and turquoise, like small kneeling nuns, its little houses gathered in the shade of the bell-tower or sloping down the flanks of the hills.

Amongst its small bright buildings there is one on which a plaque says Circolo Bellini (Bellini Club[3]).

Nobody reading that would think that it actually means the name of the great Master himself and that in reality it had been the home of his ancestors. We shall learn about them quite soon.

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In the Catasto Onciario[4] of 1743 for that village, on page number 194, it shows that a Rosario Bellini

[2] Juvanum – as early as the 4th Century BC, Iuvanum was the economic and administrative centre of the Samnite people, called Caraceni. Taken over by the Romans at the end of the social war in the 1st century BC, Iuvanum became an important political and administrative centre of the Roman Empire.

A detailed account of Juvanum with interesting photos, can be found at :-

 Circolo Bellini – There were two clubs in Torricella in the early years of the twentieth Century, the “Conversation Club” and the “Bellini Club”; the members of the latter were tradesmen and craftsmen, most of whom believed in Socialism. The headquarters of the Bellini Club was on the ground floor of the premises of the house of “Mastredinate”, the house where Vincenzo Bellini senior was born. There is a plaque on the wall of the house in Torricella; and see also article by Giovanni Monrado, describing Bellini’s Abruzzan origins :-

Each club had a small bar, a billiard room and a meeting room, where normally people would play cards.
Actually, prior to 1922 the “Bellini Club” had been called the “Remembrance Club”, but since this referred to the Risorgimento movement*, in order avoid problems with the Fascists, the name was changed to the less provocative “Bellini Club”.

* Risorgimento – movement which began in the early 19th Century and led to the

   proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy (1861), and eventually to unification (1871).

There were 10 founder members of the “Bellini Club”; of these we recall Antonio Porreca, originator of the Pineta, Artidoro De Marinis, Peppino de la Rumana, Peppino di Ciufelle, Luigi Piccone de la Penna, Peppino Manzi and Quirino De Laurentiis.
Both clubs were exclusive and one had to be accepted to become a member. Women only entered on organised Feast Days, at Christmas, or on other special occasions.
The group photos of these two clubs, but especially that of the “Conversation Club”, give the picture that for some Torricellans life was rather comfortable. It is sufficient to look at how they are dressed to understand their level of prosperity.
The members of the “Bellini Club” are also elegant and well-dressed in their own way; their picture was taken on the occasion of a country holiday, the place was probably the Shooting Range.

For photos and more details see :-

[4]  Catasto Onciario – historically this was a registered list of inhabitants and their possessions; it was used to evaluate the possessions of the citizens and to establish the revenue from their activities, in order to calculate the amount of taxes due.

aged 30 lived there together with his wife, Francesca Mancini aged 26, daughter of the Notary Nicola and they lived in the house belonging to the estate of his brother, Don Carlo, a priest.

This Rosario was the son of Tobia Bellini, an Abruzzan, and of Anna Pacifico, a Neapolitan and they had three children: Anna Maria born in 1740; Vincenzo Tobia Nicola, born in 1744, and Carlo Felice born in 1747. It should be noted here that since S. Vincenzo Ferreri[5], together with the ancient Patron Saint of the village, S. Marziale[ Rosario’s birth certificate, taken from the books in the local Parish of Torricella, shows that he was baptised in 1711, there, in the Church of S. Giacomo, and his Godfather was a Giovanni di Avolio from Pacentro in the Province of Aquila.

There is also the baptismal certificate for his older son, Vincenzo Tobia Nicola (See Appendix).

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Now who were these Bellinis and what was their social position?

In the Torricella Inventory, the first Rosario was a “bracciante” (agricultural labourer) – and there is no comment to be made about the humbleness of his profession – but it is probable, indeed one can almost affirm, that this word then indicated a different position than it does today, especially considering that this good man could take for his wife the daughter of a Notary; that, according to inventory sheet number 194, he owned some property and “land growing vines with soft fruit and fruit trees”; that his brother Don Carlo, a priest, was also a proprietor of their  house, which still exists and was recently restored, and that another brother, Falco, was of a certain rank in the clergy at Sulmona.


Then there is the fact that at the baptismal font, the Godfathers of two of Rosario’s sons, Vincenzo and Felice, were given the title Magnifici in public documents, and although this honorific title does not


[5] Saint Vincent Ferrer (or Ferrier), 1350?–1419, Spanish Dominican preacher, b. Valencia.

St. Vincent's life was severely ascetic, and his followers were inspired to imitate his austerities. Feast: Apr. 5.

He studied at Barcelona, taught at Lleida, and later studied at Toulouse. After 1379 he became a friend and protégé of Pedro de Luna, later antipope Benedict XIII. St. Vincent became widely known as a preacher even in his youth. He considered himself called to summon sinners to repent and prepare for the Judgment. He was tremendously successful, and many thousands were converted by him. He was especially interested in converting the Spanish Jews and Muslims. St. Vincent travelled over Europe, visiting France, Italy, and Flanders. He preached his last two years in Brittany and died in Vannes.


[6] Saint Marziale - is the Patron Saint of Torricella; how did he become patron? Well the story goes that early in the 19th century there was a serious drought locally; the Torricellani decided that they needed a Patron Saint to protect them from natural disasters. Two citizens, who were wise and experienced, were dispatched to a factory where statues of saints were built. The two paraded up and down the isle where the statues were displayed. One of the men’s cappotto or cape got caught by an extended arm of the statue of St. Marziale; this happening made the man turn around suddenly and said that the saint tugged at his coat and that he must want to be the protector of Torricella; the other man said: may be so, but he is only a child (San Marziale was about seven years old when he died), and how can a child be the patron of a large town with over four thousands inhabitants? Allegedly the two argued, but in the end, San Marziale became the Patron Saint of Torricella.

For an interesting article about Torricella’s Patron, Saint Marziale see :-

V. Bellini,Sr.