The Italian Almanac

the Zarantonello family meeting

Extended family

Like many Italian families, the Zarantonellos are keen on getting all the relatives together every now and again for a meal and a gossip. But with over 1,000 people in four continents claiming to belong to the clan, they are an 'extended' family in every sense of the word and get-togethers are tricky. So for this year's reunion they have come up with an innovative solution - they will simply take over the entire historic centre of the northeastern city of Vicenza.

With the permission and encouragement of the mayor, a 200-metre line of dining tables will be placed in the city's colonnaded Via Palladio and the area will be closed off to anyone not belonging to the Zarantello family. "We'll welcome you in Vicenza's main street and in Piazza dei Signori just like a relative would welcome you into the best room of the house," mayor Enrico Hullbeck told the family in a formal letter.

The Zarantello family has its roots in the nearby village of Valdagno, where there is a district bearing the family name. Thanks to research started by the late Giovanni Zarantello in 1985, hundreds of distant relatives have been located in America, Canada, Africa and of course Italy. About 950 Zarantonellos have said they'll be in Vicenza and dozens more, enticed by the Vicenza mayor's promise of a special welcome, are expected to confirm in the next few days.

One of the 'star' family members is Edward, a mathematics genius who has made a name for himself in academic circles by finding the biggest number in the world. He will be coming from his home in Argentina.

A series of events has been organised for the reunion, which is the latest and biggest of the eight that have been held since 1994. There will be a mass in the morning, presided over by three Zarantello priests; a 45-strong band, including 20 Zarantellos, will play music; and there will be a competition for the oldest and best Zarantello recipe.

The family, whose ancestors have been traced back as far as the 14th century, maintain contact these days through a website and a newsletter. There is also an official family logo and a song (available in MP3 format on internet).