My name is Jennifer (Rizzo) Petrino and I’ve been researching families since 1999 after a trip to Laurenzo’s Italian Market in North Miami Beach sparked my interest in my own family history. Our family had shopped at Laurenzo’s for years but I had never been there. Just before Christmas 1998, I went to Laurenzo’s with my Aunt Joan and from the moment I stepped inside, I was overwhelmed and in awe of the food, the people, the music, the Italian language being spoken by everyone, and I was amazed at everything Italian in one place! I left there feeling like I wanted to know more about my heritage. Fortunately, just a few months later, I found myself with plenty of time to research and learn more about where my family came from, why and when they came to the United States, and so much more!
I started by calling my grandmother and asking about her family. She was a wealth of information. We talked every Thursday and I would tell her anything I had found during the week while she taught me, over the phone, how to make different Italian meals. Using the information she gave me and resources I was discovering both online and, at that time, on microfilm, I was able to put together a rather large family tree. I contacted extended family members I never even knew about and asked them questions. I wrote to Italy and asked for documents and information about my Italian ancestors. I connected with fairly close relatives that still lived in Italy and we remain connected to this day. I learned that my family on both sides is 100% Sicilian, hailing from Misilmeri, Ventimiglia di Sicilia and Bagheria (all Palerno Province) and Sciacca (Agrigento Province). This experience truly changed my life and I will always treasure these memories, most especially because my grandmother passed away unexpectedly about a year after I started researching.
After working so hard on my own family, I enjoyed researching so much that I began helping others with their own research. Eventually, I created this website to help people learn about researching their own families and to allow potential clients to seek out my services. And the rest, as they say, is history! Over the years, I’ve had clients from all over the world and hailing from all parts of Italy. It’s truly been a joy and I absolutely LOVE what I do!
I’d love to help you experience this joy as well! For more information, visit the Research Services page and if you would like some guidance use the pages in my Research Guide to help you get started.