The surname of Bartolomei is a derivative of the name Bartolomeo. The origin of this is the Aramaic name "Bar Tolmay", meaning "son of Tolmay", or "son of Ptolemy", which was a line of ancient Greek rulers. The Greek word for Ptolemy is "Ptolemaios", meaning warlike or son of war. The Italian translation of Ptolemaios is Tolomeo. So, Bartolomei is Bar “Son” of Tolomeo, or Bartolomeo. The plural form of Bartolomeo is Bartolomei.
All of the Bartolomei ancestors were born in the small hilltop village of Pariana. It is a village of about 277 inhabitants. The earliest recorded date regarding the village is 913, although archaeologists have found Neolithic remains in the area. It is part of a group of about 10 towns that is locally governed by the town of Villa Basilica and under the jurisdiction of the city of Lucca in Tuscany.
Ermindo Bartolomei decided to go to Ethiopia in search of work, as this was a new Italian colony. He left on June 10, 1938. After about 6 months, he received news that his oldest son, Antonio, was having problems in school and Ermindo’s wife asked if she could send Antonio to join his father. He arrived on April 5, 1939 and remained there until their return together on April 20, 1943 when Italy gave up its colonial rights.
World War II
Ermindo and Antonio were imprisoned during the war (1945) for suspected Fascist sympathies. While in prison, they met a fellow prisoner who owned a woodworking shop in Livorno. After the war, Ermindo purchased this shop and moved his entire family to Livorno in 1949. The seller’s cousin, Romano, started working for Ermindo immediately afterwards.
Romano obtained a work contract in France for 6 months. After completion, he returned to Livorno with the intention of returning to work for Ermindo. In the meantime, Ermindo was in need of funds and entered into an agreement to add a new partner in the business. However, the partner wanted to work at the shop and there was not enough work for Romano, as well. Ermindo was too embarrassed to fire Romano, so his wife, Graziosa, had to do the honors. Romano decided to return to France and ended up living and working there for 25 years. After retiring, he returned to Pariana.
There is a seacoast town in Tuscany called Falonica. Ermindo obtained a contract for work to be done in a local hotel and sent his eldest son, Antonio, to do the work. After a short while, Ermindo received a call from the hotel owner saying that work is not being performed and that Antonio is nowhere to be found. Ermindo sends his other son, Benito, to finish the job. It turns out that Antonio ran off with one of the hotel maids and disappeared for quite some time.
Meeting of Antonio and Dina
Antonio and Dina met at a dance in Pizzorna. Story has it that Antonio was drunk. At one point, he had Dina up against a wall and tried to kiss her. She lunged her head back and smashed it against the wall. So much for first encounters.
When there was not enough work at Ermindo’s shop, Antonio got a job at the American army base, Camp Darby, between Livorno and Pisa. He learned quite a bit about America here and was paid rather well. At the time the family decided to emigrate to America, they were substantially well-off. They owned a car, which was rare in those days. The family had additional income from Dina’s sewing of school uniforms.
Paolo Ciucci and Giulia Mattei
Paolo Ciucci went to Corsica in search of work, as options in Italy were quite limited. Once there, he met and fell in love with a local woman. They wanted to marry, but her family was against it, as they were of a higher social ranking. Their first born child, Pasquale, was born out of wedlock and they eventually married one year later. After a few years, they moved to Pariana where Leopoldo was born. After a short while, they decided to return to Corsica where Graziosa was born. In or around 1905 they returned to Pariana with their children and remained there for the rest of their lives.