In 2000 the sisters traveled with their cousins to Liguria, a small coastal region and popular tourist attraction in northwest Italy, where their ancestors — esteemed artists, poets, and gypsies — reportedly originated.
Documenting it wasn’t easy.
Inside a municipal building with a hired genealogist, the family gained access to research the archives, despite difficulties posed by local authorities.
“We don’t know why they were so reluctant. The police came in and said, ‘Out!’ [You had to] show your relationship to the person you’re researching or you can’t go in the archives. We were fortunate to have all that information.”
They are descendants of a man named Platz.
Platz was a nobleman in Tyrol, Austria during the rule of the Prince of Doria. He fled to Marchesano near Cassego to avoid political persecution and was reportedly one of the first inhabitants of the Alta Val di Vara region. He was a descendent of German-born Christoph Platz, General of the Lombards for the Holy Roman Emperor Otto II, in 982 A.D. in the war against the Saracens in Sicily.
Eventually the name Platz became Piazza.
The family visited D. Sandro Lagomarsino, the founder and curator of the Museo Contadino di Cassego, where they listened to him tell stories of Piazza — a vagabond who owned a travelling circus in the early to mid-1800s during the time of the Bona Brothers.
They made a second trip in 2002.