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Kykuit Tour Features Italian Connections
 
Dee Campi Gannon is a legal assistant in Vermont who was born and raised in the Midwest . She had never been to Sleepy Hollow, NY where her father Edward (ne Antonio) Ciampi was born in 1911. Dee’s interest in Sleepy Hollow started as a youngster when her dad used to tell her he was from that historic Hudson River village. He would have a broad grin on his face and he’d widen his eyes when he playfully mentioned his birthplace, knowing that she would associate it with the legend of the headless horseman’s territory. Recently, she arranged a visit to the famous town of the scary legend not because of its literary fame but because it is the place that connects her to her family’s Italian history.  After a long road trip from her New England home to Sleepy Hollow she had the chance to retrace the footsteps of where her family lived and managed daily routines.  She was grateful for the opportunity to see where her Italian-born ancestors settled and worked, especially after her family story was recorded in a recently published book, They Came by Ship: The Stories of the Calitrani Immigrants in America. In the book, and as a lasting tribute to her family, are narrated personal recollections associated with their part of the history of the Rockefeller estate.
 
Her father’s immigrant parents trace their roots back to a simple peasant life in the province of Avellino in southern Italy . Her great-grandfather, Giovanni Frasca, and his eldest son Leonardo came from the town of Calitri and arrived in North Tarrytown via Boston in 1904 on the White Star liner, the Republic. The rest of the Frasca family would come the following year through Ellis Island.  Destiny changed their lives forever when they became employees at the Rockefeller estate in Pocantico Hills. It was there that Giovanni’s daughter, Teresa, met and married Rocco Ciampi, a foreman, from Frigento.  They had six sons: Pasquale, John, Antonio, Rocco, Victor and Leonard. Estate records confirm that many laborers and maintenance staff originated from southern Italian towns, including Calitri, so there was a considerable community in place to share a common culture and work ethic in the service of the Rockefeller family at Kykuit. Many of the descendents of these workers still reside in the Tarrytown area.
  
Mario Toglia, a Long Island resident, arranged the June 6th Sleepy Hollow tour for descendents, family and friends that shared a common heritage particularly from Calitri , Italy .  His personal connection to the Rockefeller estate came through his grandfather, Mauro Codella, who was employed there as a laborer in the beginning years of the 20th century. The idea for this excursion was a natural follow-up of hard research by Mr. Toglia and others to the historical discovery that connected the Calitrani immigrants to the Tarrytown , NY area.  
 
The estate tour was personally directed by Laura Bunt, whose parents were both from Calitri. Her father Leonardo Frasca worked as a cabinetmaker on the Estates. Her uncle, Vincent Frasca, was Mr. Rockefeller’s personal chauffeur.  Laura explained the mansion was completed in 1908 and the tour included the estate building structures, household furnishings, art treasures and magnificent grounds. In the mansion, several beautifully furnished family rooms, many with Italian marble flooring, were open for viewing. There was an area devoted to sculptures, tapestries and fine paintings. 
 
The tour also included a visit to the building where horse carriages as well as original vintage automobiles were stored and maintained.  Laura mentioned that her Uncle Vincent, the chauffeur, had been sent to a Manhattan automobile school to learn car maintenance. She pointed out the apartment where she lived as a child. Since Laura’s family lived on the estate and serviced the Rockefeller family for many years, she graciously added personal anecdotes of what life was like growing up in such an unusual setting.  Occasionally, as a youngster, she would meet Mr. Rockefeller face to face around the estate grounds and it was his custom to hand her a dime with the prudent message of “watch your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.”  Mr. Rockefeller’s money token was symbolic of his lifelong habit of kindness at holiday time or whenever he’d greet the public.  He was particularly friendly and generous to Laura’s father and established a personal relationship with him over the years.  “It was not unusual for him to show respect for his employees,“ she added. “Mr. Rockefeller was always gracious in chance meetings and insisted his family treat all employee staff in a courteous manner.” 
 
Laura took the visitors on a walk around the vast acreage compound and everywhere the Italian influence was apparent, especially in the stonework, architecture and gardens. The various statuaries were representative of the Italian Renaissance period. She pointed out how the façade of the mansion was done in the style of the Venetian architect, Andrea Palladio, from the loggia and its three wide openings up to the triangular pediment with sculptured motifs. Opposite the entrance was a replica of the Fountain of Oceanus by Giambologna which sits in the Boboli Gardens of Florence , Italy .
  
          Many who had previously been to Italy felt that they were actually at an Italian villa. In front of the Italian Tea House, one visitor marveled how the talented skills of the Italian craftsmen were evident in the pool made of marble, carved so as to give the impression of waves. The beauty of the place gave Dee Gannon a feeling of pride that her immigrant relatives had been connected to Kykuit.    
 
Her interest in the tour was also shared by her cousins who came in from neighboring states. For Greg Campi and his wife Diane of Red Bank, New Jersey , PatAnn Campi Lyon and her daughter Sarah of Southbury, Connecticut  and Diane Campi Brunner of Rumson, New Jersey, the trip to Kykuit was  significant -  the chance to glimpse at a part of their family’s past and to meet for the very first time their fathers’ cousin, Laura. They mentioned as an interesting aside how the family name of "Ciampi" was modified to “Campi.” During the early years of working at the Rockefeller estates, a rather unpleasant incident prompted the necessity for the name change and, from that point forward, the family name was officially recorded as “Campi.”
  
Others in the tour that took advantage of the opportunity to visit the grounds and estate were Elaine Grasso Hennessey of   Mamaroneck, NY  and a group  from Long Island :  Lucy Appleby, John and