Help Us Solve A 90 Year Mystery

Help Find Peter’s Birth Parents and Family

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We are happy to report a MAJOR updated to this story.  Thanks to the work of volunteer genealogist, and 23andme Family Tree Beta program, Ancestry and My Heritage we have been able to identify two 3rd cousins on Peter’s side of the family.  A 3rd cousin for each of Peter’s parents has been identified, and working backwards using family trees, and social media, the following information has been confirmed:

Peter’s parents were from Gaeta.  Although Peter may have been born/given up in Rome (as per his recently found birth certificate indicates), his parents are both from Geata.




Using DNA matches and a process of elimination we have found even more names and have plausible family tree chart (see below).

We think that Parent 1 of Peter was a Rosato.

We know that Peter’s GREAT grandparents were

Salvatore ROSATO  (B.1816) and

Benedetta Giuseppa Di Ciaccio (B.1824)

and we know that Peter’s Rosato grandparents 

One of Peter’s grandparents (of Parent 2)

is a sibling to one person of the following couple:


(she married SALVATORE DI NITTO (B.1840)     

Maria had three brothers (Cosmo, Luigi, and Francesco)

Which means that one of these couples

are Peter’s grandparents:

Cosmo Rosato and Teresa Sorabella

Luigi Rosato and Maria Grazia Strozza

Francesco Rosato and Angela Maria Colaruototo


One of their children is a parent to Peter

and the last name of this parent was likely





We think that Parent 2 of Peter was a Caruso.

We know that another of  Peter’s GREAT grandparents were






Note: the parents of Antonio Camelio were likely a CAMELIO  (B.1825) and  DI TUCCI (B.1825)



Were a Caruso and a Camelio

and based on a process of elimination due to the DNA information available

and the last name of this parent was likely




*based on a number of DNA matches so far.


If you recognize any of the names above, if you are related to the names above please contact us.  AND if you know anyone with those names who are from Italy, please share this with them.

Please share this story with every person that you know!

 Italian-Americans, Italian-Canadians, Italians around the world,  anyone living in Italy, & anyone of Italian descent.

Someone knows the truth.

Does the face of Peter look similar to members of your own family?

Do you know which of the stories about Peter are true?

Do you know which ones are just rumours?


Help Us Find  Peter’s family!

Help Find Pierino (Peter) Grisanelli’s  Birth Family.

Peter would have been in his 90s if he were still alive.

If his parents were alive, they would be about 108+ years old. It is unlikely they are alive.

Does Peter have birth siblings? If he did, they would be around 90 years old or younger and could still be alive.



Teresa, Florine, Civita, Susan and Lisa are 5 sisters that have one incredible Christmas Wish.

Since their father Pierino (Peter) died tragically in 2005 due to a car accident, they have been hoping to track down Pierino’s birth family.

Pierino (Peter) Grisanelli was adopted by an Italian family from the city of Gaeta, in the Province of Latina, in Lazio central Italy. He was adopted at  2 1/2 years old from an orphanage in Rome Italy.

His children have all done various DNA home test kits.  No close DNA family member has been matched to them. They are hopeful every day that a new DNA Uncle, Aunt or first Cousin will appear and solve the mystery.

Based on the existing DNA results, it seems that at least one of Peter’s parents may have been from Gaeta (and/or the surrounding area).

Here is a TIMELIME of Peirino (Peter)’s life with stories:

December 16, 1929  Peter was born in Rome. It is likely that his birth mother traveled to Rome to have him, and she either stayed with a relative, friend of the family, or at a home for unwed mothers. The law in Italy at that time required that a child given up for adoption, had to be assigned a surname that was made up. He was name Pierino (Pietro) Grisanelli. His name is “Peter” in English

December 30, 1929. Peter is baptized at the Parrocchia di S. Francesco d’Assisi, in the Roma Piazza S. Francesco d’Assis. according to his Certificato Di Battesimo and is placed in an Orphanage. (believed to be St-Antony’s in Rome)

UPDATE: A volunteer genealogist found Peter’s original Birth Certificate. Here it is:

June 23 1932. At two and a half (2.5) years old, Peter was adopted by Cosmo-Tomasso Chinappi, and Teresa Di Perna-Chinappi who lived in the village of Gaeta. He never took on the Chinappi name. On their first trip to the orphanage to meet the children, young Peter shown an initiative and an interest in Teresa. After the couple returned to Gaeta to consider their decision, they decided to go back and get Peter. He was greeted in Rome by Teresa Di Perna-Chinappi, and her mother Civita Spinosa-Di Perna who took him to Gaeta, Latina by train.

There are 3 major rumors about Peter’s birth parents trying to contact him. We are unable to verify which version is the correct version. However, we are going to present all 3 here, in case one of Peter’s siblings or other relatives recognizes the stories. If you do recognize any of these stories please contact us at :

Story # 1: (approx. 1937) Peter would have been around 8 years old.

The orphanage had sent someone to take Peter back to return Peter to his biological parents after the adoption. However, on the day that the administrator knocked on the door of their house, Peter and his parents were not home. A neighbour told the administrator that Peter had run away and no one knew where he had gone.

A number of neighbors in Gaeta had experienced having children they adopted and loved, taken away from them by the orphanage. The birth parents would request their child back, as they were now married, and financially stable enough to raise their child. This was actually a common practice in Italy. According to the law at the time, birth parents could take their child back if :(1) they were legally married, and (2) they had identifying information about the child. Once identity was confirmed, they could then “reclaim” their child by going to the civil authorities for registration of a ‘legittimazione’, a correction which would officially name them as parents, and legitimize the child’s birth. 

IF this story is true, it would indicate that at the very least, one of Peter’s birth parents had gotten married (or both birth parents were now married to each other), and they wanted to know Peter and get him back.

Story # 2: (approx. 1937) Peter would have been around 8 years old.

Peter’s birth mother tried to make contact with Peter by knocking on the door of where he and his adoptive parents lived. All we know from this story is that his birth mother and adoptive mother may have spoken to each other, but no contact with Peter was made. Details of this story are too vague to report, other than his birth mother insisted that Peter now had brothers, and that Peter’s brothers should know Peter.

IF this story is true, it would indicate that at the very least Peter’s birth parents wanted to know Peter and that he has biological brothers.

Story # 3 **: ( approx. 1944) Peter would have been a teenager. (Approx 15yrs old)

Peter’s birth mother met Peter to tell him that she was his birth mother and that she had sons (his brothers) that very much wanted to meet him. Peter declined contact stating he did not know who this woman was, and that he already had a family with many brothers.

IF this story is true, it would indicate that at the very least Peter’s birth parents wanted to know Peter and that he has biological brothers that wanted to know him as well.

At that point in time. Peter did not know he was adopted, so he had no reason to believe the woman he had never seen before telling him this story.

Regardless, Peter daughters and grandchildren ARE open to contact. We hope that if you are a member of Peter’s birth family, you are open to communicating with Peter’s family too.

** This Story #3 has been confirmed as one of Peter’s brother and a long time best friend of Peter both say that Peter told them this story while he was alive.

1946. (Age 17) Peter finds out he is adopted.

One day Peter was spending time with adult friends of the family and someone mentioned to him that he was adopted, not realizing Peter did not know. Peter was surprised by this information, and immediately returned home to ask his mother if this was true. His mother said, “Peter, I did not give birth to you, but I love you as much as love any of my children” and held him tightly. Peter never mentioned it again.

July 30, 1949. (Age 19) Peter enlists in the army

Does Peter look familiar to you? 

Does he look like your brother? 

Does he look like your uncle?

Does he look like your cousin?

Peter might be related to you.  Please contact us, and consider doing a DNA test to help us solve a 90 year mystery for Christmas.

Peter poses for a photo with other soldiers.  Are you one of the soldiers in the photo?  Are you one of the descendants of the solider in the photo? Please contact us. 

May 5, 1952. (age 22) Peter is discharged from the army with unlimited leave.

July 14, 1952. (age 22) Peter has an Italian Passport issued

Nov 20 1952. Documentation is issued to verify he was vaccinated for smallpox in Gaeta. There were some challenges in Peter’s emigration from Italy as he never took on the Chinappi family name.

Dec 1952. (age 22-23) Peter emigrates to Montreal, Quebec, Canada following in the footsteps of his father, and one of his brothers.

Together the 3 of them worked hard to earn money to bring his mother and 4 other siblings to Montreal, Quebec, Canada the following year.


April 28, 1956. (age 26) Certificate of Marriage. Peter marries Rose Marie Teresa Chinappi (who was technically his cousin through the Chinappi line) at the Holy Apostles Church in the city of Rochester, New York, USA.

August 1956. Peter immigrates to Rochester NY USA permanently

1957 -1964 Peter and Rose become parents to 6 biological children. 5 daughters and 1 son. Peter’s son Thomas died in infancy.

November 19, 1963. Certificate of Naturalization No. 8550346 for the United States of America

July 27, 1988. Death of his wife Rose Marie Teresa

June 21, 2005 Peter dies in a car accident.

Public Obituary: Pierino Grisanelli Life Dates: (Dec 16 1929 – June 21 2005). Place Of Birth: Italy Predeceased by: his son Thomas, wife Rose Grisanelli; brother, Nicholas Chinappi. Survived by: Peter will be sadly missed by Fran DiBiase. Survived by his daughters Teri (Mike) Orlando, Florine (Greg) Clonick, Civita (Stanley) Hochreiter, Susan (Mark) Bianchi, Lisa (Wayne) Voellinger ; grandchildren, Michael, Lindsay Orlando, Adam, Matthew, Rachel Clonick, Lauren, Carly Hochreiter, Jennifer, Sara Alessi; brothers and sister, Marciano (Lucia) Chinappi, Joseph (Arlette) Chinappi, Anna (Angelo) Zolla, Cosmo (Marilyn) Chinappi; sister-in-law Emilia Chinappi; several nieces and nephews.

About Peter

Peter was a loving father and grandfather who will be sadly missed. He was very proud of his children and grandchildren`s accomplishments. Peter enjoyed getting together with family, he especially enjoyed family picnics the holidays and Christmas. Peter could best be described as well loved & strong willed. He lived his life to the fullest and he enjoyed being retired for the last 20 years. Peter enjoyed: making wine, gardening, dancing, walking, wintering in Florida and bike riding. Peter`s bike riding was so prolific it would be nothing for him to ride his bike from Irondequoit all the way to N. Chili. He is interred at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Rochester, New York, United States

Peter’s Daughters:

Peter’s daughters Teresa and Florine: We are Teresa Grisanelli-Orlando and Florine Grisanelli-Clonick, two of the oldest sisters of five (5) girls born to our dad, Pierino Grisanelli. Our whole life, we knew our father was adopted and had heard many rumors that the name he was given was made up. Many years ago he expressed an interest in locating his birth family. Our mother attempted a search., however it lead nowhere. At that time, they were not fortunate enough to have DNA testing.

Sadly, our father is no longer with us. We are determined to fulfill his dream. Our hope is that someone recognizes our dad from his younger days and can assist us in our search.

Though we are grateful that the Chinappi’s took our dad in and loved him as one of their own, there are still so many unanswered questions. What were his parents like? Did he have siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins that may also feel this same void?

We will be eternally grateful to anyone that can assist us in our search.

Peter’s Daughter Teresa is registered on and FTDNA Kit # B568799  and (FR9327700)

Peter’s Daughter Florine will soon be  registered on

You will be able connect with each of them by doing your own DNA test home kit. 


Peter’s Daughter Civita is registered on and FTDNA Kit # B568802 and (PN5879405

You can connect with her doing your own DNA test home kit.




Peter’s Daughter Susan is registered on, and FTDNA Kit # B568794  and (ZG4843672)

You can connect with her doing your own DNA test home kit.




Peter’s daughter Lisa: My name is Lisa Grisanelli-Voellinger. I am in search of my fathers’ biological family. My father, Pierino was lost to our family in an automobile accident in July, 2005. Ever since I have had a void in my heart not knowing where my father was born and who his blood family are. My father was a kind warm person who was pretty unassuming. People were drawn to Peter like a moth to a flame as he was non-judgmental and had the truest heart. He served in the Italian army and then married my mother, Rose Marie. Our last name is Grisanelli, believed to have been made up by the sisters in the orphanage, as Grisanelli in Italian means gray eyes; and that is just what my father had, the lightest grey-est eyes – most beautiful. I am without peace in the “not knowing” and it haunts me daily and stays on my mind always. Growing up I often thought of what my father’s biological mother was like, was she a gentle woman like my dad? I would have liked to find my grandmother before my father passed and I find myself calling on my father often when I should be letting him enjoy his peace but I am torn with the unknown of his family and my true heritage. I am hopeful someone can help me identify my fathers birth parents and are open to connecting with me. I live in Rochester NY and my contact information is Please reach out to me if you might be willing to assist in my search for my father’s family. Lisa is registered on , Gedmatch (EG4222711) and and FTDNA Kit # B568791  You can connect with her doing your own DNA test home kit.

Please share this story with every person you know that is an Italian-American, Italian-Canadian, Italians around the world, anyone living in Italy, & of Italian descent.

Someone knows the truth.

Someone  recognizes the face of Peter as looking similar to members of their own family.

 Help us find Peter’s birth family!

If you are a Media and want an to do an Interview in English: Contact Lisa at

For Media Interviews (Italian) – Contact Franco Chinappi

Franco and the Grisanelli sisters were interviewed by Bob Sorrentino for the Podcast.  Click these links or the image below to go to his site to hear the interview.



9 thoughts on “Help Us Solve A 90 Year Mystery

  1. Wow i was so moved by your story! I hope and pray that you find what your are looking for! My mom will be 90 this Christmas. She had five daughters and a son who died at birth. Good luck to all of you.

    1. Thanks Joanna, The best way you can help is to share the url of this article, and help get it in front of all Italians in the world, esp in Italy where members of his birth family may see the story and recognize the details. Thanks!

  2. Hello,
    It’s amazing, my family is living quite the same story : I’ve started searching my mom’s biological family one year ago. She was born in Roma in 1936, left in an orphanage then placed in a family (who wanted to adopt her but their request was refused) where she stayed until she came to France (where I am from).
    Of course we tested DNA, but I also asked for information on the following website : Have you contacted them ?
    1st step (november 2018) : we got information about my mom’s birth, with a lot of details she had no idea about (she wasn’t even sure of her birth day, and she discovered her birth time, weight….) but no name because her mom gave birth anonymously in a hospital.
    2nd step : I followed the procedure to ask her mom’s identity to the Juvenile Court in Roma. Our application was granted because her mom was dead. So last july, we learnt the name of my grand mother and her birthplace in Sardinia. And in september, I took my mom out to the village of her mother and we met a first cousin and other close relatives. Magical moment !
    I wish you could live such a moment. It’s so sad your dad died too early to know his story, but YOU can !
    And now, last but not least : my mom matches Teresa and Civita (10,4 cM)… It can be on your dad’s side, as well as on your mom’s side, I don’t know. And too far, I guess, to be helpful. And we know nothing (yet…) about my mom’s father.

    I sincerely wish you the Christmas you are dreaming of !

    1. Hello Nadia,
      Thank you so much for posting this thoughtful reply.
      I have sent you a private email to connect with you and get more information about this process.

  3. Myself and my 2 siblings both match. I match Civita, my brother Lisa and my sister Lisa and Teresa. The matches are relatively small. This match would be from my maternal side. We do not have ancestry in Gaeta. Our family was from Valva, Salerno. I have a fairly extensive family tree from Valva, if you are interested. Perhaps you can compare to other trees.


  4. Even though you have tested on 23andMe, etc. and are on GEDmatch, the largest data base is on AncestryDNA. Only SOME members of AncestryDNA have loaded their results to GEDmatch. I suggest you also test on AncestryDNA.

  5. Hi,My name is Peter and I live in Australia. I have a distant match with lisa and when I did a compare 2 kits ,another family name came up. Marg Hasset. My kit is H408786 and Marg Hasset A635618 . on my mothers side ,we have North Italian and Swiss, area being San Giovani bianco in North Italy and Ticino area in Switzerland. Names are Bonetti,Scandolera Pedrotti, Gavazzi. Several of the other kits you mention must be re authorised s Gedmatch has new owners so kits must be confirmed. My Italian swiss heritage ,,,,came over in 1800s to Australia.. Maybe if you tried also to have gedmatch numbers from people in Yandoit Castlemaine area,it may help as many of the Swiss went to there for 1800 gold rushes.

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