Chris Cuomo Traces Roots Back to Italy

Oct. 26, 2006 — -- There are no records of Chris Cuomo's family in the United States much before the start of the 20th century.

There are, however, deep roots in Italian soil.

Watch "Good Morning America" next week to see Sam Champion, Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer trace their ancestry.

A family farm has stood near Naples, Italy, in the Tramonti hills for more than 650 years. found some great examples of hardworking ancestors in his lineage.

Professor of Pizza

His grandfather Andrea Cuomo owned a small grocery store in Jamaica Plains, N.Y.

Generations before in Italy, his great-grandfather Santo Gitto was the town butcher, and his great-great-grandfather Mariano Schepisi was a cart driver.

One of Chris' living relatives -- we kid you not -- is an authentic pizza historian!

Professor Aurelio Giordanos holds the title of one of the "Seven Wises of Pizza" -- as certified by the Italian Federation of Restaurants and Pizzerias -- and founded the Pizza Authority, which certifies global pizza traditions.

There are even some wannabe relatives.

When Mario Cuomo, Chris' father, won the New York governor's office in the early 1980s, 50 "relatives" showed up to celebrate.

A New York Times article described the people as "some vaguely related, many not at all."

Mario's political success is even more impressive considering he grew up speaking Italian and only became fluent in English as a teenager.

Birds of Passage

Donato Cuomo, Chris' great-grandfather, is an example of what is known as "birds of passage" -- immigrants, almost all men, who came to America to work, save money, and eventually return home wealthier than before.

It was at the end of Donato's second trip to America, from 1898 to 1901, that his son Andrea, Chris' grandfather, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y.

That same year, the family moved back to Nocera Superiore, Italy, and Andrea grew up just 12 miles from his future wife, Immacolata.

The couple married in 1925 and made the journey to the United States two years later, joining the millions of hopeful immigrants to pass through Ellis Island.

Carmelo Raffa, Chris' maternal grandfather, is listed on a passenger list for a ship crossing from Palermo to America in November 1927.

He may have been living in Italy and finally returning to the United States, where he was born. Or he may have gone to Italy seeking a wife.

Some family secrets will never be known for sure.