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Italy

Foiano di Val Fortore, Italy

Our relationship with Foiano di Val Fortore goes back over 100 years. The original immigrants arrived seeking economic opportunities. They immediately organized and built a church in 1902, and eventually a social hall, settling in south Bethlehem.

Many worked in Bethlehem steel and the knitting mills, while others found work as stone masons, laborers and shoe repair. They formed a society of St. Peter, where in addition to satisfying social needs, the Foianese also received advice on how to assimilate into American life.

They made important contacts so that they could borrow money, which helped many of them to start businesses and to build homes. They were so concerned about fitting in, that within a generation, they began moving to other sections of Bethlehem

Their children became proficient in English, and a college education was soon attainable for the next generation born here. Today, a very large percentage of Bethlehem residents, with Italian surnames, can trace their heritage not only to Italy, but to a tiny village called Foiano di Val Fortore.

The Italian community has been leaders in our community and the Lehigh Valley. The Iampetros, Morganellis, Stellatos, Delgrossos, Albarells, Concilios, Ruggieros, Mauras, Corsi’s, and Digiacintos have made significant contributions to Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley in the fields of government, business, and industry.