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"Supernonna della Maiella"
Donata Breggia Di Biase of Portland, Maine, who emigrated from Lettomanoppello more than 80 years ago, celebrated her 110th birthday in December 2000!  At left is a 1995 photo of her with her 90 year-old daughter Orienta (with whom she lives) standing behind her.  Seated next to Mrs. Di Biase is her great-grandnephew Mario Di Biase of Lettomanoppello, a photographer.  Next to Mrs. Di Biase's sister is Marcella Mariani, the wife of Mario Di Biase.  At the right end is Genero, whose last name and relationship are unknow - can anyone tell us? 

(Photo and newspaper article below provided by Marcella Mariani and Mario Di Biase; the photo was taken during their 1995 honeymoon visit to the US)

The Grandmother of Abruzzo is Donata
Living in the USA and 110 Years Old
LETTOMANOPPELLO - In the category of Abruzzese centenarians, the place of honor surely belongs to Donata Di Biase, who was born in 1891 and who emigrated to America more than 80 years ago.  In December (2000) the supernonna of the Maiella, who lives in Portland with her 90 year-old daughter, will celebrate 110 years - a milestone at which Donata has arrived in good health, and without giving up the habits of a lifetime.  Her last visit to Lettomanoppello was 35 years ago, but her connection to her hometown has continued uninterrupted.  Mario di Biase, great-grandnephew of the centenarian, and his wife Marcella, went to find her six years ago during their honeymoon.  An unforgettable experience for the Di Biases.  Mario, a professional photographer, photographed in a thousand poses the more-than-one-hundred-year-old aunt of his grandfather, while sharing her memories of her distant youth: the places of home, the names of relatives, her passion for crocheting.  Like an old film.  It was a little after the end of World War I when Donata and her husband, a stonemason from Scafa, decided to leave Lettomanoppello in search of their fortune overseas.  An undertaking which was, at that time, shared by many in the town of stonecarvers and the surrounding area.  The beginning of a new life in a big city, and, after a few years, tragedy: "Her husband" -recounts Marcella Di Biase - "died in a traffic accident the same day that their second son was born."  And so Donata found herself alone, with three children to raise.  She became a seamstress, a trade she had learned in the old country, and which - like crocheting - she had never forgotten.
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