Oga


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My sisters and brothers and I and many in the wider family have a huge affection for Poschiavo and San Carlo which was inculcated in us by our parents and grandparents. It encouraged us to discover more about our family history. Our mother’s family name was Rocca, and we learned that our maternal great grandfather Pietro Rocca came from Oga, a hamlet 1550 metres (5000 feet) above sea level, about 6 kilometres from Bormio, in the Valdisotto Comune of the upper Valtellina valley of northeast Italy. Today, it takes about 5 minutes by car on a winding mountain road to reach Bormio from Oga, but in the old days, the journey on the unmade road would take about 1½ hours. The journey time between Bormio and Poschiavo is 37 miles or 60 kilometres. You can travel by train to Tirano then by bus, but the quickest way is by car.

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Oga 2006

Oga is now a small south-facing very popular mountain village surrounded by some of the most beautiful alpine peaks, where one can find accommodation for a walking, biking, or skiing holiday. In the old days, the people who lived there were small farmers and they had to work very hard to survive. The families were large, and they cultivated the land to grow vegetables, and raised animals so that by autumn, the larders and cellars were full, and the families were content. However, when winter came, as in Valposchiavo, the men would go to Lombardy and elsewhere, as cobblers and casual labourers, and send their earnings home. The womenfolk stayed at home to care for their children and older relations. Later, the men went further away to America and Australia and for longer periods, so it was hard for them and for their loved ones left behind. Those who emigrated retained a great love of their homeland, often returning in old age. We are part of that diaspora and I hope the information here encourages subsequent generations’ interest in their family history and a pride in the industry and resourcefulness of their ancestors.

Bormio has a population of about 4,100 and is in the Province of Sondrio, in the Lombardy region of northern Italy. It is the centre of the upper Valtellina valley and today, it is a popular winter sports resort. It hosts the annual Alpine Ski World Cup, and the 2026 Winter Olympics Alpine skiing events will take place here. In addition to modern skiing, walking and biking facilities, the town is noted for its thermal baths which have been an attraction since Roman times. It is also on the road towards the Stelvio Pass, one of the highest road passes in Europe, 2,757 m (9,045 ft) above sea level, and an historic main trading route from Venice to Switzerland.

Because of its strategic position, the pass was subject to foreign rule for long periods. The regions of Lombardy and Veneto in what is now Italy, were part of the Austrian Empire from 1815, and the original road over the pass was built in 1820–25 by the Austrians, to provide access these regions. During World War I, Bormio and the area around the Stelvio was on the front line, and there was fierce fighting between Italian troops who fought with the Allies, and Austrian soldiers. The remains of military camps and trenches and other wartime artefacts can still be seen today. In 1919, after Italy had defeated Austria-Hungary, the regions became part of Italy, and the pass lost its strategic importance.

Since World War II, Bormio and Oga have seen a boom in tourism, as a venue for both summer and winter holidays, or for visitors to the famous spas. The town has a unique medieval centre, with Romanesque architecture that has been beautifully preserved in local museums, churches and palaces, and there are many restaurants, cafés, and bars to welcome the tourists.


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Bormio from Oga, 2007

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Ski run in summer, Bormio, 2008

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Old house in Oga, 2007

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Ski chalet in Oga today


The information about our Rocca family has been gathered from many sources within and outside the family, and I am very grateful to those who helped me in this respect. It is very satisfying to discover new material about our ancestors and to add some substance to a name or photograph. I hope that in the future, someone in the next generation of our family will take the research further, but I believe it is important to share what is available now.

You can trace your Rocca ancestors on the “Recorded names” list and on the Family Tree tab, back to the early part of the nineteenth century. There is also a descendants list of the Rocca family under the “Ancestors” tab in the Rocca History section of the menu.