Nestled in the Italian Alps is a quaint, isolated village Casada. Anna Comis wrote a book about its history. Isabel Comis Degenaars shared the story of a family’s immigration to America, into the coal mines of Pennsylvania.
Nestled in a valley of the Italian Alps, near the Austrian border, is the quaint, isolated village known as Casada. Since the 1500s, when raising cows, growing hay, and churning butter was part of daily life, this town has been home to generations of the family Comis.
Isabel "Belle" Comis Degenaars grew up in the United States hearing stories about Casada, her grandparents’ birthplace. When work and food became scarce in the early 1900s, they emigrated from their homeland and took up residence in Pennsylvania where they adapted to the hardscrabble coal miner’s life. Through letters and memories, these Italian immigrants remained connected to the beautiful little village surrounded by the Dolomite Mountains.
In 2010, Belle journeyed to Casada for the first time. While there, Belle learned that her cousin, Anna, had written a book about the town. She obtained a copy of it, worked to translate it into English, and shared it with her father, who was now in his 80s and unable to travel.
What Belle discovered on the written page was an engaging detailed history of the area, from customs to ways of life that will always be cherished and remembered. The book so touched her, she decided to publish it. To the story she added the challenging, harrowing and ultimately victorious experiences of the Comis family as they set down their roots in Pennsylvania and began their new life in America.