Here's a link to my trip report on frommers.com www.frommers.com/commu...les-beyond
There are several reports linked together. This was our second trip to 2 of our ancestral towns and my first trip to Calabria.
For my grandmother's town, we found an Italian American association that set us up with some now life long friends who served as our guides. You may want to google a little and see if any of your towns has an association somewhere in the US. It is good to bring a family tree with you, some pictures and if you have a birth act or anything with an address. Then you can see the house where your ancestor was born. On my first trip, I brought those little funeral cards with me that had pictures and birth and death dates.
In my husband's ancestral town, we did not know anyone on our first trip, so we just walked into a little store and started asking questions and everyone and their brother was interested in finding our relatives. LOL. I am sure that if your towns are small, you will have the same warm reception.
When I visited my cousins in Calabria, they took me to the cemeteries and I took pictures of all the tombstones. They have pictures of the deceased on them which is neat. We also visited all the local churches and where my ggf was born and lived. The people were still buried in their tombs. There was one relative whose tomb was still there but it had been stripped of its pictures and marker. All the others were in tact. I also found that each little town had some sort of town history or book. I made sure to get one in each town even if I can't read it right now. LOL. I am sure one day I will be able to do a better job of translating or understanding. Sometimes you can get a book from the local church or the town hall. In my husband's town, people gave us their own old books about the town when we started to ask around if there were any available.
Other random thoughts: take pictures of anything with names like plaques in churches and war memorials.
If you can't get a book, try to get a little prayer card from the local church of their patron saint so you have a little momento of the town