How to find/contact a family member in Milan, Italy?
June 26, 2014 10:44 AM   Subscribe

Looking for ways to find/contact a lost family member in Milan, Italy. Suggestions welcome.

I have not seen this person since some time between 1990 and 2000 (I was very young, cannot remember well), but have reasons to think they still live in Milan, Italy. This is a sibling of my mother, but my mother also lost contact completely around 2002. Their gender is unknown to me. (really!) I only have a name, an approximate birth date, and a vague knowledge that this person is (or was) relatively well-off and an artist.

Internet search returns no results, but this is not surprising as this person was always very secretive. It looks like this person is actively looking to avoid online presence (Google reports results were removed due to EU privacy laws), which I respect and am thus reluctant to write the name here in clear.

So I think my question is really "how to reach this family member?"
The reason is that I want to know more about their mother (my grand-mother), as my mother believes this is the only person who really knew their family history.

Answers could include:
- any directory of people or artists in Milan which I overlooked;
- references to other people currently living in Milan who would be willing to look around for me;
- tips / addresses of local private investigators that are also English-speaking.
posted by knz to Human Relations (8 answers total)
I think you should clarify why your mother can't provide more info, especially regarding the gender of her own sibling. Whatever it is, I think that'll be the first stumbling block for anyone ...
posted by intermod at 11:01 AM on June 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Seconding intermod: is there a reason you can't ask your mom about the sibling's gender?

Also ask your mother what schools she herself went to, as siblings often go to the same schools. Ditto church, for finding the sibling's exact birth date (might be in baptismal/confirmation records). And does your mother have any cousins or other relatives you could contact, and maybe go at this sideways?
posted by easily confused at 11:14 AM on June 26, 2014

I found some long lost friends in Madrid using Facebook.
posted by Flood at 11:15 AM on June 26, 2014

@easily confused: my mother and her sibling separated from each other when they were very young, both living in Spain; the sibling moved to Italy while my mom went to board school in France. When the sibling would visit afterwards (very rarely), the visits were very short and largely impersonal (brief health update, present exchange, that was all). Birth records would indeed reveal the exact birth date, but the sibling was always ostensibly advertising a much younger age than reality, so chances are they do not go by their original birth date. No cousins or relatives.

@intermod: the sibling advertised a new first name, that they wanted to go by, to my mother in around ~1990 in a way that indicates gender reassignment (different vowel suffix in the Italian language indicate gender); although in my (vague) memory of that time their visual appearance did not show this.
There are no internet records whatsoever for their original name, whereas the new name does pop up indirectly in 2 search results with a matching birth date (exactly 10 years younger), matching location and a photo that suggests gender reassignment. My mom knows absolutely nothing about the life of this sibling in Italy, so it may be that the sibling assumed different genders there and when visiting my mother. But then there may be an entirely different person in Milan with the different name, too; so I can't be sure.

@Flood: I tried Facebook already, no results either.
posted by knz at 11:33 AM on June 26, 2014

Certain male first names in Italian end with a typically female vowel (Andrea, Davide) but are unambiguously male. If you post or memail me the first name I will tell you if it is one of those names.
posted by bq at 12:29 PM on June 26, 2014

One idea, although I can't help on specifics:

An artist will have gallery showings, and those gallery showings may be advertised in the arts/culture section of the local paper. These may be archived either on the newspaper website (which are databases google often can't see) or at a local library (libraries are pretty web-connected nowadays and you may be able to google-translate a passable email in Italian to get help from the reference librarian). Once you find a gallery where they have shown their work, you could contact the gallery and see if you can get an agent or manager's contact. A letter to the manager may be passed on to the artist.
posted by muddgirl at 12:38 PM on June 26, 2014

Another idea - try r/genealogy and r/italy
posted by muddgirl at 12:40 PM on June 26, 2014

I think hiring a private detective in Milan would probably the simplest solution. There's many listings, and some speak English.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:46 PM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

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