The Sicilian Family Tree website has a list of multiple projects where researchers are abstracting the civil records of Sicilian towns.
If your ancestors came from Sicily, check this website before consulting the microfilmed civil records to see of there are indexes which can be used to guide your search. This may be a significant time saver.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
There are several political jurisdictions to be aware of in order to understand how and why the records were created and where they can be found now.
Comune - a town or municipality. Citta ["a" is accented] - a city.
Within a town/city there could be:
1. quartiere [neighborhoods, useful when trying to determine your ancestor's parish];
2. contrada [pl. contrade, like a U.S. township, usually an area of town in the countryside surrounding a town], sometime indicated as l.d. or localita districata [local district];
3. frazione [hamlet under the jurisdiction of a larger town];
The records for all quartieri, frazioni, and contrade of a town/city can be found within the Municipio [town hall]. A second copy of the civil records are kept in the local court, Tribunale, for 75 years then transferred to the provincial archives (Archivio di Stato). Normally, the records would not be available for researching while in the Tribunale. However, FamilySearch is being allowed to microfilm some of their records. Take, for example, the records of Messina below.
Italy, Messina, Messina, civil registration (Tribunale) = Italia, Messina, Messina. Stato civile, 1896-1939
One other designation I've come across, while rare, is:
4. Ex Fuedo - likely meaning country land/estate that used to belong to a landowner in the fuedal system of southern Italy and Sicily. Some of the feudal land is likely still in the hands of the descendants of the original owner, hence this designation.