Tommaso Cobellis was from Ancellara near Vallo della Lucania and Mount Gelbison, on which is the Shrine of the Madonna del Sacro Monte of Novi Velia.
The Cobellis family established itself in the Cilento, when a judge named Tommaso Cobellis, Tommaso’s ancestor, moved from Calabria to Novi Velia in the year 1540. The judge married the niece of a priest from Ancellara, the town where he built the Cobellis mansion and where Tommaso was born.
The youngest of two sisters and four brothers, Tommaso was the son of an army colonel who served in both World Wars. He never married and lived his entire life in the mansion that his ancestor built. His paternal grandparents had 12 children.
Tommaso loved the Cilento, which so many immigrants left for the United States. He founded the organization Cilentani nel Mondo, and visited most of our emigrants around the world: in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Australia and elsewhere. He described and illustrated the places and friends he had visited in his book, La Nave della Speranza (The Ship of Hope). Upset at the mistreatment of his uncle and godfather Fabrizio Cobellis by the American government during World War II, he avoided visiting the United States until later. Dr. Fabrizio Cobellis, a chemist and Italian emigrant to Pennsylvania in 1905, conducted research on synthetic rubber, resulting in the award of two U.S. Patents. While at war with Italy, and concerned that his knowledge might be shared with the enemy, the U.S. government prohibited Dr. Cobellis from communicating with Italy and his Italian relatives.
Later, moved by the strong desire to visit his uncle’s grave in Pennsylvania, Tommaso finally came to the United States, becoming great friends with the Cilentani there. He visited several times to meet most of the Cilentani in America, resulting in his second book, Tra I Cilentani degli Sati Uniti (Among the Cilentani in the United States).