December 12, 2018

Malta Walks NYC (December 2018)

This Tuesday, December 18th, at 7:30 PM join the Order of Malta Auxiliary for their monthly “Malta Walk” street ministry. Volunteers meet every third Tuesday of the month at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral parish house at 263 Mulberry Street in lower Manhattan to prepare and distribute food to the homeless.

Anyone interested in supporting this noble endeavor can contact the Order of Malta Auxiliary at or call 917-566-3937. For additional information, the Order can be found on Facebook at

December 11, 2018

Meridiunalata VIII: A Bilingual Offering of Duosiciliano Poetry

Inspired by Cav. Charles Sant'Elia's Meridiunalata/Southernade,* an evocative bilingual (Neapolitan/English) collection of poetry written between 1989 and 2010, we offer the reader an accessible introduction to vernacular (Neapolitan, Sicilian, et al.) verse with the aim of awakening enthusiasm for contemporary and historical poesia Duosiciliano
In this installment we're featuring the Neapolitan poetry of Pino Rispo D.R. 
Storia e civiltà
Di Pino Rispo

Penzanno te veco..
E sempe cchiu forte te sento..
Sì museca rint’’o core...
Ca se rregn’’e passione..
Fra poco stamme ‘nzieme..
E ddimane chesti rime...
Sarrane penziere d’ajere
Trovo sempe ‘o mutivo pe’ te penzà...
Pecchè ogge sacce chi songo...
E pecchè me trovo ccà...
Je apparteng’â ‘nu populo
Semplice cu tanto ‘e dignità
Fatto prigiuniero e no libberato
Ca ogge ancora d’’a l’italia
Abbandunato e discriminato
Ma ogge assaje se só scetate..
E cu ‘e ffiglie ll’ore ‘e chesta
Storia nosta n’hanno parlato
Dimane apparten’â ll’ore
L’italia ca venette arrubbà...
‘E chisto nnemico c’avimma libberà
Pecchè nuje tenimme
‘Nu mare ‘e storia e civiltà!!

History and Civilization
By Pino Rispo

Reflecting I see you..
And ever more strongly I feel you..
You're music in my heart...
That fills with passion..
In a little bit we'll be together..
And tomorrow these rhymes...
Shall be thoughts of yesterday
I always find a reason to think of you...
Because today I know who I am...
And why I find myself here...
I belong to a people
Simple with so much dignity
Taken prisoner and not freed
Still today left by Italy
Abandoned and discriminated against
But today so many have woken up..
And with their children they have spoken
Of this history of ours
Tomorrow belongs to them
The Italy that came to steal...
We have to free ourselves of this enemy
Because we have
A sea of history and civilization!!

Translated by Cav. Charles Sant’Elia

* Self-published in 2010, Meridiunalata/Southernade is a treasury of poems gleaned from Cav. Sant'Elia's previous collections (Nchiuso dint''o presente, 'A cuntrora, and 'O pino e l'éllera), which were circulated among friends in New York City and Naples. Special thanks to Cav. Sant'Elia for allowing us to reprint his poetry and translations.

December 10, 2018

Translation of the Holy House of Loreto

Evviva Maria!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
December 10th is the Feast Day of the Translation of the Blessed Mother's Holy House from Nazareth to Loreto, a hilltop town near Ancona in the central Italian region of the Marche. Before arriving to Loreto, however, the sacred dwelling first moved to Tersatto in Dalmatia (Croatia) in 1291, after the defeat of the Crusaders in the Holy Land. Appearing out of nowhere, many miracles have been attributed to the house, including the healing of the town's ailing Bishop. With the Moslem conquest of Albania in 1294 the house miraculously moved again, first to a wooded area near Recanati, then settling in Loreto. In the 15th century, the magnificent Basililca della Santa Casa was built around the Holy House, becoming one of the most popular and revered Marian shrines in the world.
Patroness of aviators, Our Lady of Loreto is also petitioned by new and potential homeowners. In commemoration I'm posting a Prayer to Our Lady of Loreto. The accompanying photo of The Translation of the Holy House of Loreto (ca. 1510) by Saturnino Gatti (L'Aquila 1463–1518) was taken at the Metropolitan Museum of art.
Prayer to Our Lady of Loreto
Our Lady of Loreto, Our Glorious Mother, we confidently turn to you; receive our humble prayer. Humanity is troubled by great evils, which it wishes to overcome on its own, and is in need of peace, justice, truth and love, yet thinks it can find these divine realities away from your Son.
O Mother! You, who carried the Divine Savior in your immaculate womb and lived with Him in the Holy House that we venerate on the Loreto Hill, grant us the grace to seek Him and imitate His example, He who leads us to salvation.

December 9, 2018

Photo of the Week: Narcissus or Dionysus at Axel Munthe's Villa San Michele in Anacapri

Edicole with bronze Narcissus or Dionysus
at Axel Munthe's Villa San Michele in Anacapri 

Photo by New York Scugnizzo

December 8, 2018

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Virgin of the Immaculate Conception
(ca. 1680) Gilt bronze and silver, probably
after a model by Lorenzo Vaccaro 
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
December 8th is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, when the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived free from the stain of original sin by virtue of the merits of her son Jesus Christ. It is also the patronal feast day of the United States of America and the former Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer to the Immaculate Conception. The accompanying photo of the gilded statue of Virgin of the Immaculate Conception was taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Buona Festa dell'Immacolata!
Prayer to the Immaculate Conception
O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son, we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve Her from all stain, so too You would permit us, purified through Her intercession, to come unto You. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.

December 7, 2018

Feast of Sant’Ambrogio

Evviva Sant'Ambrogio!
December 7th is the Feast Day of Sant’Ambrogio (St. Ambrose), Confessor and Doctor of the Church. Protector of the Sicilian comunes of Cerami in Enna, and Buccheri in Siracusa, St. Ambrose is also, inter alia, the patron saint of Bee keepers, candle makers and students. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer to St. Ambrose. The accompanying photo was taken at Saint Michael's Church (29 Wooster Place) in New Haven, Connecticut
Prayer to St. Ambrose
O God, You give blessed Ambrose to Your people as a minister of eternal salvation; grant, we pray You, that as on earth he was a teacher of supernatural life, so we may deserve to have him as our intercessor in heaven. Amen.

December 6, 2018

Feast of San Nicola di Bari

Viva San Nicola!
December 6th is the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas the wonderworker, patron saint of children and sailors. His generosity and love for young ones is the inspiration for the modern day Santa Claus. 
Born in the Lycian city of Patara in the third century, Saint Nicholas dedicated his life to God and served as bishop of Myra until his death in 343 AD. Many miracles were attributed to him and his tomb became a popular destination for pilgrims. The Saint's bones also exuded manna, a clear liquid that was reputed to have healing properties. 
In 1087, after Myra fell under the control of the Seljuk Empire, Barese mariners spirited his relics back to Bari before they could be desecrated. The translation of his relics to the Basilica di San Nicola was cause for celebration and each May 9th, with great fanfare, the Barese reenact his arrival by taking a statue and icon of the Saint out to sea and back again. The miracle of the manna continues to this very day. Holy water infused with the precious liquid is distributed to the faithful. 
To commemorate the occasion, I'm posting A Prayer For Children. The accompanying photo of Saint Nicholas was taken at Saint Dominic RC Church in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York.
A Prayer For Children
God, our Father, we pray that through the intercession of Saint Nicholas you will protect our children. Keep them safe from harm and help them grow and become worthy of Your sight.
Give them strength to keep their Faith in You, and to keep alive their joy in Your creation. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen

Also see: Photo of the Week: St. Nicholas, the Fasting Child

December 5, 2018

One Day Suddenly

My Napoli scarf with the coat-of-arms
of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
One day suddenly, Vesuvius will erupt, and fire will wash this city of (expletive). Cholera and salmonella, but you are still here. What is the epidemic, that will annihilate you. Ale ale ale, Vesuvio ale ale. ~ A coarse spoof of the Napoli anthem “Un giorno all’improvviso” sung by A.S. Roma fans*
Jeered by a passerby the other day for wearing my S.S.C. Napoli scarf, I was reminded of a dicey incident that took place during my last trip to Italy. While sporting a Napoli shirt in a rival city, I was warned by a concerned stranger that I was offending some locals and it was a potentially dangerous situation. Alone in a foreign country, I found it prudent to heed his advice and leave the premises before things got out of control. But that was in la Bel Paese (the beautiful country), where they live and breath calcio (Italian football), not New York City. 
Unlike the heated arguments we regularly get into over local sports affiliations, I don’t ever recall getting into a row with someone here (friends aside) for being a Napoli supporter. In fact, thanks to their impressive style of play, rooting for Napoli has become somewhat fashionable these days, with many a frontrunner singing the current team’s praises. Far from getting upset by the encounter (after all, “suffering” for the team is a badge of honor and comes with the territory), the antagonist and I exchanged a few verbal barbs before parting ways.
Oddly enough, I was not altogether unsympathetic with my adversary, who took umbrage with me following a foreign team and not supporting Major League Soccer (MLS). However, in my defense I was rooting for Napoli long before there was a MLS and, at the risk of sounding “un-American,” I feel more kindred to the city of Naples on a visceral level than I do to my own hometown, which becomes more and more unrecognizable to me with each passing day.
Back in 1997 and ’98 I did attend a few NY/NJ MetroStars (now NY Red Bulls) games at Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands, but remained altogether unimpressed with MLS. While fans of the league have accused me of being a “football snob,” the truth of the matter is I’m fervently loyal to Napoli and the only homegrown team I would even consider following is the New York Cosmos, who I watched play as a child. As an aside, the revived Cosmos under Calabrese American cable magnate Rocco B. Commisso, along with ten other clubs, are currently affiliated with the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) and are set to debut in the spring of 2020. 
I was first introduced to calcio in high school, thanks to my new friends who were the children of immigrants from southern Italy, mostly Sicily. Being Neapolitan American, I instinctively started rooting for Napoli, while my classmates were all oddly diehard fans of northern Italian teams like Juventus, A.C. Milan and Inter Milan. Naturally, with such passionate and knowledgeable (tor)mentors, it didn’t take long for me to learn the intricacies of the game and adopt the historical rivalries. The regional pride and identity connected to the team's fanbase were well suited to my nascent Neobourbon political views.
The lone Napoli supporter in the bunch, my team and I were incessantly poked fun of, especially in the ’90s when the club began to decline. Since my friends are southerners themselves, the banter never reached, even during our most intense exchanges, the egregious levels of “territorial discrimination” we witness today in the terraces in Italy. For example, opposing ultras (fanatical fans) from the north often cheer on Mount Etna and Mount Vesuvius in the hopes that the two potentially dangerous volcanoes will erupt and wipe southern Italy off the face of the planet. 
A crude meme, curiously circulated in English
Even though I'm no ultra, my attraction to the sport has always been the medievalesque pageantry and martial aspects associated with them. In my mind’s eye the songs, choreographed clapping, and flying of one’s colors looks like warring city states cheering on their favorite condottieri or mercenary company, especially since nowadays many of the players in Serie A (Italian football’s top flight league) are not autochthonous. Not surprisingly, this picturesque passion and local particularism, clearly connected to Italy's legendary campanilismo (extreme localism), is an aspect of the sport that modern football (calcio moderno) is trying to suppress and do away with.

As to be expected from tifosi (fans) of winning teams, my friends count silverware and Scudetti (championships), while I take solace in knowing that through thick and thin I remain loyal to the team that represents the city I carry in my heart. Their respective clubs—Juventus, Milan and Inter—won a combined 24 out of the last 28 titles since Napoli last finished top of Serie A in 1989/90. U.C. Sampdoria, S.S. Lazio and A.S. Roma each won once, while in 2004/05 the Scudetto wasn’t awarded after first place Juventus and runners up Milan (among others) were implemented in the notorious match-fixing scandal known as Calciopoli
Napoli’s ascendancy, as well as being the sole representative of the south in the ongoing 2018/19 Serie A campaign, has been a source of pride. The team looks strong and expectations are high. Though not without criticism, owner and prominent movie mogul Aurelio De Laurentis and his war room have built a team worthy of the city. Not since the glorious Diego Maradona years (1984–1992) has there been so much optimism and belief in the Scudetto. 

All said, in the end all that matters is that the lads respect the shirt and give it their all on the pitch. More than just a game, calcio is, as the cliché says, “a way of life.” It is a mentality; a culture imbued with ardor and élan. One's regional pride and dignity are at stake. It may be considered “backwards” and “dangerous” by the governing bodies trying to sanitize, monetize and globalize the sport, where each team and fan base become cookie cutter copies of one another, except with different colored uniforms, but they are learning that for some of us old loyalties die hard. Forza Napoli sempre! 
One day suddenly, I fell in love with you. My heart was beating, don’t ask me why. Time has passed, but we are still here, and now as then, I defend the city. Ale ale ale, Ale ale ale. ~ One day suddenly (Un giorno all’improvviso)
* Quoted from

Medusa at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Private Met Museum Tour of Dangerous Beauty: Medusa in Classical Art

Saturday, December 15 at 6:15 PM

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, New York City
$25, Adults; $17 Seniors

Join Allison Scola, owner and curator of Experience Sicily, with fellow 2019 tour co-hosts, Danielle Oteri (Owner of Feast on History and Arthur Avenue Food Tours) and Tony Allicino (Wellness practitioner) for a private tour of Dangerous Beauty: Medusa in Classical Art at The Met museum in New York City.

Danielle Oteri, an art historian and certified Met guide, will lead us through this phenomenal exhibition that explores the connection between beauty and horror.

Register Now

December 4, 2018

Feast of Santa Barbara

Evviva Santa Barbara!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
December 4th is the Feast Day of Santa Barbara of Nicomedia, virgin and martyr. One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, she is invoked against lightning, fire and diseases. Widely venerated across southern Italy she is the principal patroness of Sommatino (CL), Paternò (CT), Gravà (CT), Tremestieri Etneo (CT), Castellana Sicula (PA), Villaggio Mosè (AG), Malò (ME), Francavilla di Sicilia (ME), Davoli (CZ), Amaroni (CZ), Salento (SA), and Corleto Monforte (SA), among others. 
To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a prayer in her honor. The accompanying photo of the saint was taken at the Museo del Duomo in Ravello.
Prayer to Saint Barbara
O God, Who didst adorn Thy holy virgin and martyr Barbara with extraordinary fortitude in the confession of the Faith, and didst console her in the most atrocious torments; grant us through her intercession perseverance in the fulfilment of Thy law and the grace of being fortified before our end with the holy sacraments, and of a happy death. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Around the Web: IA Power Hour History of the Italian American Experience, Parts 2 and 3 of 4

IAP 77: POWER HOUR: A Power Hour History of the Italian American Experience, Part 3 of 4: Americans of Italian Descent: 1941 – Present
The moment you’ve all been waiting for is finally here! Part Three of the Power Hour’s Four-Part History of the Italian American Experience has arrived. This week, our entire team reassembles for a boisterous meal at one of our favorite Italian American restaurants to bring you ‘Americans of Italian Descent: 1941 – Present.’
We will dig into the latest chapter in the Italian American story with topics ranging from our community’s role in the Second World War to the era of Sinatra the entertainer and Sinatra the community leader, through the founding of our earliest national institutions and into the 80’s and 90’s and the decades of the Italian Americans. The incredible historical episodes are interspersed with our own personal anecdotes and recollections in what is definitely a must download part of our impassioned look into our history. Listen to the episode
IAP 75: POWER HOUR: A Power Hour History of the Italian American Experience, Part 2 of 4: Italians in America: 1890 – 1941
Hot on the heels of Part 1, Before We Were Italians: 1492 – 1890, of our four-part Power Hour series on Italian American history, join John, Pat, and Dolores as they delve into Part 2 with “Italians in America: 1890-1941.”
If you enjoyed Part 1, you won’t want to miss this next chapter in the Italian American story, covering the Great Migration, the New Orleans lynchings, the Italian American role in the First World War, and our community’s relationship to Fascism. All that and a wealth of random knowledge make this episode one you will want to listen to over and over again! Listen to the episode

Celebrate the 2018 Feast of Santa Lucia in NYC with Experience Sicily

Photo courtesy of Experience Sicily
Sunday, December 9th (2PM-5PM)

Cacio e Vino
80 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Join Experience Sicily in New York City to celebrate the Feast of Santa Lucia on December 10th.

The afternoon includes a short concert of Sicilian folk songs and folk music presented by the duo Villa Patagonia. 

$60/person, includes full Sicilian feast menu, wine, entertainment, raffle ticket, tax and gratuity. Reserve Now!

About the Feast of Santa Lucia
In the days leading up to the Feast of Santa Lucia, December 13th, many Sicilians refrain from eating pasta and only eat un-ground wheat grain, or "farro," that is prepared as a dish called cuccìa. Devotees observe this ritual to remember the severe famine that struck Siracusa and Palermo in 1646.

During that time of Spanish domination, the faithful prayed to their patron saint, Lucia, seeking relief. Finally in May during a mass, a squawking quail flew into the duomo in Ortigia (NB, the name "Ortigia" comes from the Ancient Greek word "ortyx," which means quail.). At the same moment, a messenger entered the church announcing that ships had arrived carrying wheat grain. All hailed it a miracle, attributing the relief to Santa Lucia having answered their prayers.

Now, annually for her feast day in December devotees process her precious silver statue through the streets and only eat cuccìa and arancine as homage to the patron saint of eyes, sight, light, and wheat.

December 3, 2018

Photo of the Week: Copy of Dionysus at Axel Munthe's Villa San Michele in Anacapri

Copy of bronze bust of Dionysus in the loggia at
Axel Munthe's Villa San Michele in Anacapri, Capri
Photo by New York Scugnizzo

Discovering Calabria in Las Vegas, Nevada

Thursday, December 6th (6:00pm–7:30pm)

Sahara West Library
9600 W Sahara Avenue
Las Vegas, Nevada 89117

Come hear Karen Haid, international award-winning author of Calabria: The Other Italy, share the beauties and wonders of Calabria, a fascinating Italian region at the heart of the Mediterranean. Drawing on her four-year experience, living and working in this lesser-known corner of the bel paese, Karen will explore the history, culture, landscape and culinary specialties of Calabria, with a special glimpse into Italian Christmas traditions. Her non-fiction book, praised by Publisher’s Weekly as “an intoxicating blend of humor, joy, and reverence for this area in Italy’s deep south,” will be available for purchase and signing.

Free and open to the public. For more information, please call 702.507.3631.

Neapolitan Music for Christmas

Looking for some last-minute stocking stuffer ideas? Wrap up your Christmas shopping with a culturally rewarding gift. I highly recommend these CDs featuring 17th and 18th century Christmas music from Naples.

• Peppe Barra: La Cantata Dei Pastori

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• Francesco Durante: Neapolitan Christmas I

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• Francesco Durante: Neapolitan Christmas II

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• Christmas in Naples

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All are available at

December 2, 2018


Zampognari figures at the MET
The Sunday nearest to the Feast of Sant’Andrea Apostle on Nov. 30th is the beginning of the Western Church’s liturgical year and the season of Advent (Adventus in Latin, which means "coming" and "arrival."). It is a time of prayer, charity and fasting in which the faithful are admonished to worthily prepare ourselves for the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ and the second and final coming of our King and Savior. Familiar southern Italian customs include the making and displaying of ornate presepi (Nativity Scenes) and traditional bagpipe music performed by zampognari and pifferari (pipers and fifers). To commemorate the occasion I’m posting a Prayer for Advent. The accompanying photo of lifelike zampognari figures was taken at the 2015 Metropolitan Museum of Art's Annual Angel Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche exhibit.
Advent Prayer
Father in heaven, the day draws near when the glory of your Son will make radiant the night of the waiting world. May the lure of greed not impede us from the joy which moves the hearts of those who seek him. May the darkness not blind us to the vision of wisdom which fills the minds of those who find him. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.

Gioacchino Longobardi Solo Piano in Hudson Falls, New York

Gioacchino Longobardi Solo Piano

Performing works by Johann S. Bach, Francesco Durante, Leonardo Leo, Giuseppe Sarti, Mattia Vento, Domenico Scarlatti, and Gian Francesco de Majo
Friday, December 7,  2018
7:00 - 8:00

Tickets at the door $12

Strand Theater
210 Main Street
Hudson Falls, New York 12839

New Books (December 2018)

Forthcoming titles that may be of interest to our readers. Available at
Magnificent Interiors of Sicily by Richard Engel, Samuele Mazza and Matteo Aquila
Publisher: Rizzoli
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Hardcover: $65.00
Language: English
Pages: 244

After Vesuvius: Treasures from the Villa dei Papiri by Kenneth Lapatin
Publisher: J. Paul Getty Museum; 1 edition
Publication Date: July 16, 2019
Hardcover: $65.00
Language: English
Pages: 295
Click here to see more books
Listing does not imply any endorsement

December 1, 2018

The Cracotan Paper Stock Men of New York (Part 10)

1930s Paper Stock—The photograph above shows a typical paper stock truck of the 1930s. Many of these vehicles continued in service until after WWII.
Reprinted from the December 2018 Craco Society Bulletin
The 1930s saw a decade of consolidation of Cracotan business owners in the paper stock. During this period two generations were able to work together in these family owned businesses to solidify the gains that were made earlier.
The first generation that had arrived at the turn of the century was joined by their sons in running the businesses. The younger generation business practices that were learned in schools augmented the practical experience their fathers had from years in business. This second generation would carry the businesses forward for the next several decades.
With the arrival of the Great Depression there was an increased emphasis on conserving and reusing goods as part of the frugality mindset that was prevalent before the consumer culture began to replace it in the1950s. 
For the paper stock industry, this was a boon as manufacturers sought the waste products they recycled. By the end of the decade war broke out in Europe increasing demand and generating higher prices for waste paper. Although the US would not enter the war until the end of 1941 the federal government, in anticipation, set up the Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply. Among the actions the agency took was to control and stabilize prices for waste paper. Working in conjunction with dealers they established a price based on the “New York Market” that buyers agreed to use in purchasing the bailed paper. Prices were established at $11-$16 per bailed ton depending on the grade of paper. This is equivalent to $192-$275 in today’s dollars and gave the paper stock dealers room to make good profits. 
In addition to the sale of the baled papers, there were also additional sources of income for the businessmen. These included charging for waste removal for some customers that had low grade paper (for example office waste). They were also able to recycle other items found in the waste paper such as bottles, metals, and postage stamps. The Cracotan paper stock men emerged for the Depression in good shape but would face the challenges of WWII shortly. 
Also see:
The Cracotan Paper Stock Men of New York (Part 9)
The Cracotan Paper Stock Men of New York (Part 8)
The Cracotan Paper Stock Men of New York (Part 7)
The Cracotan Paper Stock Men of New York (Part 6)
The Cracotan Paper Stock Men of New York (Part 5)
The Cracotan Paper Stock Men of New York (Part 4)
The Cracotan Paper Stock Men of New York (Part 3)
The Cracotan Paper Stock Men of New York (Part 2)
The Cracotan Paper Stock Men of New York

December ~ A Poem by Michele Sovente

Photo by New York Scugnizzo
Reprinted from Dialect Poetry of Southern Italy: Texts and Criticism (A Trilingual Anthology) edited by Luigi Bonaffini, Legas, 1997, p.275.


Cora caruta ammiezo
'i ffoglie 'i dicembre
quanno addisegna 'u cielo
vie storte senza na ràreca.
Chello ca nun se rice
s' 'u pporta nu camje
ca 'ncoppa 'i pprete s' appenne.
Acqua moppeta rinto
'i ssajttelle, cu ttanta streppuni
e rrote carute, 'a faccia
'i ll' acqua nisciuno 'a sape.
'I ffoglie a dicembre addiventano
serpienti e liuni



A tail fallen among
December leaves
when the sky draws
crooked roads leading nowhere.
What isn't said
is taken away by a truck
scrambling up stony paths.
Water swirling
in the cesspits, with so many cores
and tires fallen in, no one
knows the face of the water.
The leaves in December become
snakes and lions.

(Translated by Luigi Bonaffini)

This Month in History (December)

Historical events from each month of the year
The Pipes of the Mezzogiorno
The bagpipes are an ancient instrument, dating back thousands of years; they're even mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 4:21). Here in America we normally associate the bagpipes with the Irish and Scottish, who have a long and storied tradition with this wonderful instrument. However, many Americans, even those of Italian ancestry, are unaware that Italy has an ancient bagpipe tradition of it's own. Ironically, this tradition is not in the North where there was more Celtic influence, but rather in the South, with its ancient Hellenic heritage. Continue reading
December 2
The Mustard Gas Disaster at Bari Harbor
World War II is without a doubt one of the most devastating events to affect humankind since the last ice age. The war and the conditions it caused killed close to 3% of the planet’s human population, mostly European, and finally ended with the use of atomic weapons against two Japanese cities. In most wars there are events that participating governments would rather people forget. One of these events occurred on December 2nd, 1943, when a German air raid destroyed an American ship containing mustard gas in Bari Harbor. Continue reading
December 15
Francesco Messina
Francesco Messina was born on December 15, 1900 in Linguaglossa, a small town near Catania, languishing in the shadow of Mount Etna. Like many other poor Southerners he grew up outside his native Sicily, residing wherever his family could find work.
Instead of making the arduous trip across the Atlantic to the United States his father decided to try his luck in Genoa, a major port of call during the Mezzogiorno's post-unification diaspora. Continue reading
December 25
The Seeds of the Kingdom
Walking along the streets of Palermo, Sicily, one gets the feeling of being in a nexus of worlds. Whether one gazes at the Teatro Massimo opera house (the largest in Italy and third largest in Europe), strolls through the Church of Santa Teresa alla Kalsa (an outstanding example of Sicilian Baroque architecture!), walks along the ancient streets of La Kalsa with its many vendors, or peers at the mosaics in the Palazzo dei Normanni, one cannot help but notice the many cultural imprints left by this city’s former rulers. Continue reading
December 26
The Eighth Wonder of the World: Frederick II Hohenstaufen King of Sicily; Holy Roman Emperor
The Kingdom of Sicily, founded by Roderigo (Roger) II on Christmas Day, 1130 passed to his fourth son Guglielmo (William) I upon his death on February 26th, 1154.  Growing up, Guglielmo had little expectation of ever becoming king.  Over the period of 1138-48 his three older brothers (Roderigo, Tancredo and Alfonso) all died under different circumstances, dramatically changing his fortunes. Continue reading
December 28
The Day the Earth Moved: The 1908 Messina Earthquake Remembered
Archaeologists tell us that in the roughly 2,000 centuries our species has walked the earth we have only enjoyed the "creature comforts" of what we call civilization for about 60 of those centuries.  This transition certainly did not occur overnight, and if one goes by the headlines, there are those who still have yet to become civilized. Continue reading
December 29
Discovering the Blue Vase of Pompeii
Discovered at Pompeii on December 29, 1837, in the presence of King Ferdinand II, the Blue Vase is regarded by many to be the Naples National Archaeological Museum's most prized possession. Considering the institution's vast collection of antiquities from Pompeii, Herculcneum and Stabiae (not to mention the famed Farnese collection) that's quite a claim. 
The Blue Vase is said to have been found in the House of the Mosaic Columns during a Royal inspection. Some have suggested it was planted to impress the noble visitors. Apparently, it was not uncommon for excavators to inhume their finds and wait for an opportune time to unearth the treasure in order to keep their patrons excited and the funds coming in. Continue reading

November 30, 2018

Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle

Saint Andrew pray for us
November 30th is the Feast Day of Saint Andrew the Apostle, patron of fishermen and protector of Amalfi. To commemorate the occasion, I'm posting a Prayer to Saint Andrew. The accompanying photo of the Saint was taken at the memorial mass for the deceased members of the Saint Andrew Society at Saint Michael's Church in New Haven, Connecticut. At the turn of the 20th century, large numbers of immigrants from Amalfi settled in New Haven, so its not surprising the veneration of the Saint is strong there. Viva Sant'Andrea!  
Prayer to Saint Andrew
O glorious Saint Andrew, you were the first to recognize and follow the Lamb of God. With your friend, Saint John, you remained with Jesus for that first day, for your entire life, and now throughout eternity. As you led your brother, Saint Peter, to Christ and many others after him, draw us also to Him. Teach us to lead others to Christ solely out of love for Him and dedication in His service. Help us to learn the lesson of the Cross and to carry our daily crosses without complaint so that they may carry us to Jesus. Amen.

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in East Harlem, New York

November 29, 2018

Divine Liturgy for Her Royal Highness’ Eternal Memory in Blessed Repose in Park Slope, Brooklyn

HRH Princess Carmen di Borbone
Sunday, December 2nd at 11am

Church of the Virgin Mary
216 8th Avenue
Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY 11215

The US Delegation will hold a Divine Liturgy in the Greco-Albanian Catholic Rite for the repose of the soul of HRH Princess Maria del Carmen di Borbone of the Two Sicilies on Sunday, December 2nd at 11AM at the Church of the Virgin Mary (8th Ave & 2nd St) Park Slope, Brooklyn, NYC. Mantles and Mozzetta to be worn.

The SMCSG has historically included in its rites the Byzantine Catholic Divine Liturgy as well as the Latin Liturgy.

Rosa Tatuata's Christmas Extravaganza

• Thursday, December 13th at the Queens Public Library, Maspeth Branch, 69-70 Grand Avenue, Maspeth, NY 11378
• Friday, December 14th at The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts Center, 605 Main Street, Middletown, CT 06457
Join ROSA TATUATA for an afternoon concert celebration of Christmas songs from Sicily and Southern Italy. Enjoy the festive music and folk instruments that have been a Christmas tradition for centuries and are still a vibrant and beloved part of modern day Christmas celebrations. Come meet our zampognaro: the bagpiper whose presence is identified with Christmas music throughout Southern Italy. Spend the afternoon making merry with us!
Venite ad ascoltare i ROSA TATUATA per un concerto di pomeriggio delle canzoni natalizie della Sicilia e del Meridione. Godetevi la musica festiva e gli strumenti folk che facevano parte della tradizione natalizia per secoli e che fanno ancora una parta vivace e amata delle feste moderne. Venite ad incontrare il nostro zampognaro, di cui la sua presenza è identificata con la musica natalizia nel Meridione. Passate il pomeriggio festeggiando con noi.