April 29, 2014

Calendar of Events for May, 2014

Featured Southern Italian Feasts & Festivals

Il Regno cannot be held responsible for changes in dates or venues so please be sure to confirm with the organizers.

Festa dei Serpari
(Feast of the Snake Handlers)
May 1st, 2014
Cocullo, Abruzzo

Every year on the first Thursday of May, the Serpari, or snake-handlers of Cocullo (a small mountain village in the Abruzzo), dress a wooden statue of San Domenico with snakes outside his shrine. After mass, the idol, with it's reptilian shroud, is paraded through the village by a throng of euphoric pilgrims and the curious. Many of the faithful carry snakes as well. It's considered good luck when the serpents slither around the saint’s head. 

San Domenico, the abbot of Foligno, was a renowned healer, especially of toothaches. He is also credited with building monasteries in the region and driving away wolves and snakes, a common motif symbolizing Christianity's triumph over paganism. But as with so many Christian rites in Southern Italy, the festival is seeded in pagan worship. The Marsi, an ancient warlike tribe native to the region, worshipped the telluric snake-goddess Angitia, who has power over serpents and great healing powers, particularly with snakebites.

La festa di I Tri da Cruci (The Feast of the Three Crosses)
May 3rd, 2014
Tropea, Calabria

Tropea's annual Festival of The Three Crosses commemorates the day three sacred wooden crosses were placed in the Chiesa di San Michele Arcangelo (delle anime del Purgatorio). During the celebration, the Calabresi recall the expulsion of the Saracens from Tropea ("The pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea") who for centuries harried the Coast of the Gods (Calabria's northern seaboard) for tribute and slaves. In what's facetiously called, il camjuzzi I focu, or "the dance of the burning camel," an effigy of the hated Muslim "tax-collector" is paraded around town then set aflame with fireworks to the delight of the revelers.

The festival also evokes the memory of the town's victorious soldiers (especially the heroic Condottiero, Gaspare Toraldo, who captured a Turkish ship and her crew—including it's Captain, Rais Zesbinassan) at the Battle of Lepanto on October 7th, 1571. The famous sea-battle represents Europe's miraculous triumph over the menacing Ottoman Empire.

Festa di San Nicola 
(The Feast of Saint Nicholas)
May 7th–9th, 2014
Bari, Puglia

Each year, the people of Bari (in the Puglia region of Southern Italy) celebrate the arrival of San Nicola's bones to their seaside town by taking a statue of the Patron Saint from the Basilica di San Nicola out to sea and back again. The reenactment commemorates the rescue of the holy-man's relics in 1087 by Baresi merchants in Asia Minor from the advancing Seljuk Turks, who routinely desecrated Christian shrines and icons during their conquest of the Byzantine Empire.

On May 9th the miracle of il manna di San Nicola is observed. A clear liquid, said to have miraculous heeling properties, exudes from the Saints bones. It is collected and distributed to the faithful.

Sfilata deo Turchi e Festa di San Gerardo (Procession of the Turks and the Feast of St. Gerard)
May 29th, 2014
Potenza, Basilicata (Lucania)

Potenza's annual Festa di San Gerardo recalls the town's desperate defense against Saracen raiders. Mooring their galleys on the Basento riverbank, a band of corsairs made their way towards the unsuspecting townspeople of Potenza. Legend has it that if not for the miraculous appearance of San Gerardo, flanked by angels, the town would have suffered the usual horrific fate met by so many other unfortunate victims of piracy across the Southern Italian seaboard—death or slavery. The sight of the celestial host before them caused panic among the marauding infidels, allowing the city's defense to organize and drive them off.

The Saint's intercession is celebrated with a magnificent parade called Sfilata deo Turchi or The Procession of the Turks. Dressed in picturesque costumes—Christian knights on horse and foot and Turkish pirates (including the Grand Vizier on a horse drawn carriage) complete with replica slave ships—march along the parade route. Children dressed in white—representing angels—and the effigy of San Gerardo follow them, to the crowd’s delight.

After the parade the celebrants are treated to jousting competitions and horse races.

Festa della Madonna delle Milizie (The Feast of Our Lady of the Militia)
May 31st, 2014
Scicli, Sicilia

Southwest of Cava d'Ispica, in the province of Ragusa on the isle of Sicily, lies the Baroque jewel of Scicli. Each year the locals celebrate the miraculous triumph of Count Roger of Hauteville over the Saracens in 1091. 

The festival commemorates the divine intercession of the Madonna on behalf of the Norman forces at a critical point in the battle. Overwhelmed by the paynim's superior numbers and fearing defeat Count Roger invoked the aid of the Virgin. Mounted on a white charger and dressed in full military regalia Our Lady appeared on the field-of-battle, leading the Normans to victory. The victory was of great importance for the Christian reconquest of the island.

As part of the jubilant festivities the people of Scicli dress in period costumes (Christian and Saracen) and parade an equestrian statue of the Madonna with much fanfare through the bustling streets. Among the local delicacies served for the occasion is a delectable cream puff shaped like a turban called testa di turco, or Turkish heads. 

A painting immortalizing the battle can be found inside the Chiesa Sant'Ignazio, Scicli's beautiful eighteenth-century Duomo.

April 26, 2014

Feast of Our Lady Crowned

Viva Maria!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli

The last Saturday of April is the Feast Day of Our Lady Crowned (Madonna Incoronata), an ancient tradition dating back to the beginning of the second millennium A.D.  To commemorate the occasion, I'm posting Praise to the Queen of Heaven (Salvi Rigina), a traditional Marian prayer from Prayers and Devotional Songs of Sicily, edited and translated by Peppino Ruggeri.(1) The accompanying photo was taken at St Lucy's Church, National Shrine of Saint Gerard in Newark, New Jersey.  

According to legend, the Count of Ariano got lost while hunting in the forest near the River Cervaro in Foggia, Puglia. He took refuge in a nearby cottage when the woods turned unusually dark. At dawn the Count noticed a bright light shining through the trees. Drawn to the mysterious radiance, a vision of the Madonna appeared before him. Wearing a magnificent crown and levitating above a large oak tree the Blessed Mother revealed a statue of the Black Madonna perched in the branches. Awestricken, the Count promised to build a chapel to house her miraculous icon.

Soon after, a shepherd named Strazzacappa, who was grazing his oxen close by, was also drawn to the light. Immediately recognizing the vision as the Blessed Mother, the humble herdsman set up a makeshift votive lamp with his caldarella beneath the tree in her honor. It is said that the oil was not consumed by the flame.

The Count fulfilled his vow and news of the miracle spread far and wide. The shrine quickly became a popular destination for devotees and those making the pilgrimage to the nearby Sanctuary of the Archangel Michael at Monte Sant'Angelo in the Gargano peninsula. Today, after several renovations, the Basilica Santuario Madre di Dio Incoronata is a major religious center visited by thousands annually. The Black Madonna and a branch from the oak are still on display.

Praise to the Queen of Heaven

Hail to you Mary, Mother of Mercy
Life, sweetness, and spring of joy
In you we trust when in trouble or pain
To you we come when we are in tears
In affliction your comfort we obtain.

Hear our pleas, our sweet defender
Virgin Mother with all sorrow laden
To our God you prayers direct
Because our actions have no effect
The door of paradise open to all
When death for comes to call

(1) Prayers and Devotional Songs of Sicily, edited and translated into English by Peppino Ruggeri, Legas 2009, p.139

April 25, 2014

Feast of the Madonna delle Armi

Viva Maria!
Photo courtesy of Olivia Cerrone
By Giovanni di Napoli

April 25th is the Feast of the Madonna delle Armi, or Our Lady of the Cave.(1) She is the patroness of Cerchiara di Calabria, an ancient town in the province of Cosenza, in northeastern Calabria. The accompanying photos (courtesy of Olivia Cerrone) were taken at the Santuario Santa Maria dell Armi on the slopes of Mount Sellaro above Cerchiara. Built in the fifteenth century over the ruins of a Byzantine monastery, the sanctuary houses a sacred stone depicting the Blessed Mother and Child.

According to legend, in 1450 a group of hunters from nearby Rossano were tracking a stag through the oak woods of Mount Sellaro. As they closed in on their prey the animal ascended the rocky ridge and squeezed into a small cave in the side of the mountain. The huntsmen followed the deer into the crevice, but to their surprise the animal was nowhere to be found; instead they discovered two wooden tablets depicting the Holy Evangelists. Excited about their discovery the hunters decided to take the icons back to Rossano. Continue reading

April 23, 2014

Feast of San Giorgio

Viva San Giorgio!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
April 23rd is the Feast Day of San Giorgio di Lydda (St. George of Lydda), patron saint of valor, chivalry and soldiers. He is also the protector of Reggio Calabria, Modica, Ragusa, Prizzi and Barano d'Ischia, among other towns throughout southern Italy. In commemoration of the great warrior saint I'm posting a Prayer to Saint George. The accompanying photo was taken at Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary and Saint Stephen's Church in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

Invocation of Saint George

Faithful servant of God and invincible martyr, Saint George; favored by God with the gift of faith, and inflamed with an ardent love of Christ, thou didst fight valiantly against the dragon of pride, falsehood, and deceit. Neither pain nor torture, sword nor death could part thee from the love of Christ. I fervently implore thee for the sake of this love to help me by thy intercession to overcome the temptations that surround me, and to bear bravely the trials that oppress me, so that I may patiently carry the cross which is placed upon me; and let neither distress nor difficulties separate me from the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Valiant champion of the Faith, assist me in the combat against evil, that I may win the crown promised to them that persevere unto the end. Amen

April 21, 2014

Pasquetta (Little Easter)

Having a rare Easter Monday off, I took advantage of the beautiful weather and decided to celebrate Pasquetta (Little Easter) the southern Italian way. After picking up a few necessities at the local bakery and salumeria, I packed my basket and visited a nearby park to soak up some sun, enjoy the outdoors and get some much needed rest and relaxation. Normally, this would be done with friends and family, but unfortunately, my loved-ones were not as lucky as me and had to work. So instead, I spent my day reading and reflecting in moments of quiet meditation. Buona Pasquetta!

The 'Ndrezzata

Gulf of Naples
By Giovanni di Napoli
At the northern periphery of the Gulf of Naples lies the enchanting Island of Ischia. Steeped in history and legend, this jewel of the Tyrrhenian is the birthplace of the 'Ndrezzata, a traditional folk dance whose origins are shrouded in mystery. Twirling with increasing speed, armed participants strike and parry with wooden swords and mazzarelli (cudgels) in a dance, some say, symbolizes the war between the sexes (or nymphs and satyrs). Depending on whom you ask, there are any one of a number of stories offering an explanation.
According to one legend the 'Ndrezzata was taught to local villagers by the island's nymphs. It was supposed to remind them of happier days when the spirits of the wood gaily danced to the celestial sounds of Apollo's golden lyre. During the sybaritic festivities the sun god fell in love with the beautiful nymph, Coronis, and the two conceived a child, Asclepius, the god of healing and medicine. Blessed, the island became famous for its therapeutic qualities. Continue reading

April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

The Resurrection by Arturo DiModica
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
On behalf of everyone here at Il Regno, I want to wish all our readers a very Happy Easter! Buona Pasqua! In celebration I'm posting The Tomb, a traditional Sicilian prayer reprinted from Prayers and Devotional Songs of Sicily, edited and translated into English by Peppino Ruggeri, Legas, 2009, p. 94-95. The accompanying photo of the Resurrection by Sicilian-American sculptor Arturo DiModica was taken at the Italian American Museum in 2010.
The Tomb
Holy tomb, which often has been visited
With blood you have been made clean
For two days you were washed
So us sinners you could redeem.

O Sipurcu
O Sipurcu visitatu
chi di sangu fustu lavatu
fustu lavatu pi quarantottu uri
pi nuiautri peccaturi.

April 19, 2014

Via Crucis (The Way of the Cross)

Bensonhurst’s Traditional Good Friday Procession
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Yesterday, members of several Italian American Catholic societies gathered outside Edward B. Shallow Junior High (6500 16th Ave.) in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn for the annual Good Friday Candlelight Procession. Despite the unseasonably cold weather, celebrants showed up in force to participate in this wonderful tradition. Led by the Most Reverend Raymond F. Chappetto, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn, we made our way through the neighborhood praying and reciting in Italian the Way of the Cross. The nearly two-hour long procession concluded outside St. Dominic Church (2001 Bay Ridge Parkway) for the Benediction with the Relic of the True Cross. Following the closing ceremony, parishioners lined up to receive flowers, say a prayer and touch the statues of the Madonna Addolorata and Dead Christ.

For more photos visit us on Pinterest

April 18, 2014

Venerdì Santo (Good Friday)

Ecce Homo by Antonello da Messina (Sicilian, c. 1425—1479),
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
On behalf of everyone here at Il Regno, I want to wish all of our readers a Blessed Good Friday! In commemoration, I’m posting a prayer as well as several photos of southern Italian artwork depicting the Passion of Jesus Christ.

Good Friday Prayer

O Jesus, Who by reason of Thy burning love for us hast willed to be crucified and to shed Thy Most Precious Blood for the redemption and salvation of our souls, look down upon us here gathered together in remembrance of Thy most sorrowful Passion and Death, fully trusting in Thy mercy; cleanse us from sin by Thy grace, sanctify our toil, give unto us and unto all those who are dear to us our daily bread, sweeten our sufferings, bless our families, and to the nations so sorely afflicted, grant Thy peace, which is the only true peace, so that by obeying Thy commandments we may come at last to the glory of heaven. Amen.

Pilate Washing His Hands by Mattia Preti (Calabrese, 1613—1699),
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Terracotta Stations of the Cross in Savoca, Sicily
(L-R) Saint Veronica offers her veil to Jesus and Fallen Jesus
Stabat Mater, painted ceramic tiles in Vietri sul Mare
The Lamentation of Saints John the Evangelist and Mary Magdalene by Roberto d'Oderisio (Neapolitan, active 1340—1382), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Madonna Addolorata and the Dead Christ, Duomo di Ravello
Photos by New York Scugnizzo and Niccoló Graffio

April 17, 2014

5th Annual Italian Music Festival

Featuring International Pop-Classical Crossover Artist performing contemporary and classical Italian songs 




Presented by Il Console Generale d’Italia a Filadelfia, Widener University, l’Associazione Regionale Abruzzese Delco, l’Associazione Regionale Abruzzese DelVal, OSIA and the XII of October Historic Lodge OSIA 

Widener University Alumni Hall 
E. 14th Street at Alumni Walk (Across from University Center) 
Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 7:00PM 
Donation: $15.00 Make checks payable to ARADelco 

IL Console Generale d’Italia a Filadelfia, Widener University, I’Associazione Regionale Abruzzese Delco, I’Associazione Regionale Abruzzese DelVal, Pennsylvania Order of Sons & Daughters of Italy and the Historic XII of October Lodge are proud to announce the return of International Pop-Classical Crossover Artist, Micheal Castaldo, who will be returning to perform contemporary and classical Italian songs at the 5th annual Italian Music Festival, April 30th at 7:00pm, at Widener University’s Alumni Hall. 

This will be Micheal’s second appearance for the annual concert series. Micheal’s last performance was met with such a positive response, and in consideration with his current tour we were able to bring him back for this year’s event. For more information about Micheal, please go to www.michealcastaldo.com

Opening up the concert will be IL Coro Gabriele D’ Annunzio. They will perform the National anthems of the U.S.A. and Italy followed by a selection of traditional Abruzzese folk music. 

Tickets for the event will be $15, with a limited number of seats available. To purchase tickets or any additional information, please contact Nicholas Rapagnani (610)874-4149, Lucille Nazzario (610)544-8718, Dr. Thomas Benedetti (215)514-5964 (Widener University) or visit our website, www.abruzzidelco.com 

April 16, 2014

Announcing the 93rd Annual Feast of Saint Sebastian, Middletown, Connecticut

For more info visit St. Sebastian of Middletown on Facebook

Anthony V. Riccio's New Oral Histories Collection Illuminates Experiences of Italian American Working Women

SUNY Press

Albany, NY -- In the first half of the twentieth century, Italian American women were born into a life of work. From as young as four or five years old, they were expected to assist in the house or on the farm, leaving school if necessary, to help support the family. The stories of these women, who could keep up with any man, have been mostly provided by narratives from a male perspective. This book changes all of that.

Farms, Factories, and Families: Italian American Women of Connecticut (Excelsior Editions/SUNY Press) offers new insight into the Italian American experience. The women speak and reflect on how they could work just as long and hard as men--and did. Anthony V. Riccio's women chop wood, heft fifty-pound bags of vegetables, and operate dangerous machinery in the factories, while also cooking, cleaning, and sewing for the family.

Farms, Factories, and Families
documents the rich history of Italian American working women in Connecticut as they resisted a claustrophobic, patriarchal society to become empowered as foreladies, union officials, and shop stewards. Their legacy lives on in this collection of tales of sacrifice and perseverance, often punctuated by laughter, and brimming with courage and determination.

About the Author:   
Anthony V. Riccio is Stacks Manager at the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University. He is the author of The Italian American Experience in New Haven: Images and Oral Histories and Boston's North End: Images and Recollections of an Italian-American Neighborhood, and the coauthor, with Silvio Suppa, of Cooking with Chef Silvio: Stories and Authentic Recipes from Campania¸ also published by SUNY Press.

Book Facts:
July 2014 / 423 pages
Trim size: 9 x 9 
55 b/w photographs
$29.95 jacketed hardcover ISBN 978-1-4384-5231-9

April 11, 2014

The Italian American Museum Presents a Dramatic Reading of Luigi Capuana's “The Interrogation”

Presented by Prof. Santi V. Buscemi and Dr. William D'Arienzo
You are cordially invited to attend a reading of Luigi Capuana's, "The Interrogation" at the Italian American Museum on Thursday, April 17, 2014.  The Interrogation is a two character play originally written in Sicilian and translated to English by Santi Buscemi.
About the play:
The Interrogation (‘Ntrrugatoriu) is a play in one scene with two speaking parts.  A murder suspect speaks Sicilian while his interrogator, a magistrate from the north (Piemonte or Lombardia, Capuana suggests), speaks Tuscan. This creates a linguistic contrast that underscores the alienation of the southern poor (the accused is a barber) in a state ruled by the arrogant northern bureaucracy of nineteenth-century Italy. The magistrate speaks in a cerebral, formal, and distant voice, while the accused is passionate and engaging, if not always honest. As such, Capuana is able to address differences in class, and he critiques the political reality under which the people of the Mezzogiorno suffered. But the dialogue in this exciting, suspense-filled play goes beyond politics. Capuana believed that our fate was determined largely by forces outside our control: the environment, economics, and our animal biology. An expert at exposing human motives found at the lowest depths of the psyche, he wrote several works that remain masterpieces of psychological and emotional intrigue. The Interrogation, which focuses on a man driven to violence by passion, hubris, and jealousy, is one of them.
The Readers:
Santi Buscemi teaches English at Middlesex County College in Edison, NJ. He has published seven textbooks and online learning tools for McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
The son of immigrants from Agrigento, Sicily, Buscemi has translated Luigi Capuana’s C’era Una Volta (published as Sicilian Tales) and The Marchese of Roccaverdina, the writer’s capolavoro. Both were published by Dante University of America Press.
He has also published a translation of The Interrogation, one of Capuana’s Sicilian plays, in the Journal of Italian Translation. In 2012, the play was presented as a dramatic reading at the Italian-American Writers Association in New York City. Other works include “A Vision of Sicily” in Primo magazine, “Meeting Antonin Scalia” in The Times of Sicily.com, and several translations of Capuana’s fairy tales in Italica, the Journal of Italian Translation, and Forum Italicum. He recently completed an online course, The Literature of Sicily: A History, for Dante University of America Press.
Prof. Buscemi has lectured on Sicilian literature and architecture for the Italian-American Heritage Club of Hunterdon County and Dorothea’s House in Princeton, a version of which appears on YouTube. He has also presented scholarly papers on writing, literature, and translation, including one at the University of Natal in South Africa. He is in the process of translating Profili di donne by Capuana and I Vicerè (The Viceroys), a novel by Frederico De Roberto, who with Capuana and Verga, was one of the Sicilian veristi.
William D’Arienzo is the founder and CEO of D’Arienzo Associates in Princeton, NJ, which helps start-up companies achieve their brand strategy objectives and business goals. He is also CEO of ApparelAnalytics, an online consumer research service.
The son of immigrants from Avellino, his education includes a PhD from the New School, and he has been a Ford Fellow and a NEH Fellow at Princeton University. He is an adjunct professor in business at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ, and he founded and manages the Brand Management program at FIT in New York. In 2010, he published By George! Lessons in Leadership from George Washington, CEO and has just completed a textbook entitled The Business of Brand Management.
Dr. D’Arienzo has presented lectures and workshops for members of the wholesale and retail fashion community, and he has designed and led seminars for Ting executives from China and Japan. He has also lectured in Spain, Central America, and India. Last year he spent a month as a visiting university lecturer in China.
Thursday, April 17, 6:30PM
Italian American Museum
155 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10013
Suggested donation of $10
To reserve a place for this event, please call the Italian American Museum at (212) 965-9000 or email: ItalianAmericanMuseum@gmail.com

April 10, 2014

Campania, in Pictures

One of two equestrian statues outside the entrance to the gardens of the Royal Palace in Naples. The statues are copies of the Horse Tamers from St. Petersburg, Russia, and were a gift to King Ferdinand II of Naples from Czar Nicholas I during a state visit to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in 1846
Dear readers, it should come as no surprise that with over three thousand years of history, Campania is a feast for the senses overflowing with artistic treasures and culinary delights. During my visits, I saw many of the magnificent attractions and delightful curiosities the region has to offer. I want to share a few modest photos of the main sites, as well as some of its lesser known gems, for those who share an interest in our ancestral homeland.

Detail of the Portal of the Palatine Chapel by Andrea dell'Aquila, Napoli
Saint Ann and a young Virgin Mary with Saint Lucia and Saint Peter of Alcantara by Pietro Bardellino (Napoli 1728-1820), Museo Civico di Castel Nuovo, Napoli
A Sphinx from Axel Munthe’s Villa San Michele, Capri
A couple of gruesome sea creatures inside the Chiesa dell’Addolorata, Sorrento. Dating “only” from 1739 it is one of the newest churches in Sorrento
Bas relief from the tepidarium, or warm bath, in Pompeii
Campanile at Positano
One of several beautiful paintings in the Duomo di Ravello
A modern monument commemorating Santa Trofimena, Minori
Bronze doors from the Chiesa del Sacro Cuore di Gesù, Salerno
Antique cooking implements from the Agricultural Museum
at Tenuta Vannulo', a water buffalo dairy farm in Capaccio
Lid of the Tomb of the Diver, Archaeological Museum of Paestum
Photos by New York Scugnizzo