June 30, 2014

The Italian American Museum Presents "The Marquis of Roccaverdina"

Book Presentation
by Santi V. Buscemi

Thursday, July 24th (6:30pm)

An engrossing and moving story, The Marquis of Roccaverdina (1903), is a psychological tour de force, which analyzes the life of a Sicilian aristocrat forced to choose between his passion for a beautiful peasant woman and the demands of a moribund social structure that preclude his marrying below his station. Attempting to resolve the dilemma, he makes a decision that leads to a life tortured by jealousy, guilt and self-recrimination.

Italian American Museum
155 Mulberry Street
(Corner of Grand and Mulberry Streets)
New York, NY 10013

Suggested donation of $10 per person

To reserve a place for these events, please call the
Italian American Museum at (212) 965-9000 or email: ItalianAmericanMuseum@gmail.com

June 29, 2014

The Legacy of Pietro Montana

Victory With Peace by Pietro Montana
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
“My wish has been to send light into the darkness of men’s hearts, and to be the servant of a noble purpose . . . art is not a vague production, transitory and isolated, but a power, which must be directed toward the refinement and improvement of the human soul.”  — Pietro Montana, in an address before the Hudson Valley Association *
After stumbling upon Anthony de Francisci's Independence Flagstaff at Union Square, I was keen on discovering other monuments by Southern Italian artists in NYC. I did some digging and found several works. Unfortunately, for some of the artists I've been unable to obtain any biographical information except that they were Italian-Americans. 

I did, however, hit the jackpot at Freedom Triangle in Bushwick, Brooklyn. While taking a ride to Williamsburg with a friend we noticed an extraordinary statue of what appeared to be an angel. We pulled over to take a closer look. According to the plaque affixed to the fence protecting the monument from vandals the artist was Pietro Montana from Alcamo, Italy. "He's Sicilian," I told my friend as I started snapping pictures!

Called Victory With Peace, the bronze statue depicts the Greek goddess Nike (Victory) bearing an olive branch. Crowned with a laurel wreath and wearing a Greek chiton the winged deity cradles a sword in her right arm. She stands on a granite pedestal with an inscription carved around its base dedicated to the ninety-three neighborhood men who fought and died in the First World War. The 19th Assembly District Committee erected the monument in 1921. Continue reading

Masaniello and the Revolt of Naples, 1647-1648

Tommaso Aniello by Onofrio Palumbo
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
By Giovanni di Napoli
"The Revolution, like Saturn, devours it's children" – Georg Buchner
The Revolt of Naples was a popular uprising by the Neapolitan lazzaroni (lumpenproletariat) and disaffected bourgeoisie against Spanish tyranny and the complicit nobility. As the cost of financing Spain's role in the Thirty Years War became increasingly unbearable, tensions among those most burdened were simmering to a boil.

The insurrection began on July 7, 1647 when the fruit-vendors of Pozzuoli refused to pay an excessive tax on produce imposed by the crown. The rebels' leader was Tommaso Aniello d'Amalfi (nicknamed Masaniello), a poor fisherman from the slums of Vico Rotto al Mercato. During a mock battle between lazzaroni and “Saracens” at the Festa della Madonna del Carmine, Masaniello and his lieutenants (dressed in Muslim garb) instigated a riot among the participants. Crying, "Long live the king and down with bad government!” they set fire to the hated tax station in Piazza Mercato. Fed up with their oppressive overlords, other disgruntled tradesmen soon joined the revolt. Appeals were made to King Philip IV of Spain, but money was desperately needed for the war against France. The Spanish viceroy, Rodrigo Ponce de León (the Duke of Arcos) and his retinue took refuge in the Castel Nuovo.

Like a spark in a tinderbox the revolution quickly spread throughout the provinces. Reprisals were meted out to the most abusive lords. Amongst those targeted by the mob, was the reviled Don Giuseppe Carafa. Torn to pieces, his mutilated corpse was dragged through the streets. The violence was immortalized in a painting by renowned Neapolitan artist, Domenico Gargiulo, better known as Micco Spadaro (1609-1675). In fear of losing the colony the Duke of Arcos conceded to the Neapolitans' demands and abolished the tax. Masaniello was elected Capo del Popolo and the riots were momentarily quelled. Continue reading

June 28, 2014

An Author in Search of a Cause

Luigi Pirandello – the Instrument of Creation

Luigi Pirandello
By Niccolò Graffio
“Well, if you want to take away from me the possibility of representing the torment of my spirit which never gives me peace, you will be suppressing me: that's all. Every true man, sir, who is a little above the level of the beasts and plants does not live for the sake of living, without knowing how to live; but he lives so as to give a meaning and a value of his own to life.” – Luigi Pirandello: Six Characters in Search of an Author, 1921.
It has often been said that tragedy and comedy are two sides of the same coin. Indeed, most comedies seem to arise out of tragedies. The late stand-up comedian Richard Pryor is an excellent example of this phenomenon. For years he regaled audiences, both black and white, with tales of his childhood in the slums of Peoria, Illinois. Audiences would regularly howl with laughter at his stories of living in bone-crunching poverty, abuse at the hands of his elders, substance abuse and trying to avoid falling into the “tender mercies” of street gangs. One has to wonder, though, how many people would think all this funny if it happened to them, or how many others laughed simply because it was better than crying.

Tragedy, therefore, while lamentable, can also be a source of inspiration for those fortunate enough to be born with the creative spark that allows them to put feelings into words and convey their meaning to others. This has been done not just with the genre of Comedy, but Drama as well (among others). The subject of this article is one such man. One who, in spite of the various tragedies that overshadowed his life, put pen in hand and gave the world some of its more memorable literature, as well as helping to reshape modern theater. Continue reading

June 26, 2014

A Look at the 2014 Sons of San Paolino Procession and Barbecue, Franklin Square, New York

Evviva San Paolino!
Photos courtesy of Bobby Maida
Thank you Bobby for sharing your wonderful photos of the Feast of San Paolino in Franklin Square, Long Island (Saturday, June 21st).

Each year the Sons of San Paolino di Nola sponsor a Procession and Barbecue in honor of their beloved patron, San Paolino di Nola. Festivities included live music and an all-day Barbecue.
The color guard lead the way
Sons of San Paolino on the march
Devotees pin donations to the statue 
Number 1 Capo Paranza Tony Torello with his beautiful daughter Nola 
Photographer Bobby Maida on the other side of the camera
Giglio Girls Je C Jean and RoseAnn
Kids get in the spirit
The Giglio Band 
Mike, Nicky and Ralphie man the grill

Also see:

A Look at the 2014 Dressing of the Giglio, Franklin Square, New York

First the frame of the giglio is erected
Photos courtesy of Bobby Maida
Every year the Sons of San Paolino di Nola of Franklin Square, Long Island erect an elaborate three story giglio in honor of their beloved patron, San Paolino di Nola (Friday, June 20th)These photos show the dedication of the builders and all the hard work that goes into "dressing" the votive tower. Thank you Bobby Maida for sharing them with us.

The Feast kicked off yesterday at St. Catherine of Siena Church (33 New Hyde Park Road) and will continue through Sunday, June 29th. The Dancing of the Giglio will take place on Saturday, June 28th at 4pm, with a special late night lift at approximately 10pm.
Workers scale the tower and attach the various papier mâché segments
Saint Anthony is lifted into position 
Saint Catherine of Siena is added 
San Paolino takes his place of honor at the base of the giglio
Finally, a decorative partition is affixed to the platform 
Before and after

Also see:

Announcing the 76th Annual Saint Ippolito Festival, Leslie, Michigan


June 25, 2014

A Look at the 2014 Feast of Saint Anthony, Lynbrook, Long Island

Evviva Saint Anthony!
Photos courtesy of Marcantonio Pezzano
Thank you Marcantonio for sharing your wonderful photos of the Feast of St. Anthony in Lynbrook, Long Island (Sunday, June 22). Each year the St. Anthony Italian Benevolent Society of Lynbrook, NY sponsor a Mass and Procession in Greis Park in honor of their beloved patron, Saint Anthony of Padua. Festivities included live music and an all-day picnic, with plenty of delicious Italian delicacies.
Getting ready to start the Procession
An Adorable Little Saint Anthony enjoys some popcorn 
A detail of the statue's pedestal

June 24, 2014

Feast of San Giovanni Battista

Viva San Giovanni!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
June 24th is the Feast of San Giovanni Battista, or Saint John's Day. In Southern Italy, Saint John's Eve (June 23rd) is traditionally celebrated with bonfires known as Saint John's Fire. The bonfires were part of an ancient purification ritual connected with the June solstice. Sometimes called "Summer Christmas," the Feast is a celebration of the Birth of Saint John the Baptist, the herald of Jesus Christ. As my name day, the Feast has an additional special significance to me. Buon onomastico to my fellow Duesiciliani named Giovanni! To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer to Saint John the Baptist. The accompanying photo of the Battesimo di Cristo by Gerolamo Starace-Franchis (Napoli, notizie dal 1754 al 1783) was taken during my 2010 visit to the Museo Civico di Castel Nuovo in Napoli.

Prayer to Saint John the Baptist

O God, You raised up Saint John the Baptist to prepare a perfect person for Christ. We call upon Saint John's intercession to properly prepare us with a true sense of repentance to receive Your grace and salvation. Make us faithful to truth and justice, as You did Your servant, John the Baptist, herald of Your Son's birth and death. Lord, may You increase Your life within us. Amen.

June 23, 2014

Feast of Santa Agrippina di Mineo

Evviva Santa Agrippina!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
June 23rd is the Feast Day of Santa Agrippina di Mineo, virgin and martyr. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer to Saint Agrippina.* The accompanying photo was taken at an outdoor shrine on Battery Street in Boston's North End. Boston is home to many descendants of Mineo, Sicily, and they pay tribute to their patroness each August with a beautiful Feast in her honor.

Prayer to St. Agrippina

O glorious virgin and Martyr Agrippina your cruel executioner bound you to prepare you for martyrdom. Pray for us that our hearts will also be bound always to God's holy love, Let us pray fervently. May devotion to Saint Agrippina Endure for ever. Amen.

* Prayer courtesy of the Saint Agrippina Di Mineo Benefit Society of Boston

The Neglected Genius: Giambattista Vico of Naples

Giambattista Vico 
b. June 23, 1668 — d. Jan. 22-23, 1744
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Niccolò Graffio
“I don’t believe in any science, but my imagination grows when I read Vico in a way that it doesn’t when I read Freud or Jeung.” – James Joyce (Ellman, Richard: James Joyce. 2nd ed. pg. 693, New York: Oxford UP, 1983)
The simplest definition of history is the branch of knowledge dealing with past events. Though it is admittedly an oversimplification, one could argue that human history is created by basically two types of people: doers and sayers. The doers could also be termed “people of action”; those who make their mark by engaging in activities that significantly alter the world, for better or worse. Examples of this sort include Alexander of Macedon, Christopher Columbus, the Wright brothers and Albert Einstein.

Sayers, on the other hand, are those who, through the printed and/or spoken word, seek to alter the world around them by impressing their thoughts on others. Examples of this sort include Kong Qiu (Confucius), Niccolò Machiavelli, Thomas Paine and Karl Marx. Continue reading

June 22, 2014

Death of Ruggero d'Altavilla (Roger I of Sicily)

Ruggiero il Normanno
The facade of the Palazzo Reale di Napoli
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
Dextera Domini fecit virtutem. Dextera Domini exaltavit me. (The right hand of God gave me courage. The right hand of God raised me up) – The inscription on Roger's shield following his victory at Cerami (Quoted from The Normans in Sicilyby John Julius Norwich)
June 22, 1101 Marks the death of Ruggero d'Altavilla (Roger de Hauteville).
The Norman arrival in Southern Italy began in the eleventh century. According to tradition, in 1016 a group of pilgrims drove away a band of Moslem raiders plaguing the Lombard Principality of Salerno. Grateful and impressed with the Normans' martial prowess the Lombards invited them to stay. Word quickly spread through the halls of Normandy about the opportunities for soldiers-of-fortune and it wasn't long before the rival lords of Southern Italy were employing Norman freebooters in their wars. Continue reading

Feast of San Paolino di Nola

Viva San Paolino!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
June 22 is the Feast Day of San Paolino (Saint Paulinus), Bishop and Patron of Nola. To commemorate the occasion, I'm posting a Prayer to San Paolino. The accompanying photo was taken at the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 

Prayer to San Paolino

O Lord, You made Saint Paulinus renowned for his love of poverty and concern for his people. May we who celebrate his witness to the Gospel imitate his example of love for others. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Also see:

June 21, 2014

Happy Summer!

Apollo (Photo by New York Scugnizzo)
In celebration of the summer solstice, or midsummer, I would like to share a poem by the great Sicilian poet and 1959 Nobel Laureate Salvatore Quasimodo from The Night Fountain: Selected Early Poems translated by Marco Sonzogni and Gerald Sawe, Arc Publications, 2008, p. 48-49. The accompanying photo of Apollo was taken at the Temple of Apollo (below) in Pompeii. In addition to being the god of music, poetry and prophecy, Apollo was, of course, the god of the sun.


The untouched soul, in the airy batiste apron,
with sacred gesture spreads seeds.

You have to love her with pure eye,
when her naked feet skim the earth
and the sun burns the silk of her hair:
because the earth is her temple
and the sun is her Lord.

L'anima intatta, nel vaporoso grembiule di batista,
con gesto sacro, sparge la semente.
Bisonga amarla con occhio di purezza,
quando i suoi piedi nudi sfiorano la terra
e il sole le brucia la seta dei capelli:
ché la terra è il suo tempio,
e il sole suo Signore.

Temple of Apollo, Pompeii (Photo by New York Scugnizzo)

June 18, 2014

Feast of San Calogero

Viva San Calò!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
June 18th is the liturgical Feast Day of San Calogero, the Calcedonian hermit and miracle-maker. Widely venerated throughout Sicily, he is one of the principal patrons of Sciacca, Torretta, San Salvatore di Fitalia and Agrigento, among others. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer in Honor of San Calogero. The accompanying photo was taken at Most Precious Blood Church, National Shrine of San Gennaro in New York City's Little Italy.

Prayer to San Calogero

O glorious San Calogero, turn your gaze to us and hear our prayer. You have been sent by God to radiate in Sicily the light of the Gospel. You served with penance to seek God in the solitude. You taught the way of salvation and virtue. All call upon thee miracle worker, because by your intercession God gave speech to the dumb, health to the sick, hearing to the deaf and sight to the blind. Save us from danger and grant the graces we ask of you. Amen

Blessing of the Fleet in New Haven Connecticut

Photo courtesy of the St. Andrew The Apostle Society
Sunday, June 22nd at 1pm
New Haven Long Wharf Harbor
New Haven, Connecticut 06511

St. Andrew The Apostle Society will be hosting their annual Blessing of the Fleet in honor of St. Andrew the Apostle who was a fisherman. The Society would like to wish all the boaters and their families / friends a happy and safe boating season!

Anyone interested in attending the ceremony please sign up on Facebook.

June 17, 2014

A Look at the 2014 Giglio di Sant’Antonio in the Bronx

"Dancing the giglio" outside Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli

What a difference a day makes. Friday’s thunderstorms were long gone without a trace, giving us ideal weather conditions for Saturday’s giglio lift outside Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Belmont, Little Italy of the Bronx (627 East 187 Street, The Bronx 10458). Celebrants came from far and wide to partake in the celebration, including a large contingent of lifters (paranza) from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This year's giglio paid homage to Sant'Antonio, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and San Paolino, Bishop of Nola.
Full steam ahead
(Above and below) The paranza at work
Detail of San Paolino on the giglio
Hurts so good
The excitement of the giglio spans generations
Veteran lifters Dom and Frank
Years of lifting has left its mark
The Giglio Band 
Joe Peluso sang a heartfelt rendition of Ave Maria 
Festive facade of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church
A sea of support
Marching with purpose 
Sant'Antonio inside OLMC
Also see:

For more photos visit us on Pinterest