May 28, 2015

New Music

Nel Giardino di Partenope — Neapolitan Cello Sonatas

Label: Naxos of America, Inc.
Release Date: June 30, 2015
Audio CD: $18.99
Number of Disc: 2

Available at

Read description

Announcing the 74th Annual Feast of Sant'Antonio di Padova, Elmont, Long Island

For more info contact

May 27, 2015

A look at the 2015 Feast of Our Lady of the Audience, Kansas City, Missouri

Evviva Maria!
Photos courtesy of Robert Kearney
Thank you Robert for sharing with us your wonderful pictures of this year's Feast of Our Lady of the Audience (May 24th). Each year devotees gather at Holy Rosary Church in Kansas City, Missouri to celebrate the Feast of the Madonna dell'Udienza, patroness of Sambuca, Sicily. Festivities included live music, refreshments and the highly anticipated rose petal shower, where celebrants ritually wipe the face and arms of the Blessed Mother and Child with cotton balls and rose petals. 
The procession circles Holy Rosary Church
The church was packed for the celebration
After Mass, the statue is brought out to the expectant crowd
Devotees wipe the statue with cotton balls and rose petals
Afterward, celebrants enjoy some music and refreshments in the church hall
Also see:
A look at the 2014 Feast of Our Lady of the Audience, Kansas City, Missouri
A look at the 2013 Feast of Our Lady of the Audience, Kansas City, Missouri

Announcing the 2015 Festa di San Calogero di Torretta, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

A Look at the 2013 Festa di San Calogero, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

May 25, 2015

For Memorial Day…A Memory of World War II

Cousins: Jimmy, Ricky, Cookie, Tony, Margaret, Ben and Chancey
Photos courtesy of Cookie Curci
By Cookie Curci
Through the years, I've discovered bits and pieces of the past that when put all together make up my extraordinary grandmother Maria Carmela Curci-DiNapoli. I knew that she came to this country as a young immigrant from Italy and married my grandfather Antonio Curci in 1910.
A few years later, she was widowed with three children. I had heard family stories of how Grandma had struggled to find work, to pay her debts and to keep her family together during those difficult years. In all of these stories, one fact remained prominent—Grandma's deep religious devotion guided her through each problem and task.
It was that same devotion that gave her strength to complete the long journey from an orphanage in Tricarico, Italy to the shores of New York harbor, through the interrogation process at Ellis Island and on to California. It was with that same devotion and unwavering belief that she raised her family and built a new life for herself in America.
It's what sustained her all those years. But it was only recently that I would discover yet another missing piece to Grandma's past that would help me know her just that much better. My memories of Grandma begin on an Almaden ranch in the heart of California's prune country during World War II. By then, she had married her second husband, Grandpa Tony DiNapoli, and had settled into rural ranch life, raising a family of seven boys and one girl.
On the surface, there appeared to be little change in Grandma's ranch. Grandpa worked the fields and orchards every day, just as he had done before and grandma tended to the chores and harvesting as usual. But in fact, there had been a big change in the old homestead. The ranch was now without the manpower of their five youngest sons, who were on active military duty somewhere in the Pacific.
Grandma Maria Carmela with her son Tony
Curci, an Air Force pilot (b-25 lieutenant),
and his step father, Tony DiNapoli
Both Grandpa and Grandma would have to work twice as hard now to compensate for the absence of their five strong sons. During WW II, a government issued flag, imprinted with five blue stars, hung in the front window of my grandparents' old farm house. It meant that five of their sons were off fighting in the war. If one of these flags was imprinted with a gold star, it meant the husband or son of that family had paid the full measure of devotion to his country.
Without the boys to work the land, the ranch was shorthanded. Grandma worked doubly hard now to harvest a bountiful fruit crop. During that time, every member of the family pitched in to help, including grand kids like myself. Even so, it was a difficult time for Grandma: rationing was in effect, there was little money for luxuries, and worst of all there was the constant worry over whether her five sons would come home safely to her.
The old ranch was a lovely place, especially in the spring when the orchards were white with plum blossoms and the song of the meadowlarks filled the fields and rolling hills of the surrounding valley. It was this beautiful ranch and returning to grandma and grandpa that their five sons had focused on all during the war years.
In the summertime, while the rest of the family harvested the prune crop, Grandma was in the kitchen cooking up delicious fine Italian dinners. We would all sit on blankets spread out on the orchard ground, enjoying not just the wonderful food, but also the satisfaction of being a part of such an important family effort. To encourage the ripe fruit to fall, Grandpa used a long wooden pole with an iron hook at the top to catch a branch and shake the prunes loose from the trees.
Then the rest of us would crawl along, wearing knee pads that grandma had sewn into our overalls and gather the plums into metal buckets. We dumped the buckets of plums into long wooden trays, where the purple little plums were soon sun-dried into rich, brown prunes. After a long, hard day I would walk hand-in-hand with Grandpa through the orchards while he surveyed what had been accomplished that day.
Ricky, Jimmy, Cookie and Tony
I'd enjoy eating fresh plums off the trees, licking the sweet stickiness from my fingertips. On each of these walks, Grandpa would stoop down and pick up a handful of soil, letting it sift slowly and lovingly through his strong work-calloused hands. Then with pride and conviction he would invariably say: "If you take good care of the land, the land will take good care of you."
It was this respect and belief in the soil that helped bolster his generation. As dark came on the ranch, we'd all gather together on the cool, quiet verandah of the front porch. Grandpa would settle comfortably into his rocker, under the dim glow of a flickering moth-covered light bulb, and there he'd read the latest war news in his newspaper, trying to track the whereabouts of his five young sons.
Grandma always sat nearby on the porch swing, swaying back and forth and saying her perpetual rosary. The quiet squeak of grandma's swing and the low mumbling of her prayers could be heard long into the night. The stillness of the quiet ranch house painfully reflected the absence of the five robust young men. This was the hardest part of the day for Grandma; the silence of the empty house was a painful reminder that her sons were far, far away, fighting for their country.
On Sunday morning, Grandma was back out on the porch, again, repeating her rosary before going into the kitchen to start cooking. Then she and grandpa sat at the kitchen table, counting out ration slips for the week ahead and what little cash there was to pay the bills. Once they were finished, Grandma always took a portion of her money and put it in the sugar crock, placing it high on the kitchen shelf.
I often asked her what the money in the jar was for. She would simply say, "A very special favor." Well, the war finally ended, and all five of Grandma's sons came home remarkably safe and sound. After a while, Grandma and Grandpa retired, and the family farm became part of a modern expressway. I never did find out what the money in the sugar crock was for...until a week or so before last Christmas.
Maria Carmela's
stain-glass window at
Holy Family Church
in San Jose
Completely on impulse, perhaps feeling the wonder of the Christmas season and the need to connect with its spiritual significance, I stopped at a little church I just happened to be driving past. I'd never been inside before, and as I entered the church through the side door, I was stunned to come face to face with the most glorious stained-glass window I'd ever seen. I stopped to examine the intricate beauty of the window more closely. The magnificent stained-glass depicted the Holy Mother and child.
Like an exquisite jewel, it reflected the glory of the very first Christmas. As I studied every detail of its fine workmanship, I found, to my utter amazement, a small plaque at the base of the window that read, "For a favor received—donated in 1945 by Maria Carmela Curci-DiNapoli.”
I couldn't believe my eyes. I was reading Grandma's very words! Every day, as Grandma had said her prayers for her soldier-sons, she'd also put whatever money she could scrape together into her sacred sugar crock to pay for the window. Her quiet donation of this window had been her way of saying thank you to God for sparing the lives of her beloved five sons.
The original church in which the window was placed had long ago been torn down. Through the generations, the family had lost track of its existence. Finding this window at Christmas time, more than half a century later, brought back a flood of precious memories.
Contact Cookie Curci at

May 24, 2015

Photo of the Week: A View of the Amalfi Coast from Ravello, "The City of Music"

A View of the Amalfi Coast from Villa Rufolo in Ravello, La Città della Musica. Photo by New York Scugnizzo

May 23, 2015

Thoughts and Observations

Modest milestone
Our little website recently reached a half million views. Even though this amounts to peanuts in terms of global Internet traffic, it was a nice little milestone for us, especially when you consider how small our niche is, even among Italian Americans. We would like to thank our loyal readers, we value your support and will continue our efforts to the best of our abilities. 
Catching up on my reading
I've been on a huge Ernst Jünger (1895-1998) kick of late, reading The Forest Passage (Telos Press, 2013), The Peace (Henry Regnery Company, 1948) and The Glass Bees (New York Review Books, 2000). I'm currently in the middle of The Adventurous Heart: Figures and Capriccios (Telos Press, 2012) and came across a short passage Jünger wrote about Naples:
"Over the past few weeks I settled in here, as Dottore Pescatore, what the locals like calling the zoologists who work in the aquarium. Situated in the middle of a park stretching along the seashore, it is a cool, monastic place in which fresh and salt water gurgles day and night in great glass tanks. From over my worktable, my glance rests in Castell dell’Ovo, a stronghold the Staufer erected out on the water, and further back, in the middle of the gulf with its form reminiscent of an elongated snail, lies beautiful Capri, where Tiberius once presided with his wantons. 
"Many of my favorites have lived in Naples, among them such diverse characters as Roger of the Normans, Abbé Galiani, King Murat, who wore his medals in order to attract enemy fire, and with him, Fröhlich, whose Forty Years in the Life of a Dead Man is one of our most entertaining life histories. The splendid Burgundian de Brosse and Chevalier de Seingalt also had things to say about the fine hours they passed here." (1)
Ernst Jünger (1895-1998), of course, was a prominent theorists of the German Conservative Revolution. A prolific writer, he is perhaps best remembered in the anglophone world for his World War I memoir Storm of Steel (Penguin Classics, 2004). Jünger is considered by many to be one of Germany's most controversial writers of the 20th Century. His On Pain (Telos Press, 2008), a critique of liberal modernity, is next on my list.
2012 flier
Commemorating the Battle of Bitonto
We’ve had a few inquiries of late about our Annual Battle of Bitonto Commemoration, but unfortunately—due (in part) to conflicts with Memorial Day Weekend—we’ve had difficulties finding a suitable venue and locking down commitments from participants. So until we can come up with a practical solution and are capable of organizing a remembrance worthy of the occasion, our public celebrations and bocce tournaments have been put on the back burner. In the meantime, I will continue to host small-scale private celebrations with friends and family. Viva 'o Rre!
* * *
(1) Quoted from "Frutti di Mare — Naples" an entry in The Adventurous Heart: Figures and Capriccios, Telos Press, 2012, P 33–34

May 22, 2015

Revisiting Philadelphia’s Italian Market

The iconic mural of Mayor Frank Rizzo at the Italian Market 
Photos by Lucian
By Lucian
Recently my wife and I spent a few days in Philadelphia and decided to visit The Italian Market and surrounding area. The last time I was there it was a little disappointing because, like many other Italian neighborhoods, it has changed a lot due to urban renewal and a dwindling Italian population. There was even a recent attempt at changing the name of the Italian Market to reflect a more diverse population, as if our history was something to be swept away and replaced on a whim. This trip felt different, since the market stalls were still closed and I didn’t have to push through heavy crowds that obscured much of what I came to see. The character of the old neighborhood showed through clearly, and in the quieter atmosphere I felt much more comfortable meeting and speaking with the different people that lived and worked in the area. I spotted a few places that I had overlooked on my last trip, and was able to take some pictures. We attempted to eat at Ralph’s Italian Restaurant, but they unfortunately required reservations for that day of the week. Instead we ended up at Villa Di Roma Restaurant and I had some of the best gnocchi I’ve had in years; it simply melted in your mouth.  I’m certainly not a professional photographer but I would like to share some of the pictures of the area I took that day, including the Mayor Frank Rizzo memorial that was vandalized by criminals in 2012, but has been fully restored.
Welcome sign at S. 9th Street and Montrose Street
Sarcone's Bakery
Cannuli Brothers' butcher shop
Di Bruno Brothers' grocery store
St. Paul's RC Church
Memorial in Center City Philadelphia to the three firemen killed in the Meridian Plaza Fire on February 23rd, 1991

A Piece of History at Ferdinando’s Focacceria

Photos by New York Scugnizzo
While waiting for my order (panelle and arancini) today at Ferdinando’s Focacceria (151 Union Street) in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, chef and owner Francesco Buffa was kind enough to show me a couple of pieces of his grandfather’s old carretto (cart) from Carini, Sicily. Intricately detailed, Sicilian carts were often decorated with chivalric motifs, including scenes from the famous Chanson de Roland, an old epic poem based on the legendary Battle of Ronncevaux.

Proudly displayed near the entrance, a painted panel (see above) depicts the death of a paladin during what looks like a duel in front of a band of Saracens. A second panel (see below) with a highly stylized sun and flowers is on display in the dining room. Two ornately carved poles, which Chef Buffa explained to me were used to help fasten down the cart's heavy load, are the only other surviving pieces.

Food is not the only masterpiece at Ferdinando’s.

May 21, 2015

"L'oro di Napoli: All That Glitters Is Gold!"

A Symposium on Naples
A city rich in art, literature, and culture, Naples is often associated only with what might plaque a large city. This symposium is dedicated to Naples and its many splendors. 
Guest of honor is the Honorable Luigi de Magistris, Mayor of Naples. Joining him with be scholar priest Gennaro Matino, also from Naples, as well as Fred Gardaphé (Queens College, CUNY), Stan Pugliese (Hofstra University), Robert Viscusi (Brooklyn College, CUNY), and others. 
The event will be moderated by Anthony Julian Tamburri, Dean of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute.
Thursday, June 4th (6:00 PM)
John D. Calandra Italian American Institute
25 West 43rd Street, 17th Floor
New York, NY 10036
Tel: (212) 642-2094

* Free and open to the public *

Announcing the 2015 Festa di San Cono, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

For more info visit the San Cono Society on Facebook

May 20, 2015

It Takes A Village

Tricarico, Province of Matera, Basilicata 
Photos courtesy of Cookie Curci
By Cookie Curci
Between 1901 and 1910, nearly nine million immigrants came to the United States. Many of the arrivals were young Italians from the small town of Tricarico, 80 miles east of Naples. About 10 percent of the Italians now living in the Santa Clara Valley of California are from Tricarico. 
Unfamiliar with the language and customs of their new country, these hard working aliens settled in the poorer sections of town. Often they worked in industries in which poor conditions—low wages and long hours—prevailed. After years of working and diligently saving their money, they were able to invest in homes, ranches and their own family-run businesses.
Those of us whose parents and grandparents immigrated to this country from Tricarico share a unique feeling of pride at their accomplishments. A thread of pride runs through each of our lives, gently connecting us one to the other.
Down through the decades, children of Tricarico descent have been prominently represented in San Jose, California. They include: Joe Perrucci and his partner Frank DiNapoli, two of the area's most illustrious success stories. Perrucci founded the nationally known Mayfair Packing Company. During the 1940s, his trademark company was known all over the world, as was his company's famous slogan, "Valley Of Heart's Delight" which, for many old-timers, remains the valley's most beloved nickname.
Antonio and Angelo Abate founded the Abate Dairy in 1922. It was a common and beautiful sight for the residents of San Jose to see cows grazing along pastures on the north end of Lincoln Avenue, between San Carlos Street and Paula Street. Angelo personally delivered much of the dairy's fresh milk and cream on his Willow Glen route.    
Other prominent Tricarican descendants include Dan Caputo of Caputo Construction Co., Anthony Tomaci of Tomaci Construction. Attorneys Richard and Paul Caputo (father and son), Doctors Richard and Joseph Cirone (brothers), Dr. Christine (Cree) Gaurdino, San Jose University Professor of Marine Biology Rocci Pisano, and Civil Engineer Frank Pisano, who helped work on the Golden Gate Bridge.
Prominent teachers include: Bill Battaglia, Carol Talty, Richard Cirigliano and Minnie Caputo.
Grandparents on right, 1920
Rocci Pisano, whose parents were among the early immigrants from Tricarico, is a professor of Marine biology, who obtained his degrees at Santa Clara University, San Jose State University, and the University of California at Davis and his doctorate at Stanford University. Professor Pisano was born in San Jose in 1911. As a young man, he vividly recalls how the Tricarico Men's Club first originated. 
"It all began with music," he says, "lots and lots of wonderful Italian tunes. Our music spoke a language all its own that just naturally drew people closer together."
Professor Pisano recalled how the young Tricarican men gathered at his family's Moorpark ranch every Sunday after church. "Someone would bring a mandolin, another an accordion, or maybe a harmonica, and before we knew it, the sweetest music this side of heaven was wafting through our orchards. I remember how our Mama and Papa would clear a smooth surface in the orchard land, and on warm summer nights, with the music of their homeland filtering through the prune trees, they'd waltz together, under the stars, spinning and twirling to their favorite old-world tunes."
"Bilardi, Marzano and Basile, these men were the nucleus of the Tricarico Club," recalls Pisano. "They played music, and cards and reminisced. Soon it became a regular meeting of old friends, family and new arrivals from the old country—sort of a musical welcome wagon."
Other founders included: Rocci, Paul and Joe Paradiso, Joe DiAntonio, Frank Saraniti, Joe Carvelli, Pasquale Mestice and Vincenco Infantino.
Professor Rocci Pisano was one of five children. His older brother Frank Pisano was a civil engineer who helped in the construction of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Frank and his two brothers, Nick and Mike formed the successful Pisano Construction Company. Their only sister Minnie was a teacher of languages at Notre Dame High school. As a devout believer in taking an active part in community and educational programs, Professor Pisano maintains a busy schedule participating in local and state organizations and events.
Nick DiNapoli, a prominent restaurateur and longtime member of the Tricarico Men's club, is a first generation Italian-American who grew up on a local fruit ranch. His parents emigrated here from Tricarico in 1910. He remembers those bitter-sweet days picking fruit with his Papa and seven siblings, and the tedious job of cutting and preserving the "cots" and prunes before laying them out on flat wooden trays to dry.
"If we didn’t finish picking by dark, Papa would run the headlights on his tractor to give us light," recalls DiNapoli, "and, if it rained in the middle of the night, the whole family had to scramble out of bed to stack the trays in order to protect the fruit from damage. It was hard work for a kid, but we never questioned what our Mama and Papa requested of us, somehow we just instinctively knew that it was the right thing to do." Many of the valley’s children were kept out of school for the first couple of weeks in order to finish the picking of the prune crops.
"Family ties and friendship run deep in the Tricarico community," says DiNapoli, who recalls how his Mama would often say of her people, "We were like letters of the alphabet, alone we had little meaning, but together we were part of a great meaning." But Mama had another saying too. She was a little apprehensive about letting strangers into our tight knit family circle and she often said, "You have to eat a ton of salt with someone before you really know them."                 
Maria di Fonti Shrine in Tricarico
Representing San Jose's younger generation of Tricarico ancestry is Dr. Christine (Cree) Guardino, who recently established her chiropractic office on Meridian Avenue. The young Doctor keeps in touch with her family roots by visiting the town of her ancestors. On a recent sojourn to Tricarico, Italy, she looked up her great, great uncle who is 95 years old and still living in the same house where he was born. He's a testament to the little town’s uncomplicated and unwavering lifestyle.
Today, Silicon Valley’s property values have skyrocketed. The land that our fathers bought for a few thousand dollars, is now valued in the millions.
Interstate 280, which opened in 1972 in the Meridian Avenue location created real estate opportunities but also broke up a way of life as ranchers subdivided lots and moved away. Curci Drive, located off meridian Avenue, was named for the Jim Curci family, early Tricarico immigrants, whose large cheery orchard once flourished on the acreage.     
The heritage and traditions of the little village of Tricarico, who gave so many of its people to our valley, continues to endure in the Willow Glen community. Joe Antuzzi is the current president of the Tricarico Men's club, which originated in 1934. Chris Francisco is the President of "The Maria Di Fonti Ladies’ Club" which originated in 1945, and holds monthly meetings and social activities in Willow Glen. 
Chris Francisco, a 45-year member of the Ladies’ Club, boasts four generations of family participating in the Tricarico Men's Club. 
"We've always been a close knit people,” Chris says of her family and friends, "attending the same social club together has a lot to do with that."
"Too often, today's families sit down in front of a computer or TV set—no interaction," sighs Chris with chagrin. "They look into a screen when they should be looking into someone's eyes. Through the club, we've tried to give our sons, and our grandchildren, a little of the closeness and way of life we had as kids. Lots of family, lots of love."   
To these early settlers of the valley, whose family's made that long trek across the sea from their little village of Tricarico, the valley of the heart's delight was more than a mere slogan; it was a state of mind.  
The Silicon Valley is known the world over now for its microchip production. But longtime valley residents look back fondly to a time when a "mouse" was something the cat dragged home, a "window" was for looking through, a "menu" was something we ordered from in a restaurant, a “disk” was pulled behind Papa's tractor and a "chip" was something a cow left behind.

Contact Cookie Curci at

May 19, 2015

Free Download of "The Restoration of Ancient Bronzes: Naples and Beyond" From The Getty

Courtesy of The J. Paul Getty Museum 
Edited by Erik Risser and David Saunders
The archaeological finds at Herculaneum and Pompeii have rendered Naples an especially rich field for the study of the history of restorations, particularly of ancient bronzes. Bringing together the research of an international group of curators, conservators, archivists, and scientists, this extensively illustrated online volume examines the evolving practice of bronze restoration in Naples and other European centers from the eighteenth century to today.
Presenting the results of new investigations, this collection of essays and case studies addresses the contexts in which the restorations took place, the techniques and materials used, the role of specialists, and changing attitudes to the display of these statues. Along with a rich selection of images, these texts offer a significant contribution to the history of restoration and conservation, providing valuable information regarding the evolution of taste and museum practices at a formative stage of modern archaeology. Continue reading

May 18, 2015

"Ciao, Napoli" Author and Culture Night at Casa Belvedere

Join Us For Author and Culture Night 
at Casa Belvedere
Wednesday, May 20, 2015 (7:00 PM)

Ciao, Napoli: A Scrapbook of Wandering in Naples Authored and Presented by Antoinette Carone 
Photography Presentation by Jim Mauro
When Antoinette Carone and her husband hatched a plan to relocate to Naples, Italy, they had no inkling that every trip to the market would be a sojourn dating back as far as 2500 years. In this book and in her presentation this evening, she shares their remarkable experience roaming the streets of Naples and beyond on a trail of history as colorful as it is far-reaching.
From the famous tableau of time standing still in Pompeii to vestiges of Napoleon's brief tenure in town, Ciao, Napoli: A Scrapbook of Wandering in Naples is a delightful trip that is ideal reading for anyone who loves a voyage, on land, on sea, or over long stretches of time. With evocative descriptions and photographs, the travelogue charts the couple's gradual immersion in the culture, and how they became utterly swept up in the layers of history that can be found on every corner or on any venture outside the city proper.
Exploring traces of earlier times, she surmises that many things may have roosted in the fabled city, but few ever really leave. Similarly, the author finds her own time there indelibly etched in her mind's eye, and now enthusiastically shares her sense of discovery of Naples, then and now.
We invite you to come meet and hear this most talented writer and learn all about the real Naples. You will be immersed in the culture of this fabled place just as she did.
Donation: $20pp
Refreshments will be provided.

The book will be available for sale and signing by author.

Kindly RSVP in advance so that we can plan accordingly.
Call (718) 273-7660 or E-Mail

Parking lot available directly across the street at Notre Dame Academy
The Italian Cultural Foundation at Casa Belvedere
79 Howard Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10301

Photo of the Week: Detail of the Triumphal Arch at the Castel Nuovo (Maschio Angioino)

Detail of the Triumphal Arch at the Castel Nuovo (Maschio Angioino), Napoli. The Renaissance masterpiece commemorates the arrival of Alfonso I to Naples in 1443. Photo by New York Scugnizzo

May 16, 2015

Mel Bay Presents John T. La Barbera's Southern Italian Mandolin For Beginners and Professionals

Traditional Southern Italian Mandolin and Fiddle Tunes (Book/CD Set) by John T. La Barbera
Publisher: Mel Bay Pub Inc.
Paperback: $18.99
Language: English
Pages: 92

This is a valuable and enjoyable collection of authentic Italian folk music and song for mandolin, suitable for beginners as well as professional musicians. The first and foremost book ever published in the United States on traditional Southern Italian mandolin.

The book includes 36 songs, both instrumental and vocal pieces and delves deeply into the heart and soul of music from various parts of  Southern Italy. Written in standard notation and tablature, together with mandolin and guitar chords. An accompanying CD of all pieces in the book is included.
Italian Folk Music for Mandolin (Book/CD Set) by John T. La Barbera
Publisher: Mel Bay Pub Inc.
Paperback: $25.99
Language: English
Pages: 136
This is a valuable and enjoyable collection of Italian folk music and song for mandolin, suitable for beginners as well as professional musicians. The book includes forty songs, both instrumental and vocal pieces and delves deeply into the heart and soul of music from various parts of Northern, Central and Southern Italy. Written in standard notation and tablature, together with mandolin and guitar chords. The book also has the potential for International appeal.
The anthology includes complete texts and translations of the songs with accurate and precise accompanying styles and arrangements for two mandolins, or violin and guitar. Above each piece of music, a brief description or background of the song is included, giving the player a better understanding for interpretation as well as the exact strum or picking pattern for accompaniment. The selections include: medieval and renaissance instrumental folk dances, sixteenth-century Neapolitan Villanelle, work songs, lullabies, narrative ballads, prisoner songs, and popular dances including tarantellas, pizzica, Sardinian ballo tondo, quadrille, waltz and saltarello. An accompanying CD of all of the pieces in the book is included.
For more info visit John's website at

May 14, 2015

Celebrate Your Faith and Culture With Caliendo's Banda Napoletana

For more info visit Caliendo's Banda Napoletana on Facebook

2015 Chicago Area Feasts and Processions

Caliendo’s Banda Napoletana (Courtesy of Caliendo’s Banda Napoletana)
MAY 3—THE FEAST OF SANT’AMATORE DI CELLAMARE at Villa Scalabrini in Northlake is sponsored by the Sant’Amatore Society. It features a 12:30 p.m. Mass, followed by a procession with fireworks and a reception afterward. A Novena will run from April 24 to May 2. (Frank DiNatale, 630-980-0752)
MAY 17—THE FEAST OF ST. ELENA OF LAURINO is sponsored by the Devotees of St. Elena of Laurino. It features an 11 a.m. Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii in Chicago, followed by a luncheon at Pompei Restaurant. (Judi Campagna, 847-577-9648)
MAY 20—THE FEAST OF MARIA SS DELL’UDENZA at Porretta’s Banquets in Chicago is sponsored by the St. Mary of Sambuca Society of Chicago. It features cocktails at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. (Donna Tagli, 708-751-2839)
MAY 23-24—THE FEAST OF SAN GIOVANNI BOSCO SS CROCIFISSO DI CIMINNA at Casa Italia in Stone Park is sponsored by Società San Giovanni Bosco SS Crocifisso di Ciminna. Festivities culminate on May 24 with an 11:30 a.m. procession and noon Mass, followed by a family festival with food, live entertainment, a procession with the Sicilian Band of Chicago and a traditional parade of horses, and evening fireworks. A vespers service will be celebrated at 7:30 p.m. on May 23 in the Casa Chapel. (Tony Napoli, 847-537-3365)
MAY 31—THE FEAST OF SAN NICOLA DI BARI is sponsored by Associazione Regionale Pugliesi in America. It features a noon Mass at Casa Italia in Stone Park followed by a dinner dance at Villa Brunetti in Franklin Park. (Joe DeBenedictis, 708-267-1701)
JUNE 7—THE FEAST OF SANTA LIBERATA DI PIZZONE is sponsored by Società Santa Liberata di Pizzone. It features a 2:30 p.m. Mass at Divine Savior Church in Norridge, followed by a procession with Caliendo’s Banda Napoletana, then a 6:30 p.m. dinner dance at Porretta's in Chicago. (Dominic Mancini, 773-792-3301)
JUNE 13—THE FEAST OF SANT’ANTONIO at St. Francis Borgia Church in Chicago is sponsored by the Italian Catholic Federation Branch #392. It features a 7:30 p.m. Mass with the traditional blessing of the bread. (Teresa Helfand, 773-763-0507)
JUNE 13—THE FEAST OF SANT’ANTONIO at Our Lady Mother of the Church in Chicago is sponsored by the Italian Catholic Federation Branch #439. It features a 7:30 p.m. Mass with the traditional blessing and distribution of bread, followed by a reception. (Anna Tamburello, 847-341-1847)
JUNE 13-14—THE FEAST OF SS CROCIFISSO DI CIMINNA at Maryville Academy in Des Plaines is sponsored by Società SS Crocifisso di Ciminna. Festivities culminate on June 14 with a 12:30 p.m. Mass, followed by a procession with the Sicilian Band of Chicago and the traditional parade of horses, a family festival with food, live entertainment and evening fireworks. A vespers service at 6 p.m. on June 13 will be followed by live entertainment. (Frank Faraci, 847-577-8230)
JUNE 14—THE FEAST OF SANT’ANTONIO at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Melrose Park is sponsored by the parish’s St. Anthony Society. It features a 10:15 a.m. procession and 10:30 a.m. Mass in Italian and English, followed by the veneration of the saint’s relic, traditional blessing of the bread, procession through the streets and a reception in the gymnasium. A Triduum will be celebrated at 7:30 from June 11 to 13. (708-344-4140)
JUNE 14—THE FEAST OF SANT’ANTONIO at St. Anthony Church in Chicago is sponsored by the parish. It features a 9 a.m. procession and 10 a.m. bilingual Mass, followed by a family festival with food, live entertainment and activities for children. (773-468-1200)
JUNE 28—THE FEAST OF SAN PIO at St. Francis Borgia Church in Chicago is sponsored by Gruppo Preghiera di San Pio. It features a 3:30 p.m. Mass, followed by a procession with the Sicilian Band of Chicago and a buffet dinner afterward. (Teresa Helfand, 773-763-0507)
JULY 9-12—THE FEAST OF OUR LADY OF MT. CARMEL at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Melrose Park is sponsored by the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Feast Committee. Festivities culminate on July 12 with a 9 a.m. Mass in English and Italian at the Shrine, a procession to a noon field Mass and a second procession featuring traditional festa music. A street festival with live entertainment will run from July 9 to 13, and a Novena will run from July 4 to 12. Related events include the presentation of the banners at 7 p.m. on July 8 and the presentation of the roses at 6 p.m. on July 9. (708-344-4140)
JULY 12—THE FEAST OF OUR LADY OF MT. CARMEL in Jerome Huppert Woods at Fullerton and Thatcher is sponsored by the Society of the Blessed Virgin of Mt. Carmel. It features a picnic that begins at 10 a.m. and includes a noon Mass. (Diana DiDomenico, 312-718-5219)
JULY 19—FEAST OF MADONNA DEL CARMINE at Villa Scalabrini in Northlake is sponsored by Società Maria SS del Carmine. It features a 12:30 Mass followed by a procession and refreshments, then a 4:30 dinner dance at Alta Villa Banquets in Addison. A Novena will run from July 10 to 18. (Antonia Favuzzi, 630-694-1653)
JULY 26—THE FEAST OF BEATO GIOVANNI LICCIO at Casa Italia in Stone Park is sponsored by Società Beato Giovanni Liccio di Caccamo. Festivities culminate on July 26 with a noon Mass followed by a procession with the Sicilian Band of Chicago and a family festival featuring food, live entertainment and activities for children. A coroncina and Mass will be celebrated at Cappella Beato Giovanni in Chicago from July 19 to 24. (Tony Sapienza, 630-935-6998)
AUGUST 2—THE FEAST OF SAN ROCCO DI VALENZANO at Casa Italia in Stone Park is sponsored by Associazione San Rocco di Valenzano. It features a noon Mass, followed by a procession, family picnic and fireworks. (Frank De Frenza, 630-458-0452)
AUGUST 5-9—THE FEAST OF SAN DONATO at St. Donatus Church in Blue Island is sponsored by the parish. Festivities culminate on Aug. 9 with a 10 a.m. Mass, followed by a procession. A street festival with live entertainment will run from Aug. 5 to 9. (708-385-2890)
AUGUST 8-9—FESTA DELLA FAMIGLIA IN HONOR OF SAN FRANCESCO DI PAOLA at Casa Italia in Stone Park is sponsored by Società San Francesco di Paola. Festivities culminate on Aug. 9 with confessions at 9 a.m., a procession with the Sicilian Band of Chicago at 10 a.m. and a Mass at 11:45 a.m., followed by a family festival with food, live entertainment and a candlelight procession. A vespers service at 7 p.m. on Aug. 8 will feature a torchlight procession with the Sicilian Band of Chicago. A Triduum will be celebrated at 7 p.m. from Aug. 6 to 8. (Joe Bruno, 708-804-0630)
AUGUST 14-16—THE FEAST OF SAN LORENZO is sponsored by the Amaseno La Loggia #3 di Chicago Heights. Festivities culminate on Aug. 16 with an 11 a.m. Mass at the San Rocco Sanctuary in Chicago Heights, before and after which the statues of San Lorenzo and San Rocco will be carried in procession from and to the Amaseno Lodge. A street festival with live entertainment will run from Aug. 14 to 16. (708-755-2982)
AUGUST 15-16—FESTA ITALIANA IN HONOR OF MARIA SS DELL’ASSUNTA in Crest Hill is sponsored by the American Italian Cultural Society. Festivities culminate on Aug. 16 with an 11 a.m. Mass, followed by a procession with a marching band. A family festival with food and live entertainment will run from Aug. 15 to 16. (815-725-7450)
AUGUST 16—THE FEAST OF MADONNA DELLE GRAZIE at Villa Scalabrini in Northlake is sponsored by Società Giovanile MS di Santa Caterina Villarmosa. It features a 12:30 p.m. Mass, followed by a procession. (Mario Saporito, 847-758-1251)
AUGUST 16—THE FEAST OF SAN ROCCO DI SIMBARIO at St. Therese Chinese Catholic Church in Chicago is sponsored by the Society of San Rocco di Simbario. It features a 9 a.m. procession with candle houses and a 10:30 a.m. Mass, followed by a procession with Caliendo’s Banda Napoletana, the benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and kissing of the holy relic of San Rocco, and a buffet dinner afterward. A Novena will be celebrated on Aug. 15. (Bruno Bertucci, 312-446-0504)
AUGUST 16—THE FEAST OF SAN ROCCO DI POTENZA at St. William Church in Chicago is sponsored by Congregazione di San Rocco di Potenza. It features a noon Mass, followed by a procession with the Sicilian Band of Chicago, the benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and a family festival with food and live entertainment. An anointing Mass will be celebrated earlier in the month. (Sal Aloisio, 773-551-2604)
AUGUST 30—THE FEAST OF MARIA SS DEL POZZO at Villa Scalabrini in Northlake is sponsored by Società Maria SS del Pozzo. It features a 12:30 p.m. Mass, followed by a procession featuring Caliendo’s Banda Napoletana and a reception afterward. A Novena will run from Aug. 21 to 29. (Angelo Lalli, 630-837-9625)
SEPTEMBER 4-7—THE FEAST OF MARIA SS LAURETANA is sponsored by Congregazione di Maria SS Lauretana di Altavilla Milicia. The feast is moving this year to a new location in Niles on Church Street, between Greenwood and Cumberland, on the south side of the Golf Mill Shopping Center. Festivities culminate on Sept. 6 with a candlelight procession at 9 a.m. and Mass at 10:30 a.m., followed by processions with the Sicilian Band of Chicago leading up to the traditional Flight of the Angels at 5 and 8 p.m. A street festival with live entertainment will run from Sept. 4 to 7, a Novena will run from Aug. 27 at the society’s chapel in Chicago, with the final day of the novena being celebrated on Sept. 4 at the feast. (Joe Camarda, 773-736-3766)
SEPTEMBER 13—THE FEAST OF MARIA SS INCORONATA at St. Therese Chinese Catholic Church in Chicago is sponsored by Club Maria SS Incoronata e San Cristoforo di Ricigliano. It features an 11 a.m. Mass, followed by a procession with the Sicilian Band of Chicago and a reception afterward. The Blessed Mother’s birthday will be celebrated with an 8 p.m. Mass on Sept. 8. (Jim Distasio, 708-222-1200)
SEPTEMBER 20—THE FEAST OF MARIA SS DELLA CROCE at Villa Scalabrini in Northlake is sponsored by Maria SS Della Croce di Triggiano, Bari, Italy. It features a 12:30 p.m. Mass in Italian, followed by a procession with a band and fireworks, and a reception afterward. A Novena will run from Sept. 11 to 19. (Anna Raimondi, 847-593-5196).
SEPTEMBER 20—THE FEAST OF SAN ROCCO DI MODUGNO is sponsored by Congregazione San Rocco di Modugno. It features a noon Mass at Casa Italia in Stone Park, followed by a dinner dance at Villa Brunetti in Franklin Park. (Carlo DeBenedictis, 630-215-3846)
SEPTEMBER 20—FESTA DI TUTTI I SANTI at the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii in Chicago is sponsored by the Shrine. It features an 11 a.m. Mass and procession, followed by a family festival with food, live entertainment and a bocce contest, pictorial history of the Taylor Street neighborhood and “Pot of Gold” raffle. (312-421-3757)
OCTOBER 18—THE FEAST OF MADONNA DI BUTERRITO at Alta Villa Banquets in Addison is sponsored by CIAMA. It features a 1 p.m. Mass and procession, followed by a dinner dance. A Novena will run from Oct. 12 to 16 at Casa Italia in Stone Park. (Nancy Cometa, 708-278-8004)
NOVEMBER 15—THE FEAST OF SAN TRIFONE is sponsored by Società San Trifone di Chicago. It features a noon Mass at Casa Italia in Stone Park, followed by a luncheon at Pescatore Palace in Franklin Park. (Pat Specchio, 708-562-3113)
DECEMBER 5-6—THE FEAST OF ST. LUCY at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Rockford is sponsored by the Greater Rockford Italian American Association. It features the traditional anointing of the eyes, as well as the blessing and distribution of the cuccia, at the 4:30 p.m. Mass on Dec. 5, and the 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. masses on Dec. 6. (815-965-2761)
DECEMBER 11-13—THE FEAST OF SANTA LUCIA at St. Lucy Church in Chicago is sponsored by the parish. It features a Triduum at 7 p.m. each night with special prayers and the traditional anointing of the eyes. (312-842-6115)
* All schedules and activities are subject to change, so please check with organizers for any updates.
For more Feasts visit our 2015 Festa Directory

May 13, 2015

Poetry Reading at Cornelia Street Café

Featuring Maria Terrone and Paola Corso
Award winning poet Maria Terrone
Sunday, May 31 (6 PM)
Cornelia Street Café
29 Cornelia Street
Greenwich Village, NY 10014
(212) 989-9319

Paola Corso is a writer and professor whose fiction and poetry are set in her native Pittsburgh where her Italian immigrant family found work in steel mills. Among her awards and honors is a New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellowship and the Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award. Corso’s new poetry books are The Laundress Catches Her Breath, winner of the 2012 Tillie Olsen Award in Creative Writing, and Once I Was Told the Air Was Not for Breathing, featuring Pittsburgh steelworkers and garment workers in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and in sweatshops today. She is a lecturer at Chatham University’s Low-Residency MFA Program and also teaches at the City University of New York.

Maria Terrone is the author of Eye to Eye (May 2014, Bordighera Press); A Secret Room in Fall (McGovern Award, Ashland Poetry Press) and The Bodies We Were Loaned (The Word Works), as well as a chapbook American Gothic, Take 2 (Finishing Line Press). Her work, which has been published in French and Farsi and nominated four times for a Pushcart Prize, has appeared in magazines including Poetry, Ploughshares, Hudson Review, and Poetry International and in 20 anthologies. She was one of 10 Queens-based authors commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum to write an essay for its 2012 performance project, “sillspotting nyc.”

May 12, 2015

The Search for our Ancestry (XII)

Passenger Manifests
Passenger manifest of Coniglio's mother Rosa Alessi
By Angelo Coniglio
I have previously discussed how to find images of immigrants’ passenger manifests, for arrivals at Ellis Island, on the free site Manifest images can also be found in other ways, on other sites, and for other ports of entry, all of which I’ll discuss later.  First, I’ll go over what you may see on a Sicilian immigrant’s ship passenger manifest for arrivals at Ellis Island from 1892 through 1924.
Once a manifest is found, a variety of information may be seen on it, depending on the years of immigration, the port of departure, arrival point, etc.  In addition to the name of the ship, the port and date of departure, and the port and date of arrival, early manifests (1890’s) may give only the person’s name, gender and age.  Some manifests show such information for passengers, as well as crew members.  Other lists may show names of passengers who have been “detained” for a variety of reasons.  
Later manifests give more information. Starting in  mid-1907, the following data columns, and more, are listed: Family Name; Given Name; Age (Yrs. and Mos.); Sex; Married or Single; Calling or Occupation; Nationality; Race or People; Country and Town of last permanent residence; “Name and complete address of closest relative or friend in country whence alien came”; Final Destination (State, City or Town); and “Whether going to join a relative or friend, and if so, what relative or friend, and his name and complete address.”  Remember that female immigrants from Sicily used their birth names, first and last, whether they were married or single.  For example, my mother’s manifest gave her name as Rosa Alessi, and her son’s (my brother’s) name as Gaetano Coniglio.  Don’t be thrown off if you see, on the same manifest, that a mother’s surname and the surname of her child are not the same.
If the columns noted above are completely filled in, much can be learned.  If you know the ancestor’s occupation in America, finding the same occupation listed in the manifest strengthens the case that this is the same person.  Under “Name and complete address of closest relative or friend in country whence alien came”, the “address” that is given may be simply the town name, but usually under this heading the relationship of the person left behind is given.  Much may be gleaned from this.
For example, if it said “father” you would therefore have found, if you didn’t already know it, the name of the passenger’s father.  Remember, according to traditional naming conventions, a Sicilian man’s father’s name would be given to his first son, so if you know the immigrant’s oldest son’s name, and it matches the name given on the manifest as his father’s, you have a strong correlation.  Similarly, if the immigrant is a woman, her second son’s name would probably be the same as her father’s.  
The “closest relative” named may be the immigrant’s mother: if her surname is different than that of a male immigrant, it’s her maiden name, another piece of information that might extend or corroborate existing knowledge.  The names of a male ancestor’s eldest daughter could also be reflected in the first name of his mother.   Or the name of the “closest relative” left behind may be that of a brother or sister, an in-law, or a spouse.  In any case, it provides additional information about the passenger.  Note that if it was a spouse, unless a couple each happened to have the same surname at birth, the surnames of the couple would be different.
Obviously, the column headed “Whether going to join a relative or friend . . .” can also provide very valuable information.  If the person was going to a spouse, and you already know the spouse’s name, a match is pretty strong evidence that immigrant is the person you’re looking for.  Additionally, if a destination address is given, that may also match information from a Census, or give you a clue helpful in researching a particular locality for more information about the person, or add a “missing link” as to where an ancestor may have lived in the U.S. 
In addition to the columns detailed above, manifests after June 1907 also specifically give, in the last column, the immigrant’s place of birth.   This was often, but not always, the same as the “last residence”.  Other information of interest about your ancestor can include: whether literate; the amount of cash carried; whether previously in the US, and when; condition of health; color of eyes, hair and complexion; height; and identifying marks.  There are even notations for “Whether a Polygamist” and “Whether an Anarchist”. I’m sure all anarchists declared themselves!
Coniglio is the author of the book The Lady of the Wheel, inspired by his Sicilian research. Order the paperback or the Kindle version at Coniglio’s web page at helpful hints on genealogic research. If you have genealogy questions, or would like him to lecture to your club or group, e-mail him at

May 11, 2015

May 9, 2015

Indie Artist Michéal Castaldo Tops the Charts on Amazon, Reverbnation, and Artist Signal

Michéal Castaldo
Indie artist Michéal Castaldo has hit Number 1 on the Amazon Hot New Releases Chart on May 5, 2015 with the release of his brand new digital single, “Everything Happens for a Reason—Una Ragione.” And on May 1, with a running total of over 425K votes, Castaldo reached the Number 1 spot on the Lifetime Chart at, where he has remained among the Top Ten Artists every month for last 15 months. Simultaneously, Castaldo has also held the Number 1 spot on Reverbnation NY for eight of the last 16 weeks.
“Achieving any one of these chart-topping spots is rare,” notes Castaldo, “and to have hit the top spot on all three charts at the same time without a management company or agent is outstanding. This would not have been possible without my loyal fans from around the world.”
To kick off the launch of his digital single’s release, Castaldo went on a radio tour that included interviews on more than 40 radio stations, including WQUN Radio in Hamden, Conn. ( He also gave a debut performance of “Everything Happens for a Reason” on CT Style CH8 TV in New Haven, Conn. (
“This song provides a universal inspirational message—to take things in stride, remain calm, be positive that all will be okay, and know that everything happens for a reason, even if we don’t understand that reason immediately,” explains Castaldo. “The message resonates with all types of people.” Castaldo has released it in multiple versions and linguistic/stylistic mixes—to help the widest possible audience be touched and affected by this beautiful and meaningful song.
Produced by Michéal Castaldo’s production company Majestic Castle Music and Vital Records, this offering includes multiple mixes of “Everything Happens for a Reason,” which was written by Billboard-charting writers Mike Greenly (ASCAP) and Paul Guzzone (BMI), with Italian lyrics written by Michéal Castaldo (SESAC). It is available on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, and other digital online music e-tail stores worldwide. Go to
The English version, “Everything Happens for a Reason,” has been serviced to all Adult Contemporary Christian Music radio stations in the U.S., Canada, UK, New Zealand, and Australia. The Italian version, “Una Ragione,” has been serviced to Italian radio stations worldwide, and the bilingual versions went out to the radio stations playing hits in their respective languages. 
Castaldo, who resides in New York City, has toured North America and Europe, including performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Rainbow Room, Shea Stadium, Toronto’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre, and Italy’s Teatro F. Cilea and Pescara Opera House. He studied music at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and his passionate performances consistently transport audiences to his native Italian world of beauty and sweeping romanticism.
For more information regarding Michéal Castaldo and his music please visit To view screenshots of the charts, use the following links: 
#1 Hot New Releases on Amazon:
#1 ArtistSignal Lifetime Chart:
#1 Reverbnation—Classical NY: