February 28, 2015

A Kid From Philadelphia: Mario Lanza, the Voice of the Poets

Lecture and Book Presentation by Emilio Iodice at the Italian American Museum

Thursday, March 12th (6:30PM)
Suggested donation of $10 per person

In A Kid from Philadelphia: Mario Lanza, The Voice of the Poets, Emilio Iodice explores the life of one of the greatest lyric opera talents of the 20th century. Today, his life, music and films are undergoing a revival of popularity by a generation who longs for an artist with a commanding stage presence. Mario Lanza once had an unusual ability to crossover from the elite world of opera into popular music and Hollywood films.

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

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

February 27, 2015

The Traditions of Saint Joseph at the IAM

Lecture by Uff. Joseph V. Scelsa, Ed.D.
Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa speaks at last year's St. Joseph lecture
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Thursday, March 19th (6:30PM)
Suggested donation of $10 per person

Italian American Museum Founder and President, Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa will explore the history and traditions of St. Joseph's Day

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

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

See last year's lecture: Celebrating the Traditions of Saint Joseph’s Day at the Italian American Museum

February 25, 2015

Una voce per l'eta!

Enrico Caruso – The King of Tenors

Enrico Caruso
Courtesy of The Enrico Caruso Museum
By Niccolò Graffio
“When you speak of tenors you have to divide them into two groups. Caruso is in the first group and all the others are in the second.” – Rosa Ponselle (legendary soprano)
A frequent criticism of mine in previous articles I have written for this blog is the number of our people (and they are legion) who have made their mark on history but who nevertheless are virtual unknowns in the collective minds of the American public.  This is due for a number of reasons including American attitudes towards Italians (especially Southern Italians) as well as the shabby quality of the American educational system.  On the rare occasion one of our people does manage to become famous here, it is usually a gangster like Al Capone or Carlo “Lucky” Luciano.  The American love of criminals and criminality comes into play here.

Despite these hurdles a people as resourceful and creative as ours will rise to the challenge and occasionally produce figures that will nevertheless captivate the imaginations of even Americans.  It has been said you are truly famous (or infamous) when people know you by just one name.  Many of these figures immediately come to mind – Einstein, Newton, Beethoven, Mozart, Shakespeare, etc. I’m sure if you, dear reader, think about it for a minute you can come up with many more names. Continue reading

The Good Italian

Benedetto Croce: The “Soul” of Italy
Benedetto Croce
By Niccoló Graffio
“Unless a capacity for thinking be accompanied by a capacity for action, a superior mind exists in torture.” – Benedetto Croce
Benedetto Croce was born in Pescasseroli in the Abruzzi region in the ruins of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies on February 25, 1866. The disaster which befell his homeland did not have much of an impact on his family, as they were people of considerable wealth. The Croce family had so much wealth, in fact, that from the day of his birth to the day of his death, Benedetto Croce never had to engage in any form of manual labor in order to survive. In that, he differed considerably from most of his countrymen.
Devout Roman Catholics, his parents sent him at an early age to Naples to be schooled in the tenets of their religion. By the time he reached mid-adolescence, however, Croce had decided he had no use for Catholicism, or any religion, for that matter, preferring instead a type of spiritualism of his own making to which he adhered for the remainder of his life. In 1883, while on vacation with his family in the village of Casamicciola, Ischia, a strong earthquake struck the area, destroying the home they were living in and tragically killing his parents and sister. He was buried (severely injured) under the rubble for several hours until rescuers were able to free him. Continue reading

February 24, 2015

Titan of the South: Il Cavaliere Calabrese

Mattia Preti, the Knight from Calabria
Pilate Washing His Hands by Mattia Preti
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
Mattia Preti was born on February 24, 1613 in Taverna, a small town on the slopes of la Sila Piccola in Calabria. In 1630 the young artist followed his older brother Gregorio to Rome (who arrived two years earlier), where they studied painting at the Accademia di San Luca. There, he became familiar with the works of Caravaggio and his followers. His initial paintings are reminiscent of the dramatic chiaroscuro style of the Lombard master. 
The success of Preti's early works opened up many opportunities for him and he soon acquired important commissions in the Duchy of Modena, most notably the frescoes for the apse and dome of San Biagio. In 1641 or '42 Urban VIII admitted him into the Order of St. John of Malta as a Knight of Obedience. This earned him the moniker Il Cavaliere Calabrese, or the Knight from Calabria. According to his often-quoted biographer Bernardo De Dominici, Preti also traveled to Venice, Spain and the Netherlands, broadening his techniques and developing his skills. Many historians, however, doubt the validity of these travels. Continue reading

February 23, 2015

The Divine Feminine in Sicily and Southern Italy

Wednesday, February 25th
6:30 p.m.— 8:30 p.m.
Harrison College House, Heyer Sky Lounge
[Upenn ID required to enter, or contact lillyros@sas.upenn.edu]

Before Christianity, the people of Sicily and Southern Italy celebrated the mother goddess and other female divinities with fervor. We will discuss some of the ancient myths and mystery cults of these divine feminine icons, the ancient sites in Sicily and Southern Italy dedicated to them, and how age-old rites have been transformed into contemporary rituals celebrated utilizing music, dance, and food.

Food will be served.
Taste pastries eaten to celebrate divine feminine.
Learn to dance a tarantella.

Led by Allison Scola of Experience Sicily.
ExperienceSicily.com
Blog | Boutique Tours | Travel Planning

Giambattista Basile and the Literary Fairy Tale

Giambattista Basile 
Photo courtesy of il portal del Sud
By Giovanni di Napoli
"Whoever reads Basile's tales can't fail to see the direct ties they have with southern Italian folklore. And we should remember with pride the debt that the European imaginary owes to both our culture and Basile. But we should remember above all thatThe Tale of Tales is more, and to this it owes its present and perennial greatness." — Carmelo Lettere (1)
The distinction for composing Europe's first collection of literary fairy tales belongs to Giambattista Basile, a Neapolitan soldier, poet and courtier. His Lo cunto de li cunti, overo Lo trattenemiento de 'peccerille (The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones) contains the West's earliest literary versions of some of the most celebrated fairy tales, including "Cinderella," "Rapunzel," "Sleeping Beauty" and "Hansel and Gretel." Sometimes called Il Pentamerone, the collection was written in the early seventeenth century and published posthumously in 1634-'36. Basile's Tale of Tales predates Germany's renowned Brothers Grimm by nearly two hundred years.
Because he wrote his tales in Neapolitan, Basile's magnum opus remains fairly unknown today. After Italian unification in 1861 Neapolitan was officially replaced with the so-called "Italian language" (i.e. the Florentine vernacular) and undeservedly relegated to the rank of "dialect." The literary works written in the languages of the South have suffered as a consequence and Basile's Tales fell into obscurity. Neapolitan, like the other regional tongues of Italy (e.g. Sicilian), continue to decline in importance due to the cultural leveling taking place in Italy. Continue reading

February 22, 2015

Photo of the Week: Marina Grande, Capri

Pulling into the port of Marina Grande in Capri 
Photo by New York Scugnizzo

February 20, 2015

Ponderable Quote from “The Bourbons of Naples in Exile” by Guy Stair Sainty

“Garibaldi consecrated his triumph by a plebiscite on 21 October 1860 but this failed to confer legitimacy upon the new regime in the eyes of those who observed its execution. In the provinces, local officials simply falsified the records but this was more difficult to accomplish in the principal cities, where only a minority of those qualified actually voted. The voting was open, so dissent was immediately identified and the turncoat Romano himself oversaw the ballot in Naples, monitored by Piedmontese troops and Garibaldi irregulars. Even those qualified to vote were often semi-literate and lacking in experience of the democratic process. It was sufficient for soldiers simply to invite the electors to vote for annexation, their weapons a visible threat to those who dared demonstrate their loyalty to the Bourbons. Six months later, a former Piedmont Prime Minister remarked that ‘there must have been some mistake about the plebiscite as we have to keep sixty battalions in the south to keep the people down.’ 
“The British Minister in Naples reported that ‘the corruption which has prevailed in every branch of the administration during [Garibaldi’s] dictatorship has far surpassed anything that was known even in the corrupt times which preceded it.’ Garibaldi cannot be exempted from responsibility for the ‘kleptocrats’ with whom he surrounded himself and whose profiteering he ignored. Alexandre Dumas, for example, the author of a tedious but oft-quoted panegyric to the dictator’s virtues, managed to be appointed curator of the archaeological museum, which he apparently perceived as his own personal reservoir of antiquities. The private fortune of the royal family, some 11 million ducats, the equivalent of about £40 million in today’s money, disappeared within a few days of the occupation of Naples, and soon thereafter, the entire gold reserves, which represented more than 60 per cent of the reserves in all of Italy, were removed by the Savoy government.”
* Quoted from “The Bourbons of Naples in Exile” by Guy Stair Sainty in Monarchy and Exile: The Politics of Legitimacy from Marie de Médicis to Wilhelm II edited by Philip Mansel, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, p. 258

February 19, 2015

Announcing the U.S. Premiere of Francesco Marino's "Misteri" by the New York Festival Orchestra

Composer Francesco Marino
Thursday, March 5th at 7:30 PM
Merkin Concert Hall
at Kaufman Music Center
129 West 67th Street
Tickets: $30; $20 for students/seniors
Reservations: (212) 501-3330 or at the Merkin Concert Hall box office


The NEW YORK FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA, under the baton of music director/conductor Hideaki Hirai, will appear March 5 at Merkin Concert Hall in the "Mostly Beethoven Festival," performing Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A major; Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major with brilliant young pianist Ivan Donchev, a pupil of Aldo Ciccolini; Overture to "The Marriage of Figaro" by Mozart; and U.S. premiere of "Misteri" (Mysteries) for Piano and String Orchestra by contemporary Italian composer Francesco Marino.
"Misteri" takes the form of a structured dialogue between string orchestra and piano.  The initial thematic material in the high register returns towards the end, amplifying it as in "Unanswered Question" by Charles Ives, leading up to an emotional climax in which the piano is the protagonist.
The New York Festival Orchestra debuted in December 2013 in the Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall to a sell-out audience, with a program that included the monumental Ninth Symphony by Beethoven, which Maestro Hirai conducted entirely from memory.  
HIDEAKI HIRAI, who has "a talent deeply ingrained in his genes" (The Den),  is one of the most gifted young conductors from Japan.  He was born into a celebrated musical family, and studied piano, violin and composition with his grandfather, composer Kozaburo Hirai and cello with his father Takeichiro Hirai, noted cellist whom Pablo Casals designated as his successor.   Hideaki graduated from the University of  Rochester (New York) with a Bachelor's degree in political science, and studied conducting under David Effron at the Eastman School.  He completed his Master's degree in conducting at the Peabody Conservatory of the John's Hopkins University under Frederik Prausnitz, followed by further studies under Otakar Trhlik at the Janacek Academy of Music (Czech Republic) and his mentor Sir Colin Davis in London.
Highlights during the 2012/13 season include his sensational debut at the Wiener Staatsoper, immediately followed by a successful return during the 2013/14 season, and his successful debut in Salzburg for the Austrian premiere of his own acclaimed opera Princess from the Moon (Kaguya-hime). In December 2013 "Maestro Hirai made a remarkable Carnegie Hall debut" (The New York Culture Examiner), with rave reviews that called him "especially impressive, dynamic, confident, justly deserving of the standing ovation" (The New York Concert Review)  conducting the Beethoven 9th Symphony with the New York Festival Orchestra (NYFO).  Following that success, NYFO appointed him Music Director and Conductor, starting with the 2014-15 season.
Since 1998, Hirai has collaborated with the Czech Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra both in the Czech Republic and abroad, and now serves as Principal GuestConductor.  He has conducted numerous orchestras in Europe and Asia, including the Danish National Radio Symphony, Janacek Philharmonic, Karlsbad Symphony Orchestra, Prague Radio Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic, the Martha Argherich Music Festival in Beppu, Japan, and more. In 2001 Mr. Hirai was chosen by Lorin Maazel as one of the ten promising conductors in Asia.
Also known as an opera conductor, Maestro Hirai has been a frequent guest conductor with the New National Theater in Tokyo, and is composer of the 2003 opera Princess from the Moon, which received rave reviews in performances in Australia, Tokyo, and Prague, with a U.S. premiere scheduled in Los Angeles in August 2015.   His second and third operas, True Love of Komachi and White Foxwere equally successful.
IVAN DONCHEV "...is gifted with extraordinary musical and instrumental skills," remarked famed pianist Aldo Ciccolini, with whom Donchev has a duet program that debuted at the Fenetrange Music Festival in France.  The pianist began his musical studies at the age of five in his native Bulgaria and made his concert debut with the Burgas Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of twelve, performing Haydn's Piano Concerto in D. In 1997 he was awarded "Talent of the Year" by the city of Burgas. Donchev is a top prize winner of 19 awards in Bulgaria, Dublin, Romania and Italy.  At the age of 16, Ivan won the "Chopin Prize" by the Chopin Society in Darmstadt, and made his international debut at the famous Gasteig Hall in Munich, initiating a brilliant career.   He has been described as "refined and concentrated" (Qobuz Magazine, France), "full of temperament" (The Darmstatder Echo,Germany) and gifted with "impeccable technique and remarkable ability to excite" (Il cittadino, Italy). Donchev has appeared in concert in Bulgaria, Germany, UK, Italy, Romania, France, Slovakia, Ireland, and South Korea. 
Now a resident of Rome, Donchev has guested with orchestras throughout Europe, including the Florence Chamber Orchestra, Kronstadt Philharmoniker, Mozart Sinfonietta Chamber Orchestra, and Razgrad Philharmonic, among others. His many recordings include the world premiere of Vito Palumbo's Quadro Sinfonico Concertante, as well as Tchaikovsky and Liszt. His last CD (Beethoven piano and violin sonatas recorded with violinist Ivo Stankov) received five stars from the UK magazine Musical Opinion.
FRANCESCO MARINO (composer) studied composition, piano and band instrumentation in Italy and is a prolific composer of chamber music, which has been played by the Symphony Orchestra MAV of Hungary, Windsor Symphony of Canada, Philharmonica "Mihail Jora" Bacau of Romania, Philharmonica Khmelnitsky in Ukraine, and many more.   The native of Naples has also composed for short films and documentaries, and has made many recordings that are played throughout the world.
Marino was artistic director of the Festivals "Apollo e Dioniso," and "Ascolta la Ciociaria," and organizer and director of cultural events.  He edited the presentation of more than 60 Italian and European premieres, and has taught music courses at Tor Vergata University in Rome.
His awards and prizes include Certificate of Honourable Mention in the 2005 edition of the International World Composers Competition, and he has been awarded the following titles: the honor of Knight of the Order by the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano; "Badge of honor for the wounded during service," by the Ministry of Defence; "and "Silver Cross" for his services rendered in the Carabinieri Corps.
For more information about the New York Festival Orchestra, please contact:
Kalin Ivanov, Executive Director
Phone: (718) 871-5041
Email: info@NYFO.org
Web: www.NYFO.org

Press Contact:
Audrey Ross
(212) 877-3399
audreyrosspub@aol.com

Upcoming Speaking Engagements With Anthony V. Riccio, Author of "Farms, Factories and Families"

Author Anthony V. Riccio will discuss his latest book Farms, Factories and Families: Italian American Women of Connecticut. For updates and additional speaking events please visit www.anthonyriccio.com

March
• March 1: Sunday 2:00pm
New Haven Museum
New Haven, CT

• March 7: Saturday 1:00pm
North Haven Library
North Haven, CT

• March 14: Saturday 1:00pm
Edith Wheeler Library
Monroe, CT

April
• April 25: Saturday 3:00pm
Brookfield Library
Brookfield, CT

June
• June 6: Saturday 10:00am
New Britain Public Library
New Britain, CT

• June 13: Saturday 1:00pm
Torrington Library
Torrington, CT

Also see:
Anthony Riccio's "From Italy to America" Travels to Ravello, Italy
Anthony Riccio Featured in 'Act Two' Magazine
A Look at Anthony Riccio's 'From Italy to America '
Preserving Living History: Interview with Oral Historian and Photographer, Anthony V. Riccio

February 18, 2015

Celebrate the Culture and Cuisine of Sicily With Michela Musolino at Dominican College

Friday, February 27 @ 7:00 PM
Enjoy an evening of authentic Sicilian food and wine, traditional Sicilian music and dance while learning about the culture and history of Sicily. Michela Musolino will be joined by the amazing musician and folklorist, Phil Passantino for a presentation of the story of Sicilian folk music. They'll also present some traditional dance and a mini concert.
$60 per person/$100 per couple
Make your reservations early – seating is limited
Call (845) 848-7406
Email specialevents@dc.edu
Make your check payable to Dominican College
Mail your check to:
Dominican College, Attn: Siena House,
470 Western Highway, Orangeburg, NY 10962
Pay by credit card by calling (845) 848-7406

February 17, 2015

"Farms, Factories and Families" Author Anthony V. Riccio Interviewed on WQUN

Historian, photographer and author Anthony V. Riccio was interviewed this morning about his new book Farms, Factories and Families: Italian American Women of Connecticut on New Haven County's AM1220 WQUN. The interview will be aired Monday, February 23rd at 8:45. It will be streaming at WQUN.com after the radio broadcast.

Announcing the 2015 Saint Paul Parish Procession of the Saints, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

www.italianmarketfestival.com/procession-of-saints.html

February 16, 2015

To the Shores of Tripoli

The Story of the Unsung Hero of the First Barbary War
Burning of the frigate USS Philadelphia
in the harbor of Tripoli, February 16, 1804,
by Edward Moran, painted 1897
By Niccolò Graffio
“It would be unjust of me, were I to pass over the important services rendered by Mr. Salvatore Catalano, on whose conduct the success of the enterprise in the greatest degree depended.” – Lt. Stephen Decatur: writing in his official report on the burning of thePhiladelphia; February, 1804.
Piracy is an ancient plague of mariners and coastal-dwelling peoples. For as long as men have taken to the seas in the name of commerce there have been those who have taken it upon themselves to prey upon them. The earliest mentions of pirates in history are found in the chronicles of the ancient Egyptians who spoke of the depredations of the “Sea Peoples” which disrupted the shipping lanes of the Eastern Mediterranean in the 13th century BC. Continue reading

Michéal Castaldo to Release Toglimi il Respiro (Take My Breath Away)—An Italian Rendition of the Top Gun Theme Song

Toglimi il Respiro CD cover
Photo by Mark Kopko
Michéal Castaldo will officially release a digital single of Toglimi il Respiro (Take My Breath Away) on Vital Records on March 3, which is first day of the love song’s 30th year. The arrangement is by Michéal Castaldo and Stein Berg Svendsen, who also produced it for Majestic Castle Music Productions, New York, NY. Recorded and performed by Castaldo, the digital single will be available on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, and other digital music stores everywhere.
Castaldo, an Italian tenor who sings in the style of Andrea Bocelli, is honoring the song because it’s the theme song of so many people in love. Toglimi il Respiro, the Italian version of Take My Breath Away, was written by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock. Moroder is an award-winning Italian-born singer, songwriter, record producer who has written many hits for Donna Summer as well as songs for David Bowie, Blondie, and others.
Take My Breath Away is the love song from the film Top Gun (1986), starring Tom Cruise. It was recorded by Berlin and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 1986. Take My Breath Away peaked at number one in 1986 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also topped the charts in Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, and Belgium. 
The original Italian version of the song was recorded by Cristiano Malgioglio in 1987. Other notable artists that have covered this song are Jessica Simpson in 2004 and the British Classical Crossover vocal group Blake in 2007.
For more info about the recording and the artist/co-producer, Michéal Castaldo, go to www.michealCASTALDO.com
Amazon link: tinyurl.com/noukn4q
iTunes link: itunes.apple.com/us/artist/micheal-castaldo/id367910625
YouTube live performance link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ML_RWzLsCsI
YouTube lyric video link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDmOpGca1R4

Contact Information:
Majestic Castle Music - Vital Records, Inc.

New York City, New York 10001

Contact Person:
Charlotte Jayne
Administrative Assistant
Phone: (631) 256-6515
email: email

February 15, 2015

The Roman Lupercalia, an Ancient Tradition

Dancing Faun
Casa del Fauno, Pompeii
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Lucian
The Lupercalia was a Roman holiday that was celebrated on February 15th and 16th. A holiday within a holiday, it began on the second day of the Roman Parentalia, which focused on honoring and appeasing ancestral spirits. Both the Parentalia and Lupercalia dealt with the concept of spiritual purification, a common motif in ancient rituals but found especially around February in Greco-Roman culture. Some even claim that the Lupercalia is the origin of St. Valentine’s day.
One of the oldest recorded pagan holidays, the Lupercalia is thought to predate even Rome itself. Because of its age, widespread popularity and resilience it is difficult to definitively say which gods it was associated with. There is evidence pointing toward Faunus/Pan, and even Bacchus or Juno, but in all likelihood the rituals were originally related to the more primitive animism that predated Roman urbanization and continued to remain in rural areas throughout the Roman Empire. Roman mythology credits the Arcadian Greek hero Evander with instituting Lupercalia in Pallantium decades before the Trojan War, on a site that would later become part of the city of Rome. It was finally suppressed by Pope Gelasius I in the 5th Century A.D. It was so popular that at the time many people who were nominally Christian were still celebrating it.
The original ritual was performed on Palatine Hill in Rome, but spread throughout both Northern and Southern Italy and the rest of the empire with Rome’s expansion. It was even celebrated in Greece, especially after the capital was moved to Constantinople. The themes of the rite were fertility and spiritual purification. The ceremony began in a cave (Lupercal) at the foot of the hill and involved the sacrifice of goats and a dog. The blood of the goat was smeared on the foreheads of chosen young men (luperci) then washed off with milk by priests, the men were then required to laugh at the priests. After drinking wine the young men, clad only in goatskin loincloths, would chase and whip willing young women with ceremonial goatskin thongs. It was thought that the women would be blessed with fertility, so they would bare their shoulders or hands in hopes of being touched this way. Continue reading

Photo of the Week: Cupid with Fish

Cupid with fish at Dr. Axel Munthe's Villa San Michele in Anacapri, Capri
Photo by New York Scugnizzo

February 14, 2015

Feast of San Valentino Martire

Evviva San Valentino!
February 14th is the Feast Day of San Valentino (Saint Valentine’s Day), Bishop and Martyr. He is the patron saint of happy marriages, love, courtship and beekeepers, as well as protector of citrus crops and protection against epilepsy and plague. Widely venerated across southern Italy, he is the principal patron of San Valentino Torio (SA), Vico del Gargano (FG), Abriola (PZ), San Valentino in Abruzzo Citeriore (PE) and Mafalda (CB), among others. To commemorate the occasion I’m posting a Prayer to Saint Valentine. The accompanying photo comes courtesy of Oratorio San Valentino Torio, Salerno.
Prayer to Saint Valentine
Dear Saint and glorious martyr, teach us to love unselfishly and to find great joy in giving. Enable all true lovers to bring out the best in each other. Let them love each other in God and in God in each other. Amen.

Feast of Sant'Antonino di Sorrento

Evviva Sant'Antonino!
Piazza Sant'Antonino, Sorrento
February 14th is the Feast Day of Sant'Antonino Abate (Saint Antoninus of Sorrento), protector of Campagna (SA) and Sorrento (NA). 
Born circa 550 AD in Campagna, a small town in the Province of Salerno, Sant'Antonino entered a local Benedictine monastery (some sources say it was the Abbey of Monte Cassino). Forced to flee due to pillaging Lombards, he withdrew to Castellammare di Stabia where he lived as a hermit on Monte Aureo (now Monte Faito), the highest peak of the Lattari Mountains. Following a vision, he erected a sanctuary on the mountain top in honor of Saint Michael the Archangel with the help of his friend Saint Catellus (San Catello Vescovo). Popular among the people of Sorrento, Sant'Antonino eventually succeededSaint Catellus as abbot of the Monastery of San Agrippino.
Sant'Antonino by Tommaso Solari
Piazza Tasso, Sorrento
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Sant'Antonino is reputed to have performed many miracles, including saving Sorrento from Saracen attacks in 1354 and 1358. It is said that, according to his dying wishes, he was buried within the city's ancient walls, thus making them impregnable. During a Lombard attack, the section containing the saint's remains withstood the assault. Legend tells us that Prince Sicard of Benevento was haunted (and beaten!) in his dreams by Sant'Antonino's cudgel wielding apparition until he lifted the siege. 
The Saint, however, is best remembered for rescuing a young child from a giant cetacean. According to the legend, several children were playing along the seashore when a sea creature sprung up and swallowed the boy whole. The child's distraught mother immediately sought help from Antonino. A crowed followed the holy man to the coast, where he called on them to pray for the child's safety. Miraculously, the monster returned and immediately released the frightened, but unharmed, child from his gaping maw.
To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer to Sant'Antonino Abate. The accompanying photos were taken during my 2007 visit to Sorrento.
Prayer to Sant'Antonino Abate
Glorious San Antonino, beloved patron of Sorrento, you served God in humility and confidence on earth. In common supplication we turn to you, holy Father Antonino, our gentle patron, asking you to protect this city by the aid of your intercession. May its people be ever devoted to Christ and to you, by serving God and by loving and honoring you. Amen

February 13, 2015

Sanguinaccio di Carnevale

Photo courtesy of Lopes Sausage Co.
With Carnevale winding down and Shrove Tuesday (Martedí Grasso) coming up, there’s little time left to make the traditional dishes connected with the season before Lent. For some Neapolitans this means sanguinaccio di Carnevale, a rich, delicious pudding made with pigs blood.
Thanks to Danielle Oteri's popular "Sanguinaccio: From Mexico, Naples to Brooklyn" (see Il Regno, March 26, 2014), we've received several inquiries from our readers where they can get the hard to find ingredient necessary to make authentic versions of this "exotic" dish.
Since my friend Patrick is absolutely bonkers about the pudding and makes his own familial version each year, I contacted him and asked where he gets his. Happy to oblige, he swears by Lopes Sausage Co. (304 Walnut Street), a Portuguese butcher shop located in Newark, New Jersey. Established in 1965, Lopes is famous for their chorizo and linguica, but they also sell pasteurized pig's blood for morcilla, a Spanish-style blood sausage. Pat says they offer it by the gallons, but if requested before hand they will sell it in smaller quantities.
For the history of sanguinaccio and Elena Loguercio’s recipe see Sanguinaccio: From Mexico, Naples to Brooklyn.

Parentalia — Honoring Our Ancestors and Family

Lares Familiares
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
By Lucian
"The normal conception of the spirits in Roman animism would seem to be that of neutral powers, who might be hostile, if neglected, but, if they are duly placated and receive the offerings which they require, will be friendly and give the worshipper health and prosperity." (Bailey p. 40)
During Rome's expansion, the spirits of the dead gradually became more individualized in conception. This is thought to be a result of Greek cultural influences, which not only affected the Roman State religion, but also the more ancient taboo and superstitions that were practiced at the family level.
There were several festivals and religious practices dealing with the dead in ancient Southern Italy just as there were several Mediterranean tribes that contributed to them. The Greeks, especially from Attica, brought Anthesteria to Magna Graecia, but the best known holidays of this type are the RomanLemuria and Parentalia.  Lemuria, (celebrated May 9th, 11th and 13th) had a darker tone and dealt more with banishing hostile spirits. Parentalia (Feb 13th - 22nd) was similarly dedicated to spiritual purification, but also involved the honoring of ancestors, and became more cheerful over the centuries. Continue reading

A Matter of Honor

In Days Of Old When Knights Were Bold….
Actors recreating the legendary ‘Challenge of Barletta’
Photo courtesy of www.DisfidadiBarletta.net
By Niccoló Graffio
“Whoever would not die to preserve his honor would be infamous.” – Blaise Pascal: Pensées, III, 1670.
History and Geography were always my two favorite subjects in school. No doubt the fact I was so good in them was a factor (I never received less than an “A” in either of them). The overriding factor, though, was my lifelong fascination with peoples and places from the past. I must confess to having a special attachment to Greco-Roman history, but given the enormous contributions of ancient Greeks and Romans to the history of Western Civilization, it should be understandable.
In my salad days I was introduced to those periods in history known as the Middle Ages and the Renaissance by attending a Renaissance Faire in upstate New York (Sterling Forest, to be exact). This is not to say I did not learn about these periods while in school. I did, but they were such quick and dry reading (thanks in large part to the politically correct curricula of the New York City Dept. of Education), they really didn’t pique my interest. Standing there in Sterling Forest, however, surrounded by medieval trappings (melded with the crass commercialism of modern-day America), opened up a whole new world for me. Continue reading

February 11, 2015

The Greek Anthesteria in Southern Italy

Terracotta oinochoe (jug) Greek, Attic, red-figure, ca. 420-410 B.C.
Two women making preparations for the Anthesteria

Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Lucian
The Greek settlements in southern Italy, collectively known as Magna Graecia, are an important part of our culture and history. More so than many other cultural influences, because these Greeks are also the direct ancestors of the southern Italian people. Along with several indigenous populations, such as the Sicani, Samnites, Messapians (among others), they form the base of our ethnicity. There were, of course, a few Greek settlements elsewhere in Italy (e.g. Ancona), and some blending with the various northern Italian peoples during and after the long lived Roman Empire, but it has been said that one of the main differences between the people of northern and southern Italy is the southerner's Greek ancestry.
Long before the Roman Empire spread through the entire peninsula to encompass the sea, there were prominent Greek cities and settlements throughout southern Italy and Sicily. These areas were well populated and centers of trade. The Greeks brought their religious and cultural practices with them. Some of these traditions continued after the Roman subjugation, and were actually similar to the Roman's own way of doing things. This isn't surprising because these cultures had already been influencing each other for centuries. Rituals of spiritual purification were common in ancient times, and both the Romans and the Greeks had feasts to honor their ancestors and placate the dead. The Greek tradition was called Anthesteria. Continue reading

February 10, 2015

Shadows Across My Screen

Elvira Notari and the Suppression of Southern Italian Cinematic Culture
Elvira and Nicola Notari
Photo courtesy of http://geco.blog.rai.it
By Niccoló Graffio
“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” – George Orwell (As quoted in My Few Wise Words of Wisdom by Charles Walker, 2000)
If one seeks to create a new nation out of pre-existing peoples, mythology becomes important.  Mythology, whether of a religious, philosophical or historical nature, can serve as a glue to bind together otherwise disparate elements in a society. It is not enough to simply create this mythology; one must also propagate and inculcate it into the masses to the point where it is accepted unquestionably by the majority. In times past this fell to the priests of whatever religion served the rulers of the polity.  Nowadays, it is the responsibility of those who walk the halls of Academia and the mass media.
The mythology thus created inevitably serves the dominant elements of that society at the expense of the subordinate ones. The Sardinian Marxist writer Antonio Gramsci referred to this as “cultural hegemony”. A point that is crucial to the understanding of this phenomenon is that the mythology can have and often does contain a number of factual components.  This is necessary, otherwise it becomes easy for critics of the ruling elite to debunk it and by extension the legitimacy of that society’s rulers. Continue reading

Ferdinando Carulli: A True Guitar Hero

Ferdinando Carulli
By Giovanni di Napoli
Ferdinando Carulli (b. Naples 1770 - d. Paris 1841) was perhaps the most significant composer and instructor for the guitar in the Nineteenth Century. Highly prolific, many of the virtuoso's works, including his "Harmony Applied to the Guitar," continue to be used today to train students the classical guitar.
According to most sources he was born on February 9th, others claim the 10th. His father, Michele Carulli, was originally from Bari and a distinguished statesman in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies; his mother, Patrizia Federici, is believed to be Neapolitan, but more information about her is lost. He was raised on the Via Nardones near the Palazzo Reale in Naples.
Carulli learned the basics of music from a priest, which was not unusual at that time. The Cello was his first instrument, but at twenty he discovered the guitar and made it his life's passion. Because no suitable instructors were available at the time, the Neapolitan was principally self-taught and formulated his own guitar technique. Continue reading

Brother Rosary

Bartolo Longo of Brindisi
Bartolo Longo
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
By Niccolò Graffio
“He that repents is angry with himself; I need not be angry with him.” – Benjamin Whichcote:Moral and Religious Aphorisms, 1753
Bartolo Longo was born on February 10th, 1841 to Dr. Bartolomeo Longo and Antonina (nee) Luparelli in the town of Latiano, in the province of Brindisi, Apulia at the time that region was part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.  He had the good fortune of being born into a prosperous family which guaranteed for him a better lifestyle than most of those living around him.
His parents were devout Roman Catholics, especially his mother, who taught young Bartolo to pray the Rosary on a daily basis. At an early age he demonstrated a marked intelligence.  That, plus his parents’ prosperity, insured for him a good education.  In addition to academics he also studied the piano and the flute.  Records show he did well in all his endeavors. Continue reading

February 9, 2015

Feast of San Corrado di Baviera

San Corrado by Nicolò Scardigno
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
February 9th is the Feast Day of San Corrado di Baviera (St. Conrad of Bavaria), patron of Molfetta, Puglia. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a prayer to San Corrado. The photo on the right was taken at Holy Face Monastery in Clifton, New Jersey. Unveiled on July 14, 2013, the statue was sculpted by Lyndhurst, New Jersey native Nicolò Scardigno in honor of his parents, Salvatore and Anna, who hail from Molfetta. The picture below was taken at the The Madonna Dei Martiri Social Club in Hoboken, New Jersey, where large numbers of immigrants from Molfetta settled and founded The Madonna Dei Martiri Society.

Preghiera a San Corrado Patrono di Molfetta

Penitentissimo mio S. Corrado la divina provvidenza che vi chiamò da Francia in Palestina, e poi da terra Santa vi guidò fino a Bari, a singolarizzare con tanti lunghi pellegrinaggi, e con romitaggi sempre più aspri la vostra penitenza. Per quell'amore ardentissimo col quale visitaste quei Sacri luoghi, santificate colle pedate, coi sudori, e col sangue del Redentore, per quelle penitenze colle quali voleste divenire tutto somiglianti al Redentore Crocifisso; Per quell'affetto col quale emulaste le virtu, ed onoraste il sepolcro di S. Nicolò, impetratemi; vi supplico gratitudine di corrispondenza operative alle piaghe di Gesù Cristo vera contrizione dei miel peccati, e tempo e modo da farne dovuta penitenza.
San Corrado, Madonna Dei Martiri Social Club, Hoboken, New Jersey

Paolo de Matteis

Andromeda and Perseus (ca. 1710) by Paolo de Matteis
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
Paolo de Matteis was born in Piano del Cilento, near Salerno, on February 9, 1662 in the Kingdom of Naples. According to the Neapolitan biographer Bernardo De Dominici (1683-1759) the young Paolo showed great promise as a painter. His parents encouraged him, providing him with art instruction, though his father wanted him to pursue a more distinguished career in liberal arts. Brought to Naples he studied philosophy and mathematics under the guidance of some of the Kingdom's leading intellectuals, including Lionardo di Capoa and Tommaso di Cornelio. Paolo's natural talent, however, was painting and he was allowed to return to it. Continue reading

Remembering a Titan — Frank Frazetta

Self Portrait
By Giovanni di Napoli
For as long as I can remember, I've been drawing. One of my earliest memories was a water color painting I did of the Red Baron's triplane soaring through the sky. It was nothing special, but my parents made so much of a fuss over it that I never forgot. I was fascinated with soldiers and war and as I grew older, my pictures grew more graphic and detailed.
An early influence in my life was Frank Frazetta. I'll never forget the first time I saw his work. A friend showed me the cover of his uncle's Molly Hatchet album featuring Frazetta's "Death Dealer", a fierce warrior mounted on a nightmarish black steed. It was like an epiphany. I sought out other works by the artist, which led me to the jacket covers of several science fiction and fantasy novels, sparking my interest in the stories of Robert E. Howard (Conan) and Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan).
Imitating Frazetta, my own renderings became more fantastic, yet more realistic because I began to focus on anatomy. I also started to include scantily clad damsels in distress to my drawings which, predictably, got me in trouble on several occasions in Catholic elementary school.
Frazetta's images depict aesthetic beauty and unapologetic virility, and as a healthy, idealistic adolescent boy they appealed to me on some primal level. Not just pretty pictures, they served to transmit archetypical ideals—valor, strength, beauty—traditionally passed on through myths and legends. It is said a picture is worth a thousand words; Frazetta's spoke volumes to me. Continue reading

Feast of San Sabino of Avellino

Viva San Sabino!
February 9th is the Feast of San Sabino di Avellino, Bishop of Abellinum and patron of Atripalda. To commemorate the occasion, I'm posting a Prayer to San Sabino.(1) The accompanying photo of the Saint was taken at Saint Lucy's Church, National Shrine of Saint Gerard in Newark, New Jersey.
Prayer to Saint Sabino
Lean down from Heaven our great protector St. Sabino, who from amongst all cities chose Atripalda as your last abode and final resting place. Here your holy bones still exude precious manna that assures us of your presence with us for all time. You have given your people copious graces and all who invoke your powerful name. We beg you, keep far from us all the divine punishments, render our fields fertile, keep the contagion of disease far from us, save us from earthquake and protect us from every evil, especially the evil of sin. Abundantly rain down your blessings upon us and our brothers who are far from us in America. Amen. 
(1) The Prayer to Saint Sabino was reprinted from the placard at the base of the statue.

February 8, 2015

Photo of the Week: Fresco inside the Castel Nuovo

Fresco inside the front entrance of the Castel Nuovo in Napoli
Photo by New York Scugnizzo

February 7, 2015

The Search for our Ancestry (IX)

On-Line Census Searches
By Angelo Coniglio
If you still live in the place where your immigrant ancestors settled, your local public library probably has hard copies of the US Census covering your location.  However, if you live elsewhere, you must search on-line censuses.  I find that even for local information, using on-line searches is easier than using hard copies, which must be searched by town, enumeration district, ward, etc.  On-line venues permit searching by name of the individual, so knowing the street address, or even the city, is not required, to do a broad search over many years of censuses.  
Many public libraries have free access to subscription sites holding these records, and Mormon FamilySearch Centers allow patrons free access to subscription genealogy sites.  There are dozens, if not hundreds, of sites.  Here are the most popular ones dealing with censuses. 

https://www.familysearch.org/
is the site maintained by the Mormon church.  It’s free and allows users to order microfilms containing US Federal Census records, as well as a host of other federal, State, local and foreign records.  Many records are now also available there on-line, as images of original documents. The site offers many free on-line lectures and tutorials. Henceforth, I’ll refer to this site as familysearch.org

Free sites that include information about federal censuses and/or access to records include the US National Archives site at http://www.archives.gov/ which features pages for each decennial census and lists the questions asked on each; and  http://stevemorse.org/census/ which allows searching of the latest census available, that of 1940, in several different ways. 

http://www.Ancestry.com
is a subscription site which has all the released US Federal Censuses, from 1790 through 1940.  They can be searched by inputting a person’s name.   It offers free two-week trial subscriptions and a variety of monthly or annual subscriptions, depending on the region of interest (US, world, etc.)   Many public libraries, as well as Mormon FamilySearch Centers, allow free access.  In my columns I’ll refer to this site as Ancestry.com

While searching on-line, many new researchers are frustrated when they can’t find information using an ancestor’s name they ‘know’ to be correct.  Let’s consider the problem. 
 
Misspelling on original records: One of the ways that the Sicilian populace was suppressed, through the early 1900s, was that public education was limited.  Many of the Sicilians of the ‘Great Migration’ to America were illiterate.  That, plus the fact that often American census takers, clerks, and other officials did not speak the immigrants’ language resulted in errors even on official documents.  This can include misspelling by sound: ‘Gelia’ instead of Giglia, etc. 
  
Misspelling by computer transcribers: Even if the name is correct on the original record, indexers unfamiliar with the name may record it in the data base incorrectly.   This can include misspelling by looks: (‘u’ instead of n; ‘j’ for i; ‘i’ for e, and so on.

Switching given names with surnames:  Immigrants often gave their surnames first.  A clerk or transcriber might not know if the name should be ‘Alessi Rosa’ or Rosa Alessi. 

Be prepared to look for ancestors using wide variations from the presently accepted names.  If you have no luck on one site, try a different one; the name may be mispelled and indexed incorrectly on one site, but correctly recorded on another.  If you know that a neighbor of your ancestor had a simpler name, try searching for the neighbor.  Your ancestor may be recorded on the same census sheet as the more easily found neighbor.
Coniglio is the author of the book The Lady of the Wheel (La Ruotaia), based on his genealogical research of Sicilian foundlings.  Order the book in paperback or on Kindle at www.bit.ly/racalmuto. Visit his website, www.bit.ly/AFCGen, and write to him at genealogytips@aol.com.