November 29, 2016

An Afternoon of Sicilian and Southern Italian Christmas Songs with Rosa Tatuata

Saturday, December 17th @ 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Whitestone Branch Queens Public Library
151-10 14th Road
Whitestone, NY 11357

Join Rosa Tatuata for an afternoon concert celebration of Christmas songs from Sicily and Southern Italy. Enjoy the festive music and folk instruments that have been a Christmas tradition for centuries and are still a vibrant and beloved part of modern day Christmas celebrations. Come meet our zampognaro: the Southern Italian bagpiper whose presence is identified with Christmas music throughout Southern Italy.

Also see:
Celebrating Spring at the Second Annual La Primavera Vinni Concert with Rosa Tatuata and LassatilAbballari

November 27, 2016

Photo of the Week: Medieval Fresco in the Duomo di Ravello

Traces of medieval frescoes adorn the transept of the Duomo di Ravello, Salerno
Photo by New York Scugnizzo

Annual Neapolitan Baroque Crèche and Angel Tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Photo by New York Scugnizzo
Nov. 27, 2016—Jan. 6, 2017 (lighting daily at 4:30pm)

Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York

The Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche at The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a long-established yuletide tradition in New York. The brightly lit, twenty-foot blue spruce—with a collection of eighteenth-century Neapolitan angels and cherubs among its boughs and groups of realistic crèche figures flanking the Nativity scene at its base—once again delight holiday visitors in the Museum's Medieval Sculpture Hall. Set in front of the eighteenth-century Spanish choir screen from the Cathedral of Valladolid, with recorded Christmas music in the background, the installation reflects the spirit of the holiday season. The exhibit of the crèche is made possible by gifts to The Christmas Tree Fund and the Loretta Hines Howard Fund.

Also see:
A Look at the 2015 Metropolitan Museum of Art's Annual Angel Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche
A Look at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Annual Angel Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche
Neapolitan Glory: Baroque Presepio at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

November 26, 2016

Christmas Amore with the Sicilian Tenors at the Investors Bank Performing Arts Center

Saturday, December 3rd @ 7:30pm

Investors Bank Performing Arts Center
519 Hurffville Crosskeys Road
Sewell, NJ 08080

Three marvelous tenor voices combine for a unique interpretation of the world’s best music. Accompanied by a grand piano and presented with light-hearted fun, The Sicilian Tenors take the audience on a romantic journey from Hollywood to Broadway, Italy, and beyond in a concert event for all ages and musical tastes.

For more information visit

November 23, 2016

The Library of the Aragonese Kings of Naples at Europeana Regia

The Europeana Regia project took place over the course of 30 months, from January 2010 to June 2012. With the collaboration of five major libraries located in four countries and the support of the European Commission, this project made it possible to digitise more than 1000 rare and precious manuscripts from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. All of them were once part of three great royal collections that are currently dispersed and which represent European cultural activity at three distinct periods in history: the Bibliotheca Carolina (8th and 9th centuries), the Library of Charles V and Family (14th century) and the Library of the Aragonese Kings of Naples (15th and 16th centuries). These manuscripts are now fully accessible on the websites of the partner libraries and have also been included in Europeana.
The library assembled in the 15th century by the Aragonese kings of Naples is the third component of the Europeana Regia project.
* Thanks to Jeff Matthews for bringing this magnificent resource to our attention with his latest blog entry at Naples: Life, Death & Miracles 
Also see:
Free Download of The Restoration of Ancient Bronzes: Naples and Beyond From The Getty
Download Hundreds of Free Art Publications from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

November 21, 2016

A Prayer for the San Antonio Police Department

San Michele Arcangelo
Villa San Michele, Anacapri, Capri
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the San Antonio Police Department and family and friends of Detective Benjamin Marconi, who was murdered in cold blood November 20th in San Antonio, Texas. May Saint Michael the Archangel, Patron Saint of Police Officers, protect and watch over you.
Prayer for Policemen
O Almighty God, Whose great power and eternal wisdom embraces the universe, watch over all policemen and law enforcement officers everywhere. Protect them from harm In the performance of their duty to stop crime, robbery, riots and violence. We pray, help them keep our streets and homes safe, day and night. We commend them to your loving care because their duty is dangerous. Grant them strength and courage In their daily assignments. Dear God, protect these brave men and women. Grant them your almighty protection, Unite them safely with their families after duty has ended. Please God, grant us this wish. Amen
Also see:
A Prayer for the Des Moines Police Department
A Prayer for the Baton Rouge Police
A Prayer for Policemen

Photo of the Week: Sculpted Lions Supporting the High Pulpit in the Duomo di Ravello

Six magnificent marble lions support Niccolò di Bartolomeo da Foggia's ornate 13th-century pulpit in the Duomo di Ravello (Photo by New York Scugnizzo) 

November 20, 2016

Neapolitan Crèche at the Art Institute of Chicago

Photo courtesy of Art Institute of Chicago
November 22, 2016 — January 8, 2017

Art Institute of Chicago
(Gallery 209)
111 S Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60603

After its widely popular debut in 2013, our spectacular 18th-century Neapolitan crèche returns once again this holiday season. One of the very few and finest examples of such a work outside of Naples, the crèche is an intricate Nativity scene that reflects the vitality and artisanship that the city is still known for. The Art Institute’s crèche features over 200 figures—including no less than 50 animals and 41 items of food and drink—all staged in a spectacular Baroque cabinet with a painted backdrop. Elaborate, complex, and wondrous, the Neapolitan crèche is a rare example of the genre and a once-in-a-lifetime acquisition for the Art Institute.

Sacred imagery reenacting the Nativity has its roots in fourth-century Rome but by the 13th and 14th centuries, in part due to its association with St. Francis of Assisi, such scenes had become a permanent feature of Neapolitan churches. During the 18th century, the period from which most of the figures of the Art Institute’s crèche date, these relatively simple tableaux underwent a transformation into highly dramatic and theatrical renderings. Traditional sacred elements of Nativity scenes—the Holy Family, wise men, angels, and shepherds—were combined with profane aspects not of Bethlehem but of contemporary Neapolitan life—rowdy tavern scenes and bustling street activities—in dazzling displays of artistic techniques. Churches, wealthy citizens, members of the nobility, and the royal family all competed to commission the most complex presentations of this popular art form from leading artists and artisans, the same people who were creating monumental sculptures and altars for churches and palaces. These artists rendered figures in oil-painted terracotta to achieve the most realistic expressions in crèches and constructed painstakingly detailed costumes of luxurious fabrics that mimicked the fashions of the time. The Art Institute’s crèche represents the pinnacle of this artistic practice, born of the centuries-old tradition of Nativity scenes yet bursting with the energy of 18th-century Neapolitan life.

Due to the fragility of the original silk costumes and exquisite embroidery, the Neapolitan crèche can only be on view for a few weeks every year. Don’t miss your chance to revel in Baroque artistry this season!


November 18, 2016

Brooklyn Paper Radio Interviews Neapolitan Multiplatinum Recording Artist Patrizio Buanne

Patrizio Buanne with Brooklyn Paper Radio hosts Vince DiMiceli and Gersh Kuntzman (Photo courtesy of John Napoli)
Tune in to Brooklyn Paper Radio for the exclusive interview with international recording sensation Patrizio Buanne.

Brooklyn Paper radio is recorded and podcast live every Thursday at 4:45 pm — for your convenience — from their studio in America’s Downtown and can be found, as always, on, on iTunes, on Mixlr, and of course, on Stitcher.

Find Patrizio on Facebook or listen to him on YouTube:

Also see:
Hanging With Patrizio Buanne in New York City's Historic Little Italy
Patrizio Buanne Brings Down the House at the Highline Ballroom in New York City
Neapolitan Multiplatinum Recording Artist Patrizio Luanne Honored in New York City

I Giullari di Piazza to Perform "La Cantata Dei Pastori" at the Theatre for the New City

December 16th-18th (Friday & Saturday at 8PM; Sunday at 5PM)
December 21st & 22nd at 8PM

Theatre for the New City
155 First Avenue (between 9th & 10th Streets)
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $25

Reservations: 212-254-1109 or

Come back in time to Southern Italy with I GIULLARI DI PIAZZA, the renowned Italian music/theater/dance company, when they present their traditional Southern Italian "La Cantata dei Pastori" (The Shepherd's Cantata), a musical family holiday delight, at Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue (between 9th & 10th Streets). Five performances, December 16th & 17th at 8PM; December 18th at 5PM; December 21st & 22nd at 8PM.

Join the 14-member cast of specialists in Southern Italian instruments, music and dance, playing such characters as La Befana, the Good Witch of Christmas, Mary and Joseph, the Archangel Gabriel (on stilts), Devils, Demons, and the hilarious commedia dell'arte characters who enact this beloved story of the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, and the triumph of good over evil.

Also see: The Song of the Shepherds in NYC

November 17, 2016

Thomas Aquinas on the Rite of Mass: Lecture Coming Up in NYC

On Saturday, December 3rd, at the Catholic Center at New York University, Fr. Innocent Smith, O.P. will give a set of lectures titled: “The Rest is Said in Praise to God: Thomas Aquinas on the Rites of the Mass.” Throughout his writings, St. Thomas Aquinas offers profound insights into the liturgy that draw on the thought of his predecessors while offering new insights into the mysteries of the Church’s liturgy. These lectures will draw on the commentaries on the Mass that may be found in his Scriptum on the Sentences of Peter Lombard and the Summa theologiae.

While focusing on the traditional and innovative aspects of Thomas’s liturgical thought within his 13th century context, these lectures aim to help us to enter more deeply into the liturgy as experienced in its various forms today. The first lecture takes place at 1:00 pm, the second at 2:30 pm, and Mass will be offered at 3:45 pm. Refreshments will be available before the first and second lectures. The event will take place at the Catholic Center at NYU (238 Thompson Street, New York, NY), and are part of The Wisdom of St. Thomas Aquinas series sponsored by the Thomistic Institute at NYU ( To register for the lectures, which are free and open to the public, visit


November 16, 2016

Holy Door Pilgrimage and Votive Mass for Our Lady of Ransom at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC

(L-R) Cav. William Yapp, Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta; Rev. Msgr. Robert T. Ritchie, Rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral; Chaplain, Cav., Msgr. Joseph Ambrosio, Cavalieri John Napoli, Charles Sant'Elia, Vincent Gangone and Anthony O’Boyle, Knights of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George (Photo by Cav. Patrick O'Boyle)
Monday, November 14th, New York City — Led by our esteemed Vice Chancellor Patrick O'Boyle my confratelli and I had the great privilege of serving as honor guard at the missa cantata votive Mass for Our Lady of Ransom and conclusion of the Extraordinary Year of Mercy with celebrant Fr. Leonard Villa at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. Sponsored by the Regina Caeli (#423) and Agnus Dei (#12361) Councils of the Knights of Columbus, Fr. Stephen Saffron, Parochial Vicar at St. Anselm Church in Brooklyn and Chaplain of the Regina Caeli Council, was the homilist. The first Latin Mass celebrated at the Cathedral in almost twenty years, there were easily a thousand faithful in attendance.
(L) Fr. Saffron delivers his sermon from the marble pulpit (Photo by Cav. Gangone). (R) Cavalieri Gangone, Sant'Elia and O'Boyle in the private chapel next to the sacristy (Photo by New York Scugnizzo)
For more photos visit The Society of St. Hugh of Cluny 

November 15, 2016

Celebrating the Feast of San Martino di Tours

Evviva San Martino!
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Friday after work, a few of us met at Most Precious Blood Church in Manhattan’s Little Italy to celebrate the Feast of San Martino di Tours (Nov. 11th), patron saint of the poor, vintners, tailors and soldiers. The unseasonably mild weather, known as l’estate di San Martino, or Saint Martin’s Summer, was short lived as temperatures unexpectedly dropped as the sun went down.
Warming up inside, we lit some candles and prayed for our ancestors, loved ones and other petitions. I made my usual rounds to the church's various shrines to the saints and said my intercessory prayers to San Rocco, San Gennaro, San Michele Arcangelo, et al.
Luckily, back in 2015 the Church commissioned the construction of a magnificent Neapolitan presepe (aptly named the Nativity of Mercy) in anticipation of the Holy Doors and the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. Inspired by Caravaggio’s masterpiece, The Seven Acts of Mercy (circa 1607), San Martino features prominently among the many beautiful figures. 
Handcrafted by the renowned La Scarabottola workshop in Naples, the great saint is shown sharing his crimson mantle with a naked beggar. According to tradition, San Martino cut his cloak in two to save the beggar from freezing to death. Later that night, he dreamt of Jesus wearing the severed garment and when he awoke the next morning the cloak was fully restored.
After church we made our way to Ribalta for our celebratory dinner. Located at 48 E 12th Street, the eatery is easily one of New York City’s best Neapolitan pizzeria restaurants. And thanks to its friendly service and accommodating atmosphere, Ribalta is fast becoming one of our favorite meeting places for our more casual get-togethers. 
Michael and Rosanna
show their Due Sicilie pride
Traditionally a celebration of new wines and earthly bounty, we enjoyed the holiday with a few bottles of Aglianico and some classic Neapolitan fare, such as Gnocchi alla Sorrentina and Pizza Margherita. Since I don’t eat meat on Fridays, I had some grilled octopus with potatoes and the Scialatielli alle Vongole.
Coincidently, it was also the anniversary of the execution of the great counter-revolutionary hero Michele Pezza, better known as Fra Diavolo (Nov. 11th, 1806). Naturally, we raised our glasses and paid homage to his memory, recalling his many exploits and acts of daring. 
After a few drinks, it was only a matter of time before someone broke out the Bourbon flag. A hotbed of neo-Bourbonism, a few shouts of “Viva o’ Rre!” rang from across the restaurant when some other night owls spotted us taking pictures.
Many thanks to my confratelli and consorelle for another very enjoyable evening, it is always an honor and a privilege to celebrate our faith and culture together. Forza e onore!
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina
Pastiera Napoletana
Also see:
Celebrating the Feast of Santa Teresa d'Avila and the 99th Anniversary of Fatima
Celebrating the Feast of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina
Celebrating the Feasts of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary and the Madonna di Ripalta in NYC

November 14, 2016

Photo of the Week: 13th-Century Pulpit by Niccolò di Bartolomeo da Foggia in the Duomo di Ravello

In the nave of the Duomo di Ravello is a 13th-century pulpit by the great Niccolò di Bartolomeo da Foggia. Commissioned by Nicola Rufolo, the pulpit is decorated with polychrome mosaics, inlays and an eagle serving as the lectern. The plat-form stands on six twisted columns, supported on the backs of six majestic lions. Photo by New York Scugnizzo

Sicilian Tenors at the Bijou Theatre

Saturday, December 10th @ 8pm—10pm

Bijou Theatre Bridgeport
275 Fairfield Avenue
Bridgeport, Connecticut 06604

Tickets available at Eventbrite

Three marvelous tenor voices combine for a unique interpretation of the world’s best music. Accompanied by a grand piano and presented with light-hearted fun, The Sicilian Tenors take the audience on a romantic journey from Hollywood to Broadway, Italy, and beyond in a concert event for all ages and musical tastes.

Purchase tickets online or call 203-258-8205 and ask for Jen. For more information, email

For more information visit

November 12, 2016

Congratulations Thomas On Your Confirmation

November 10, 2016
Congratulations Thomas on your confirmation. It was an honor and a privilege to be your sponsor. May your faith and love in God grow stronger every day.

Compra Sud — Fortunato Brothers Café

Photo by New York Scugnizzo
Let's support those who keep our traditions and folkways alive

Fortunato Brothers Café
289 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11211

Visit our Compra Sud Directory for complete listing

* Our recommendations will be unsolicited, and only from our personal experience. No second hand suggestions will be made.

November 10, 2016

The Lion, the Emblems and the Wardrobe

Some of Gabriele d'Annunzio's Renaissance and Baroque Secrets in the Vittoriale
Photo courtesy of Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò
A lecture by Alessandro Giammei, Princeton University

Tuesday, November 15th @ 6:30PM

Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò
New York University
24 West 12th Street
New York, NY 10011

Italy's most famous late-modern poet, novelist, war hero, and viveur was also a collector (and forger!) of medals, a peruser of antique illustrated books, and an exquisite interior decorator. Such peculiar qualities made Gabriele d'Annunzio an extraordinary re-user and re-inventor of Renaissance and Baroque word-image devices called emblems and imprese. However, this sophisticated line of work has been ignored or misunderstood by scholars, by readers, and by the many devotees that today repeat (and even retweet) his memorable mottos ignoring their erudite 17th century humanistic origins. Through the analysis of decorated stationary, bookplates, and furniture - most notably, of a wardrobe - Prof. Giammei will take a tour among d'Annunzio's emblematic masterpiece: his villa in Gardone, a mysterious theatre of modernized verbal and visual allegories that still awaits to be deciphered.


Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò has been offering for years an intense calendar of events in many different cultural and social fields, such as art exhibits, concerts, lectures, screenings and previews, literary presentations and awards, and other events open to the public, all of which pertinent to Italian culture and made available - in English - for an American audience. Unless stated otherwise, all events are FREE and open to the general public. It is not possible to reserve seats and seating will take place on a first-come first-serve basis. Casa Italiana reserves the right to change the program without notice.

Also see: "Gabriele d'Annunzio: Living Life as a Work of Art" at NYU's Casa Italiana

November 9, 2016

Michéal Castaldo Announces 2016–2017 East Coast Christmas Concert Tour

Michéal Castaldo announces his 2016–2017 East Coast Christmas Concert Tour, including six locations in the U.S. and Canada:
November 26, Merry Christmas – Buon Natale at Our Lady Help of Christians Parish, in Staten Island, NY (Box Office, Brown Paper Tickets, 1-800-838-3006, Event #2628132), sponsored by Kearny Bank, Sempre Avanti, and Woodpecker Press.
December 4, Home For Christmas at St. Brigid’s/Our Lady of Hope Chapel in Westbury, NY (Box Office, Brown Paper Tickets, 1-800-838-3006, Event #2563580), sponsored by Comitato Italiano of St. Brigid.
December 10, Songs of Angels Italian Christmas Hymns and Carols at Saint Ann Catholic Church in Hoboken NJ (Box Office, Brown Paper Tickets, 1-800-838-3006, Event #2563594), sponsored by Monte San Giacomo Club, Finesse Auto Body, and New York City Olive Oil Coop.
December 18, Fourth Annual Italian Christmas Concert at the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, CT (Box Office, 203-753-0381 x130), sponsored by Jerry Padula Esq.
December 28, Natale for Lisa at Cedarview Church in Paris, Ontario, Canada (Box Office, 1-519-442-4448), sponsored by Teatro Verde. 
January 8, 2017, Natale Nel Cuore—Christmas in Our Hearts at Holy Cross Church Tampa Bay, FL (Box Office, 941-729-3891), sponsored by Paula & Tony Timpano.
Castaldo’s concerts fill the hearts of audiences with the spirit of the holidays. Accompanied by the Castaldo String Quartet, he performs classic Advent and Christmas carols from his chart-topping, best-selling album, “Extravergine: Christmas in the Mediterranean.”
On November 4, Castaldo is releasing a new digital single, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” a Christian Advent hymn, in English and Latin. He will perform his new release at all of his upcoming concerts. Castaldo’s beautiful and monastic drone-inspired rendition of this holiday hymn embodies the Christmas spirit.
During the 2015 holiday season, Castaldo published his first Christmas Music Folio, entitled Extravergine: A Mediterranean Christmas Folio (in Italian, Natale nel Mediterraneo) which offers sacred, liturgical Christmas carols in Italian and Latin in lead sheet form. Both the CD and music song book will be available at all of his concerts and are also available on Amazon and other online music retail outlets.
For more information about the tour dates, call 1-877-642-7271. For more information about Michéal Castaldo, visit
Press contact: To request an interview with the artist, contact Majestic Castle Music at 877-642-7271 or For media requests, contact Charlotte Jayne at 631-256-6515 or

November 8, 2016

The Search for our Ancestry (XXX)

DNA and Family Trees
By Angelo Coniglio
Contrary to what many believe (and to the disappointment of the ill-informed), DNA tests, in and of themselves, cannot take a sample of one’s genetic material and magically produce a list of ancestors by name and date, going back generation upon generation.   
The key to developing that kind of ‘personal ancestry’ is to have hundreds (or thousands, the more the merrier) of donors have their DNA tested, and then compared. The actual ‘family tree’ enhancement comes not from the DNA tests, but from knowledge that may have been compiled by conventional means (I call it ‘paper genealogy’) by one or more donors with matching DNA. 
I’ll use some examples from 23andMe to augment my discussion. Other DNA-testing venues are similar.  When you register on 23andMe, you (voluntarily) provide important information about yourself: your current residence; ancestral villages; and common family and ancestral surnames.  After your DNA is analyzed, 23andMe adds items to your list: ‘Ancestry’ – the geographical place where most of your ‘ancestral composition’ occurred about 500 years ago (mine is ‘Southern Europe’); and codes for the ‘maternal haplogroup’ and ‘paternal haplogroup’ representing some of your ancestors’ whereabouts 5,000 to 25,000 years ago (my haplogroups are, respectively, ‘H3’ and ‘I2b1’).
In addition to classifying a donor by ‘ancestral composition’ of 500 years ago, and identifying his/her ‘haplogroups’ from the distant past, 23andMe provides a list of ‘DNA Relatives’ identified as ’23andMe patrons with a relationship to you.’  This is a list (coded by the participants for privacy) that shows your ‘estimated’ relatives who are in the 23andMe database, from the closest to the most distant. The closest one shown in my case is a ‘1st cousin’ (actually, my great niece, whose percentage of shared DNA is about the same as that of a first cousin). The most distant (#729 on my list) is identified only as a ‘distant cousin’.
Next to each name in the list is the voluntary information that person entered – and here’s the rub: some give (as I do) their own full, uncoded names, as well as a number of ancestral origins and family surnames; others, presumably to protect their privacy, give no name, no ancestral towns, no surnames. Why anyone joins a DNA service and then shares no information is beyond me, because it is that very information which one uses to see whether there are any obvious reasons for assuming a relationship. 
Each person in the list, whether they have given much, or only minimal information, can be contacted through 23andMe. I can simply send a message, asking the person to start a protected and private conversation with me, through 23andMe; or I can request that the person share their genome (genetic blueprint) with me. The person can then elect to share their health and genealogical information; or only their genealogical information, or they can decline to share anything.
Those who agree to share information can be selected for comparison,which shows a bar graph of the 23 chromosome pairs, highlighting those segments of certain chromosomes that are an exact match to mine. A measure of DNA length is the ‘centiMorgan’ (cM). Most venues consider matching segments of 7 cM or longer as significant: that is, showing a genetic relationship between two people. Based on the total length of DNA segments shared, the match will be identified as ‘1st Cousin’, ‘5th-8th Cousin’, ‘Distant  Relative’, and so on. These relationships are general. “First Cousin’ means ‘this person shares the same amount of DNA with you as a first cousin would’  In actuality then, the match might be your great-niece or great-nephew, or a great-aunt or great-uncle, who share the same amount of DNA as a first cousin. 
If two close relatives had their DNA compared, there would be a large number of long segments that matched, in most of the chromosomes. The more distant the relationship, the fewer and shorter the matching segments would be.
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 has helpul hints on genealogic research. If you have genealogy questions, or would like him to lecture to your club or group, e-mail him at

November 6, 2016

Craco and the Briganti

Carmine Crocco
Reprinted from the November 2016 Craco Society Bulletin
Thomas Frascella, Esq., and president of the San Felese Society of New Jersey has been writing an illuminating history of Basilicata. In his research he has come across several mentions of Craco during the briganti era after the Italian Unification.
He recently shared an excerpt from the autobiography of Carmine Crocco (the bandit known as Donatello or Donatelli). Crocco (1830 Rionero in Vulture-1905 Portoferraio), always a controversial figure, has begun to appear in a new light by historians who are involved in a “Revisionism of the Risorgimento.” 
His book, Come divenni brigante (How I became a brigand) provided a short mention of actions around Craco but gives us some added details that may help explain the background to the massacre of 16 men that took place there on Nov. 24, 1861 by government forces. 
The section in the book (pg. 69) about Craco is as follows: 
Somewhere around the 6th of November give or take. Leaving Salandra we headed for Craco where we met half way a procession of women and children led by a priest with his cross. They came to ask for clemency for their country (village) and this clemency was given to them…., From Craco after having crossed the river Agri we arrived in Aliano.” 
Thomas Frascella interprets this incident as a factor in the government’s action later in the month. He feels. “... the fact that the town was spared by the insurgents put it on the Piedmont list for action.” 
Frascella’s writings about the period from October 1861, when Carmine Cracco joined forces with General Jose Borjes to try to foment an uprising in Basilicata and restore the Bourbon king, provide added insight about the succeeding events which are also mentioned in the town of Craco’s history, Note Storiche sul Comune di Craco. 
Although Carmine Crocco and General Borjes had spared Craco in the beginning of November, it appears that a splinter group of brigands returned to the town on November 14th and found support amongst some of the townspeople. 
Prof. D’Angella in Note Storiche presents this account of that incident (pg. 75 English version): 
“The brigands found in Craco many supporters of the Bourbons, including brothers Gaetano and Giovanni Arleo, Antonio Miadonna (husband of Rosa Grossi), the Santalucia family, the Rev. Giuseppe Colabella and others.” 
This set the stage for the reprisal and execution of the 16 men by the government forces on November 24th that is well documented in the book. 
Following that, we know from the “Briganti List” that was preserved by Archimedes Rigirone in the papers of the Archivio Privato Rigirone there was an additional naming of individuals from Craco as outlaws. 
Tom Frascella suggests in his writings, which can be found on the San Felese Society of New Jersey website, that the actions of the government during this period and subsequent decisions in the next decades was an underlying cause of the great migration of Southern Italians to America at the turn of the 20th century. So, the importance of this little known period by Italian-Americans takes on a new light and helps explain some of the factionalism between northern and southern regions. 

Carnegie Trees and Neapolitan Presepio, 2016

Courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art
Dec 1, 2016–Jan 9, 2017

Carnegie Museum of Art – Hall of Architecture
4400 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
(412) 622-3131

See the Hall of Architecture filled with several towering Colorado spruce trees, each adorned with handcrafted ornaments from committee members and collaborating organizations. The trees flank the museum’s exquisite 18th-century Neapolitan presepio Nativity scene, rare in US collections, together making up a cherished Pittsburgh tradition. Handcrafted between 1700 and 1830, the presepio is filled with lifelike figures and colorful details that re-create the Nativity within a vibrant and detailed panorama of 18th-century Italian village life.


November 5, 2016

Craco’s Greatest Citizen

Color lithograph representing Fr. Onorati
Reprinted from the November 2016 Craco Society Bulletin
Father Nicola Onorati, who was called “Columella”, may be rightfully considered Craco’s greatest citizen. His accomplishments during the 17th century in science were astounding yet he is little known or appreciated. That is until Pasquale Mauro Maria Onorati wrote a thesis after spending 20 years researching his ancestor. 
Avvocato Onorati shared his thesis with the Society which is planning to translate it into English so a new audience will be able to learn about the accomplishments of Columella. Pasquale’s opening comments to his paper provide us with an insight into what wonders we will learn about this remarkable figure:
Father Nicola Onorati, called Columella (Craco 1764 - Naples 1822), was a priest and former provincial minister of the Franciscan Order of Minori Osservanti, a university professor, naturalist, theologian, philosopher, economist, historian and man of letters; author of dozens of printed works, speeches and articles in newspapers across Italy.
This paper, which is divided into two chapters, followed by an extensive appendix, is the result of twenty years of the writer's research and seeks to not only be an act of respect towards an illustrious ancestor, a man of science and faith, but to "shed light" on the fascinating human story of this character that today, almost two hundred years after his death, although only known to "insiders,” is considered, along with Abbot Antonio Genovesi, as one of the great reformers of education, agricultural techniques and economy of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies.
In the first chapter, there are short introductory notes on the life and works of Fr. Onorati, which try to correct the many inaccuracies written by some biographers, for example on his birth or tragic death. To this end we examined hundreds of printed books and manuscripts in different Italian libraries (including the National Library in Naples and the Palatina in Parma) or available on the “internet” (Google Books, Internet Cultural etc.) and documents in public archives (Archivio Storico Diocesano di Napoli e Archivio Storico della Provincia Salernitano-Lucana dei Frati Minori) and private clergy (as l’Archivio Segreto Vaticano) or present in Internet (Family Search). This has enabled me to reconstruct a list as comprehensive as possible of the printed editions of the works of Columella, in addition to a rich bibliography with references to his work; Moreover, it was possible to compile a partial inventory of books in his private library, which shows the great wealth of the same. A part of this material is presented in the appendix. The same chapter also reconstructs the relations between the Onorati and some Caserta intellectuals in the last two decades of the 1700s, the likes of Francesco Daniele and his brother Giuseppe, but also important artists such as Domenico Mondo.
The links with these representatives of the culture in “Terra di Lavoro,” and Onorati, not only emerge from a printed work by him, namely the Italian edition of the “Campania del Sanfelice” published in Naples in 1796, but also by a score of letters, mostly unpublished, preserved in the rich correspondence of Fr. Ireneo Affò in the Palatina Library in Parma, which is transcribed and published in full in the second chapter. 
The Onorati family, whose roots originated in San Mauro Forte, came to Craco when Francesco Antonio Onorati married Vittoria Mormando (c.1726-1786). Besides their illustrious son, Columella, their other children would marry into the Cracotan clans of Francavilla and Manghise. One other son married a Laviola in Pisticci and settled there. 
The town of Craco has restored the monastery that housed Fr. Onorati’s order and uses it for the home of Craco Ricerche, S.r.l., the historic preservation organization that holds events and meetings there.

The Sicilian Tenors at Weinberg Center for the Arts

Saturday, November 19th @ 8:00pm

Weinberg Center for the Arts
20 W Patrick Street
Frederick, MD 21701

For tickets, call (301) 600-2828

Three marvelous tenor voices combine for a unique interpretation of the world’s best music. Accompanied by a grand piano and presented with light-hearted fun, The Sicilian Tenors take the audience on a romantic journey from Hollywood to Broadway, Italy, and beyond in a concert event for all ages and musical tastes.

For more information visit


November 3, 2016

A Prayer for the Des Moines Police Department

L'Arcangelo Michele by Paolo de Matteis
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and families of the November 2nd ambush attacks in Des Moines, Iowa. May Saint Michael the Archangel, Patron Saint of Police Officers, protect and watch over you.
Prayer for Policemen
O Almighty God, Whose great power and eternal wisdom embraces the universe, watch over all policemen and law enforcement officers everywhere. Protect them from harm In the performance of their duty to stop crime, robbery, riots and violence. We pray, help them keep our streets and homes safe, day and night. We commend them to your loving care because their duty is dangerous. Grant them strength and courage In their daily assignments. Dear God, protect these brave men and women. Grant them your almighty protection, Unite them safely with their families after duty has ended. Please God, grant us this wish. Amen

Also see: 
A Prayer for the Baton Rouge Police
• A Prayer for Policemen 

Eureka! The Seminal Spirit of Hellenic Philosophy and Literature in Magna Graecia

Photo courtesy of the Westchester Italian Cultural Center
November 9 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Westchester Italian Cultural Center
One Generoso Pope Place
Tuckahoe, NY 10707

Among the great cornerstone cultures of the pre-Latin world, the formidable forces of the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Etruscans and Persians all enjoyed their glorious moments in the Mediterranean sun. However, there was one particular civilization which flourished there more vividly than any other: the ancient Greeks.

These 8th Century BC Greeks and their successors came bearing splendid gifts which still illuminate and delight us to this day. In western civilization, intellectual thought was born in the Greek mind, and the priceless patrimony of their philosophy and literature has no peers (Neither then nor now). In this thought-provoking presentation, we will study the profound imprint of Greek thought and expression on the minds of their greatest pupils – the Romans- and also ourselves.

A series of three lectures presented by Professor Joseph N. Spedaliere.

Light reception will precede the program at 6:30pm. Lectures start promptly at 7:00pm.

Must register in advance and prepay. Members $20, Non-Members $25.


November 2, 2016

Hanging With Patrizio Buanne in New York City’s Historic Little Italy

Patrizio approves Ernie's new merchandise 
We ran into multiplatinum recording artist Patrizio Buanne Saturday afternoon at E. Rossi & Co. (193 Grand St.) in NYC’s historic Little Italy. Just finishing his successful 2016 U.S. Tour, Patrizio was catching up with his old friend (and biggest supporter in the States) Ernie Rossi. 
Down-to-earth and unassuming, Patrizio took time from his busy schedule and joined us for lunch at Cafetal Social Club (285 Mott Street), a cozy little eatery with terrific food and a hardworking, friendly staff. 
Sated, we took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and leisurely strolled through the teeming neighborhood. Talking shop and admiring the bevy of beauties walking around in their Halloween costumes, it was fun watching him interact with fans who recognized him on the street. 
Eventually stopping by Margherita NYC (197 Grand St.), we capped off the evening with a couple of beers, thus reminding me that, while the great crooner is ethnic Neapolitan, he was born in Austria and is an Austrian citizen. Our people can be found in a great many places, but our roots remain the same. 
Cafetal manager Gina Guglielmo was a most gracious host 
Also see:
Patrizio Buanne Brings Down the House at the Highline Ballroom in New York City
Neapolitan Multiplatinum Recording Artist Patrizio Buanne Honored in New York City
Patrizio Buanne 2016 USA Tour
Patrizio Buanne Announces US Tour Dates

November 1, 2016

The Black Cats NYC Set Sidewalk Ablaze With CD Release Party

Frontman Andrew "Ciacci" Giordano
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
My buddies and I crammed into hopping Sidewalk Cafe in the East Village Friday night to support our good friends The Black Cats NYC at their highly anticipated CD release party. 
Hitting the stage at about 10pm, il Gatti Neri, as they are sometimes called, got the party started with songs from the new EP, “Gone.” The crowd erupted as they ripped through She Got What I Need, Psychotic Whisper and my favorite, Too Far Gone.
The "Pussycats" roar
Frontman Andrew Giordano commanded the stage with his raw vocals, grooving bass lines and intense facial expressions. Backing Andrew up, the very sexy “Pussycats” Deanna and Julie squealed and purred to the delight of every red-blooded man in the room.
The girls weren't the only eye candy on stage, lead guitarist Don “Black Cat” kept hearts racing with his high adrenaline guitar riffs and blistering solos. 
After the show Andrew and Don
gave out free copies of their new CD
The Black Cats NYC line-up also featured Jason Reddish on drums, “Raven” Hancock on the sax and very special guest Alex Giordano on the piano. 
Setting Sidewalk ablaze, the band played all our favorites, including Hear Your Mamma Callin’ and The Shadow. They closed the show with Animal, a raucous ditty, which they kindly dedicated to us. 
Spilling out to the bar, the celebration continued late into the night with lots of whisky and beer. Mingling with partygoers, band members gave out complimentary copies of the CD to all their fans. 
It was hot, it was crowded, and it was loud; but there was nowhere else I'd rather be. Congratulations Black Cats NYC and much success on your road ahead!

New Book: Armies of the Italian Wars of Unification 1848–70: Piedmont & the Two Sicilies

Forthcoming title that may be of interest to our readers. Available at

Armies of the Italian Wars of Unification 1848–70 (1): Piedmont and the Two Sicilies (Men-at-Arms) by Gabriele Esposito

Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publication Date: August 22, 2017
Paperback: $18.00
Language: English
Pages: 48

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