May 31, 2017

A Look at the 2017 Festa di San Cono da Teggiano in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Evviva San Cono!
Photos by New York Scugnizzo and Rosanna Minervini
I joined my Teggianesi friends in Williamsburg, Brooklyn Sunday afternoon (May 28th) to celebrate the Grand Feast of their beloved patron, San Cono da Teggiano. Mass was celebrated in Italian by Fr. Vincenzo Chirichella in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, which is currently under renovation. It was great to see members of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George, the Societá Gioventú Quagliettana, the Our Lady of the Snow Society, Club Sassinese D'America and the San Rocco Society of Potenza, among others, come out and show their support. 
After Mass, devotees processed with the statue through the neighborhood with much fanfare. After a couple of hours we returned to the San Cono Clubhouse (231 Ainslie St.) for a spectacular luncheon. 
Many thanks to President Rocco Manzolillo and all the members of the San Cono Society for their hard work and dedication. It is an honor and a privilege to celebrate our faith and culture with you. Special thanks to my friends Giorgio, Antoinette and their beautiful family for inviting us to break bread with them. We had a terrific time and look forward to celebrating again next year. Evviva San Cono!
The Color Guard lead the way
(L) Knights of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George show their support. (R) A young man flies the flag of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
(Above & below) Members of the San Cono Society saunter behind the Saint
(Above & below) The procession wends its way through the neighborhood
Our friends Franca, Elena and Vinnie of the Our Lady of the Snow Society 
Michael Aromando and the Metropolitan Festival Band
(L) Ascending the steps of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.
(R) The statue is placed next to the altar
Ladies look after the putti while the men carry the statue into the church
(L) Despite the renovations, devotees pack the church to celebrate Mass
On behalf of HE John Viola & the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George, Rosanna Minervini & Cav. Gangone extend warm regards & best wishes
(L) After Mass, we met our confratello Carmelo.
(R) The statue is returned to the float
Members of the Società di San Cono pose for a commemorative photo
Cav. John Napoli and Cav. Vincent Gangone enjoying the festivities
Joanne opens her home for us so we can venerate the relic of San Cono
(L) Along the parade route, we visited a private shrine dedicated to San Cono. (R) Back at the clubhouse, the Gangone men are ready to party
(L) Rev. Msgr. Jamie G. Gigantiello, Pastor of OLMC, offers a benediction.
(R) Cono sings a heartfelt rendition of Ave Maria
Also see:
A Look at the 2016 Festa di San Cono in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
A Look at the 2015 Festa di San Cono in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
A Look at the 2014 Festa di San Cono in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
A Look at the 2013 Festa di San Cono in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Feast of Santa Maria Mater Domini

Evviva Maria!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
May 31st is the Feast Day of Santa Maria Mater Domini, patroness of Fraine, a commune in the Province of Chieti, Abruzzo. According to tradition, around the year 1000 the Virgin Mary appeared before a young deaf mute tending her flock near the Vicenne Forest. Curing the girl, Our Lady told her to call out to her parents. At first, not recognizing the voice (and busy at work) they ignored her calls. However, when they finally learned what had happened the overjoyed couple rushed to the woods with their daughter to give thanks and praise. The Blessed Mother called upon them to build a house of worship at the location of the miracle. The grateful family, with the support of the local clergy, did as they were instructed and built a Benedictine chapel. Completed in 1056, the Sanctuary was renovated several times over the centuries and continues to be a popular destination for pilgrims and devotees. To commemorate the occasion, I’m posting a Prayer to the Mother of God. The accompanying photo of Santa Maria Mater Domini was taken at Holy Face Monastery in Clifton, New Jersey.
Prayer to the Mother of God
O most glorious Ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ our God, accept our prayers and present them to thy son and our God, that He may, for thy sake, enlighten and save our souls. Amen

May 30, 2017

May 29, 2017

Feast of Saints Cuono and Conello

Martirio di San Cuono e figlio
May 29th is the Feast Day of Saints Cuono and Conello, the Iconium Martyrs. Father and son are the protectors of Acerra, a town in Campania, just northeast of the city of Naples. They are invoked for bountiful crops and protection from natural disasters, such as drought, earthquakes and Mount Vesuvius. To commemorate the occasion I’m posting a Prayer in Italian to Saints Cuono and Conello. The accompanying photo of the Martyrdom of Saint Cuono and Son by E. Fiore (1867) is located in the Cattedrale di Acerra (photo courtesy of San Cuono e Conello on Facebook).
O gloriosissimi Martiri Cuono e Figlio, Nostri potenti Avvocati e Protettori, mercé la vostra potente intercessione fate che il clementissimo Iddio sia sempre propizio a noi Acerrani da Lui a Voi affidati: liberandoci da tutti i flagelli, che meritano i nostri peccati. E soprattutto Vi preghiamo impartirci le grazie necessarie per salvare le nostre anime e con Voi godere Iddio eternamente in Cielo

Sfilata dei Turchi e Festa di San Gerardo La Porta — Parade of the Turks and the Feast of Saint Gerard

Potenza, Basilicata
Potenza's annual Festa di San Gerardo La Porta (May 29th) recalls the town's desperate defense against Saracen raiders. Mooring their galleys on the Basento riverbank, a band of corsairs made their way towards the unsuspecting townspeople of Potenza. Legend has it that if not for the miraculous appearance of San Gerardo La Porta, flanked by angels, the town would have suffered the usual horrific fate met by so many other unfortunate victims of Moslem piracy across the Southern Italian seaboard—death or slavery. The sight of the celestial host before them caused panic among the marauding infidels, allowing the city's defense to organize and drive them off.
The Saint's intercession is celebrated with a magnificent parade called Sfilata dei Turchi or The Procession of the Turks. Dressed in picturesque costumes—Christian knights on horseback and Turkish pirates (including the Grand Vizier on a horse drawn carriage) complete with replica slave ships—march along the parade route. Children dressed in white (representing angels) and the effigy of San Gerardo La Porta follow them, to the crowd’s delight.
After the parade the celebrants are treated to jousting competitions and horse races.

In commemoration I'm posting a Prayer to San Gerardo La Porta.

Prayer to San Gerardo La Porta

Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that the examples of San Gerardo La Porta may effectually move us to reform our lives; that while we celebrate his festival, we may also imitate his actions. Look upon our weakness, almighty God, and since the burden of our own deeds weighs heavily upon us, may the glorious intercession of San Gerardo protect us. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Four Weeks of Southern Italian Folk Dance Mondays at the Bernie Wohl Center

Photo courtesy of Iwona Adamczyk
Goddard Riverside's Bernie Wohl Center
647 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY 10024

Folk singer Michela Musolino will teach 4 one hour and fifteen minute workshops on traditional Southern Italian Dances from the regions of Sicily, Calabria, Puglia and Campania Monday evenings from 6:30pm to 7:45pm at the Goddard Riverside’s Bernie Wohl Center in NYC. In this class cycle the dances presented will be: June 5th- the Sicilian Tarantella; June 12th- the Calabrese Tarantella; June 19th - the Tarantella del Gargano/Carpinese; June 26th - the Tammurriata Pimontese. Musolino will share with students a brief history of the dances at the start of the workshops and run through a warm-up with them. Students will be introduced to the identifying rhythms of the accompanying music and will learn the steps particular to the dances. As these traditional, yet current, dances are an expression and celebration of community, the focus of the workshop is for the students to experience the joy and fun of dancing as a collective! The workshop is open to all ages and skill levels. Students should wear comfortable clothes and footwear.

The 4 week session is $40 in advance here on Eventbrite.

Drop-ins are also welcome; individual classes are $12 at the door.

May 28, 2017

Arba Sicula Presents an Evening of Sicilian Music, Poetry and Dance at St. John’s University

The enchanting Michela Musolino
I’m a firm believer that if the remnant of our community is to survive we need to participate in culturally relevant and edifying social gatherings to help strengthen our faith, family and community ties. Last Monday, I attended such an event at St. John’s University in Queens, New York organized by Prof. Gaetano Cipolla of Arba Sicula and Michela Musolino of Rosa Tatuata. Two titans of our community, Prof. Cipolla and Michela do an incredible job promoting Sicilian culture and folkways through literature, lectures, travel, dance, music and more. 
To the delight of the audience, Room 416A in the D’Angelo Center was momentarily whisked away to the jewel of the Mediterranean, as Michela and Rosa Tatuata performed their heartfelt brand of Sicilian roots and folk music. The setlist included an array of traditional love songs and laments, including A’ Virrinedda, Mamma vi l'Haiu Persu lu Rispettu, O Nici, and Tiritera di Bagheria, a child's nursery rhyme about the Holy Family.
Halfway through their set, the band took a brief intermission so Prof. Cipolla could recite Nino Martoglio’s “Cummattimentu di Orlandu e Rinardu,” a poem written in Sicilian based on the epic duel between the Paladins Orlando and Rinaldo to conquer princess Angelica’s heart. It was recited dramatically in English by poet Stanley Barkan.
Visiting from Catania, Sicily, Maestri Giuseppe and Giovanni Bonaccorsi joined the band on stage to demonstrate their prowess in Santamaria, the ancient Sicilian art of short fencing. The brothers masterfully twirled their cudgels and fighting staffs while parrying their opponent's blows to the rhythm of the music.
Afterward, attendees mingled and enjoyed some complimentary refreshments. Copies of Prof. Cipolla’s many books about Sicily were also available for purchase.
It was an amazing night, which once again left me wondering why so many of our people are surrendering their time-honored traditions and culture for an atomistic, materialistic, and deracinated existence. We commend the efforts of Arba Sicula, Prof. Cipolla, Michela Musolino and all the other groups and individuals that promote our rich culture and identity. Your important work is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Prof. Gaetano Cipolla and just a few of the many books he has written and published about his beloved Sicily
Rosa Tatuata enthralled the audience with their performance
Michela used several types of frame drums during the performance
(Above and below) Maestri Giuseppe and Giovanni Bonaccorsi
demonstrate their martial prowess
Photos by New York Scugnizzo

Only in Naples — Book Presentation with Author, Katherine Wilson at the Italian American Museum

Thursday, June 1st @ 6:30 PM

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

Suggested donation of $10 per person

Q&A and light reception will follow the program.

Copies of the book will be available for sale and autograph.

For reservations, please call the Italian American Museum at 212-965-9000, or email:

RSVP Code: MC0601

May 27, 2017

Festa della Madonna delle Milizie di Scicli

La Battaglia de Milici 
Every year on the last Saturday in May, the town of Scicli (a Baroque jewel in the province of Ragusa, Sicily) the locals celebrate the Festa della Madonna delle Milizie and the miraculous triumph of Count Roger of Hauteville over the Saracens in 1091. 
The feast commemorates the divine intercession of the Blessed Mother on behalf of the Norman forces at a critical point in the battle. Overwhelmed by the paynim's superior numbers and fearing defeat, Count Roger invoked the aid of the Virgin. Mounted on a white charger and dressed in full military regalia, the apparition of Our Lady appeared on the field-of-battle in the district of Milizie and lead the Normans to victory. The triumph was of great importance for the eventual Christian reconquest of the island.
As part of the jubilant festivities the Sciclitani dress in period costumes (Christian and Moslem) and parade an equestrian statue of the Madonna through the bustling streets with much fanfare. Among the local delicacies served for the occasion is a delectable cream puff shaped like a turban called testa di turco, or Turkish heads. 
In commemoration I'm posting a Prayer to Our Lady.

O Mother of Perpetual Help

O Mother of Perpetual Help
To thee we come imploring help.
Behold us here, from far and near,
To ask of thee our help to be;
Behold us here, from far and near,
To ask of thee our help to be.

Perpetual help we beg of thee;
Our souls from sin and sorrow free;
Direct our wandering feet aright,
And be thyself our own true light;
Direct our wandering feet aright,
And be thyself out own true light.

And when this life is o'er for me,
This last request I ask of thee:
Obtain for me in heaven this grace,
To see my God there face to face;
Obtain for me in heaven this grace,
To see my God there face to face.

Join Rosa Tatuata for an Evening of Song and Dance at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture in Peterborough, New Hampshire

Saturday, June 3rd @ 7:30 PM

Monadnock Center for History and Culture
19 Grove Street
Peterborough, NH 03458

Love of Sicilian and Southern Italian roots music is what drives Rosa Tatuata to passionately interpret the traditions and melodies of their ancestors. Just as their name comes from Tennessee William’s beloved play about the happy, raucous collision of immigrant and American cultures; likewise Rosa Tatuata’s performance relates that indelible commingling to their beloved audience through song!

Fueled by their research into traditional instruments like the tamburo (Sicilian frame drum), organetto, marranzano and zampogna (Southern Italian bag-pipes), Rosa Tatuata introduces traditional songs into different musical contexts that rhythmically mirror the co-mingling of Old & New World. With an enchanting mix of ballads and dance tunes, Rosa Tatuata will take your imagination to sunbathed Southern Italy and the clear, crystal-blue waters surrounding Sicily.


May 26, 2017

Commemorating the Battle of Bitonto in NYC

Attendees take a commemorative photo outside ACQUA
Photos by New York Scugnizzo and Cav. Charles Sant'Elia
For the ninth year in a row, tri-state area neobriganti, Borbonici and friends came together in solidarity to commemorate the Battle of Bitonto (May 25, 1734), the pivotal engagement between the forces of HM Carlo di Borbone and the Austrian Empire for the crowns of Naples and Sicily. The Bourbon victory redeemed the ancient kingdom (il Regno) and ushered in the Golden Age of Naples. 
Normally held in Brooklyn, this year the event was moved to ACQUA Restaurant (21 Peck Slip) in Manhattan’s historic South Street Seaport. The change in venue coincides with Chef Giuseppe Marrone’s move to the restaurant. In addition to being a great admirer of Giuseppe’s cooking, he is a fellow traveler and brother, and we wanted him with us.
Our celebration began a little early at the bar with aperitifs and toasts to our ancestors and our once and future kings. When all our guests arrived, we were seated and treated to a sumptuous repast, replete with southern Italian delicacies, including arancini, burrata di bufala, pizza Margherita, and polpo alla griglia.
The beer and wine flowed, as did the laughs and interesting conversation. Our party even did a little singing with Neapolitan American entertainer Marcantonio Pezzano leading the way. Among others, Marco sang a beautiful invocation to the Madonna di Monte Vergine, with the rest of us joining in the chorus.
This year's invitation
Before calling it a night, we capped off our enjoyable evening with some shots of limencello and amaro (my favorite digestivi), and awarded the door prizes.
This year’s prizes included a Salvatore Argenio lacquered wood jewelry box embellished with the Cross of the Constantinian Order of St. George; a Salvatore Argenio blue silk tie with coat-of-arms of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies; a Salvatore Argenio white face watch with royal stemma and black leather wrist band; a bottle of Mastrodomenico Mos from Basilicata; a bottle of Fontana Reale falanghina del Beneventano from Campania; a bottle of Aitala Etna Bianco from Sicily; a fifty dollar gift certificate for Acqua Restaurant and a couple of CD’s of the Concertos for the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (Hyperion, 1999). The prizes were generously donated by Il Regno, Tribeca Vini and Acqua Restaurant.
Once again, I cannot thank Chef Marrone enough for hosting our celebration in his wonderful restaurant. He is a true friend and lavish with his hospitality. Dinner, of course, was delicious and the service was great. Luca, Daniele and the rest of the hardworking staff accommodated our every need and did an incredible job making us feel right at home. We couldn't have asked for anything more.
Special thanks to my esteemed confratelli and consorelle for your much appreciated support and friendship. It was an honor and a privilege to celebrate our history and culture with you and I look forward to doing it again next year at the Tenth Annual Battle of Bitonto Commemoration. Viva ‘o Rre! 
Marco regaled us with a few Neapolitan folk songs
Classic bruschetta with diced tomato and onion, and the more adventurous, but oh so delicious, red caviar and salmon mousse 
Affettati e formaggio
Burrata di bufala e prosciutto di Parma 
Pizza Margherita
Polpo alla griglia
This year's big winners: (L) Stephen won the Salvatore Argenio jewelry box and (R) Michael went home with the Salvatore Argenio silk tie
Rosanna won the bottle of Aitala Etna Bianco from Sicily
Bruno walked away with the smart looking Salvatore Argenio white face watch with royal stemma and black leather wrist band
For dessert we enjoyed some torta di ricotta, cannoli, sweet strawberries and torta di lava cioccolato
Also see:
Chef Giuseppe Marrone Takes the Helm at ACQUA Restaurant and Wine Bar at Peck Slip, NYC

Feast of San Filippo Neri

Viva San Filippo!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
May 26th is the Feast Day of San Filippo Neri (Saint Philip Neri), the Apostle of Rome. Founder of the Congregation of the Oratory, a society of secular clergy, he is the patron saint of joy and protector of Roseto Valfortore, a small town in the Province of Foggia in Apulia. To commemorate the occasion I’m posting a prayer to St. Philip Neri. The accompanying photo was taken at The Oratory Church of Saint Boniface in downtown Brooklyn.
A Prayer to St. Philip Neri
O holy St. Philip Neri, patron saint of joy, you who trusted Scripture’s promise that the Lord is always at hand and that we need not have anxiety about anything, in your compassion heal our worries and sorrows and lift the burdens from our hearts. We come to you as one whose heart swells with abundant love for God and all creation. Hear us, we pray, especially in this need (make your request here). Keep us safe through your loving intercession, and may the joy of the Holy Spirit which filled your heart, St. Philip, transform our lives and bring us peace. Amen.