December 30, 2018

Luigi Valadier: Splendor in Eighteenth-Century Rome through January 20, 2019 at The Frick Collection

Between 1768 and 1773, silversmith Luigi Valadier (1726–1785) created the magnificent silver high altar (still in situ) for the Cathedral of Monreale, in Sicily. The altar was decorated with bas-reliefs showing scenes from the life of the Virgin (to whom the church was dedicated). For the top of the altar, Valadier created silver statues of six saints closely associated with Monreale — St. Louis, St. Castrense, St. Paul, St. Peter, St. Benedict, and St. Rosalia. These prodigious statues are on display in the exhibition for the first time outside of Monreale. Continue reading 

The Frick Collection 
1 East 70th Street 
New York, NY 10021 

December 29, 2018

Photo of the Week: Low Relief of San Michele Arcangelo at Villa San Michele, Capri

Marble tile with low relief of San Michele Arcangelo at Dr. Axel Munthe's Villa San Michele in Anacapri, Capri. Photo by New York Scugnizzo

December 28, 2018

Traditional Masses on January 1st, the Octave of Christmas

Traditional Masses for the Octave of Christmas, Tuesday, January 1, the Circumcision of Our Lord. This day is a holy day of obligation
St. Mary Church, Norwalk, CT, Solemn Mass, 9:30 am.
St. Stanislaus, New Haven, 2 pm
St. Agnes Church, New York, 10:30 am
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, New York, Missa Cantata, 10:30 am
Immaculate Conception Church, Sleepy Hollow, NY, low Mass, 3 pm
St. Paul The Apostle Church, McLean Avenue, Yonkers, NY, 12 noon
St. John the Baptist, Allentown, NJ, 11 am.

December 27, 2018

La Vigilia and Other Christmas Traditions

Insalata di mare
By Giovanni di Napoli
Like many Duesiciliano Americans, my family keeps the tradition of La Vigilia di Natale, the southern Italian ritual of eating seafood and eschewing meat on Christmas Eve. Despite regular and varied claims to authenticity, I believe the so-called Festa dei sette pesci, or the Feast of the Seven Fishes, is a recent fabrication. Though more lavish then in the past, according to our matriarchs there were never a set number of dishes served. We simply ate what we could afford, and what was fresh and available.
Fritto misto di mare and Panzerotti
Today, we normally have shrimp, calamari, seppia, clams, mussels and scungilli (whelk), which all can be prepared in a variety of ways. Capitone fritto alla napoletana (fried eel) use to be the main course, but nowadays—since the passing of my grandparents—we sometimes have aragosta (lobster), ricci di mare (sea urchin) or baccalà (salt cod).
Baked clams and Spaghetti alle vongole
As always, the ladies outdid themselves and treated us to another memorable dinner.
Following the fish bonanza was another southern Italian specialty: panzerotti, delicious deep fried crescent-shaped dough filled with mozzarella and tomato; ricotta; or onions and capers.
Sautè di cozze and Lobster tail
Next came fruit, roasted chestnuts, caffè and an assortment of delicious sweets, including Pasticciotti Leccesi and struffoli, the quintessential Neapolitan Christmas dessert that will satisfy the most stubborn sweet tooth. There is no panettone in my house.
Baccalà with tomato, onion and olives
The vigil, of course, is not just about food, it's also about family and faith.
After dinner we played games (tombola) with the kids and attended Midnight Mass in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Afterward, we walked through the neighborhood to see the spectacular Christmas decorations. My family has been doing this for as long as I can remember, though originally it was in East New York, Brooklyn, where my maternal grand- and great-grandparents were from.
White wine and espresso
Christmas morning we exchanged presents, made the rounds and visited family and friends until dinnertime. No less extravagant than the Eve, Christmas dinner was a culinary tour de force with plenty of hot and cold antipastiinsalata, pizza, baked manicotti and a American-style Christmas ham. Fruit, dessert and caffè complete the meal.
Struffoli, Neapolitan honey fritters
Not quite finished yet, December 26th is Saint Stephen's Day. In honor of the Feast of Santo Stefano, the first martyr (and my saintly Confirmation namesake), we usually celebrate with torrone, a sticky nougat candy made from honey, nuts and egg whites that dates back to Roman times. I like mine with a glass of Strega or AmaroBuon Natale!
Soft torrone from Avellino
Amended 2018

December 25, 2018

Buon Natale!

Holy Family by Salvatore di Franco
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
On behalf of everyone here at Il Regno, I want to wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas! Peace and joy be with you all.
In celebration I'm posting "The Old Manger" from Prayers and Devotional Songs of Sicily, edited and translated by Peppino Ruggeri.* 

The accompanying photo of the Neapolitan presepio was taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC
The Old Manger
I recollect the old manger at Christmas fest
built by my father, his soul in peace may rest,
the grotto, the straw and the baby poorly dressed
attended by Saint Joseph and Mary blest,

The well, the gleaming houses, the grist mill,
the sheep that grazed the grass over the hill,
a frightened man, at center, a blacksmith on the right,
a shepherd standing, with his old shack in sight.

A comet, resplendent brightly like a star
over the cardboard fashioned into a cave,
guided the adoring kings from afar.

And I, enchanted, watching stood, as I was playing,
sweet angels, shining stars, clouds and songs;
I still do now, the old manger my memory recalling. 

* Reprinted from Prayers and Devotional Songs of Sicily, edited and translated by Peppino Ruggeri, Legas, 2009, p. 43

December 22, 2018

Remembering Ciro

Ciro Esposito's mother cries on her son's coffin
Photo courtesy of
Enjoying the usual gabfest and drinks at one of our favorite watering holes the other night, my recent post about Italian football (see One Day Suddenly) came up and true to form it was not well received by one of my more argumentative acquaintances, who shall remain nameless. Not in the habit of responding publicly to criticism, I made an exception this time because it affords me the opportunity to finally pay my respects to Ciro Esposito, the Napoli supporter who died after pre-match violence at the 2014 Coppa Italia Final at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
If I’m not mistaken, my detractor’s biggest problem with the article was the so-called “glaring omission” of ultra violence, particularly the death of Ciro Esposito at the hands of notorious Roma ultra Daniele De Santis. It should go without saying; no slight was intended by omitting the four-year-old incident. My post was more or less about a minor confrontation and a personal anecdote that took place in Italy, with a little posturing against calcio moderno and its suppression of local identities thrown in for good measure. As much as I appreciate our friend’s passion and devotion to Ciro’s memory, I believe conflating my own petty experience with Ciro’s death would have been inappropriate and in bad taste. 
Ciro Esposito
For those who are unfamiliar, back on May 3, 2014, Napoli faced Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia Final at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Before the match violent clashes erupted between the teams’ opposing ultras as well as between bitter rivals Napoli and local Roma supporters. However, during the mêlée three Neapolitans were shot by De Santis, including 27-year-old Ciro Esposito. Details of the fight are conflicting, but according to many, Ciro and the other Neapolitan combatants were defending a bus with women and children in it from the Romanisti.
Somewhat controversially, because it revealed the influence of the ultras, the cup tie was halted for 45 minutes by incensed Napoli supporters, who were placated only after infamous ultra capo Gennaro De Tommaso, nom de guerre Genny ‘a Carogna, or Genny the Swine, met with Napoli captain Marek Hamšík. After the delay, Napoli went on to take the cup by beating Fiorentina 3-1. Marred by the violence, the victory was no consolation for the bloodshed.
Tragically, fifty-three days later Ciro died, succumbing to his wounds on June 25th in the Agostino Gemelli University Hospital in Rome. It was reported that over 7,000 people attended his funeral in Scampia, a suburb of Naples. Draped with team flags and scarves, Ciro’s coffin was carried by pallbearers through the throng of mourners. A local square was renamed Piazza Ciro Esposito. In 2017, on the third anniversary of Ciro’s death, Napoli Mayor Luigi de Magistris officially dedicated a public park, complete with football field, to his memory.
Meanwhile on June 27, 2017, De Santis won an appeal and had his 26-year prison sentence for murder reduced to just 16 years. Telling his side of the story to the weekly news magazine Panarama, De Santis naturally claimed the shooting was in self-defense. Not surprisingly, the Roman ultras have sided with their own and the following year, during the home fixture against Napoli, sections of the Curva Sud unfurled banners contemptuously accusing Ciro’s grieving mother Antonella Leardi of shamefully exploiting her son’s death by speaking out against fan violence and writing a book about him called Ciro Vive (Graus Editore, 2015). 
A holdover from a bygone era, the primeval tribalism of the tifosi, with their carnivalesque pageantry, haughty expressions of group identity, and sometimes offensive taunting, is shocking to modern sensibilities. Like it or not, taunting is a part of sports. Provocation and trash-talk are ingrained in its culture, and players and fans alike engage in it. From time immemorial people have been gesticulating and shouting obscenities at each other while trying to best their opponent. It can be rude, uncivil and sometimes painful, but just because one doesn’t like some of the derogatory chants or disagrees with the opinions on display in the terraces, I will never get behind criminalizing speech and restricting language. 
Wanton violence and vandalism on the other hand are a different story. No matter how much I may disdain the opposition (e.g. Juventus) or enjoy the pomp (who didn’t get gooseflesh seeing Napoli’s Curva B orchestrate an erupting Mt. Vesuvius against the Old Lady in 2012/13?) I cannot condone mob violence and physical altercations, even if it were committed by my own side. I love the sport, sometimes I even enjoy the bickering, but rioting over a result or against an adversary (which is hardly limited to calcio) is shameful and repugnant. It is not a legitimate excuse for violence.
Curva B orchestrate Mt. Vesuvius at the San Paolo Stadium, Napoli
Renowned for their passion, both Rome and Naples (like all major football cities) can sometimes be unruly and dangerous, especially during a derby. Following the breakdown of the gemellaggio, or twinning, between the two clubs in the late ’80’s, the once festive Derby del Sole (Derby of the Sun) between Napoli and Roma has become one of the most contentious in Italy. 
While the Final was technically not a derby, Rome’s ultras were not going to sit idly by on their home soil and miss an opportunity to duke it out against their hated southern rivals. This was the seething cauldron that Ciro and thousands of other fans from Napoli, Florence and elsewhere entered when they converged on the Capital to support their respective teams and enjoy the spectacle of il bel gioco (the beautiful game). 
For many on both sides the feelings of betrayal and anger runs too deep and any notion of reconciliation is unthinkable. Thankfully, there are others who would like to see an end to the hostilities and foster a renewed concord between the supporters of these two historic clubs. Instead of fueling the animosity, Ciro’s death can serve as a catalyst for rapprochement between these former friends. Ciro's ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten; let’s hope his memory will serve a higher purpose. Forza Napoli Sempre! Ciro Vive!

December 21, 2018

Happy Winter!

Photo by New York Scugnizzo
The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. The occasion signifies the coming increase of sunlight and the slow return of spring. In honor of this wondrous cycle I would like to share a poem by Cosimo Savastano (b. 1939 – Castel di Sangro, Abruzzo) from Dialect Poetry of Southern Italy: Texts and Criticism (A Trilingual Anthology) edited by Luigi Bonaffini, Legas, 1997, p.69.
The Kindling
Tied to the packsaddle, my love,
is the firewood, brought down from the mountain.
What hands will loosen the ropes
at dusk, once the north wind settles?

Tonight, we'll stoke the cinders
watch the swirl of sparks.
Hands locked, love rekindled,
spellbound, we will dream.
From the hearth my kindling will lord
over the house, filled with the scent of Christmas.

(Translated by Anthony Molino)

December 20, 2018

Salerno's Mini Winter Wonder Land

Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Williamsburg, Brooklyn's Salerno Service and Gulf Gas Station (451 Lorimer St.) transforms into a mini winter wonder land for Christmas.

Traditional Masses for Christmas

From Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris
The following churches will offer traditional Masses for Christmas, Tuesday, December 25th.
• St. Mary Church, Norwalk, CT,  Chrismas Eve:  11:30 pm Christmas carols followed by  Solemn Midnight Mass; Christmas Day Mass, 9:30 am
• Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Bridgeport, CT,  Midnight Mass, 8:30 low Mass, and 10:15 high Mass
• Pontifical Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, New York, Christmas Eve, 11 pm Confession followed by Solemn Midnight Mass; Christmas Day, 1:30 am Low Mass at Dawn; 10:30 am, High Mass.
• Holy Innocents Church, New York, Christmas Eve:  10 pm Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, 11 pm Christmas Carols, 11:30 pm, Benediction, followed by Midnight Mass; Christmas Day:  1:30 am, low Mass at Dawn, 9 am Low Mass, 10:30 am, high Mass with Benediction.
• St. Rocco Church, Glen Cove, NY, Midnight Mass.
• St. Ladislaus Church, Hempstead, NY, 9 am.
• St. Josaphat Church, Bayside, NY, 9:30 am
• St. Matthew Church, Dix Hills, New York, 12:30 pm in parish chapel
• St. Isidore Church, Riverhead, NY, 2 pm
• Sacred Heart Church Hall, 33 Walter St., Albany, NY,  Midnight Mass.

December 19, 2018

A Christmas Tradition: John Miniero's Presepe Napoletano in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn

Photos by New York Scugnizzo
If you’re planning to visit the spectacular Dyker Lights Christmas light displays in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, be sure to stop by John Miniero’s house on 14th Avenue, between 79th and 80th Streets, to see his wondrous outdoor prespioThe Neapolitan Christmas tradition has been a neighborhood favorite for many years and continues to amaze onlookers with its whimsy and complexity.
Also see: 
Outdoor Presepio Napoletano in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn

• Dyker Heights Outdoor Presepe Napoletano
• Dyker Heights' Neapolitan Nativity 
• John Miniero's Presepe Napoletano: A Christmas Tradition in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn

December 18, 2018

Traditional Latin Masses for Christmas Day in East Harlem, New York

Traditional Latin Masses for Christmas Day at the Pontifical Shrine and Parish Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (448 East 116th Street, New York, NY 10029)
Monday, December 24th
10:30 PM - Church Opens
11:00 PM - Confessions
11:50 PM - Christmas Proclamation
Tuesday, December 25th
12:00 AM - Solemn Midnight Mass
1:30 AM - Low Mass at Dawn - Missa Aurora
10:30 AM - High Mass in Latin, 1962 MR-EF

December 17, 2018

Photo of the Week: Bronze Head of Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep, at Villa San Michele in Anacapri

Bronze head of Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep,
 in the loggia at Axel Munthe's Villa San Michele in Anacapri, Capri
Photo by New York Scugnizzo

December 16, 2018

The Search for our Ancestry (LIV)

Finding Living Relatives
By Angelo Coniglio
Frequently, readers make requests like the one below, with minimal information about the ancestors they wish to research. In these cases, it’s impossible to give detailed answers, but the general process is addressed in my answer, applicable for anyone searching for their ancestry and for living relatives in Sicily or Italy.
Q: I expect one day to take my daughters to Sicily, in hopes that I may find living relatives of my family. I would love to take my girls to the place where their family history originated. Is there any advice that you may give me?  I have a search started but I have come to a dead end. Where do I go from here?  
I would also love to put people’s names to the faces in my parents’ photo albums. I have gotten just so far and am at a dead end on photos, as well. I think I have come across something in Sicilian records, but I'm not sure if what I have is correct. How do you know if what you even have is the right thing? 
A: Without knowing more details (names, dates, places), or where your "dead ends" occur, or what your research skills are, it's difficult for me to give you any specific advice. When you ask "Where do I go from here?" what I need to know, is where is "here"?  How far have you gotten? 
If your goal is to find living relatives in Sicily, there are two major things you must do.
1) Determine the exact town from which your ancestors came; and
2) build as complete a family tree as possible, identifying not only your direct ancestors, but their siblings and the descendants of their siblings (that is, their collateral relatives).
These two efforts are intertwined, and to some extent, one depends on the other. Family photos are wonderful to have, but they don't provide much help in genealogical research. Further, very few of our ancestors in the 1800s had the means to be photographed. Here's how to proceed. I'll use your paternal side as an example, but the same process should be followed for your maternal side.
Find your father in the 1940 U. S. Census. If he was born after 1940, find his father in the 1940 census. To find censuses, you can search on-line on or the free Mormon site Federal censuses were done every ten years, and some states also had periodic censuses. Keep working back to earlier censuses until you find your ancestor listed with his parents, and so on, until you find a census that indicates when the earliest immigrants came to the U.S. Unless the immigrant came from a large city like Rome, the censuses give only limited information about origins, like ‘Italy’ or ‘Italy South’.
Search passenger ship manifests for the immigrants, using the information developed from the censuses. These manifests are available on line on several venues, for example, and Passenger manifests often gave the name of the town in Sicily where the immigrants lived or were born. If that fails, try to find family records that indicate the town, or go to the county clerk in the place in the U.S. where they lived, and inquire about their naturalization papers. If found, those papers should name the town of origin.
Once the ancestral town is known, using the resources of the Mormon church, in on-line sites or at a physical Family History Center (FHC), find the microfilms or on-line venues that have birth, marriage and death records for that town, and begin searching for the records of your ancestors. This must be a step-by-step process; find one generation at a time, then find the records for that person's parents, then his or her parents, etc. As you find information, record it and develop a 'family tree'. Include siblings if you can find them, for each ancestor. The best way to build a tree is by entering the data in a computer program that will organize the information and allow you to print family tree charts, list of descendants or collateral relatives of your ancestors, and so on. Such programs are available to be ordered on-line for $30 or so and downloaded to your PC. It is possible to ‘build’ family trees on on-line venues such as, familysearch, MyHeritage, etc. but I STRONGLY urge you to build and maintain your primary tree off-line on your PC, where it is completely under your control. If you’re not computer-literate, your local Mormon FHC has charts and forms on which you can manually record your tree and family information.
When you have completed the family tree as far as possible, and knowing the ancestral town, when you visit Sicily you can go to the town's municipio (town hall) and parish rectory and ask if they know of any families with the surnames in your tree. These may not be the surnames of your father or mother, because some of your ancestors' female relatives would have descendants with other surnames; - they're still your relatives. You can also check local telephone directories for familiar surnames. Once you meet the potential relatives, show them your family tree. If they recognize someone in it as their ancestor, you will have found a living relative!
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 helpful hints on genealogic research. If you have genealogy questions, or would like him to lecture to your club or group, e-mail him at

December 15, 2018

Around the Web: The Latest News and Happenings from the Constantinian Chronicles

Photos courtesy of the Constantinian Chronicles
An Evening of Faith and Fellowship in NYC
Tuesday evening, during the second week of Advent, the Knights and Dames of the Order, attended the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the Chapel of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (325 E 33rd St.) in Kips Bay, Manhattan. Concelebrated by Rev. Msgr. Kevin Sullivan and Fr. Cav. Michael G. Lankford-Stokes, the Order, led by our esteemed Delegate HE Cav. John M. Viola, was warmly welcomed by the congregation. Continue Reading
Distributing Food to the Homeless on St. Nicholas Day
Thursday, December 6th, members of the Constantinian Auxiliary joined the Knights and Dames of the Order to prepare and distribute food to the homeless in Chinatown and Two Bridges, New York on the Feast of St. Nicholas. Meeting at the Church of the Transfiguration (29 Mott St.), volunteers prepared 30 care packages replete with winter accessories, toiletries and ready to eat food, including containers of freshly cooked penne marinara generously donated by our dear friends at Caffé Napoli (191 Hestor Street) in Little Italy. Continue reading
Congratulations Ernie Rossi!
Monday evening, our esteemed Delegate HE Cav. John M. Viola presented Ernie Rossi of E.Rossi & Company (193 Grand St.) in Little Italy, New York, a beautiful plaque emblazoned with the Coat of Arms of Royal House of Bourbon–Two Sicilies on behalf of HRH Prince Carlo di Borbone–Due Sicilie, Duke of Castro. The honor was bestowed to Mr. Rossi in recognition of his efforts to share the history and culture of the Two Sicilies through the many products he carries in his store. Continue reading
Members of the Order Remember HRH Princess Carmen of Bourbon–Two Sicilies in Park Slope, Brooklyn
Divine Liturgy was offered Sunday afternoon at the Church of the Virgin Mary (216 8th Ave.) in Park Slope, Brooklyn for the eternal memory in blessed repose of HRH Princess Maria del Carmen Carolina Antonia di Borbone – Due Sicilie (1924-2018), who fell asleep in the Lord at the age of 94. Serving the Melkite Catholic community of New York City, Mass was concelebrated at the beautiful church in English and Arabic by Pastor Fr. Antoine, Cav. Rt. Rev. Msgr. Economos Romanus V. Russo, and Deacon Naji Youssef. Cavalieri John Napoli and Vincent Gangone were in attendance. Continue reading
Vernacular Poetry of Southern Italy Translated by Cav. Charles Sant’Elia
In addition to the promulgation of the faith and charitable works, our very own Cav. Charles Sant’Elia, in conjunction with the website Il Regno, has been assiduously translating the Neapolitan, Calabrian, and Sicilian verse of contemporary and historical Duosiciliani poets into English, many for the first time, as part of the US Delegation’s cultural mission to foster knowledge of the former Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the Royal Family. Continue reading