May 28, 2015

New Music

Nel Giardino di Partenope — Neapolitan Cello Sonatas

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

Available at

Read description

May 27, 2015

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

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

May 25, 2015

For Memorial Day…A Memory of World War II

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

May 24, 2015

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

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

May 23, 2015

Thoughts and Observations

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

May 22, 2015

Revisiting Philadelphia’s Italian Market

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

A Piece of History at Ferdinando’s Focacceria

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

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

Food is not the only masterpiece at Ferdinando’s.

May 20, 2015

It Takes A Village

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

Contact Cookie Curci at

May 19, 2015

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

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

May 18, 2015

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

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

May 16, 2015

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

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

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

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

May 12, 2015

The Search for our Ancestry (XII)

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

May 11, 2015

Photo of the Week: A View of Monte Vesuvio from the Piazza del Plebiscito, Napoli

Overlooking the Lega Navale Italiana, next to the Gardens of Molosiglio, Naples. Photo by New York Scugnizzo

May 6, 2015

A Look at the 2015 Festa del Santissimo Crocifisso di Ciminna in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

Most Holy Crucifix shrine in church basement
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Hundreds gathered at St. Athanasius Church in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn Sunday morning (May 3rd) for the Festa del Santissimo Crocifisso di Ciminna. Mass was celebrated in Italian with Father Graziano in the basement chapel, accompanied with sacred choral music by the church choir and organist.
I was happy to see our friends from the Congrega San Vito di Ciminna Club and San Rocco Society di Potenza come out in force to support this wonderful event sponsored by the Societá SS. Crocifisso di Ciminna a New York. The weather was fantastic, participants couldn’t ask for a better day for a procession.
Overloaded with an “embarrassment of riches,” I could not participate in this year’s procession because I had a Communion and birthday party to attend. So after Mass I pinned my donation on to the ribbons, said a prayer, wished our friends a joyous day, then headed off to my other celebrations. 
I want to thank President Frank Catalano and the men and women of the Societá SS. Crocifisso di Ciminna a New York for their hard work and dedication. Now, more than ever, we need these types of efforts to keep our community healthy and vibrant. Next year I hope to be able to stay for the entire observance. Evviva Gesù
Before Mass, devotees took turns visiting the shrine
Santissimo Crocifisso enters the chapel
A close up of the Crucifix
After Mass, the SS. Crociffiso is carried outside for the procession
Our friends from the Congrega San Vito di Ciminna Club show their support
The Most Holy Crucifix is affixed to the vara
The color guard are raring to go
Msgr. Cassato stopped by to offer his blessings to the celebrants
Ready to start the procession, I bid them farewell

May 4, 2015

Photo of the Week: Detail of Bronze Door at the Abbey of Monte Cassino

Embossed panel on bronze door at the Abbey of Monte Cassino 
Photo by New York Scugnizzo

May 1, 2015

New Books

Some new and forthcoming titles that may be of interest to our readers. All are available at
Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast by Margie Miklas

Publisher: MargieMiklas
Publication Date: April 30, 2015
Hardcover: $24.95
Language: English
Pages: 96

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The Bioarchaeology of Classical Kamarina: Life and Death in Greek Sicily by Carrie L. Sulosky Weaver

Publisher: University Press of Florida
Publication Date: October 7, 2015
Hardcover: $84.95
Language: English
Pages: 368

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