October 31, 2015

Viva San Vincenzo!

A Look at the 114th Annual Feast of San Vincenzo Martire di Craco at Most Precious Blood Church in New York City
San Vincenzo Martire on display in his new home
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
Sunday, October 25th, my friends and I made our way to Most Precious Blood Church (113 Baxter St.) in Manhattan’s historic Little Italy, for the 114th Annual Feast of San Vincenzo Martire, patron saint of Craco, Basilicata. A homecoming of sorts, the first recorded celebration of the Feast was held outside Most Precious Blood Church on October 25th, 1901 while it was under construction. Established at St. Joachim’s Church on Roosevelt Street, the celebration eventually relocated to St. Joseph’s Church on Monroe Street. With the unfortunate closing of St. Joe’s in August, San Vincenzo moved again, finding a new home at Most Precious Blood Church.
We were honored to celebrate the first Mass at Most Precious Blood with Rev. Monsignor Nicholas Grieco who, being of Cracotan descent himself, gave an impassioned homily about the life and martyrdom of St. Vincent, St. Maurice and the Theban Legion. Father Grieco ended the ceremony by blessing the statue, prominently displayed in his new encasement on top of the “Guariglia Altar.”
After Mass, members crossed teeming Canal Street to Forlini’s Restaurant (93 Baxter St.) for the annual society luncheon. Guests packed into the old-school Italian eatery for a delicious meal and some lighthearted revelry in a comfortable setting. Taking a breather between courses, we were treated to a couple of short, but fascinating, documentaries about Craco. Naturally, we ended our spirited soirée with some coffee and dessert, including Forlini’s legendary cheesecake and more than a few shots of Salvatore Francavilla’s outstanding homemade limoncello
I want to thank President Joe Rinaldi, Fred Spero, Stephen La Rocca and all the members of the Craco Society who worked day and night to make this event a huge success. As always, I was overwhelmed with joy by your warmth and generosity. Special thanks to Monsignor Donald Sakano, Bill Russo, John Amerise and the rest of the parish staff for your hard work and endless hospitality. Most Precious Blood Church continues to be a great bastion of southern Italian faith and culture. It truly was an honor and a privilege to be a part of this glorious 114-year tradition. Viva San Vincenzo!
After Mass, celebrants pose for pictures by our beloved patron
Devotees venerate San Vincenzo
Donations are pinned onto the 1930s era statue of San Vincenzo
Before leaving for lunch, Msgr. Grieco greets nuns visiting from Acri, Calabria
for the Feast of Blessed Angelo d'Acri
The celebration continued at Forlini's Restaurant
Msgr. Grieco says grace in Latin and English
During the festivities, President Joe Rinaldi delivers his welcome address
Our dear friends Bill Russo, Fred Spero and Joe Rinaldi
enjoying the fruits of their labor
Homegrown hot peppers were given to attendees
To our delight, Salvatore shares his homemade Limoncello

October 29, 2015

Drawn to the Light

Exhibit at the Italian Cultural Institute Showcases 19th-Century "Neapolitan School" of Painting
Testa femminile di profilo con cappellino (Female Head with Hat)
by Giuseppe De Nittis (Barletta, 1846-Saint Germain, 1884)
Considering how rare exhibitions showcasing southern Italian artists are (and how spectacular this one is), how could I not return to the Italian Cultural Institute (686 Park Avenue) in Manhattan one more time before The Light of Southern Italy closes on November 5th?

For fun (and to help persuade readers to visit), I'm posting a few photos I took at the show. — Giovanni
Mercato (Market) by Carlo Brancaccio (Naples, 1861-1920)
Al mercato (At the Market) by Vincenzo Migliaro (Naples, 1858-1938)
(Left) S. Eligio (St. Elegius, Naples) by Carlo Brancaccio (Naples, 1861-1920)
and (right) Case rustiche e filatrici (Rustic houses and spinners)
by Rubens Santoro (Mongrassano, 1859-Naples, 1942)
Lavori di casa (Housework)
by Vincenzo Volpe (Grottaminarda, 1855-Naples, 1929)

October 26, 2015

Photo of the Week: Bell Tower, Cathedral of Amalfi

Bell Tower, Cathedral of Amalfi. Upper levels completed in 1276.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Giordano

Compra Sud — Frank and Sal's Italian Market

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

Frank and Sal's Italian Market
8008 18th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11214
(718) 331-8100





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

October 24, 2015

The Light of Southern Italy Exhibit at the Italian Cultural Institute is a Must-See

Contemplazione (Contemplation)
by Filippo Palizzi (Vasto, 1818—Naples, 1899)
By Giovanni di Napoli
I finally got to see The Light of Southern Italy exhibit at the Italian Cultural Institute (686 Park Avenue) in Manhattan, and it did not disappoint. Curated by Marco Bertoli, the show boasts 34 extraordinary paintings by 26 masters from southern Italy, including Filippo Palizzi, Edoardo Dalbono, and Giuseppe De Nittis.
On display in three galleries on two floors, the show offers American audiences a rare glimpse at the obscure 19th-century “Neapolitan School” of painters. In actuality, the collection is comprised of artists from several southern Italian regions with diverse artistic styles. Ranging from the genre scenes of Vincenzo Migliaro to the realistic, almost photographic, canvases of Giacomo Di Chirico, the primary unifying theme is (as the title of the exhibit makes clear) the artistic rendering of southern Italy’s dramatic lighting.
The show boasts 34 extraordinary paintings by 26 masters from southern Italy
Taking the morning off from work and arriving early, I was the only guest at the Institute. Luckily for me, a very knowledgable guide gave me a comprehensive tour before leaving me to view the collection on my own. Having the galleries all to myself, allowed me to admire and contemplate the paintings in peaceful tranquility. Beholding the virtuosity of the artists on display, it is incomprehensible that before this exhibit I’ve only seen one example from the 19th-century Neapolitan School in person—Giuseppe De Nittis’ Return from the Races at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Considering how rare books on southern Italian artists are in English, the full-color hardcover catalogue, complete with biographies, available for $15 is a steal.
Unfortunately, the exhibit closes Thursday, November 5th. If you have the opportunity, see it before its too late, you will not be disappointed. Admission is free and its open to the public Monday through Saturday from 10AM to 5PM. 
Highlights include:
Contemplazione (Contemplation) by Filippo Palizzi (Vasto, 1818—Naples, 1899)
Il richiamo (The calling) by Antonino Leto (Monreale, 1844—Capri, 1913)
Marina (Marine) by Edoardo Dalbono (Naples, 1841—1915)
Uno sposalizio in Basilicata (A wedding in Basilicata)
by Giacomo Di Chirico (Venosa, 1844—Capodichino, 1883)

October 22, 2015

Return of the East Harlem "Crowned Madonna" Inspires Pilgrimages of the Faithful

Former Italian Residents Return En Masse to Beloved Shrine of Their Ancestors
Members of the Holy Name Society of Our Lady Of Mount Carmel Pontifical Shrine with the newly restored miraculous image of Our Lady Of Mount Carmel in East Harlem. Photos courtesy of Bobby Maida
The Pontifical Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, located 448 East 116th Street Manhattan has restored the historic image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The statue, housed in the church, has been undergoing an eight month physical and artistic restoration. It was presented to the public on Saturday, October 17, 2015 at 1PM during a special Mass and celebration. Our Lady, under the title of Mount Carmel, has been the center of Southern Italian devotion since around 1880, when the Italian immigrant community sought the comfort of their benevolent Mother. In 1881, a traditional Italian Festa was organized by the Mount Carmel Society. By 1883, the statue inspired by the one venerated in Polla, Italy was ordered. By 1884 the number of Italians warranted a church geared to their needs. Perhaps the first miracle was the building of the church during 1884, with Italian men and women working throughout the night to complete a home for their beloved Madonna.
The restored statue
The Festa grew in popularity, attracting 1,000’s of Italians. Word of the Madonna ability to answer prayers and favors spread rapidly. Finally an investigation was held by the Vatican. Pope Leo XIII, decreed that the Madonna be adorned with golden crowns, and that the church be designated a Sanctuary to Our Lady, and a national Shrine for all the Italians in America. Pius X published the decrees under his name following the death of Leo. To show his particular support, he sent two emeralds from the Vatican for the crowns. Our Lady of Mount Carmel is one of the five Papally crowned (incoronated) Madonnas outside of Europe. Till this day, 1,000’s attend the annual Feast on July 16th.
However, after 132 years, the statue and its garments were showing the effects of age. A group of specially selected artists, designers, wig makers and hairdressers began the painstaking restoration. Their efforts were presented to the public on Saturday, October 17th.
The Italians have remained remarkably loyal to their Madonna returning to the community for Christmas, the annual Mount Carmel Festa, and lastly this year the “Dancing of the Giglio” in August. The public exhibition of the Madonna has brought them back again. It was a reunion of Italian Americans of East Harlem presenting their petitions and giving thanks again to the Our Lady, as their parents, grandparents and great grand parents did before them.

October 21, 2015

A Look at the 2015 Fiaccolata di San Rocco in Astoria, Queens

Viva San Rocco!
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
Saturday, October 17th, I returned to Astoria, Queens for the highly anticipated Societá Gioventú Quagliettana’s Annual Fiaccolata di San Rocco. I’ve been attending the torchlight procession for several years now and, thanks to the warmth and hospitality (not to mention the strong devotion) of the members, it continues to be one of my all-time favorite celebrations.
Despite the biting cold weather, society members turned out en masse for the procession. Starting from the clubhouse on 28th Avenue—better known as St. Rocco’s Place—we sauntered through the neighborhood to St. Joseph’s Church, where we celebrated Mass in Italian with Father Felix. During the offertory, tenor Pasquale Auriemma performed a stirring rendition of Panis Angelicun (Angelic Bread), the last two stanzas from the hymn Sacris Solemniis written by St. Thomas Aquinas. It was one of the finest church performances I’ve heard in some time.
After Mass, we wended our way, singing and praying, back to the clubhouse. Inside, we enjoyed some coffee and refreshments. While we were warming up, I had a great time catching up with everyone.
I want to thank all the members of the society for their hard work and dedication. Special thanks to President Vincenzo Carpinelli, a tireless organizer, who always does a tremendous job. It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of your special day. Evviva San Rocco!
The color guard battled through the strong winds 
Members take turns carrying San Rocco
The candlelight procession makes its way through the neighborhood
The faithful sing hymns outside St. Joseph's Church
Father Felix blesses and purifies the statue with incense
Departing Saint Joseph's Church
The procession makes its way back to the clubhouse for refreshments
Our friends Maria and Tina
Back at the clubhouse, devotees sing a patronal hymn to San Rocco
Our Pal Gerardo sporting the society's new jacket,
which came in handy this cold evening
Glorious San Rocco is returned to his shrine

October 19, 2015

Photo of the Week: Positano, The Vertical City

Positano, Amalfi Coast. Photo courtesy of Andrew Giordano

October 17, 2015

A Look at the 4th Annual Columbus Day Giglio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

The Columbus Day Giglio
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
After enjoying a beautiful day in Manhattan at the Columbus Day Parade on 5th Avenue, my friends and I headed to Williamsburg, Brooklyn for the 4th Annual Columbus Day Giglio. Hosted by the Giglio Boys Club, partygoers were treated to an amazing soirée celebrating our faith, culture and community. 
This year, instead of rain, revelers were showered with tons of confetti. Neighborhood legends, Danny Vecchiano and the Giglio Band performed many of our favorite Italian American songs and patriotic standards. There was food galore at the clubhouse, generously donated by neighbors and local businesses. I salute the chefs who made the stuffed peppers and the tripe, they were absolutely delicious.
The highlight of the evening, of course, was the lifting of the giglio, a 40-foot-tall spire made of wood and papier-mâché in honor of San Paolino, patron saint of Nola. Spectators took much delight in watching the young men parade the ornate structure up and down Lorimer Street.
I want to thank the members of the Giglio Boys Club for their hard work and warm hospitality. As always, they did a magnificent job. Special thanks to our friend Dom Varuzza for inviting us. My friends and I had a fantastic time and we look forward to celebrating with you again next year. Happy Columbus Day and Evviva San Paolino!
Danny Vecchiano and the Giglio Band kept the party rolling all night long 
Our pal John Perrone had the giglio rockin'
(Above and below) The giglio was "danced" up and down Lorimer Street
A couple of mischievous "confetti commandos" bombarded us with paper
The neighborhood came out in force for the celebration
(Above and below) There was enough food to feed a small army
A good time was had by all
Its always great to see our friends from the Our Lady of the Snow Society
Members of the East Harlem Giglio Society show their support