November 27, 2016

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

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

November 23, 2016

The Library of the Aragonese Kings of Naples at Europeana Regia

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

November 21, 2016

A Prayer for the San Antonio Police Department

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

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

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

November 16, 2016

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

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

November 15, 2016

Celebrating the Feast of San Martino di Tours

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

November 14, 2016

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

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

November 12, 2016

Congratulations Thomas On Your Confirmation

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

Compra Sud — Fortunato Brothers Café

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

Fortunato Brothers Café
289 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11211

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

November 8, 2016

The Search for our Ancestry (XXX)

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

November 6, 2016

Craco and the Briganti

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

November 3, 2016

A Prayer for the Des Moines Police Department

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

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

November 2, 2016

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

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

November 1, 2016

The Black Cats NYC Set Sidewalk Ablaze With CD Release Party

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

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

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

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

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

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