November 26, 2017

Photo of the Week: Sixteenth Century Statue of Santa Caterina d'Alessandra, Duomo di Siracusa

Santa Caterina d'Alessandria, artist unknown, Duomo di Siracusa, Sicily
Photo by Niccolò Graffio

November 22, 2017

Compra Sud — SIT Italy

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E-mail: info@sit-italy.com

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

November 21, 2017

Risorgimento Lecture and Plaque Unveiling at the Italian American Museum

Prof. Eric J. Ierardi with standard of the Guardia D'Onore
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
Curiosity got the better of me Thursday evening (Nov. 9th) and I decided to attend the “Risorgimento” lecture and dedication of a bronze plaque in honor of Il Padre della Patria, King Vittorio Emanuele II, at the Italian American Museum. Sponsored by the Guardia D’Onore* (Guard of Honor) and the American Foundation of Savoy Orders, I was not hopeful for an upfront discussion about this controversial period of history.
Sadly, due to an unfortunate accident, the original speaker could not make it so Prof. Eric J. Ierardi filled in for him. Perhaps I’m too polite, but seeing as how Prof. Ierardi read from a prepared speech, and admitted he wasn’t an expert on the subject, I didn’t think it expedient to blindside him with condemnation and refutations. However, when I did voice my dissatisfaction to Dr. Joseph Scelsa, President of the Italian American Museum, to his credit he immediately offered us an opportunity to present our side of the story at a future date.
First of all, I would like to say the representatives of The Guards were genteel and friendly. I have nothing against them personally—in fact, I can easily see myself discussing history and politics over a beer with them—we just don’t see eye-to-eye about certain aspects of the Risorgimento and the Italian nation.
For the most part the lecture was simply rehashing the official history of Italian Unification; e.g. the origin of the name Italy (Vitalia, or “Calf-land”) originates in Calabria; the Battle of Magenta was fought on June 4, 1859; the first capital of Italy was Turin; and statues of the King still stand in many Italian cities. All of which is true. I don’t even have a problem with them calling King Vittorio Emanuele II Il Padre della Patria (Father of the Fatherland), after all, there is no Italy without him. The problem is Vittorio Emanuele II was not a very good father. I see him more like the Titan Kronos who devoured his children than a respected father figure.
(L) The Hon. Carl J. Morelli, Chairman of the Board of the American Foundation of the Savoy Order, and (r) Prof. Ierardi unveil the bronze plaque with Dr. Scelsa
I don’t begrudge others their opinions, but I do take umbrage with some of the unfounded accusations bandied about; for example referring to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies as a corrupt state that needed Garibaldi to invade and liberate it. Despite repeating a thoroughly discredited trope of southern Italy as backwards and oppressed, for the life of me I cannot see how someone can say in the same breath that the Neapolitan Bourbons were corrupt (without citing a single example), then praise Cavour and Mazzini for conspiring with the French and inciting riots in Lombardy (which at the time was part of the Austrian Empire) and the Papal States.
The ingrained bias against southern Italy was clear, not even the "hated" Austrians were mentioned in such disparaging terms. Apparently, these fabrications are necessary to legitimize the conquest and annexation of a foreign sovereign state. For someone like me, who is a proud Duesiciliano American and does not identify with being Italian, the Unification of Italy is not something to be celebrated.
Where Prof. Ierardi did shine, however, was his knowledge and zeal for the Guardia D’Onore. Taking great pride in their function as honor guard, whose duty it is to protect the tombs of the Royal Family at the Pantheon in Rome and elsewhere, he laments the lack of interest from young people and the aging of its membership. A way too common complaint these days among religious and traditional associations, they are not alone in facing this daunting dilemma.
(L) Table with Guard literature and flag.
(R) Detail of plaque showing historic medallion
The plaque unveiling ceremony itself was short and sweet, and the handful of attendees seemed pleased. While I don’t care much for the King’s visage, admittedly the workmanship of the bronze medallion affixed to the tablet was top-notch. Since the museum will be undergoing massive renovations in the near future, the plaque will not be displayed until its grand reopening.
Despite the current iconoclast climate running rampant across the nation, I would not like to see the monument destroyed by an irate mob or an overzealous ideologue. Even though it is an unpleasant historical reminder, it serves as a historical record. Frankly, the medallion is right where it belongs, in a museum where current and future generations of Italian Americans can openly discuss and debate this period of their history.  
* The United States Delegation of L'Istituto Nazionale per la Guardia d'Onore alle Reali Tombe del Pantheon

November 20, 2017

Photo of the Week: Ruins at Paestum

Remnants of buildings at Paestum, Salerno
Photo by New York Scugnizzo

November 15, 2017

Photo of the Week: Heroon at Paestum

Heroon, or shrine to unknown local hero, at Paestum
Photo by New York Scugnizzo

November 14, 2017

Congratulations Cav. Thomas Barra on Your Investiture into the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George

Cav. Thomas Barra
Sunday, November 5, 2017, Cathedral of St. Mathew the Apostle, Washington DC
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
Congratulations Cav. Thomas Barra on your investiture into the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George. All the best from your friends at Il Regno.
May you never cease to emulate our heavenly patron with alacrity to follow in the footsteps of His only begotten Son, who is our alpha and our omega, our beginning and end.

November 13, 2017

The Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George Investiture Mass in Washington DC

After Mass, Dama Rosanna Minervivi and Cavs. Vincent Gangone,
John Napoli and Charles Sant'Elia show their Two Sicilies pride.
Investiture by command of His Royal Highness Prince Carlo Maria di Borbone delle Due Sicilie, by the Grace of God and Hereditary Right, Duke of Castro, Head of the Royal House of Bourbon–Two Sicilies, Grand Master of the Dynastic Orders of the Royal House
Sunday, November 5th, I had the honor of joining Her Royal Highness, Grand Prefect and Dame Grand Cross of Justice with Collar, Princess Beatrice of Bourbon–Two Sicilies, our US Delegate H.E. Cav. John M. Viola and the rest of my esteemed brethren in welcoming some 30 new and promoted Knights and Dames into the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George and Royal Order of Francis I at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle (1725 Rhode Island Ave.) the official chapel of the Order in Washington, DC. 
The Investiture Mass was concelebrated by Cav. Rev. Msgr. Charles Antonicelli, Cav. Rev. Msgr. W Ronald Jameson, Cav. Rev. Msgr. Christopher Hynes, Cav. Rt. Rev. Msgr. Economos Romanus V. Russo, Cav. Rev. Msgr. James Watkins, Rev. Fr. Michael Duffy, Cav. Rev. Fr. Michael Lankford-Stokes, Cav. Rev. Fr. Dr. Richard Seagraves, and Cav. Rev. Fr. David Skoblow, Esq. 
Masters of Ceremony were Deacon James Garcia and Chancellor Pasquale Menna; Marshals Cav. Nicholas Nicholson and Cav. Joseph Sciame; Lectors Hon. Michael Steele and Dr. Catherine Stevenson; Organist Suzanne Bechamps and Cantor Ellen Kliman; and Offertory gift bearers Cav. George Malone and Dama Susan Malone.
Postulants Hon. Wayne Bacchus, Thomas Barra, and Rocco Berardi
Honors and promotions of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George were presented to Hon. Samuel Alito, AJSC, Knight Grand Cross of Merit; Hon. Dominic Massaro, Knight Grand Cross of Merit; Nicola D’Elia, Knight Commander Jus Patronato of Grace; Baron Dr. Robert Alessandro LaRocca, Knight Commander of Justice; Rev. Msgr. W. Ronald Jameson, Knight Commander of Ecclesiastical Grace; Timothy Pickles, Knight Commander with Star; Rev. Fr. William Farge, SJ, Knight of Ecclesiastical Grace; Rev. Fr. Michael Lankford–Stokes, Knight of Ecclesiastical Grace; Rt. Rev. Msgr. Economos V. Russo, Knight of Ecclesiastical Grace; Rev. Fr. David Skowblow, Knight of Ecclesiastical Grace; Hon. Anita Bevaqua McBride, Dame of Merit with Star; Hon. Wayne Bacchus, Knight of Merit; Thomas Barra, Knight of Merit; Rocco Berardi, Knight of Merit; Nicholas Caiazzo, Knight of Merit; Linda Carlozzi, Dame of Merit; Aileen Mary Ann Shapiro Carlucci, Dame of Merit; Robert Edward Carlucci, Knight of Merit; Luisa Maria Cristfano, Dame of Merit; Nicholas Fedeli, Knight of Merit; Cav. Vincent Gangone, Knight of Merit; Rosanna Minervini, Dame of Merit; Joseph Panepinto, Sr., Knight of Merit; Joseph Panepinto, Jr., Knight of Merit; Marc Reynolds, Knight of Merit; Dr. Thomas Rossi, Knight of Merit; and Debra Costa Turano; Dame of Merit.
Contantinian sword, spurs and celestial blue collar with Cross,
symbols of our Order's oath to defend the faith
Honors and promotions of the Royal Order of Francis I were presented to H.E. Dama Dr. Margaret Badum Melady, Dama di Commenda; Louis Andre Mendola-Mantegna, Knight Commander; Scott MacMillan Baron Rathdown, Knight Commander; and Hon. Ambassador David Thorne, Knight Commander.
After Mass we adjourned to the historic Decatur House (748 Jackson Place) on Lafayette Square for a Benefit Dinner to help raise money for the hurricane victims in Texas. Following the cocktail reception in the courtyard, guests relocated to the dining hall where we were welcomed by Master of Ceremony Chancellor Menna. 
Newly knighted Joseph Panepinto Sr. and Joseph Panepinto Jr.
with HRH Princess Beatrice di Borbone
Before enjoying our sumptuous repast, Cav. Msgr. Hynes delivered the Invocation and H.E. Cav. Viola offered a heartfelt toast. Between courses, we were given a brief history of the house and reminded of the heroics of US navel officer Commodore Stephen Decatur Jr. and his Sicilian pilot Salvatore Catalano during the First Barbary War (1801-1805). 
Individuals were recognized for their service and felicitations were offered to our new brethren. I was especially moved by the reinstitution of Don Nicola D’Elia of Toronto to the Jus Patronato Commandery, which was stricken from his ancestors in 1861 after the conquest of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Don Nicola and his family expressed great joy and pride in reclaiming their familial history and patrimony.
Don Nicola D’Elia with his proud family
After dinner HRH Princess Beatrice warmly addressed the audience. Referring to us as family, she encouraged us all to hold on to our traditions, remember our roots and to keep our faith. She received a rousing standing ovation.
The evening came to a close with the Benediction by Cav. Rt. Rev. Economos Russo.
Congratulations to our new and honored confratelli and consorelle, we wish you all the best and much success in the Order. Thank you to the Knights and Dames of the Order of St. Michael of the Wing, The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, Johanniter Order and the Order of Malta for celebrating with us.
Dama Rosanna Minervivi flanked by uniformed knights,
Vice Chancellor Patrick O'Boyle and Cav. Anthony O'Boyle.
(L) Dama of Merit miniature ribbon.
(R) Knight Commander Jus Patronato of Grace miniature medal
(L) At the Decatur House, Chancellor Hon. Pasquale Menna and Cav. Msgr. Hynes. (R) A few remarks and toast by Delegate John M. Viola
(L) HRH Princess Beatrice di Borbone addresses the audience.
(R) A few words before Cav. Rt. Rev. Economies Russo leads us in prayer
(L) Our beloved Delegate was presented with a certificate of appreciation by the Comitati Delle Due Sicilie USA. (R) Cavs. Sant'Elia and O'Boyle
Cav. Lt. Col. Robert Ruffolo and Cav. John Napoli
Photos by New York Scugnizzo

November 12, 2017

Congratulations Cav. Rt. Rev. Economos Romanos V. Russo on Your Investiture into the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George as Knight of Ecclesiastical Grace

Cav. Rt. Rev. Economos Romanos Russo receiving medal of the Order
from Delegate Cav. John Viola. Sunday, November 5, 2017,
Cathedral of St. Mathew the Apostle, Washington DC
Photo courtesy of Cav. Charles Sant'Elia
Congratulations Cav. Rt. Rev. Economos Romanos V. Russo on your investiture into the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George as Knight of Ecclesiastical Grace. All the best from your friends at Il Regno.
May you never cease to emulate our heavenly patron with alacrity to follow in the footsteps of His only begotten Son, who is our alpha and our omega, our beginning and end.

November 11, 2017

Congratulations Dama Debra Costa Turano on Your Investiture into the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George

Dama Debra Costa Turano with HRH Princess Beatrice di Borbone
Sunday, November 5, 2017, Cathedral of St. Mathew the Apostle, Washington DC
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
Congratulations Dama Debra Costa Turano on your investiture into the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George. All the best from your friends at Il Regno.
May you never cease to emulate our heavenly patron with alacrity to follow in the footsteps of His only begotten Son, who is our alpha and our omega, our beginning and end.

November 10, 2017

Congratulations Cav. Marc Reynolds on Your Investiture into the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George

Cav. Marc Reynolds with HRH Princess Beatrice di Borbone
Sunday, November 5, 2017, Cathedral of St. Mathew the Apostle, Washington DC
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
Congratulations Cav. Marc Reynolds on your investiture into the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George. All the best from your friends at Il Regno.
May you never cease to emulate our heavenly patron with alacrity to follow in the footsteps of His only begotten Son, who is our alpha and our omega, our beginning and end.

November 9, 2017

A Look at the National Italian American Foundation’s 42nd Anniversary Expo and Gala

The flag of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies at the entrance of the Expo Siciliana
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
In partnership with our friends from the Comitati delle Due Sicilia USA and Argenio Napoli, Il Regno descended on Washington DC Saturday morning for the National Italian American Foundation’s 42nd Anniversary Expo and Gala at the festively decorated Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. Unfortunately, we were unable to make Friday night’s kick off party.
Celebrating Sicily, NIAF’s 2017 region of honor, a wide variety of merchants and vendors set up shop and displayed their wares throughout the convention hall. As expected the expo was predominantly Sicilian, but other regions of southern Italy were well represented. For example, Rossella Rago and her delightful nonna Romana from the popular Cooking With Nonna web show were promoting their new eponymous cookbook loaded with traditional recipes from Puglia. 
Neapolitan high fashion was on display in our Salvatore Argenio stall, which featured an array of top quality articles from Argenio’s elegant and stylish Borbone collection. Silk ties, watches and ladies handbags emblazoned with the historic coat-of-arms of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies were clearly the hot items.
Our Comitati table, laden with buttons, books, pamphlets and flyers about the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, was also well received. We drew many interested attendees, including, to our great delight (and surprise), HRH Princess Beatrice di Borbone delle Due Sicilie.
Working hard, we were unable to partake in the many lectures and programs the expo had to offer, but whenever possible we made time to visit friends and make new connections. I was fortunate enough to catch the beginning of Tony De Nonno’s enchanting presentation of the century-old Papa Manteo Sicilian Marionette Tradition. Well attended, I was happy to see so many children enjoying the show.
As luck would have it, our booth was close enough to the stage to enjoy the musical stylings of Villa Palagonia, a Sicilian American folk-pop duo featuring our friends Allison Scola and Joe Ravo.
With nearly all of our merchandise snatched up, the 2017 expo came to a successful close.
Packing up the remnants of our stock, we retired to our rooms to freshen up and change into our finest finery for the upcoming gala.
With fortuitous timing, we ran into HRH Princess Beatrice and her aide-de-camp Count Justin Morin-Carpentier in the hotel lobby, and to the envy of our colleagues, had the great honor of escorting them to the cocktail reception. Naturally, our fellow Constantinians and socialites rallied around our Princess and vied for a moment of her time. 
Nearly two thousand attendees (by my estimation) packed into the enormous dining room. We took our seats, greeted the other guests at our table, and enjoyed a delicious dinner and live entertainment by Alessandra Salerno, the Sicilian Tenors and Emmy-nominated Alfio, among others.
After Msgr. Peter J. Vaghi’s invocation and the singing of the American and Italian National Anthems by Carmelo Sorce, co-hosts Maria Bartiromo and NIAF President John M. Viola took the stage and began the award ceremony.
This year’s honorees were Jon DeLuca, NIAF special achievement award in business; Vittorio Grigolo, NIAF special achievement award in music; Alessandro Profumo, NIAF special achievement award in finance; Nick Stellino, NIAF special achievement award in humanitarian service; Andrew M. Cuomo, in recognition of his longstanding support of the Italian American community and his leadership on behalf of Columbus Day and saving Columbus Circle statue; and HRH Princess Beatrice di Borbone delle Due Sicilie, NIAF special achievement award in philanthropy.
The event came to a close with NIAF’s Board of Directors honoring a clearly emotional John Viola, who announced he was stepping down as President and Chief Operations Officer last September to pursue other ventures. A true warrior and champion of our people, we wish him all the best and much success in the future.
John dutifully and competently served as NIAF President and COO over the past six years and will be leaving big shoes to fill. Having gotten to know him personally in recent years, I am sure his presence will be sorely missed. His love for his people and culture is an inspiration to us all.
Far from over, the fun continued well into the night at the “Italian Karaoke After Party” in the hotel bar and lounge. Spirit of choice in hand, my friends and I watched with great amusement the ardent attempts at singing and dancing by the young at heart. A stick-in-the-mud, I resisted my friends prodding and I spared my fellow revelers the agony of my singing voice.
Festively decorated elevator doors
Cavs. Charles Sant'Elia and Vincent Gangone manning the Comitati table
A few of the items we had to offer
HRH Princess Beatrice, accompanied by Count Justin Morin-Carpentier
and Hon. Pasquale Menna visit our Comitati booth
Cav. Sant'Elia showcasing Tribeca Vini's latest offering:
Sertura Greco di Tufo DOCG
Cav. Anthony O'Boyle lends a hand at the Argenio booth
Argenio's high quality accessories were clearly hot items 
(L) Nonna Romana and Rossella Rago promote their terrific new cookbook.
(R.) Mayor Pasquale Menna shows off his new Argenio cufflinks 
Our new friends from Regnum Siciliae Imports LLC 
Traditional Sicilian terra cotta head planters
The great Prof. Gaetano Cipolla of Arba Sicula 
Our friends from the Italian American Podcast,
Dolores Alfieri and Anthony Fasano
Tony De Nonno and friends
Tony De Nonno entertaining children of all ages
Villa Palagonia 
Portraits of HRM King Carlo di Bourbon and HRM King Ferdinand I 
Portraits of HRM King Ferdinand II and HRM King Francis II
HRH Princess Beatrice addresses the audience 
Her Highness gets a standing ovation
Cavs. O'Boyle, Gangone and Sant'Elia dressed to the nines
(L) The enchanting Alessandra Salerno with autoharp beautifully interpreting Rosa Balistrieri. (R) Alfio brings down the house
Stylish John Viola does an amazing Lou Monte
Revelers cut loose and dance the night away

November 8, 2017

Congratulations Dama Rosanna Minervini on Your Investiture into the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George

Dama Rosanna Minervini
Sunday, November 5, 2017, Cathedral of St. Mathew the Apostle, Washington DC
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
Congratulations Dama Rosanna Minervini on your investiture into the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George. All the best from your friends at Il Regno.
May you never cease to emulate our heavenly patron with alacrity to follow in the footsteps of His only begotten Son, who is our alpha and our omega, our beginning and end.