April 23, 2014

Feast of San Giorgio

Viva San Giorgio!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
April 23rd is the Feast Day of San Giorgio di Lydda (St. George of Lydda), patron saint of valor, chivalry and soldiers. He is also the protector of Reggio Calabria, Modica, Ragusa, Prizzi and Barano d'Ischia, among other towns throughout southern Italy. In commemoration of the great warrior saint I'm posting a Prayer to Saint George. The accompanying photo was taken at Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary and Saint Stephen's Church in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

Invocation of Saint George

Faithful servant of God and invincible martyr, Saint George; favored by God with the gift of faith, and inflamed with an ardent love of Christ, thou didst fight valiantly against the dragon of pride, falsehood, and deceit. Neither pain nor torture, sword nor death could part thee from the love of Christ. I fervently implore thee for the sake of this love to help me by thy intercession to overcome the temptations that surround me, and to bear bravely the trials that oppress me, so that I may patiently carry the cross which is placed upon me; and let neither distress nor difficulties separate me from the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Valiant champion of the Faith, assist me in the combat against evil, that I may win the crown promised to them that persevere unto the end. Amen

April 21, 2014

Pasquetta (Little Easter)

Having a rare Easter Monday off, I took advantage of the beautiful weather and decided to celebrate Pasquetta (Little Easter) the southern Italian way. After picking up a few necessities at the local bakery and salumeria, I packed my basket and visited a nearby park to soak up some sun, enjoy the outdoors and get some much needed rest and relaxation. Normally, this would be done with friends and family, but unfortunately, my loved-ones were not as lucky as me and had to work. So instead, I spent my day reading and reflecting in moments of quiet meditation. Buona Pasquetta!

The 'Ndrezzata

By Giovanni di Napoli
At the northern periphery of the Gulf of Naples lies the enchanting Island of Ischia. Steeped in history and legend, this jewel of the Tyrrhenian is the birthplace of the 'Ndrezzata, a traditional folk dance whose origins are shrouded in mystery. Twirling with increasing speed, armed participants strike and parry with wooden swords and mazzarelli (cudgels) in a dance, some say, symbolizes the war between the sexes (or nymphs and satyrs). Depending on whom you ask, there are any one of a number of stories offering an explanation.
According to one legend the 'Ndrezzata was taught to local villagers by the island's nymphs. It was supposed to remind them of happier days when the spirits of the wood gaily danced to the celestial sounds of Apollo's golden lyre. During the sybaritic festivities the sun god fell in love with the beautiful nymph, Coronis, and the two conceived a child, Asclepius, the god of healing and medicine. Blessed, the island became famous for its therapeutic qualities. Continue reading

Titan of the South: Francesco de Mura

Two door panels with
Faith, Hope and putti 
attributed to Francesco de Mura,
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli

In recent years I've made it a personal goal to pay homage to some of my favorite Southern Italian artists on their birthdays by viewing their works in person. Somehow, this tradition makes me feel connected to the artists; their greatness is a source of inspiration and pride. It's a simple gesture on my part and I find it to be a very rewarding.

Luckily for me I have easy access to a few of their works, thanks to the proximity of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Unfortunately, due to the museum's vast collection and limited space (which is mind boggling considering the massive size of the place), I was unable to view Francesco De Mura's preparatory sketch for The Assumption of the Virgin because it was out of circulation. A very helpful gentleman at the information desk told me that the museum rotates their collection, but sometimes it takes as long as three years before some works are put back on public display. He did, however, give me a phone number to request a special viewing of the drawings and prints in storage, but they need at least two weeks advanced notice.

Needless to say, it's impossible to stay disappointed at the MET for very long. The institution is home to one of the world's greatest art collections and I was not about to waste an opportunity to take some of it in. I made my way to the European Painting galleries on the second floor and leisurely wondered through its hallowed halls. Gazing in awe, I found myself surrounded by the esteemed works of some of Europe's most celebrated artists: Diego Velázquez, Rembrandt van Rijn, El Greco, Caravaggio, Anthony van Dyck, Nicolas Poussin, Jusepe de Ribera, et alContinue reading

April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Detail of the Resurrection by Arturo DiModica
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Buona Pasqua! In celebration of Easter I'm posting The Tomb, a traditional Sicilian prayer reprinted from Prayers and Devotional Songs of Sicily, edited and translated into English by Peppino Ruggeri, Legas, 2009, p. 94-95. The accompanying photos of the Resurrection by esteemed Sicilian-American sculptor Arturo DiModica were taken at the Italian American Museum in 2010.
The Tomb
Holy tomb, which often has been visited
With blood you have been made clean
For two days you were washed
So us sinners you could redeem. 
O Sipurcu
O Sipurcu visitatu
chi di sangu fustu lavatu
fustu lavatu pi quarantottu uri
pi nuiautri peccaturi. 
Typical southern Italian Easter sweets include marzipan Paschal Lamb, or Lamb of God, and pupa cu l'ova, a delicious bread with eggs baked in it.
Marzipan "Paschal Lamb"
Pupa cu l'ova

April 19, 2014

Via Crucis (The Way of the Cross)

Bensonhurst’s Traditional Good Friday Procession
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Yesterday, members of several Italian American Catholic societies gathered outside Edward B. Shallow Junior High (6500 16th Ave.) in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn for the annual Good Friday Candlelight Procession. Despite the unseasonably cold weather, celebrants showed up in force to participate in this wonderful tradition. Led by the Most Reverend Raymond F. Chappetto, Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn, we made our way through the neighborhood praying and reciting in Italian the Way of the Cross. The nearly two-hour long procession concluded outside St. Dominic Church (2001 Bay Ridge Parkway) for the Benediction with the Relic of the True Cross. Following the closing ceremony, parishioners lined up to receive flowers, say a prayer and touch the statues of the Madonna Addolorata and Dead Christ.

Titan of the South: Corrado Giaquinto

The Penitent Magdalen
by Corrado Giaquinto
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli

When I first viewed The Penitent Magdalen by Corrado Giaquinto at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was surprised to see that it was classified as Italian. I wondered about that, because many of the "Italian" paintings are classified by region. At first I thought it might be an oversight, or possibly a slight against the artist's birthplace in Puglia. Uncomfortable with my own wild speculation I decided to investigate. I found that the regional labels had more to do with particular artistic styles than the origin of the artists themselves, although in many cases they were identical. Corrado Giaquinto was a special case. He was known to adopt the style of the various locations where he painted, making classification difficult, and his work even more interesting.

Corrado Giaquinto was born in Molfetta, Puglia, in 1703. At sixteen he travelled to Naples and studied under the tutelage of Nicola Maria Rossi, a pupil of Francesco Solimena. Eventually, he would receive art instruction from the Neapolitan master himself. After several years of apprenticeship in Solimena's studio Giaquinto would seek his fortunes elsewhere. Unfortunately, only one work by the artist from this period is known to exist, a copy of one of Solimena's paintings. Continue reading

April 18, 2014

Venerdì Santo (Good Friday)

Ecce Homo by Antonello da Messina (Sicilian, c. 1425—1479),
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
On behalf of everyone here at Magna GRECE, I want to wish all of our readers a Blessed Good Friday! In commemoration, I’m posting a prayer as well as several photos of southern Italian artwork depicting the Passion of Jesus Christ.

Good Friday Prayer

O Jesus, Who by reason of Thy burning love for us hast willed to be crucified and to shed Thy Most Precious Blood for the redemption and salvation of our souls, look down upon us here gathered together in remembrance of Thy most sorrowful Passion and Death, fully trusting in Thy mercy; cleanse us from sin by Thy grace, sanctify our toil, give unto us and unto all those who are dear to us our daily bread, sweeten our sufferings, bless our families, and to the nations so sorely afflicted, grant Thy peace, which is the only true peace, so that by obeying Thy commandments we may come at last to the glory of heaven. Amen.

Pilate Washing His Hands by Mattia Preti (Calabrese, 1613—1699),
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Terracotta Stations of the Cross in Savoca, Sicily
(L-R) Saint Veronica offers her veil to Jesus and Fallen Jesus
Stabat Mater, painted ceramic tiles in Vietri sul Mare
The Lamentation of Saints John the Evangelist and Mary Magdalene by Roberto d'Oderisio (Neapolitan, active 1340—1382), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Madonna Addolorata and the Dead Christ, Duomo di Ravello
Photos by New York Scugnizzo and Niccoló Graffio

April 17, 2014

5th Annual Italian Music Festival

Featuring International Pop-Classical Crossover Artist performing contemporary and classical Italian songs 




Presented by Il Console Generale d’Italia a Filadelfia, Widener University, l’Associazione Regionale Abruzzese Delco, l’Associazione Regionale Abruzzese DelVal, OSIA and the XII of October Historic Lodge OSIA 

Widener University Alumni Hall 
E. 14th Street at Alumni Walk (Across from University Center) 
Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 7:00PM 
Donation: $15.00 Make checks payable to ARADelco 

IL Console Generale d’Italia a Filadelfia, Widener University, I’Associazione Regionale Abruzzese Delco, I’Associazione Regionale Abruzzese DelVal, Pennsylvania Order of Sons & Daughters of Italy and the Historic XII of October Lodge are proud to announce the return of International Pop-Classical Crossover Artist, Micheal Castaldo, who will be returning to perform contemporary and classical Italian songs at the 5th annual Italian Music Festival, April 30th at 7:00pm, at Widener University’s Alumni Hall. 

This will be Micheal’s second appearance for the annual concert series. Micheal’s last performance was met with such a positive response, and in consideration with his current tour we were able to bring him back for this year’s event. For more information about Micheal, please go to www.michealcastaldo.com

Opening up the concert will be IL Coro Gabriele D’ Annunzio. They will perform the National anthems of the U.S.A. and Italy followed by a selection of traditional Abruzzese folk music. 

Tickets for the event will be $15, with a limited number of seats available. To purchase tickets or any additional information, please contact Nicholas Rapagnani (610)874-4149, Lucille Nazzario (610)544-8718, Dr. Thomas Benedetti (215)514-5964 (Widener University) or visit our website, www.abruzzidelco.com 

A Brief Sketch: Onofrio Avellino

Madonna in Glory
with Saints and Angels 
by Onofrio Avellino
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli

Little is known about Onofrio Avellino's life. He was probably born in 1674 in Naples and as his surname suggests, his family may have originally hailed from Avellino, a small town nestled between the foothills of the Apennine Mountains in Campania. He first apprenticed under Luca Giordano in Naples, sometimes putting finishing touches on his master's work. In fact, Avellino was so adept at emulating his instructor the copies are often mistaken for the original. His older brother, Giulio Giacinto Avellino, was also a painter.

After Giordano's departure to Spain in 1692 Avellino trained with Francesco Solimena. Under his new teacher's guidance the young artist drifted away from the vibrant Giordanesque style of painting towards a more classical idiom. He painted a variety of subjects, though portraits were considered his forte. Examples of Avellino's early work can be found in the small coastal town of Vico Equense and the Church of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples. Continue reading

April 16, 2014

Announcing the 93rd Annual Feast of Saint Sebastian, Middletown, Connecticut

For more info visit St. Sebastian of Middletown on Facebook

Anthony V. Riccio's New Oral Histories Collection Illuminates Experiences of Italian American Working Women

SUNY Press

Albany, NY -- In the first half of the twentieth century, Italian American women were born into a life of work. From as young as four or five years old, they were expected to assist in the house or on the farm, leaving school if necessary, to help support the family. The stories of these women, who could keep up with any man, have been mostly provided by narratives from a male perspective. This book changes all of that.

Farms, Factories, and Families: Italian American Women of Connecticut (Excelsior Editions/SUNY Press) offers new insight into the Italian American experience. The women speak and reflect on how they could work just as long and hard as men--and did. Anthony V. Riccio's women chop wood, heft fifty-pound bags of vegetables, and operate dangerous machinery in the factories, while also cooking, cleaning, and sewing for the family.

Farms, Factories, and Families
documents the rich history of Italian American working women in Connecticut as they resisted a claustrophobic, patriarchal society to become empowered as foreladies, union officials, and shop stewards. Their legacy lives on in this collection of tales of sacrifice and perseverance, often punctuated by laughter, and brimming with courage and determination.

About the Author:   
Anthony V. Riccio is Stacks Manager at the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University. He is the author of The Italian American Experience in New Haven: Images and Oral Histories and Boston's North End: Images and Recollections of an Italian-American Neighborhood, and the coauthor, with Silvio Suppa, of Cooking with Chef Silvio: Stories and Authentic Recipes from Campania¸ also published by SUNY Press.

Book Facts:
July 2014 / 423 pages
Trim size: 9 x 9 
55 b/w photographs
$29.95 jacketed hardcover ISBN 978-1-4384-5231-9

April 15, 2014

Corrado Alvaro: An Introduction to His Life and Work

Corrado Alvaro
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
By Giovanni di Napoli

Not too long ago, while discussing with some friends the tenets of Tom Verso's article, Towards an American Terroni "Education Manifesto," one name came up repeatedly as a "must-read" candidate for any future curriculum specializing in Southern Italian historiography—Corrado Alvaro. Embarrassed that I've only read his Revolt in Aspromonte, I dusted off my copy and reread it. Subsequently, I made it a point to find other works by the author, but discovered that only two others—Man is Strong and The Long Night of Medea—were available in English. Luckily, I found the former at my local library and the later at a used bookstore. Needless to say, now I understand why my friends were so adamant about his inclusion.

Corrado Alvaro was a prominent literary figure during the Fascist era whose literature often explored the social and political crises of the twentieth century. Alvaro's collection of short stories, especially his Gente d'Aspromonte (People in Aspromonte), has been acknowledged as a precursor to the Italian neorealismo or neorealist movement prevalent after World War II. He is also credited with important contributions to the development of narrativa meridionale, a literary tradition focusing on the narrative of Southern Italy. Continue reading

The Colossus of Watts

Sam Rodia – Designer and Builder of the Watts Towers
Sabato (“Sam” or “Simon”) Rodia
Photo courtesy of www.Wattstowers.us
By Niccoló Graffio
“Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that other people are infected by these feelings, and also experience them.” – Lyof N. Tolstoy: What is Art?, 1898
When I was a teenager my father would take us every summer down south to places like South Carolina and Florida. On one of those trips we visited Coral Castle, a sprawling stone structure located just north of the city of Homestead, Florida in Miami-Dade County.

Coral Castle is a remarkable edifice consisting of hundreds of tons of oolitic limestone that have been shaped into furniture, walls, carvings and a castle tower. The largest of these stones weighs 30 tons. What makes Coral Castle all the more incredible is the fact the entire structure was apparently built by only one man, an eccentric Latvian immigrant by the name of Edward Leedskalnin! The methods Leedskalnin used in building Coral Castle are shrouded in mystery. When questioned he always gave polite but evasive answers. Though some claim to have figured out how he did it, to this day it remains a mystery. If you ever travel down to Miami-Dade County, Florida it’s worth a trip to see Coral Castle. Continue reading

April 14, 2014

One Tin Soldier

The Frank Serpico Story
Frank Serpico (Photo courtesy of The Free Info Society)
By Niccoló Graffio
“When vice prevails, and impious men bear sway,The post of honor is a private station.”– Joseph Addison: Cato, IV, 1713
Francesco Vincent “Frank” Serpico was born on April 14th, 1936 in Brooklyn, New York. His father, Vincenzo Serpico, was born in the town of Marigliano, in the province of Naples, in the region of Campania, Italy. His mother, Maria Giovanna, was born in Ohio but returned with her family when she was young to Italy where she later met and married Vincenzo.

Frank Serpico’s childhood was an innocuous one. At the age of 18 he joined the U.S. Army and was shipped off to Korea, where he remained stationed for two years. Returning home, he enrolled in Brooklyn College, CUNY, while working part-time as a private investigator and youth counselor.

He joined the New York City Police Department in 1959 at the age of 23, being sworn in as a probationary patrolman on September 11th of the same year. On March 5th, 1960 he was commissioned a patrolman for the NYPD. His first assignment was in the 81st precinct (in the north-central area of Brooklyn). He would hold the job of patrolman for 12 years. He then worked for two years in the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), doing “exciting” police work such as filing fingerprints. Continue reading

April 11, 2014

The Italian American Museum Presents a Dramatic Reading of Luigi Capuana's “The Interrogation”

Presented by Prof. Santi V. Buscemi and Dr. William D'Arienzo
You are cordially invited to attend a reading of Luigi Capuana's, "The Interrogation" at the Italian American Museum on Thursday, April 17, 2014.  The Interrogation is a two character play originally written in Sicilian and translated to English by Santi Buscemi.
About the play:
The Interrogation (‘Ntrrugatoriu) is a play in one scene with two speaking parts.  A murder suspect speaks Sicilian while his interrogator, a magistrate from the north (Piemonte or Lombardia, Capuana suggests), speaks Tuscan. This creates a linguistic contrast that underscores the alienation of the southern poor (the accused is a barber) in a state ruled by the arrogant northern bureaucracy of nineteenth-century Italy. The magistrate speaks in a cerebral, formal, and distant voice, while the accused is passionate and engaging, if not always honest. As such, Capuana is able to address differences in class, and he critiques the political reality under which the people of the Mezzogiorno suffered. But the dialogue in this exciting, suspense-filled play goes beyond politics. Capuana believed that our fate was determined largely by forces outside our control: the environment, economics, and our animal biology. An expert at exposing human motives found at the lowest depths of the psyche, he wrote several works that remain masterpieces of psychological and emotional intrigue. The Interrogation, which focuses on a man driven to violence by passion, hubris, and jealousy, is one of them.
The Readers:
Santi Buscemi teaches English at Middlesex County College in Edison, NJ. He has published seven textbooks and online learning tools for McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
The son of immigrants from Agrigento, Sicily, Buscemi has translated Luigi Capuana’s C’era Una Volta (published as Sicilian Tales) and The Marchese of Roccaverdina, the writer’s capolavoro. Both were published by Dante University of America Press.
He has also published a translation of The Interrogation, one of Capuana’s Sicilian plays, in the Journal of Italian Translation. In 2012, the play was presented as a dramatic reading at the Italian-American Writers Association in New York City. Other works include “A Vision of Sicily” in Primo magazine, “Meeting Antonin Scalia” in The Times of Sicily.com, and several translations of Capuana’s fairy tales in Italica, the Journal of Italian Translation, and Forum Italicum. He recently completed an online course, The Literature of Sicily: A History, for Dante University of America Press.
Prof. Buscemi has lectured on Sicilian literature and architecture for the Italian-American Heritage Club of Hunterdon County and Dorothea’s House in Princeton, a version of which appears on YouTube. He has also presented scholarly papers on writing, literature, and translation, including one at the University of Natal in South Africa. He is in the process of translating Profili di donne by Capuana and I Vicerè (The Viceroys), a novel by Frederico De Roberto, who with Capuana and Verga, was one of the Sicilian veristi.
William D’Arienzo is the founder and CEO of D’Arienzo Associates in Princeton, NJ, which helps start-up companies achieve their brand strategy objectives and business goals. He is also CEO of ApparelAnalytics, an online consumer research service.
The son of immigrants from Avellino, his education includes a PhD from the New School, and he has been a Ford Fellow and a NEH Fellow at Princeton University. He is an adjunct professor in business at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ, and he founded and manages the Brand Management program at FIT in New York. In 2010, he published By George! Lessons in Leadership from George Washington, CEO and has just completed a textbook entitled The Business of Brand Management.
Dr. D’Arienzo has presented lectures and workshops for members of the wholesale and retail fashion community, and he has designed and led seminars for Ting executives from China and Japan. He has also lectured in Spain, Central America, and India. Last year he spent a month as a visiting university lecturer in China.
Thursday, April 17, 6:30PM
Italian American Museum
155 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10013
Suggested donation of $10
To reserve a place for this event, please call the Italian American Museum at (212) 965-9000 or email: ItalianAmericanMuseum@gmail.com

April 10, 2014

Campania, in Pictures

One of two equestrian statues outside the entrance to the gardens of the Royal Palace in Naples. The statues are copies of the Horse Tamers from St. Petersburg, Russia, and were a gift to King Ferdinand II of Naples from Czar Nicholas I during a state visit to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in 1846
Dear readers, it should come as no surprise that with over three thousand years of history, Campania is a feast for the senses overflowing with artistic treasures and culinary delights. During my visits, I saw many of the magnificent attractions and delightful curiosities the region has to offer. I want to share a few modest photos of the main sites, as well as some of its lesser known gems, for those who share an interest in our ancestral homeland.

Detail of the Portal of the Palatine Chapel by Francesco Laurana, Napoli
Saint Ann and a young Virgin Mary with Saint Lucia and Saint Peter of Alcantara by Pietro Bardellino (Napoli 1728-1820), Museo Civico di Castel Nuovo, Napoli
A Sphinx from Axel Munthe’s Villa San Michele, Capri
A couple of gruesome sea creatures inside the Chiesa dell’Addolorata, Sorrento. Dating “only” from 1739 it is one of the newest churches in Sorrento
Bas relief from the tepidarium, or warm bath, in Pompeii
Campanile at Positano
One of several beautiful paintings in the Duomo di Ravello
A modern monument commemorating Santa Trofimena, Minori
Bronze doors from the Chiesa del Sacro Cuore di Gesù, Salerno
Antique cooking implements from the Agricultural Museum
at Tenuta Vannulo', a water buffalo dairy farm in Capaccio
Lid of the Tomb of the Diver, Archaeological Museum of Paestum
Photos by New York Scugnizzo