July 3, 2015

A Review of Giuseppe Arduino’s “Iter Volceianum: Viaggio nella Buccino antica e nel suo territorio” by Professor Robert Ross Holloway

Iter Volceianum: Viaggio nella
Boccino antica e nel suo territorio
Buccino, the ancient Volcei, famous for its crystal clear water that issues from its many springs and for its olive oil, prized throughout Campania and nearby Lucania, is no less rich in history and in remains from the past. Badly damaged by the 1980 earthquake, in compensation Buccino today can boast of new discoveries of ancient remains and a new museum. And appropriately at this moment Giuseppe Arduino, experienced archaeologist and knowledgeable student of the area, in this substantial volume paints a panorama not only of the distant past of Buccino but also of the life of Buccino across the centuries.

The "Itinerary" of old Buccino begins at the Porta Consina. Advancing into the heart of the historic district Arduino takes note of two important inscriptions of the Roman period that refer to Augustus and to his unfortunate grandson Agrippa Postumus. Theodor Mommsen, the great master in the field of Roman epigraphy, came to Buccino and published the inscriptions he transcribed there in the tenth volume of the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (1863). Moving along we find the description of the Chiesa Madre with ample references to historical figures among which there stands the philosopher and important economist of the eighteenth century Antonio Genovesi, who passed his formative years here. There are also descriptions of important buildings and the histories of personages connected with them, first and foremost two great names of Buccino: the feudal noble families Caracciolo di Martina and Torella.  Reaching the highest point in the city, through Arduino's pages one sees the Norman-Angevin castle. The author introduces the reader to the historical figures connected with the castle including Pope Urban VI, who, according to sources that must be treated with caution, found refuge in the castle in 1385 during the period of warfare that broke out because of the dispute between Urban and the antipope Clement VII. Built in to the fabric of the castle is a singularly important Roman inscription, the land register of A.D. 323 which catalogues properties in the district of Buccino in the reign of Constantine the Great. Finally in the "itinerary" one pays a visit to the Palace of the Dukes and the Borgo of Buccino.

Professor Robert Ross Holloway
Archaeological Excavations Director
Tufariello (Buccino), 1972
Important archaeological discoveries have been made in the surrounding countryside. First of all the necropolis discovered in 1880 in the area in front of the ex-Monastery of Sant' Antonio, also known as "Tempone." Unfortunately, the tomb groups have been lost, only the Roman period tombstones have been preserved. In the necropolis of the sports grounds, scientifically excavated in 1967 and 1970, tombs of the fifth century B.C. were brought to light. Also hundreds of tombs were excavated in the locality of Santo Stefano in the years following 1981. Here the tomb groups can be dated beginning in the eighth century B.C.  The large fragment of a red figure crater painted by the Paestan artist Asteas is the result of a chance discovery made at the beginning of the last century.  The scene painted on the vase is the theft of the Trojan statue of Athena, the so-called Palladion, by Ajax. The scene is only preserved in part but nonetheless it is a masterpiece of Paestan art of the years around 350 B.C. 

Archaeological research of the last half century in the territory of Buccino has led to important results for which Arduino offers an ample summary in this volume. The Roman villas in the territory of Buccino have been investigated by both Italian and American teams. The results have been impressive and document the high standard of living of their owners in the late Roman Republican period and during the Empire in its flourishing years. Other discoveries have been due to the work of the American expedition. The excavation in the late Hellenistic sanctuary of San Mauro, dedicated to the water divinity of a spring contiguous to the artificial terrace in polygonal masonry where the functions of the cult were performed, led to the discovery nearby of Neolithic pottery shards. The documentation of the Bronze Age is especially important. The chamber tombs of the Gaudo Culture excavated in the Sant' Antonio district had, among their tomb goods, some of the earliest metal blades known in the Italian peninsula. And the village at Tufariello belongs to the phase of transition between the Eneolithic and the Apennine Culture of the Middle Bronze Age.  Arduino summarizes this rich material in a lucid commentary and thus makes accessible to the non-specialist important discoveries which, heretofore, were to be found principally in scientific journals. One must not overlook, finally, the Roman bridge of San Cono which still stands spanning the Bianco river. This is by far the most visible ancient monument that Buccino has to offer. Outside the boundaries of this book is the new archaeological museum "Marcello Gigante," dedicated in 2009, which, however, merits a thoughtful visit by who wishes to appreciate the pas of this ancient city of southern Italy. For his part, Arduino has enriched our knowledge of the artistic patrimony of Buccino by publishing a monograph on the bronze statuette of Hercules discovered by chance at the end of the '30's and subsequently lost in Naples during the Second World War.* The piece in question is notable for its Italic style and because of the limited number comparable works of art coming from the area defined by the Tanagro and Platano rivers.
Vulceiana Civitas

To sum up, this is a book which is valuable as a lucid guide to a richly historical city and a very useful synthesis of its multifaceted archaeological remains and the monuments that are preserved.

R. Ross Holloway, Brown University, USA.

Vulceiana Civitas: Una statuetta di Ercole rinvenuta a Buccino. Scritti di varia antichità su Volcei e Buccino, pp. 17 con 10 tavole. Buccino, Grafica Martino, 2014

Announcing the 2015 Giglio Di Sant'Antonio, East Harlem, New York


July 2, 2015

A Look at the 2015 Festa Della Madonna Delle Grazie in Ridgewood, Queens

Viva Maria!
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Last Sunday (June 28th), I returned to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church in Ridgewood, Queens for the annual Festa della Madonna delle Grazie, Patroness of Montevago, Sicily. Mass was celebrated in Italian with Father Italo Barozzi (visiting from Saint Mel’s Parish in Flushing, Queens), followed by a procession through the neighborhood with the Gigio Band and statue of the Blessed Mother.
Participants could not have asked for a better day, the predicted rain never materialized and the slightly overcast sky kept the temperature comfortable. After about two hours, we returned to the Notre Dame Catholic Academy gymnasium behind the church for some refreshments and few more songs from the band. 
I want to thank all the members of the Maria SS. Delle Grazie Di Montevago Society for their warmth and hospitality. Special thanks to Joeseph Cirabisi for extending the invitation. His hard work and dedication to our community serves as a great example for us all. It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of your special day. Evviva Maria!
Arriving early, I watched members affectionately prepare the statue for Mass
The statue makes its triumphant entry
After Mass, devotees pin donations on to the statue
The color guard are raring to go
Departing Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church
The Giglio Band
Members proudly carry the standard
Passing on our traditions
There was a terrific turnout
Halfway through, we took a moment to honor San Francesco di Paola
outside the Società Concordia Partanna clubhouse
A couple of superheroes take a moment to watch the procession 
After the procession, the statue is brought into the church gymnasium
Celebrants enjoy some music and refreshments
The statue was set up for veneration near the stage
For more photos visit us on Pinterest

Feast of the Madonna delle Grazie

Viva Maria!
July 2nd is the Feast Day of the Madonna delle Grazie (Our Lady of Graces), patroness of Verbicaro and Benevento. To commemorate the occasion I'm posting a Prayer to Our Lady of Grace. The accompanying photo of the Madonna delle Grazie was taken at Saint Joseph's Church (5 Monroe Street) in Manhattan.
Prayer to Our Lady of Grace
O heavenly treasurer of all graces, Mother of God and my mother Mary, since you are the first-born daughter of the Eternal Father and hold in your hands his omnipotence, be moved to pity my soul and grant me the graces which I fervently ask of you.
O merciful dispenser of divine graces, Mary most holy, mother of the Eternal incarnate Word who has crowned you with his immense wisdom, look upon the greatness of my sorrow and grant me the graces I need so much.
O most loving dispenser of divine graces, immaculate Spouse of the Eternal Holy Spirit, most holy Mary, who have received from him a heart which is moved to pity by human misfortunes and which is constrained to offer consolation to those who suffer, be moved to pity my soul and grant me whose graces which I await from you with full confidence in your immense goodness.
O my mother, treasurer of all graces, refuge of poor sinners, consolation of the afflicted, hope of those who despair and most powerful help of Christians, I places all my confidence in you, being sure that you will obtain for me from Jesus the graces which I so much desire, if they are good for my soul.

Announcing the 2015 Feast of the Madonna Del Soccorso Di Sciacca, Norristown, Pennsylvania


July 1, 2015

Announcing the 2015 Feast of Santissimo Salvatore, Norristown, Pennsylvania


New Books

Some new and forthcoming titles that may be of interest to our readers. All are available at Amazon.com

The Kingdom of Sicily 1130-1860 by Louis Mendola 

Publisher: Trinacria Editions 
Publication Date: October 5, 2015 
Paperback: $34:00 
Language: English 
Pages: 382

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Modern, Etymological Neapolitan-English Vocabulary by P. Bello and D. Erwin

Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: June 5, 2015
Paperback: $20.00
Language: English
Pages: 588

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Campi Flegrei edited by Giovanni Orsi, Lucia Civetta and Roberto Moretti

Publisher: Springer 
Publication Date: January 5, 2016 
Hardcover: $139.00 
Language: English 
Pages: 299

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Click here to see more books

June 30, 2015

A Look at the 2015 Sons of San Paolino Children's Giglio Lift in Franklin Square, Long Island

San Paolino's children carry forward our traditions
Photos courtesy of Bobby Maida
Our friend Bobby Maida was kind enough to share with us his pictures of the 2015 Sons of San Paolino Children’s Gilio lift (Friday, June 26th). We love all of our feasts and cultural events, but there is always something extra special when they are focused on our youth. To see the enthusiasm of these kids while they actively participate in our traditions lifts my spirits and makes me very proud. 
For more of Bobby’s wonderful pictures visit www.bobseventphotos.shutterfly.com
The lifters show their enthusiasm
These eager young ladies are ready to lift
Dancing the giglio
(Above and below) Beautiful families on a beautiful day
(Above and below) Proud young Capos
The Sons of San Paolino di Nola did a great job
(Above and below) The celebration carried on into the night
Our light in the darkness
For more photos visit us on Pinterest

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A Look at the 2015 Sons of San Paolino Children's Giglio Lift, Franklin Square, Long Island

Announcing the 2015 Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Montclair, New Jersey


June 29, 2015

Solemnity of San Pietro and San Paolo

Viva San Pietro e San Paolo!
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
June 29th is the Feast Day of San Pietro and San Paolo (Saints Peter and Paul), Apostles and Martyrs. Widely venerated across southern Italy, the saints are the principal patrons of Galatina (LE), Agropoli (SA), Miglionico (MT), Petronà (RC), and Lamezia Terme (CZ), among others. To commemorate the occasion I’m posting a prayer to St. Peter and St. Paul. The accompanying photo of Saints Peter and Paul by Jusepe de Ribera (Játiva 1591-1652 Naples) was taken at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Prayer to St. Peter and St. Paul

O holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, I choose you this day and forever to be my special patrons and advocates; thee, Saint Peter, Prince of the Apostles, because thou art the Rock, upon which Almighty God hath built His Church; thee, Saint Paul, because thou wast fore-chosen by God as the Vessel of election and the Preacher of truth in the whole world. Obtain for me, I pray you, lively faith, firm hope, and burning love; complete detachment from myself, contempt of the world, patience in adversity, humility in prosperity, attention in prayer, purity of heart, a right intention in all my works, diligence in fulfilling the duties of my state of life, constancy in my resolutions, resignation to the will of God and perseverance in the grace of God even unto death; that so, by means of your intercession and your glorious merits, I may be able to overcome the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil, and may be made worthy to appear before the chief and eternal Shepherd of souls, Jesus Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth for endless ages, to enjoy His presence and love Him forever. Amen. 

The Legacy of Pietro Montana

Victory With Peace by Pietro Montana
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
“My wish has been to send light into the darkness of men’s hearts, and to be the servant of a noble purpose . . . art is not a vague production, transitory and isolated, but a power, which must be directed toward the refinement and improvement of the human soul.”  — Pietro Montana, in an address before the Hudson Valley Association *
After stumbling upon Anthony de Francisci's Independence Flagstaffat Union Square, I was keen on discovering other monuments by Southern Italian artists in NYC. I did some digging and found several works. Unfortunately, for some of the artists I've been unable to obtain any biographical information except that they were Italian-Americans. 
I did, however, hit the jackpot at Freedom Triangle in Bushwick, BrooklynWhile taking a ride to Williamsburg with a friend we noticed an extraordinary statue of what appeared to be an angel. We pulled over to take a closer look. According to the plaque affixed to the fence protecting the monument from vandals the artist was Pietro Montana from Alcamo, Italy. "He's Sicilian," I told my friend as I started snapping pictures!
Called Victory With Peace, the bronze statue depicts the Greek goddess Nike (Victory) bearing an olive branch. Crowned with a laurel wreath and wearing a Greek chiton the winged deity cradles a sword in her right arm. She stands on a granite pedestal with an inscription carved around its base dedicated to the ninety-three neighborhood men who fought and died in the First World War. The 19th Assembly District Committee erected the monument in 1921. Continue reading

Masaniello and the Revolt of Naples, 1647-1648

Tommaso Aniello by Onofrio Palumbo
By Giovanni di Napoli
"The Revolution, like Saturn, devours it's children" – Georg Buchner
The Revolt of Naples was a popular uprising by the Neapolitan lazzaroni (lumpenproletariat) and disaffected bourgeoisie against Spanish tyranny and the complicit nobility. As the cost of financing Spain's role in the Thirty Years War became increasingly unbearable, tensions among those most burdened were simmering to a boil.
The insurrection began on July 7, 1647 when the fruit-vendors of Pozzuoli refused to pay an excessive tax on produce imposed by the crown. The rebels' leader was Tommaso Aniello d'Amalfi (nicknamed Masaniello), a poor fisherman from the slums of Vico Rotto al Mercato. During a mock battle between lazzaroni and “Saracens” at the Festa della Madonna del Carmine, Masaniello and his lieutenants (dressed in Muslim garb) instigated a riot among the participants. Crying, "Long live the king and down with bad government!” they set fire to the hated tax station in Piazza Mercato. Fed up with their oppressive overlords, other disgruntled tradesmen soon joined the revolt. Appeals were made to King Philip IV of Spain, but money was desperately needed for the war against France. The Spanish viceroy, Rodrigo Ponce de León (the Duke of Arcos) and his retinue took refuge in the Castel Nuovo.
Like a spark in a tinderbox the revolution quickly spread throughout the provinces. Reprisals were meted out to the most abusive lords. Amongst those targeted by the mob, was the reviled Don Giuseppe Carafa. Torn to pieces, his mutilated corpse was dragged through the streets. The violence was immortalized in a painting by renowned Neapolitan artist, Domenico Gargiulo, better known as Micco Spadaro (1609-1675). In fear of losing the colony the Duke of Arcos conceded to the Neapolitans' demands and abolished the tax. Masaniello was elected Capo del Popolo and the riots were momentarily quelled. Continue reading

June 28, 2015

Photo of the Week: Detail of Bronze Door at the Abbey of Monte Cassino (2)

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

An Author in Search of a Cause

Luigi Pirandello – the Instrument of Creation
Luigi Pirandello
By Niccolò Graffio
“Well, if you want to take away from me the possibility of representing the torment of my spirit which never gives me peace, you will be suppressing me: that's all. Every true man, sir, who is a little above the level of the beasts and plants does not live for the sake of living, without knowing how to live; but he lives so as to give a meaning and a value of his own to life.” – Luigi Pirandello: Six Characters in Search of an Author, 1921.
It has often been said that tragedy and comedy are two sides of the same coin. Indeed, most comedies seem to arise out of tragedies. The late stand-up comedian Richard Pryor is an excellent example of this phenomenon. For years he regaled audiences, both black and white, with tales of his childhood in the slums of Peoria, Illinois. Audiences would regularly howl with laughter at his stories of living in bone-crunching poverty, abuse at the hands of his elders, substance abuse and trying to avoid falling into the “tender mercies” of street gangs. One has to wonder, though, how many people would think all this funny if it happened to them, or how many others laughed simply because it was better than crying.
Tragedy, therefore, while lamentable, can also be a source of inspiration for those fortunate enough to be born with the creative spark that allows them to put feelings into words and convey their meaning to others. This has been done not just with the genre of Comedy, but Drama as well (among others). The subject of this article is one such man. One who, in spite of the various tragedies that overshadowed his life, put pen in hand and gave the world some of its more memorable literature, as well as helping to reshape modern theater. Continue reading

Announcing the 12th Annual Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Bergen Beach, Brooklyn

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June 26, 2015

Around the Web (June 2015)

Items of interest from around the web
Civita at Made in South Italy Today
Skanderbeg mural, Civita (Photo courtesy of Made in South Italy Today)
Situated on the eastern slopes of the Pollino, Civita is a hill town and comune in the Province of Cosenza.
Castrum Sancti Salvatoris, ancient city of Cossa, was destroyed by an earthquake in 1456 and refounded under the name of Civita in 1471 by Albanian refugees. Continue reading
Cappellacci die Briganti, or "brigands hats" (Photo courtesy of Feast on History)
There are several scholarly studies on brigandage including research that looks at the link between brigandage and the American Civil War, but the most romantic tales are found in folk music and in food. Lest you think this corner of history is too esoteric, meet writer, historian and restaurant owner Francis Cratil and Chef Joe Cicala.
Cratil's (originally Cretarola) roots are in the Abruzzo and after several extended stays in the region, he wanted to open a restaurant back home in Philadelphia that celebrated Southern Italy's cooking. In 2007, Cratil and his wife Cathy Lee opened Le Virtù. Once Chef Joe Cicala's reputation began to soar, they started working on a second restaurant where Cicala could also be an owner. Continue reading