March 2, 2015

La Primavera Vinni / Spring Has Come!!!

Sicilian Folk and Roots Music with Terra, Sangue, Mare
Photo courtesy of Michela Musolino
Sunday, March 22nd (7PM—9PM)
Our Lady of Pompeii Church
25 Carmine Street, New York, NY 10014

Terra Sangue Mare: songstress Michela Musolino, organetto player Fabio Turchetti and world percussionist Michael Delia present a repertoire of traditional and contemporary Sicilian folk, mixing genres and world sounds to create a vibrant and celebratory musical journey to the Mediterranean's largest island. They'll also be joined by folklorist and guitarist Phil Passantino as the celebration moves to the mainland with the music of Il Meridione: The South of Italy. Special guest zampognari (Southern Italian bagpipers) Domenico Porco and Charlie Rutan will be welcomed to turn up the heat. 

We'll be gathering in the church hall of Our Lady Of Pompeii Shrine Church on Carmine and Bleeker Streets in NYC so be ready to dance with us (learn a few dance steps with the musicians before the show starts) and let's have a party to celebrate the return of Spring!
For more info visit La Primavera Vinni/Spring Has Come!!! on Facebook
Order tickets via Eventbrite

Terra, Sangue, Mare Announce March Tour Dates

Sicilian Folk and Roots Music with Michela Musolino, Fabio Turchetti and Michael Delia
Fabio Turchetti, Michela Musolino and Michael Delia
• Friday, March 13th @ 7:00 PM
Circolo Sportivo
2500 Park Avenue
Bridgeport, Connecticut 06605

• Sunday, March 15th @ 3:00—6:00 PM
Bar Eolo: Sicilian Kitchen & Wines 
190 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10011

• Friday, March 20th @ 8:00 PM
300 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10026

• Sunday, March 22nd @ 7:00 PM
Our Lady of Pompeii Church
25 Carmine Street
New York, NY 10014

• Sunday, March 25th @ 7:00 PM
Yale University
New Haven, CT 06520

For more info visit

Celebrating Carnival with the Deer Man

"The Hunt" — Lucanian era tomb painting, Paestum
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Lucian
The Catholic religious season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts for forty days until Easter. During this time Catholics and some other Christian denominations are supposed to commemorate Christ’s fasting in the wilderness by giving up meat and other popular foods such as dairy and eggs.
The question inevitably arose about what to do with all this food before it spoiled, especially in medieval times when food was scarce and could hardly be wasted. The obvious conclusion was to eat it all, and what better way than with festivals and celebrations. The English term Carnival originates with the Latin term carne levare (translated literally as remove meat). The festival season begins on the Epiphany (January 6th) and lasts until the beginning of Lent. The final day is called Martedi Grasso (Fat Tuesday) and is celebrated in different forms throughout the world, including the famous festival in New Orleans in America. In the United Kingdom they call it Pancake Tuesday, because it is said that pancakes were an easy and delicious way to devour all the dairy and eggs before the fasting began. Continue reading

Celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph with New York City's Sicilian Food, Wine & Travel Group

For more info visit New York City's Sicilian Food, Wine & Travel Group on Facebook

March 1, 2015

Photo of the Week: La Sala dei Cavalieri

A view from inside the Sala dei Cavalieri, or Knight's Hall, at Villa Rufolo in Ravello. Photo by New York Scugnizzo

New Books

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

The Neapolitan Recipe Collection: Cuoco Napoletano by Terence Peter Scully

Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Publication Date: January 12, 2015
Paperback: $31.08
Language: English
Pages: 264

Read description

The House by the Medlar Tree by Giovanni Verga

Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication Date: May 20, 2015
Paperback: $9.45
Language: English
Pages: 272

Read description

Click here to see more books


March is named after Mars, the god of war
Relief from Villa San Michele, Capri
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
Reprinted from The Bread and the Rose: A trilingual Anthology of Neapolitan Poetry from the 16th Century to the Present edited by Achille Serrao and Luigi Bonaffini, Legas, 2005 p. 136.


March: there's a bit of rain,
just a bit later it stops:
it starts, then it stops again,
the sun laughs with the drops.

A moment of clear azure,
a moment of clouds threatening:
a moment of winter's fury,
a moment of glorious spring.

A shivering bird nearby
waits for the sun to return,
while all of the violets sigh
over the sodden terrain.

Caterina!... Isn't it clear
from what you've already heard?
You know, you are March, my dear,
and I am that little bird.

* English translation by Michael Palma

February 28, 2015

A Kid From Philadelphia: Mario Lanza, the Voice of the Poets

Lecture and Book Presentation by Emilio Iodice at the Italian American Museum

Thursday, March 12th (6:30PM)
Suggested donation of $10 per person

In A Kid from Philadelphia: Mario Lanza, The Voice of the Poets, Emilio Iodice explores the life of one of the greatest lyric opera talents of the 20th century. Today, his life, music and films are undergoing a revival of popularity by a generation who longs for an artist with a commanding stage presence. Mario Lanza once had an unusual ability to crossover from the elite world of opera into popular music and Hollywood films.

Italian American Museum
155 Mulberry Street
(Corner of Grand and Mulberry Streets)
New York, NY 10013

To reserve a place for this event, please call the Italian American Museum at (212) 965-9000 or

February 27, 2015

The Traditions of Saint Joseph at the IAM

Lecture by Uff. Joseph V. Scelsa, Ed.D.
Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa speaks at last year's St. Joseph lecture
Photos by New York Scugnizzo
Thursday, March 19th (6:30PM)
Suggested donation of $10 per person

Italian American Museum Founder and President, Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa will explore the history and traditions of St. Joseph's Day

Italian American Museum
155 Mulberry Street
(Corner of Grand and Mulberry Streets)
New York, NY 10013

To reserve a place for this event, please call the Italian American Museum at (212) 965-9000 or email:

See last year's lecture: Celebrating the Traditions of Saint Joseph’s Day at the Italian American Museum

February 25, 2015

Una voce per l'eta!

Enrico Caruso – The King of Tenors

Enrico Caruso
Courtesy of The Enrico Caruso Museum
By Niccolò Graffio
“When you speak of tenors you have to divide them into two groups. Caruso is in the first group and all the others are in the second.” – Rosa Ponselle (legendary soprano)
A frequent criticism of mine in previous articles I have written for this blog is the number of our people (and they are legion) who have made their mark on history but who nevertheless are virtual unknowns in the collective minds of the American public.  This is due for a number of reasons including American attitudes towards Italians (especially Southern Italians) as well as the shabby quality of the American educational system.  On the rare occasion one of our people does manage to become famous here, it is usually a gangster like Al Capone or Carlo “Lucky” Luciano.  The American love of criminals and criminality comes into play here.

Despite these hurdles a people as resourceful and creative as ours will rise to the challenge and occasionally produce figures that will nevertheless captivate the imaginations of even Americans.  It has been said you are truly famous (or infamous) when people know you by just one name.  Many of these figures immediately come to mind – Einstein, Newton, Beethoven, Mozart, Shakespeare, etc. I’m sure if you, dear reader, think about it for a minute you can come up with many more names. Continue reading

The Good Italian

Benedetto Croce: The “Soul” of Italy
Benedetto Croce
By Niccoló Graffio
“Unless a capacity for thinking be accompanied by a capacity for action, a superior mind exists in torture.” – Benedetto Croce
Benedetto Croce was born in Pescasseroli in the Abruzzi region in the ruins of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies on February 25, 1866. The disaster which befell his homeland did not have much of an impact on his family, as they were people of considerable wealth. The Croce family had so much wealth, in fact, that from the day of his birth to the day of his death, Benedetto Croce never had to engage in any form of manual labor in order to survive. In that, he differed considerably from most of his countrymen.
Devout Roman Catholics, his parents sent him at an early age to Naples to be schooled in the tenets of their religion. By the time he reached mid-adolescence, however, Croce had decided he had no use for Catholicism, or any religion, for that matter, preferring instead a type of spiritualism of his own making to which he adhered for the remainder of his life. In 1883, while on vacation with his family in the village of Casamicciola, Ischia, a strong earthquake struck the area, destroying the home they were living in and tragically killing his parents and sister. He was buried (severely injured) under the rubble for several hours until rescuers were able to free him. Continue reading

February 24, 2015

Titan of the South: Il Cavaliere Calabrese

Mattia Preti, the Knight from Calabria
Pilate Washing His Hands by Mattia Preti
Photo by New York Scugnizzo
By Giovanni di Napoli
Mattia Preti was born on February 24, 1613 in Taverna, a small town on the slopes of la Sila Piccola in Calabria. In 1630 the young artist followed his older brother Gregorio to Rome (who arrived two years earlier), where they studied painting at the Accademia di San Luca. There, he became familiar with the works of Caravaggio and his followers. His initial paintings are reminiscent of the dramatic chiaroscuro style of the Lombard master.
The success of Preti's early works opened up many opportunities for him and he soon acquired important commissions in the Duchy of Modena, most notably the frescoes for the apse and dome of San Biagio. In 1641 or '42 Urban VIII admitted him into the Order of St. John of Malta as a Knight of Obedience. This earned him the moniker Il Cavaliere Calabrese, or the Knight from Calabria. According to his often-quoted biographer Bernardo De Dominici, Preti also traveled to Venice, Spain and the Netherlands, broadening his techniques and developing his skills. However, many historians doubt the validity of these travels. Continue reading

February 23, 2015

The Divine Feminine in Sicily and Southern Italy

Wednesday, February 25th
6:30 p.m.— 8:30 p.m.
Harrison College House, Heyer Sky Lounge
[Upenn ID required to enter, or contact]

Before Christianity, the people of Sicily and Southern Italy celebrated the mother goddess and other female divinities with fervor. We will discuss some of the ancient myths and mystery cults of these divine feminine icons, the ancient sites in Sicily and Southern Italy dedicated to them, and how age-old rites have been transformed into contemporary rituals celebrated utilizing music, dance, and food.

Food will be served.
Taste pastries eaten to celebrate divine feminine.
Learn to dance a tarantella.

Led by Allison Scola of Experience Sicily.
Blog | Boutique Tours | Travel Planning

Giambattista Basile and the Literary Fairy Tale

Giambattista Basile 
Photo courtesy of il portal del Sud
By Giovanni di Napoli
"Whoever reads Basile's tales can't fail to see the direct ties they have with southern Italian folklore. And we should remember with pride the debt that the European imaginary owes to both our culture and Basile. But we should remember above all that The Tale of Tales is more, and to this it owes its present and perennial greatness." — Carmelo Lettere (1)
The distinction for composing Europe's first collection of literary fairy tales belongs to Giambattista Basile, a Neapolitan soldier, poet and courtier. His Lo cunto de li cunti, overo Lo trattenemiento de 'peccerille (The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones) contains the West's earliest literary versions of some of the most celebrated fairy tales, including "Cinderella," "Rapunzel," "Sleeping Beauty" and "Hansel and Gretel." Sometimes called Il Pentamerone, the collection was written in the early seventeenth century and published posthumously in 1634-'36. Basile's Tale of Tales predates Germany's renowned Brothers Grimm by nearly two hundred years.
Because he wrote his tales in Neapolitan, Basile's magnum opus remains fairly unknown today. After Italian unification in 1861 Neapolitan was officially replaced with the so-called "Italian language" (i.e. the Florentine vernacular) and undeservedly relegated to the rank of "dialect." The literary works written in the languages of the South have suffered as a consequence and Basile'sTales fell into obscurity. Neapolitan, like the other regional tongues of Italy (e.g. Sicilian), continue to decline in importance due to the cultural leveling taking place in Italy. Continue reading

February 22, 2015

Photo of the Week: Marina Grande, Capri

Pulling into the port of Marina Grande in Capri 
Photo by New York Scugnizzo

February 20, 2015

Ponderable Quote from “The Bourbons of Naples in Exile” by Guy Stair Sainty

“Garibaldi consecrated his triumph by a plebiscite on 21 October 1860 but this failed to confer legitimacy upon the new regime in the eyes of those who observed its execution. In the provinces, local officials simply falsified the records but this was more difficult to accomplish in the principal cities, where only a minority of those qualified actually voted. The voting was open, so dissent was immediately identified and the turncoat Romano himself oversaw the ballot in Naples, monitored by Piedmontese troops and Garibaldi irregulars. Even those qualified to vote were often semi-literate and lacking in experience of the democratic process. It was sufficient for soldiers simply to invite the electors to vote for annexation, their weapons a visible threat to those who dared demonstrate their loyalty to the Bourbons. Six months later, a former Piedmont Prime Minister remarked that ‘there must have been some mistake about the plebiscite as we have to keep sixty battalions in the south to keep the people down.’ 
“The British Minister in Naples reported that ‘the corruption which has prevailed in every branch of the administration during [Garibaldi’s] dictatorship has far surpassed anything that was known even in the corrupt times which preceded it.’ Garibaldi cannot be exempted from responsibility for the ‘kleptocrats’ with whom he surrounded himself and whose profiteering he ignored. Alexandre Dumas, for example, the author of a tedious but oft-quoted panegyric to the dictator’s virtues, managed to be appointed curator of the archaeological museum, which he apparently perceived as his own personal reservoir of antiquities. The private fortune of the royal family, some 11 million ducats, the equivalent of about £40 million in today’s money, disappeared within a few days of the occupation of Naples, and soon thereafter, the entire gold reserves, which represented more than 60 per cent of the reserves in all of Italy, were removed by the Savoy government.”
* Quoted from “The Bourbons of Naples in Exile” by Guy Stair Sainty in Monarchy and Exile: The Politics of Legitimacy from Marie de Médicis to Wilhelm II edited by Philip Mansel, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, p. 258

February 19, 2015

Announcing the U.S. Premiere of Francesco Marino's "Misteri" by the New York Festival Orchestra

Composer Francesco Marino
Thursday, March 5th at 7:30 PM
Merkin Concert Hall
at Kaufman Music Center
129 West 67th Street
Tickets: $30; $20 for students/seniors
Reservations: (212) 501-3330 or at the Merkin Concert Hall box office

The NEW YORK FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA, under the baton of music director/conductor Hideaki Hirai, will appear March 5 at Merkin Concert Hall in the "Mostly Beethoven Festival," performing Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A major; Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major with brilliant young pianist Ivan Donchev, a pupil of Aldo Ciccolini; Overture to "The Marriage of Figaro" by Mozart; and U.S. premiere of "Misteri" (Mysteries) for Piano and String Orchestra by contemporary Italian composer Francesco Marino.
"Misteri" takes the form of a structured dialogue between string orchestra and piano.  The initial thematic material in the high register returns towards the end, amplifying it as in "Unanswered Question" by Charles Ives, leading up to an emotional climax in which the piano is the protagonist.
The New York Festival Orchestra debuted in December 2013 in the Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall to a sell-out audience, with a program that included the monumental Ninth Symphony by Beethoven, which Maestro Hirai conducted entirely from memory.  
HIDEAKI HIRAI, who has "a talent deeply ingrained in his genes" (The Den),  is one of the most gifted young conductors from Japan.  He was born into a celebrated musical family, and studied piano, violin and composition with his grandfather, composer Kozaburo Hirai and cello with his father Takeichiro Hirai, noted cellist whom Pablo Casals designated as his successor.   Hideaki graduated from the University of  Rochester (New York) with a Bachelor's degree in political science, and studied conducting under David Effron at the Eastman School.  He completed his Master's degree in conducting at the Peabody Conservatory of the John's Hopkins University under Frederik Prausnitz, followed by further studies under Otakar Trhlik at the Janacek Academy of Music (Czech Republic) and his mentor Sir Colin Davis in London.
Highlights during the 2012/13 season include his sensational debut at the Wiener Staatsoper, immediately followed by a successful return during the 2013/14 season, and his successful debut in Salzburg for the Austrian premiere of his own acclaimed opera Princess from the Moon (Kaguya-hime). In December 2013 "Maestro Hirai made a remarkable Carnegie Hall debut" (The New York Culture Examiner), with rave reviews that called him "especially impressive, dynamic, confident, justly deserving of the standing ovation" (The New York Concert Review)  conducting the Beethoven 9th Symphony with the New York Festival Orchestra (NYFO).  Following that success, NYFO appointed him Music Director and Conductor, starting with the 2014-15 season.
Since 1998, Hirai has collaborated with the Czech Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra both in the Czech Republic and abroad, and now serves as Principal GuestConductor.  He has conducted numerous orchestras in Europe and Asia, including the Danish National Radio Symphony, Janacek Philharmonic, Karlsbad Symphony Orchestra, Prague Radio Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic, the Martha Argherich Music Festival in Beppu, Japan, and more. In 2001 Mr. Hirai was chosen by Lorin Maazel as one of the ten promising conductors in Asia.
Also known as an opera conductor, Maestro Hirai has been a frequent guest conductor with the New National Theater in Tokyo, and is composer of the 2003 opera Princess from the Moon, which received rave reviews in performances in Australia, Tokyo, and Prague, with a U.S. premiere scheduled in Los Angeles in August 2015.   His second and third operas, True Love of Komachi and White Foxwere equally successful.
IVAN DONCHEV " gifted with extraordinary musical and instrumental skills," remarked famed pianist Aldo Ciccolini, with whom Donchev has a duet program that debuted at the Fenetrange Music Festival in France.  The pianist began his musical studies at the age of five in his native Bulgaria and made his concert debut with the Burgas Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of twelve, performing Haydn's Piano Concerto in D. In 1997 he was awarded "Talent of the Year" by the city of Burgas. Donchev is a top prize winner of 19 awards in Bulgaria, Dublin, Romania and Italy.  At the age of 16, Ivan won the "Chopin Prize" by the Chopin Society in Darmstadt, and made his international debut at the famous Gasteig Hall in Munich, initiating a brilliant career.   He has been described as "refined and concentrated" (Qobuz Magazine, France), "full of temperament" (The Darmstatder Echo,Germany) and gifted with "impeccable technique and remarkable ability to excite" (Il cittadino, Italy). Donchev has appeared in concert in Bulgaria, Germany, UK, Italy, Romania, France, Slovakia, Ireland, and South Korea. 
Now a resident of Rome, Donchev has guested with orchestras throughout Europe, including the Florence Chamber Orchestra, Kronstadt Philharmoniker, Mozart Sinfonietta Chamber Orchestra, and Razgrad Philharmonic, among others. His many recordings include the world premiere of Vito Palumbo's Quadro Sinfonico Concertante, as well as Tchaikovsky and Liszt. His last CD (Beethoven piano and violin sonatas recorded with violinist Ivo Stankov) received five stars from the UK magazine Musical Opinion.
FRANCESCO MARINO (composer) studied composition, piano and band instrumentation in Italy and is a prolific composer of chamber music, which has been played by the Symphony Orchestra MAV of Hungary, Windsor Symphony of Canada, Philharmonica "Mihail Jora" Bacau of Romania, Philharmonica Khmelnitsky in Ukraine, and many more.   The native of Naples has also composed for short films and documentaries, and has made many recordings that are played throughout the world.
Marino was artistic director of the Festivals "Apollo e Dioniso," and "Ascolta la Ciociaria," and organizer and director of cultural events.  He edited the presentation of more than 60 Italian and European premieres, and has taught music courses at Tor Vergata University in Rome.
His awards and prizes include Certificate of Honourable Mention in the 2005 edition of the International World Composers Competition, and he has been awarded the following titles: the honor of Knight of the Order by the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano; "Badge of honor for the wounded during service," by the Ministry of Defence; "and "Silver Cross" for his services rendered in the Carabinieri Corps.
For more information about the New York Festival Orchestra, please contact:
Kalin Ivanov, Executive Director
Phone: (718) 871-5041

Press Contact:
Audrey Ross
(212) 877-3399

Upcoming Speaking Engagements With Anthony V. Riccio, Author of "Farms, Factories and Families"

Author Anthony V. Riccio will discuss his latest book Farms, Factories and Families: Italian American Women of Connecticut. For updates and additional speaking events please visit

• March 1: Sunday 2:00pm
New Haven Museum
New Haven, CT

• March 7: Saturday 1:00pm
North Haven Library
North Haven, CT

• March 14: Saturday 1:00pm
Edith Wheeler Library
Monroe, CT

• April 25: Saturday 3:00pm
Brookfield Library
Brookfield, CT

• June 6: Saturday 10:00am
New Britain Public Library
New Britain, CT

• June 13: Saturday 1:00pm
Torrington Library
Torrington, CT

Also see:
Anthony Riccio's "From Italy to America" Travels to Ravello, Italy
Anthony Riccio Featured in 'Act Two' Magazine
A Look at Anthony Riccio's 'From Italy to America '
Preserving Living History: Interview with Oral Historian and Photographer, Anthony V. Riccio

February 18, 2015

Celebrate the Culture and Cuisine of Sicily With Michela Musolino at Dominican College

Friday, February 27 @ 7:00 PM
Enjoy an evening of authentic Sicilian food and wine, traditional Sicilian music and dance while learning about the culture and history of Sicily. Michela Musolino will be joined by the amazing musician and folklorist, Phil Passantino for a presentation of the story of Sicilian folk music. They'll also present some traditional dance and a mini concert.
$60 per person/$100 per couple
Make your reservations early – seating is limited
Call (845) 848-7406
Make your check payable to Dominican College
Mail your check to:
Dominican College, Attn: Siena House,
470 Western Highway, Orangeburg, NY 10962
Pay by credit card by calling (845) 848-7406

February 17, 2015

"Farms, Factories and Families" Author Anthony V. Riccio Interviewed on WQUN

Historian, photographer and author Anthony V. Riccio was interviewed this morning about his new book Farms, Factories and Families: Italian American Women of Connecticut on New Haven County's AM1220 WQUN. The interview will be aired Monday, February 23rd at 8:45. It will be streaming at after the radio broadcast.

Rome’s Thousand Year ‘Battle With The Gods’ in Southern Italy and Sicily … The Birth of Christendom (aka Western Civilization)

A Child of the Syriac Civilization was Born – who would replace the Roman ‘Establishment’ with His Bishops and the Empire with His Church
By TOM VERSO (February 13, 2015)
Italy, from Rome south thru Sicily, was the vortex of ancient Mediterranean cultures, the place where the vast and various cultures of the Mediterranean Basin from Spain over to the Tigris-Euphrates Valley and Persia converged. For example, beginning circa 200 B.C. religions of the East competed for the hearts and minds of southern Italians and Sicilians. The great world historian and classical scholar Arnold J. Toynbee writes: “It was a collision between the Roman legalist conception of religion and the Graeco-Oriental individualistic mystical tendencies”.
After seven centuries of such religious encounters, circa 500 A.D. the ‘Oriental / Syraic’ Christian ‘butterfly’ emerged from the Roman ‘chrysalis’ in the form of a new civilization … ‘Christendom’ – as it was called at its inception; later ‘Western Civilization’ and most recently ‘The West’. Continue reading

Announcing the 2015 Saint Paul Parish Procession of the Saints, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania