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In Service to the Grunts

The Case for Father Capodanno’s Canonization

Holy Cannoli!

Patrons Travel from Near and Far

In the Pit of the Orchestra Performing with Opera’s Italian Voices

A Wish for Italy

Austin Guistolisi Meets Authentic Italian Chefs

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VOL. XXI No. 4

Italian America


T h e O ff i c i a l P u b l i c a t i o n o f t h e O r d e r S o n s o f I t a l y i n A m e r i c a ® dba Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America


10 16


Patrons Travel from Near and Far for Mike’s Pastry By Kevin Walsh

22 28

IN SERVICE TO THE GRUNTS The Case for Father Capodanno’s Canonization By Mary Ann Castronovo Fusco

IN THE PIT OF THE ORCHESTRA Performing with Opera’s Italian Voices By Erica Miner

A WISH FOR ITALY Austin Guistolisi Meets Authentic Italian Chefs By Miles Ryan Fisher

ON THE COVER: A portrait of Father Capodanno painted by William Castello, First Vice President of the Order Sons of Italy Father Vincent R. Capodanno Lodge #212 located on Staten Island, New York. (Photo Courtesy of Pasquale Fusco)

D e pa r t m e n t s 4 High Profile 5 National News 6 Oggi in Italia 7 Regions of Italy 8 Pagina Italiana 9 Mangia

13 The Sons of Italy® Book Club

14 Our Story 21 Bulletin Board 25 Speakers Bureau 26 OSIA Nation 31 From the National

32 Foundation Focus 33 Fighting Stereotypes 34 Letters to the Editor 35 The Last Word 36 Piacere

Italian America® is published by The Order Sons of Italy in America® dba Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America 219 E Street, NE • Washington, DC 20002 • Phone: (202) 547-2900 • Web: Editor-in-Chief: Miles Ryan Fisher Writers: Kevin Walsh, Frank J. Pennisi, Mary Ann Castronovo Fusco, Erica Miner, and Miles Ryan Fisher Proofreader: Marlene Palazzo Graphic Designer: Diane Vincent To advertise: Contact Pat Rosso (215) 206-4678

Italian America Magazine® is a publication of the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA) dba Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America, the nation’s biggest and oldest organization for people of Italian heritage. To subscribe, see or call 1-800-552-6742. FALL 2016 1 ITALIAN AMERICA ColavitaEVOO @ColavitaEVOO ColavitaOliveOil

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High Profile

Italian Americans making an impact

The Road to Higher Education

Linda LeMura Paves the Way for Future Generations For Linda LeMura, everything goes back to the North Side of Syracuse, New York, a neighborhood where in the 1960s “the first language you heard … was Italian.” It was where she was born and where she grew up, the fifth of six siblings, her father working more than one job “to make sure we could go to the best schools we could get into.” Education was what her parents emphasized above all. They stressed this even though they, themselves, never finished eighth grade.

cation, Linda admits that she wasn’t aware of all the options and followed in her sister’s footsteps to study biology. “I know it sounds ridiculous, but I thought everyone majored in biology,” she said. Now with master’s and doctorate degrees from Syracuse University, Linda sees this original misunderstanding as one of the many things that has “fueled her interested in helping first generation college students.”

Linda began her career as a professor before moving into administration, Before immigrating, her parents becoming Dean of Arts and Sciences lived in Linguaglossa, a place Linda afat LeMoyne College, a Jesuit school fectionately refers to as “a small, sleepy in Syracuse. In 2007, she was named ski town” on the north side of Mount Provost, which she believed was the end Etna in the Province of Catania, Sicily. Her parents placed education above of the line since a lay woman had never all, and Linda become the first lay A carpenter by trade, her father brought woman President of a Jesuit school. been appointed President of a Jesuit the family (her older siblings were born She and her five siblings all have at school. But Linda’s journey upended least a master’s degree. in Sicily) to New York City with the that custom. In March 2015, she was intention of earning some income and inaugurated as President of LeMoyne then returning to Italy. Her parents, however, fell in love College, becoming the first lay woman President of a with America and moved to upstate New York, where many Jesuit school. of Linguaglossa’s farmers had migrated. There, he worked This landmark achievement didn’t happen alone, says for Marsellus Casket Company, hand-crafting caskets so Linda. Rather, she sees it as the result of being “someone respected that John F. Kennedy was buried in one. who benefited from a wonderful, loving Italian-American While Linda’s father built caskets and her mother raised six children, her parents continued emphasizing education as the way to embrace the American dream. They wanted their children to have more options. Little did they know that when it came to Linda, her older brothers would have a hand in that, too. They enlisted her, their younger sister, to round out neighborhood games of five-on-five basketball. Then they proceeded to ignore her on the court. Infuriated, Linda started practicing on her own, so much so that she became an expert dribbler—better than most of the boys. She rose as a standout point guard in high school and became one of the first women in her community to receive an athletic scholarship when she matriculated at Niagara University in 1978, just six years after Title IX was passed. Graduating with a dual degree in biology and eduFALL 2016


community that invested in its children.” Because of this, she feels “a profound obligation to give back to students.” This is what has led her back to her roots, back to the North Side of Syracuse, where her old neighborhood had evolved into a place where Asian and African Americans now reside. “But the needs and the desires of the children and their families are identical (to Italians),” Linda says. “They have the same aspirations for their children as my parents had for us.” She moved back to her old neighborhood, wanting her daughter to grow up “seeing this wonderful amalgam of cultures and the beauty of diversity.” Because while education is the path to opportunity—just as her parents believed—it is also the path to understanding and appreciating diversity. Something that Linda LeMura knows very well as she paves the way for future generations. ITALIAN AMERICA

National News

Italian American issues and events

Chief Carver of Mount Rushmore Finally Gains Recognition After eighty years, the National Park Service finally recognized the masterful work of Luigi Del Bianco, Chief Carver of Mount Rushmore. At the request of Gutzon Borglum, the designer and engineer of Mount Rushmore, Del Bianco came to work on the project in 1933 as a senior driller and was designated Chief Carver two years later. “He is worth any three men I could find in America, for this particular type of work,” Borglum wrote. Del Bianco had previously worked with Borglum on the Confederate Memorial on Stone Mountain in Georgia and the Wars of America Memorial in Newark, New Jersey. Del Bianco was born in 1892 on a ship off the coast of France while his parents were returning to Italy from the United States. He was raised in Meduno, a town in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, and began studying stone carving when he was eleven years old. He immigrated to the United States at seventeen. As Chief Carver, he worked on refining the presidents’ facial features, including fixing a foot-deep crack in Jefferson’s lip and sculpting Lincoln’s eyes. “I know every line and ridge, each small bump and all the details of that head so well,” Del Bianco told The Herald Statesman of Yonkers in 1966.

Tony Bennett Celebrates 90th On August 3, Tony Bennett celebrated his 90 birthday in style at The Rainbow Room in New York City. Several celebrity guests attended, including fellow ItalianAmericans John Travolta, Regis Philbin, Steve Buscemi, Martin Scorcese, and Lady Gaga (Stefani Germanotta). Lady Gaga, who collaborated with Tony Bennett on their acclaimed album Cheek to Cheek, performed “La Vie en Rose” with Stevie Wonder on piano. “We just love one another,” Bennett said of Lady Gaga. “We’re both ItalianAmericans and we understand one another.” th

Not to be outdone, Bennett also performed, showing the crowd just how youthful a ninety-year-old can be. “I love life,” he said. “I love being alive. I think it’s a great gift to be alive, and I just cherish every moment that I’m alive.” On December 20 at 9pm, NBC will air “Tony Bennett Celebrates 90: The Best is Yet to Come.” The special will include guest performances by Andrea Bocelli, Michael Bublé, Billy Joel, Elton John, and many others. FALL 2016 5 ITALIAN AMERICA

Construction on Mount Rushmore began in 1927 and ended in 1941, work halting because of World War II. Plans originally included torsos of the presidents, however, funds ran out and those plans were never revisited. Del Bianco returned to Port Chester, New York, where he carved tombstones.

Del Bianco studied stone “If being the chief carving in Vienna and Venice carver at Mount Rush- before bringing his craft to the more is not the American United States. dream for an immigrant to these lands, what is?” said Douglas Gladstone, author of Carving a Niche for Himself: The Untold Story of Luigi Del Bianco. Del Bianco died in 1969 of silicosis, a form of occupational lung disease caused by the inhalation of silica dust.

“Not bad for two immigrants.”

- Diana Taurasi

(Nathaniel S. Butler-NBAE-Getty Images)

Diana Taurasi’s words to Geno Auriemma following their gold medal victory at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. This was their second straight gold medal together, and the third for Taurasi. After spending four seasons with Coach Auriemma at the University of Connecticut (2000–2004), Taurasi was the Phoenix Mercury’s first pick in the 2004 WNBA draft and has spent eleven seasons with them. Coach Auriemma was honored at the 2015 SIF NELA Gala. ITALIAN AMERICA FALL 2016 5

Oggi in Italia

Italy’s news, politics and culture

Sons of Italy Foundation, OSIA Lodges Spearhead Disaster Relief Efforts for Central Italy Earthquake The Sons of Italy Foundation (SIF) and Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA) lodges launched wide-scale fundraising to aid recovery efforts for the Central Italy earthquake that devastated towns in the regions of Lazio, Umbria, and Marche on August 26. “Donations started pouring in the very moment we sent out our press release,” said SIF President Joseph DiTrapani. “And that’s not including the fundraising efforts of individual lodges, which will surely lift that total much higher.” A clocktower in the town of Amatrice stands amidst the rubble. Amatrice, Working closely with the U.S. Embassy located in the Lazio region, was one of the towns hit hardest by the in Rome and Italy’s Ambassador to the earthquake. (Leggi il Firenzepost) U.S., Armando Varricchio, the SIF will In the past, the SIF has offered remarkable support to make sure donations are appropriated so past earthquake recovery efforts—including donations of that they have the highest impact possible. The Central Italy earthquake bore a close resemblance $235,000 for the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake; $3 million for to the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake. It registered a 6.2 the 1980 Irpinia earthquake; $217,000 for the 1976 Friuli magnitude and, as of September 4, accounted for 296 earthquake; and $127,000 for the Belice earthquake in Sicily. deaths, compared with a 6.3 magnitude and 304 deaths of the L’Aquila.

See page 32 for information on how you can support the Sons of Italy Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund.

Rome, Turin Elect First Female Mayors Italy’s capital elected its first female mayor, Virginia Raggi, who won by a landslide victory last June against a candidate backed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. A lawyer by trade, Raggi not only became the first female mayor of Rome, she also became the first victor of Five Star Movement (5SM), a political party that supports populist ideals and focuses on measures against corruption. The Virginia Raggi “five stars” represent the (Niccolò Caranti) movement’s five key issues: public water, sustainable transport, sustainable development, right to Internet access, and environmentalism. FALL 2016


At the same time Rome elected Raggi mayor, Turin—Italy’s fourth-largest city—also elected its first female mayor, Chiara Appendino, who is a member of the Five Star Movement as well. Appendino is just thirty-two years old; Raggi just thirty-eight.

Chiara Appendino (Movimento 5 Stelle Castagneto Po)

The elections bring to light the poor numbers of women in Italy’s Parliament. Italy’s Senate is composed of only 28% women; its House is composed of only 31% women. These figures place Italy at #42 on the InterParliamentary Union’s global list, which ranks nations by percentage of women in the lower house. ITALIAN AMERICA

Regions of Italy

Italy’s Twenty Regions


At the Foot of the Mountains The second largest region in all of Italy (Sicily being the largest), Piedmont is surrounded by the Alps on three sides and shares international borders with France to the west and Switzerland to the north. In fact, “Piedmont” gets its name from the Medieval Latin term ad pedem montium, which means “at the foot of the mountains.” The Piedmont region played a pivotal role in unifying Italy and was home to Italy’s first capital, Turin (which was subsequently moved to Florence before ending up in Rome). It was also home to the previous rulers of Italy— the royal family known as the House of Savoy—which accounts for the grandiose baroque palaces that still stand in the region. When it comes to cuisine, many Piedmont dishes feature rice, which is grown plentifully in the provinces of Novara and Vercelli. Cattle produce the well-known Castelmagno cheese, which is incorporated into their dishes and also commonly served as fondue. The region has gained recognition for its wines—which include Barolo, Barbaresco, and Asti—and also for its highly sought-after truffles, particularly white truffles. Ferrero, the third biggest chocolate producer and confectionary company in the world, operates out of Alba. However, it is the region’s capital, Turin, that ranks in the top 100 richest cities in the world (behind Rome and Milan), in large part because automobile manufacturers Fiat, Lancia, and Alfa Romeo are headquartered there.

Turin—or Torino—is located on the western bank of the Po River. (Maëlick) Turin hosted the 2006 Winter Olympics, highlighting it as a skiing Mecca. The city is also home to Juventus, the world-famous futbol club that is worth more than any other Italian futbol club (and is ranked as the 9th most valuable club in the world). In the Turin Cathedral, one can view The Shroud of Turin, the famous linen cloth that bears the image of a man thought to be Jesus of Nazareth. Some believe it to be the cloth that Jesus was buried in, though radiocarbon testing has indicated that it comes from the Middle Ages. FUN FACT: How are precious white truffles found? With the help of pigs and dogs, usually at midnight when their sense of smell is strongest.

Piedmont Capital: Turin Population: 4.65 million (7.7% of Italy) Size:

9,800 sq. miles (8.4% of Italy)

Provinces: Alessandria Asti Biella Cuneo Novara Turin Verbano-Cusio-Ossola Vercelli



Pagina Italiana

“Cosa stiamo facendo qui, papà?”

Cosa Ami “What You Love”

“Vedrai.” Siamo entrati nel centro commerciale e giunti fino al negozio di articoli sportivi.

Written by Miles Ryan Fisher Translated by Maria Goffman

Ho parlato con l’allenatore di Alex dopo la partita di calcio. Lui non ha giocato molto e quando lo ha fatto, non ha caricato la palla o corso per farsi spazio o fatto molto di qualsiasi cosa di importante. Il nostro colloquio non è durato più di cinque minuti, e l’ho ringraziato per tutto quello che lui stava facendo quell’autunno per aiutare un gruppo di ragazzi di nove anni a godersi il gioco che io ho amato. Alex e io abbiamo camminato verso la macchina, lui ha sorseggiato la sua bottiglia d’acqua mentre io portavo la sua borsa di calcio—la prima volta che ho mai fatto ciò. Ho sempre fatto portare a lui il suo equipaggiamento. Come ho guidato fuori dal parcheggio, Alex guardava dritto davanti a se, tranquillo. “Sono nei guai?” mi ha chiesto. “Perché dovresti essere nei guai?” “Non è il motivo per cui hai parlato all’allenatore Terreri? Perché ho fatto qualcosa di sbagliato?” “Tu non hai fatto niente di male. A volte i padri parlano con gli allenatori per aiutarli a capire come vanno le cose.” Ho preso a sinistra sulla strada principale, anche se la casa era a destra. “Dove stiamo andando?” “Vedrai,” gli ho detto. Ho guidato per poche miglia e siamo arrivati a un centro commerciale. Ho parcheggiato la macchina e Alex mi ha guardato confuso. “A beautiful and evocative book with some of the most exquisite prints I’ve ever seen.” -Alan Arkin

Under Old Stars: Wanderings in Italian Hill Towns photographs by

Through black and white images and prose sketches, this book takes readers on a journey to discover a world largely lost today, among people deeply at home with their old ways, in remote hill towns in south-central Italy.

Per chi studia la nostra lingua

Mauro Marinelli


“Sto comprando nuovo materiale per il calco?” chiese Alex. “Ma la stagione è quasi finita.” Sorrisi e scossi la testa. “Non siamo qui per attrezzatura di calcio.” “Perché siamo qui allora?” “Voglio che guardi tutto. Voglio che scegli qualcosa che davvero ti interessa. Forse uno sport che non coinvolge il contatto.” Alex mi guardò e aggrottò la fronte. “Alex, ho parlato con il tuo allenatore, perché è abbastanza chiaro che non ti piace giocare a calcio.” “Vuoi che rinunci? Ma è il tuo sport preferito. Ed è quello che il nonno ha giocato in Italia, quando era un ragazzino. Mi hai anche chiamato come uno dei loro giocatori famosi.” Alessandro Del Piero. Sua madre ed io abbiamo deciso di chiamarlo Alex in breve. Io ero accovacciato così che ho potuto guardare in alto verso Alex, invece di fare lo sguardo verso di me. “Amo il calcio, ma non è lo stesso per te. E va bene così. Ciò che non va bene è che ti impedisce di trovare qualcosa che ti piace. Questo è molto più importante per me e tuo nonno che guardarti giocare a calcio.” Lui avvolse le braccia intorno a me, mi da un abbraccio che quasi mi ha fatto cadere. “Grazie, papà!” ha detto. Non ho detto nulla. Non era necessario dire ‘prego.’ Poi, senza aggiungere altro, Alex è scappato via dal negozio di articoli sportivi e proprio nel negozio di fronte ce n’era uno di musica. Mi incamminai dopo di lui e nella parte posteriore, dove Alex aveva preso posto dietro una serie di tamburi. Prese un paio di bacchette di legno e iniziò a battere continuamente, creando un rumore che mi ha fatto sussultare. ‘Tanto per scegliere qualcosa in cui non è coinvolto il contatto,’ ho pensato. Mentre ascoltavo il fragore dei tamburi e lo schianto dei piatti, mi sono morso il labbro inferiore e ho inclinato la testa—e ho cercato di capire in che modo avrei spiegato questo a sua madre. Maria Goffman is a retired teacher and the daughter of Italian immigrants from Calabria. She enjoys traveling to Italy and spending time with her family.

To read the English version, visit and sign in to access the digital copy of Italian America. FALL 2016



Pagina Italiana

Per chi studia la nostra lingua

What You Love Written by Miles Ryan Fisher

I talked to Alex’s coach after the soccer game. He didn’t play all that much and when he did, he didn’t charge the ball or run to get open or do much of anything for that matter. Our talk didn’t last more than five minutes, and I thanked him for everything he was doing that autumn to help a group of nine-year-old boys enjoy the game I loved. Alex and I walked to the car, he sipping his water bottle and me carrying his soccer bag—the first time I ever did that. I always made him carry his own equipment. As I drove out of the parking lot, Alex looked straight ahead, quiet. “Am I in trouble?” he asked. “Why would you be in trouble?” “Isn’t that why you talked to Coach Terreri? Because I did something wrong?” “You didn’t do anything wrong. Sometimes dads just talk to coaches to help understand how things are.” I took a left onto the main road, even though home was to the right. “Where are we going?” “You’ll see,” I said. I drove a few miles and we arrived at a shopping mall. I parked the car, and Alex looked confused. “What are we doing here, dad?”

Under Old Stars: Wanderings in Italian Hill Towns photographs by

Through black and white images and prose sketches, this book takes readers on a journey to discover a world largely lost today, among people deeply at home with their old ways, in remote hill towns in south-central Italy.

“I’m getting new soccer stuff?” Alex asked. “But the season’s almost over.” I smiled and shook my head. “We’re not here for soccer equipment.” “Why are we here then?” “I want you to look at everything. I want you to pick out something that really interests you. Maybe a sport that doesn’t involve contact.” Alex looked up at me and frowned. “Alex, I talked to your coach because it’s pretty clear that you don’t enjoy playing soccer.” “You want me to give it up? But it’s your favorite sport. And it’s what grandpa played in Italy when he was a kid. You even named me after one of their famous players.” Alessandro Del Piero. His mother and I decided to call him Alex for short. I squatted so that I could look up at Alex instead of making him look up at me. “I love soccer, but you don’t. And that’s okay. What isn’t okay is that it prevents you from finding something you love. That’s much more important to me and your grandpa than watching you play soccer.” He wrapped his arms around me, giving me a hug that almost made me topple over. “Thanks, Dad,” he said. I didn’t say anything back. There was no ‘you’re welcome’ necessary.

“You’ll see.” “A beautiful and evocative book with some of the most exquisite prints I’ve ever seen.” -Alan Arkin

We walked into the mall and up to the sports store.

Mauro Marinelli


Then, without another word, Alex darted away from the sports store and into the store right across from it—a music store. I jogged after him and into the back where Alex had taken a seat behind a set of drums. He picked up a couple of wooden sticks and started pounding away, creating a noise that made me wince. ‘So much for picking something that didn’t involve contact,’ I thought. As I listened to the bang of the drums and the crash of the cymbals, I bit my bottom lip and nodded my head—and tried to figure out how in the world I was going to explain this to his mother.


from the italian cookbook

Bucatini all’Arrabbiata

Arrabbiata Salsa di Pomodoro

Ingredients Add to the prepared sauce: ½ pint fresh sliced grape tomatoes 7-8 fresh basil leaves, hand torn Flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Angry Tomato Sauce Ingredients

For the bucatini: 5-6 quarts cold water 1 tablespoon salt, for the boiling water 1 pound dry bucatini ½ cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese Note: Before beginning this recipe, prepare an Angry Tomato Sauce. When the sauce has finished cooking, add the grape tomatoes and hand torn basil leaves. Reduce the heat to a low simmer.

While the prepared sauce is simmering, bring cold water to a rolling boil in a 6 to 8 quart stockpot. Add salt and bucatini, and stir gently. Return to a boil and cook uncovered until “al dente,” per package instructions, about 9 minutes, stirring the pot occasionally. Drain the bucatini well, put a portion of the tomato sauce in a large pasta bowl, transfer the bucatini to the bowl, add grated cheese and gently fold them in coating them as you would a salad. Serve immediately in warm pasta bowls, garnish with additional grated cheese to pass around the table, and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Finish the dish with a garnish of fresh chopped parsley. Bucatini pasta is a long, hollow dried Italian pasta made from durum wheat. Although it looks like thick spaghetti, it is a unique noodle and is important in the cuisine of regions such as Lazio.The name for the pasta is derived from the word buco, which means “hole,” a reference to the hollow shape of bucatini pasta. It is believed that the pasta originated in central Italy. It is closely related to maccheroncelli, another long, tubular pasta.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 4 ounces pancetta, sliced thin 1 medium onion, sliced thin 3-4 large garlic cloves, sliced thick 35 ounce can of Italian peeled tomatoes, hand crushed 1 teaspoon sugar, granulated 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon ground black pepper 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves 7-8 fresh basil leaves, hand torn Fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 3-4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, chopped for garnish Heat olive oil in a 4 to 5 quart stockpot or saucepan over medium heat. Cook the pancetta until crispy and the fat is rendered. Add onions and garlic, and cook until the onions are soft, glossy, and translucent, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the skillet. Add sugar, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste or 1 or 2 chopped hot chili peppers to taste. Reduce heat to low and cook lightly covered until sauce just begins to thicken, about 15 to 18 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste with additional salt and pepper. Add the thyme, and basil leaves, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Taste the sauce while it is cooking and add additional red pepper flakes as desired. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook partially covered for 30 minutes. Serve over your favorite pasta with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

If you liked this recipe, find more in John Oliano’s Italian Family Cooking & Wine Pairing cookbook.

For more Italian recipes, be sure to FALL 2016 9 ITALIAN AMERICA

Order Sons of Italy in America’s Facebook page! ITALIAN AMERICA FALL 2016 9

By Kevin M. Walsh

Boston’s Italian North End neighborhood is synonymous with delicious southern Italian cuisine. In a densely packed urban area about one-third square mile in size, there are over one hundred restaurants, cafes, and other food establishments. But perhaps none is as recognizable as Mike’s Pastry. In fact, for some, savoring fresh baked cannoli at Mike’s is closer to a religious experience than it is to simply feasting on sweets. Located on Hanover Street—the main street that runs through the North End—Mike’s Pastry has been dishing out delicious baked goods, including their signature cannoli, since Michael and Annette Mercogliano opened it in 1946. Mike, who emigrated from Avellino (Campania region) in the 1930s when he was a teenager, learned to bake the old-fashioned way—at his cousin’s bakery next door. “It turned out that he had a flair for cannoli,” stated a Boston Globe story that ran in 1998. “Which is a little like saying Michelangelo had a flair for painting.”

Part of this popularity is due to Mike’s devotion to making baked goods in a homemade style with only the freshest of ingredients. “We’re the only ones around who hand-make (our) own cannoli shells and fillings on the premises,” says Angelo Papa, one of Mike’s bakers. “All of it is made in the old world style.” To prove his point, Angelo invites me into the rear cooking area where I hear several older men and women speaking Italian while hard at work, making and filling the many cannoli sold each day. One satisfied Mike’s customer is Carey Jones, a New York City freelance food and travel writer. In a recent blog entry for “Serious Eats,” Carey writes, “Big, hefty, and

Mike died a few years ago, but Annette has kept on going. Today, she and multiple generations of their family still keep the busy bakery humming seven days a week, working hard to make sure it remains a necessary stop for all who love fresh Italian pastry. Mike’s opens each day at eight in the morning, and within five minutes, the line to buy sweets and baked goods sometimes extends out the door and down the sidewalk. Above: Cannoli originated in Sicily and went by its singular name—cannolo—which means “little tube.” (Kevin Walsh)

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filled to the brim, Mike’s cannoli are a sight to behold. The one I ate had a substantial crispy shell that was fried to a satisfying crunch, and held its shape until the very last bite. The filling was wonderfully sweet and almost silky in texture. It was generously sized—a pastry that would make any Sicilian proud.” Someone who knows what food Sicilians appreciate is Nicoletta Longo, whose father was born in Sicily. Nicoletta herself lived in Sicily for three years while attending the University of Catania. She now lives in an apartment above Mike’s Pastry, saying that “there is always something baking in the North End. I wake up really early some days and I can smell that fresh bread smell. It makes me think I’m back in Italy.”

(Active Steve)

Mike’s Pastry can attract crowds that flow out of the doors and down the sidewalk. But quick service makes it move fast! (Christopher Porter)

Mike’s employees chat in Italian as they handmake cannoli shells in the backroom baking area. (Kevin Walsh)


Nicoletta is a big fan of Mike’s cannoli. She loves the authentic ricotta Mike’s uses. “It’s just like the ricotta used in Italy, with a slightly less sweet taste,” she says. Her favorite is Mike’s Florentine cannoli, a Heath Bar shell with ricotta cream in the middle, and chocolate chips on top. For Nicoletta, there is nothing like enjoying her cannoli and “sitting outside of Mike’s with older North End residents while speaking in Italian about the old days.” Mike’s Pastry, she says, is part of the North End’s cultural fabric that promotes an abundance of good food and conversation. “Living in the North End is the closest to what life in Italy is like.”


Kurtycz, who says it best. “Everybody should bring the family and make a memory at one of the sweets spots in Boston.” The most difficult thing about it just might be choosing which pastry to eat. A Boston area native and Notre Dame graduate, Kevin Walsh is a trial lawyer, as well as a freelance writer and photographer specializing in travel and history topics. Contact him at

Mike’s famous white box with blue lettering. (Lindsay Reul)

You can wash Mike’s cannoli down with regular coffee or soda, but for a more authentic experience, try their cappuccino, café latte, or café mocha (a hot coffee and hot chocolate combination). And if you take pastry out of Mike’s to enjoy later, don’t worry about finding a plate. Mike’s has distinctive white boxes with blue lettering that, according to Nicoletta, “open up and can be used like a plate, just like the boxes used in dessert shops in Italy.” People come from all over just to try Mike’s pastries. Take, for instance, the Kurtycz family from Michigan. Their Boston vacations over the past nine years have also included must-stops at Mike’s. “One of our absolute have-to-do activities is our annual stop at Mike’s Pastry,” says Wayne Kurtycz. “There are a lot of bakeries and pastry shops, but Mike’s is in a class all its own. Anyone can find a tasty treat to enjoy at Mike’s because the options are seemingly endless.” Each day at Mike’s, those options include various types of biscotti, torrone, marzipan, gelati, cheesecake, squares, pies, cakes, cookies, traditional Italian pastries, and seventeen types of cannoli. The North End is a wonderful place to walk off all this pastry, with many traditional Italian shops selling coffee, butchered meat, cheeses, and much more. Most of these shops are owned by Italian immigrants with accents that hold endearing traces of home. But if you just can’t make it to the Boston area for a visit, you can still get a taste. Mike’s Pastry now also sends packages by mail containing cannoli ingredients and instructions on how to bake these tasty treats yourself at home. While patrons travel from near and far just for Mike’s baked goods, perhaps it’s the visitor from Michigan, Wayne FALL 2016


(Ran Allen)

Explore More of Boston’s North End! Mike’s Pastry 300 Hanover Street Boston, MA 02113 Tel. (617) 742-3050 Web: Boston Food Tours Tel. (617) 523-6032 Web: North End Pizza Tour Gray Line Sightseeing Tel. (617) 720-6342 Web: Yummy Walks Food Tours Tel. 800-979-3370 Web: And, for some general tourism information, check: ITALIAN AMERICA

The Sons of Italy®

Book Club

SACRIFICE ON THE STEPPE: The Italian Alpine Corps in the Stalingrad Campaign (1942-1943) By Hope Hamilton

“Damn the war and damn him who makes us fight.” Though these were the words of just one Italian soldier, it was the sentiment shared by all who served on the Russian front in World War II. When the Italian soldiers entered Russia, they did so ill-equipped, undersupplied, and perhaps worst of all, without an understanding as to why they were there. They didn’t want to fight the Russians and were shocked at the mercilessness with which the Germans treated civilians. In fact, many Italian soldiers felt empathy for Russian civilians, often times developing close relationships with them. In Sacrifice on the Steppe, you will see how Hitler’s war machine and Mussolini’s deference to it led Italian soldiers into a war that was not theirs against a country they didn’t desire to fight. Many did not come home, either dying in battle or freezing to death in the harsh Russian climate, the temperatures so low (-40º) that not even amputation was felt. Half of Italian soldier deaths on the Russian front came from the elements, and this narrative will bring the true horridness of those deaths to light. The soldiers who were taken prisoner had it just as dreadful, entering into appalling conditions. The most notorious of prison camps was Khrinovoje, a place where “one doesn’t live like men, one dies like animals.” The prisoner experience eerily foreshadows the Cold War, many of them coming into direct contact with just how rigid Communist Russia’s ideology was. Sacrifice on the Steppe and its many remarkable anecdotes will not simply bring you in touch with your most empathetic side, it will make you thankful for every opportunity you have in life after traveling alongside a group of soldiers who had none.

DID YOU KNOW? The Russians took Italian soldiers prisoner, but shot German soldiers outright. FALL 2016 13 ITALIAN AMERICA

FALL 2016 Selections


Enter the world of sweets with Claudia Lombardo, a writer who travels to Sicily to find out about the mysterious cake that chefs from all across the world come to sample. This renowned layered cake— La Cassata—is not made in your typical bakery; it’s made in a convent. While many claim that this pastry uses a secret ingredient, the head nun named Sorrella Agata refutes this and invites Claudia to make the pastry alongside the nuns. In order to understand this pastry, however, Sorrella Agata retells the story of the one who created it. A young woman named Rosalia, who experiences the most unspeakable of crimes against her, was abandoned in a cave and found by nuns. She finds refuge in the convent, helping with chores and eventually assuming baking duties while gradually confronting her past—a process which may account for the secret ingredient. With each chapter named for an Italian pastry that then appears in the chapter, Rosalia’s Bittersweet Pastry Shop will take you into the wonderful world of Italian desserts. Flashbacks set in the 1950s will acquaint you with Italy’s old customs, particularly highlighting gender differences that existed and how marriage was approached. The novel’s sentimental writing helps coat the harsh realities of the world that Rosalia faces. As the story progresses, you will experience parts her healing but in a way that poses the question: does any convalescence come at its own price? Ultimately, you may find yourself wishing that it didn’t and regretting some of the decisions that Rosalia makes—yet wondering if she is bound to them.

DID YOU KNOW? Many Italian peasants in southern Italy would take plaster from walls and add it to flour to make the flour go further.


Our Story

Italian American history and culture

Keys to the Castle

A Sicilian Connection Beyond Blood By Frank J. Pennisi

While I was growing up, my father would tell me stories about how our family in Sicily came from nobility and that they lived in castles. That was hard to imagine since my father and I lived in Red Hook, Brooklyn, just the two of us, in a three-room, cold water flat with a bathroom out in the hallway. Out of Red Hook during the 1940s and 1950s came some pretty mean characters, including a few relatives. My father tried to keep me as far away from them as possible. Because of this, I had very little contact with the Pennisi family. When I was seventeen, my father died, and I was on my own. Thirty years later, my wife—Carolyn—and I found ourselves in beautiful Taormina, Sicily with some friends from Myrtle Beach. Carolyn suggested that I try to find my family roots in Sicily. Recalling the relatives from Red

“Sciatu Mio,

you are the reason why I breathe.” By Frank J. Pennisi

A rich and multi-layered romantic novel. Historical events are interwoven with stories for control of the sulfur mines in Sicily, and the wars between the Irish and Italians for control of the N.Y. docks. “Family Tale Captivates with Sicilian intrique, romance, drana and history.” - SUN NEWS “A Riveting True Story...would make a Compelling movie.” - CREATESPACE “An Earnest, Vivid Portrait about a family that stands up to the Mafia.” - KIRKUS BOOK REVIEW And from Readers; “Pulls you in, I Loved It, Passionate, Emotional, Heartwarming”” Available on, Kindle and Major Book Stores

FALL 2016


Castello Pennisi. Orazio Pennisi’s father was Barone Agostino Pennisi di Floristella, owner of the largest sulfur mines in the world. Sulfur was known as “liquid gold.”

Hook, I thought it best to forego the search. But Carolyn kept insisting, and the adventure began. We found ourselves looking at a municipal map in the Centro of Acireale, where we discovered a Piazza Pennisi, College Pennisi, a Palazzo Pennisi, a Terme Pennisi, and, behold, a Castello Pennisi. Carolyn and I drove to the Piazza Pennisi, a lovely piazza south of town, to a two hundred-year-old Arab Norman castle in the midst of enchanting tropical giardini. As we drove up to the gates, I couldn’t help but think of my father and the stories he once told—maybe they weren’t all myths. The name printed under the bell was Orazio Pennisi. A fragile male voice came over the speaker. “Chi sei?” “Sono Francesco Pennisi degli Stati Uniti e voglio trovare mia famiglia,” I answered. And so began the incredible story of how I found my family. Before us was a magnificent driveway lined with royal palms from Arabia. We parked under a massive threestory portico, and out shuffled two diminutive figures who introduced themselves as Orazio and Lina Pennisi di Floristella. Orazio and Lina were very cordial and asked us to stay for dinner, which we did. We exchanged addresses and telephone numbers, but we never established any bloodline. It was Christmas morning back in Myrtle Beach and the memories of Sicily were two months behind us when


Our Story

Italian American history and culture

the phone rang. It was Orazio and Lina wishing us Buon Natale and asking us to come back to Sicily and stay with them because the family wanted to get to know us. We arrived in Catania in April, when Mount Etna was still covered with snow. Orazio assigned us our room. “You can come and go as you wish, here are the keys,” he said. When we were alone, I turned to Carolyn. “Can you imagine, from a kid in Red Hook living in a ghetto and now I have the keys to the castle?” We had a fabulous time meeting family members and learning about their history, but my heart belonged to Orazio. At eighty-five, he was the oldest member of this noble family, and out of respect everyone called him the Barone. He and Lina never had children, and it seemed they had adopted Carolyn and me. The day we had to leave was a sad day. We felt like family even though we hadn’t actually established bloodlines. I kissed Orazio as we got ready to leave. “Sono Francesco Pennisi degli Stati Uniti e voglio trovare mia famiglia,” I answered. “You are proud of us?” he asked. “You started with nothing and on your own you have become a Signore. We are proud of you.” As I tried to hold back the tears I attempted to give the keys back, but Orazio pushed my hands aside. “These keys are yours for when you come back,” he said. And I could no longer hold back the tears. For the next eighteen years, Carolyn and I returned to Sicily and to Orazio and Lina. Sometimes even twice a year. Orazio and I called each other every Sunday and exchanged emails once a week. Upon learning of this, someone asked me, “Don’t you want to find out your true bloodline?” I looked at my wife, whom I love and respect. She was adopted and never wanted to know her biological parents because she was so loved by her adoptive family. And I decided that I didn’t need to search any further for my family in Sicily. I found Orazio. And whenever we’d say goodbye, I’d tell him, “Ti amo.” And he would say, “I love you very much.” Frank J. Pennisi is the author of three books. His latest “Sciatu Mio” is dedicated to the memory of Orazio and Lina Pennisi.


Do You Know Your Italian Roots? If not, here’s your chance! In honor of Italian American Heritage Month, the Sons of Italy is holding a contest to win a My Italian Family genealogy research project valued at approximately $1,500. Throughout the entire month of October, individuals who join or renew their Sons of Italy national at-large membership (ALM) online will be entered for a chance to win one of two available research projects. The two projects are: 1. Discover your family history all the way to the late 1700s! The winner of the “5 Generations Back” Research Project will learn his or her ancestors’ names, occupations, where they lived, and many more amazing historical details. 2. Reconnect to your living relatives! The “Living Relatives” Research Project will research the winner’s Ancestral town and reconnect him/her to living relatives currently in Italy. Complete research results will be provided in both printed and electronic versions. The contest will run from 12:00 am EDT on Oct. 1, 2016, through 11:59 EDT on Oct. 31, 2016. Individuals who renew their ALM, purchase an ALM for themselves, or purchase the gift of ALM for someone else online through will automatically be entered to win*. The winner will be drawn at random on Nov. 4 and will be contacted by the Sons of Italy National Office shortly thereafter. We extend very special thanks to Bianca Ottone, owner of My Italian Family, LLC, for generously donating the research project for this contest. Not the winner of the contest? Visit the Members Only community of for details about a special discount on research and other services from My Italian Family for Sons of Italy members. Also visit www. for more information. *RULES: Only ALM transactions (new, renewed, or gift) processed online through between 12:00 a.m. EDT on Oct. 1, 2016, and 11:59 p.m. EDT on Oct. 31, 2016, are eligible. No mail, fax or phone ALM transactions are eligible for this contest. Individuals who give (purchase) an ALM gift membership are eligible to be entered, but the gift recipient will not be entered. There is no limit to the number of memberships an individual may purchase in accordance with the rules above; each membership purchased during contest period earns one automatic entry.Additional rules apply; see, our Facebook page, or check your inbox for complete rules.


By Mary Ann Castronovo Fusco Father Capodanno conducts a service for the men of “A” Co., 1st Bn., 7th Marines. (Father Capodanno Guild) FALL 2016



Each September on a leafy campus in the shadows of the VerrazanoNarrows Bridge, a Mass is conducted for Father Vincent Capodanno at the Fort Wadsworth chapel on New York’s Staten Island. A local boy who became a missionary and then a Navy chaplain in support of the Marines, Father Capodanno was killed on September 4, 1967, while administering medical aid and last rites to his ambushed comrades in Vietnam. For his valor, Father Capodanno was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest military award. Each year another anniversary Mass, presided over by the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, is held in the crypt church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. and televised live on EWTN, the Global Catholic Television Network. Both services are held not only in honor of the fallen priest’s memory, but also in supplication for his canonization. Though the foot soldiers he

served knew him as “the Grunt Padre,” the Catholic Church has named him a Servant of God, the first step on the path toward sainthood. “He chose to go into battle,” says Vincent Maligno, a retired Air Force major from Staten Island who served in Vietnam and is a longtime friend of the Capodanno family. “He wanted to be where the action was, where he was most needed. He could’ve sat back at the base chapel and been there for confession, but that wasn’t enough for him.” The youngest of ten children, Vincent Robert Capodanno, Jr. was born on February 13, 1929—the year the stock market crumbled. His father, Vincent, had left his hometown of Gaeta, Italy (Lazio region) at age sixteen and worked on the docks of New York Harbor as a ship caulker. His mother, Rachel Basile, whose ancestral roots were in Sorrento (Campania region), was born in the United States. Vincent’s father died on the day Vincent turned ten, just seven months before the start of World War II.

The ceremony held in front of the Capodanno monument outside the Fr. Capodanno Chapel on the grounds of Fort Wadsworth on September 6, 2015.

Maryknoll Father Vincent Capodanno

Despite the tumultuous times in which Vincent lived, nothing in his early life seemed to foreshadow a military vocation, though two of his brothers served in the Army and another in the Marines. The family thought that brothers Philip or Albert, who’d been altar boys, would have been more likely to enter the priesthood. Vincent, meanwhile, had been endowed with movie-star looks. “If there were twenty people in a room,” said his brother James, who passed away in 2014, “there’d be forty eyes on Vincent. He projected like a flashlight.” While working as a clerk by day and attending education classes at Fordham University by night, Vincent felt drawn to the priesthood. Inspired by articles he read in The Field Afar, a magazine published by the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America (commonly known as Maryknoll), he decided to join the society and was ordained on June 14, 1958 at age twenty-nine.

(Mary Ann Castronovo Fusco)



Father Capodanno’s first assignment was a six-year stint in Taipei, Taiwan, where he had to learn the Hakku Chinese dialect. After a leave in 1964, which allowed him to visit the Holy Land and his family back in the States, Father Capodanno was reassigned in 1965 to Hong Kong, which required him to learn yet another language, Cantonese. He sought to return to Taiwan, but that request was denied, and his relationship with his superiors became strained. Aware of other Maryknollers who had served as chaplains, Father Capodanno wrote to the chief of chaplains in Washington, D.C., inquiring about the possibility of joining the Navy Chaplain Corps and expressing his desire to serve with the Marines in Vietnam. “Father Vincent felt he was no longer needed in Hong Kong or Taiwan as much as he would be in Vietnam,” wrote Father Daniel L. Mode, author of The Grunt Padre, a biography about Father Capodanno. In August 1965, the priest received permission to begin the process of military induction. His training at Camp

Pendleton, California, included battle first aid, counter-insurgency tactics, physical fitness, and survival skills. Appointed a lieutenant, he reported for duty and arrived in Vietnam during Holy Week of 1966—“congruent with the zenith of United States involvement in the war,” wrote Mode. Although Father Capodanno was required to wear a Colt .45 pistol for protection, Corporal John Scafidi, one of the men he served with, said “he would never use it for anything more than a paperweight.” Soft-spoken and, at thirty-seven years old, considerably older than most of the Marines he considered his parishioners, Father Capodanno gained respect as an attentive listener. The infantrymen, known as grunts, confided in him during their darkest hours. But he proved to be more than a confidante. He chain smoked and played cards with them. He carried the pack they carried, traveling with them into the jungle and into battle, something chaplains rarely, if ever, did. Though he was known to be fastidious

Father Capodanno beside a Nativity Scene on Christmas Day 1966 in Chu Lai, Vietnam. (Father Capodanno Guild) FALL 2016


A monument of Father Capodanno administering to a fallen solider at Fort Wadsworth. (Mary Ann Castronovo Fusco)

about his appearance, he was adamant about living the same grimy, grueling life that those he served with lived. As chaplain, Father Capodanno celebrated fifteen Masses a week, taught catechism, counseled soldiers of all faiths, conducted memorial services for the fallen, helped evacuate civilians, and frequently asked to be placed with the company most likely to suffer the highest casualties. For meritorious service during six combat operations, he received the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star. He was notified of having earned the Navy Bronze Star as well, but did not ask to receive it. Though he wrote home, his family knew nothing of his commendations. “He was so humble,” says his nephew Vincent Capodanno of Hamilton, New Jersey. “When he died, he had a little box. And everything he had was in that box: his medals that he never spoke of.” It wasn’t until 1999 that Father Capodanno’s brother James officially accepted the Bronze Star on his behalf. ITALIAN AMERICA

In January 1967, Father Capodanno applied to extend his tour in Vietnam for six months to serve with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. While on leave back home, his family noticed changes in his demeanor. His war experiences had aged him, recalls James’s widow, Lydia. His hair had grayed. “His mind was always in Vietnam with the fellas,” she says. While at home, Father Capodanno liked to stay up talking until the early hours of the morning. “Many of those conversations were about the purpose of the Vietnam War,” recalls Al Lambert, of Parlin, New Jersey, a singer and bandleader whose father was a first cousin to Father Capodanno. “He said, ‘I don’t care about the politics. Men are dying and I have to be there.’” In July 1967, Father Capodanno’s request to the Commanding General of the First Marine Division for a second extension was denied, and he was expected to return home by December. He would never make it. On Labor Day, September 4, the United States launched Operation Swift. It began as a routine maneuver to flush out enemy soldiers who might keep local villagers from participating in the national election that was taking place. Around 4:30 am, wrote Mode, “the skies lit up with enemy mortars and bullet tracers” from a North Vietnamese Army ambush. Having attended a briefing on the battle, Father Capodanno waited with his unit in case the companies of the 3rd Battalion were called into action. Since he’d spent the previous week with the soldiers of Company M, he asked to accompany them when they were ordered to the combat medical aid station. Mode wrote that the Company’s 1st Sergeant, Richard L. FALL 2016 19 ITALIAN AMERICA

There have been just seven U.S. Navy ships named in memory of chaplains. On November 17, 1973, the Navy commissioned the USS Capodanno, a ship that just two years later would save a shipwrecked Italian family off the coast of southern Italy. The USS Capodanno was the first ship in the U.S. fleet to receive a Papal blessing. On July 30, 1993, it was decommissioned. Its motto was “Duty with honor.”

Kline, reported, “This was unheard of can’t hold out here. We are being for a chaplain to go out with a Line wiped out! There are wounded and Company, where he would be exposed dying all around.” When Father to enemy small arms fire. I personally Capodanno heard the message, he ran denied his request, to the extent that toward the area where Lovejoy was I did not even inform the Company pinned down by automatic gunfire Commander of the Chaplain’s re- and mortar explosions and helped quest. However, Chaplain Capodanno him scramble with his bulky radio informed me that he would see the equipment to safety. Exposing himself Battalion Commander for his ap- to enemy fire, Father Capodanno adproval. Evidently, this was approved somewhere along Feeding the Enemy by CDR J.R. Sharp, USN (Ret.) the line.” The Marines were outnumbered in a vicious, close-combat ambush that prompted Private First Class Stephen A. Lovejoy to radio back to the command post, “We

Feeding the Enemy is based on the true story of an Italian family’s determination to survive in the face of evil during World War II. It is a story of perseverance, ingenuity, and love. This book captures the spirit of survivability against all odds and provides the reader with an appreciation of what Italians went through during the war to end all wars. Order your copy in hardcover, paperback, or kindle format at


ministered last rites to other soldiers, carried the wounded to safety, and gave up his own gas mask to a Marine missing his. All the while, he was telling the men, “Stay cool; don’t panic.”

to speeches, prayers, and anthems before a bronze sculpture of Father Capodanno administering to a fallen soldier. To them and countless others Father Capodanno already is a saint.

While running toward a dying sergeant, Father Capodanno was hit in the right shoulder by the shrapnel of a mortar. Undeterred, he made his way to the sergeant and prayed with him until the end. Father Vincent refused medical attention and continued to tend to those around him, bandaging wounds and offering solace.

Note: The Order Sons of Italy in America Father Vincent R. Capodanno Lodge 212 is located on Staten Island, New York.

In late afternoon, Father Vincent was wounded again by shrapnel, in the arms, hand, and legs. He waved off medical attention a second time, insisting that others be taken care of instead. According to Mode’s biography, Corporal Ray Harton was the second to last person Father Capodanno tended to. Bleeding from a shot to his left arm, Harton said he felt an inexplicable peace come over him as Father Capodanno cupped the back of his head and said, “Stay quiet Marine. You will be okay. Someone will be here to help you soon. God is with us this day.” Meanwhile, Armando G. “Doc” Leal, Jr., a corpsman who’d tried to come to Harton’s aid, had been shot in the leg. Father Capodanno left Harton’s side to tend to Leal. He began to give medical attention to the corpsman when a machine gunner opened fire. Father Capodanno was hit twenty-seven times in his spine, neck, and head. Stateside, Al Lambert was in his mother’s kitchen when they received FALL 2016


For paying the ultimate sacrifice, Father Capodanno was awarded several medals, including the Purple Heart. (Mary Ann Castronovo Fusco)

word that Father Capodanno had been killed. “The scream that came out from her mouth, I’ll never forget it,” says Lambert. “She never said his name, but I knew instinctively it was Father Vincent.”

Mary Ann Castronovo Fusco is a writer and editor based in Leonia, NJ. Her website is

In 2013, the Father Capodanno Guild was formed to disseminate information on his life and to raise funds in support of the cause for his canonization. To f i n d o u t m o r e , v i s i t

After a funeral Mass at Queen of Peace in North Arlington, New Jersey—the church Father Capodanno “This book is packed with startling revelations, would visit when from the Roman Legionnaires ... to Italian staying with his sisEurofighter Typhoons. An amazing world tour.” ter, Pauline—the gr unts’ beloved chaplain was buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery on Staten Island, alongside his parents. Just a short drive away, family, including his last surviving sibling, Gloria, and friends gather each year at Fort Wadsworth on the Sunday closest to the anniversary of his death. After Mass at the chapel named in Father Capodanno’s honor, they listen

How Italians Conquered the World Christopher Kelly Stuart Laycock Available at or get your exclusive signed copies bundled with limited edition gifts at W W W . I TA LY I N VA D E S . C O M


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CineFesta Italia Film Festival a Success! What happens when you mix Italian film and an American Southwest city with a rich history with a vibrant Italian-American community? CineFesta Italia Film Festival in Santa Fe celebrated its inaugural launch this past June. Boasting an eighteen-film program, it was such a success that Executive Director Lisa Contarino and Creative Director Luca Ceccarelli got right to work planning the next one. While summertime in Santa Fe alone creates a spectacular backdrop for any festival, when coupled with current Italian cinema, it makes for a memorable and unique experience. “Part of CineFesta’s mission is not only to celebrate what audiences expect from Italian cinema,” Ceccarelli says, “but also to surprise them with fresh voices and themes that might even catch them off guard.” In fact, CineFesta features only current films with a focus highlighting up-and-coming Italian and Italian-American filmmakers, exposing their work to American distributors and audiences. 

Looking for Travel Options for 2017? Check out these 2017 hosted by Incentus Global! Banff, Canada Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise June 13 – June 19, 2017

You and a guest will enjoy accommodations at the lovely Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. New Orleans, Louisiana Mississippi River Boat Cruise Dec. 9, 2017- Dec. 16, 2017 You and a guest will enjoy accommodations on the luxurious American Queen Steamboat—the largest, most opulent riverboat in the world!

For more information, contact Breana J. Daniels, Project Coordinator: FALL 2016 21 ITALIAN AMERICA

Of particular interest this year was a theme of gender identity. The winner of CineFesta’s Best Up-and-Coming Director for a Feature Film was Laura Bispuri for her film Vergine Giurata (Sworn Virgin). Years after declaring her eternal virginity and opting to live life as a man in the mountains of Albania, the protagonist looks to return to living as a woman as she settles into a new existence in modern-day Milan. CineFesta also presents the “La Lupa” Italian Heritage Award, recognizing films that demonstrate a dedication to the preservation of Italian culture. The 2016 La Lupa Award went to Francesco Cannavà, for Il Carnevale Eoliano: L’Isola delle Maschere (The Aeolian Carnival: The Island of Masks). For a complete list of films, winners, and how to see them, visit ... and if you know Italian or IA filmmakers, stay tuned for 2017 submission deadlines!  For Italian Film Festivals in your city, be sure to visit

Sons of Italy Scholarship Applications Available in November The Sons of Italy Foundation® (SIF) National Leadership Grants will be available online starting mid-November. Scholarship information and application can be downloaded on http:// The deadline for the Sons of Italy Foundation ® (SIF) National Leadership Grants is February 28, 2016. Applications postmarked after that date will not be considered.

The 2016 SIF scholarship recipients.

Every year, the SIF awards 10 to 12 scholarships that assist outstanding Italian-American students with their college and graduate studies.The grants include Study in Italy awards. They range from $4,000 to $25,000. If you have questions, contact Laura Kelly at the Sons of Italy’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C. Phone: (202) 547-2900 Email: ITALIAN AMERICA FALL 2016 21

By Erica Miner

On a February night in 1976, I entered the Metropolitan Opera House orchestra pit. I sat in my seat in the first violin section and began tuning my instrument. A young Italian tenor from Modena, Luciano Pavarotti, was about to tackle a daunting task. He was chosen to perform alongside the formidable soprano Joan Sutherland in the debut of a new production of Vincenzo Bellini’s I Puritani, which had not been performed at the Met since 1918. It was my first time accompanying Pavarotti from the pit, and I wondered how he would fare sharing the stage with the opera icon. Alongside the outermost edge of the pit wall, I glanced up at the stage now and then to watch Pavarotti deftly move his generously-sized frame around the gorgeous Ming Cho Lee sets. My ears were constantly attuned to the tenor’s beautifully modulated voice, tastefully executed high notes, and the color and sheen of his exciting, unique timbre. According to the critics, he soared to great heights that evening, well-matched with his co-star.

That performance of I Puritani was the first of many, both live and recorded, of the Italian repertoire that I played with Pavarotti. Over many years, we performed operas by Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, Gaetano Donizetti, and Umberto Giordano—as well as Mozart’s youthful Italian Luciano Pavarotti and Joan Sutherland in I Puritani in 1976. opera, Idomeneo. I remember one stormy summer’s eve when Pavarotti performed outdoors in Central Park despite the worst possible conditions. The ground was so rain-soaked that wooden planks had to be placed on the pathways to keep people’s feet from sinking into the mud. But Pavarotti, every bit undeterred, refused to cancel. He refused to disappoint the drenched crowd of thousands who had shown up in rain gear, toting umbrellas, waiting for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience his live performance. To witness his performance—along with performances by Modena-native Mirella Freni, Polesine-native Carlo Bergonzi, and Savona-native Renata Scotto—from the point of view of a violinist in the world’s greatest opera orchestra was unforgettable. One that I lived to the fullest over my twenty-one years as a violinist with the Met.

The present-day MET opened in Lincoln Square in 1966, replacing the original MET that opened in 1883. (Metropolitan Opera House/Jonathan Tichler) FALL 2016


That Pavarotti and Freni were both born in the same northern Italian town has always struck me as more than merely coincidence. Not only were they born in the same ITALIAN AMERICA

Eugene Onegin? Whenever Freni was on stage, with or without Ghiaurov, her glowing personality enhanced the shimmer of her golden voice. She was captivating, musically and dramatically. The very first opera I saw live was when Carlo Bergonzi performed the role of Radames in Verdi’s Aida. It was during the Metropolitan Opera’s tour when I was growing up in Detroit. What better way to begin my exposure to opera than with Aida; and with Bergonzi, who more than any other opera artist was associated with Verdi? Indeed, Bergonzi grew up near Parma, the closest major city to Verdi’s hometown of Busseto, and as a youngster began to sing children’s roles there.

Mirella Freni as Mimi in La bohème. (The Metropolitan Opera Archives)

location, they were born in the same year—1935. They grew up as best friends, and Pavarotti, himself, has said that they shared the same wet nurse, claiming that there was something special in that milk. Freni proved herself to be one of the most versatile Italian sopranos to grace the Met Opera stage, shining brilliantly in the Italian, French, and Russian repertoire. Puccini’s heroines Mimi and Manon Lescaut. Verdi’s Queen Elisabetta. Bizet’s Micaela. Tchaikovsky’s Tatiana. Freni brought her exquisite vocal beauty and glowing personal presence to every performance. One of my most memorable Freni moments occurred when she shared the stage with her Bulgarian-born basso profundo (deep bass) husband, Nicolai Ghiaurov. Who could forget the intense conflict between her Queen Elisabetta and his King Filippo in Verdi’s Don Carlo, or the deep affection flowing between them in Tchaikovsky’s A Sweeping Series Set in Stunning Tuscany

An epic narrative spanning each decade from WWII to the 1990s by award-winning author



Carlo Bergonzi as the Egyptian Prince, Radames, in Aida, which has been performed more than 1,100 times at the MET. (The Metropolitan Opera Archives) As a child myself, I was drawn in by the heft and luster of Bergonzi’s tenor voice. Playing in the Met Orchestra years later, I couldn’t believe my good fortune to actually be accompanying him from the pit. Considered one of the most distinguished tenors of his time, Bergonzi never failed to deliver great performances, whether in operas by Verdi or Puccini, Donizetti or Giordano, Pietro Mascagni, Amilcare Ponchielli or Ruggero Leoncavallo. But I’ll remember him most as that tormented Egyptian prince in Aida who sacrificed everything for love. I played more performances with Renata Scotto than with any other soprano. When I first accompanied her in Puccini’s triptych Il Trittico, Scotto had already made a huge impact on Met Opera audiences with her heartFALL 2016 23 ITALIAN AMERICA

Renata Scotta as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly. (The Metropolitan Opera Archives) rending debut interpretation of Cio-Cio San in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. For me, however, it was Scotto as Mimi and Pavarotti as Rodolfo in the Puccini favorite, La bohème, that is the most unforgettable. After all, it was the very first Live from the Met telecast in 1977. Scotto often came under scrutiny for being highly controversial. In advance of a live telecast of Verdi’s Luisa Miller, she had claimed in an interview with Opera News to be a greater singer than the legendary Maria Callas. Fans of Callas took umbrage, and at the televised performance just as Scotto was about to sing her first notes on stage, a voice came booming from the balcony. “Viva Callas!” Scotto was livid, and she launched into the aria and sang it as well as it had ever been sung.

The MET has a capacity of 3,800.

(Metropolitan Opera House/Jonathan Tichler)

It was with Butterfly and Suor Angelica that Scotto won my heart. I was so deeply affected by her performances that I learned to place a handkerchief over the part of my violin closest to my face in order to keep my tears from staining the varnish on the instrument. Her poignant, heart-wrenching interpretations of these tragic heroines were irresistible. Even as I played an accompanying violin, I certainly was not immune to the emotion. It’s been said that Italians worship the human voice. In this exalted Italian-born art form called opera, the voice is—and always will be—what elevates it. Pavarotti, Freni, Bergonzi and Scotto represent the quintessence of this reverence for and adulation of the voice. They graced us with their golden tones and native Italian consummate artistry, here, on the American opera stage, where I had the good fortune to witness so many of their performances from the orchestra pit of the Metropolitan Opera. Former Metropolitan Opera violinist Erica Miner is an award-winning author, screenwriter, journalist, and lecturer. Her latest published novel is the Met Opera-based thriller “Murder In The Pit.” Contact her at

Writer Erica Miner as a young violinist. (Stephen Miner)

FALL 2016



Speakers Bureau

learn more about your culture & history

Need a speaker for your club meeting or a special event? Contact these experts directly. Some may require travel expenses and/or honorariums. For more speakers see: at “Culture & History.” To apply as a speaker, contact Miles Fisher at • ANYWHERE USA/ITALY Published Italian Poet, Author, and Songwriter Alberto Mario Gloria speaks on relationships and differences between Italian and Anglo-Saxon influences in literature, cinema, and culture; Italian influences in comic strips and their relations to art, culture, music, and psychology; art and culture in Italy between Catania, Rome, and the outskirts. He is the nephew of famed first female futurist Italian painter/sculptor/poet Adele Gloria. Book signings and merchandising. Contact: (845) 661-3892 (New York) Email: • ANYWHERE USA/CANADA Author Camille Cusumano speaks on traveling through Sicily and on Sicilian family. She has authored both a novel—The Last Cannoli—and a memoir—Wilderness Begins At Home: Travels with My Big Sicilian Family. She also speaks on her mother’s posthumously published cookbook, La Cucina di Carmela. Book signings. Contact: (415) 425-6515 (California) Email: Website: www.


• EAST COAST Author Diana Pishner Walker speaks on Italian-American heritage and children’s books on Italian childhood and immigration. She has authored children’s books—including Hopping to America and Spaghetti & Meatballs: Growing Up Italian—that have together garnered several awards, including New York Book Festival Honorable Mention – Best Children’s Book; Reader’s Favorite International Book Award Honorable Mention – Best Children’s Book; and London Book Festival Award. Book signings. Contact: (304) 365-0698 (West Virginia) Email: dlwalker003@ Website: • METRO NEW YORK AREA Author Camilla Trinchieri speaks on transforming a World War II family story into a novel. Under the pen name Camilla Crespi, she has written eight mystery novels featuring a recently emigrated Italian woman. Her recent release—Seeking Alice—was published by SUNYPress and is a story of the conflicts and strife of an American and Italian family caught in Europe during World War II. Book signings. Contact: (212) 473-9705 (New York) Email: Website:


OSIA Nation




Pikes Peak Lodge #2870 of Colorado Springs celebrated their fifth anniversary last August—and did so in style with a good, old-fashioned western barbeque. Members dined on delicious barbeque pork, baked chicken, and all the “fixin’s” prepared by their newest member, Chef James Africano. After dinner, they enjoyed singing western, Italian, and 1930s tunes.

On June 2, Past State President of the Grand Lodge of Florida, National Trustee, and SGT F.M. Bonanno Lodge #2549 member Edward Mottola, Jr. was awarded the Honor Medal of Uf ficiale dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia (Officer of the Order of the Star of Italy). The Republic of Italy presented him with this honor for his years of commitment to promoting Italian culture and safeguarding Italian heritage. Ed was particularly instrumental in helping gain the approval of law HR 2442 “Wartime Violation of Italian American Civil Liberties.” This resolution officially recognized the 600,000 Italian-born immigrants in the United States who were branded as “enemy aliens” by the government.

Throughout their five-year history, they have awarded nine scholarships to deserving students. They have also raised money for OSIA national charities and The Home Front Cares, an organization dedicated to helping military families. Additionally, they volunteer several times a year at a local soup kitchen. Visit their website:

Pikes Peak Lodge members on stage. In the back row is Major Mandolin (Charles Prignano), who performed several songs at the anniversary event.

arizona State President Marie Chiaramonte presided over the installation of Leonardo DaVinci Lodge #2992 of Glendale and initiated its first president, Antoinette Trifiro. President Trifiro’s inaugural speech offered an inspirational message. As fraternal members we wish to keep alive our ancestors’ legacy—their courage in leaving their homeland, their struggles to assimilate, their hopes and dreams, and their determination to work hard and provide a better life for their children. It is their story, their values, language, and traditions they brought with them to America. This is part of who we are as Italian American. Each time we recount their story to the younger generation, we reaffirm our culture and heritage. Let’s remember to tell FALL 2016


Ed played a central role in getting his home state to approve testing for the Italian language, thereby encouraging the state to offer Italian in its schools. Two years ago, he proposed state legislation that was signed by the governor’s office, declaring the month of October to be “Italian and Italian American Heritage” month.

The board members of Leonardo DaVinci Lodge #2992. their story more often, as the up and-coming generation also needs to feel the sense of pride and love of their Italian heritage.

The Leonardo DaVinci Lodge brings forty-three new members into the Grand Lodge of Arizona. Benvenuto!

Edward Mottola with Consul General of Italy in Miami, Gloria Marina Bellelli. ITALIAN AMERICA

OSIA Nation


rhode island Salvatore Mancini Lodge #2440 of North Providence celebrated the oldest member of both their lodge and the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island, which is made up of twelve total lodges. Emma Pezza turned 105 years old last March and is still an active member of the lodge—attending meetings, playing cards, and competing in bocce. A member of the lodge for eighteen years, Emma served as Treasurer for four years. She and her late husband, Carmine, have two children, six grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren, and five great-great-grandchildren.

Emma (center) with Salvatore Mancini Lodge #2440 President Anthony Monti and his wife, Rosalia. Outside of lodge events, Emma spends a lot of her time cooking for her large family and friends, and also helps care for her sister, who is in an assisted living facility.

california On July 6, Immediate Past State President of the Grand Lodge of California, National Trustee, and Cornelia-Vita Nuova Lodge #1198 member Maria Fassio Pignati was knighted by the President of the Republic of Italy. The insignia of

Maria with Italy’s Ambassador to the United States, Armando Varricchio (left), and Consul General of Italy in San Francisco, Mauro Battocchi.

this most prestigious honor was bestowed by Italy’s Ambassador to the United States, Armando Varricchio. Maria now bears the title Commendatore della Ordine della Stella d’Italia (Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of Italy). Maria was honored for her years of service to the Italian-American community, including volunteer work and involvement in local clubs. She is also an accomplished operatic soprano, having performed the American and Italian national anthems at past Sons of Italy Foundation National Education and Leadership Awards Galas. She has also performed the national anthem for the San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics, and Golden State Warriors at their Italian Heritage Day games.

ohio Columbus Lodge #2599 hosted the 2016 Italian American Inaugural Golf Classic last July. Eighty-eight golfers teed off on a beautiful day at the Golf Club of Dublin. Living by their motto—One Team, One Dream—the lodge raised more than two thousand dollars for the local Down Syndrome Unit at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “I would like to extend a wholehearted thanks to the sponsors, players, and volunteers who donated their time to ensure the success of this event,” said Sostene Codispoti, President of the Columbus Lodge. “We will be able to build on this and make it even greater next year!” The event was held in memory of Sostene’s daughter, Frances Catherine Codispoti, who was born with Down syndrome and passed away earlier this year at the age of sixty-four.

Pictured with Columbus Lodge President Sostene Codispoti (center) is the winning foursome of (L. to R.) Jim Iovino, Noah Iovino, Frank Dreischart, and Brandon Ruggles.

GOT A GOOD STORY? Have you or your lodge done something remarkable that makes a difference to your community or promotes our heritage and Italian studies? If so, send details including your lodge’s name/number, a brief write-up, and digital photos of 300 dpi to Editor Miles Fisher at FALL 2016 27 ITALIAN AMERICA


Austin Guistolisi Meets Authentic Italian Chefs

By Miles Ryan Fisher

When he walked into his house, it was just another Wednesday in Griffith, Indiana, just another late afternoon following a long day of high school. Austin Guistolisi was in his senior year and working hard to earn his diploma. On that day, when he walked in his house, he was told that his wish had come true—that any wish he wanted would come true. And he laughed. “I thought it was a good joke at first.”

teen pills a day to manage the recurring seizures. Sarah told Make-A-Wish about this daily struggle her younger brother faced, though she didn’t mention anything about it to him. So when Austin heard that he was granted any wish he wanted, he didn’t believe it right away.

When he was put in touch with his wish granters—Lori Saulters and John Reitz—he The chefs at InTavola give Austin a thumbs up. realized that he faced a tough decision. Of all the wishes one could make, what was his Unbeknownst to Austin, his older sister, Sarah, had wish going to be? He considered the famous athletes he contacted Make-A-Wish Foundation, telling them about could meet, like his idol Michael Jordan, or the places his condition: epilepsy. A neurological disorder in which grantees normally visit, like Disney World. But one idea nerve cell activity in the brain becomes disrupted, epilepsy struck him as the best wish of all: a trip to Italy. It wasn’t results in recurrent seizures and can even lead to a loss of simply because of the pictures he’d seen of its mesmerizconsciousness. ing cities and idyllic landscapes, it was also for something Austin had been diagnosed with epilepsy at just eighteen creative—and yet at the same time, practical. “I want to months old. He’d had as many as two hundred seizures be a chef,” Austin said. “And I wanted to learn how to in just one day. Now, eighteen years old, he takes four- cook Italian food.” OSIA members benefit from a 10% discount on all our services!

Do You Ever Imagine Your Italian Ancestors? Bring that vision to life with real history.

• Discover centuries of information about your roots through our research services onsite in Italy • Obtain your Italian Dual Citizenship by working with us to manage the application process. For more information, visit, or call 1-888-472-0171 FALL 2016



Of course, with a last name like Guistolisi (pronounced Gus-toe-lee-see), he already had Italian blood. His paternal great-grandparents emigrated from Sicily in the 1890s, settling in the Chicago Heights section of Chicago. That’s where his grandfather was born and worked as a barber while also helping Italian immigrants get employment with the city. In the mid-seventies, his grandparents moved to Indiana.

Austin (center) and his family making pasta at InTavola restaurant.

This family history coupled with his desire to be a chef led Austin to make a very unique wish—he wished for a family trip to Italy and for personal cooking lessons from authentic Italian chefs. Though wishes involving international travel can be difficult to grant, Make-A-Wish rose to the challenge and organized a trip for six (Austin has one brother and two sisters) that consisted of a nine-day stay. They flew in and out of Rome and spent most of their days in Florence, where Austin attended two cooking classes. The first, hosted by Florencetown, took him on a tour of a central market and then into the kitchen where chefs Paola and Giuseppe gave him a personal lesson. The very first dish he cooked? Ravioli. This was then followed by tagliatelle, Bolognese sauce, tomato sauce, and tiramisu. Two days later, Austin was back in the kitchen, this time through InTavola’s cooking classes. He prepared vegetable millefoglie, spinach and ricotta ravioli, fresh pasta, chicken cacciatore, and panna cotta.

Giuseppe and Paola at Florencetown restaurant, making Austin’s wish come true. FALL 2016 29 ITALIAN AMERICA

“I learned to cook more than I ever thought I would,” Austin said. “I never thought I could learn what the chefs over there taught.” For Austin, it was hard to imagine that those chefs would be able to teach him the things they’d taken years to perfect. And yet, there he was in Florence, replicating authentic Italian dishes prepared by professional Italian chefs.

Cooking wasn’t the only thing Austin did while he was in Italy. He and his family toured Florence, visiting the Uffizi Museum, and walking cobbled sidewalks where stands were selling everything from fresh produce to stylish clothing to hand-crafted mementos. “Italy was more different than I thought it would be,” Austin said, referring to the stands in Italy compared to the shops in America. He and his family also explored other parts of Italy, visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Colosseum in Rome, and eating at Ristorante Belforte, a restaurant housed in a medieval fort in Cinque Terre. But of all the cities, Florence was his favorite. “I feel like I could explore more,” he said. “It was my type of town.” (cont. next page)

The Guistolisi family on the steps of San Miniato al Monte, a basilica that sits above Piazza Michelangelo and overlooks Florence. (L. to R.) Austin, Anna, Sarah, and Michael. Behind them are his parents, Mike and Laura. ITALIAN AMERICA FALL 2016 29

In the United States and its territories, on average, a wish is granted every 35 minutes.

Now back in Griffith, Austin continues to manage his condition. Almost two years ago, he had a Vagus Nerve Stimulator implanted. The stimulator, which is similar to a pacemaker, delivers impulses every 1.8 minutes and incorporates a magnet that can be swiped along the generator on the left side of his chest when he feels a seizure coming (called VNS therapy). Though VNS therapy provides stimulation on its own, many find that utilizing the magnet can help stave off or at least reduce the length of a seizure. Seizures, Austin said, don’t always come in the form that people think. “When people hear the word seizure, they just think that you’ll drop to the ground and shake,” he explained. “A lot of people think that’s the only type. But there are different types of seizures. The type I have is where I lock up.” He’ll still be able to hear your voice, just won’t be able to make out what it is that you’re saying. And when it’s over—it lasts a few seconds—he’ll come back and ask you to repeat what you said. “It’ll seem like I’m spacing out.” In spite of this struggle, Austin continues moving toward his aspirations. With a plan to attend culinary school, he recently completed a knife skills class at a local cooking school and will be starting as a prep cook at Gelsosomo’s

Pizzeria in Highland, Indiana. As he hones his craft, he’ll keep his sights set on the goal of one day opening his own restaurant—an Italian one, of course. And when that happens, he’ll always have his wish to look back on as a source of great inspiration. “It was one of the best things to happen to me,” Austin said. Though for Austin, the best is yet to come on the day he opens his first restaurant as an authentic ItalianAmerican chef. Note: Austin’s sister, Sarah, just started her first year at Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University with plans to focus on neurology. Miles Ryan Fisher is the Editor-in-Chief of Italian America magazine. Contact him at

Austin’s Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe* 2 cups cooked shredded chicken 8 oz package of softened cream cheese ½ cup Frank’s RedHot sauce ½ cup ranch dressing 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese Preheat oven to 350º F. Spread cream cheese onto the bottom of a shallow baking dish. Combine the chicken, RedHot sauce, and ranch dressing. Spread over the cream cheese. Cover with shredded cheddar cheese. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until dip is heated through and cheese is melted on top. Serve with crackers, tortilla chips, or vegetables. *Perhaps not Italian, but don’t forget that it was an ItalianAmerican woman who created buffalo wings!


Christmas is the time of year for cooking and giving. Recipes My Nonna Taught Me makes a great hostess gift, stocking stuffer, addition to your own cookbook collection and contains several easy, elegant holiday recipes. My cookbook is a tribute to the heart and soul of my Nonna’s cooking and the love she added to her food.

FALL 2016



From the National


From the President’s Desk By Daniel J. Longo, President of the Order Sons of Italy in America® Festivals and celebrations all over the United States are coming to an end. I hope everyone had an enjoyable and fun-filled summer. Now we look forward to the fall colors and celebrations of our heritage and culture during the month of October. At the request of the Ambassador from Italy to the United States, Armando Varricchio, I attended a meeting with Minister Deputy Chief of Mission Luca Franchetti Pardo and First Counsellor for Consular and Social Affairs Catherine Flumiani. We discussed Earthquake Relief efforts in Amatrice and the other towns hit hardest by the deadly quake. I assured the Embassy that the Order Sons of Italy in America would stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters in Italy to support relief efforts. We also discussed OSIA’s efforts in the areas of Advanced Placement Programs in Italian language and the preservation of our Italian culture and heritage. The Embassy is very pleased with our efforts and has pledged their support to OSIA to further these initiatives.

financial state, policies, and procedures. As I have, many in attendance have begun to see the necessity to bring our organization into 21st century practices and procedures. Much has changed since August 2015. We are a stronger, more fluid, and financially stable organization than we have ever been before. As an example, within hours of the first report of the tragic earthquake in Italy, OSIA and the Sons of Italy Foundation invoked their disaster relief protocols. In less than 24 hours our website was changed to reflect the tragedy. Donations began coming into our website and phone calls were taken to respond to questions on how people could help and donate. Your National Office staff must be commended for their efforts in handling the deluge of calls that came in. OSIA is working diligently to create an environment that addresses the needs of all its members. Your individual efforts to make our organization better is needed and appreciated. As Saint Teresa of Calcutta said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” Sempre Avanti,

In mid-August, OSIA held its Plenary Session in Greenwich, Connecticut. Much was discussed regarding our

The National Membership Contest Underway The National Membership Contest among all Grand Lodges, which was developed by National Trustee-NJ Dominic Pucci and the National Membership Commission, is underway. The contest runs for 12 months from 1st Quarter 2016 until 1st Quarter 2017. It is based on the net % increase in membership for the entire Grand Lodge over that 12 month period. There will be four cash prizes ranging from $1,000 to $250 awarded to the top Grand Lodges. Also, Presidents of top performing Subordinate and Local Lodges will be awarded a one-year membership in the prestigious Gold Membership Program. If you have any questions or comments please contact National Trustee Dominic Pucci at dominicpucci115@ or National Recording Secretary Mark DeNunzio at FALL 2016 31 ITALIAN AMERICA

The leaders after the first quarter of competition are as follows: GL of Arizona SL of Pennsylvania GL of Virginia GL of Delaware GL of West Virginia GL of Maryland GL of Ohio GL of Connecticut

+20.6% +6.4% +5.9% +2.9% +2.2% +1.8% +0.6% +0.2%

Congratulations to our leaders, but remember there are still 3 quarters remaining in the contest. Best of luck to all. ITALIAN AMERICA FALL 2016 31


The Sons of Italy Foundation



The Heart that Lays the Foundation

By Joseph DiTrapani, President

It was Gary Sinise who, at our NELA Gala last May, said that more good comes of tragedy than does bad. For the past couple months, I have certainly witnessed this in action. When we all awoke to the news of the earthquake in central Italy, it was a heart-breaking experience. Seeing the pictures of devastated towns and watching the death toll rise—and knowing it would continue to do so—was difficult for all of us. Our hearts went out to those in Italy, those in the land of our parents and grandparents. And we put those hearts to work. That very day, the Sons of Italy Foundation mobilized our Disaster Relief Fund. We initiated a fundraising campaign to help recovery efforts in central Italy. The moment we did so, donations started pouring in. Online. In the mail. We saw an influx of contributions from members and non-members alike. And a steady flow continues to come in. All donations will be going directly to relief efforts. There are no administrative fees associated with this fundraising campaign. Because of the Order Sons of Italy in America’s status as the largest and oldest organization for Italian-American men and women, we enjoy a close relationship with the embassies. We have been meeting and working with the U.S. Embassy in Rome and with Italy’s Ambassador to the

U.S., Armando Varricchio. Through this, we can ensure that all donations are allocated in the most effective manner. I would also like to applaud the great fundraising effort that many State Grand Lodges and Local Filial Lodges are undertaking to support earthquake relief. While the SIF can raise funds on a national scale, it is the lodges that can do so on a local scale. When combined, they will result in a very impressive overall contribution, one that all Sons of Italy members can be proud of. I hope that we can continue this momentum for many months to come, especially as we approach the holiday season when giving plays such an important role. If you would like to contribute to the SIF’s Disaster Relief Fund to support recovery efforts for the Central Italy earthquake, you can do so online at (make your contribution to the SIF Fund called “Disaster Relief”) or by mailing it to: The Sons of Italy Foundation Attn: Earthquake Relief 219 E Street, NE Washington, DC 20002 If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact our National Office at (202) 547-2900.

Design the SIF 2017 T-Shirt! How would you like a chance for your artwork to appear on thousands of t-shirts that are distributed to help a great cause? Through its direct mail program, the Sons of Italy Foundation® (SIF) will send t-shirts in 2017 as gifts to individuals who support the SIF’s charitable initiatives. Skilled graphic designers are encouraged to submit artwork to be considered for the shirt’s final design.

Entry requirements: • Original design (containing no copyrighted material) must include “Sons of Italy®” and “2017” and reflect Italian-American heritage and pride. • Design should be created for use on a black t-shirt.

The 2016 SIF t-shirt designed for the sec• A low-resolution preview version of the design file must be submitted to ond straight year by Anthony Massa. Will he by January 13, 2017. (Winning designer will be asked to submit a final high-resolution make it a three-peat? design file according to specs below.) • No entries will be accepted by mail.

• Final artwork resolution must be 300 dpi designed at minimum dimensions of 8” wide X 10” high, and submitted as a .jpg, .tif, .psd, .eps or vector art file. Rules apply. Beginning in early November 2016, visit, our Facebook page, or check your inbox for more information on the contest rules. FALL 2016




The Commission for Social Justice

fighting defamation

The CSJ Perspective By Kevin Caira, President

As you are aware, our national Columbus Day holiday has been under attack to be renamed “Indigenous People’s Day.” We have seen these attempts in Colorado; Utah; Montana; Los Angeles, California; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Spokane, Washington. Most recently, the National Education Association (NEA) is encouraging their membership to support the change. The Order Sons of Italy in America is not opposed to a day which recognizes indigenous people—who were a part of our nation’s rich history—but we are opposed to having this—or any day—that replaces Columbus Day. This is why we must take a stand and speak out when states, cities, or towns attempt to change this Federal Holiday. Therefore, OSIA’s Commission for Social Justice is launching a formal petition entitled, “Save Columbus Day.” Below is the actual petition and instructions on how to complete it. We encourage you to make as many copies as necessary. Please encourage every OSIA member, friend, neighbor, co-worker, and your own family members to sign the petition. Get everyone to sign!

assist you. Ask other organizations in your community to get involved. If your city has a Columbus Day Parade, have these petitions available along the parade route. In addition to the traditional paper petitions being distributed, we have set up an online petition through our national level of Social Media. We encourage each one of you to post it on Facebook and Twitter. To find the online petition, go to and search “Columbus Day.” Our goal is to obtain 100,000 signatures. We can only accomplish this task if all of us work together. Please mail all completed petitions to the National Office addressed as: Commission for Social Justice Petition Campaign 219 E Street NE Washington, DC 20002 We would like all petitions returned by April 30, 2017. Thank you for supporting this campaign. To make a monetary contribution or to obtain additional copies of this petition, contact the above address or call (202) 547-2900.

Bring the petition to any social events and church gatherings. Seek out any Italian businesses in the area to

Order Sons of Italy in America “Save Columbus Day” Petition We are petitioning for an official Capitol luncheon and White House evening reception in recognition and endorsement of Columbus Day and the contributions of the 25 million Americans of Italian descent. With our holiday consistently under attack, we are asking the White House to rededicate the Presidency to both the holiday and to our community. We also ask the President to once again host an annual signing ceremony in celebration of Columbus Day, the entire Italian American Community, and the importance of the immigrant experience in building our great nation. Columbus Day represents not only the accomplishments and contributions of Italian Americans, but also the indelible spirit of risk, sacrifice and self-reliance of a great Italian icon that defines the United States of America. Signature


Print Name

Complete Address


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Letters to the Editor I enjoyed your closing “think piece” on ethnicity.“But I have a mother!” Great line. But, I only wish people would do funny accents when they learn I am Italian American. I get nothing but mafia references. It happened just last week when I was in Eugene, Oregon, where I watched some of the U.S. Olympic Track-and-Field Trials. I went to a friend’s barbeque, and her brother-in-law immediately asked about “the Chicago mafia” when she told him I was Italian (he had asked her why she was serving a pasta dish at a barbeque; it was to “honor” me). Note the attitude: Is pasta somehow not as “American” as hot dogs and ribs? Bill Dal Cerro Chicago, Illinois Editor’s Note: In the spring 2016 issue, Italian America recognized the passing of OSIA’s oldest member, Phyllis Mignona, who was 107 ½ years old. Almost three weeks prior to her passing was the passing of Rose Garbino, who was 109 years old. Rose had been a member of OSIA’s Winchester Women’s Lodge for 82 years, joining in 1933. FALL 2016


STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP, MANAGEMENT AND CIRCULATION (required by Act of August 12, 1970: Section 3685, Title 39, United States Code). ITALIAN AMERICA MAGAZINE (ISSN 10895043) is published quarterly at 219 E Street, NE; Washington, DC 20002. The annual subscription price is $20. The complete mailing address of Known Office of Publication is located at 219 E Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. The general business offices of the publisher and the editor are at same address as above. Publisher: Order Sons of Italy in America, same address as above. Editor: Miles Ryan Fisher, same address as above. Owner full name is Order Sons of Italy in America, 219 E Street, NE; Washington, DC 20002. Known Bondholders, Mortgagees and other Security Holders Owning or holding 1 percent or more of total amount of Bonds, Mortgages, or Other Securities: None. Tax status: has not changed during preceding 12 months. Publication Title: Italian America. Issue Date for Circulation Data below: FALL 2016. The extent and nature of circulation is: A. Total Number of Copies (Net press run). Average number of copies of each issue during preceding 12 months: 31,988. Actual number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date: 31,000. B. Mailed Outside-County Paid Subscriptions. Average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months: 31,649. Actual number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date: 30,633. C. Total Paid Distribution. Average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months: 31,649. Actual number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date: 30,633. D. Free or Nominal Rate Outside-County. distribution by mail, carrier or other means. Average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months: 319. Actual number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date: 267. E. Total Free or Nominal Rate Distribution. Average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months: 319. Actual number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date: 267. F. Total Distribution. Average number of copies of each issue during preceding 12 months: 31,968. Actual number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date: 30,900. G. Copies not Distributed. Average number of copies of each issue during preceding 12 months 20. Actual number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date 100. H. Total. Average number of copies of each issue during preceding 12 months: 31,988. Actual number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date: 31,000. I. Percent Paid. Average number of copies of each issue during preceding 12 months: 98.94%. Actual number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date: 99.13%. I certify that the statements made by me above are correct and complete. Filed September 7, 2016. Miles Ryan Fisher, Editorin-Chief.

Corrections for Fall 2016 issue Piacere (page 36) Leon Panetta was a U.S. Congressman from 1977 to 1993.


Italian America® Italian America Magazine is produced by the national headquarters of the Order Sons of Italy in America®, 219 E Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 202/547-2900. Email: Office Manager Andrea Beach Editor Miles Ryan Fisher Social Media/Communications Coordinator Carly Jerome Administrative/Scholarship Coordinator Laura Kelly Executive Assistant Katie Vivian Italian America® is the official publication of the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the largest and longestestablished organization of American men and women of Italian heritage. Italian America provides timely information about OSIA, while reporting on individuals, institutions, issues, and events of current or historical significance in the Italian-American community nationwide. Italian America (ISSN: 1089-5043, USPS: 015-735) is published quarterly in the winter, spring, summer and fall by OSIA, 219 E St. NE, Washington, DC 20002. Periodicals postage paid at Washington, D.C., and at additional mailing offices. ©2015 Order Sons of Italy in America. All rights reserved. Reproduction by any method without permission of the editor is prohibited. Statements of fact and opinion are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily imply an opinion on the part of the officers, employees, or members of OSIA. Mention of a product or service in advertisements or text does not mean that it has been tested, approved or endorsed by OSIA, the Commission for Social Justice, or the Sons of Italy Foundation. Italian America accepts query letters and letters to the editor. Please do not send unsolicited manuscripts. Italian America assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials. Annual subscriptions are $20, which are included in dues for OSIA members. Single copies are $4.95 each. OSIA MEMBERS: Please send address changes to your local lodge. Do not contact the OSIA National Office. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Italian America, 219 E St. NE, Washington, DC 20002. Subscriptions are available through the OSIA National Office, 219 E Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002. OSIA membership information is available at (800) 552-OSIA or at www.osia. org. Archives are maintained at the Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minn. Printing by Printing Solutions Inc., Sterling, Va. To advertise: Call Pat Rosso at 215/206-4678 or email her at Also see for advertising rates, specs, demographics, etc. FALL 2016 35 ITALIAN AMERICA

By Miles Ryan Fisher Editor-in-Chief, Italian America Magazine

After reading President Longo’s column for this issue, I mentioned to him that referring to Mother Teresa as Saint Teresa would take some getting used to. Part of me feels that she should be called Mother Teresa the Saint because everybody knew a long time ago that she’d be canonized. It wasn’t so much the miracles attributed to her that made this so—in this day and age, miracles have become more difficult to find convincing. Rather, it was the life that she led, as someone wholly devoted to serving others in need, that made this so. Father Capodanno was this same kind of individual. He gave all of himself—including his last minutes on Earth—to serve soldiers in Vietnam, men who were not necessarily there of their own accord, but who suffered beyond understanding. Like Saint Teresa, he was, above all, human. Someone who questioned and wept and bled as we all do. Someone who was as frail and as vulnerable as we all are. It’s through this that he represents the highest point of humanity, someone who willingly took twenty-seven bullets in order to console a dying man. It’s difficult for any of us to fully comprehend the strength an act like that requires. It’s even led some to criticize this act as being reckless, even foolish. But much like Saint Teresa, Father Capodanno reached a place in which goodness in the face of suffering was of absolute, uncompromising importance. And ultimately, that’s something we can all—to some degree—understand and strive for. It’s not so much that we’re expected to live the life of a saint. The purpose of their lives is to inspire us to do a little bit more, to be a little bit better. Because I believe they can envision kind of world we would live in if all of us offered a little more of ourselves. This is something we do see from time to time. With the earthquake that recently devastated central Italy, support was immediate and overflowing—support that came in a variety of ways. Whether pulling survivors from the rubble or sending a donation across the sea, so many individuals lent a hand to heal tragedy, to undo destruction. And that’s what Father Capodanno, Saint Teresa, and all who have lived a life deserving of canonization teach us. They teach us not that suffering will cease to exist, but that we can create a world that alleviates it rather than causes it. While the saints are few, they teach us the power of many—and that if every one of us reaches out to help those in need, together we can lift the world to where the saints sit.



Pleased to meet you, adam

Adam Vinatieri At forty-three years old, Adam Vinatieri is currently the oldest player in the National Football League. Having played his first ten seasons as the placekicker of the New England Patriots, he now enters his twenty-first season with the Indianapolis Colts. He has played in five Super Bowls, winning four of them (three with the Patriots, one with the Colts). He won two of those Super Bowls with last-second kicks. Adam holds several postseason kicking records and is currently third on the NFL all-time scoring list. He was born and raised in Yankton, South Dakota. When exactly did your Italian ancestors immigrate to America and where did they settle? My great-great-grandfather, Felix Villiet Vinatieri, came over through Ellis Island at about the time when the American Frontier was moving west (mid-1800s). It was a time when there was all of the expansion through the Dakota Territory all the way out to California and the Gold Rush. Basically, he came from Northern Italy and his family members were piano makers and musicians. Tell us about the interesting role your great-greatgrandfather has in American history. When he got to Ellis Island, he joined the military because at that point, that was probably his best opportunity for a job right away. When he joined the service with his musical background, he became the band master for General George Custer, who was stationed out in South Dakota. He did a lot of symphonies and a lot of marching songs, kind of a morale booster for the troops. Custer appreciated and liked his music so much that he brought him into his 7th Cavalry and was a part of Custer’s staff. At the Battle of Little Bighorn, they knew they were getting into some hostile territories so they left the band back at the fort and then went off to their fatal ending. Fortunately, for me and my family, he got left back. You’re known for facing pressure-filled situations with heightened calmness.What advice would you give to others on how to handle such situations? I think preparation is the key for trying to perform under heightened and stressful situations. The more prepared you are and the more you’ve experienced different situations, then the more familiar you are going into that situation. For me and our team, we do a lot of situational stuff, a lot of work with last-second field goal stuff. And I think at the end of that you’ve felt the pressure and been FALL 2016


in the situation before. Then it is just about focusing in and doing your job. Are there any Italian restaurants that are a must-hit when yo u ’r e o n t h e road? My favorite Italian restaurant—period—is a restaurant by the name of “Luciano’s.” It Currently third, Adam is 181 points is on Route One, behind second and 291 points about ten miles behind first on the NFL all-time scoring list. (Photo Courtesy of the south of Foxboro Indianapolis Colts) Stadium (Foxborough, Massachusetts). It is easy to find, one of the best Italian restaurants you are ever going to find, and Luciano is a dear friend of mine and a great man. You will have an amazing meal if you have the opportunity to eat there. Tell him Adam (Vinatieri) sent you. If you had one book to recommend to a stranger, what would it be and why? If I had one book to recommend to a stranger, it would be Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It is not for the faint of heart, it is a very large book, an epic novel if you will. She was a Russian immigrant that came to the United States and wrote this book back in the 1940s. She talked about the rise of civilization—well, just read it. I don’t want to tell the whole preface to it, but it is a great book. Will the NFL’s all-time leading scorer one day bear an Italian last name? Boy, I don’t know. I’m three years away from that potentially being able to happen and I’m just taking things one day at a time and seeing where we end up. It is an honor to be the third all-time leading scorer in the National Football League, but there have been a lot of great men that have played this sport and put up a lot of points. The two gentlemen ahead of me, Morten Andersen and Gary Anderson, are amazing kickers who played a very, very long time. We will see where it ends up. ITALIAN AMERICA

EMILIO IODICE A Kid From Philadelphia, Mario Lanza: The Voice of the Poets One of the greatest talents of the 20th century, Mario Lanza proved to be an extraordinary tenor and one of the most beloved singers of all time. This introduction to Lanza is a series of "affectionate" essays that portray his qualities that lead us to want to hear his magnificent voice and see him on the silver screen. It is prepared as a dual-language publication in English and Italian.

2016, Selecting the President: The Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make The election of 2016 will be one of the most important in American history. Our choice of President will affect the future of the United States and the world for the rest of the 21st century. This book is not an endorsement of one candidate over another. Instead, it is about the qualities we should demand that the President of the United States have to be the leader of a world that endeavors to provide opportunities for all in an atmosphere of freedom.

Sisters Sorelle Lucia and Giovannina were sisters. They shared the same history, heritage, customs, and ways. They had the same blood and lived in a family rich in adventure, prosperity and tradition and were raised on an island in the middle of the sea. Suddenly they parted. Lucia went to America and began a life that separated her from her loved ones for nearly forty years. Giovannina stayed behind. This is their tale of adventure.

FALL 2016


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Love . Faith . Family. new

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@AdrianaTrigiani FALL 2016



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Italian America 2016 - Fall  

Italian America® magazine is the most widely read quarterly for people of Italian heritage in the United States. Italian America® magazine i...

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