I’m sure almost all of us here at the Flight Crew would like to feel a certain kinship to Italy and the boys of IL VOLO. Whether we are Italian by blood or by desire, the feelings are still there and grow stronger as we watch them mature and take on new projects.
My church choir got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity 10 years ago to travel to ROME, sing three times in two different churches (including St. Peter’s for Pope Benedict at the New Year’s Day Mass 2008), visit many of the famous landmarks, walk along the little side streets and eat Italian food! It was not only a moving experience for me because of my faith, but I also felt like I belonged there. I was so at home and never wanted to leave!
I do a lot of genealogy research for my family so I thought I should do the DNA test. I knew I would have a lot of Eastern European in me from my Mother’s Polish roots – I am 55% Eastern European. And my Father was mostly Irish/Welsh/English – I am 27% Irish and 12% English. There are four other trace regions listed and one of them is 2% Italy/Greece! I knew it! It’s not much, but it’s there!
So in that spirit here is an Italian quiz idea from Ann Cruise. Grazie Ann! I took the quiz and, without cheating, got 80% Italian! Not bad for someone with only a smidge of Italian ancestry! 😉
Give it a try! It’s fun! And you might learn something new!
Ann (anncruise) received this article from a friend who got it from Lets-Travel-More.com. Since I can’t go there to see the Boys this article seems appropriate. So, if any of you believe this and decide not to go to such a horrible place AND you just happen to have tickets to a concert..say…in Verona. Ann and I will take them off your hands.
There are many many reasons why you should never visit Italy. Here are the top 10. If you have already visited Italy please do not do it again.
Why would someone visit Rome? Because of its history and countless monuments and statues? Art, beautiful alleys, nice people, the famous Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, the Vatican city and hundreds museums are a few of the reasons why you should never visit Rome.
Never ever visit Florence. Too much romance, history and beauty. The city is not big or small. It has the perfect size and is considered one of the most walk-able cities in the world. Who wants to walk? Plus, why would someone want to visit Duomo, the magnificent Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore?
Gelato means ice cream. Italy is famous for having the best ice cream in the world. Who cares, who likes ice cream. Just have a look at the photo. Would anyone want to taste this gelato?
Another reason why you should never visit Italy and especially Milan is shopping. You will find the most famous and most expensive brands in Milan like Versacce, Gucci etc. Italians are well known for their finesse and style. I am sure you hate going shopping as well.
6Italian Red Wine
Nobody loves wine. Even if it is the best red wine in the world. Yes, Italy is known for producing the best red wine. Like we care. We drink no wine, right?
Another famous region in Italy to be avoided is Sicily. Actually Sicily is the biggest island in the Mediterranean sea. It is famous for its history, its turquoise beaches, its seaside cities like Taormina and the Etna volcano you can see in the photo.
I almost forget about Italian food. Don’t let the photo trick you. It is much more delicious than it looks like. Pizzas are even more delicious. Many worldwide famous chefs are Italian. Do not try Italian food, please!
Numerous beaches, white sand, turquoise crystal clear water and every beach is unique. Italy’s Mediterranean climate make the beaches ideal for swimming. Stay away!!!
I am sure you have heard of Venice before as I am sure you already know why you should never visit this city. First reason is romance. Having a tour with a gondola during sunset with your partner is something very common in Venice. Plus the city is unique. There is no other city like this one. A floating city that instead of roads has canals and instead of cars has small boats called gondola. How can someone live without air pollution?
Finally the number 1 reason you should never visit Italy is Cinque Terre. Just have a look at the photo and you will understand. Amazing beaches with turquoise water, colorful seaside villages, the best Italian food and good people are only a few of the reasons to avoid this region and Italy in general.
‘Amore’: Italian-American Singers In The 20th Century
Apparently, Dean Martin didn’t much like the song “That’s Amore,” but in 1953 it became one of his biggest hits. It’s a song that seems to capture a moment in pop history when nearly every hit was performed by an Italian-American singer. The story of “That’s Amore” and the songs made famous by Frank Sinatra, Perry Como and others is told in a new book called Amore. Weekend All Things Considered host Guy Raz recently spoke with the author, Mark Rotella, about Italian singers in 20th-century America.
“That’s Amore” came from a movie called The Caddy, starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis; it’s about an Italian man who plays a golf pro and is followed by a faithful caddy. In the movie, when the two return to Italy and are greeted by their Italian family, they break into this song. When we hear it today, it sounds like a caricature of Italian culture. But, Rotella says, it served as an introduction to Italian culture for many Americans.
“It was one of the more obvious ones,” he says. “There were Italian singers before, but this led to other kitschy songs, like Rosemary Clooney’s ‘Mambo Italiano,’ and so many other songs that came after that were kind of kitschy but were also really pop and kind of fun.”
Rotella’s book isn’t just about Italian-American singers. It’s also about a turning point in 20th-century America when Italian entertainers started to be seen as American entertainers. Rotella says that there was a Golden Age of entertainment that started around 1947.
“This is when second- and third-generation Americans of Italian decent were coming of age,” he says. “This is post-war; it was a time of optimism. This era was basically the end of the big band and the beginning of the solo voice, and this lasted through the ’50s, up until I’d say 1964, with The Beatles.”
This was happening during a period when there was a great deal of discrimination against Italians in America. For example, this excerpt was taken from a profile on Joe DiMaggio from Life Magazine in 1939.
“Although he learned Italian first, Joe now speaks English without an accent. … Instead of olive oil or smelly bear grease, he keeps his hair slicked with water. He never reeks of garlic and prefers chicken chow mein to spaghetti.”
These kinds of comments were acceptable in mainstream dialogue, and yet a few years later, Italian singers would dominate the pop charts.
“This is the time when so many singers were now seen on TV,” Rotella says. “They were good-looking. They had a certain sensibility, a certain attitude that was open and charming.”
Rotella says that nearly every singer he interviewed named Enrico Caruso as an influence. Caruso was the first pop artist to sell a million copies of his music, offering his recordings on flat discs for the RCA Victor Vitrolas of the time. Rotella says that this shaped the way music was sold for years to come.
“They sold so much, this really defined how music was recorded and on what medium,” Rotella says. “It was going to be Victor on the flat plastic records.”
One of the singers Rotella includes in his book is none other than the king of the golden age of Italian-American music, Frank Sinatra. Rotella calls Sinatra’s song “Fly Me to the Moon” a metaphor for all of the breakthroughs that Italian singers achieved.
“When you hear the song, it’s optimistic,” he says. “It’s kind of dreamy, forward-thinking, but it’s tough. He says, ‘fly me to the moon,’ but it’s almost as if he’s there already. This is coming at a time when music was going to change. It’s the tail-end of the success of the Rat Pack. It was at this time that almost total assimilation of Italians had happened. In ways, I feel like after this [song], there were so many Italians that followed him. Not necessarily performing Italian music; we wouldn’t necessarily know them as Italians today. This song of reaching the moon seemed to me to be every immigrant’s dream of assimilating.
(Note: videos were added to this article ~Marie)
Descendants from Sicilian village keep their heritage alive in America
Between 1880 and 1920 over four million Italians were recorded as entering the United States. About three-fourths of these immigrants went through the Ellis Island immigration station with the majority being males between the ages of 24 and 45.
The island of Sicily and the region around Naples, both in the south, accounted for over half the Italians who moved to the U.S. looking for a better life.
According to manifest documents from the ships, so many Sicilians reported ‘Sciacca in Agrigento’ as their home village that immigration inspectors used “ditto” marks to record this information.
Many of these Italians settled in Little Italy neighborhoods all over the country, the most famous being in New York.
Discrimination between Italians in Little Italy was rampant.
Being fiercely provincial and proud of their own regions, the Italians from Naples, Calabria and Bari looked down on Sicilians, particularly those from Sciacca.
Given their humble beginnings, their descendants were taught to be proud of their Sicilian heritage.
Baseball legend Mike Piazza’s father’s family comes from Sciacca, and though he doesn’t speak Italian, the former Mets catcher is fiercely proud of his roots.
“I feel a strong tie to Sicily, since my heritage is there. My grandfather Rosario came from Sciacca, to the United States and my father grew me up following the Italian tradition. I think it’s in our DNA to strive to work hard and persevere,” Piazza said.
“One thing that was present in me was my father’s distinct love of his Italian heritage and Sicilian ancestry.
I can’t tell you how many times my father would say “Amuni a monjare, beddu”, and “mezza mortu”.
He would also take a strong stand against negative Italian American stereotypes saying that they “don’t represent the real Italians”.
Piazza also said he travels to Sciacca regularly. “It’s something I have great pride in knowing how proud my father and grandfather would be if they could see me here.”
Musician Jon Bon Jovi is another who is descended from emigrants from Siacca. In 2013, Bongiovi Sr. gladly shared his family’s pasta sauces – the recipes for which originated in Sciacca and were passed down through three generations.
Cartoon artist, director and producer Joseph Barbera, who formed Hanna-Barbera with William Hanna, is another who is descended from emigrants from Sciacca. Both his parents were born in Sciacca and he grew up speaking Italian.
Alicia Keys is another who has found out about her large extended Italian family. Her great-grandfather Michiele was from Sciacca.
Mike Marino, most famous for his hilarious segment about an Italian president from New Jersey, is another who is descended from emigrants from Sciacca.
As his grandfather once said: “YOU MAY LEAVE SICILY – BUT SICILY NEVER LEAVES YOU.”
Four Presidents, a Mountain and an Italian Chief Carver: the Long Forgotten History of Luigi del Bianco
Everyone knows Mount Rushmore, with its iconic representations of four of the most important presidents of US history: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, F.D. Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. As a child, I remember being fascinated by their stoney, gigantic faces and I often wondered how someone could have made them look so perfect and lifelike; as you would expect from a 5 year old, I thought a single sculptor spent his entire life carving the mountain on his own, with his scalpel in one hand and a hammer in the other, failing to understand that a project of such a magnitude had very likely involved hundreds of people through a number of years.
Even if I had known that then, I certainly would not have been aware of the essential role of Italy in the creation of the Mount Rushmore Memorial, because its recognition came only in very recent times, when a previously unknown Friuli Venezia-Giulia migrant, Luigi del Bianco, was recognised as chief carver of the monument.
Bringing justice to Luigi
History tells us that, between the 4th of October 1927 and the 31st of October 1941, 400 people worked on the sculpting and carving of Mount Rushmore. They were led by Gutzon Borglum and his son, sculptors and artists of Danish descent.
Among those 400 workers, in 1935 made his appearance Luigi del Bianco, from Meduno, in the north eastern region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, who had studied carving in Venice and Vienna before trying his luck on the other side of the ocean and emigrating to the United States. Del Bianco’s name became known among historians and specialists of Mount Rushmore when his own grandson, Lou del Bianco, and his late uncle Caesar, began a strenuous campaign to have the role of their own ancestor in the making of the Mount Rushmore Memorial recognised.
Because Caesar and Lou both believed Luigi had been more than a simple worker at the site, they set on a quest: demonstrating it to the world. It was Caesar, son of Luigi, who started the amazing adventure in the late 1980s, when Rex Allen Smith published “The Carving of Mount Rushmore:” here, the name of his father never appeared. Caesar was gutted.
More than 20 years later D.J. Gladstone, the author of the ultimate work on del Bianco, “Carving a Niche for Himself” (2014), would say that talking about Mount Rushmore without mentioning Luigi del Bianco was the equivalent of talking about the Yankees without mentioning Joe DiMaggio: but how much research, work and perseverance was behind such a statement. The research, work and perseverance of Caesar and his nephew Lou, who explored libraries, unearthed documents and campaigned for recognition, refusing to let their relative fall into oblivion.
After Caesar’s death in 2009, Lou took up his mission in full and it’s also thanks to his relentless efforts that Cameron Sholly, current director of the Midwest region for the National Park Services, accepted to reassess Luigi del Bianco’s role in the inception and creation of Mount Rushmore. Shelley came to the conclusion that del Bianco’s grandson was right: Luigi had been, indeed, the main carver at the site, the artist who gave to America’s timeless stone presidents their life-like features and immortal gaze.
Who was Luigi del Bianco?
Chief carver at Mount Rushmore, of course, but his life held much more than that. He was born in 1892 aboard a ship near Le Havre, in France, while his parents had been returning to Italy from the United States. The family, as said, settled in the North East of Italy and it’s there that 11 year old Luigi started studying carving and understood how talented he was. Still an adolescent, he had travelled to the US for the first time and settled with relatives in Vermont: there, he became known as a skilful carver. After returning to Italy to serve his country during the First World War, he was in Vermont once more and then settled in Port Chester, where his family still resides today.
While in Port Chester, del Bianco met Borglum, with whom he began to work: it was the beginning of the collaboration who was to bring him to South Dakota and to Mount Rushmore where, as chief carver, he became responsible of refining the presidents’ facial expressions. According to The Times, he spent a particularly long time sculpting Lincoln’s face and his eyes, whose pupils were made more vibrant by inserting wedges of granite in them. He worked at Mount Rushmore from 1935 to 1941, when he returned to Port Chester. Here he died in 1969, at the age of 78, because of silicosis, a disease caused, tragically, by the same thing that gave him so much joy in life: stone.
Ready to jump into a world of old and new traditions? Here’s how Italians celebrate Christmasall over Italy!
You can find bigger Christmas trees and more extravagant decorations in the United States, but nothing looks, tastes, feels or sounds like la stagione natalizia (Christmas season) in Italy. With roots in the “Saturnalia,” the winter solstice rites of ancient Rome, and Christian commemorations of the birth of Gesù Bambino (Baby Jesus), the Italian holidays blend religious and pagan festivities that light up the darkest of nights.
In Rome and southern Italy, the traditional sound of Christmas is the music of bagpipes and flutes played by shepherds from the region of Abruzzo. According to legend, shepherds entertained the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem with their simple instruments. In the past zampognari (bagpipe players), wearing shaggy sheepskin vests, felt hats and crisscrossed leather leggings,
came to Rome weeks before Christmas to play in churches. These days the shepherds arrive later and play their ancient instruments in front of the elegant stores along the Via Condotti and other shopping streets near the Spanish Steps.
Festivities such as fairs and torchlight processions begin weeks before and continue weeks after December 25. Here are the key dates to keep in mind:
December 6: La festa di San Nicola, the feast of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of shepherds
December 8: La festa dell’Immacolata, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a Catholic holy day honoring Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus.
December 12: La festa di Santa Lucia, the festival of lights encircled
December 24: La vigilia di Natale, the vigil of Christmas or Christmas eve
December 25: Natale, which literally translates as “birthday”
December 26: La festa di Santo Stefano, Saint Stephen’s day
December 31: La festa di San Silvestro, Saint Sylvester’s day, or New Year’s Eve (la vigilia di Capodanno)
January 1: Il Capodanno, literally the top of the year
January 6: L’Epifania, Epiphany, which marks the arrival of the Magi, the three wise men, who brought gifts to the infant Jesus from afar.
The Tastes of Christmas
When I ask Italians what they do most during the Christmas holidays, they say, “Mangiamo” (we eat) — very often and very well, with a huge feast on Christmas Eve, il pranzo di Natale at mid-day on Christmas, and il cenone di Capodanno, another elaborate dinner on New Year’s Eve. In some regions the Christmas feasts must have seven courses (for the seven sacraments); others serve nine (the Holy Trinity times three) or thirteen (for Jesus and his twelve disciples).
The centerpiece of the Christmas Eve dinner is a specific kind of eel called capitone, a favorite of the ancient Romans that appears in the earliest known cookbook, written by a gourmand known as Apicius. This symbol of life and immortality was traditionally sold alive and wiggling, then beheaded, chopped and dropped into boiling water, spit-roasted, grilled, stewed with white wine and peas, or pickled in vinegar, oil, bay leaves, rosemary and cloves.
The Christmas day feast usually starts with a rich pasta, such as cappelletti in brodo, little hats stuffed with chopped meats, cheese or pumpkin. By tradition everyone is supposed to eat at least a dozen. Depending on the region of Italy, the main course may be capon, pork or turkey.
Everyone saves room for the special dolci (sweets) and breads of Christmas. These include:
*cartellate — curly ribbons of dough that symbolize the sheets on which baby Jesus lay
*calzoncelli — the pillows for his head
*latte di mandorla — Virgin’s milk
*calzone di San Leonardo — shoes of St. Leonard, which represent the cradle *pangiallo — round breads crammed with fruits and nuts (an ancient symbol of fertility)
*panpepato — peppery and dark bread, somewhat like gingerbread
*panettone — cake filled with candied fruit, raisins, hazelnuts, honey and almonds.
*pandoro — sweet yeast bread, usually dusted with vanilla-scented icing sugar.
The presepio (Christmas crèche) dates back to 1223. Saint Francis, the charismatic friar of Umbria, wanted to bring to life the story of Jesus’s birth. In the little town of Greccio, he placed a manger in some straw and added a living Mary, Joseph, Jesus, shepherds — and actual cattle, sheep and donkeys (who, the story goes, once warmed the infant with their breath).
You can find presepi, including presepi viventi (living crèches) ranging from simple to stunning, in churches throughout Italy. Some scenes include grottoes, trees, lakes, rivers, angels suspended by wires and reproductions of an entire village or part of a town. Naples is most famous for its presepi, with hundreds of nativity scenes, including many with handmade or antique figures, set up throughout the city. Throughout the year artisans in central Naples create clay figures that are shipped all over the world for Christmas crèches.
In some parts of Italy, families construct a tree of light, a pyramid-shaped wooden frame several feet high with tiers of shelves decorated with colored banners and gilt pinecones. Often a manger scene occupies the bottom shelf, with fruit, candy and presents above, small candles fastened to the slanted sides and a star or small doll hung at the top. In Sicily, families make beautiful little altars, hung with green leaves and encircled by oranges, lemons, polished apples, pears, chestnuts, figs and colored eggs.
Another tradition dates back to pagan rituals that attempted to bring back the heat and light of the sun: the Yule log, which burns during the last 12 nights of the year. It always remains lit when the family goes to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve because of the legend that Mary stops by to warm her newborn child before the blazing fire.
Buon Natale e felice Anno Nuovo — Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
I migliori auguri di buone feste — Best wishes a happy Holiday Season
I più cari auguri per un sereno Natale e per un anno nuovo ricco di soddisfazioni — Dearest wishes for a peaceful Christmas and a fulfilling new year
Affettuosissimi auguri per un felice Natale — Most affectionate wishes for a happy Christmas
I migliori auguri per il Santo Natale e per il 2017 — Best wishes for Holy Christmas and for 2017