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Articles by: Patrizia Orioli

  • Life & People

    No Toy Guns Allowed this Christmas

    Did you know that Italy is where people first began celebrating Christmas? Under the reign of Emperor Constantine Italians began celebrating the birth of Christ. To this day they have remained devoted, passionate and extravagant when it comes to enjoying Christmas. A holiday tradition, that is cherished and kept alive all over Italy, is that of the Christmas markets (in Italian, mercatini di natale).
     

    The stalls of Piazza Navona, one of Rome’s most beautiful squares become an open-air shopping mall where kids can find their favorite sweets, toys, Christmas ornaments and most of all, characters for their crèches. Via San Gregorio Armeno, in the heart of Naples' old town, is often called the street of nativity workshops. Lining the narrow pedestrian street are artisan workshops making nativity scenes and terra cotta figures. Tiny shops sell Christmas crib figurines and souvenirs, ranging from very high quality to inexpensive. Besides the Jesus- and Madonna figurines you will also find detailed copies of all household objects, gastronomic delights, exotic animals, and sometimes even caricatured politicians and entertainment stars.
     

    Nativity scenes, decorations, toys, candles, lines and traditional products and crafts are just a few of the treats people can find in the Christmas Markets, for the first time ever as an experiment, scattered around Pomigliano d’Arco’s three main squares: Piazza Mercato, Piazza Municipio and Piazza Primavera, in the period of time that goes from December 8th to the 30th. “This is an experiment,” assessor Giacinto Farnese said, “that the municipal administration is promoting proudly.”

    Pomigliano d’Arco is a municipality in the province of Naples, near Mount Vesuvius. The city is home to several automobile (former Alfa Romeo Alfasud plant, now owned by Fiat) and aeronautic manufacturing firms (Alenia). It has recently been in the news because of the decision to exclude some specific items from the merchandise available for sale.

    The stalls will be a total of 28, and they will be available to all those licensed to commercialize in public areas, individual entrepreneurs or companies, craftsmen, artists or whoever wishes to sell their creations. “The goal of this initiative,” Farnese continues, “is to attract people to our area during the holiday season in order to give a new push to our trade in the present moment of economic crisis.”

    No matter what, all products sold must capture and respect the Christmas spirit and the administration is in charge of selecting and endorsing everything that will be on sale. This means, no firecrackers, no weapons of any sort, no firearms or ammunitions.    Anything that resembles a weapon is forbidden too. That means no darts, water guns or toy knives or swords.  But the list does not end here. Anything that is considered inappropriate will not be for sale, including any electronic device that can normally be purchased in any store. There is room only for the Christmas spirit and its manifestations in all different shapes and sizes.

    Some of Italy’s best markets are: Christkindlmarkt in Bolzano, Mercato Tedesco di Natale in Florence, Piazza Navona in Rome, the Arena market in Verona, Oh Bej, Oh Bej in Milan, Mercantino di Natale in Trento, and San Gregorio Armeno in Naples. 

  • Events: Reports

    Here NOW: Architectural Design of the Human Heart

    WHITE WAVE Young Soon Kim Dance Company presents the World Premiere of Kim’s Here NOW: Architectural Design of the Human Heart, on November 4th and 5th at 7pm as part of the Performance Series of The Museum of Art and Design (2 Columbus Circle, Manhattan).

    Exploring the turbulence of human emotions, Here NOW weaves together panoramic video images, a live performance of an original composition for guitars and electronics, and the fluid dramatic movement of WHITE WAVE Young Soon Kim Dance Company. The piece features a new score by Marco Cappelli,with visuals by filmmaker and set designer Anna Kiraly, dramaturgy by James Leverett, and performances by Kim’s splendid 11-member ensemble. Consisting of 11 extraordinary dancers, WHITE WAVE Young Soon Kim Dance Company is committed to the creation of a union between the natural rhythm committed of the planet and the primal essence of the human spirit.
     

    Kim’s work is hailed as visually stunning and emotionally rich. Here NOW, an ambitious collaboration, is a work of courage and rapturous beauty, breaking and broadening the boundaries of dance. Artistic Director Young Soon Kim creates works of vision and movement language in reverence and awe of the novelties that reflect the inner landscape of human emotion…. reaching into the inner territories of the imagination, passion and spirit to create new expressions of contemporary dance.

    “My work for HERE AND NOW,” Marco Cappelli explains, “was entirely inspired by Young Soon Kim's choreographic concept that is fully focused on the research of 'the moment, the right now.' All the music is performed live, with simple electronic sounds (mostly loop stations differently combined with each other) and pretty much all the time it is performed in an open compositional form that leaves plenty of room to spontaneous interaction with the dance and the extraordinary live cam video.”

    Young Soon Kim (Artistic Director/Choreographer) is acclaimed nationally and internationally and her choreography has been described as visually stunning and emotionally rich. Her 30-year career began as a brilliant performer, appearing at major festivals and collaborating with music greats. In addition to her company’s NY Seasons, Kim has choreographed for City Contemporary Dance Company in Hong Kong, Seoul Contemporary Dance Company, and the St. Gallen Dance Loft in Switzerland, among others. Since founding WHITE WAVE Young Soon Kim Company in 1988, Kim and her company have traversed the globe, performing her repertory of 54 original works. Tours of her work include: 60 days tour to the Far East to Korea, Taiwan, China and Hong Kong, where Ms. Kim interviewed with CNN’s Inside Asia, which was broadcast internationally.

    Ms. Kim was a featured artist in the documentary film Arirang: The Korean American Journey, which premiered at the Smithsonian Institution and aired on a PBS Nationwide Broadcast in 2003. In recent years, her creative output and her company’s appearances have accelerated, including 2011’s SummerStage and triumphal appearances at the 2011 DUMBO DANCE FESTIVAL, including a glittering GALA Opening Night performance that featured a sneak preview of Here NOW.

    Marco Cappelli (Composer/Musician) is a renowned guitar virtuoso. Cappelli’s extraordinary artistic path began with many years of demanding music studies (Conservatorio di S. Cecilia, Rome; Musik Akademie, Basel). Since then, his diverse accomplishments have been in the classical music, jazz and avant-garde worlds, including associations with musicians Anthony Coleman, Butch Morris, Enrico Rava, Marc Ribot, DJ Logic, and Elliott Sharp, and choreographers Maddalena Scardi, Enrico Tedde, Karole Armitage, and Young Soon Kim.

    Cappelli is regularly invited to perform by classical music associations and by festivals of jazz music and improvised music, has participated in premieres of new works by composers such as Junghae Lee, Giorgio Tedde, and Claudio Lugo, and has produced recordings, such as The Extreme Guitar Project, featuring ten compositions written for him by leading composers of the New York City Downtown scene. Cappelli is also a charter member of the Ensemble Dissonanzen.

    Anna Kiraly - visual artist / set and costume designer: A multi-disciplinary artist from Hungary residing in New York, Anna Kiraly’s visual designs have been seen throughout Eastern Europe and for the past decade in New York. Anna graduated from the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts; she creates set, costume and video design for a wide range of productions.

    Recent and past theater projects include production design and video for DOG and

    WOLF (59E59), FLIP SIDE, set design for TERRIBLE THINGS (Pearl/D'Amour at PS122), costumes for THIS IS THE RILL SPEAKING and DARKLING (American Opera Projects), KAFKA FRAGMENTS with Peter Sellars at Zankel Hall, and production design for ISABELLA, CHEKHOV LIZARDBRAIN and PAY UP with the Pig Iron Company. In Europe, she collaborated with the Russian director Anatoly Vassiliev.
     

    Here NOW: Architectural Design of the Human Heart
    Location: The Museum of Art and Design
    Choreographed & Directed by Young Soon Kim
    Original Music Composed & Performed by Marco Cappelli
    Film & Set design by Anna Kiraly
    Lighting design by Yuriy Nayer
    Dramaturgy by James Leverett
    Danced by Miguel Anaya, Timothy Emmett Lee Ward, Fanny Gombert, Amanda Hinchey,
    Faith Hunter Kimberling, Juhwan Hwang, Unjin Kim, Trenard Mobley, Emily Pope-Blackman,
    Jake Szczytek, Mei Yamanaka.

  • Events: Reports

    Running the NYC Marathon with the Italian Parliament

    A team of 15 members of the Italian Parliament, known as the Montecitorio Running Club (MRC), will represent Italy at the ING New York City Marathon scheduled for November 6th.

    This yearly marathon, of the length of 42.195 km/26.219 mi, is one of the largest marathons in the world. Along with the Boston Marathon and the Chicago one, the ING New York City Marathon is among the preeminent long-distance annual running events in the US and it attracts professional competitors and amateurs from all over the world. Because of the popularity of the race, participation is chosen largely by a lottery system.

    This definitely is one of the most important events for the MRC, a team that brings together – despite different political views and preferences – politicians who love to run... that's as simple as that!

    “The goal of the Montecitorio Running Club,” one of the four Vice Presidents of the Chamber of Deputies, Maurizio Lupi, who happens to be a marathon runner and the promoter of the initiative, “is to stimulate the Italian people's attention on the health benefits of running. Running helps our body, it prevents some diseases and helps curing others.” Some of these benefits may include weight loss, improved cardiovascular health, improved bone health, improved mood and sleep and better coordination.

    The participation of the Parliament members at the ING New York City Marathon will also help the team to raise funds for the rehabilitation center, Centro di Riabilitazione Don Orione in Ercolano (in the province of Naples) and specifically for the Special Project London 2012, an important enterprise whose goal is to build sporting facilities for mentally disabled kids whose dream is to participate in the Paralympic Games next year.

    Everybody is invited to bet on the results of the athletes, and all the money will go directly to the Don Orione Center. Directions on how to do so can be found on www.montecitoriorunningclub.it
     

    During the two previous seasons over 400.000 euros were collected to benefit the foundation Fondazione Il Cireneo (in support of autistic children) and the foundation Fondazione Anffas (in support of orphans and disabled kids) in Abruzzo. In the past, among the numerous contributors to the cause, special mention goes to the Italian-American foundation Sons of Italy.

    In addition to Maurizio Lupi, there will be the Pdl deputies Marcello Di Caterina, Enrico Costa, Valentino Valentini and Paolo Vella, the Pd Parliament members, Paolo Fadda, Sandro Gozi, Paola De Micheli and Lapo Pistelli, those of Idv, Fabio Evangelisti, Augusto Di Stanislao and Ivan Rota, Davide Caparini from Lega Nord and the senators Roberta Pinotti (Pd) and Filippo Saltamartini (Pdl). This group of deputies/marathon runners is particularly proud to represent Italy. They will be wearing uniforms in the color blue in celebration of the 150 years of the unification of Italy.

    The Montecitorio Running Club was started in May 2009, and it now includes 80 Parliament members coming from all different parties. Throughout the year they meet for practice, competitions, tests, meetings, sport events and fundraisers.

    All participants are followed by sport experts and medical personnel as per an agreement with Fidal (Federazione Italiana di Atletica Leggera, Italian Athletics Federation) and CONI's Centro di Medicina dello Sport (Center of Sports Medicine). These “political athletes,” who are well trained and competent, wish to establish new personal records on both medium and long distances, and run a real marathon of 26.219 miles.

    “Travels are not paid by government grants or by the Parliament,” Lupi explains, “Each team member uses personal vacation time, wishes to promote health and well being and contribute to a just cause.”

    The MRC sport project is promoted by the Chamber of Deputies and supported by the following sponsors: Fastweb, Lottomatica, Grana Padano, MSC Crociere, Asics, Human Tecar and Terramia Club.

  • Facts & Stories

    Saying No to Kebabs

    Picture an idyllic sea town in Tuscany with a fortress that rises in the middle of the main square. A town where the king of high fashion, Giorgio Armani, and Italy's most beloved tenor, Andrea Bocelli, own luxurious homes.

    Just about every European noble, but also diplomats, business-men and managers, artists and V.I.P.s, has their beautiful villas protected by the greenery of the local pinewoods. Forte Dei Marmi was one of the first beach resorts in Italy, popular for its sandy beaches and elegant hotels. It was and it still is a very exclusive place.
     

    Here restaurants that serve spaghetti with clams or local Tuscan fare are more than welcome. Places who serve kebabs or dim sum, are a big 'no no.' The town's council, which just passed a decree unanimously this week, bans "foreign" establishments, even the most familiar ones such as burger joints and English-style pubs.

    The city's mayor, Umberto Buratti  (Democratic Party) , explains that “this isn't an act of xenophobia, but an act to safeguard and appreciate our land and our cuisine. We would say 'no' to everybody, including American hamburger chains.”
     

    The latest decree is indeed an additional display of a legal action that was applied about a year ago: it is forbidden to open, in downtown Forte dei Marmi, new banks, insurance agencies or real estate offices but also small craft labs that do not make products that are typical of the area. Now the decree forbids restaurants, bars and places that serve food and beverages, to serve anything that is not traditional local cuisine.
     

    No existing store will be closed down. Their point is that new places, either Middle Eastern or Chinese, could never afford paying rent in one of the country's most expensive towns, as the high fashion houses that dot the streets do. “There is a sushi take away place,” Buratti continues, “but it is not downtown.” The interdiction aims to promote local production. “We have launched a competition to gather ideas on how to revive Forte dei Marmi's traditional open air food market, where all local producers can find a spot for their stuff.” The town is supportive as they want to stop the tide of foreign food invading Italy. Italians can be conservative about what they eat.

    Forte dei Marmi is not the first Italian town to ban ethnic restaurants – the nearby town of Lucca, famous for its medieval city walls and historic churches, attracted accusations of racism when it did the same thing in 2009. Kebabs were also banned in Cittadella, in the province of Padua, back in May as “they are not part of our food culture and our tradition.” More than 40 per cent of Italian people have never eaten foreign offerings such as sushi, curries and kebabs, according to a survey released by Coldiretti, the national agricultural association.

    “Notwithstanding the rapid spread of restaurants offering ethnic food, only seven per cent of Italians eat on a regular basis in a foreign takeaway and only five per cent in a foreign restaurant,” the report said.

  • Events: Reports

    Chocabeck, the Most Lavish Production Yet by Zucchero

    "Every country produces one singer in each generation who represents that country, the way Bruce Springsteen represents America or Bono does
    Ireland. Zucchero is the Italian voice for everyone in the world." — Sting

    Zucchero ("Sugar") is Italy's most beloved rock star and one of the top Italian artists worldwide, having sold 40 million records over three decades. As a singer-songwriter, guitarist and keyboardist, Zucchero has collaborated with the royalty of international rock, blues, R&B, jazz and classical music – from Bono, Sting and Eric Clapton to Miles Davis, John Lee Hooker and Solomon Burke to Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli.

    On October 4, 2011, Decca Records releases the North American edition of Zucchero's Chocabeck, a recording that is simultaneously a concept album about his roots in traditional village life and a milestone in his exceptional international career. Chocabeck – co-produced with Don Was (the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan) and Brendan O'Brien (Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen) – includes English lyrics by Bono, Iggy Pop and Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears. Chocabeck will also be released as an all-Italian, stand-alone album on October 4th.

    Zucchero's autumn/winter tour on behalf of Chocabeck includes a handful of dates in select cities across North America including Toronto, Montreal, Detroit, Chicago, New York and Boston to name a few. Asked to describe Zucchero, his longstanding collaborator Bono said: "My friend Zucchero has had Italy singing and dancing for years. . . His boyish smile makes him the most charming man in Italy, that smile that just runs all over his face. But the voice is the sound of aged oak, like an old, oak-aged whiskey. . ."

    Born Adelmo Fornaciari, Zucchero – like only the very brightest luminaries in pop – has become known far and wide by his one-word nickname, bestowed on him by a schoolteacher back in his hometown in northern Italy. The 11 songs of Chocabeck loosely follow the cycle of life in an imaginary countryside location not dissimilar to the village where Zucchero was raised. "This album is all about my roots," he says. "Fragments of life and emotions on a typical Sunday from dawn to dusk in the village where I grew up."

    Zucchero teamed with Bono for the track "Someone Else's Tears," a delicate acoustic song that captures the rhythm of life in the Italian countryside: "The grapes are gathered, the wine is pressed/ And despite the rain/ It's been a good year to walk these fields again," Zucchero sings, his voice rising in a soulful refrain above a bed of shimmering keyboards that include harpsichord and a church organ. "I've been a friend of Bono's for a long time," Zucchero says. "He wrote the lyrics for my song 'Blue' and also for 'Miserere,' the song I performed with Pavarotti. Bono doesn't speak Italian at all, but he heard this song and then came out with these beautiful lyrics that exactly matched my idea of what it was about – life in the country, making wine, enjoying the simple things. It's true what they say – the music already has the lyric inside it."

    Contributing to the Chocabeck sessions were such top-flight session virtuosos as Greg Leisz (guitars, pedal-steel, banjo, mandolin) and Josh Freese (drums), with co-producer Brendan O'Brien also playing guitars on a number of tracks in addition to mixing the album. Several songs are colored by the string arrangements of Davide Rossi (who arranged the strings on Coldplay's album Viva La Vida and has worked for years with Goldfrapp). Beach Boys idol Brian Wilson adds distinctive harmonies to the song "Spirit Together," which features words by Iggy Pop, who also adapted English lyrics to Zucchero's Italian-language song "Alla Fine," now titled "Too Late." This emotional song reaches a climax of sweeping orchestral grandeur, inspiring a vocal performance of almost operatic emotion from the singer. "The song is dedicated to a friend who died of cancer," he says. "But it is really a deep love song. It is a song for anyone who misses someone who is not there anymore."

    The songs in Italian on the English version of the album include the powerful ballad "Soldati nella Mia Città" (Soldiers in My Town), which evokes the hopes and fears that haunt the folk memories of Zucchero's rural community. "I was born 10 years after the Second World War, but there was still something lingering in the air from that terrible era," he recalls. "I remember my grandmother Diamante taking me for a walk on a Sunday and we saw all these soldiers leaving the town. To me, it seemed to be a sign that after all the rain and sadness, a new day full of hope and sunshine was coming. The fear that I felt as a small boy seeing the soldiers was disappearing. The negativity of war was being replaced with the joyful spirit of summer."

    The album closes with "God Bless the Child." Not the famous Billie Holiday tune, this "God Bless the Child" is an evocative orchestral song co-written by Zucchero with Roland Orzabal of Tears For Fears along with Chaz Jankel and Derek Hussey of the Blockheads. The song's setting is the end of the day, with a gathering sense of calm that helps end the song cycle on a note of quiet optimism. Zucchero sums up the themes of Chocabeck: "I've travelled around the world for many years," he says. "And it is now more important than ever for me to reconnect with the sights and sounds and feelings of life in a village community. The houses are made of stone, the fields are full of flowers and maize, and you can hear the hypnotic sound of the river running close by. I like to live a simple life with my family, observing the old traditions. And this is what my music is truly all about. It comes from inside my soul."

    ZUCCHERO FALL 2011 NORTH AMERICAN TOUR:

    Friday, 10/14, St. Catherines, ON, Brock Center For The Arts
    Saturday, 10/15, Toronto, ON, Massey Hall
    Sunday, 10/16, Montreal, PQ, St. Denis Theatre
    Tuesday, 10/18, Ottawa, ON, Centre Point Theatre
    Thursday, 10/20, Edwardsville, IL, Southern Illinois University
    Saturday, 10/22, Chicago, IL, Park West
    Sunday, 10/23, Cleveland, OH, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
    Tuesday, 10/25, New York, NY, Beacon Theatre
    Thursday, 10/27, Cranston, RI, RI PAC
    Friday, 10/28, Collingswood, NJ, Scottish Rite
    Saturday, 10/29, Boston, MA, Berklee Performance Center

     

  • Events: Reports

    Reinventing San Gennaro

    The Two Bridges Neighborhood Council (“Two Bridges”), in collaboration with the Basilica of Saint Patrick's Old Cathedral, has re-imagined Manhattan’s annual San Gennaro Feast with innovative cultural and interactive programming at Mulberry Street between Prince and Houston Streets - the most northern final block of the San Gennaro Feast.
     

    In New York City the Feast of San Gennaro began in September 1926 when newly arrived immigrants from Naples congregated along Mulberry Street in the Little Italy neighborhood, to continue the tradition they had followed in Italy. Through the decades the festival expanded and is now an 11-day street fair beginning on the second Thursday in September in the Little Italy area of Manhattan as an annual celebration of Italian culture and the Italian-American community. Centered on Mulberry Street, which is closed to traffic for the occasion, the festival generally features parades, street vendors, food stands featuring sausages, zeppole and other Italian-American specialties, and games.
     

    Two Bridges took the opportunity of the annual feast to establish the San Gennaro Gateway North location as a possible destination point, the first in a plan for the development of a series of “gateways,” to facilitate visitor and tourist access points to the Chinatown–Little Italy Historic District. It is also considered an experiment to explore a pedestrian way on a street that includes such landmark structures as the Puck Building and the Basilica of St. Patrick’s campus.
     

    Their program includes: performances staged on the grand steps of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, featuring jazz numbers by notable Italian musicians like Bucky Pizzerelli, Gene Bertoncini, Piers Lawrence, the Tre Bella group, the Anabella Lenzu Dance Company and Liz Miele. Bocce tournaments on both weekends of the feast, including “In Bocca Al Lupo” (a.k.a. Cornhole), hosted by the NYC Social Sports Club with free play sessions all day during the week. Having special relevance to the Patron Saint of Naples, a special parish Red Cross Blood Drive. The unveiling of a hanging sculptural piece suspended between the historic landmarks of the Puck Building and the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral Designed by SOFTlab. The 25-foot square sculpture weighs only 120 pounds. Floating above Nolita at the north gate of the San Gennaro Festival, the piece—made from photography color filters and laser-cut Mylar panels—will be dancing above cannoli until September 25.

    The program also features a special chorale concert of Italian Renaissance music by AmorArtis, the Basilica’s choir-in residence with the Basilica Schola. A theatrical reading of the 1911 immigrant tragedy at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in the Cathedral proper. An exhibit at St. Michael's Russian Catholic Church of imperial vestments worn during the coronation liturgy of Czar Nicholas. Last but not least, a raffle to win a wonderful Vespa.

    The San Gennaro Gateway North aims to establish the idea of Houston and Mulberry Streets as one in a series of future gateways into the historic district, and at the same time, promote the annual San Gennaro Feast through lively cultural programming that will represent a re-imagining of the future feast within the milieu of the traditional feast –at least on this street.

  • Life & People

    The San Gennaro Feast is Approaching ... Or is it Two of Them?

    “The September version of the twice-yearly celebration of the patron saint of Naples, San Gennaro, is nearly upon us. In Italy the main event occurs on September 19, the feast day of San Gennaro, when the faithful gather in the Cathedral of Naples to witness the liquefaction of the saint’s blood,” journalist Michelle Fabio writes in her column of the British magazine Italy Mag.

    “San Gennaro was the Bishop of Benevento when he was beheaded during Diocletian’s persecution of Christians in 305 A.D. Some of the martyr’s blood was collected by a woman, and it was taken to Naples along with San Gennaro’s skeleton. Just eight years later, the first miracle of the liquefaction of San Gennaro’s blood, which is normally a solid mass, was recorded. The saint is associated with protecting the city from eruptions of Mount Vesuvius as well as other tragedies.”
     

    Now the miracle happens a few times a year, but the first Saturday in May and September 19 are particularly special days for Neapolitans. “Following a boisterous procession through the streets of Spaccanapoli, the historical center of Naples, the silver bust of San Gennaro is placed next to the altar in the Cathedral. The ampoule containing the saint’s blood is shown to those in attendance—religious and political officials as well as hundreds of spectators. Then, after anywhere from moments to more than an hour of intense prayer by the “zie” (aunts) of San Gennaro, women seated in the front row of the church, the blood begins bubbling and changes into a liquid. The church bells ring wildly, the faithful cheer and gather to kiss the ampoule, and Naples is believed to be safe for awhile at least—if the blood fails to liquefy, it is seen as a bad omen for the city. In fact, before the 1980 earthquake that left 2000 dead, the miracle of San Gennaro’s blood had failed to occur.”
     

    Italian communities in the United States have brought the celebrations of San Gennaro's feast along with other cultural and religious traditions. In New York City the Feast of San Gennaro began in September 1926 when newly arrived immigrants from Naples congregated along Mulberry Street in the Little Italy neighborhood, to continue the tradition they had followed in Italy.

    Wikipedia explains that “The immigrant families on Mulberry Street who started it all were Nappi, Vitale, Montanini and Tisi. Each one of them had a café on Mulberry Street, between Grand and Hester Streets. They strung lengths of colored light bulbs across the street from building fire escapes and brought their business out onto the sidewalk. They erected a small chapel in the street to house the image of their patron Saint. They invited all to partake of their wares, asking only that the devoted pin a small offering to the ribbon streamers that are hung from the statue's apron. This money was then distributed to the needy poor of the neighborhood. In that way they felt they could do charitable works and also pay homage to their patron Saint.”
     

    Through the decades the festival expanded and is now an 11-day street fair beginning on the second Thursday in September in the Little Italy area of Manhattan as an annual celebration of Italian culture and the Italian-American community. Centered on Mulberry Street, which is closed to traffic for the occasion, the festival generally features parades, street vendors, food stands featuring sausages, zeppole and other Italian-American specialties, and games.

    The Grand Procession is held starting at 2 p.m on the last Saturday of the feast, immediately after a celebratory Mass at the Church of the Most Precious Blood. This is a Roman Catholic candlelit procession in which the statue of San Gennaro is carried from its permanent home in the Most Precious Blood Church through the streets of Little Italy.
     

    Presented annually since 1996 by Figli di San Gennaro, Inc. (Children of San Gennaro), a not-for-profit community organization dedicated to keeping alive the spirit and faith of the early Italian immigrants, this year’s Feast (the 85th) is expected once again to attract more than one-million people from the four corners of the globe to the streets of Little Italy to participate in the annual Salute to the Patron Saint of Naples.

    The 11-day event will feature religious processions and colorful parades, free musical entertainment every day, a wide variety of ethnic food delicacies, charming restaurants and cafes and even a world-famous cannoli-eating competition! Couples who may have met at the Feast and eventually got married are invited to attend the feast's 85th birthday celebration and talk about what it has meant to them!

    There also are those who want to celebrate San Gennaro their own way by respecting tradition but progressing with our ever changing times.
     

    The Two Bridges Neighborhood Council (“Two Bridges”), in collaboration with the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, will embellish Manhattan’s annual San Gennaro feast with innovative cultural and interactive programming at Mulberry Street between Prince and Houston Streets - the most northern final block of the San Gennaro Feast.
     

    Two Bridges took the opportunity of the annual feast to establish the San Gennaro Gateway North location as a possible destination point, the first in a plan for the development of a series of “gateways” to facilitate visitor and tourist access points to the Chinatown–Little Italy Historic District. It is also considered as an experiment to explore a pedestrian way on a street that includes such landmark structures as the Puck Building and the Basilica of St. Patrick’s campus.
     

    Their program includes: performances staged on the grand steps of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, featuring jazz numbers by notable Italian musicians like Bucky Pizzerelli, Gene Bertoncini, Piers Lawrence, the Tre Bella group, the Anabella Lenzu Dance Company and Liz Miele. Bocce tournaments on both weekends of the feast, including “In Bocca Al Lupo” (a.k.a. Cornhole), hosted by the NYC Social Sports Club with free play sessions all day during the week. Having special relevance to the Patron Saint of Naples, a special parish Red Cross Blood Drive. The unveiling of a hanging sculptural piece suspended between the historic landmarks of the Puck Building and the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral Designed by SOFTlab. A special chorale concert of Italian Renaissance music by AmorArtis, the Basilica’s choir-in residence with the Basilica Schola. A theatrical reading of the 1911 immigrant tragedy at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in the Cathedral proper. An exhibit at St. Michael's Russian Catholic Church of imperial vestments worn during the coronation liturgy of Czar Nicholas.
     

    The San Gennaro Gateway North aims to establish the idea of Houston and Mulberry Streets as one in a series of future gateways into the historic district, and at the same time, promote the annual San Gennaro Feast through lively cultural programming that will represent a re-imagining of the future feast within the milieu of the traditional feast –at least on this street.

    ----
    Figli di San Gennaro program:

    Thursday, September 15 (Opening Day)

    2 to 3 PM – 10th Annual Cannoli Eating Competition

    The Performance Stage at the northwest corner of Grand and Mott Streets will be the site of this eating competition, sanctioned by The International Federation of Competitive Eaters, to determine who can eat the most cannoli within a given six-minute period? The winner will receive a Championship Belt and will be recognized as The World’s Champion Cannoli Eater. Trophies will be awarded to the 2nd and 3rd Place finishers.

    6 to 7 PM - Blessing of the Stands

    Parish Priests from Most Precious Blood Church will walk through the streets of the Feast blessing all the restaurants, cafes, shops and vendors so that they will all have a successful Feast.

    Saturday, September 17

    2 – 4 PM: 85th Birthday Party for Little Italy's Feast of San Gennaro

    Little Italy's Feast of San Gennaro will celebrate its 85th birthday with a gala birthday celebration that will take place between 2 and 4 PM on Grand Street between Mulberry and Mott Streets. Highlights of the party will include a performance of traditional Italian music and folk songs plus the unveiling of a large 6' birthday cake on a 3' base, weighing 2,000 pounds designed and created by Little Italy's world famous Ferrara's Bakery. 100,000 slices of the cake will be distributed to members of the public on a first-come, first-served basis on Saturday afternoon during the party. Construction of the cake will take two days and will take place in public view in front of Ferrara's Bakery on Grand Street starting Thursday afternoon, September 15. The cake will be constructed inside a see-through, temperature- controlled plastic bubble inside a special candy garden display.

    Sunday, September 18

    10 AM – 4 PM – Feast of San Gennaro Blood Drive in association with the American Red Cross.

    Figli di San Gennaro, organizers of the Annual Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy, will hold a day-long Blood Drive, in association with the American Red Cross, at St. Patrick’s Basilica Youth Center, 268 Mulberry Street (between Houston and Prince Streets). Those interested in donating blood can call 1-800- RED CROSS or visit www.redcrossblood.org to schedule a donation time. The drive is sponsored by Figli di San Gennaro and The Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral. There will be refreshments and giveaways all day long.

    Parades/Processions

    There will be two Processions, each featuring the Statue of San Gennaro. Each one will begin at Most Precious Blood Church -- The Religious Procession (Monday, September 19) will start from the Patio entrance of the church on Mulberry Street, and the Grand Procession (Saturday, September 24) will begin at the Baxter Street entrance to the church. Both Processions will proceed north on Mulberry to Houston, then move south on Mott to Grand, where they will turn right on Grand to Baxter Street.

    The Parades are scheduled as follows:

    Monday, September 19 (Official Feast Day)

    5PM --

    A Celebratory High Mass in honor of San Gennaro in Most Precious Blood Church, the National Sanctuary of San Gennaro.

    6 PM --

    A Religious Procession in which the Statue of San Gennaro is carried through the streets of the Feast.

    Saturday, September 24 (Grand Procession)
    2PM - A colorful parade with floats, marching bands,
    musical entertainers and the Statue of San Gennaro through the streets of Little Italy

    Two Bridges Neighborhood Council (“Two Bridges”) and the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral program:

    LIVE MUSICAL PERFORMANCES

    Located at 260 Mulberry Street, on the steps of the Basilica
     

    Thurs 9/15

    5:30pm – Tre Bella

    7pm - Bucky Pizzarelli & Jack Wilkins
     

    Fri 9/16

    7pm - Gene Bertoncini & Roni Ben Hur
     

    Sat 9/17

    6:30pm – LuLu LoLo Performing Artist

    8pm – Theatrical Reading of “Labor of Love”

    Inside Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral
     

    Sun 9/18

    2pm - Vic Juris & Sheryl Bailey

    7pm – Liz Miele hosts Michela Musolino, Lorraine Ferro, JoAnn Robertozzi, Anthony Tolve, Deb Longino, Dimitri Minucci, Jennifer Carvo

    Tues 9/20

    7pm – Liz Miele hosts Jimmy Alva, Tre Bella, Allison Scola, Jennifer Carvo, Allison Tartalia
     

    Thurs 9/22

    7:30pm – The Allison Scola Project with traditional Sicilian Dances
     

    Fri 9/23

    7pm - Paul Bollenback & Ron Affif
     

    Sat 9/24

    8pm - Piers Lawrence & Reuben Wilson & Greg Bandy
     

    Sun 9/25

    6pm – Vinnie Guiles on Accordian

    7pm – Anabella Lenzu Dance Company with Traditional Dances of Italy
     

    AMERICAN RED CROSS BLOOD DRIVE

    September 18, 11am – 4pm

    Located at 268 Mulberry Street with St. Patrick’s Youth Center
     

    BOCCE & “IN BOCCA AL LUPO” TOURNAMENTS + OPEN PLAY

    Daily 12noon – 10pm

    Located on Mulberry Street near Prince Street
     

    AMOR ARTIS CLOSING CONCERT

    September 25 @ 4pm

    Located within the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, Mott / Prince Streets
     

    IMPERIAL VESTMENTS DISPLAY

    Daily

    Located at 266 Mulberry Street within St. Michael’s Russian Catholic Church
     

    THE GATEWAY NORTH

    Daily

    Tents courtesy of the Festival of Ideas for the New City

  • Art & Culture

    Reading about September 11

    September 11 ten years later. The countdown to the anniversary has started. People discuss, still have plenty of questions to ask, they have their own stories about where they were that day...

    There are many different ways of telling the same story... there even is an autobiographic graphic novel, it is one of the many stories of a tragedy that, ten years later and after the killing of the mastermind behind it, Osama Bin Laden, it is still so big that the truth behind it is unknown.

    The theories continue to abound, and that is shown by the continuous publications of books on the subject. Rizzoli is republishing The Rage and the Pride a manifesto against the Jihad signed by Oriana Fallaci. On Amazon the book gets four out of five stars and the description says: “With her well-known courage Oriana Fallaci faces the themes unchained by the Islamic terrorism: the contrast and, in her opinion, incompatibility between the Islamic world and the Western world; the global reality of the Jihad and the lack of response, the lenience of the West. With her brutal sincerity she hurls pitiless accusations, vehement invectives, and denounces the uncomfortable truths that all of us know but never dare to express. With her rigorous logic, lucidity of mind, she defends our culture and blames what she calls our blindness, our deafness, our masochism, the conformism and the arrogance of the Politically Correct. With the poetry of a prophet like a modern Cassandra she says it in the form of a letter addressed to all of us. The text is enriched by a dramatic preface in which Oriana Fallaci reveals how The Rage and the Pride was born, grew up, and detachedly calls it 'my small book.' In addition, a preface in which she tells significant episodes of her extraordinary life and explains her unreachable isolation, her demanding and inflexible choices. Because of this too, what she calls "my small book" is in reality a great book. A precious book, a book that shakes our conscience. It is also the portrait of a soul. Her soul. No doubt it will remain as a thorn pierced inside our brains and our hearts.”

    Oriana Fallaci is also the subject of a book+DVD special that will be released in Italy in September called Intervista con Oriana (Interview with Oriana), a portrait of the journalist seen through her video interviews.

    The true story of Alissa Torres, the young bride of Edoardo, a young Colombian immigrant, is the tale of a seven month pregnant girl who, the day of the World Trade Center attacks is robbed of her husband and is told in the aforementioned graphic novel, titled American Widow. The book, is written by Torres herself and features drawings by the Korean artist Sungyoon Choi, known for her comic strips in the New York Times. It tells the story of the attack, of her pain due to the loss of the love of her life, the horror of bureaucratic matters, the difficulty to have access to funds available to all the victim's relatives, and the exploitation of the media and solidarity associations.

    Eraldo Affinati tells the story of a tragedy to a younger readership... children. His novel L'11 settembre di Eddy il ribelle (September 11 as seen by Eddy the Rebel), not available in the US yet, is setona fictional planet, called Fulgor, where everybody is trying to forget war and death. Eddy lives on that planet, and one day, after having been expelled from school, he goes on the OX promontory with his friend Matuzalem. The two witness the tragedy of the Twin Towers from up there and this event will change them forever.

    The true drama of those moments is also told by Giorgio Radicati, who on that day was the Italian Consul General in New York. Io c'erò (I was there), edited by Giuliano Capecelatro is in first person narration and it alternates real events with the personal thoughts and reactions of the Consul, and 32 unpublished photos. It is a very suggestive chronicle and first person narration that makes the reader dive into the terror of that day.

    The crash of the myth of invincibility of the United States is the topic of 12 Settembre, an international project that will be released at the same time in Italy, France, The Netherlands, Spain, Germany and the United States that includes the opinions of authors and artists such as Art Spiegelman, Lorenzo Mattotti, Joe Sacco, Bilal and Sampayo.

    This is not the first September 11 related book for Spiegelman. The Pulitzer Prize winning author of Maus, published in 2004 In the Shadow of No Towers, what Amazon describes as “an inventive and vividly graphic work of nonfiction. It's an artful rant focused on the events of 9/11 and afterward by a world-class pessimist (“after all, disaster is my muse”). The artist, who lives in downtown Manhattan, believes the world really ended on Sept. 11, 2001—it's merely a technicality that some people continue to go about their daily lives. He provides a hair-raising and wry account of his family's frantic efforts to locate one another on September 11 as well as a morbidly funny survey of his trademark sense of existential doom. "I'm not even sure I'll live long enough," says a chain-smoking, post-9/11 cartoon-mouse Spiegelman, "for cigarettes to kill me." The book is a visceral tirade against the Bush administration ("brigands suffering from war fever") and, when least expected, an erudite meditation on the history of the American newspaper comic strip, born during the fierce circulation wars of the 1890s right near the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan.”

     

  • Life & People

    How Italian Food Conquered the World

    “Go to a restaurant anywhere in the world today - even in Tokyo, Hong Kong, or Mumbai- and chances are you will see Italian dishes listed on the menu. There will inevitably be a pasta dish or two, perhaps cannelloni stuffed with foie gras and black truffles at a three-star Michelin restaurant in Paris. There might be a selection of Italian salumi and burrata cheese offered at a gastro-pub in London. Pizzas seem to have becomes requisite to a menu in New York as sirloin steak. Salads everywhere are now being dressed with extra virgin olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar. For dessert there will be house made gelato and panna cotta. And the wine list will always carry Italian labels, probably even a few Super Tuscans…Until recently such interest in and ubiquity of Italian food and wine was unthinkable, and it would have been highly unusual to find Italian dishes on menus at non-Italian restaurants.” This is just a sample of what a reader will find in John Mariani's book, How Italian Food Conquered the World, published by Palgrave Macmillan.

     
    Mariani, Esquire's food and travel columnist, continues, “While it is now indisputable that Italian food is among the most popular in the world, it is not very long ago that Italian food just about everywhere outside Italy was regarded as little more than macaroni with red sauce, chicken parmigiana, pizza, and 'dago red' wines.”
     
    There is no doubt that Italian food is one of the most beloved cuisines in the America. It reigns so supreme in everything from our restaurants and cookbooks to our Sunday dinner tables that it is difficult to imagine a world in which Italian cooking was brushed aside as nothing more than mounds of garlic and red sauce. The rise of our Italian-American food culture and the emigrants who made it possible was a journey fueled by endurance, passion and triumph that will inspire a whole new appreciation for the foods we are so enamored by today. John Mariani chronicles this remarkable story , a story that starts with the Greek, Roman, and Middle Eastern culinary traditions and follows the wave of hopeful Italian immigrants who arrived in America clinging to their familiar food and determined to use it as means to a better life. Their eventual rise from pizzeria and sandwich shop owners to true restaurateurs is carefully narrated, featuring the trials and triumphs of restaurants like Da Silvano, Spiaggia, Bottega and Il Cantinori.

     The story of Da Silvano, for example, is particularly inspiring, as it narrates the rise to fame of a guy who could have been any of us. Back in 1975 in Greenwich Village, “Silvano Marchetto began with just four tables and a short menu that strayed from the red-sauce model of restaurants all around him. Several dishes, though not all, were Tuscan, such as crostini of chicken livers and trippa alla fiorentina, and it was novel enough at the time to compete with the highly popular Trattoria Alfredo a few blocks West, where Alfredo Viazzi also served out-of-the-ordinary Italian food such as cotechino sausage with salsa verde and the Livornese seafood soup called caciucco. Marchetto, who always insisted that his cuisine, while based on Tuscan tradition, was entirely his own idea and a lighter style than his competitors', was in the right place at the right time.” The author continues to explain that the art scene developed in the area and stars like Michael Cimino, Martin Scorsese, John Cassavetes, Robert De Niro, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat became regulars. The most important patron though was Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue, who made the restaurant famous. “As the most powerful woman in the fashion industry, Wintour had shifted the magazine's focus to younger designers, models, and photographers, which coincided perfectly with the edginess which coincided perfectly with the edginess of the arts scene downtown, where she would hold photo shoots. Da Silvano was a place everyone wanted to be and be seen, including Madonna, who dined often at Da Silvano, and when she did, the diva wore Prada.”

    In her foreword to the book, celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich writes that “John Mariani's tale of Italian food and its culture is a revealing and informative one. Beneath its cover, within the pages, lies a story of a people who, century after century, have sought to share a love of their food and culture and marry the two so effortlessly that the end result has not only captivated but 'conquered' the world.”
     
    In response to the book, Mauro Trabalza chef at Sora Lella has said “Italian food is still conquering the world. This promotion of Italian food originates here in Italy where producers, journalists and chef publicly support local cuisines and unknown dishes and this stimulates the curiosity of foreign countries. Our cuisine is simple and unique. Traditional recipes are passed from generation to generation and this is appreciated abroad. We have history and where there is history there is authenticity. This is what's really important, presenting dishes made with the best ingredients, with no compromise.”
     
    Paola Beretti wine consultant for Wine Estates of Europe also had her say “Italian food conquered the world because it is not pretentious. Our dishes are simple but they can be sophisticated. We use genuine, flavorful and healthy ingredients that have no equal. My grandmother used to make a simple place of pasta with fresh tomato sauce, extra virgin olive oil and fresh garlic and basil... it was pure bliss. You can get creative with more complicated dishes while maintaining simplicity of flavor. People always like to discover something new, something that mirrors the place it comes from. And although Italy is a small country it gives you exactly this.”
    Indeed Italian food is so dominant that even New York's French Culinary Institute acknowledged its importance by establishing the Italian Culinary Academy, designed by Tuscan chef Cesare Casella, and, using Mariani's words, “No dish soared as high into the culinary stratosphere in the past decade as pizza did. Once dismissed as an old-fashioned cheap, oily, garlicky Italian-American snack food sold out of storefronts, pizza rose to faddish eminence in the 1980s,” and there is no restaurant now that does not serve it or at least some type of flat bread/focaccia.
     
    Through history, capture in the pages of Mariani's book, we have witnessed the rise in status of Italian food from low-class to the most recognizable, stylish, and influential cuisine in the world.
     
     

  • Life & People

    Blind Date on the Streets of Ferrara

    If you have nothing better to do on September 3rd you have a blind date... not with a guy or a girl… but with a monument! Yes, you got that right, let us explain. On September 3rd, the city of Ferrara is hosting its second annual Street Dinner. This is a unique opportunity to enjoy art and food together; an ensemble of adventure, gastronomy, natural scenery, conviviality and mystery. Last year's edition, the first, was incredibly successful... it was sold out. All 300 available seats were gone in a matter of hours, as hotels were struggling to find a room for all the people who were willing to be on the waiting list. Back then, they already started taking reservations for this year as there were requests from Las Vegas, Malibu, Minneapolis, New Delhi, Tel Aviv, Paris, London and Amsterdam… This year the seats have increased to 400.

    Chic but informal at the same time, the event welcomes a large number of gourmands who, armed with a table, a chair and a bag filled with delicacies, will only find out at the very last minute by what historical building or monument they are going to sit and enjoy all the provided local specialties.

    All is possible thanks to text messaging: indeed all participants will find out their destinations step by step directly on their phones. The first text will provide the location of the “welcoming” aperitivo where people can mingle and get to know each other while sipping Prosecco. A second text will inform all of the location where to pick up the table, the chair and table settings plus the food bag (there are two different menus available. The actual dishes are a secret but you can choose between a meat-based or a fish-based menu). Thirty minutes later another text will inform each guest of their dinner location.

    Some of these locations are, for example, the court of Castello Estense (a magnificent castle built in the center of the city), on Corso Ercole I d’Este with a view of Palazzo dei Diamanti (the house of the National Art Gallery, is one of the most famous buildings in Italy: the white marble exterior consisting of 8500 blocks are carved in the shape of diamonds), along the Listone of Ferrara (a beautiful square by the Duomo), in Via delle Volte, among the Ancient Walls and many other wonderful corners (such as one of the city’s beaches or bridges). The dress code is informal, yet outfits must be glamorous and strictly all white. The best outfit wins a special prize at the end of the evening.

    The menus, like everything else, are secret, but hopefully they will feature local specialties: Cappellacci di zucca, pumpkin ravioli, served with ragù or butter and sage sauce; tagliatelle, noodles with ragù or mushroom sauce, the maltagliati, irregularly shaped egg pasta cooked with beans, classic lasagna, green lasagna, pasticcio alla Ferrarese, a pie stuffed with maccheroni, béchamel, cheese and ragù with porcini mushrooms; riso con zucca e salsiccia, rice with pumpkin and sausages, or with fish Brodetto, a seafood broth. Rice is also prepared with eels, with ragù, cheese and porcini mushroom. Polenta is often served in place of pasta. It can be fried in butter or dressed with a sauce, cheese, meat or fish. Anguilla (eel) and polenta, polenta with ragù, polenta and sausages are common fare in the Ferrara area. As far as desserts are concerned: ciambella ferrarese is made with flour, eggs, butter and a little sugar; torta di mele is a sponge cake mixed with fresh apples sliced very thin; panpepato is a super rich chocolate cake with candied fruits and nuts, ginger, pepper and other spices and mandurlin dal pont are delicate and crispy cookies made with eggs, sugar and almonds.