Articles by: Alex Catti

  • Facts & Stories

    Happy 60th Birthday to the FIAT 500!

    By now, the Fiat 500, cinquecento in Italian, has become a car recognized around the globe. With the threat of rising gasoline prices and city parking that is difficult in a large car, the Fiat 500 is known for its utility as a subcompact car. However, putting the practical aside, the little car’s signature styling is what attracts many buyers and fans. In fact, New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) just added an original Fiat 500 to its permanent collection, proving that this car is more than simply just a mode of transportation. This week, July 4th to be exact, marks the 60th birthday of the original car, and Fiat is celebrating its successful car in a several ways. The automaker released a nostalgic video that includes the new 500. Additionally, a limited number of postal stamps are being released, and a limited edition trim of the new Fiat 500 was also produced.

    MoMA and the Fiat 500

    The Fiat 500 is, first and foremost, an automobile. However, it has grown to become a symbol for so much more. Its design is representative of Italian design and ingenuity; when you look at it, you immediately think “Italy.” Fiat head and chief marketing officer Olivier François affirmed, “While the Fiat 500 has unquestionably left its mark on automotive history, it is equally true that it has never been just a car. In its 60 years of history, the 500 has transcended its material manifestation to enter the collective imagination and become an icon.”

    The Museum of Modern Art agrees. Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA stated, "The Fiat 500 is an icon of automotive history that fundamentally altered car design and production. Adding this unpretentious masterpiece to our collection will allow us to broaden the story of automotive design as told by the Museum." 4,000,000 FIAT 500s were manufactured between 1957 and 1975, a testament to the car’s popularity. The model shown in the Museum is a 500 F series, which was made from 1965-1972. It had an 18 horsepower engine and a top speed of 59 miles per hour.

    The New “Anniversario” Edition

    Earlier this year at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, Fiat unveiled the 60th anniversary edition of the Fiat 500 named the 500 Sessantesimo. Production will be limited to 560 units, fitting for a car named the 500 as it celebrates its 60th birthday… The car has Dolcevita paintwork, which consists of three-layer white lower section, an ivory upper part, and a gray and burgundy pinstripe separating the two different paint colors. The seats are ivory-colored leather with burgundy striping. Electronic goodies include GPS, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, a Beats premium audio system, and rain and dusk sensors. Under the hood, there’s a choice between three engines: a .9 liter gasoline engine rated at 68 horsepower, a 1.8 liter gasoline engine rated at 84 horsepower, or a 1.3 liter diesel engine rated at 95 horsepower.

    Send Mail with a Fiat Stamp

    Fiat has taken it one step further and is also producing a limited run stamp. The stamp is a collector’s item for both postal and automotive enthusiasts alike. 1,000,000 stamps will be made, each with a value of €0.95 ($1.06). It contains the design of the original 500 in the foreground, a silhouette of the new 500 in the background, the colors of the Italian flag on top, and the words “FIAT Nuova 500” also on top.

    Official Videos

    As if all of this wasn’t enough, Fiat took celebrating the car’s birthday yet another step further. The company released a special advertisement celebrating the 500’s birthday; click here to view the 60th anniversary video >>>. Fiat also released a video of the 500 F that has entered into the Museum of Modern Art; click here to see the video of the 500 F >>>.

  • Dining in & out

    50 Top Pizza: The International Pizzeria Guide

    Le Strade Dellla Mozarella (LSDM) returned to the city on June 28-29 for its 2017 New York edition. Like every year, the conference sheds light on Italian cusine and the best Italian products, with a focus on pizza and pizza makers. On June 30th within the framework of the LSDM event, New York's Ribalta Pizzeria Restaurant hosted the presentation of 50 Top Pizza Guide, a new online resource dedicated to finding the best pizzerias.

    The 50 Top Pizza Guide

    There’s no doubt that pizza originated in Naples, but how did it get to be a worldwide phenomenon? During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as waves of Italians left the peninsula in search of a better life, they brought the idea of pizza with them. Sure, the ingredients that they found in their new homes may have been different than the ones they found while in Italy, but the sentiment behind pizza remained the same: to have a food of the people, to create something delicious in its simplicity. Today, pizza is found across the globe, and it can be had in numerous different styles and variations.

    But how can we make sense of the innumerable types of pizzas out there and the pizzerias that make them? Fortunately, Top 50 Pizza, the first online guide dedicated to the world of pizza, is here to help. The guide is the work of journalist, food expert and blogger Luciano Pignataro and the founders of the Le Strade della Mozzarella conference Barbara Guerra and Alberto Sapere. Formamentis and its Director, Giuseppe Melara, are responsible for publishing the 50 Top Pizza guide, which is sponsored by Acqua Panna and S.Pellegrino, among others. 

    Mr. Sapere explained why this new guide is exceptional: “There are other pizza guides in Italy, but this one is different because it’s online, and it’s completely free. And there is a geolocation system that can bring you all the way to the door of the pizzeria.”

    The guide will be presenting its most highly rated pizza makers of Italy later this July, but on June 30th at Ribalta Restaurant in New York City, some of the best pizzerias around the world were conferred Top 50 Pizza’s Premi Internazionali “International Awards” for the quality of their pizzas, service, beer, wine lists, and furnishings. The awards were sponsored by Olitalia, Così Com’è, and the Consorzio Tutela della Mozzarella di Bufala Campana.

    The Best Pizzerias Across the World

    In order to select the best pizzerias around the world, a couple steps were taken in order to find and categorize the contenders. Seven categories were developed based either on the style of pizza or the pizzeria’s location within the world. A survey of 95 pizzas aficionados was conducted, and each was allowed to give five suggested pizzerias. Anonymous inspectors then visited these pizzerias and narrowed down the candidates even further. By the time the awards were conferred, winners were chosen out of five nominees in each category. The pizzerias awarded were Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn, NY for the Best New York Style Pizzeria; The Art of Pizza in Chicago, IL for the Best Chicago Style Pizzeria; Rosso Pomodoro in Balmain, New South Wales for the Best Pizzeria in Oceania; Fire and Ice Pizzeria in Kolkata for the Best Pizzeria in Asia; Bæst in Copenhagen for the Best Pizzeria in Northern Europe; I Love Pizza in Osaka for the Best Pizzeria in Japan; and Bráz Pizzeria in Rio de Janeiro. A special award was also conferred upon Mathew Kenney’s Vegan Pizzeria 00 + Co. in New York for Innovation and Sustainability.

    As of today, the names of 350 pizzerias already went public, but the official launch date for the guide is July 20th, when Top 50 Pizza will announce its list of Italy’s 50-best-pizzas at Castel Nuovo in Naples. The guide will also be available as a free app. 

    To watch the announcement of the list live, tune-in on


  • Piero Bassetti and Fred Plotkin at La Casa di i-Italy
    Art & Culture

    What's an Italic and Are You One of Them?

    What exactly is an “Italic”? Most people believe they know what “Italian” means, but “Italic” is perhaps unfamiliar to many–at least in the traditional sense of the word. In order to better understand this newly coined term, i-Italy invited Piero Bassetti (politician, entrepreneur, and the author of Let’s Wake Up italics! Manifesto for a Glocal Future) and Fred Plotkin (an expert on opera and all things Italian) to La Casa di i-Italy to flush out the idea of an Italic and how Italics are becoming increasingly important in the world. The conversation was held on occasion of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute’s recent publication of Bassetti’s book.

    Fred Plotkin: First of all, I wanted to ask you for those listening, and also for me, to define some words so that we are very clear on the meaning of everything. What makes an Italian?

    Piero Bassetti: An Italian is an Italico who lives on the peninsula, the territory of the Italian Republic, which is a territory that has been defined as such for only 150 years. Dante, for example, is an Italic. He is not an Italian. We can call him an Italic, but in theory, we can not call him an Italian because during his lifetime, the “Italian” dimension only existed through linguistics and that’s it. Maybe also culturally but certainly not politically.

    FP: So then let's define an Italic.

    PB: An Italic is a person who chose to prefer the Italian way of life as an expression of a civilization amongst the greatest civilizations in the world.

    FP: When I read your book Let’s Wake Up, Italics! something immediately came to mind, and tell me if you don’t agree with me. To be anglo-saxon, hispanic, or Italico, one must completely know the language of the country that this culture comes from. Do you agree or no?

    PB: Yes, it’s the language of the culture, not really of the country. The Florentines spoke Italian before Italy existed as a political organization. This is the Italian phenomenon because Italian is one of the few cultures that had language in common before the culture itself.

    FP: Can soccer, as an Italian plays it, be considered Italic soccer?

    Bassetti: Yes. Soccer is an Italic invention because it was invented in Florence and regulated by the English. Anyone who knows the United States understands that poker is an American game. If one goes to Russia, he realizes that chess is the game of the Russians. The game of Italians is soccer.

    FP: I notice that, in general, the Italian palate is more refined in terms of being able to distinguish between a good tomato, a good cheese, a good oil. There are people abroad who don’t know how to make this distinction because they didn’t train their palates.

    PB: I was coming back from Cornell. We were on the ship named Vulcania in groups of 4, three Italian Americans and me. We became friends, and one of them came up to me and shyly asked me ‘How do you say pizza in Italian?’ I understood that pizza for him was, in fact, pizza, but it was an American product. So the problem isn’t saying that the only pizza is Italian pizza. The real problem is spreading what was made in the Italian way. Nutella, which is made in more places than just Italy, is an importer of 'Italicity.'

    PB: My book strives to make people understand that the awakening of Italics comes from more than just Italianness. It comes directly into contact with the whole world. With “Glocal,” the central idea is that everyone locally is part of the global society, but the global permeates all the local environments in different ways.

    FP: My mother has a great doctor, who is of Sicilian origin from the island of Lipari. He traveled a lot across the world but had never been to Italy. I went to Italy last year, and I decided to go to his city to buy goat meat for him because goats are their most famous product. He has an excellent education among some of the most accomplished doctors in his specialization, but he never dedicated himself to discovering his Italian, Sicilian, and Italic side. I tried to wake up to his Italian side. He told me a few days ago that now he wants to go to Italy to understand a place in which this somewhat strange yet excellent flavor of goat can be a key part of his identify.

    If you’re interested in learning more about Italics, be sure to pick up a copy of Bassetti’s book Let’s Wake Up, italics! Manifesto for a Glocal Future.

  • An aerial shot of Church Street in Montclair.
    Facts & Stories

    Montclair's 4th Annual Exotic Car Rally is a Success!

    It was a beautiful morning in Montclair, NJ on Sunday, June 11. High-end Italian cars–including Ferrari, Maserati, and Lamborghini­–parked outside of Hollywood executive producer, restaurateur, radio host, and philanthropist Franco Porporino Jr.'s restaurant Fresco Da Franco, located at 15 Church Street. The event was a fundraiser for the Tomorrow Children's Fund, an organization that helps children who are fighting cancer, and the Hudson Valley SPCA, a no-kill animal shelter that is also responsible for enforcing the Humane Law in Orange County, NY. The day's event was sponsored by Lamborghini Paramus, McLaren of Bergen County, Alfa Romeo Ramsey, and Franco’s close friends. Participants and spectators were treated to a celebrity appearance by Paul Teutul Senior from the hit show American Chopper.

    A Day of Fun for All

    Over 50 Ferrari & Lamborghini rallied with the Montclair Police Department, and it was truly a sight to be seen. Hundreds of people flooded Church Street to enjoy breakfast in the town center and to catch a glimpse of the beautiful Italian automobiles. In fact, Church Street felt as if it were a slice of Italy in the heart of New Jersey. Following a brunch for members of the Mille Miglia Auto Club, the cars took to the streets of Montclair for a six-mile rally throughout the town. Following the early afternoon rally, a meatball-eating contest ensued, a silent auction occurred, and awards for the best cars were conferred. All throughout the day, people were seen chatting, sharing meals together, and admiring the cars.

    The Brains Behind the Operation

    It may seem difficult to imagine how one man is capable of generating such camaraderie among so many people. It takes immense planning to close a public street, schedule a police escort, and attract over $60 million in cars. Therefore, it's no wonder that in 2012 Franco Porporino Jr. was named one of the "Top 5 Men to Know in NYC" by Pinstripe Magazine. In 2015, he received the Man of the Year Award for his work as an ambassador for the "Boys of Bate Program" (young adolescents battling drug addiction) at the Integrity House in Newark, NJ–the very same rehab facility that former President Obama visited. In 2015, Porporino also received the Man of the Year Award from the Italian Tribune as a Young Italian American Entrepreneur. In addition to running his restaurant, Fresco Da Franco, Porporino manages Golden Globe nominee and Emmy Award winner Armand Assante, and he also hosts his own radio program called Brunching with Franco, which airs Sundays at 12pm on AM 970 The Answer. All in all, Porporino is a man that has made some serious noise.

    i-Italy caught up with Franco at this year's rally, and we asked him what makes him do this year after year. His response: "At a very young age, my grandmother and my mother always taught me that when you help others, good will come to you. We all have certain things that bring us joy. Mine is changing people's lives and bringing a smile to their faces. When I speak to the adolescents at the Integrity House, I know I am not getting through to all of them, but if I can change even just one life in the program, then I know I made a difference. The most rewarding thing I have received from my philanthropic work is when I had a young boy walk into my restaurant one day and say to me 'Hey Franco. How are you?' I said, 'I am good. Do I know you?' He said, 'You don't remember me?' I said, 'I don't. Forgive me, so many people come through this door.' He told me that he wanted to personally thank me. When I asked him for what, he said my speech at the Integrity House changed his life. He graduated the program, is sober, and is now on the right path. The rally is not a bunch of guys that want to show off their wealth. It's a car rally and a group of guys that truly want to make a difference. Changing a life and making a difference is what it's all about, and we did just that this past Sunday!"

  • Life & People

    Italian Cars Take to the Streets of Montclair

    If you love Italian cars, you must see Mille Miglia Auto Club's "Fourth Annual Exotic Charity Car Rally" on June 11th. This highly-anticipated event, which raises money for organizations and individuals in need, is made possible thanks to Franco Porporino Jr., an Italian American with a passion for helping others. This year cars are cruising to benefit Tomorrow Children's Fund, an organization that helps children who are fighting cancer, and Hudson Valley SPCA, a no-kill animal shelter that is also responsible for enforcing the Humane Law in Orange County, NY.

    A Jack of Many Trades

    Rally organizer Franco Porporino Jr. has an impressive resume and has been making a lot of noise in LA recently as a name to be reckoned with (more on that at a later date). Not only is he the manager of four-time Golden Globe nominee and Emmy Award winner Armand Assante, but he's also a film producer, actor, philanthropist, and the owner of his own award-winning restaurant­–Fresco Da Franco in Montclair, NJ. When it comes to helping others in the local community, Porporino has partnered with several organizations. Two such examples include raising funds for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation in Bayonne, NJ and mentoring young men in Integrity House's residential program. He is also the host of a radio show called Brunching with Franco. The show, airing Sundays at 12pm on AM 970 The Answer, aims to discuss the latest in fashion trends, dining, and celebrities. Franco has hosted celebrity guests such as Arthur Nascarella, George Lopez, and Melissa Gorga.

    So how exactly did someone who is so involved in the entertainment industry become a restaurateur? A first generation Italian-American, Franco watched his grandmother and mother who took fresh ingredients from the garden and turned them into Italian dishes. Inspired by the use of these fresh ingredients, and wanting to bring something new to the Montclair dining scene, Porporino opened Fresco Da Franco, which has become popular among both locals and celebrities. The restaurant is also known for hosting several events, one of them being the exotic car rally.

    Cars, Cruising, Celebrities, and More!

    Mille Miglia Auto Club's name translates to "one thousand miles," and pays homage the Mille Miglia automobile endurance race, which runs between Brescia and Rome. The original race ran between 1927 and 1957. Today, the race runs on the same route, and only cars that took part in the original series of races are eligible to run in the current race. The 2017 edition of the Mille Miglia auto race took place this past May.

    Montclair is going to be buzzing on Sunday. The morning of the rally begins with brunch for members of the Mille Miglia Auto Club at Fresco Da Franco. At noon, the police-escorted four-mile rally commences with Paul Teutul Sr. from American Chopper as the leader. After the rally, cars park in the center of town near Fresco Da Franco, and the public has an opportunity to admire the beautiful Italian designs up-close. At 1pm, Mikey Teutul and Franco Porporino are hosting the “Mama Giuseppina” meatball-eating contest. At 2pm, judging of the cars, prizes, and a live auction close the event.

    In addition to the aforementioned celebrity appearances, The Real Housewives of New Jersey will also be in attendance at the event. If you're passionate about motorbikes and mopeds, look out for Ducati and Vespa who will also be there. This year's rally is generously sponsored by McLaren Bergen County, Lamborghini Paramus, Alfa Romeo, FIAT, and the Anthony Pope Law Firm.

  • Italian judge and prosecuting magistrate, Judge Giovanni Falcone
    Life & People

    A Grant for Justice: Honoring Judge Giovanni Falcone

    Italian Judge and prosecuting magistrate Giovanni Falcone spent much of his career combating the Mafia in Sicily. His life parallels that of his close friend Paolo Borsellino. They both spent their early years in the same neighborhood in Palermo. 25 years ago on May 23rd, 1992, Giovanni Falcone, his wife Francesca Morvillo, and their three bodyguards were killed by the Mafia on a highway in Sicily. In honor of the judge and as a commitment to enriching the education of young Italians and Americans, the Fulbright Commission Italy, the Fondazione Falcone, and the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) have created a scholarship for students who are pursuing careers in the field of Law and Criminology. Winners of the 2016-2017 grant have shared their experiences, which have been extremely positive and insightful.

    The Legacy of Judge Giovanni Falcone

    Sicily during the 1980s presented a particularly violent Mafia scene. Judge Falcone became part of the Antimafia Pool, which aimed to strengthen investigations and prosecute perpetrators. The Antimafia Pool's efforts lead to the Maxi Trial, which saw the prosecution of hundreds of mafiosi. However, many mafiosi successfully appealed their verdicts. At the same time as the appeals, Falcone was having political struggles in Palermo, which prompted him to move to Rome and to fight the Mafia through the passing of a new legislation. The Mafia realized Falcone was much more powerful in Rome than he was in Palermo, which caused them to take action resulting in Falcone's eventual assassination.

    A Grant for Justice

    In honor of the late Judge and in an effort to give young students the best education possible, the Fulbright Commission Italy, the Fondazione Falcone, and NIAF have teamed up to create a grant for individuals who are studying in the field of Criminology and Law. One American student and one Italian student are chosen for the grant each year. The American student will work with the Fondazione Giovanni e Francesca Falcone in Palermo, Sicily, and the Italian student will conduct research at an American University. According to NIAF, "this award aims to promote the exchange of the values of the rule of law and legality among young people and to combat the presence of the Mafia culture in today's society."

    The Grant Recipients

    Grant recipients from the 2016-2017 program have shared their experiences. American Jennie Sutcliffe was born and raised outside of Ithaca New York, but was working in Chicago prior to embarking for Sicily. While in Chicago, Sutcliffe worked on criminal and juvenile justice reforms regarding access to healthcare. She chose to participate in the program to expand her understanding of juvenile justice policies internationally. While in Palermo, Jennie's research focused on interventions for youth coming from mafia backgrounds. Regarding her time in Sicily, Jennie states "In terms of my career, I see my time in Palermo as an important step towards becoming a more engaged and thoughtful advocate and policy maker. A common theme in my interviews was the absence (or lack of knowledge about) a network, Italian or European, to discuss and share juvenile justice best practices [...]. This is an idea I would like to take with me as I move forward in my career [...]"

    Italian Salvatore Orlando was born and raised in Palermo. He's currently finishing a PhD in criminal law. After studying abroad in Europe and spending a significant amount of time in German universities, Orlando wanted to have an experience in America in order to gain clearer insight into American society and to be able to conduct his doctoral research. He also stated that Falcone's "follow the money" investigative methods inspired him to deepen his knowledge and to fight against the Mafia. While in America, Salvatore had the opportunity to work with the University of Maryland and the University of Virginia, which helped him to gain a more nuanced view of American society and the American education system. Regarding his time in the U.S. Salvatore states, "This experience means a lot for my career. I realized how important it is for mutual understanding and better collaboration between judicial authorities. So, in my capacity as a legal scholar and a lawyer, I will give my contribution in advocating a stronger collaboration between Italy and the U.S. in the fight against organized crime."

  • Facts & Stories

    Sculpting for Peace with Guido Dettoni

    New York’s Hofstra University had the honor of hosting the United States’ first ever “Peace Gathering.” The event was part of an international series of “Encounters to Manifest Peace,” which comprise Italian artist Guido Dettoni della Grazia’s “Peace Network.” The Association of Italian American Educators (AIAE) welcomed the artist, who participated in a series of events including lectures at local schools, the AIAE gala, and the Sabato Italiano radio program hosted by AIAE President Josephine Maietta.

    Guido Dettoni’s Creative Process

    Guido Dettoni della Grazia’s artistic beginnings date back to the late 1950s. He began working with in both painting and sculpture but later gravitated more toward sculpting. He has worked with various media including–but not limited to–stained glass, metal, marble, and stone. Perhaps one of the most revolutionary concepts that he brought to the art world is the “Handsmatter” creative process, which he pioneered in the 1970s. This technique consists of working under a blindfold and shaping material solely through touch in order to create the final form. Handsmatter stimulates the senses; it can be therapeutic and even spiritual. Just as Dettoni feels the sculpture in his hands while creating it, his creations are meant to be felt by those who view them. As a result, some of these sculptures are enlarged, so that they can be “inhabited” by those who come into contact with them.

    Coming Together for Peace

    This process is not solely for Dettoni’s own use. In fact, he uses it to connect people around the world. This past weekend, AIAE and Hofstra University hosted the United States’ first “Gathering to Manifest Peace.” Dettoni began the day by co-hosting the Sabato Italiano program on Radio WRHU 88.7, which airs every Saturday from 12pm-2pm. This program has a following in both the US and Italy, with listeners such as Tony Lobianco and Andrea Bocelli. During the radio show, the artist explained how the gathering would be conducted and how it creates peace. Anybody can partake in the gathering, regardless of age, which helps to create a sense of unity. Every participant shapes wax in his or her hands while under blindfold, just as Dettoni does with his own work. Dettoni explained, "Through their own hands, everyone will express his or her feelings of peace and desires for peace. It's as if it were a prayer that became tactile." These individual manifestations of peace are then photographed and uploaded to the Peace Network website, where they can be viewed by anyone around the world.

    The First American Peace Gathering

    Following the Sabato Italiano program, the Peace Gathering was held in a large dance studio in Hofstra University’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication. The participants gathered and were each handed a piece of wax that was first dipped in hot water in order to make it malleable. Next, the participants gathered in a circle, and each one was blindfolded.

    The room fell silent as everybody began to shape their wax creations. As each person finished, Dettoni came around and placed the various wax sculptures in cold water in order to harden them. Once the last sculpture was collected, everyone’s blindfolds were removed, and they went to see their creations for the first time. As members of the group looked for their own sculptures, they began to realize that in order to find their work, they would have to use their hands–rather than their eyes–to identify their creations. Finally, once everyone had found his or her own individual sculpture, Dettoni photographed each one and asked the creators if they had a name for their piece.

    The photographs of each sculpture will be uploaded to the Peace Network website.

    As Dettoni was photographing each piece, members of the group chatted jovially with each other, recounting their feelings while creating their artwork and sharing bits of information about themselves. The tranquil and friendly atmosphere not only prompted participants to express their feelings of peace through their wax creations, but it also helped them to start dialogue with each other.

    The room was buzzing with people speaking both Italian and English, a testament to the strength of the area’s Italian community. All in all, the day truly fulfilled its goal of generating peace and solidifying it in a tangible form.

  • Life & People

    Arturo Toscanini Between America and Italy

    Arturo Toscanini was born in Parma in 1867. As a young boy, he was always interested in music. At nine years old he received a scholarship to play the cello, and his music career took off from there. In 1898 he became the director of Milan’s Teatro alla Scala; in 1908 and 1914 he directed New York’s Metropolitan Opera, and in 1928 he directed New York’s Philharmonic Orchestra. Toscanini was a big advocate for opera and for orchestras, and he wanted to make sure the public could appreciate both to the fullest extent. Today in 2017, the Italian construction group Salini Impregilo is hosting a series of events in both Italy and the United States to commemorate this music legend.

    Salini Impregilo is celebrating Toscanini by sponsoring four events. Their goal is to “retrace the incredible story of the Maestro and do so in two countries, Italy and the United States, which were the cradle and consecration of his worldwide success,” as stated on their official website.

    Italy hosted the first gathering, which took place on March 21st at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala. The book Toscanini – The Maestro: A Life in Pictures was presented at 6:00pm. Among several other distinguished guests, Toscanini’s great granddaughter Viola D’Acquarone, who creates music under the name Veyl, attended the event and shared with the audience her personal connection with her great-grandfather.

    In Washington D.C. on March 27th at 6:30pm, the Library of Congress is hosting the presentation of Toscanini – The Maestro: A Life in Pictures.

    On March 28th at 5:45pm, a public concert by the La Scala Chamber Orchestra will be held at D.C.’s Union Station.

    New York’s Rizzoli bookstore is hosting the presentation of Toscanini – The Maestro: A Life in Pictures at 6:00pm on March 29th. Following the presentation, the La Scala Chamber Orchestra will perform their concert dedicated to Toscanini.



    Written by Marco Capra with oreword by Maestro Riccardo Muti

    About the Author: Marco Capra teaches history of modern and contemporary music, history of musical theater.

    Maestro Riccardo Muti is an Italian conductor. He holds two music directorships: the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra Giovanile Luigi Cherubini. He previously held posts at the Maggio Musicale in Florence, the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, and the Salzburg Whitsun Festival. A prolific recording artist, Muti has received dozens of honors, titles, awards, and prizes.

    For more information, please visit >>>.

  • Art & Culture

    New York’s NIAF Gala Celebrates Italian Culture

    With over 25 million Italian Americans in the United States, the Italian-American community has a significant presence. A strong community needs strong leadership, and that’s exactly what the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) provides. One of the Foundation’s most important evenings all year is its New York Gala. The evening is a chance for Italians, Italian-Americans, and Italophiles to gather to celebrate the best that the Italian culture has to offer and to recognize the achievements of the Italian community in the U.S.

    The event will be held at Cipriani 42nd Steeet. Cipriani’s, as it’s commonly known, is an upscale restaurant located in the heart of Manhattan. The restaurant is renaissance inspired with its marble columns, high ceilings, and beautiful lighting. The event has consistently sold out over the past few years, and this year is no exception.

    Attendees for the 2017 New York Gala include top business and political leaders from both the United States and Italy.

    This year’s honorees include Shirley and Vernon Hill II (Founders of Metro Bank), Maria T. Vullo (Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services), Vincent A. Cino (Chairman of Jackson Lewis P.C.), Rossella Rago (host of the popular cooking show Cooking With Nonna), Anthony Cammarata Jr. (Managing Director of Goldman Sachs and member of the Corporate Services and Real Estate global management team), and Anthony Scaramucci (founder of global investment firm SkyBridge Capital).

    In previous years, NIAF has hosted guests such Martin Scorsese, Sophia Loren, Al Pacino, Luciano Pavarotti, Giorgio Armani, Danny DeVito, Alan Alda, Maria Bartiromo, Mike Piazza, Joe Piscopo, and New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo who will be in attendance again this year to present the Mario M. Cuomo Award in Public Service.

    For entertainment, guests will have the pleasure of seeing both The Sicilian Tenors and Alfio perform. The Sicilian Tenors include Aaron Caruso, Elio Scaccio, and Sam Vitale, and as the group’s name suggests, the three singers are all tenors. They sing interpretations of famous music ranging from Hollywood and Broadway soundtracks to Italy’s soundtrack.

    Additionally, Alfio will be performing at the Gala. Alfio is an Australian of Italian decent who is classically trained and has a sound similar to Andrea Bocelli and Michael Buble. He performs an eclectic mix of classics, pop, and originals compositions.

    For more information about the Gala, please visit the NIAF website.

  • Rossella Rago and Nonna Carmela's Stuffed Mushrooms
    Facts & Stories

    Cooking with Nonna Comes to a Bookstore Near You

    Some of the best recipes are those that come from our grandmothers. However, many people don’t have their nonna’s recipes, which were largely prepared without written instructions. Fortunately, Rossella Rago–a first generation Italian American from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn–recorded family recipes that were passed down through the generations. The recipes can be found in her new cookbook Cooking with Nonna.

    Who is Rossella?

    Rossella is the host of Cooking with Nonna, an online cooking show and food webisode series. She recently won the Food Network’s 24 Hour Restaurant Battle–Battle Italiano. Rossella’s Italian roots come from a small fishing village in the region of Apulia called Mola di Bari, commonly referred to simply as Mola.


    Rossella practically grew up in the kitchen. As a young girl, she would watch her mom, nonna, and great aunts cooking up a storm. Although they didn’t allow her to touch anything, she was the designated “taster.” She also begged her family to let her go to the Brooklyn markets to pick up the ingredients. This is how she realized how important it is to choose the right produce, spices, and meats.


    The Makings of a Show

    Spending her summers in Mola and participating in the city’s annual Octopus Festival, Sagra del Polpo, further inspired Rossella. She states, “Being born Italian, it’s hard to escape the cooking gene, even if you don’t know the classic techniques; you are empowered with certain tools and recipes as a child.”

    Interestingly, since she was ten years old, Rossella has been a member of the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. She has appeared in notable films such as Confessions of a Shopaholic and 13 Going On 30. Therefore, it seemed only natural for her to pursue a career that combined her passion for cooking and her love for entertaining. And so Cooking with Nonna was born.

    Cooking with Nonna: The Show and The Book

    On her show, Rossella cooks alongside her Nonna Romana who is perhaps her greatest inspiration. Rosella also invites other nonne to come on her show as guests in order for them to offer their recipes and memories of Italy. The show is the perfect forum for these nonne to share not only their food but also their insights into the Italian culture. Since its launch, Cooking with Nonna has become very popular. On her YouTube channel, you’ll notice Rossella has over 17,000 subscribers, and each of her recipe videos has thousands of views. If you’re interested in catching the latest and greatest of her videos, they’re posted on Friday nights with shorter ones published during the week.


    If you would prefer to have some of those delicious recipes in cookbook form, fear not. Rossella’s cookbook–Cooking with Nonna–was released on March 15. Although it has only been out for a couple of days, the book has been receiving rave reviews, and it’s already #1 on Amazon’s Italian Cooking Bestseller’s List. The book, like the show, is about more than just food though. It’s about sharing memories of Italy and its regions. If you’re a real Rossella fan, be sure to visit her site and order an autographed copy of the book with a personalized dedication.

    Check out Rossella's official website, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Google+ to see what she's whipping up in the kitchen.

    For more information on the book, click here.