The Italian American Podcast
The Italian American Podcast
The Italian American Podcast
The first and finest podcast for Italian Americans... delivering history, discussion, and connection with smarts, heart, and a lot of laughs. 🇮🇹🇺🇸
IAP 172: The Creators of My Cheap Italian Home on Why It's Time to Find Your Italian Dream Home
Have you ever thought about dropping everything and moving to Italy? If you’re like us, chances are you’ve thought about it at least once this week, and probably more than most people! Maybe you’re not ready for a full relocation... Can you picture yourself in a charming vacation home in your favorite spot in the Bel Paese? In this week’s episode, we meet two women who might just be the friends you need to make your Italian dream a reality. Michelle Cunniffe and Kristina Meucci of My Cheap Italian Home have set out to help people who are looking to purchase a home in Italy that meets their dreams, but doesn’t break their banks. With decades of expertise in real estate, design, and the ins-and-outs of Italy between them, they’ve seen an explosion of interest since they founded My Cheap Italian Home just six months ago! As the “boots on the ground” for those who wish to find a path back to their ancestral home, Michelle and Kristina help house hunters find values throughout Italy. We discuss the ins and outs of One-Euro properties, as well as how prices are on Italy’s housing market. And we discuss the purchase process from finding a realtor straight through receiving the keys to your dream home! One way to find out about these incredible properties is by subscribing to Michelle and Kristina’s newsletter, be sure to listen to the entire episode to find out how to take advantage of their special offer for Podcast listeners! Are you in need of a change of scenery?  Do you want to reconnect to your ancestral town in a deeper way?  Be sure to listen to this week’s episode to start dreaming of your Italian adventure! This episode is sponsored by Mediaset Italia.
Jan 18
54 min
IAP 171: The King Who Would Be a Saint: Francesco II, King of the Two Sicilies, with Special Guest Lou Mendola
On December 11, 2020, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, the outgoing Archbishop of Naples, Italy, announced that he was opening a case on the beatification of King Francesco II of the Two Sicilies.  If approved, the Vatican will begin an investigation into the “heroic virtues” of the King, which is the first step towards canonization;  His Majesty will then be proclaimed a Servant of God and join his mother, Blessed Maria Cristina of Savoy (1812-1836), on the path to sainthood. The last monarch of an ancient kingdom, which was for 730 years the independent nation of Southern Italy and the Island of Sicily, Francesco II is not well-known to most people, outside of a small circle. Coming to his throne at just 23 years of age, and almost immediately faced with the invasion of his nation by Giuseppe Garibaldi and his famed “Thousand," the man who Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa described as “a seminarian dressed up as a general” is now being discovered for the first time by many historians and many Southern Italians. Now, through this episode, the 87 percent of the Italian American community with roots in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies will get the chance to learn his story. In order to get a more complete picture of this fascinating monarch, we’re sitting down with historian and friend Lou Mendola, author of the recent book “The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies 1734-1861," who shares his encyclopedic knowledge about a man who sacrificed a throne for the safety of his people, who left behind his personal wealth for the benefit of his subjects, and whose often-overlooked life reads like the story of a true saint. We’ll dig into the processes of beatification and canonization, the differences between the two, and why the man known as "Re Franceschiello" is worthy of the title, one he probably would have held in much higher regard than even that of king. It’s a story you’ll have to hear to believe, and one that might make you look at Italian and Italian American history with a whole new appreciation for the last King of the Two Sicilies. For more on the Cause of Beatification of Good King Francesco II, visit the Fondazione Francesco II Delle Due Sicilie at This episode is sponsored by Mediaset Italia.
Jan 12
1 hr 8 min
IAP 170: The Italian American Podcast's 2020 Christmas Musical Revue
Since this is the final episode before the Feast of the Seven Fishes and Christmas arrive in earnest, we’re sending you into the holiday in style with our Italian American Christmas Musical Revue! As many of us will be celebrating a more sedate version of our favorite holiday this year because many families are kept apart in these unprecedented circumstances, we thought we would help fill the volume void by taking you through some favorites from our Italian American Christmas Playlist. We’ll share the songs that define our Christmases, from traditional English-language classics interpreted by the Italian American icons of yesteryear, to the Italian hits that have made their way into our American holiday, to the unique songs written to celebrate a distinctly Italian American Christmas. Plus, you’ll learn the history of some of these unique musical traditions on a journey from the American Heartland to the Hills of Italy. And, in a special bonus segment, John and Pat sit down with songwriter Nancy Triggiani, whose 2018 hit “Dominooch” shares the story of the son of Dominick the Donkey, and takes its place as the newest Italian American Christmas classic. Remember, you and yours can listen along with us to six-plus hours of uninterrupted, never repeated, and carefully curated Italian and Italian American Christmas classics by visiting our one-of-a-kind Yule Pot Playlist at We hope these songs are ringing through your home come Christmas Eve and that you and yours enjoy a healthy, safe, and BUON NATALE!
Dec 22, 2020
1 hr 1 min
IAP 169: A Christmas Movie for Italian America? Feast of the Seven Fishes: A Conversation with the Brothers Behind the Film
It’s Christmas time in Italian America, and with many of us hunkered down in the house this year, there’s a good chance you’re burning through your favorite holiday movies at a faster pace than normal. What if there was a Christmas movie out there made by and for Italian Americans?  Well, look no further, because in this episode we’re sitting down with Jeffery and Robert Tinnell, the Italian American brothers behind the hit film, “The Feast of the Seven Fishes,” an Italian American Christmas story available to you and yours on Amazon Prime this Christmas Season. We’ll talk about the inspiration behind this passion project, and how our much-loved traditions can overwhelm even the most well-intentioned outsiders. We’ll also discuss how “The Feast of the Seven Fishes” became a household phrase, and how this Italian American Christmas tradition has evolved through time and place to become a quintessentially Italian American celebration. The brothers will also introduce us to their significant Italian American community of West Virginia, and share how their Italian American experience differs from other, more well-known Italian enclaves... though no matter how we celebrate our heritage, our Italian American values are truly what unite us all. When you need a break from holiday baking or cooking, or while you’re waiting for the baccalĂ  to soak, be sure to listen to this heartwarming episode, and then head off to watch the film that’s sure to become an Italian American Christmas classic! This episode is sponsored by Mediaset Italia.
Dec 15, 2020
54 min
IAP 168: For and By Italian Americans: Getting to Know the Italian American Leadership Network with Founder Victoria Passarella
Italian American identity means different things to different people, and the “Italian American Experience” is oftentimes a very personal definition for each individual.  At one point or another, it's safe to say most of us have felt a certain “otherness” setting us apart from the mainstream.  If you have felt this more frequently than others, we’ve got the Paesana for you! On this week’s episode, we’ll chat with Victoria Passarella, the founder of Metropolitan Island, Brooklyn Ivy League, and the Italian American Leadership Network. After graduate school at Columbia University, and working for the university in career education, Victoria noticed that her Italian American upbringing led to some major cultural differences from the institutions around her. She was almost always the only Italian American in these settings, and as the daughter of an Italian immigrant father and an Italian American mother from Brooklyn, Victoria's Southern Italian culture influenced how she viewed her work and society at large. Inspired to take what she learned as a career education professional and offer it in a relatable way to empower her community, Victoria founded the Italian American Leadership Network as a community for people to support one another as they navigate their professional lives while incorporating how being Italian American impacts their values and challenges they experience, sharing resources and knowledge to help each other achieve goals that our ancestors could only dream of! Victoria will share the surprising events that made her realize Italian Americans might need a different type of professional network… from a dressing down about dressing up, to the grad school professor whose meatball dinner helped reveal troubling stereotypes. This episode is filled with important questions about Italian American self-identification, how we define our community, what makes us distinct, and when its okay to embrace and defend those distinctions that make us who we are!
Dec 7, 2020
1 hr 14 min
IAP 167: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame with Special Guest NIASHF President Ron Onesti
For many of us, looking ahead to the year 2021 represents a possible return to “normal”… but in the heart of one of Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhoods, a more than 40 year-old Italian American institution is gearing up to reclaim its rightful spot on the Italian American map! This week, host John Viola is sitting down with longtime friend, and newly-appointed president of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, Ron Onesti, to share an intimate conversation about this proud Italian American landmark. They’ll share Hall history, and personal recollections of the Hall of Fame’s inimitable founder, the late George Randazzo, and examine some of the more unique items that make up this museum’s one-of-a-kind collection of Italian Americana! And, in some exciting news, they’ll discuss the Hall of Fame’s upcoming move into a brand-new museum headquarters in Chicago’s Harlem Avenue Little Italy section, an exciting and much celebrated next chapter for an organization that faced an unclear future just a few short years ago. They’ll dig deep into the Hall’s story and ask important questions about sports, community, character, and why the history of Italian Americans in sports might be our community’s best tool to fight racial injustice. This personal conversation is filled with information and affection -- if you’re looking for an early dose of 2021’s “Good News,” consider this an episode you won’t want to miss!
Dec 1, 2020
53 min
IAP 166: Tips for the Italian American Small Business Owner with Special Guest Matt Rizzetta
Shop small and #SupportItalianAmerican Small Business! With Thanksgiving arriving this week, the unofficial start of the 2020 Holiday Shopping Season has arrived, and it's sure to be one unlike anything we’ve seen before. With another lockdown seemingly looming on the horizon, and online shopping set to claim an even greater share of holiday spending, we at the Italian American Podcast wanted to be sure to encourage our listeners to “Buy Paesan” and support Italian American Small Business! So in this week’s episode, in celebration of Small Business Saturday, we’re featuring best-selling author Matt Rizzetta, author of “Embrace the Pace: The 100 Most Exhilarating Lesson Learned in a Decade of Entrepreneurship” and the owner of North 6 Agency… one of America’s “50 most powerful PR Firms” and an Italian American-owned small business he started in his garage! Matt is also one of the owners of the SS Campobasso soccer team! Matt and the Podcast crew will share tips and tricks on how to best position your Italian American-owned small business for success during these times of economic uncertainty and beyond, and why now might just be the right time to scratch that entrepreneurial itch you’ve been repressing for so long by starting your own small business! We’ll discuss why small businesses are important to the fabric of our nation and why Italian American businesses are truly a precious slice of our culture that we all need to support when we can. We also talk about what business owners can do to help their 2020 holiday sales and we share our plans to help our listeners promote their businesses this holiday season and into the future! Break out your holiday shopping list and check it more than twice as your favorite Italian American businesses come to mind while listening to this episode!
Nov 24, 2020
1 hr 1 min
IAP 165: Mal'Occhio -- Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Evil Eye with Special Guest Agata De Santis
The Mal’Occhio… the Evil Eye… It's a concept that lives deep in the collective psychology of Italian America, but is it science or superstition? The answer depends on what you believe, as you’ll hear in this week’s episode when we sit down with Italo-Canadian filmmaker and author Agata De Santis, whose documentary film and follow-up book “Mal’occhio: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Evil Eye” might just change they way you see this ancient Italian belief. Reminding us all that “everyone has a mal’occhio story,” Agata recounts some of the more compelling stories she’s encountered throughout her years of research, and why most people agreed that “It’s true, but I don’t believe in it!” Agata will also teach us about the amulets, incantations, and other means of protection people use to defend themselves against the mal’occhio… including the cornicello which, she stresses, is not a pepper! And we will talk about how to understand belief in the Evil Eye within traditional Catholic teachings, and what the mal’occhio means in the context of the Italian American diasporic experience. Get out your cornicello, scissors, mano cornuta, or whatever else you wear to protect yourself from the mal’occhio, and join us for an episode we guarantee will have you examining your opinions with fresh occhi! To purchase Agata's book or to learn more, visit
Nov 17, 2020
1 hr 1 min
IAP 164: "Live" Q&A Show with Special Guests from The New Neighborhood, Part 2
This week we're bringing you Part Two of our first ever “Live” question-and-answer episode direct from our “New Neighborhood” online membership group! The New Neighborhood is a place for all Italian Americans… a vibrant, close-knit community centered around our private Facebook group, where our most passionate listeners and supporters gather together each day to maintain and deepen their sense of Italian American identity, culture, and traditions through interactions with hundreds of other passionate Italian Americans from across the nation, and five of the hardest-working podcast hosts in Italian America. And in this episode, we’re picking up where we left off by bringing these incredible men and women right into the show, inviting them to ask the questions they’ve been waiting to get answered. Because this is the Italian American Podcast, we blew right past the hour-long session we had scheduled and ended up spending two hours answering thought-provoking questions, getting to know our most avid listeners, and -- of course -- finding ourselves all over the map of Italian American history and culture. So if you enjoyed the first half of this wonderful evening of personal memories and provocative discussions about our Italian American identity, history, and values, you'll love sharing in the second hour, where we start to ramble and wander into that familiar territory we all love as we dissect the ins-and-outs of our Italian American life! And, if you'd like to join this lively community, visit our website or to become a Neighbor today!
Nov 9, 2020
44 min
IAP 163: The Italian American Almost-Presidents of the United States-- With Special Guest Thom Woodley of the Fail to the Chief Podcast
With Election Day tomorrow, it’s a star-spangled celebration on this week’s episode as we're joined by special guest Thom Woodley of the "Fail to the Chief" podcast to discuss the Italian American "Almost-Weres" of United States Presidential history. Sure, we have yet to see a Paesano or a Paesana take up residence in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but there have been more than a few who have tossed their name into the proverbial hat, and there are a few who have actually gotten pretty close to assuming the highest (or second highest) office in the land. Join us as we explore the lives and careers of some of the men and women who've represented Italian America in the quest for the White House, from the often-unrecognized Italian American Al Smith, to the various Italian American hopefuls of more recent election cycles. We talk about what Italian American candidates have faced in their quests for the Presidency, and whether or not our community still needs or wishes for an Italian American President. Join us this Election Day Eve as we wander into the lesser-known corners of Presidential history, in what might be the only pleasant conversation about politics you'll get to hear in the coming days!
Nov 2, 2020
1 hr 5 min
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