On February 21, 2021, a new television series entitled “Le Indagini di Lolita Lobosco” ("The Investigations of Lolita Lobosco") premiered on Rai, the national public broadcasting company of Italy. Inspired by a series of novels by Gabriella Genisi, the show follows assistant superintendent Lolita Lobosco of the Bari police force. Set in the old town of Bari Vecchia, the Rai Fiction production was partially financed with contributions from the Apulia Film Commission. Since a production of this scale is seen as an economic boon for any city, actors and actresses throughout Puglia were thrilled by the news of the show’s local production. Yet, the excitement was short-lived, and when one local actress saw the premiere, she decided to take action. Federica Antonacci, an actress born and raised in Bari Vecchia, noticed that none of the show's stars were actually Pugliese, and that their attempts to affect the Barese dialect, as well as the portrayal of the ancient city and its people in general, left something to be desired. So, joined by a wave of Pugliesi across social media, Antonacci took her disappointment to the court of public opinion. On this week’s episode, she is joining us to discuss reactions from people throughout Italy to the show’s stereotypical portrayals and to dig deeper into questions of stereotypes in Italian media… from the ways different Italian regions are represented, to cliched Italian tropes about Italian Americans. We’ll discuss perceptions about Italy’s regional languages, why Italian actors have a hard time being cast in productions in both Italy and the United States, and what it means to create cinema or television in which non-Italians are cast in Italian roles. Is “Le Indagini di Lolita Lobosco” cultural appropriation or appreciation, and where do we draw the line between the two?
For many Italian American families, St. Joseph’s Day is one of the most beloved holidays of the year. However, since our earliest immigrations to these shores, it’s also been a holiday that has seemed a bit under the radar! The celebrations and traditions surrounding this event vary based on where our Italian ancestors came from, and the scale and scope of St. Joseph’s Day observances by Italian American communities around the country has been something of a mixed bag. And, of course, coming two days after our Irish American friends’ annual St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, St. Joseph’s Day may be a decidedly less national affair. Perhaps the winds of change were blowing a little stronger this March 19th? Is it just us, or has anyone else noticed a LOT more posts about #SaintJosephsDay, #Zeppole, and #Sfingi making their way into the Italian American social media space this year? We’re asking the question on this week’s episode, because we’ve noticed more photos and fanfare about the holiday than ever before! We’re joined by Mary Grace Castiello, second-generation owner and baker at Giorgio’s Pastry Shop in Hoboken, New Jersey, and our pal, Anthony Scillia, better known as “Tony Mangia” of the “At The Table With Tony Podcast,” to dig into the history and traditions around what we think is fast becoming the preeminent holiday in Italian America; and we're asking why celebrating St. Joseph’s Day (and indulging in a Zeppola or five) just might be the hottest new trend in Italian America!
IAP 180: Memorializing the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire with Special Guests Mary Anne Trasciatti and Edvige Giunta
One hundred and ten years ago, on March 25, 1911, a conflagration engulfed the top three stories of a nondescript building in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers, most of whom were recent Italian and Jewish immigrant women and girls. The aftermath of this event changed American labor relations and influenced the burgeoning feminist movement, yet this tragedy often goes unmentioned in the telling of American history. In this week’s episode, we meet with Edvige Giunta and Mary Anne Trasciatti, two professors who have dedicated their careers to ensuring that Triangle is remembered, and that its impact on our community, our country and the world today will be understood by younger generations. We’ll share the story of this incomparable tragedy, and discuss how it happened and how the events of that fateful day unfurled. We’ll also explore why the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire is vitally important to the study of Italian American and women’s history. We will also examine how the fire is remembered today, through personal and community-wide observances, and how the efforts of activists like our guests are culminating in a permanent, interactive memorial to the victims. Please join us as we remember this tragedy and do our part to ensure it is not forgotten. Also, please join this year’s virtual memorial observances on March 25 at 6 p.m. by visiting http://rememberthetrianglefire.org/.
We’re celebrating International Women’s Day by exploring one of Italian history’s most-neglected protagonists, Margaret of Navarre, the Norman Queen of Sicily. We’re joined by Jacqueline Alio, an Italian American now living in Palermo, Sicily, who has written a dozen books on Sicilian history, focusing on the island’s long-overlooked queens. She’ll introduce us to the incredible figure of Queen Margaret, whose five-year reign over the Kingdom of Sicily represents a forgotten chapter from the Norman Sicilian Golden Age. We’ll explore how this singular woman navigated the many intrigues surrounding the Sicilian Monarchy, focused her efforts on creating equality before the law and peace amongst her Kingdom’s many cultures, and rebuilt the Monarchy after serious infighting almost tore the institution to the ground. We’ll examine how unique the idea of a female sovereign was in Margaret’s time, and how her erasure from history might not be accidental. Join us for this fascinating look into the life of a truly regal woman, and an exploration of this long-neglected chapter in Italian history. Click here to learn more about Jacqueline Alio. A Selection of Jacqueline Alio’s Books: Margaret, Queen of Sicily Queens of Sicily: 1061 – 1266 Women of Sicily: Saints, Queens & Rebels Time Traveler’s Guide to Sicily (Jaqueline Alio and Louis Mendola) Sicilian Food and Wine: The Cognoscente’s Guide The Peoples of Sicily: A Multicultural Legacy This episode is sponsored by Mediaset Italia
1 hr 9 min
On this week’s episode of the Italian American Podcast, we’re going back to the Big Easy to chat with our friends Lena Prima and Charles Marsala to get an inside look at their new web-TV series, "Buona Sera Louisiana," a weekly show about the Italian culture of the Pelican State and beyond! These two Italian American champions are no strangers to our audience, as Lena has joined our show on two occasions, and Charles was our extraordinary tour guide through New Orleans in our YouTube series, "Greetings From Italian America." Charles also serves as the president of American Italian Federation of the Southeast, AWE News YouTube channel, and the New Orleans Insider Tours App; while Lena is a famed singer, the president of CIAO! Celebrating Italian Americans Organization and the CIAO! Women Awards, as well as the daughter of Italian American legend Louis Prima! Now they’ve joined forces to create Buona Sera Louisiana to help celebrate the Italian American influences in culture, music, art and lifestyle throughout their great state and beyond. Join us as we discuss New Orleans’ uniquely Sicilian American history, the future of Italian American organizations, the Italians of Mississippi, and the Italian impact on the Marine Corps Band, Jackson Square, jazz music, and more! Most importantly, check out their new show every Friday on Facebook @buonaseralouisiana, YouTube (Lena Prima Channel), LenaPrima.com and MardiGrasTV.com! This episode is sponsored by Mediaset Italia.
1 hr 4 min
For many visitors, the stereotypical image of Venice is, perhaps, the famed Venetian mask; but most casual observers are probably unaware of the fact that this postcard-perfect symbol has its roots in the centuries-old festivities that are the Carnevale of Venice. In this week’s episode, we’re joined by famed photographer and lecturer Anita Sanseverino, an expert in all things Italian, with a special place in her heart for Venice and her annual pre-Lenten revelries. Anita will take us through the history and mystery of Venice’s Carnevale, from its roots in the rigid society of ancient Venice, to its modern iteration as a global tourist event. She’ll reveal the history of the masks and costumes, explain the roots of these unique celebrations, and share her very own experiences from more than 20 years of celebrating Venice’s annual Carnevale. And, for those who have always dreamed of joining in on this incomparable event, she’ll share her insider tips on the easiest way to plan your very own dream trip to next year’s Carnevale in Venice. As we begin the somber season of Lent, this is an episode that will bring you all the joys of Martedì Grasso, with none of the guilt! Click here to learn more about Anita Sanseverino. Visit Venezia Unica to learn more about the City of Venice. This episode is sponsored by Mediaset Italia.
IAP 176: Italian America United! A Call to Action For All Italian Americans, with Special Guest Mr. Basil Russo
In the last United States Census, 18.25 million people self identified as Italian or Italian American. Demographers believe there are more than 21 million Americans of Italian descent spread throughout the nation. By some calculations, we are the fifth-largest ancestry group in the United States… but when it comes to making our voice heard in the halls of power, Italian Americans often seem far less influential than the numbers might suggest. For one Italian American community leader, it's time to address that imbalance. Basil Russo, President of the Italian Sons and Daughters of America (ISDA) and the Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations has worked with Italian American leaders from across the country to create Italian America Online… a new digital initiative seeking to identify and connect every Italian American organization in the United States, and eventually -- if this longtime community leader has his way -- all 21 million individuals as well! In this week’s episode, he’ll join us to introduce the first-ever Italian American Community Virtual Summit, an online meeting taking place on February 20, 2021, in which more than 1,200 Italian American organizations are scheduled to participate. And, he’d like those of you out there who know of others to help spread the word and help to expand this invaluable undertaking. We’ll discuss the “why’s and how’s” of this unprecedented event, explore what the virtual revolution means for Italian America, and of course, share some laughs along the way. It’s a call to action for Italian Americans everywhere… and one we hope you will make sure not to ignore! To sign up for the Italian American Community Virtual Summit, visit Italian America Online today! This episode is sponsored by Mediaset Italia.
IAP 175: Wine Made Easy and Everything Else Made Slightly More Complicated with Special Guest Gianluca Rottura
Wine is one of the oldest and most familiar pleasures on earth, but this potent potion still has the power to intimidate even her most ardent admirers! Fear not, there is an Italian American coming to the rescue to return the joys of understanding wine to the masses! Gianluca Rottura, the proprietor of “In Vino Veritas," New York City’s landmark wine store, is here to discuss his book, Wine Made Easy: Learn Wine in No Time, Match Wine and Food Like a Pro, Impress Your Wine Snob Friends … the perfect guide to help you understand the mysteries of the wine world! But, Gianluca is more than just an educated oenophile… he’s also the popular blogger behind the sites “Piazza Life” and “Pizza and Coffee," so he’s here to opine on all matter of topics important to Italian American identity! While he may help make wine easy to understand, he and the Italian American Podcast team may just complicate all other topics beyond comprehension! If you love great wines, great food, and a good old-fashioned Italian American rant don’t miss this very lively episode! This episode is sponsored by Mediaset Italia.
If you were to ask those of us behind the Italian American Podcast what it is that drives us or what keeps us coming back to create a new show week in and week out, it's a safe bet that you’d get a unanimous answer… Passione! That borderline-obsessive passion that we share for what we do is a familiar feeling to Italians of all stripes, and best-selling author Dianne Hales thinks La Passione might just be the thing that unites Italians around the world! In her latest book, La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World, the woman who brought us the New York Times bestseller La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World’s Most Enchanting Language, and Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, now leads us on “a jubilant exploration of how Italy transformed the Western world’s most vibrant passions—from literature to art, music to movies.” In this week’s episode, all five of our co-hosts reunite with this brilliant guide to explore the source of that passion, what it means for Italians today, and whether or not Italian Americans have the same access to Italy’s beauty as other visitors to il Bel Paese. If you’ve got La Passione Italiana bubbling up inside of you, this is an episode you won’t want to skip! This episode is sponsored by Mediaset Italia.
Italian enclaves around the country pride themselves on carrying the title of “Little Italy," but one young Italian American from St. Louis, Missouri, believes his community is the last true Little Italy -- and he’s made an incredible film to prove it! In this week’s episode, we’ll visit “The Hill," the famed St. Louis enclave that has been a thriving pocket of Italian culture in the Gateway City for more than five generations. Leading us on our journey is Joseph Puleo, the director of “America’s Last Little Italy: The Hill," the new documentary everyone in Italian America is talking about! Joseph will back up his claim by sharing some of The Hill’s unique history and characters, from the families that have handed down their homes for a century, to the community priest whose background as a city planner helped to keep The Hill the thriving community it remains today. We’ll dive into some of the must-visit sites in this iconic neighborhood, seek to understand how The Hill defied the odds when so many other cities lost their authentic Little Italies, and ponder the history of St. Louis’s most famous Italian American dish, the baked ravioli. In a time when travel is limited and even a stroll through your local Little Italy might not be possible, join us as we delve into this unique Italian American community through the loving eyes of one of her most proud sons! This episode is sponsored by Mediaset Italia.