Ties that Remain: Celebrating Guardia Lombardi in Pennsylvania

More than one hundred years ago, a group of Italian immigrants arrived in what is now known as the “Bunker Hill” section of Dunmore, Lackawanna County. These immigrants came from the small Southern Italian town of Guardia Lombardi, located east of the city of Naples in the Province of Avellino, and with them they brought…

The “Feast of All Feasts” in Boston’s North End

More than 100 years ago, immigrants from Montefalcione brought Saint Anthony’s Feast to Boston’s North End, continuing their hometown’s veneration that dates to the 14th century. This year’s feast will be held from August 25-28. Saint Anthony became the official patron saint of Montefalcione because of his protection during the 1688 Sannio Earthquake, which severely…

“Zì Vicienzo”: Bonito’s Resident Mummy

“I am Vincenzo Camuso,” with these words, the soul belonging to Bonito’s resident mummy has revealed his identity to the living in dreams. For more than 200 years, “Zì Vicienzo” (Uncle Vincenzo) has been on display for the faithful who live in and around Bonito to venerate as if he was a canonized saint. Camuso’s…

The Soundtrack of the Soul: Luciano Bruno

For Luciano Bruno, music isn’t just something he does, it is the soundtrack of his life. Luciano was born in Naples, but lives in Grottaminarda, working to promote the region’s heritage and culture through his music. “I began to play and write songs at 14 years old, and I never stopped,” he said, adding that…

In Their Own Words

For many people, just to hear the voice of a loved one again is worth more than gold itself. When historian and author Anthony V. Riccio set out to record Italian immigrant stories in Boston’s North End nearly 40 years ago, he did not know that these voices would one day prove to be that…

The Voice of My Past

Every October, the more than 15.7 million Americans of Italian descent celebrate National Italian American Heritage Month. For every single one of those Italian Americans, there is a story as to why they are proud of their heritage and what their ethnic origins mean to them. I’m no different from my Italian American brothers and…

The Entry to Hell and the Cult of Mephitis

It is the place that Virgil described more than 2,000 years ago when he wrote, “Est locus Italiae medio sub montibus altis, nobilis et fame multis memoratus in oris, Amsancti valles” or, in English, “There is a place in the middle of Italy beneath high mountains, noble and celebrated for fame in many places, the…

Roger II, the Assizes of Ariano and the Kingdom of Sicily

Before the Unification of Italy in 1861 following the Risorgimento, the Italian peninsula was divided into several nation-states, the largest and most important of which was the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was formed when the Kingdom of Sicily merged with the Kingdom of Naples in 1816. Founded by…

La Pigna di Pasqua: An Avellinese Easter Treat

Throughout Southern Italy, especially in the Campania Region, Easter food traditions are dominated by Pizza Chiena (Also known as “Easter Pizza,” “Pizza Rustica,” “Pizza Gain,” etc.) and Pastiera (a citrusy grain or rice pie). While both of these dishes are beloved staples of the Irpinian Easter table, there are a few more dishes that grace…

After the Earthquake: Meet Stefano Ventura

As previously mentioned on this blog, the November 23, 1980 Earthquake decisively split Irpinia into a “before” and an “after.” (Click here and here for two related articles.) For Stefano Ventura, reconstruction in Irpinia goes beyond the act of rebuilding– it includes the reconstruction of a cultural identity that dates back centuries and placing that…