Cooking Up Culture: Meet Raffaella DiStefano

If you were to follow Raffaella DiStefano on Instagram (@raffaellasara), you would realize two things– number one, she’s extremely proud of her Italian heritage, and number two, her feed will make you hungry! Raffaella grew up in the Boston area, which is known for having a heavy Italian American population. Her family is originally from…

Saint Rocco: A Saint for These Times

During these times of COVID-19, many people are turning to Saint Rocco for protection. He is one of the most venerated saints in Irpinia— a quarter of the towns in the Province of Avellino have some sort of devotion to him. But who is Saint Rocco? Saint Rocco protects against the plague, disability, and natural…

A Song for Guardia

Sometimes music is the best way to express a feeling– such is the case with the song “Uardia mia bella” (“My Beautiful Guardia”) by Emanuela Sica, which pays homage to the town of Guardia Lombardi by recounting how it came to have two patron saints and encouraging people to remember their roots. This song was…

A Virtual Tarantella

The Tarantella of Montemarano is not just a symbol of the town itself– it is a symbol of Irpinia in all of its glory. Now, a group from the Ministero di Tarantella of Montemarano has decided to bring the Tarantella’s beloved rhythms online in order to uplift anyone who chooses to listen. Battista Salvio, Roberto…

What Learning Italian Did For Me

As Italian-American Heritage Month continues throughout the United States, we are also set to celebrate one very special week beginning on October 21– La Settimana della Lingua Italiana Nel Mondo, which celebrates the impact the Italian language has had around the world. While learning Italian is something that many Italian-Americans choose to do to celebrate…

Preserving Cultural Heritage for All

Tradition flows through Irpinia like the waters of the Ufita or the Ofanto— it is just as much a part of the area’s history  as its own natural landscape. For Valentina Taccone and Nunzio Gaeta, preserving that cultural heritage in a way to reach modern audiences has become a passion. Their latest project, Etn.ia, plays…

On the Trail of the Lombards

One of the Irpinian towns I know quite well is Grottaminarda, as I stayed there several times while visiting when lodging was unavailable in Guardia. Grottaminarda is a beautiful city in the area surrounding the Ufita River– it’s also the access point from the autostrada to most of the Irpinian towns, including Guardia Lombardi, that…

Two Easter Traditions from Irpinia

Easter is tomorrow and while this year is not a traditional one in my household due to several unforeseen circumstances, that doesn’t mean I don’t get to write about two Easter culinary traditions that come directly from Irpinia. Ever since I was a little girl, my mother has made Pizza Chiena (filled pizza), also known…

A Holy Week Tradition in Vallata

On April 18 and 19 in the town of Vallata (AV), a Holy Week tradition will take place as it has done for nearly 500 years. The Via Crucis, or Holy Procession, representing the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ on Good Friday, is a popular commemoration of that fateful event throughout all of Southern…