Giovanni Savaglio

Giovanni Savaglio Is a certified registered nurse anesthetist. Born in Calabria, Italy, and raised in the South Side of Chicago, he is an avid world traveler. Having journeyed to both ends of the planet by means of trips to the geographic North Pole and Antarctica, he enjoys sharing his adventures with the readers of Fra Noi. A love of his Italian heritage and a passion for history has inspired articles on subjects as diverse as Carlo Levi and the mufaletta sandwich. He appreciates Fra Noi’s ability to act as a voice for the Italian-American community.

My Mother Goose

Born in poverty-stricken Calabria in 1932, my mother didn’t have the luxury of a formal education. When her father died of tuberculosis, she took to the nearby fields to pick figs, olives, grapes and whatever else the harsh soil would relinquish. Although my mom never took classes in literature, math and the sciences, as so many of us have been lucky enough to do, she had no less imagination, desire and drive. She saw to it that her children had all the things she was forced to do without so many years ago. Literature isn’t solely the realm of “Beowulf,” …

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Ode to an Italian mother

In 1819, English poet John Keats wrote a series of odes celebrating such things as a nightingale, the goddess Psyche, autumn and most famously a Grecian urn. Two years later, he died at the age of 25 in the midst of a pandemic that caused a quarter of the deaths across Europe in the 19th century. Here we are today — 100 years after the Spanish flu ripped through the world killing 50 million people — in the middle of our own pandemic: COVID-19. I first became familiar with odes in 1994 while watching the Italian film “Il postino” (The …

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Chicago Fire owner Joe Mansueto

An American entrepreneur with deep Italian roots, Joe Mansueto is bringing the indomitable spirit of his ancestors to bear on his latest challenge: the transformation of Chicago’s Major League Soccer team. Local billionaire Joe Mansueto made headlines last September when he bought the Chicago Fire, and the dramatic changes he has made to the city’s Major League Soccer team have kept them both in the news ever since. This may seem like the latest chapter in a great American success story that began when Mr. Mansueto attended the University of Chicago and continued when he built a major investment firm …

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City of my soul

I first journeyed to Matera, Italy, in 1985. It’s found in southern Italy in a once impoverished region of Basilicata. The city has been inhabited by man since the paleolithic era and is touted by some as the longest continually lived-in community on Earth. It’s extensive cave-like dwelling districts, the Sassi, are a marvel to behold. Witnessing Matera from across its massive ravine, one comes to appreciate why it’s been known as the underground city. It appears as it has since the time of Christ, so much so that Matera has frequently been used as the background for biblical films, …

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Vindication in New Orleans

On April 12, 2019, New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell officially apologized to the Italian-American community for the part her city played in the horrific lynching of 11 Italians more than a century earlier. In so doing, she brought some measure of closure to one of the most horrific abuses that our community has endured. The apology has its roots in the emancipation of slaves in the South after the Civil War. At the time, New Orleans found itself in need of cheap labor that ended up being filled by immigrants from Italy, particularly Sicily. They came in such great numbers …

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The spirits of immigrants past

50 years have passed since I first sailed the waters of New York Harbor, coming from Italy. When my father, Luigi Savaglio, heard that a person could make his fortune in America, my parents gathered their four children, packed every earthly possession they could into two large cases and several bags, and departed for the Promised Land. Like others, we left behind all we knew, hoping to trade hardship and uncertainty for prosperity, safety and security. Above all, my father prayed that we would always remain together as a family. As we pulled into the Port of New York, we …

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