Lou Carlozo

Lou Carlozo is award-winning journalist who spent 20 years reporting for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Chicago Tribune. He began writing for Fra Noi in 2007, and claims maternal and paternal southern Italian lineage. The monthly Lou&A columnist and a music reviewer/writer, his work has appeared in Reuters, Aol, The Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor and news outlets around the world. In 1993, he was a Pulitzer Prize team-reporting finalist for his contributions to the Tribune’s “Killing Our Children” series. He resides in Chicago with his wife of 21 years, a hospital chaplain, and their teenage son and daughter.

State wrestling champ Vinny Scaletta

Imagine the Chicago Cubs winning 41 out of 43 to start the season, or the Bears losing only two games over three-and-a-half seasons. Now, you have an idea of the monumental accomplishment of Ridgewood High School senior Vinny Scaletta, a hard working wrestler with the heart and grit of a pro. Wrestling in the 220 lb. weight class, Scaletta captured a state title in February in remarkable fashion, beating one of the few opponents to best him this year. Austin Parks of Crystal Lake Central beat him just a week before Scaletta returned the favor when it truly counted. But …

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Italy opens comics mecca in Chicago

Without a doubt, comics have emerged as a much-loved 21st-century art form. Could it get any better? When native Italians apply their mastery and artistic acumen to the task, there can only be one answer — and you don’t need Superman to skywrite it for you. Better still, a successful Italian school that trains future comic book artists and storytellers recently landed in the United States. The International School of Comics (known in Italy as Scuola International di Comics) is up and running in Chicago. Founder and president Dino Caterini chose the city because of its reputation for nurturing new …

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Skinhead-turned-peace-advocate Christian Picciolini

Photo by Mark Seliger. At least the story starts in familiar fashion: Christian Picciolini’s parents emigrated from Italy to the United States, where they would meet, marry, raise a family and work hard at building a successful small business. But without his parents around to attend his school functions and sports game, Picciolini turned to a heartbreaking place to find his identity: the American white supremacist skinhead movement. He wasn’t even 14 at the time. “Hell, I had no idea who I wanted to be — aside from Rocky Balboa, of course,” says Picciolini, who has Italian lineage on both …

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Comic Jimmy Carrane

At a time when too many comics try to wow an audience through rapid-fire delivery, Chicago comic Jimmy Carrane has honed the slow burn, winning audiences with sly subtlety, and leaving them in stitches. Then again, Carrane had to figure something out as a kid. The son of a Calabrese father and a half-Calabrese, half-Irish mother, Carrane was one of five siblings vying to take center stage. “It was a very boisterous loud Italian family, and the thing is we loved to laugh,” he recalls. “They had so many kids we were kind of neglected, but making them laugh was …

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Casa Italia honors Stefani’s Claudio Ulivieri

Casa Italia honored Stefani Restaurant Group Vice President Claudio Ulivieri as Person of the Year at its 2016 Gala on Feb. 20 at Alta Villa Banquets. When he started as a kitchen worker at Stefani’s on Fullerton Avenue, Claudio Ulivieri gave it one week to see how things would work out. After all, he’d just arrived from Italy, spoke little English and placed his bets on a restaurant that had been open only two weeks. In fact, Claudio postponed any pay until the Stefani family — Phil and his uncle Lino — graded his efforts. Little did anyone know that …

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Lookingglass’ DiStasi channels his inner pirate

If you think it’s a long way from the Chicago to the South Pacific, then you haven’t watched Lawrence E. DiStasi making magic on stage. And magic isn’t too strong a word: As a founding member of Lookingglass Theatre, DiStasi helped conjure from thin air a theater company that has become a Chicago gem. And it’s with that troupe that he took to the stage as Long John Silver. To pirate from Shakespeare, it was a question of to argh, or not to argh. Here’s why: For the production, which ran through Jan. 31, DiStasi did his digging to find out whether …

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Chicago welcomes Italian tango masters

  Coming all the way from Italy, by musical way of Argentina, they landed in Chicago and showed the Windy City how much musical fire can erupt from just an acoustic guitar and violin. Perugia’s SatorDuo is headed to the area for an ambitious series of concerts near the end of October. Then again, tango music is nothing if not passionate — especially in the capable hands of violinist Paolo Castellani and guitarist Francesco Di Giandomenico. Having played all over Europe (including England and France), they returned to Chicago after several previous visits sponsored by Chiesa Nuova, and arts group led by the Rev. …

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Roseland bard CJ Martello

  Italian Americans have many reasons to celebrate the enclaves that nurtured immigrants and changed families: Taylor Street, 24th & Oakley, Little Sicily on the Near North Side and Melrose Park are just a few that come to mind. On the Far South Side, Roseland became a bustling center for Italian life and culture. One man has taken on the laudable task of keeping Roseland’s memories and magnificence alive: C.J. Martello. Arguably, Martello knows Roseland and the adjoining Pullman and Kensington neighborhoods better than anyone. He was married at St. Anthony Italian Catholic Church in 1972, and has steeped himself …

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Organist Corrado Cavalli

How many toddlers, in a play world of plastic hammers, would rather have the real deal? Growing up in Turin, Corrado Cavalli asked his mother to buy him an electric saw — at age 2. It was a non-starter, of course, but it also presaged his career as a young handyman. Then came a fortuitous visit to a local church, which called Cavalli to use his hands in a different way. “At age 13 a new organ was being installed in my church, so I wanted to observe and understand the physical installation,” recalls Cavalli, now 37. “I was interested …

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Harlem Avenue activist Frank DiPiero

You’ve got answers? Frank DiPiero has questions: lots of them. An affable and curious guy by nature, DiPiero has turned pride in his Italian-American identity into a shared Internet radio experience with a light-hearted name: “Keepin’ It Real with Frankie D.” For him, it marks another step in his effort to promote education, culture and awareness in the Italian community. “I started ‘Keepin’ It Real with Frankie D.’ in 2013,” says DiPiero, whose father traces his roots to Bugnara in Abruzzo and his mother to Sant’Ambrogio in Sicily. As for the name, “That’s what everyone called me when I was …

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