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Community rallies around statue in Arrigo Park

During a typical summer, Carlo Vaniglia attends patron saint celebrations almost every weekend. With most of them cancelled due to the coronavirus, Vaniglia has hatched a groundbreaking way to spend his newfound free time. “I thought, ‘Why not gather in front of the Columbus statue in Arrigo Park to show our support for our monuments and answer questions people might have?’” Vaniglia explains. And so, Coffee With Columbus was born. Vaniglia has attracted groups of between 20 and 60 people each Sunday morning simply through word of mouth, and the feedback from passersby has been largely positive. “We’re not there ...

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Hardcore Italians helps Italy stay strong through fundraiser

When COVID-19 hit Italy hard in the early spring, Hardcore Italians founder Mike Carioscia Sr. knew he had to do something. “Having deep roots in Italy, our first thought was to help our people,” Carioscia says. The Italian pride products manufacturer sprang into action, rallying his staff to create the Italy Strong Charity Tee. “Warehouse manager Santo Munizzi recruited his sister BriElle to join our design team and bring our Italy Strong T-shirt alive,” Carioscia says. “Our event coordinator, Clare Bongiovanni, reached out to hospitals in Milan, Italian-American organizations and our business affiliates” in search of worthy beneficiaries. The company ...

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Alpine Country Club offers a family-friendly getaway

When a group of 20 Italian immigrants formed the Alpine Gun Club at English Lake, Indiana, in 1892, they had no way of knowing the legacy they were creating. Five generations later, the Alpine Country Club is celebrating its 92nd year as a peaceful, family friendly getaway in Round Lake, Illinois. “In our fast-paced society, we offer a place for families that is unparalleled: a special lakeside retreat with dining services, sleeping accommodations, and tremendous recreational and social opportunities in a secure, supportive environment,” club President Michael Auriemma. The private, member-owned nonprofit boasts a 20,000-square-foot clubhouse and five cottages spread ...

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Loyola announces fall Italian-American offerings

Carla Simonini, the Paul and Ann Rubino endowed associate professor of the Italian American Studies Program at Loyola University Chicago, has announced that three classes will be offered in the fall semester. Simonini will lead a comparative literature class titled “Italian and Italian-American Women Writers,” Pietro Lorenzini will offer a history class titled “Italian Americans in Popular Culture,” and Robert Lombardo will teach an online criminal justice course titled “Organized Crime.” (simonini@LUC.edu.)  

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Frankie’s feeds the need at local hospital

Frank Conforti of Frankie’s Deli in Oakbrook Terrace and Dr. Tim Fendon of Good Advocate Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove have been friends since childhood. When coronavirus patients began pouring into the hospital’s emergency room, Conforti didn’t hesitate to lend a hand. “The day it started, Tim called me and said, ‘Hey, we’re all working 16-hour shifts, and we can’t leave. Can you drop off 20 lunches?’” Conforti says. “He offered to pay, but I said, ‘No way. With everything you’re doing for us, it’s the least I can do for you.’” The individually bagged lunches magically appeared, complete with ...

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Bartucci turns lemons into limoncello

Like every other local restaurant, BarTucci’s on Harlem Avenue has been hit hard by the pandemic. With business slowed to a crawl and inventory sitting in coolers, owner Gino Bartucci stepped out onto the street in mid-March with bagged lunches that he distributed for free to Chicago Streets and Sanitation workers. Bartucci has stayed afloat since then by selling meals to curbside customers. Meanwhile, he has broadened his generosity to embrace first responders and health care workers, as well as veterans and the homeless, bestowing more than 5,000 meals to date. “Our most important priority right now is taking care ...

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Old Neighborhood Club goes to bat for veterans

The Old Neighborhood Italian American Club takes Memorial Day very seriously.  On the last Monday in May, for 12 years running, members have faithfully gathered around the veterans’ fountain and monument in front of the Near South Side club for services that include a color guard, taps, and a wreath-laying and flag-raising ceremony. Unable to do so this year because of the lockdown, the club decided to pay its respects by providing the staff and residents at Hines VA Hospital with 100 free meals on the Friday before Memorial Day. Capri Ristorante in Burr Ridge was commissioned to prepare and ...

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Local groups gather online during pandemic

Organizations around the world are convening electronically in response to the coronavirus outbreak, and local Italian-American groups are no exception. Board meetings via Zoom and similar apps are commonplace, and virtual gatherings for cultural, business and social purposes are on the rise. The conversational Italian group I Ciceroni meets via Zoom from 7-8:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month. (Kathryn Occhipinti, 800-257-9877) The Chicagoland Italian American Professionals hosts a Leads and Referrals Virtual Breakfast via Zoom at 7:30 a.m. every Tuesday. (Salvatore Sciacca, 312-617-5031)  

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Fricano daughters offer NW suburbs signs of hope

They began popping up all over the Northwest suburbs like daffodils in the spring: lawn signs offering words of encouragement like “Smile,” “Hope,” “Believe,” “Trust in God” and “We’re all in this together.” First there were a handful, then a few dozen. At last count, there were more than 500, all created by a quartet of daughters looking to spread a little sunshine during these dark times. “My kids were all home from school, and everybody was a little bit down,” explains Itasca resident Peter Fricano Jr. “As they were making the signs, they started to feel really good as ...

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Ron Giordano lends a hand across the border and back

In the course of a 50-year career at Huntley-based H.S. Crocker, Ron Giordano has helped turn a money-losing plant into an award-winning operation. He is now CEO and president of a business that specializes in food packaging, producing items such as foil lids for yogurt containers and individual-dose pharmaceutical products. His remarkable career achievements are mirrored by his philanthropic drive. As a volunteer for the Chicagoland Radio Informational Service, he has read the news to the visually impaired, and as a member and past president of the Columbian Club of Chicago, he has organized fundraisers to assist more than 70 ...

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