Exploring Sardinia’s “Blue Zone”

I’ve traveled extensively throughout mainland Italy over the past 20 years. I love the subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle differences in the regions from north to south and east to west. However, my trip to Sardinia this past November was my first encounter with the island. Italy’s second largest island after Sicily, Sardinia is best known for its beaches and emerald coast. I visited for a completely different reason. I was on a mission to see as much of the interior of the island as possible. In particular, I wanted to visit the villages that comprise the island’s “Blue Zone.” What …

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Beware of false linguistic friends

Similar in spelling but different in meaning, false cognates can be sources of embarrassment and laughter when unleashed. As I work on making travel reservations for a coming trip to Italy, I’m reminded of a verbal blunder I once made while corresponding with the proprietor of a bed and breakfast. After agreeing on the dates and cost, I asked how I could send the deposit. I didn’t know the word for deposit and didn’t want to take the time to look it up, so I just called it the deposito, because I was pretty sure I had heard that word …

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Families create cultural legacies at Loyola’s Rome Center

Both a haven and a springboard for exploring Italy and the rest of Europe, Loyola’s Rome Center has been attracting generations of families like the Turanos since opening its doors in 1961. Ivy League schools are known for their legacy enrollments: students who attend because their parents attended and so on through the generations. It’s a point of pride for the families and a tribute to the quality of the institutions they attend. But East Coast powerhouses like Harvard and MIT don’t hold the patent on generational devotion. The John Felice Rome Center has been inspiring family loyalty since Loyola …

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A black Christmas

One of my favorite Christmas memories is the year a white Christmas turned black. It all started out on Christmas Eve day in Riis Park, a square-block-sized patch of recreational outlets plunked in the middle of our Chicago neighborhood. I tagged along with my two older brothers to go ice-skating in the portion of the park that was flooded each year to create a sort of ice rink. While my brothers played hockey, I was left to work out the rudiments of ice skating on my own. Being only 5 or so years old, that wasn’t easy. What made it …

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Loyola launches groundbreaking Italian American studies program

A sixth-generation Italian American with a profound connection to her roots, Carla Simonini, Ph.D., arrives in Chicago next month to lead Loyola University’s Italian-American Studies program. Complimenti! It took five years, a massive fund-raising campaign that netted $500,000 and a historic commitment by Loyola University of Chicago, but our metropolis finally has an Italian-American studies program to call its own. Though the program is based at Loyola, which matched the $500,000 to create a $1 million endowment, organizers say it also belongs to the local Italian-American community, which will be invited to participate through a variety of outreach efforts. These …

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How Fra Noi helped me find my family

Having lost his father, first to divorce and then to an early death, Joseph Garofalo’s life was transformed when a Fra Noi profile led him to his extended family by his Dad’s second marriage. During the past year, I was reunited with my long lost family as a result of an article Leonard Amari wrote about me that was published in Fra Noi. The following describes how this happened. My parents were divorced when I was a baby. My mother and her parents raised me. My father, Denphon (“Danny”) remarried and had three more sons, my half-brothers, Mark, Chris, and …

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Saving San Filippino

An Italian American language instructor from Nashville, Tenn., Rita Richardson has embarked on a global campaign to restore a gorgeous baroque chapel in a small Tuscan town. “No one in the U.S. is going to care about your abandoned little church in Italy,” our priest told us. “I wouldn’t waste the time and effort.” Rather than heed Father’s discouraging counsel, I steadfastly set off on my mission: to save San Filippino, a stunning 17th-century baroque chapel in a little-known town in Tuscany. Castiglion Fiorentino is a long name for a small town perched on a hill between the Val di …

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Exploring the land of Puccini

One of history’s most revered operatic composers, Giacomo Puccini presence is felt throughout his hometown of Lucca. In a country that is as synonymous with music as Italy, it takes supreme self-confidence to bill yourself as the city “where music feels at home.” Yet the city that lays claim to this title is not bel canto Naples nor operatic Milan but little Lucca — a jewel of a Tuscan town of 90,000 that was home to legendary composer Giacomo Puccini, the creator of such world famous works as “La Bohème,” “Madame Butterfly” and “Tosca.” So revered is Puccini in Lucca …

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New land, new life, new name

Donato DiCarlo morphed into Dan DeCarlo on his way to achieving the American Dream. The warm June dawn reflected blindingly off skyscraper and seawater alike, shrouding the lady in silhouette. Donato, a tall handsome lad, had heard about the great statue in the harbor, a gift from France 20 years earlier, and hoped to see her, but the angle of the sun made it difficult. Like everything about his 16 years, nothing had come easy. Donato spoke no English, only his native Italian. Neatly dressed in a roughly woven brown suit, the best he could scrape together for the voyage, …

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