Consular visit

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by Joanne Spata


I can’t believe that this is only my second month as chairperson of Casa Italia. Having been a part of the Italian Cultural Center for more than 30 years, as well as being involved with Casa Italia since its inception, it seems like I have been a fixture here at the Casa forever. Together, these experiences have made my first two months as chairperson feel like a blending of old home week and an exciting new adventure, all at the same time.

I am deeply humbled by the fact that I am following in the footsteps of such insightful people as Ron and Tony Turano, Tony Fornelli, Paul Butera and Joe Bruno, who have laid the foundation upon which Casa Italia has been built. I am honored to have worked alongside the past chairmen such as Dennis Pietrini, Pasquale Caputo, Leonard DeFranco, Carlo DeBenedictis and Tony Turano, who have nurtured the Casa and enabled it to grow. And I am excited to work so closely with the current members of our astute board of directors and the dedicated Casa staff. Together we will continue to give our best to Casa Italia so that it will thrive and create an exciting home for future generations to learn, appreciate and enjoy our rich culture.

Speaking of exciting, I am truly grateful to the new Consul General of Italy, the Honorable Adriano Monti, for stopping by to visit Casa Italia on what was my second official week in office. Talk about starting with a flourish! Consul General Monti arrived with several members of his esteemed staff to tour Casa Italia’s historic museums and galleries. Of course this happened on the snowiest day we had this winter. But even the snow fall could not dampen the beauty of the Casa, nor the camaraderie of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, who had invited the Consul General to drop by anytime. Kudos to Christine Cerami for arranging such a wonderful and welcoming visit and to the Casa Italia staff for making the event so special. We promised to invite Consul General Monti back when the weather was better, so that he could meet the Italian American Community of Chicagoland. He was very impressed with the Casa and vowed to return. Stay tuned to this column for your invitation!

But I must tell you, every day is special at Casa Italia.

Why not join us from 7 to 9 p.m. on May 10 as the Veteran’s Museum hosts Casa Italia’s genealogy manager, Jennifer Holik, as she talks about “Finishing the Story.” This is a lecture on how you can tell the stories of soldiers who gave their lives in service to their country, so that they will never be forgotten. You will also be able to apply that which you learn, to tell the stories of those who came home after the war. Light refreshments will be offered as you mix, mingle share stories and explore the Veterans’ Museum. There is a fee of $10 per person and reservations are a must.

The Casa will present the final screenings of our Spring Film Festival in this very room on April 26, May 17 and May 24. These are all first-run movies from Italy. They are in Italian with English subtitles. Admission is free and light refreshments will be served.

On May 14, you can join us in the Community Center to learn the art of Sicilian cooking, with instructor Giovanna Dimetros and her team. This hands-on cooking class includes instructions, recipes, appetizer, pasta and/or main course and desert. We will also be exploring the history and culture of this region. The fee is only $65 per person for this unique event, and reservations are a must.

Beginning June 17, our renowned Italian Language Immersion Summer Camp will be back. This four-week extravaganza is a great way to introduce your children to their culture, heritage and the Italian language. Please contact Casa Italia’s office or visit our website for details and fee information.

To register for these and other events, call 708-345-5933 or visit

About Fra Noi

Fra Noi produces a magazine and website that serve the Chicago-area Italian-American community. Our magazine offers our readers a monthly feast of news and views, culture and entertainment that keeps our diverse and widely scattered readers in touch with each other and their heritage. Our website offers a dizzying array of information drawn from every corner of the local community.

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