Film showcases the remarkable, musical Chiarellis

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Film showcases the remarkable, musical Chiarellis

This brief, superbly done documentary spotlights two generations of the Chiarelli family and their music. The film follows Vincenza Chiarelli as he arrives from Italy and establishes himself as a tailor, but more importantly pursues a career as a musician. Covered in the video are his struggles to maintain a recording studio in the city of Rockford, Illinois, and his encounter with the young Jackson 5. Throughout we hear and watch heartwarming footage of Vincent sitting next to Vincenzo, singing one of his grandfather’s songs and playing it on a guitar. In words overflowing with love, both Chiarellis exclaim how music and family have united them. The elder Chiarelli proudly tells how he passed on his music and business to his grandson, and the film ends with the younger Chiarelli continuing his grandfather’s legacy after his passing. To view the video, click here.


Crosara’s mellow track features catchy melody

The title track to jazz pianist Francesco Crosara’s latest recording, “Circular Motion,” represents a practically perfect combination of jazzy improvisation and a recurring melody line. This mellow tune is like a cool spring day, with bass and drums doubling as a clear blue sky and the piano riffs playing the part of puffy clouds drifting by. Bassist Clipper Anderson and drummer Mark Ivester provide the understated backbeat, giving Crosara plenty of room to play. While some jazz charts rely on a be-bop torrent, “Circular Motion” leans on a catchy melody, not unlike Vince Guaraldi of “Peanuts” fame. It could easily serve as theme music for a movie of TV show. To watch the video, click here.

— David Witter


On location in ancient Rome

Ancient Rome Live aims to be “the definitive, free-to-access resource for learning about ancient Rome.” Sponsored by the American Institute for Roman Culture and hosted by its director, the respected, energetic archaeologist Darius Arya, the site’s variety of captivating videos includes thoughtful commentary and stunning photography. Recent topics on their YouTube channel include “What Really Happened Inside the Colosseum?,” “Aqueducts: Technology and Uses,” “Secret Sites Near Pompeii” and “Exploring the Via Appia.” The latter is a multi-part series that covers the ancient road from end-to-end. Frequent livestreams are announced in a free e-newsletter. For links to their YouTube channel, social media platforms and e-newletters, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


Mother-daughter duo

A mother and daughter from Florida have combined their talents to create a food-and-travel blog called Savoring Italy. Mom Lora develops all the authentic recipes, and daughter Gabriella creates helpful videos and luscious photos. They are inspired by the time they spend at their second home in southern Italy each year, and they receive guidance from Lora’s husband and mother, who are both professional chefs. In addition to traditional Italian dishes and from-scratch baking, they offer some vegan and dairy-free options to their followers. The recipes are a balance of weeknight dinners, delectable desserts and holiday specialties. Travelers will enjoy their vacation guides and Italy-specific advice for getting around. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Making history fun

Described by its talented creator as a place “where gaming, history and archaeology meet,” STORI3D PAST uses the latest technology in gaming software to re-create ancient Rome and Pompeii. The videos can be found on STORI3D PAST Productions’ YouTube channel. The site’s re-creations include 3D re-constructions of Pompeiian and Roman villas and workshops, as well as Hadrian’s Wall. The videos feature richly colored gaming animation and graphics as well as narrations that walk you through the lifelike visuals. The effects are achieved with Medieval Engineers software, which was developed in 2015 as a computer-based gaming platform. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Di Meola continues to go against the musical grain

‘Thoughtful’ is seldom a word ascribed to a pop song, but Al Di Meola’s rendition of “Ava’s Dance in the Moonlight” is anything but pop. Playing in a duet with guitarist Peo Alfonsi, Di Meola weaves a complex tapestry of flamenco runs and gentle jazz chors that conjure images of rainfall on a spring night. There are times when the stream of notes come down hard like a storm crashing against a tin roof and others where Di Meola’s fingers slow to a gentle mist across the fretboard like a gentle rain. when heavy metal guitars were banging away in the mainstream pop world of the ’70s and ’80s banged away, Di Meola was going against the current, playing beautiful contemplative songs like this. To view the video, click here.

— David Witter


Living the dream

Andrea Castrovillari has worked as a reporter, editor and fundraiser in the non-profit sector. But her heart has always been in the kitchen, where her nonna and her mother set a high bar for preparing the very best meals for their family. Castrovillari had long dreamed about creating a food blog. By 2013, “I could not shut off my brain. It would create content for my imaginary blog, all day, every day.” So in 2014, she launched “Cooking with Mamma C” from her suburban Cleveland kitchen. She shares traditional Italian recipes, Italian-American favorites and dishes with a European flair. Her home-tested recipes have appeared in BuzzFeed, Country Living and Parade Magazine, among others. For more, click here. (cookingwithmammac.com)

— Dolores Sennebogen


The mind of a genius

The Leonardo Library offers a comprehensive look at the brilliant artist, scientist and thinker Leonardo da Vinci. It includes engaging articles and photos about Da Vinci’s life, notebooks and sketchbooks, art, and inventions that run the gamut of his interests from architecture and anatomy to cuisine, nature and beyond. There are more than 80 stories to discover along with the must-see “Inside a Genius Mind,” a dazzling online experience created by scholars and AI to “… reflect Leonardo’s spirit of interdisciplinary imagination, innovation and the profound unity at the heart of his apparently diverse pursuits.” For more, click here.

 — Margo Metegrano


Ambient Rome

Touted as a place to explore “the hidden jewels of the Eternal City, shown by those who live there and know every corner,” Romano Impero is a comprehensive website with an accompanying YouTube channel and several social media accounts that take viewers through Rome’s iconic monuments and sites, both on and off the beaten path. The uniqueness of the YouTube channel lies in the audio for its long-form videos, which contain no narration, only the sounds that surround the videographer. If you want to learn about the respective sites, you can search for them on the website, which is accessible in many languages by selecting from the translation bar at the top of the page. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


A rare public sighting of woodwind master Gene Cipriano

Gene Cipriano was a man of many talents. Able to play clarinet, saxophone, flute and oboe, he was a musical “Swiss army knife” who played on an estimated 1,000 movie and TV soundtracks, recordings and commercials over his six-decade career. “Cip” was the ultimate team player, content with being an anonymous member of the band or orchestra, and why not? He was backing the likes of Frank Sinatra andTony Bennett, or performing on soundtracks that lasted forever, like “West Side Story.” But in this clip, Cipriano not only appears live, but proves that when needed, he can take the lead. Performing this time around on the alto saxophone, he bops, swings and blows with the best of them in his cool, understated style. To view the video, click here.

— David Witter


Facetime with Nero

More than 6 million people a year visit Rome’s Colosseum, but you can beat the crowds by visiting this iconic tourist-destination’s website. The latest digital exhibit, “Gladiators in the Arena,” focuses on the different types of gladiators and their weaponry and training. It’s chock-full of history; maps; photos of helmets, armor and other artifacts; references; and a free e-book. The physical exhibit in the Colosseum’s new underground museum is a multimedia experience with holographic projections of fully outfitted gladiators approaching the arena. Ancient and modern also collide on the website via “NeroBot,” an AI incarnation of Nero who is available to answer visitors’ questions. Visit access the website between 1 a.m. to 3 p.m. CST, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


Prepared with love

When Loreto Nardelli brought his Roman bride, Nicoletta, to live in his native Canada, they combined their respective food passions in their shared kitchen. Nicoletta loves sweets and baking and Loreto enjoys exploring savory and spicy flavors in the foods of Italy and other cultures. The ingredient they both add is love, and they inspire each other every day to pursue creative cooking. They enjoy combing through farmers markets, traveling and photographing their creations for readers of their blog, Sugar Love Spices. Recipes are searchable by ingredient or 16 inviting categories. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Roman makeover

The Roman frescoes created in Egypt’s Luxor Temple under the reign of Diocletian (285-305 A.D.) have an intriguing backstory. Depicting scenes of Roman officials, they mask images that date back to the 15th century B.C. and serve as prime examples of ancient over-painting techniques. If you want to learn more about these remarkable frescoes, the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) has a page on its website dedicated to the subject. There, you’ll find links to resources, including the fascinating book “Art of Empire: The Roman Frescoes and Imperial Cult Chamber in Luxor Temple,” which gives detailed accounts of the restoration process and the history behind the works. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Alla Boara brings time-honored tale to vibrant life

Based in Ohio, Alla Boara serves up an authentic slice of mid-20th-century Italian life in their rendition of “Mama Mia Damme Cento.” An Italian folk song written after the destruction wrought b World War II, it tells the story of a daughter who asks her mother for 100 lire to travel to America, to which the mother replies, “I will give you the money, but your ship will sink in the sea.” Accompanied by traditional instruments like accordion, standup bass, classic guitar and hand drums and sung entirely in Italian by vocalist Amanda Powel, the song finishes with an almost crescendo of music and emotion, telling a passionate tale with supreme craftsmanship. To view the video, click here.

— David Witter


Full immersion

Emily and Nathan are the young married couple behind the food blog “Inside the Rustic Kitchen.” The delicious meals served to Nathan by his Italian mother shaped his food sensibilities. Emily writes that this influence was passed down to her. “We are both obsessed with all things related to Italian cooking and traditions.” They devoted years to discovering the real Italy by working on Italian farms, picking olives and bottling olive oil. They ended up living in Tuscany, “soaking up the language, culture and incredible food.” Each of their recipes is fully tested and includes tips, variations and ideas to make it your own. You can follow them on Instagram or click here to search their years of blog posts.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Digital classroom

Travel guru Rick Steves’ new Classroom Europe initiative presents 100 short films that traverse the European continent, with plenty of quality time spent in Italy, from the Alps to Sicily. It’s a glorious and wide-ranging celebration of art, history, crafts, landscapes, food, festivals, religion and assorted fabulous sights. Among the offerings, you can meet a Tuscan coppersmith, learn about Mussolini, immerse yourself in Renaissance art, savor an authentic meal in Florence and experience Christmas throughout the country. A written script accompanies each video. Culled from his popular travel videos, the initiative was created for classroom use, inspired by Steves’ appreciation of teachers. “Students” of all ages will enjoy these informative and engaging pieces.  For more, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


 

Truly eternal city

A brand new digital model of ancient Rome has been released. The brainchild of archaeologist Dr. Bernard Frischer, who unveiled an earlier version in 1996, the reconstruction was created for the purposes of academic study and virtual tourism. Titled “Rome Reborn 4.0” and published by Flyover Zone, the model enables users to soar over 43 historic structures and locations while listening to detailed commentary about them. “Rome Reborn 4.0 is the culmination of more than twenty-seven years of collaborative international work in using digital tools to research cultural history and bring it to life,” Dr. Frischer told HeritageDaily. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Minnozzi maintains even keel navigating a turbulent tune

One of the iconic songs of the bossa nova genre, “Waters of March” doesn’t “sway so gently” like “The Girl From Ipanema.” Instead, it tumbles like a river in spring, sometimes gushing then stopping to eddy before surging freely again. Mafalda Minnozzi calls it “a rubix cube of a melody.”  Unlike less experienced singers, who may shy away from the turbulent waters of the song’s tempo, key and inflection changes, Minnozzi — with her decades of singing in settings around the world gives — not only navigates the occasional rapids but keeps her musical boat as steady as a luxury liner. The result is a performance that weathers the melting snow, the worries and hopes of the “Waters of March” that brings forth a beautiful spring. To view the video, click here.

— David Witter


Water, water everywhere

Italy’s capital city is blessed with an abundance of free drinking water. Rome’s “nasoni” — the name inspired by their “large nose” design — are everywhere, with water flowing from a series of 2,000-year-old aqueducts. To help cut down on plastic and CO2 waste from commercial bottled water, the free Waidy Wow app, created by the water company Acea, provides a map of all the nasoni in the city. The city also offers water-related tours and articles that highlight nasoni that served as film sites, fountains of historical significance, sustainability projects, and more. Users can track their own environmental impact and take advantage of other useful features. For more, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


Lights, camera, action!

In June 2022, we reported on Smarthistory, a website created in 2005 by art historians Beth Harris and Steven Zucker that originally served as an audio guide for art at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art. Smarthistory also boasts a YouTube channel with several playlists highlighting specific periods and styles of art as well as individual artists. The videos range from 2 to 10 minutes in length. Italian-themed videos cover topics such as oil painting in Venice during the Renaissance, Caravaggio’s “The Flagellation of Christ” and Giotto’s “Virgin and Child Enthroned.” For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


From Utica to you

Claudia Lamascolo’s roots in Utica, New York, feature prominently in her blog, “What’s Cookin’ Italian Style Cuisine.” Hometown dishes include tomato pie, pizza fritta, lemon ice, and greens of all kinds. She created the blog in 2009 to share her collected recipes with those she loves and to keep the memory of her mother’s kitchen alive. “Cooking these recipes keeps her with us,” Lamascolo writes. Her dishes reflect both traditional and New World roots. Hundreds of recipes posted over years of blogging can be searched by category, including some not frequently found, such as breakfast dishes, beverages and slow-cooking. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


In Holland, a haunting solo commemorates our fallen

About six miles from Maastricht, Netherlands, 8,301 American soldiers lie buried. They died in Operation Market Garden during the battles to liberate Holland in the fall/winter of 1944. All men buried in the cemetery, as well as those in the Canadian and British military cemeteries, have been adopted by Dutch families who mind the grave, decorate it, and keep alive the memory of the soldier they have adopted. It’s even the custom to keep a portrait of “their” soldier in a place of honor in their home. Annually, on “Liberation Day,” memorial services are held for “the men who died to liberate Holland.” The day concludes with a concert culminating in a performance of “Il Silenzio,” a memorial piece commissioned by the Dutch and first played in 1965 on the 20th anniversary of Holland’s liberation. It has been the concluding piece of the memorial concert ever since. In 2020, the soloist was a 13-year-old Dutch girl, Melissa Venema, backed by André Rieu and the Royal Orchestra of the Netherlands. This piece is based upon the original version of taps and was composed by Italian composer Nino Rossi.

To view the video, click here.


Nonno’s kitchen

If you miss your nonno, you need to meet Pasquale Sciarappa. And if you love to eat, you can watch him cook, cut up and enjoy life on his YouTube channel, Orsara Recipes. Orsara is the small town in Puglia where Pasquale was born in 1939. It was his son who initially enticed Pasquale to cook in his Long Branch, New Jersey, kitchen while his family recorded his love affair with traditional Italian cuisine. That was back in 2008. Since then, the world has flocked to his doorstep. In addition to his hundreds of thousands of YouTube followers, Pasquale has drawn countless additional fans to his Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok and Twitter pages. His delicious recipes lead viewers to his posts, but his humor and charm lure them back for more. To meet Pasquale, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Rising to the challenge

The Italian American Museum of Los Angeles has put together a compelling presentation about anti-Italianism in America. Provocatively named “Dago!”, it reveals the hardships suffered by early immigrants through vintage photographs and incisive descriptions. The project covers discriminatory employment, overcrowded living conditions, crimes against Italians, anti-immigrant hysteria and more, concluding with the eventual acceptance of Italian Americans and a celebration of their accomplishments. The project runs the gamut, from common folks to Sacco and Vanzetti, offering plenty of material to reflect upon. To view the presentation, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


Paolo Veronese (c. 1528 – 1588). Allegory of Virtue and Vice (The Choice of Hercules), c.1580

Intimate portraits

The New York City-based Frick Collection offers visitors up close and personal encounters with its exquisite collection of fine European art. The museum’s online collection gives viewers a similar experience. “Closer Look,” a series of videos created by the education department’s summer interns, provides an in-depth exploration of objects in the collection. The Italian works discussed include Paolo Veronese’s “Choice Between Virtue and Vice,” Paolo Veneziano’s “Coronation of the Virgin,” and Francesco Guardi’s “Regatta in Venice” and “View of the Cannaregio Canal in Venice.” To visit the video library, Google Frick Collection Closer Look. To view the whole collection, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Marinaro deftly melds Bowie with Songbook

Currently under Grammy consideration for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Paul Marinaro’s version of David Bowie’s “5:15 The Angels Have Gone” is melodic, melancholy and hauntingly beautiful. With a shot of the Chicago “L” as his canvas, Marinaro’s voice paints a picture of  lonely train rides and missing the spirituality of love. Then like a combined burst of sunlight and storm, Marinaro launches into a vocal refrain that deftly melds elements of the Great American Songbook with the pop sound of the late 1960s, creating a tumult of emotion. Co-produced by Marinaro, Mike Allemana and Jim Gailloreto, the video is also a mini documentary, portraying the recording process with shots of backup vocalists Sarah Marie Young and Alyssa Allgood, The KAIA String Quartet, guitarist Allemana, and the rest of the band. Cut in a split-screen format, it plays like a short film, telling a story through images and music that leaves a lasting impression. To view the video, click here.

— David Witter


Kid-friendly cooking

The enjoyment of Italian food is a worldwide experience. The Chiappa sisters — Michela, Emi and Romina — grew up in a close-knit Italian community in Wales and are now sharing favorite recipes they serve their own growing families. Their blog entries and cookbooks present recipes for weeknight dinners, but also emphasize cooking for kids, with a special section for babies. Their recipe archive lets readers select by food categories and even by prep time. Get to know the sisters in sections called “Things We Love,” “How to Wean Your Baby Italian Style” and “How to Live to One Hundred.” They explain that family was at the root of their upbringing, and it shows. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Bringing ancient Rome to life

Ancient Rome Live, an educational channel devoted to Rome’s cultural legacy from its founding to the present, is a helpful tool for students, teachers, travelers and Italophiles alike. Through unique videos that feature museum collections, archaeological sites and historic monuments, as well as lectures on relevant topics, the channel transports you virtually to the streets and landmarks of the Eternal City and the Roman Empire. Hosted by archaeologist Darius Arya, Ancient Rome Live is part of the American Institute for Roman Culture, a nonprofit with the goal of promoting and preserving Rome’s cultural legacy through community engagement in archaeology, conservation, film and social media. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Pompeii at your fingertips

The Archeological Park of Pompeii website offers a comprehensive look at the fascinating zone of Pompeii and seven nearby areas. There are maps; articles about daily life in ancient Pompeii and activity after the 79 A.D. eruption; photos and descriptions of housing, villas and excavations; and special features about recent findings. The official website for the park, it has more than 400 YouTube videos and a very active Instagram account (@pompeii_parco_archeologico), which includes interesting “Humans of Pompeii” profiles of the archeologists and other workers. For more, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


La Tosca takes you on a musical trip to old Italy

La Tosca takes listeners on a musical, visual and historical tour through the piazze, cobblestone streets and lantern lit cafes of the small towns and villages of old Italy. Their performance fo “Chitarra Romana,” composed in 1936 by B. Cherubini, features the violin of La Tosca’s Stepanie Pielok, playing in a fiery gypsy jazz style. R. Carosone’s “Mambo Italiano” is sung in its native Italian, with bandleader Andrea Falcone’s accordion getting hands clapping and feet stomping. The journey continues with two versions of “Czardas,” composed by C. Monti in 1904 and performed on Pielok’s violin and the guitar of guest artist Alphonse Ponticelli, recreating the gypsy jazz of Stephane Grapelli and Django Rienhardt. The Neapolitan “Tammurriata” is performed by musicians and dancers wearing traditional costumes. The clip ends with “Giulia,” an Italian song from 1904.written in a polka style. To view the video, click here.

— David Witter


Culinary three-fer

Christina Conte’s kitchen is an adventure in international eating. She was born in Scotland to Italian parents and traveled all over Europe with them. She moved to America at a young age and has now settled in California. She explains that she has “a unique perspective from British, Italian and American viewpoints. I see the best and worst of each culture and cuisine. Let me share the best of each with you.” A from-scratch cook who disdains packaged products with ingredients you can’t pronounce, Conte is on a mission to save authentic Italian dishes from extinction. While scrolling through her Italian recipes, such as Whole Orange Sicilian Cake, you might take a detour to learn about Sticky Toffee Pudding, as well. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


In-your-face mosaics

There’s an exciting new opportunity for visitors to Florence. For the first time ever, up-close views of the grand mosaics that adorn the interior dome of the Baptistry of San Giovanni will be offered to the general public. The opportunity to view the 800-year-old mosaics from a specially designed platform will be available during the masterpieces first restoration project in more than 100 years. Located across from Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence’s majestic cathedral, the impressive dome with its 10 million mosaic pieces covers more than 10,000 square feet. Reservations are required, and tickets are expensive. To witness the platform’s construction in time-lapse photography, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


Deep dive into ancient Rome

Located in London, the British Museum contains history and culture spanning 2 million years. Room 70, the gallery that houses objects from the Roman Empire, highlights the empire’s immense scope. But you don’t have to travel to London to enjoy the collection. The museum’s website offers a comprehensive virtual experience. You can browse the collection by taking a virtual tour; enjoy highlights like the exquisite Portland Vase, which dates from 5-25 A.D.; and step back in time with the museum’s “Introduction to Ancient Rome,” which provides a thorough look at the culture through eight objects in the museum’s collection. To view the collection, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Three paesans lay down swing with an Italian accent

Yes, Italians can swing! Joe Ascione is joined by his good friends Frank Vignola and Joey De Franceso for some swinging blues. The three paesans start out with a playful introduction of Tarantella Napoletana, then go into full swing mode. Ascione provides the steady beat while De Francesco, who was the acknowledged jazz master of the Hammond B-3, lays down his usual cool harmony. Meanwhile, Vignola’s guitar soars high and low, playing bluesy jazz riffs and scales. Smiles and laughs abound these three masters enjoy each other’s company, music and heritage. To view the video, click here.

— David Witter


Culinary homecoming

When Dr. Rick Zullo lived in Italy for several years, he ate like an Italian. He came to appreciate that the style of cuisine was healthy, delicious and simple to maintain. After returning to America, it wasn’t as easy to recreate the food routines he had enjoyed. Feeling sluggish and overfed, he decided that, “I was going to make it a priority to practice the lifestyle habits I had learned in Italy, despite all of the headwinds I would have to fight against.” He espouses the Mediterranean Diet, which maximizes the pleasure and minimizes the guilt of delicious food. His website offers guidance, recipes and “34 Italian Food Rules.” To learn more about Dr. Zullo, and his recipes and cookbook, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


All hail Yale!

Yale University’s extensive online collection of artworks and objects has recently been made searchable on a new platform called LUX. The platform includes art and objects from the Yale University Library, Yale Center for British Art, Yale Peabody Museum and Yale University Art Gallery. Spanning more than 2,000 years, the collection includes paintings, gemstones and ancient objects from around the world. The Italian art section alone serves up nearly 8,000 items. A search for Giovanni Paolo Panini turns up two magnificent paintings depicting scenes in the Roman Forum, among other works by the 18th-century artist. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Sites for the travel wise

Florencewise (florencewise.com), an insightful new guide to the popular travel destination, is now available from the same talented folks who brought you the outstanding Romewise (romewise.com). Both sites offer a high level of detailed information and advice, in-depth articles, invaluable libraries of lively videos and free monthly newsletters. Covering everything from what to wear to what to see, American expat editor Elyssa Bernard (with Roman partner Alessandro) shares her infectious enthusiasm, local perspective and generous attitude toward visitors in these go-to resources.

— Margo Metegrano


Porcaro’s synthesizer sets the tone for Toto classic

For anybody who was a teenager in the 1980s, this video spent as much time on the living room television as “Family Ties.” The song begins with Steve Porcaro’s synthesizer, which he coaxed to sound like a Kalimba, a primitive version of the vibes, which gives the song an exotic feel. The lyrics and images paint a scene of adventure. Much of it, including the line “I bless the rains down in Africa” was inspired by stories told by the band’s teachers in Catholic school, many of whom were nuns and priest  that worked as missionaries. The song has continued to thrive on YouTube, where it has received almost 900 million views. To date, none of the band members have been to Africa. To view the video, click here.

— David Witter


Learning Sicilian cinematically

If you’re looking to learn Sicilian “one scene at a time,” check out “U Sicilianu O Cinema.” The delightful and informative podcast provides sentence-by-sentence translations of famous movie scenes in which Sicilian is spoken. The translation sessions are preceded by detailed descriptions of the scene you’re about to hear, followed by an audio version of that scene. Recently featured films include Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather Part II” and “The Godfather Part III,” Luchino Visconti’s “La terra trema” and Giuseppe Tornatore’s “Baaria.” To listen in, click here. You can also follow them on Facebook (U Sicilianu O Cinema), Instagram (@usicilianuocinema) and Twitter (@SicilyOCinema).

— Jeannine Guilyard

Passport to veggie nirvana

Whether your style of cooking is vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free, Jeanine Donofrio is someone you should get to know. She started her food blog, “Love and Lemons,” in her Chicago kitchen “to celebrate how nourishing, fun and delicious cooking with seasonal fruits and vegetables can be.” Her newest cookbook, “Love & Lemons Simple Feel Good Food,” is an Editor’s Pick on Amazon and was an instant New York Times bestseller. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy her fresh ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner every season of the year. Before summer ends, check out Donofrio’s stunning 52 Best Salad Recipes. They’ll surely send you to the farmer’s market pronto. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Searching for Tucci’s Italy

The two seasons of Stanley Tucci’s acclaimed CNN series, “Searching for Italy,” may have wrapped, but you can still subscribe to a free, lively and informative newsletter inspired by the show. Packed with commentary, “Unlocking Italy” includes advice from locals and suggestions for sites, restaurants, shops and accommodations beyond the usual tourist venues. Plus, each issue includes a recipe from Tucci’s series. To receive eight weekly installments of “Unlocking Italy” in your inbox, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


Sicilia offers old-school country take on moving forward

Today’s country music is filled with slickly produced songs and videos filled with images of pick-up trucks and fit young people having fun. Gina Sicilia’s “Unchange” takes the listener back to one of country’s main roots, gospel and church hymns. This song is introduced by Colin Linden’s steel guitar. A veteran performer who has done stints with Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan and T-Bone Burnett, and worked as musical director for the show, Nashville, Linden knows how to conjure country’s old-time sounds. Written by Sicilia, the music and lyrics aren;t religious per se, but delve into the spiritual theme of change or, rather, the opposite. With lyrics like “I cannot be who I have been” and “two trains running at different times,” the song is about a person not wanting to go backward, even for love.

To view the video, click here.

—David Witter


Bounty in the Bronx

The antiquities in the Fordham Museum of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Art collection date back 2,000-plus years. Housed at the Walsh Library in the Bronx, the objects were gifted to the university by alumnus William D. Walsh and his wife, Jane. The museum was closed for nearly two years after several objects in the collection were removed in 2021 due to an investigation of illegal dealings in ancient art. The museum has since reopened for the students and community to enjoy. If you can’t make it to the Bronx, browse the digital collection by clicking here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Foodie down under

Marcella Cantatore is an Australian with deep Italian roots. Her parents, who hailed from Calabria and Emilia-Romagna, were both skilled cooks who allowed young “Marcellina” to shadow them in the kitchen. “My parents ignited and fueled that first passion for cooking and baking without even realizing it,” she writes. Her blog, Marcellina in Cucina, eschews the latest cooking fads and relies on authentic dishes perfected in her home kitchen. She has a special love for “delicious baking that will turn your kitchen into the heart of the home.” The website’s search bar allows you to browse by category, keyword or ingredient. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Feast for the eyes

The perfectly named Voyage Feast offers unique reels and images of travel destinations on Instagram. A current series of Italian scenes lives up to the name, boasting exceptional video clips and photographs, often from unique angles and high vantage points. One clip zooms between the tops of buildings down toward the Trevi Foundation, another circles the Colosseum from on high and another dramatically recedes from Piazza Venezia. There are also gorgeous shots of majestic mountain peaks, sunny coastal towns and the Spanish Steps at dusk. All of them fulfill Voyage Feast’s stated aim to “inspire moments of travel every day.” For more, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


Unheralded Italian American portrayed iconic Disney heroine

American children have heard the singing and speaking voice of Snow White for generations, but few know that the talent behind iconic animated character is an Italian American named Adriana Caselotti. Caselotti’s mother was a singer in the Royal Opera in Rome, and her father a music teacher from Udine. This video reveals exactly how that lineage and her girlish voice her combination of operatic landed her the plum gig in 1937. Unlike Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz,”  Caselotti received no credit for her star turn. After the film was released, Walt Disney would not even allow other studios or radio shows to feature her, stating “I don’t want to spoil the illusion of Snow White.” Years later, Caselotti was able to finally earn a bit of the fame, appearing on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson and in this classic clip from “The Julie Andrews Hour.”

—David Witter

To view the clip, click here.


City of water

Just steps away from Rome’s iconic Trevi Fountain, a sprawling underground site reveals the fountain’s water source: the only operational aqueduct remaining from the Roman empire. Vicus Caprius (The City of Water) presents the history of the aqueduct, which was built in 19 B.C. Visitors can walk among the ruins of a fourth century dwelling and view the archeological stratification of important historical events. A small museum holds fascinating statue fragments — including the head of Alexander Helios, son of Cleopatra and Marc Antony — as well as amphorae, decorative pieces and a collection of coins. The website offers a wealth of information about the area and its history, and an active Instagram account produces a steady stream of intriguing videos and images.

— Margo Metegrano


Hunger for knowledge

Claudia Rinaldi describes herself as a person in constant search of new knowledge. Her blog, The Gourmet Project, is dedicated to sharing a specific ingredient, cooking method or Italian regional cuisine each month. She writes that she is inspired by “the markets, my travels, people I meet and my imagination.” In a section of her blog called “Life in Italy,” Claudia writes about everything from grocery shopping to local traditions to the beauty and art all around her in Rome. She also offers a series of “Simposio” cookbooks, each focusing on an Italian city, region or season. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Global cinematic reach

There is a new streaming platform in town that offers a wealth of popular film titles free of charge. Accessible through your local university or public library, Projectr makes available a curated collection of movies, archival restorations and award-winning documentaries from every corner of the globe. The Italian selection is impressive for a platform that is just starting out. Among Projectr’s classic and contemporary films are Vittorio De Sica’s 1964 “Marriage Italian Style,” Sergio Corbucci’s 1968 “The Great Silence,” Pietro Marcello’s 2009 “The Mouth of the Wolf” and Michelangelo Frammartino’s 2021 Calabrese-themed voyage into nature “Il Buco.” To subscribe, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Bruno and friends serve up an Italian musical feast

When most people think of an Italian festival they think of food, but in this video, the Anthony Bruno Orchestra offers a feast for the ears. The set starts with “C’e la luna,” a song whose roots go back to Naples circa 1830. Dressed to the nines, Bruno offers a unique take on a standard that has been performed by almost every Italian-American crooner of note. Then Bruno picks up his tenor saxophone and swings his way through another Italian wedding classic, “Tarantella Napoletana.” Those two tunes are the jumping off point for a journey through the Louis Prima songbook as he and his band perform “Angelina” and “Up the Lazy River,” ending the musical montage with “Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody.” The audience is up and dancing despite the summer heat, as the aromas of simmering sauce and grilling sausages no doubted wafted across the festival grounds.

— David Witter

To watch the video, click here.


Chants on demand

Recorded by the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Fidélité of Jouques in Provence, France, Neumz is a mobile phone application containing more than 7,000 hours of Gregorian chants. Founded by John Anderson, an American living in Rome, the app has a unique feature that enables you to read along with the Latin text, which has been translated into five languages. According to Alicia Gutiérrez Vega, head of marketing at Odradek Records, you can access the app for free in radio mode and listen to the “chants of the hour,” or you can subscribe for about $10 monthly and enjoy the play-on-demand mode. A portion of the proceeds helps to fund the nuns’ monastic foundation, Notre-Dame de l’Écoute in the Republic of Benin. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard

 


A London foodie in Rome

A food writer and the author of three Italian cookbooks, Rachel Roddy was born in London but now lives with her partner, Vincenzo, in the Testaccio neighborhood of Rome. They live above a bread shop and next to a market, inspiring daily meals that begin with the city’s freshest offerings. Her online food journey began in 2008 with her well-received blog, Rachel Eats. These days, followers wait for her award-winning weekly column, “A Kitchen in Rome,” which appears in The Guardian newspaper. She describes her writing style as “little stories” that mix inspired recipes with keen observations of her life in the Eternal City. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Hail, Caesar!

History is reborn in Daniel Voshart’s bold and innovative Roman Emperor Project. The 54 emperors of the Principate (27 B.C.-285 A.D.) come vibrantly to life in the multitalented artist’s striking photoreal recreations, which were informed by ancient sculptures. He favored “the bust made with the greatest craftsmanship and where the emperor was stereotypically uglier — my pet theory being that artists were likely trying to flatter their subjects.” He refined his images using Artbreeder, a sort of artificial intelligence known as a generative adversarial network. To find his Roman Emperor Project and more fascinating designs, from mummy portraits to cartoon caricatures of famous people, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


Danelli laid down the beat that droves The Rascals

The Rascals’ breakout hit “Good Lovin’” was introduced by the man who brought The Beatles and so many other incredible performers into  America’s living rooms, Ed Sullivan. With their school-boy outfits, long hair and infectious energy, the New York and New Jersey natives were America’s answer to The Fab Four. while Felix Cavaliere was the center of attention on vocals and organ, the cameraman couldn’t help but notice the stick twirling tricks and dynamic energy of drummer Dino Danelli. Instead of a close-up of the lead singer, much of the broadcast was a wide-angle shot encompassing both Calaliere and Danelli as they rocked their way into the hearts of young America.

— David Witter

To view the video, click here.


If that statue could talk …

Italians have a grand tradition of passionately and often creatively expressing their political views. Take, for example, the “talking statues” of Rome, collectively known as the Congress of Wits (Congresso degli Arguti). Affixed from base to torso are opinions — traditionally written in each statue’s “voice” — that often mercilessly lampoon the powers that be. The most famous of these is “Pasquino” in the Piazza Navona. Eighteenth-century Pope Benedict XIII was so incensed by the practice that he threatened death to anyone posting a message. Resourceful citizens began to use different statues, and today five others are similarly adorned throughout the city. For more, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


From paratrooper to pasta maker

Federico Pezzaioli, creator of the blog Italyum, describes himself as “an ex-badass Italian Paratrooper on a mission” to teach the world how to cook like an Italian and to understand that good food is about passion. The site’s 10 searchable food categories, including the recently added bakery section, help users follow each recipe with step-by-step photos. Realizing that most home cooks are now using their phones or tablets in the kitchen, he has rebuilt his website to work well on smaller screens. Federico offers Top Tips such as How to Cook Perfect Pasta and Octopus Preparation. “We provide the skills and the recipes and you provide the pots and pans,” Pezzaioli writes. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Roman trove in Toronto

“We live on what we leave behind” is the belief upon which the Royal Ontario Museum operates. Located in Toronto, the museum is a trove of artistic and cultural treasures, both modern and ancient. The museum’s online collection features tens of thousands of objects from all over the world. The array of artifacts from Rome’s imperial period is impressive. Each item is shown from various angles and includes a detailed summary. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Guitar great steps back and lets ace drummer take over

The recent passing of Jeff Beck has engendered heartfelt tributes from the likes of Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton and many more. When Beck was alive, he paid his own tribute to Vinny Colaiuta. Colaiuta was the go-to drummer for the man that many consider the best multi-genre guitar player of his generation.On this concert video, Like everyone else, Beck stands back and listens in amazement as Colaiuta  plays his drum kit like a one man band, pounding the bass, slamming the cymbals, and showing the amazing speed, dexterity and pure athletic drive and power that has made him the idol of drummers young and old alike.

— David Witter

To view the video, click here.


A kid-friendly approach to Rome

A pair of British parents who have been living in Rome for 14 years readily admit, “We’ve used gelato many a time to bribe our kids through museums and old churches, but we want them to enjoy the site, not suffer through it.” To that end, they created Trova, an app that entices kids to explore the capital’s wealth of historic treasures. Trova engages young users with “an exciting quest, spy mission or detective trail” enhanced with clues, puzzles and ways to accumulate points. The site is filled with tips for getting around Rome with kids, including places to eat quickly, the most appealing museums and much more. The app comes with an assuring disclaimer: “This app has been tested on small children.” For more, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


An Italian take on home-delivered meals

Food delivery services such as Hello Fresh and Blue Apron have some competition when courting those who crave only the best Italian meals. Foodie and entrepreneur Guido Pedrelli is the brain behind Nonna Box, a company that adopted the meal delivery model to bring fresh regional Italian food products to your door along with three recipes “from an actual nonna.” Before investing in the service, cooks can check out the company’s blog to find authentic recipes such as pansotti with walnut sauce from Liguria or vitello tonnata from Piedmont. Search for recipes by course or region, or check out the site’s dictionary of cooking terms. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Yale pays the Eternal City a visit

Yale University is offering a free online course in Roman architecture through Coursera. Taught by Diana E.E. Kleiner, Dunham Professor of History of Art and Classics at Yale University, the nine-week course offers video lectures with images, quizzes and writing assignments. The course takes you through the evolution of Roman architecture in the Eternal City, Herculaneum and Pompeii. Kleiner keeps the lessons lively by sharing her own photographs and personal experiences from visiting the monuments and sites. After a few lessons, you will see the strong influence of ancient Greece and Egypt on ancient Rome and how that influence lives on today. You can complete the course at your own pace and have the option of paying for a certificate of completion. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


“Ma che vuoi?”

It’s sometimes said that the Italian language is 50 percent words and 50 percent gestures. Professor Isabella Poggi of Roma Tre University has identified about 250 distinct words and phrases that Italians articulate entirely with their hands. Arguably the most common, the iconic “pinched fingers,” is even included in the international lexicon of emoji. It expresses “What do you want?” (Ma che vuoi?), “What are you talking about?” or “What are you doing?” with a sense of disbelief or annoyance. The more rapidly it’s done, the more intense the intent. Doing it with both hands doubles the potency. Italians have many names for it, including “artichoke gesture” (il gesto del carciofo). See how the emoji looks across platforms and learn more about it, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


 

The art of la cucina

Photographer and painter Elaine Shurr McCardell has discovered that food is another art form, noting that “developing my own recipes is just another way of filling a canvas.” She also loves cooking the dishes taught to her by her mother, Angela, a native of Naples, and doesn’t understand why people increasingly order out. Cooking from scratch, she says, is healthier, cheaper and “easier than most people think.” Elaine enjoys showing you how in her blog, “The Italian Dish,” which has archived posts back to 2008. You can search through years of recipes and how-to videos that cover topics like how to roll out gnocchi and how to debone a turkey breast. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Ancient Rome in the Big Apple

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Greek and Roman collection is beyond impressive, with more than 30,000 works. If you don’t have time to jet off to Manhattan to browse through the works, the MET’s website offers a peek into the museum’s vast trove. To pay a virtual visit, check out metmuseum.org, click on Art on the main navigation bar, then on Collection Areas, then on Greek and Roman Art. Under Collection Highlights, click on the link below the image that reads “See highlights of Greek and Roman art in The Met collection,” which will turn up 114 results. Click on each image to read about its history and to view it from different angles. While you’re there, explore the website’s Greek and Roman pages, which feature blogs, curated videos, images and information on current archaeological fieldwork.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Kristin Berardi delivers cool tribute to Joni Mitchell

Kristin Berardi is often compared to Joni Mitchell and with good reason. Musically they both test the boundaries of jazz and pop and lyrically they use poetic and artistic imagery to paint with their voices. In this performance, Berardi covers Mitchell’s “Be Cool.” Using a simple two-chord progression as her springboard, Berardi demonstrates her vocal range. Berardi scatts like Mitchell does, but she also bends “blues notes,” a skill usually limited to instruments. The song definitely sets a beatnik mood, so snap your fingers and … be cool.

To view the video, click here.

— David Witter


A window into Rome’s hidden gems

You can delve into Rome’s secret places with just a click thanks to the engaging Instagram videos posted by livevirtualguide.com. Also on their site, you can book an inexpensive, live interactive tour for yourself or even a group. Among the offerings are 60-minute visits to the Colosseum, with special access to the gladiator arena, and a virtual stroll among ancient Roman ruins. Their Off-the-Beaten-Path feature divides more than 90 local gems into nine video-guided itineraries for an economical subscription fee. For more, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


A joyous exploration of la cucina

Marisa Francas is a recipe developer and food enthusiast from Carmel, Indiana, who joyfully explains that she loves to feed people. Her blog, All Our Way, demonstrates how to “create gourmet dishes out of simple seasonal ingredients that your family will love.” Roasted herbed leg of lamb, slow cooker Italian pot roast or pasta with creamy zucchini sauce might be on the menu when friends gather around her table. Other recipes feature “American food like Mom made,” but with an Italian accent. The reader can also partake of stories from her life that she calls Home, Garden and Family Adventures.

For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


A wellspring of Italian art

The Museum of Modern Art has a grand tradition of embracing and fostering Italian artists. While perusing MoMA’s online exhibit of the works of silent film actress-turned-photographer Tina Modotti, I discovered that the website spotlights thousands upon thousands of other Italian artists, as well, including Amedeo Modigliani, Renzo Piano and Federico Fellini. To browse through five sets of Fellini photos, go directly to moma.org/artists/26625. When you’re done there, arrow back to moma.org/artists, type “Italian” in the Search Artists line and hit enter. Then, scroll down to see the stunning results: works by 27,146 Italian artists!

— Jeannine Guilyard


Have yourself a very Perry Christmas

My mom, and her mother before her, loved to spend Christmas with Perry Como. When I was a kid, I didn’t really like his Christmas shows because they never seemed to be in cold weather locations with snow. Then and now, I like snow for Christmas. By 1983, I was in college but Como’s show was going to be in New York and a family friend taped it for me so I could see it when I got home for the break. It quickly became, and has long remained, my favorite Como Christmas Show and the one, I might add, in which Perry most openly and joyfully celebrates his Italian roots. In honor of Perry, I end my Christmas Show on the radio every year with his rendition of Ave Maria. Buon Natale!

— Otto Bruno

To view the video, click here.

To listen to Otto’s show on Sundays from 12-3 EST, click here.


Insight into an emperor

“Hadrian’s Rome” is a free online course offered by the Open University. Content is divided into three chapters. The first chapter is an introduction to Emperor Hadrian and his reign. The second boasts an interactive map detailing Hadrianic monuments throughout Rome, including the Pantheon, the Temple of Deified Hadrian, and the Temple of Venus and Rome. The last chapter explores Hadian’s death and legacy. The course is detailed but not overwhelming, so it’s a great activity to devote your spare time to during the winter months. Upon completing the course, you will receive a statement of participation. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


A passion for la cucina

Domenica Marchetti’s mother had her shaping gnocchi as soon as she could see over the kitchen counter. Her childhood also included summer travels in Lazio and Abruzzi. After she earned a master’s degree in journalism at Columbia University, she wrote for the Washington Post and other major newspapers, but she soon specialized in writing about Italian food for Fine Cooking, Eating Well, Food and Wine, and many other publications. She is now the author of seven cookbooks, including “Rustic Italian” and “Ciao Biscotti.” She also teaches cooking classes and leads culinary tours in Italy. On her website, Domenica Cooks, readers can find a catalog of her Italian-inspired recipes. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Il duomo at its best

Florence’s Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore Museum recently commissioned photographer Fabio Muzzi (@fabiomuzzi_photography on Instagram) to showcase the beauty of the famous Duomo’s majestic monuments. The result is a trove of photos and videos, some taken by drones for the very first time. “Spectacular images were made of the Cathedral and its Dome, Giotto’s Bell Tower and the Baptistery, captured with different lights that tell the passing of the seasons,” the museum reports on its website. Select images are appearing on the museum’s Instagram (@museofirenze), to be followed by an exhibition. Find more at duomo.firenze.it, where you can subscribe to their free newsletter and learn, among other things, about the life and art of Michelangelo via an artificial intelligence chat with the artist.

— Margo Metegrano


Get down and dance to the tune that ushered in disco

The introduction is like a long, slow burn, but when the tune kicks into gear, KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Get Down Tonight” helped to  usher in the disco era. Bell bottoms, wide collars, gold chains: this 1977 video captures it all. Italian American Wayne Kasey (KC) is backed up by a 10-piece ensemble as he hammers away on the keyboards, but the band does more than just play. The horn players put on choreographed moves that rival the best that Motown had to offer. The finale of the video has an added treat. Kasey spots none other than Dolly Parton in the front row and presents the country star with a bouquet of roses. To view, click here.

— David Witter


Sweet holiday treats

With the holidays on the horizon, our menu planning includes finding ways to end family get-togethers on a sweet note. Whether you’re craving traditional or inventive desserts, check out the Montreal-based blog “Marisa’s Italian Kitchen.” Marisa features everyday menus from soup to nuts but professes a passion for “all things sweet.” For your Thanksgiving table, satisfying endings might include tiramisù, pumpkin zeppole or spumoni cake. Looking ahead to Christmas, Marisa inspires readers with struffoli, pizzelle, tarallucci, ciambelle, Italian rainbow cookies and dozens of biscotti recipes. To get started, go to the site’s Recipe Index, and search by holiday or season. (marisasitaliankitchen.com)

— Dolores Sennebogen


Digging ancient Rome

If you’re looking for enlightening, engaging and generously illustrated features about archeological sites in Rome and the rest of the world, make Archeology Travel your first stop. Among the many Roman treasures featured on the website, you’ll unearth the 2,000-year-old Mithraeum temple, nestled beneath the 1,000-year-old San Clemente Church, and peek inside the 20 rooms of a house dating back to the second century B.C. that was discovered below a fourth-century basilica on Caelian Hill. Also available on the website are the “Rome Travel Guide for History and Adventure Seekers” and the equally useful “History with Kids,” both of which are filled with practical advice and valuable background information. For more, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


Amazon ups its game

On the recently unveiled Freevee Amazon Channel, you can access Amazon Prime content without having a subscription. The ad-supported video streaming service was first launched in 2019 as part of IMDB. In April of this year, the service underwent a name change, and more titles were made available. The library includes many Italian films, such as Luchino Visconti’s “L’innocente” and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Theorem.” Also available is a rare Greek film starring Maria Grazia Cucinotta titled “Uranya” as well as the documentaries “Padre Pio Sanctus” and “In Search of Francis Assisi: The Untold Story of a Beloved Saint.” For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Drummer DJ Fontana set the pace for early Elvis hits

Dominick James “DJ” Fontana’s recordings with Elvis Presley on RCA netted 18 platinum and 14 gold records, changing not only music but American culture. While Presley relied heavily on lush orchestrations and elaborate studio productions later in his career, his early hits relied heavily on Fontana’s drumming. While most early rock drummers pounded away at large kits and cut loose for extended solos, Fontana kept the beat like a metronome in a sparse, rockabilly style, filling the spaces between verses but never interfering with the star of the show, Elvis Presley. This old kinescope recording of Elvis singing his first major hit, “Heartbreak Hotel,” features Elvis’ early band of Scotty Moore on guitar, Bill Black on bass and Fontana on drums. Notice that Fontana’s kit contains only two drums while the standard sets use at least five. To view, click here.

— David Witter


Feeding the need for Italian cinema

A brand new channel featuring Italian movies of yesterday and today has recently been launched. Movieitaly offers VOD access to iconic cinema that has stood the test of time as well as contemporary films that mirror today’s society. The project is being spearheaded by Italian distribution company Minerva Pictures. One of the organizers, Gianluca Curti, told Fra Noi that they drew their inspiration from the importance of Italian cinema and culture in the United States. “The channel is geared toward Americans who love Italy and Italian culture, who love the Renaissance and our history, which is well told by our cinema,” he explained. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Photo courtesy of Ismoon

Bringing stolen art back home

Rome’s new Museo dell’Arte Salvata (Museum of Rescued Art) features rotating exhibits of pieces previously “stolen, dispersed, sold or illegally exported.” The items are eventually destined for display in or near their original locations. The first exhibit focuses on more than 200 pieces recovered from U.S. museums and private collectors. The museum’s biggest success story to date arguably is the sixth-century B.C. Euphronius Krater vase. Once sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for $1 million, it is now housed in an archaeological museum close to the tomb in Cerveteri, Lazio, from which it was looted. Google Museo dell’Arte Salvata to find out more.

— Margo Metegrano


Gathering at the virtual table

Michele and Joe Becci are siblings living at opposite ends of the United States, but they have forged a virtual bond built on their shared Italian-American memories. The sister and brother curate a blog called Our Italian Table, with a tagline that reminds us “a tavola non s’invecchia.” (At the table, you never grow old.) They share their favorite recollections and recipes from their mother’s New Jersey kitchen, and they also spend as much time as possible in Italy, learning new dishes and documenting them for their readers. “It has become a passion and joy for us both,” they explain. Their searchable trove of authentic and beautifully photographed recipes will tempt you to keep scrolling. They also share links to vendors that will be of interest to foodies, cooks and wine lovers. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Usually, this feature focuses on video clips with millions of views spotlighting famous musicians or hijinks gone viral. This time around, we’re showcasing a half-hour-long documentary with less than 1,000 hits that’s just as engaging. Featuring local crossing guard and accordionist Linda Iovino, it was put together by her nephew Lee to celebrate her 70th birthday. Her stories about growing up Italian in the northern suburbs of Chicago are evocative and heartwarming, and her interactions with the school children who she lovingly shepherds across the street are priceless. To view, click here.

— Paul Basile


Fitting tributes to our fallen

More than 12,000 American casualties of World War II found their final repose in two impressive, tranquil burial grounds: the American Cemetery outside of Florence and the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno, near Anzio, about an hour from Rome. Both are meticulously maintained in peaceful settings. The American Battle Monuments Commission oversees these and 23 other such cemeteries worldwide. Visit the site for links to reverent and moving videos; brief, relevant battle histories; location descriptions; and searchable burial lists. For details, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


Where passion meets science

Paola Lovisetti Scamihorn’s first passion is food. Growing up on the shores of Lake Como, she learned to appreciate the fresh, carefully selected ingredients that went into family meals. Her second love, science and chemistry, led her to a master’s degree in medical and pharmacological research. She is a frequent contributor to international magazines, writing about healthy cooking and eating as a way of life. Her enthusiasm is reflected in her monthly blog, Passion and Cooking: A Taste of Italian Life. Followers can enjoy flavorful, nutritious recipes and explore tabs such as My Favorite Recipes and Something Festive. Also look for Paola’s cookbook, “The Mama Mia! Diet: The Secret Italian Way to Good Health,” which she co-wrote with Paola Palestini. For details, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Up, up and away!

Travel back in time and enjoy aerial views of ancient Rome with guided virtual tours, courtesy of Yorescape. The tours are accessible via your desktop, laptop or mobile devices. The Italian-themed tours are Hadrian’s Villa Reborn and Rome Reborn, the latter of which includes Flyover Ancient Rome, Pantheon and Roman Forum. Flyover Ancient Rome takes you on a virtual hot air balloon ride in the company of a narrator who also happens to be the director of the project, Bernard Frischer. The tour drifts above the Tiber River, highlighting 37 ancient sites and structures such as the Temple of Saturn, Pantheon and Aurelian Walls. To begin your adventure, click here. Buon viaggio!

— Jeannine Guilyard


Italian guitar quartet offers rousing rendition of “Star Wars” theme

Everyone knows the theme to “Star Wars,” but I doubt you’ve heard a rendition quite like this one. During the first pandemic lockdown in 2020, the Italian guitar quartet 40 Fingers took the stage of an empty theater and played their hearts out. “They effortlessly transform the song, with each one of them taking the lead in different sections of the piece,” Amesia Young writes for mymodernmet.com “And together, they create an incredibly beautiful and intricately layered interpretation of the well-known classic.” I couldn’t have said it better. To view the video, click here.

— Paul Basile


Spiritual rinascimento

As Barbara Aiello was growing up in Pittsburgh, she knew her Calabrian-American family descended from Jews who centuries ago had been forced to convert. Later in life, while visiting Southern Italy, she encountered residents practicing Jewish customs without knowing their origins. In 2004, she became the first female rabbi recognized in Italy and the spiritual leader of the first synagogue to be established in Calabria in 500 years. Since then, the inclusive community she helped create has grown greatly. For more, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


Ciao down with Linda

Linda Prospero began a food blog to mingle her interests in writing and photography with her love for food and travel. Ciao Chow Linda first appeared in 2008. Except for a few breaks, she has been sharing her passions with her followers ever since. She has family roots in Emilia-Romagna, Calabria, Abruzzi, Veneto and Campania, so she feels a wide-ranging connection to the varied cuisines of the Boot. The right side of Ciao Chow Linda’s home page offers a search box as well as a list of clickable keywords that lead to a wellspring of recipes and subjects. Linda also shares links to other food blogs she enjoys so you can go exploring. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Etruscan trove

Located in Rome’s Villa Giulia, a formal papal residence, the National Etruscan Museum houses antiquities from the residents of Lazio, Umbria and Tuscany, an area referred to in ancient times as Etruria. The museum’s website has a section that features its many works, accompanied by detailed descriptions. One of the most treasured items in its collection is Il Sarcofago degli Sposi (the Sarcophagus of the Spouses). The couple portrayed atop the tomb seems so real, so joyful and so content together. Family was very important to the Etruscans, and this sarcophagus radiates that familial bond. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Still open for business

The Museum and Gallery at Bob Jones University in South Carolina has been shuttered since 2017 while it’s being relocated, but that shouldn’t stop art lovers from paying a visit. At museumandgallery.org, you can view their extensive collection of Western European paintings from the 14th through the 19th centuries. It encompasses several periods of Italian art, including Gothic, Renaissance, Mannerism and Baroque, and features artists such as Tintoretto, Veronese and Guido Reni. The website also showcases the Bowen Collection of Antiquities, with artifacts that span 37 centuries and represent everyday life from ancient Egyptian, Roman and Hebrew cultures. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Food from across the boot

Paula Barbarito-Levitt is a dual citizen of the United States and Italy and delights in exploring every region of the peninsula. She loves Italy’s history and culture, but food and wine are often the center of her attention. In addition to being the vice president of Girasole Imports, a boutique Italian wine importer headquartered in California, she hosts a blog about Italian food and lifestyle called La Bella Sorella. You can dig into an archive of Paula’s recipes dating back to 2014, all searchable by date, dish or holiday. She also shares travel memories and occasionally highlights notable Italian restaurants. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Bringing history to life

If you’ve ever stood outside the Colosseum and tried to imagine what an entire city built on that scale might look like, wonder no more. At History in 3D, you can fly over ancient Rome in a fabulous eight-minute video simulation. The meticulously detailed recreation takes you soaring over the center of Rome, where you’ll recognize the Forum and Colosseum and marvel at the baths, temples, theaters and homes that filled the city in 360 A.D. Other videos tour specific buildings and monuments, and bring sculptures of Roman leaders to life, all in full color. For more, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


Dion brings down the house at the 1988 Grammy Awards

There’s an old saying, “save the best for last.” Well, the 1988 Grammy Awards featured live performances from Whitney Houston, Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Randy Travis, Cab Calloway and many more. But for the final number, they brought out Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Dion Di Mucci. Joined by Lou Reed, Ruben Blades and doo-wop groups The Cadillacs and The Flamingos, Dion belted out his first smash, “A Teenager in Love.” Dion then launched into his signature hit, “Runaround Sue.”  Soon, the stage was filled with award winners and A-list singers and entertainers. As the credits rolled, the entire music industry joined in from their seats in the audience, singing, clapping and doo-wopping their way through the grand finale. To view the video, click here.

— David Witter


Deep artistic dives

Created in 2005 by historians Beth Harris and Steven Zucker, Smarthistory started out as an audio guide to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, as well as a resource for college students studying art history. Since then, the site has racked up around 3,000 written and video reviews. Many cover Italian masterworks such as the David statues created by Donatello, Bernini and Michelangelo; the art of the Vatican Museums; and the architecture of the High Renaissance and Baroque periods. Richly illustrated, the posts offer a wealth of information on each topic. The website is perfect for planning your next trip to Italy or just learning more about the nation’s artistic treasures. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Living the sweet life

Sophie Minchilli is in love with Rome, her home and birthplace. She also has fond childhood memories of summering in Umbria and Puglia. After penning a thesis on images of food in Italian cinema during her university days, she decided to “dedicate my life entirely to food in any way possible.” She is fulfilling that goal by conducting food tours, offering cooking classes, and showcasing the Italian people and lifestyle on Instagram. Her just-released book, “The Sweetness of Doing Nothing,” explores the Southern Italian philosophy of dolce far niente. It looks at everyday rhythms of Italian life through family, leisure and, most notably, food. Minchilli schools us on Italian markets, dining seasonally, afternoon snacks and Sunday lunch. The book is sprinkled with a few recipes and advice on how to let go of anxiety. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Italy’s answer to WORDLE

WORDLE — the daily, online word game — has swept the English-speaking world. For those who have been hankering for an Italian version, there’s PAROLE. As with WORDLE, you have six tries to guess the day’s five-letter word. After each guess, the tile colors indicate which letters are in the word. Green shows the correct letter in the correct position. Yellow shows a correct letter, but in the wrong position. Gray indicates the letter is not included in the word. You can easily share your results on social media, and a private scoreboard keeps track of your progress. But beware: It’s addictive. For more, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


A revealing peek into the making of a film score classic

Composed by Ennio Morricone, the main theme to Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Western “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” was a pop hit in the U.S. and had emerged as one of the most iconic scores in film history. The complex composition tosses a recorder, bass ocarina, chimes, electric guitar, whistling, and nonsense lyrics sung by a soprano and a choir into the mix of a traditional orchestra. In this video, the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and the Danish National Concert Choir shows how this delectable musical minestrone is made. To view the video, click here.


From Atlanta, with amore

Anita and Tom Augello have been the proprietors of an Atlanta-area Italian grocery store and deli for more than 35 years. Even dearer to them are the large family meals they preside over every Sunday at a 14-foot table surrounded by children and grandchildren. To both of these culinary endeavors, they bring old-country recipes from Piedmont, Tuscany and Sicily, where they trace their roots. You can now follow this food-loving family on Anita’s new blog, Mangia Magna. There, you’ll learn about her latest cookbook, “Basta Pasta Ancora,” and sample recipes as diverse as cassata, Tuscan lasagna and shrimp with orzo. Enjoy meeting the Augellos at both of their websites, mangiamagna.com and e48thstreetmarket.com.

— Dolores Sennebogen


A Caravaggio cornucopia

“The Calling of Saint Matthew,” “The Conversion of Saint Paul” and “Boy with a Basket of Fruit” are just a few of the masterpieces created by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. If you’re an admirer of this baroque painter, caravaggio-foundation.org is the online gallery for you. The website banner boasts “Caravaggio: The Complete Works,” and it’s not kidding. The site features 303 paintings, including many of Caravaggio’s lesser-known creations. The portal also contains a detailed biography, links to galleries in Italy that exhibit his paintings and a virtual slideshow. When you’re done, stream Marco Visalberghi’s 2015 docudrama “The Caravaggio Affair” on Amazon Prime for the full Caravaggio experience. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Passport to adventure

A former sports, food and travel writer for the Denver Post, John Henderson headed straight for the Eternal City after he retired in 2014, and he hasn’t looked back. Since then, he has poured his talents into the website “Dog-Eared Passport: John Henderson’s Travel Adventures in Rome and Beyond.” Henderson’s features run the gamut, from Italy’s World Cup chances, Rome’s diverse neighborhoods and the Amalfi Coast on Valentine’s Day to the return of wine tastings to the Boot and the state of the nation’s Ukrainian community. A veteran travel writer, he has devoted a corner of his website to his adventures in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. For more, click here.


‘Raven-haired Doris Day’ topped the ’50s pop charts

Joni James, the beloved singer and entertainer once dubbed “the raven haired Doris Day,” passed away on February 20 at the age of 91. Born Giovanna Carmella Babbo in Chicago in 1930, she was raised by a single mother during the Great Depression. James graduated from Bowen High School where she began studying drama, music and dance. One of her first jobs was performing at Chicago’s Edgewater Beach Hotel, but in 1952 she was signed by MGM. Her first hit, “Why Don’t You Believe Me,” sold 2 million copies. She went on to record a string of hit singles and albums before scaling back her career to become a full-time mother and housewife in 1964. When asked about how she arrived at her talent, James replied, “I am Italian. Italians breathe, Italians sing.” Here she is performing “How Important Can It Be,” which reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts in 1955. To view the video, click here.

— David Witter


Calabrian homecoming

In 2002, Michelle Fabio set out for her great-grandfather’s birthplace, a tiny town in Calabria called Badolato. When she arrived, a small voice inside her said, “I’m home.” As with so many expat stories that feature happy endings, Fabio sought dual citizenship, fell in love with a local and built a new life. She works as a freelance writer and editor and has created an award-winning blog called Bleeding Espresso. It is devoted to travel, culture and, of course, food. Recipe seekers will find an archive of stories in here weekly series “What’s Cooking Wednesday.” Her site is also a good starting place for anyone interested in visiting Calabria. Find Michelle on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and bleedingespresso.com.

— Dolores Sennebogen


A Vitti primer

The Criterion Collection is the art house film aficionado’s go-to channel for classic cinema and hard-to-find international films. If you want to steep yourself in the works of Monica Vitti, the extraordinary actress who passed away in February at age 90, check out Criterion’s selection of her epic collaborations with Michelangelo Antonioni. Those titles include “L’avventura” (1960), “La notte” (1961) and “L’eclisse” (1962). Also available is “Red Desert” (1964), along with a special interview with Vitti about the film and her cinematic partnership with the director. “The Phantom of Liberty,” the acclaimed 1974 French film by Luis Buñuel in which she starred, is also available to stream. Visit criterionchannel.com and search Monica Vitti.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Italian teen posts delightful sendup up of her dad

Check out this Instagram post of an Italian teen imitating her father making dinner. I watched at least a dozen times to catch every little line and then a half a dozen more just to bask in the physical comedy. No daughter has ever done a more delightful job of ribbing her dad. I’m guessing he didn’t know whether to laugh out loud or ground her. He probably did both. To view, click here. (If the sound is off, click on the small icon in the lower right of the video.)

— Paul Basile


Sicilian trove

Nadia Fazio has two cherished memories. The earliest is of her grandmother’s first visit from Sicily. Her nonna would coax the fussy eater to take a bite by cooing, “Mangia, bedda” (Eat, beautiful). Nadia also remembers her own mother writing down family recipes in a small black notebook. Fazio still owns this barely legible treasure, but since ingredient amounts are vague (add as much flour as you need), Nadia set out “to document each recipe before it is lost to me.” She is now sharing them on a blog for anyone interested in authentic Sicilian cuisine. In addition to her family recipes, Nadia highlights dishes she has discovered on trips to the island, such as panelle, busiate pasta and Sicilian brioche. Learn more about how to “eat, beautiful” at mangiabedda.com.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Show yourself around

The ancient Roman alter Ara Pacis dates back to 13 B.C., when it was commissioned in honor of Augustus upon his return to Rome from a trip abroad. Today, the Museo dell’Ara Pacis, which houses the monument, offers a comprehensive virtual tour. According to the museum’s website, the tour is available from all devices and offers “a journey to discover the beauty of heritage through a digital experience that moves beyond the limits of the museum space.” The virtual program gives guests the freedom to move around the museum, read the information panels, and view and zoom in on the images from different angles. It’s the next best thing to being there! For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Life along the border

In April 2021, the Calandra Italian American Institute hosted a virtual conference titled “Italian Borderlands: Restrictions, Breaches, Encounters.” All 13 sessions of the conference are now available to view on video. Panelists explore a wide range of topics, including colonial Africa, cultural encounters between Italy and Latin America, rural-urban coalition-building by Fiorello Laguardia, identity along Italy’s northeast border, new immigration to Southern Italy, and the exploration of borderlands in literature and film. The Calandra Institute operates under the aegis of Queens College, City University of New York. To view, click here.


Reports of Sinatra’s demise were greatly exaggerated

Frank Sinatra retired from show business in 1971, but his time away from the spotlight lasted only about 18 months. He returned to work in 1973 with a new album titled “Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back” and a TV special called “Magnavox Presents Frank Sinatra.” I was 9 years old in 1973 and I can still remember sitting with my dad and watching the special. I had no particular idea who Frank Sinatra was at the time. In a few short years, I began to listen to and learn Sinatra’s entire body of work. This clip is my favorite from that 1973 special, as Frank and Gene Kelly try to recapture some of the magic they conjured at MGM in the 1940s.

— Otto Bruno

To view the video, click here.


Celebrating Fellini

Federico Fellini’s masterpieces once again graced big screens in New York. This time around, they were part of the Museum of Modern Art’s Fellini retrospective, which included 21 feature films and three shorts, all digitally restored in 4K resolution. The series, which concluded in January, was part of the Federico Fellini 100 Tour, a worldwide centennial tribute to the legendary Italian director that was halted during the pandemic. Most of the films are available to stream via the Criterion Channel’s extensive collection of Fellini films and documentaries about his work. Go to criterionchannel.com, sign up for your free 14-day trial, and search Federico Fellini.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Embracing Nonna’s cooking

Alessandra Aiello has lived in New Jersey for 45 years, but she was born in Vico Equense, a coastal town between Pompeii and Sorrento near Naples. She likes to return there as often as possible to renew her enthusiasm for the style of cooking she learned to love growing up in a family of 12. On her YouTube channel, Alessandra’s Food Is Love, she welcomes you into her kitchen like an old friend and prepares Southern Italian dishes such as arancini, gnocchi, S-shaped cookies and other unfussy dishes. She keeps her presentation thorough but relaxed, saying, “I hope all my recipes will bring you back to the foods you love and memories of the past with Nonna in the kitchen.” For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Exploring Florence

Like a personal concierge, The Florentine magazine is an insider’s guide to Florence, covering history, food, art, travel, current events and more. Recent posts explore a former grain store in Florence that has been converted to a trendy work hub, as well as the scenic Mugello region just north of the city. The portal offers a free weekly e-newsletter in addition to compelling videos and a multitude of articles, some of which require a subscription. A monthly magazine is available for free in Florence and elsewhere by subscription, both in print and digitally. For more, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


Drumming legend Appice shreds an iconic Supremes hit

This 2011 performance by Vanilla Fudge of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” is a true blast from the past. The only things missing are the lava lamps and psychedelic strobe lights. Powered by Carmine Appice’s consummate drumming, the band transforms the bouncy Supremes hit into a hard rocking, heartbreaking wail. Lead singer Mark Stein’s plaintiff voice is the star of this performance, but Appice’s cannon shots, cymbal crashes and trademark drumstick twirls play a crucial supporting role. A legendary drummer with a 50-year career backing superstars the likes of Rod Stewart and Ozzy Osbourne, Appice is still most closely associated with this iconic song.

— David Witter

To view the video, click here.


A foodie’s guide to Florence and beyond

Born to an Iranian father and a Sicilian-American mother, Coral Sisk’s life has centered around good eating. “I’ve been obsessed with food and understanding every morsel of it for as long as my memory serves,” she explains. She fell in love with Florence on a 2005 visit and moved there for good in 2012. An author and sommelier, Sisk writes about eating and drinking well in Florence and other haunts in her blog Curious Appetite. She also curates food and wine tours in Florence, Bologna and the surrounding countryside. In addition to her blog, Coral contributes to publications such as Vogue, The Guardian and Conde Nast Traveler. If you’re interested in finding the perfect Florentine ristorante, enjoying the best gelato or making an easy Pasta con le Zucchini e Fiori, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Exploring our roots together

Whether you’ve just started tracing your family tree or you’ve been at it for years, the Italian Genealogical Group is there for you. Established in 1993, IGG is the nation’s  largest nonprofit organization dedicated to Italian genealogy. Offerings include educational events and webinars, records preservation tutorials, indexing initiatives and free help desk sessions with experts. Members receive 10 digital newsletters each year, as well as the ability to list their family surnames and ancestral locations in an ever-expanding database that facilitates connections with other researchers and possible relatives. Members-only events have included an annual holiday party and a recent webinar on dual citizenship. For more, click here.

— Maryanne Yenoli


Italian movies, TV series and more

MHz Choice is a paid streaming service that presents a variety of international television series and movies. Among the many Italian offerings are popular shows like “Detective Montalbano”; “The Young Montalbano”; and “Octopus,” a series starring Michele Placido that ran from 1984-2001. The platform’s contemporary Italian movies include “The Arrival of Wang” by the Manetti brothers, which made its North American premiere at the 2012 edition of Open Roads: New Italian Cinema in New York, as well as the duo’s 2017 musical-style film “Love and Bullets.” Also worth checking out are the 2019 documentary “The Passion of Anna Magnani” and the TV magazine series “Italiana,” which explores Italy’s rich culture. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Grocery shoppers get way more than they bargained for

This one has been making the rounds for nearly a decade but it bears reposting. Italian pesto-maker Saclà surprised shoppers at the John Lewis Foodhall in England with an impromptu performance of the Italian classic “Funiculì, Funiculà.”

To view the video, click here.


Made in Matera

The second annual Matera Film Festival took place in October, attracting prestigious international guests like Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg, who held masterclasses and helped organize the weeklong cinematic celebration. Artistic Director Nando Irene told Fra Noi that, with all the international films being produced in Matera, the latest being Bond blockbuster “No Time to Die,” the city was long overdue for a festival of its own. Click here, then click on EN in the upper right, and then go to GALLERY and THE FESTIVAL for photos and highlights along with the backstory of the enchanting prehistoric sea creature that serves as the festival’s mascot.

— Jeannine Guilyard

Cuisines within cuisines

After growing up with the culinary influences of her Roman mother and Sicilian father, Anna Maria Volpi dedicated herself to investigating Italy’s authentic regional cooking. Her studies and travel revealed that Italian cooking varies not just regionally, but that each community and valley has its own way with local ingredients. To share her knowledge, she began a blog called Anna Maria’s Open Kitchen. Links direct the reader to recipes, articles, guest cooks and food finds. She helpfully offers tabs for vegetarian dishes and metric conversion charts. There’s also a “Cooking School” section, where she demonstrates the preparation of pizza, risotto, gnocchi and other classic dishes in detail. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen

Face-to-face with the famous

The Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America recently wrapped up Season 4 of its OSDIA Live Interview Series. Each season features multiple half-hour episodes. Interviews are conducted by OSDIA officers, committee members and staffers, and spotlight luminaries from across the professional spectrum. Guests this season included OSDIA President Robert Bianchi, Columbus Citizens Foundation Chairman Angelo Vivolo and automaker Tonino Lamborghini. All episodes can be viewed on OSDIA’s Facebook page. for more, click here.


Como, Martin team up with Lawrence for an uplifting trio

Whenever my spirits need lifting, two of my favorite YouTube sources of joy are Perry Como and Dean Martin. Get both of them together and it’s pure entertainment gold! In this marvelous clip, Perry and Dean are joined by the lovely Carol Lawrence (aka Carolina Maria Laraia) to render Dino’s big hit “Everybody Loves Somebody.” Nine months after this appearance on Perry’s show, Dino embarked on his own variety series on NBC, which lasted for nearly a decade. Americans welcomed these two smooth Italian crooners into their homes for well over 20 years as the kings of variety television.

— Otto Bruno

To view the video, click here.


One-armed trumpeter Manone helped launch the Jazz Age

A terrific trumpet player, Joseph “Wingy” Manone, exuded the fun of the Jazz Age. He bridged the Dixieland and Swing eras while specializing in early jazz vocals very much like his fellow Italian American trumpet-playing pal, Louis Prima. Manone enjoyed the respect and friendship of America’s musical royalty, including Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, and Johnny Mercer. His musical career is nothing short of inspirational as he lost his right arm in a childhood accident and for most of his life wore a prosthetic that he used to hold his instrument while working the valves with his left hand.

— Otto Bruno

To view the video, click here.


Culinary love affair

Lora Giorgi first created a blog to put her recipes “in a safe place” for her daughter, Gabriella. Though Giorgi is raising her family in Florida, she spent much of her childhood in Sicily and is married to an Italian-born executive chef. These life experiences have made her “madly and passionately in love with Italy — its food, history, language and people.” She expresses her enthusiasm by sharing Italian and Italian-American recipes on her blog, Savoring Italy, and on a podcast of the same name. Many are simple comfort foods that have fewer than 10 ingredients and take less than 30 minutes to prepare. Also explored are rustic desserts, homemade breads and an occasional nod to her mother’s Hungarian roots. Links include recipes for gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo diets. Look for on Giorgi on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more, click here.

—Dolores Sennebogen


Library card as passport

Kanopy is an online streaming service founded in 2008 by Australian entrepreneur Olivia Humphrey. Originally intended as an educational tool for universities, the service has branched out to community libraries across the United States and is accessible with just a library card. The vast selection consists mostly of documentaries, world cinema and children’s content. Among the many classic and contemporary Italian films available are Vittorio De Sica’s “Bicycle Thieves,” Roberto Rossellini’s “Rome Open City,” Michelangelo Antonioni’s “L’Avventura,” Federico Fellini’s “City of Women” and Nanni Moretti’s “My Mother.” “Mostly Martha,” the acclaimed German rom-com starring Sergio Castellitto as an enchanting chef, is also available. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Camera lens as tour guide

A daydreamer’s paradise, the Image Earth Travel blog offers stunning photography and engaging descriptions of locations all over the world. Australian writer and photographer Nilla is the perfect travel companion. Click on Europe and then Italy to find an abundance of enticing locations from Italy’s top to toe, with an emphasis on Calabria. For example, she’ll guide you through historic Cosenza, where you will learn and view the city’s history from its fourth century B.C. beginnings while winding along atmospheric narrow alleys and daunting stairways, soaking in picturesque vistas and encountering modern street art. For more, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


Italy’s infinite charms

Billed as an online travel and lifestyle magazine, “The Italy Edit” explores destinations in alluring, illustrated depth. The site’s mission is “to inspire readers to discover the ‘infinity of Italy.’” Recent articles cover the best hotels in Naples, 48 hours in Palermo and an exploration of the Italian Riviera. Pieces such as “How to Dress Like an Italian Woman” are included in the fashion and style section. Their current Spotify playlist explores the “sounds of the season,” with tracks by everyone from Tony Bennett to Mina. You can sample their photography on Instagram (@the_italyedit), and a monthly e-blast connects you with what’s new on the entirely free site. For more, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


Cinematic master classes

“Robert Bellissimo at the Movies” is a YouTube channel that encourages people to watch films from all over the world. “Film history is essential to build on the lessons of the old masters,” says host Robert Bellissimo. Those old masters include many Italian filmmakers whom Bellissimo regularly profiles. Among his favorites are Vittorio De Sica, Federico Fellini and Liliana Cavani. “I can go on and on,” said Bellissimo, whose Italian roots are in San Fili and Vallelonga Calabria. A recent episode featured a compelling conversation about classic and contemporary Italian cinema with Giò Crisafulli, chief entertainment critic for the National Organization of Italian Americans in Film and Television. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Not your average Joe

Joe Borio’s family memories center around kitchen life. His mother’s relatives, the Toscanos, were fabulous cooks and bakers, and his father’s family owned a popular Italian restaurant in central New York. There, Joe worked side by side with his dad and grandmother, learning their love of Italian food and culture. In 2012, he bought a villa in Puglia, and he now operates an organic farm and olive grove on the shore of the Adriatic. He’s proud of the oil he and his sons produce. He brings his enthusiasm for family, olive oil and Italian cuisine to his YouTube channel, “Cooking Italian with Joe.” You can follow his video lessons, where he prepares hundreds of recipes as he chats amiably and charms you into the kitchen. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


 

Pixar film resurrects delightful Post-WW II Italian pop ditty

My favorite CD of old-school Italian pop tunes is Putomayo’s “Italian Café” and my favorite tune on that CD is Quartetto Cetra’s “Un baccio a mezzanotte.” Released in 1952, it perfectly captures the zany, jazzy infectious spirit of the music that swept across the Boot in the decades following World War II. Imagine my delight when that lilting ditty was featured prominently in Pixar’s unabashedly Italian feature-length cartoon, “Luca.” Since there are no live-action videos of Quartetto Cetra performing the song on the internet, I’ve provided you with a link to the tune posted by Pixar below.

— Paul Basile

To listen to the song, click here.

For Italian lyrics and their English translation, courtesy of Daily Italian Words, click here.


Simply delicious

American-born and Italian-raised, Eleonora Baldwin is the granddaughter of famed director and actor Vittorio De Sica. She named her food blog Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino, explaining that the eponymous recipe is the Italian cook’s ode to simplicity. Her recipe tab yields links to years of posts that include the names of recipes in both Italian and English and references to the regions from which they originate. Her occasional feature “Be My Guest” showcases like-minded bloggers who share “intimate moments with food of the heart.” When asked in an interview which three ingredients she always keeps on hand for a quick meal, she responded, “Extra-virgin olive oil, fresh tomatoes and garlic. And wine. And bread. Oh, and pesto sauce … only three? Really?” Quintessential Eleonora. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Leading the way

Literary scholar and cultural historian Luca Cottini is the founder and host of “Italian Innovators,” a YouTube show that features presentations, interviews and lessons focusing on Italian fashion design, business tech and cultural history. “In the show, I present Italy’s contributions to the modern world and explore their underlying model of success,” explains Cottini. The idea emerged from his experiences as a professor of Italian studies in the United States, his zeal for discovery and his belief that teaching is an empowering art of sharing. In addition to YouTube, episodes are available on iTunes, Spotify and Spreaker. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Norman legacy

When UNESCO added Arab-Norman Palermo and the cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale to its World Heritage List in 2015, it acknowledged a millennium-old influence that resonates today. That same influence is explored by the Norman Sicily Project (NPS), an interdisciplinary digital humanities effort that documents Sicily’s rich history and culture between the years of 1061 and 1194. Currently a prototype, the app catalogs monasteries from that era, with other types of buildings to be added down the road. It also contains more than 1,300 records that map out the broad kinship network of Sicily’s Norman rulers. Available in English and Italian, the app will continue to expand. NPS developers encourage contributions from specialists and the public. For more, click here.

— Alessandra Faranda

 


Jovanotti’s “Bella” still has the power to charm and inspire

Lorenzo Jovanotti’s “L’Albero” dominated the soundtrack of my life in 1997. At 15, I fell in love with Jovanotti’s seventh studio album, which fused Italian melodies with African and Cuban beats. It was a refreshing taste of a better world, a place where people got together to create something beautiful. Standing out for its positivity and brilliance was the song “Bella,” which celebrates the beauty of simple things (bread, sunlight hitting the pillow, a picture of Jovanotti’s nonna as a young girl). It’s still a go-to song for when I need a mood-booster.

— Nicola Orichuia

To view the video, click here.


Rooms with views

Stanze Italiane (Italian Rooms) is a virtual museum created by the Italian Cultural Institute of New York. The “rooms” on the site let you travel to Italy and discover its heritage, arts and sciences without leaving your home. The virtual spaces offer interesting and engaging content on all facets of Italian culture. A truly expansive effort, the Stanze Italiane is an audiovisual feast that includes paintings, music, interviews and other valuable information. Clicking on “The Violins by Leonardo Frigo” in Dante’s room, for example, will take you to a page with beautiful classical music and information about a violinist who is currently working on an homage to Dante’s “Inferno.” For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


How does your garden grow?

Early Italian immigrants were hard-working, family-oriented individuals who often shared a passion: They loved to create garden spaces of their own and to enjoy the nourishment produced with their hands. Mary Menniti has created the Italian Garden Project to tell their stories. The goals of the project are “to celebrate the joy and wisdom inherent in the traditional Italian-American vegetable garden” and to demonstrate its continued relevance. Her website maintains a Hall of Honor recognizing individuals whose gardens exemplify the Italian relationship to food, family and the Earth. She maintains a permanent archive of these stories alongside her blog entries and continues to accept submissions and photos that highlight our gardening heritage. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


When a little Italian boy starts to cry during his first encounter with a barber, all the adult men pitch in to distract him. Adorable!


Morricone and more

Inspired by Sergio Leone’s cinematography and Ennio Morricone’s scores, New England-based film aficionado Jack Criddle has launched “Play Morricone for Me,” a radio show dedicated to film music. Showcasing the soundtracks of “cult, classic and contemporary” movies, according to Criddle, the program is broadcast in the Northeast, syndicated across the country and archived on Mixcloud. Previous episodes have spotlighted the scores behind Federico Fellini masterpieces; the “polizieschi” subgenre of crime and action films that were popular in Italy in the 1960s and ’70s; and the more recent “mondo” shockumentaries, which mix grisly fact and fiction. It should come as no surprise that Criddle is partial to compositions penned by Morricone during his seven-decade career. To listen in, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Family-focused food

Tuscan native Giulia Scarpaleggia has a deeply rooted passion for her heritage and feels lucky to make a living sharing it. She maintains an award-winning food blog, delivers a newsletter to her followers and teaches Tuscan cooking in the Sienese countryside. Her blog — “Juls’ Kitchen: Stories and Recipes from Tuscany” — allows you to search recipes by subject and season, as well as view videos of dishes that have been tagged as most loved. She also shares mini guides to her favorite restaurants, street vendors, food markets and agriturismi. In 2019, she added a podcast called “Cooking with an Italian Accent.” Despite her impressive accomplishments, Scarpaleggia contends, “I am not a professional chef, so I don’t know how to cook complicated things. Just family dishes.” For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


A sense of community

The Modern Italian Network (mi.o) is an online community that allows members to share their passion for Italy and learn more about the nation they love. I enjoy mi.o because I’m able to share my experiences as an Italian American in an interactive environment. I also have been able to connect with Italians around the world, as well as experts in cooking, language, travel and culture. Membership is free, and posts from members include favorite recipes and songs, photos of Sunday dinners and recent travel destinations. The website also offers online courses on a variety of topics. To join the mi.o community, click here.

— Giovanna Scarabaggio


 

Tormented as a youth, pop star Ferro lives life on his own term

In the 2020 documentary “Ferro,” singer Tiziano Ferro says he grew up a misfit, bullied for being fat. But when he and the world discovered he could sing, he was on the way to pop music superstardom. Fame didn’t come without a toll, though. He starved himself to lose 100 pounds, battled depression, alcoholism and the torment of the closet. “Ferro” is about his emotional journey to get to a place where he is genuinely happy, though music remains his lifeblood. These days Ferro walks through his Los Angeles neighborhood where no one recognizes him as the superstar and he’s fine with that. “Ferro” culminates with an introspective return to his home of Latina, and a 2020 return to the stage of San Remo. He’s living a life of gratitude now, one on his terms. “Ferro” is available on Amazon Prime, in Italian with English subtitles.

James Scalzitti

For the Official movie trailer in Italian, click here.

For footage via RAI of his performance at the 2020 San Remo festival, click here.


Culinary adventure

Sara Rosso is the founder of World Nutella Day and co-author of an e-book called “The Unofficial Guide to Nutella.” She is also “a modern Renaissance woman,” with interests in technology, business, food, travel and music. In addition to sending out a monthly newsletter, she presides over a food blog called “Ms. Adventures in Italy.” It’s devoted to cooking, exploring, and tasting new specialties from Italy and around the world. Visitors to her blog can read articles on everything from avoiding pickpockets when traveling to ordering an Italian coffee in Italy. But foodies will skip straight to the site’s list of delectable recipes that includes appetizers, dolci and everything in between. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


A word a day and then some

Whether you are a beginning student or want to brush up on your Italian to keep up with current usage, dailyitalianwords.com is the online outlet for you. With entries ranging from cake to how to express romantic feelings to 30 ways to say “idiot,” the website’s brief and engaging presentations take the tried-and-true word-a-day approach to a new level, often with related idioms, songs or movie scenes. Husband and wife team Mat, who was born and raised in Turin, and Heather, a British Canadian who taught and studied there, send their delightful pieces from Wales. Together, they produce an email newsletter, a blog, a podcast, YouTube segments and other special features. For more, click here.

— Margo Metegrano


Surprisingly perfect timing

Who moves to Italy in the middle of a global pandemic? Travel writer and tour operator Victoria De Maio does. She recently left her home in Northern California and relocated to Tuscany for what she calls an extended stay. She credits her 100 percent ancestry, established via a DNA test, and her great love of all things Italian for embarking on this oddly timed adventure. She chose Florence because of its beauty and central location. By immersing herself in the culture, she hopes to augment her current array of small group tours and custom itineraries. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Steve Tyler rocks a local bar in  his ancestral home

In recent years, rock legend Steve Tyler began exploring both his musical and ethnic roots. That journey led him across the Atlantic in 2013. Arriving in his grandfather’s hometown in Calabria, he met with his relatives and cousins, who led him to the house where his grandfather was born. At one point, he assured them, “I understand that the countrymen of my grandfather Giovanni and my father, Vittorio, are extraordinary people,” Tyler told Italiani Magazine. “I hope to come back soon, maybe for a concert, just for the town.” The rock star kept his word. In 2015, Tyler stopped by a local bar. Joined by his cousins and Italian singer LaceBlack, he performed a karaoke version of “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” while the crowd sang with him all’unisono.

— David Witter

To view a clip, click here.


Spotlighting Tuscan cuisine

The daughter of a diplomat, Emiko Davies spent her early life on several different continents before being drawn to Florence, Italy. An early influence was Pellegrino Artusi’s classic cookbook “La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene.” Davies and her Florentine husband, Marco, now live with their children in San Miniato, Tuscany. She is a columnist, a blogger and the author of three cookbooks on foods of the region. Her website contains more than eight years of recipes, from antipasti to dolci, each accompanied by a personal story and lush photograph. You can also link to charming travel articles with titles like “Street Food of the Tuscan Coast” and “Livorno for Foodies.” For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


“Human Capital”

Talking Italian cinema

Founded by lifelong cinema enthusiast Steven Johnson, the Cinema Italiano Podcast features discussions, interviews, deep-dive analysis, and essays about films — both classic and contemporary, legendary and lesser-known — and how they reflect Italian society, values and culture. An Italian with Sicilian and Tuscan roots, Johnson started the podcast after realizing that, out of the thousands of movie podcasts, not one focused entirely on Italian films. “It was almost like it was meant to be,” Johnson says. “My personal passion for these films helped me fill a gap in the film podcast space.” For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Embracing life in Italy

You probably know what orecchiette are, but what about mezze maniche? And do you know how to prepare each of these very different pastas? Maybe you have a taste for a new Italian word or phrase each day, like “guazzabuglio” (a jumble or mess) or “sono stufo” (I’ve had enough). Or perhaps you hunger to know the difference between di nuovo and ancora. Are you planning on traveling to Italy soon and wondering about the latest COVID-19 restrictions? Or are you hoping to buy property and looking for tips on living there? Thelocal.it sheds light on all of the above in a very entertaining way. There’s even a Jobs in Italy section if you’re up for the adventure! For more, click here.

— Luke Basile


A transatlantic duet between a pair of pop legends

Everybody knows Dean Martin, but who among you recalls Caterina Valente? Achieving stardom in her native Italy, she enjoyed quite a career in America as well, appearing on TV with Martin and Perry Como and touring with the likes of Louis Armstrong and Bennie Goodman. During one appearance on Martin’s show, Valente gently takes mega-watt star to school while charming the heck out of him and his audience.

— David Witter

To view the video, click here.


Serie A on demand

Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, I was a huge fan of Italian soccer, but following Serie A in those days was a challenge to say the least. You had to either wake up early on Sunday to watch RAI’s game of the week or read a copy of La Gazzetta dello Sport that was days, if not weeks, old by the time it arrived on stateside newsstands. Fast forward 30 years, and Serie A is so much more accessible thanks to the internet. One of my favorite outlets is IFTV. They provide loads of information across social media platforms, and their YouTube channel broadcasts lively recaps of Serie A games every week. Their motto is, “Connecting English-speaking calcio fans from around the world,” and they live up to it. For more, click here.

— Donald Vaccaro


On the culinary prowl

Andrea Soranidis is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of The Petite Cook. Born and raised in Sicily, she moved to London 10 years ago. That became a stepping stone to food explorations throughout Europe as well as Japan and the Middle East. “I started The Petite Cook to document my foodie life,” Soranidis explains. Her blog shares a mix of recipes that include Italian classics she grew up with and new dishes from abroad that have become tried-and-true family favorites. Soranidis emphasizes fresh ingredients and unfussy methods. Her recipes have been featured in magazines such as Parade and Country Living. Her 2019 cookbook, “20 Minute Italian,” was written to inspire people “to skip the restaurant and whip up these super speedy Italian meals instead.” For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Deep cinematic well

Founded in 2014, Tubi is a worldwide streaming service. Independently owned until last year, when Fox Corp. acquired it, Tubi has an impressive list of titles that includes many classic and contemporary Italian films. A recent search turned up Ettore Scola’s “Dirty, Ugly and Bad,” Marco Ferreri’s “La grande bouffe,” Sergio Corbucci’s “Django,” Francesco Munzi’s “Black Souls” and Roberta Torre’s “Angela,” to name just a few. Most titles are listed in English. When searching for Italian films, go to the “Browse” sidebar, choose “Foreign Language Films” and scroll through the vast collection. Films are free of charge and do not require registration to watch. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Underground sensation Corsi’s career takes flight

For many years, Lucio Corsi was one of the most talked-about names in Italy’s underground music scene. But the 28-year-old Milanese singer-songwriter is now navigating the waves of fame with his third album, “Cosa faremo da grandi?” (What will we do when we’re grown up?). Originally from Grosseto, Corsi has had the audacity to mix genres and styles that range from David Bowie to Francesco De Gregori, all infused with the most classic of melodic vocals “all’italiana”. Throw in Pasoliniesque music videos in which Corsi shows off a quirky and audacious acting talent, and the keys to success and fame are in his hands!
— Nicola Orichuia

For the official video, click here.


Early Ramazzotti hit celebrates power of love

Eros Ramazzotti, one of the greatest Italian singers and songwriters of modern times, connected with people because he was an unpretentious guy with a unique, powerful voice and enormous musical talent. He grew up with modest means in the outskirts of Rome, the setting of his hit song “Adesso Tu” that won the 1986 Festival di Sanremo when he was just 22 years old. The song is about love as a powerful force that propels you to tackle life’s obstacles. More importantly, it’s a stark social commentary of life in a tough neighborhood and the acknowledgment that you can never, and should never, forget where you come from.
— Elena Ferrarin

For the official video, click here.

For footage from a 1986 concert, click here.


“La Strada” theme song captures heroine’s essence

I don’t think that a movie theme song captures the spirit of a character as precisely as does Nino Rota’s theme from Federico Fellini’s 1954 “La Strada.” Sold by her mother to a traveling magician, Gelsomina, portrayed by Giulietta Masina, is a complex, troubled soul who just wants to be loved. Fellini drew inspiration from Masina, explaining, “I utilized the real Giulietta, but as I saw her. I was influenced by her childhood photographs, so elements of Gelsomina reflect a 10-year-old Giulietta.” The film won the first Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Celebrate Masina’s centennial by listening to this enchanting soundtrack. To listen to the theme song, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Culinary therapy

Manuela Anelli Mazzocco, author of “The Complete Italian Cookbook: Essential Regional Cooking of Italy,” calls her time in the kitchen creative and relaxing. Her blog, “Cooking with Manuela,” is aimed at convincing readers that “with not much time, some love and a good appetite, you too can prepare amazing dishes.” Born in Venice and now residing in California, Manuela shares traditional dishes such as beef involtini and baked eggs in tomato sauce, but is open to any simple recipe that gets dinner on the table for her active family. An amateur photographer, she provides bright, tempting photos as well as links to her video recipes. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen


Afterlife walking tour

Florence’s Uffizi Galleries are marking the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death with “To rebehold the stars,” a virtual tour of 88 illustrations depicting the master poet’s “Divine Comedy.” Created by 16th-century painter Federico Zuccari, the stunning, detailed depictions were completed between 1586 and 1588. The images follow Dante, with guides at his side, as he traverses the afterlife from Hell (Inferno) through Purgatory (Purgatorio) and finally into Heaven (Paradiso). A fourth tour explores other Dantean works at the Uffizi. To start your tour, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard


Roaming the Eternal City

Romeing is both a monthly print publication distributed in the Eternal City and a spectacular website. Whether you’re an expat, avid traveler, Rome buff or just someone looking for virtual tours from the comfort of your couch, Romeing has you covered. The online version features delightfully illustrated, in-depth articles about art, culture and key spots like Rome’s largest park, Villa Doria Pamphilj. For us cinephiles, there’s a section devoted to filmmaking that includes a wonderful article revealing the exact locations where iconic movies — such as Roberto Rossellini’s “Rome Open City,” Federico Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita” and Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty,” to name a few — were shot. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard

La professoressa della tavola

Roz Corieri combined her master’s degree in education with a lifetime love of cooking, photography, and gardening to create a food and lifestyle blog called La Bella Vita Cucina. Since 2009, she has been teaching us lessons learned in her kitchen and her family’s restaurants as well as through her wide travels. In addition to recipes searchable by course and ingredient, her blog provides handsome photos, attractive tablescapes and useful gardening tips. Readers can also search by holiday or check her “how to” section for advice such as how to scale a fish. Roz usually posts several times a week and also includes a link to her favorite imported foods and kitchen products. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen

Face time with the famous

The Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America launched Season 3 of their OSDIA Live Interview Series on Jan. 27. Each season features 12 half-hour episodes. Interviews are conducted by OSDIA officers, committee members and staffers, and spotlight luminaries from across the professional spectrum. Previous seasons have featured guests like author Adriana Trigiani, chef Lidia Bastianich and NASA astronaut Mike Massimino. Upcoming guests include actor Joe Piscopo and automaker Tonino Lamborghini. TO view episodes, click here.

— Miles Ryan Fisher

Europe for foodies

If you’re dreaming of your next trip to Italy, get a taste of what’s in store at EatingEurope.com. The website’s mission is to give travelers “an unparalleled, non-touristy, food-related experience” of major European cities. There are links to popular Italian destinations such as Rome, Florence and Naples, as well as articles like “The 15 Best Places to Visit in Italy.” You can find guides to the best food markets in Firenze and the top must-try eats in Napoli. There are also simple recipes to dishes such as chocolate gelato, cacio e pepe and handmade gnocchi. The website connects you to tours of authentic food shops and eateries and introduces you to “the people behind the food.” For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen

Deep cultural dive

Treccani.it offers a veritable feast of news, views and culture, all from a very Italian point of view. The entire website is written in Italian, with no English translation available. Click on “Magazine” at the top of the homepage, and choose from countless news articles and opinion pieces about Italy and the rest of the world. The same drop-down menu serves up current Italian music, presented by season or style, under the heading “Le Parole Valgono.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The website grew out of the fabled “Enciclopedia italiana di dcienze, lettere ed arti” that was launched in 1925 by Giovanni Treccani. for more, click here.

— Kathryn Occhipinti

 

Classics + commentary

The Criterion Channel is both a treasure trove of classic films and a wellspring of in-depth commentaries by cinema scholars. The essays offer thought-provoking analyses that explore political and social themes. They also delve into the relationships between iconic directors and the actors who played their protagonists. Criterion recently released a restored version of Francesco Rosi’s 1979 film “Christ Stopped at Eboli,” marking the occasion with a compelling examination of the Carlo Levi book upon which the movie was based as well as the political and social issues the author was grappling with. Other interesting essays include “Fellini Satyricon: Not Just Friends,” “L’eclisse: Antonioni and Vitti” and “Seeing Clearly Through Tears: On the Smart Sentiment of Umberto D.,” to name a few. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard

Change of heart

As a teenager and former picky eater, Paola Maggiulli was a reluctant helper at her dad’s West London Italian deli. By her 20s, she had learned to appreciate the charms of Italian charcuterie, briny olives and imported cheeses, and “slowly started to understand how important food was to my family.” She eventually dove into her food heritage, visiting relatives in Puglia and taking professional food and wine courses. It all led to a career as a food consultant, chef and food blogger at thetinyitalian.com. Still based in London, Paola continues to enjoy traveling throughout Italy to explore the intricacies of regional cuisine. Her website offers searchable recipes, including vegetarian and vegan options; product reviews; travel information; and cookbook suggestions. You can also follow Paola on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. For more, click here.

— Dolorese Sennebogen

Free and easy

Onlineitalianclub.com has, by its own account, “masses of free materials” for students of Italian. Run by the British company Imaprareonline Ltd., the website makes “everything accessible to all, member or not.” Start by taking a free test to determine your proficiency in Italian, then dive into grammar and verb exercises created specifically for your level. Or listen to one of the many topic-oriented short stories or dialogues. Also operated by the same company, easyitaliannews.com and dontspeakitalian.com serve up short vignettes on current topics for beginning Italian students. Italian movie buffs can listen to and then read Italian language summaries of classic Italian movies. Love Italian history? Check out new postings each week on the history of Rome. The main sources of income for the site are the Easy Reader and Parallel Text E-books and Italian lessons from native speakers that are available for purchase. For more, click here.

— Kathryn Occhipinti

Channeling nonna

Cara Cipolla Kretz considers herself a recovering corporate workaholic. She left that behind to invest her enthusiasm in her food blog, Homemade Italian Cooking. Cipolla Kretz grew up in a large Catholic Italian family in the suburbs of Chicago with both of her grandmas nearby. From an early age, she and her sisters participated in meal preparation with their elders. “We were three generations of women from two Italian families converging in the kitchen. It was bliss.” Her blog posts include tips, secrets and shortcuts to help the modern cook achieve traditional results. For those who learn by watching, short videos are included for some recipes. The health-conscious should check out Kretz’s cookbook “Delicious Detox and Powerfoods.” You can follow Cara on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen

Spotlight on Sardinia

A unique collection of videos about Sardinian heritage are available on Vimeo through the Ethnographic Institute of Sardinia’s on-demand platform. More than 50 photo essays, documentaries, short films and animated films are currently online, with more on the way. All works were shot on the island of Sardinia. Some have enjoyed considerable success, including Paolo Zucca’s “L’Arbitro” (The Referee), which earned him a David di Donatello for Best Short Film. “La cena delle anime” (Supper for Dead Souls) by Ignazio Figus is particularly compelling. It made its North American premiere in New York last year at the Margaret Mead Film Festival. Works with English subtitles are labeled accordingly. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard

Italiano con linguine

If you love pasta and la nostra lingua, you can satisfy both cravings via “Speak Italian with Your Mouth Full,” a series of 13 recordings from an MIT seminar by Dr. Paola Rebusco. Watch Lesson 1 to learn the basics of Italian pronunciation, then join Dr. Rebusco and her students in the kitchen to fix two classic pasta dishes: Pasta all’Amatriciana and Pasta con i Broccoli. While in the kitchen, Dr. Rebusco focuses on the pronunciation of basic Italian food vocabulary while teaching authentic methods of cooking pasta. The complete recipes are listed in the information section below each video. By the time you’re done with the final episode, you’ll be preparing pasta fresca for your friends while describing what you’re making in Italian with ease. For more, click here.

— Kathryn Occhipinti


Prisencolinensinainciu-what?

Pop singer Adriano Celentano released a song in the 1970s with nonsense lyrics meant to sound like English. He did it to prove that Italians would embrace anything American. He was right. Prisencolinensinainciusol became a hit with ripple effects all the way through to today. We found several clips, all with a different twist. The best is this one, which can only be viewed on Facebook. (Don’t forget to turn the sound on.)

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=266763840191660

 

If you don’t have Facebook, you’ll have to suffer through this bedazzled version with shoddy audio-visual synching.

 

Even with a much clearer audio on the studio version (no video here), you STILL can’t understand a word Celentano is saying.

 

Here he is on whatever the Italian version was of American Bandstand. One of the comments below the video is illuminating: “This is legitimately what English sounded like before I learned how to speak it. It’s a really fascinating thing since my brain processes this as being ‘English’ without it really being English.”

 

Then there’s this highly polished modern adaptation. (Keep your eyes peeled for a cameo appearance by Celentano later in the video.)

To learn more about the song and its creator, click here.

An operatic farewell to the pandemic

Tenor Daniel Emmet looks forward to a world without the coronavirus in this exceedingly clever and ultimately quite stirring adaption of Puccini’s “Nessun dorma.”


Cinematic feast

Readers of Fra Noi know Jeannine Guilyard from her monthly film profiles, but she has so much more to offer on the cinematic front. A seasoned journalist in all media, she shares insights and updates at italiancinematoday.com. Her mission is to celebrate more than a century of great Italian moviemaking. Recent posts include a review of the 1914 silent film “Cabiria,” a report on recent Netflix projects featuring contemporary Italians, and a preview of Martin Scorsese’s recent collaboration with Alice Rohrwacher. You can follow her on Twitter (@ItaloCinema2day), Instagram (italiancinematoday) and Facebook (italiancinematoday). Can’t get enough of Italian cinema? Jeannine feeds the need. For more, click here.

— Paul Basile

Linguistic travel companion

Wherever you are on the long road to Italian literacy, you won’t find a better travel companion than Kathryn Occhipinti. Her learntravelitalian.com is a compendium of lessons and notes that let you immerse yourself in the language and culture of il bel paese. The homepage offers easy access to the interactive audio adventures of Caterina, an Italian-American girl who travels to Italy. You’ll also find beginning and advanced lessons, as well as blogs featuring authentic Italian recipes and Cultural Notes for Travelers. Kathryn’s book series, “Conversational Italian for Travelers,” is available for purchase on the website and you can follow her on Facebook (conversationalitalian), Twitter (@travelitian1) and Pinterest (stellalucenteItalian). For more, click here.

— Paul Basile

Evviva la musica!

Italian Sinfonia was a two-hour Italian language music and cultural radio program carried by Fordham University’s public radio station for 20 years until being cancelled by the station in December 1996. The spirit of that program lives on in a website by the same name. Infrequently updated with more than its share of broken links, italiansinfonia.com is nevertheless rich in archival material. Your best bets are the sections dedicated to Italian radio and video stations, and video playlists covering every decade from the 1960s to the present. You haven’t truly lived until you’ve reveled in the campy charm of Little Tony’s 1969 classic, “Cuore matto.” For more, click here.

— Paul Basile

Deep dive

How much do you love all things Italian? Enough to launch a whole website without thought of reward? That’s exactly what Candida Martinelli did with italophiles.com. “This is a hobby-site,” she writes. “Any money made from links and ads provides funds to cover my computer, Internet and website hosting and domain name costs. Anything left over, I spend on pasta!” And oh, what a site it is! Vast, inclusive and idiosyncratic, it covers cuisine, cinema, theater, music, books, travel, history, home and garden, holidays and fun, and Italian culture for children. Dazzling in its depth, diversity and quirkiness, it’s a virtual House on the Rock for Italian lovers. For more, click here.

— Paul Basile

Picture perfect

“The Eternal City is filled with some of the most extraordinary works of ancient art; one the most beautiful is surprisingly one of the least visited. It’s the summer dining room from the Villa of Livia, who was the wife of Emperor Augustus. Life-size frescoes of trees, flowers, fruit and birds decorate four walls to create a continuous 360° view.” So begins the latest photoblog on Postcards from Boot. Written and curated by Carla Gambescia, author of “La Dolce Vita University,” the website features elegantly written deep dives into fascinating niches of Italian culture, enhanced by slideshows of stunning photos and graphics. Other postcards bear tempting titles like “Swept Away in Sardinia,” “Scenes from a Sicilian Summer,” “Fish Market Magic” and Love, Lust and Lavazza.” For more, click here.

— Paul Basile

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Embracing Sicily

Interested in reading about daily life in Italy in Italian? In her blog “Sicily Inside and Out,” Australian expat Rochelle Del Borrello describes her 16-year experience living in a small town in Sicily. “A few years ago, I began writing about the difficulties of being an accidental or ‘unwilling expat’ in Sicily, but now my life is about accepting and embracing life in Italy,” she writes. Always telling it like it is, Rochelle’s vignettes have a unique perspective and subtle humor. Check out the “in italiano” tab for Italian-only blogs. For more, click here.

— Kathryn Occhipinti

Reimagining Campari

We all know Campari for its iconic Italian apéritifs. Recently, the brand teamed up with Rome’s Cinecittà Studios to create enchanting short films to promote its cocktails. The series, “Red Diaries,” consists of works by contemporary Italian directors Matteo Garrone (“Gomorrah”), Stefano Sollima (“Suburra”) and Academy Award winner Paolo Sorrentino (“The Great Beauty”). Each inspired by a specific Campari cocktail, the films are psychological thrillers that contain a strong element of mystery. The website also features recipes for its cocktails, including the legendary Negroni and Americana as well as the Campari story with past art and film campaigns. For more, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard

Remembering nonna

Frank Fariello began his food blog in 2009 “to recapture something.” What he has recaptured is revealed in the blog’s name, Memorie di Angelina. It began as a tribute to the home cooking of this grandmother Angelina. “I learned the importance of good food at those leisurely Sunday dinners, the kind that … last well into the evening.” After 10 years he has published more than 500 recipes   and maintained his loyalty to authentic Italian and Italian-American home cooking. Beyond recipes, Frank tells food stories with a focus on the experience of cooking. Because he still practices law full time, he doesn’t post as frequently as full-time bloggers, but he honors his readers by not monetizing the site in any way. He accepts no ads or sponsored reviews. There is so much more to learn about Frank and Angelina on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. For more, click here.

— Dolores Sennebogen

In Hadrian’s footsteps

Carole, who is French and lives in Frankfurt, Germany, has two great passions in life — travel and the Roman Emperor Hadrian. In her words, she “usually (doesn’t) do things by halves,” so she’s combined these two fascinations into a blog/photography project showcased at followinghadrian.com. Carole takes inspiration for her peregrinations from the journeys of Hadrian, himself an inveterate traveler. Nearly 2,000 years after his reign, she follows in his footsteps, documenting her voyages with photos. It’s fascinating to see what those historic sites look like today, paired with descriptions of the events that happened during Hadrian’s time. For more, click here.

— James Scalzitti

Boccaccio reimagined

Boccaccio’s 14th-century masterpiece “The Decameron” follows a group of Italians who are leaving the city for the countryside to escape the plague and decide to tell stories to pass the time. Feeling isolated during the pandemic, longtime collaborators Erri De Luca and Paola Porrini Bisson took a page from Boccacio’s book and invited an international group of authors, journalists, poets and playwrights to write stories that would then be interpreted by actors from around the world. Each tale is accompanied by a bold, impressionistic backdrop created by LA artist Richard Petit. The resulting project, “The Decameron 2020,” included six stories ranging in length from 2-1/2 to 7 minutes at press time, with more to come. Most are performed in English or with English subtitles. For more, click here.

— Paul Basile

Virtual ticket to Italy

If you love Italy, the Italian language, or Italians in general, The Local Italy (thelocal.it) is your ticket to keeping up with them. The site offers news and features about the latest Italian trends, why Italy needs to repair more bridges before they fail, what the pope is up to, drool-worthy Italian travel pics and the occasional explainer about Italian politics (as if they can be explained). One classic Local Italy article teased, “People No Longer Laugh When You Order Penne.” In Italian, double consonants like the “nn” in penne are pronounced more strongly than single consonants. It’s important to speak it carefully, the article suggested, so the waiter understands you’re ordering pasta and not a part of the male anatomy that is impolite to speak of in finer restaurants. For more, click here.

— Pam DeFiglio

Oh, so THAT’S how Italian babies learn to talk with their hands!

Parallel universe

A visit to italyheritage.com will prove entertaining and rewarding for beginning and advanced students of Italian alike. The website contains an extensive collection of authentic videos from Italy on a diverse number of topics, including clips of Italian movie scenes, songs, cooking instructions and excerpts of documentaries about Italians who have made important contributions throughout the world. What makes these videos so easy to learn from is the parallel script provided for each — in Italian on the left and English on the right! The site allows you to keep in touch with your Italian roots while learning the language of your ancestors.

— Kathryn Occhipinti

These little piggies …

Remember those cartoons you loved as a child? You may be surprised to learn that in Italy, children and adults alike love cartoons of all types. Comic strips are found in newspapers (vignette) and comic books (fumetti), and animated cartoons are played on TV (cartoni animati). So why not include i cartoni as an entertaining way to improve your Italian listening skills? The YouTube channel Peppa Pig Italiano has 283 colorful videos, each under an hour, that follow a popular family of pigs as they face life’s daily challenges in a lighthearted way. And the Italian is slow and simple, making them easy for children and adults alike to understand!

— Kathryn Occhipinti

Armchair Italian

Would you like to learn Italian with a couple of Italian friends? Then pull up a chair and listen along as Jane and Massimo of LearnItalianpod.com bring you up to speed. Both are native Italians who speak clearly and slowly enough for beginning Italian students to follow. Their engaging, friendly manner and choice of real-life situations make it easy to embrace the language. Each line of their short, topical dialogues is repeated with the English translation and then again in Italian with time for the listener to speak. Just click on the green “Lessons” tab on the homepage of their website and get started today!

— Kathryn Occhipinti

Crazy for Italian

Is your quest to learn Italian driving you a bit crazy? Check out the website studentessamatta.com by Melissa Muldoon. Melissa has taken on the persona of “la studentessa matta,” or “the crazy student,” to signify that “anything and everything is possible if you go a little crazy” when learning Italian. Melissa is an art historian, author of three novels set in Italy, and a blogger about Italian language and culture. Her blogs are written in intermediate Italian, followed by the English translation, and describe “all things Italian”—from Italian hand gestures to a famous Botticelli painting. You can listen to Melissa’s Italian/English vlogs on her You Tube channel “Italian with Melissa” as well.

— Kathryn Occhipinti

More than just a podcast

Do you need to improve your Italian listening and comprehension skills? Then podcastitaliano.com may be just what you’re looking for. Podcast Italiano was founded by Davide Gemello from Turin in 2017. A large variety of material about Italian life and current events is easily accessible from the website, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or the YouTube Channel. All blogs have a link to the audio and include written transcripts, with both Italian and English for beginners. Check out the YouTube video “How to use Podcast Italiano Effectively” and start listening and learning Italian today!

— Kathryn Occhipinti

 

Vero italiano

While visiting Italy, have you found that the Italian spoken there is often completely different from the textbook version? Then try listening to the “Con Parole Nostre” podcast before your next trip! “Con Parole Nostre” means “In Our Own Words,” and provides a unique opportunity to listen in to three real-life Italian friends (Barbara, Elfin and Silvia) as they have an informal chat. A topic like “What will you do for New Year’s?” is chosen and the three friends record their spontaneous conversation for the podcast. “The language we use is real cutting edge, not simplified for students.” The ladies speak at a regular conversational pace (quickly), but transcripts are available for download so you won’t miss a word!

— Kathryn Occhipinti

Straight to video

If you enjoy a spoonful of culture with each Italian lessons, check out the new YouTube channel from the native Italian teacher/translator team Anna and Diana. Dubbed “My Italian Circle,” the channel debuted in November 2019 and features colorful vignettes on Italian art, music, history and traditions. The “Learn Italian with the News” series uses current events to teach common phrases. For the series, Anna appears as a TV anchor with news clips playing in the background while she speaks in clear, conversation-speed Italian about recent happenings in Italy. Italian subtitles appear during the segments and there’s a quiz afterward. The channel also posts traditional teaching videos in which Anna discusses Italian grammar points geared toward beginning students.

— Kathryn Occhipinti

Everyday Italian

If you’re studying Italian and are bored with memorizing lists of vocabulary words you’ll probably never use, try learning the language using videos taken from everyday life. The Edilingua YouTube channel features vignettes that are organized by topics such as shopping, ordering at a restaurant or starting a new job. Their “Arrivderci!” series features vignettes from the lives of a fashionable 20-something Italian couple in 2015. With a videocam following unobtrusively, they carry on casual conversations as they stroll along the streets of their city. Their dialogue is peppered with modern expressions that are easily committed to memory. Watch with Italian captions to catch every word.

— Kathryn Occhipinti

Rinse and repeat

Most Americans who want to learn Italian begin with a specific goal in mind — for example, to contact family in Italy, take a dream vacation, or even relocate permanently for work or retirement. Whatever your reason for embracing Italian as a second language, the best way to do it is by learning basic Italian phrases in a gradual, understandable and interesting way. Learntravelitalian.com provides a series of 18 dialogues that tell the story of Caterina, an Italian-American woman who travels to Italy to meet her Italian family. Beginner dialogues progress to intermediate as the story continues. Listen to Caterina’s encounters with native Italian speakers on your computer or phone, then repeat each phrase out loud to drive the lesson home.

— Kathryn Occhipinti

Light-hearted lessons

Inject a little humor into your Italian lessons with “Marco in a Box.” The YouTube channel has more than 100,000 subscribers who enjoy the lively banter between Italian-speaking Marco and his American friend Alex as they tackle such knotty issues as “Italian words you’ve been getting wrong” and “How to talk with your hands.” Presented in a lighthearted and positive manner, the series delves into the many difficulties that American students encounter with the Italian language. Each video starts with Marco introducing a challenging word or phrase. Alex then re-creates how a typical English-speaking student would say it, after which Marco sets Alex straight. Marco speaks in clearly enunciated Italian, and there is just enough repetition in these humorous back-and-forth dialogues to drive the lessons home.

— Kathryn Occhipinti

Language break

Did you know that simply listening to and repeating Italian words for 20 minutes a day can help you speak Italian more fluently? The “Coffee Break Italian” podcasts provided by Radio Lingua are based on that concept. Their 20-minute installments have been available for free without subscribing to their site since 2015, and now they’re also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify. Each podcast is led by bilingual language teacher Mark and native Italian speaker Francesca. Together they provide on-air instruction to Katie, a native English speaker who has just started to learn Italian. You can begin with basic Italian in Season 1 or skip to the new intermediate level introduced in May. (radiolingua.com/coffeebreakitalian)

— Kathryn Occhipinti

Italiano con linguine

If you love pasta and la nostra lingua, you can satisfy both cravings via “Speak Italian with Your Mouth Full,” a series of 13 recordings from an MIT seminar by Dr. Paola Rebusco. Watch Lesson 1 to learn the basics of Italian pronunciation, then join Dr. Rebusco and her students in the kitchen to fix two classic pasta dishes: Pasta all’Amatriciana and Pasta con i Broccoli. While in the kitchen, Dr. Rebusco focuses on the pronunciation of basic Italian food vocabulary while teaching authentic methods of cooking pasta. The complete recipes are listed in the information section below each video. By the time you’re done with the final episode, you’ll be preparing pasta fresca for your friends while describing what you’re making in Italian with ease. For more, click here.

— Kathryn Occhipinti

Marvelous Matera

If you’re planning on visiting Italy this year, I suggest heading south to Basilicata and visiting the sassi of Matera. The town’s ancient stone structures were at one time deserted due to profound poverty and disease. In recent decades, investors rehabilitated those structures, turning them into luxury hotels and B&Bs. Locals started moving back, and tourists caught on. The once poverty-stricken, desolate city is now the 2019 European Capital of Culture. Visit materaevents.it for a calendar of cinema, art and cultural events. You can check out international design workshops and find out how you can get involved and join the celebrations.

— Jeannine Guilyard

Sicilian immersion

Take a cinematic trip to the countryside of Sicily in Giuseppe Tornatore’s 2009 autobiographical epic, “Baarìa.” The film recounts three generations in the Sicilian village where he was born. Enrico Lo Verso takes on the role of Minicu, a character tracked across half a century span. In a recent interview, Lo Verso told us that Minicu has been one of the most coveted roles of his career. To prepare for this part, he lived alone in a hut in the mountains of Sicily. It was an opportunity for Lo Verso to connect with the land of his origins, immerse himself in the sounds of nature and to contemplate his upcoming part in the film. Those connections helped him fully invest in the role and grow tremendously as an actor. Stream it on Amazon Prime, YouTube and iTunes.

— Jeannine Guilyard

Living la vita Italiana

From North to South and coast to coast, giadzy.com lets you access everything Italian from the comfort of your own home. Created by celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis, giadzy.com is a lifestyle website for the passionate Italophile. Born in Rome with origins near Naples, she reconnects with her ancestral roots often, sharing her favorite places and tips with her readers. Whether you’re searching for an authentic Italian recipe or an intimate restaurant on the island of Capri, De Laurentiis has you covered. She also recommends translation apps to save you stress when traveling through Italy. Giadzy is also on Twitter (@giadzy), Facebook (@theGiadzy) and Instagram (@thegiadzy).

— Jeannine Guilyard

Our story, our way

“I recently launched The National Organization of Italian Americans in Film & TV with the goal of helping Italian Americans break into the entertainment industry and promoting stories about the Italian-American experience,” explains NYU Film School graduate Taylor Taglianetti. Inspired by the support she received from Italian-American organizations like the National Italian American Foundation and Columbus Citizens Foundation, she decided to start her own organization to pay it forward. “Membership with NOIAFT is free as long as you pledge to help another Italian American in the group. It can be as simple as giving another person advice.” (www.noiaft.org)

— Jeannine Guilyard

All things Vatican

From daily news to feature stories and in-depth profiles, Rome Reports is an invaluable resource for everything about the Vatican. With offices located on Via della Conciliazione, the street leading directly to Vatican City, the international news agency provides correspondents for television stations and subscribers around the globe. The English-language website is brimming with interesting stories and broadcasts a half-hour weekly news program. The “Other Topics” tab contains stories on arts, culture, technology and places of interest when visiting the Eternal City. The agency also has a documentary division and offers its productions to stream via an online store. (romereports.com)

— Jeannine Guilyard

The best of Basilicata

Specializing in genealogy research and heritage immersion in Italy’s southern regions of Basilicata, Campania and Puglia, My Bella Basilicata was created by husband and wife team Valerie and Bryan, who relocated to Valerie’s ancestral town 15 years ago. The couple was featured on an episode of HGTV’s House Hunters International in 2012 and their agency has become a go-to for Italian Americans wanting to know about the land their ancestors left behind. The website includes information on the process of genealogy research in the South of Italy and what you will need to get started. Visit www.mybellabasilicata.com.

— Jeannine Guilyard

To bee or not to bee

Alice Rohrwacher’s “Le meraviglie” (The Wonders) centers on a family of beekeepers living in stark isolation in the Tuscan countryside. The dynamic of their overcrowded household is disrupted by a troubled teenage boy who is taken in as a farmhand while a reality TV show is intent on profiling the family. Both events impact the eldest daughter, Gelsomina, who is struggling to find her purpose in the world. Rohrwacher gracefully conveys her adolescent sense of curiosity and confusion. The film, which features Rohrwacher sister Alba, won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, where it premiered. Available on Vudu, YouTube, iTunes and Google Play.

— Jeannine Guilyard

Photo by Federico Garolla ©

In Pasolini’s footsteps

“Pasolini Roma” provides a virtual tour of sites relevant to Pier Paolo Pasolini’s filmmaking and writing. You’ll visit 50 addresses and dates accompanied by a map and photos of Pasolini’s life in Rome. The tour spans 25 years, from his first day in Rome in 1950 to the day of his funeral in 1975. In between, you’ll visit his workplaces, homes and film locations. Among the website’s many treasures are black-and-white photos taken during the filming of “Accatone” in Rome’s Pigneto neighborhood, with a young Bernardo Bertolucci as his assistant, along with the story of how a famous scene from Roberto Rossellini’s “Rome Open City” influenced him to shoot in that neighborhood. Also included are candid shots of Pasolini directing Anna Magnani in “Mamma Roma” and of him spending an evening at Piazza del Popolo’s legendary Canova Café with Federico Fellini, who hired him as a scriptwriter for “Nights of Cabiria.” Learn more at www.pasoliniroma.com.

— Jeannine Guilyard

Edu-taining app

Referred to as “Museum Edutainment,” Bardeum is a new interactive app that’s like having your own private tour guide at some of the most iconic sites in the world. A work in progress, the app currently covers Florence, Pompeii and Rome in Italy. Venice is slated for a 2021 release. Clicking on “Rome” will take you to a page titled “Rome Experiences.” There, you’ll see sections on the Forum, Colosseum, Palantine Hill and Circus Maximus. Each section covers a variety of topics. Under “Roman Colosseum,” you can click on “Spartacus” and learn about the legendary slave-turned-gladiator who led an uprising that gave Julius Caesar a run for his money. The app is available free of charge through the Apple store and Google Play. (www.museumedutainment.com)

— Jeannine Guilyard

Culinary trove

Born and raised in Chicago, Jordan Frosolone has become one of New York’s most sought-after chefs. His range of culinary talents is limitless. He can satisfy the most carnivorous of palates and then turn around and make a mind-blowing vegan truffle risotto. You’ll find a host of culinary treasures on his website, including photographs of antique pasta-making instruments and celebrations of his adventures through Italy. There is also a section featuring detailed gourmet recipes. If you’re in New York, you can experience his creations firsthand at The Leopard, located in the Upper West Side’s legendary Hotel des Artistes. Or you can explore his talents online at www.jordanfrosolone.com.

— Jeannine Guilyard

 

Cinematic goldmine

Istituto Luce Cinecittà’s online archives offer a treasure trove of more than 70,000 films dating back to the early 20th century, plus more than 430,000 photographs. The institute provides free access to its vast digital records, which contain thousands of hours of footage. Three hundred silent films originally released between 1927 and 1932 have just been added along with a section dedicated to world travel, titled Cinemobile. Select “English” in the upper left of the home page, click on Historical Archive, choose from Film or Photographic, and explore. (cinecitta.com)

— Jeannine Guilyard

Thoroughly modern cinema

You can access contemporary Italian films for free and in abundance at postmodernissimo.com, a website dedicated to quality cinema, entertainment and visual arts. The portal was created to revive Modernissimo cinema d’essai, Perugia’s oldest movie house. The cinematic institution was shuttered in 1978 but reopened in 2014, thanks in no small part to the attention and support garnered by the website. After that goal was achieved, organizers broadened the movie house’s international reach by making a rotating selection of films available online. With Italy’s nationwide quarantine, the list of films was recently expanded.

— Jeannine Guilyard

Deep historical well

The Audiovisual Archive Foundation of the Workers’ and Democratic Movement was established in the late 1970s to research, collect and store decades of AV treasures such as films, newsreels and multimedia works. Overseen for its first 20 years by filmmaker Cesare Zavattini, the archive quickly grew into a vast reservoir of “considerable historical interest,” according to the superintendent of the region of Lazio. In recent years, much of its content has been uploaded to YouTube. The majority is in Italian, but there are many clips accompanied by only music or natural sound. The archive offers countless rare glimpses into life in Italy over the last century. To dive in, click here.

— Jeannine Guilyard

Virtual Vatican

You can explore the Vatican Museums from every angle without leaving the comfort of your own home, thanks to a new feature on the museums’ website. A few clicks of the mouse will provide you with a 360-degree view of 13 of the 56 rooms that comprise one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. To stand on the threshold of the virtual museum, click here. Once you “enter” a room, you can click on arrows that take you up, down and all the way around the space. You can even zoom in for a better view. Clicking on the room’s name directly above the tour takes you to a wealth of information about the space.

— Jeannine Guilyard

Culinary pride

For Italian food lovers, one the internet’s great gifts is the explosion of food bloggers that honor our heritage. The beloved ones invite us into their kitchens to pull up a chair and reminisce about the way that Nonna cooked. Prouditaliancook.com often takes it one step further by looking for ways to tweak recipes if there’s a better way. Since 2007, Marie Renallo has cooked, photographed and written all of the blog’s content in her suburban Chicago kitchen and has garnered recognition both locally and nationally. She has catalogued hundreds of recipes that are indexed by category and sometimes include a short video presentation. You can also follow Marie on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

— Dolores Sennebogen

Divine inspiration

Whether you’re planning an Italian dinner or an Italian vacation, look to guidance from Judy Witts Francini. Once a pastry chef in San Francisco, she has lived in Tuscany for more than 30 years, exploring all of her passions: food, wine, art, teaching and travel. She shares them on her award-winning blog, Divina Cucina. In addition to providing access to her catalog of recipes, Judy offers one-day or full-week programs that explore “culture through cooking,” both in Florence and in Sicily. Participants visit local markets and have opportunities to cook with chefs in town and on farms. You can also look for her cooking classes on Youtube or download her “Taste Chianti” app. Get started at divinacucina.com.

— Dolores Sennebogen

Mangia bene!

More than 45 years ago, Deborah Mele married into an Italian family and became “Italian by heart.”  When she and her husband moved to Milan for eight years, she spent hours browsing the markets and learning to cook using only the ingredients that were fresh that day. Her popular food blog, Italian Food Forever, honors that freshness and simplicity and encourages the joy of savoring leisurely meals.  She recently listed her readers’ favorite recipes from 2018, and they are as diverse as vegetarian meatballs, pasta with peas and pancetta, and black olive and sun-dried tomato focaccia. More than sixteen years of recipes are tagged by ingredients and indexed for easy access.  Also check out Deborah’s cookbook reviews, kitchen tips and links to Italian products. (italianfoodforever.com)

— Dolores Sennebogen

Infinite pasta-bilities

Jacqui Dibono invites you to join her on an online journey that began when she decided to hone her pasta cooking skills. “The Pasta Project,” she writes, “is a personal undertaking to try every single type of pasta available the length and breadth of Italy; be it by cooking it myself, getting my husband or friends to cook it, or eating in a restaurant here in the Veneto region where we live or during our travels around Italy.” It has been estimated there are 360 to 400 shapes and sizes of pasta. If you also calculate the combinations of pasta shapes and unique sauces employed from region to region, you’ll see that Dibono’s endeavor, begun in 2016, is in its infancy. Her blog indexes all of her recipes by type of pasta and by region, as well as taking you on tours of some of the restaurants and pasta companies she has visited. (the-pasta-project.com)

— Dolores Sennebogen

Multimedia menu

Silvia Colloca is an Italian-born actress and opera singer who moved to Australia eight years ago to pursue her many creative passions. One of them is writing about and preparing food the way she learned beside her mother and grandmother. Her cookbook, “Silvia’s Cucina,” and her food blog of the same name have been recognized here and in Australia as authentic guides to fresh, healthy ways to partake of a diet that many describe as rich. Colloca conveys to her readers that this is a misapprehension and also wants them to know that not every plate is redolent of garlic or buried under a mountain of cheese. Her handsome blog links to present and past entries, each accompanied by an inviting photo. She has also created a YouTube channel with professionally shot video recipes. She invites you to join her at silviascucina.net.

— Dolores Sennebogen

Grandma’s hands

Vicky Bennison searches the length of Italy for grandmothers who still make pasta by hand, and she films them in their own kitchens. You can meet them on Vicky’s YouTube channel, “Pasta Grannies.” They come from every region, and each reveals her own secrets, but most start with not much more than flour and water, which they work before your eyes until it becomes springy and velvety. In Trapani, Sicily, Angela prepares busiate served with a local pesto that includes tomatoes. The flour is made from durum wheat from their family farm. Last spring, viewers met 100-year-old Letizia, the oldest nonna yet, preparing taglierini with a puree of fava beans and wild fennel. Find more enchanting nonne on YouTube, or look for Bennison’s just-released companion cookbook, “Pasta Grannies: The Secrets of Italy’s Best Home Cooks.”

— Dolores Sennebogen

Seeking pizza perfection

Author, educator and all-around baking guru Peter Reinhart has written a half dozen acclaimed books about the art of baking bread. Several have won the James Beard Foundation Award and other honors. Reinhart has also gone on a years-long quest to make the perfect pizza, and to teach us how as well. Since 2010, he has hosted a website called Pizza Quest with Peter Reinhart, “a journey of self-discovery through pizza.” While his name is at the top, he advises us that there is “a whole team of serious pizza freaks involved in this website.” It features videos, blog entries, webinars, recipes, guest columnists and links to “Sites We Like.” Reinhart’s most recent pizza cookbook is “Perfect Pan Pizza: Square Pies to Make at Home.” Look for Reinhart on YouTube or join the pizza quest at fornobravo.com/pizzaquest.

— Dolores Sennebogen

Beyond biscotti

One might think that a food blog called “She Loves Biscotti” would be dedicated primarily to baking, but Maria Vannelli offers readers “simple and tasty family recipes with an Italian twist.” Her dishes include traditional Italian staples from her mother’s table, but she also incorporates information on balance and nutrition she has learned as a professional dietician. In addition to searching her past recipes by keyword or ingredient, visitors to her blog can click on “how to” for tutorials such as blanching almonds or making homemade ricotta. She confesses that, like many of us, “when I’m not talking about food, I’m either making it, eating it, sharing it or thinking about it.” And while she loves to look back at favorite recipes she is always innovating, including a recent blog post about air-fryer Italian cookies. Learn more at shelovesbiscotti.com.

— Dolores Sennebogen

Lidia’s online world

Social media jargon often refers to “food influencers,” individuals who can steer culinary tastes and trends. When it comes to Italian food, one of the nation’s powerhouse influencers is certainly Lidia Bastianich, thriving restaurateur, prolific cookbook author, and a PBS staple. More than just a beloved celebrity chef, Bastianich has created a flourishing food and entertainment business that exemplifies the immigrant dream. You can follow all things Lidia by visiting lidiasitaly.com to link to Lidia’s Blog, Lidia’s YouTube channel and Lidia’s Journal. You will find a modest archive of recipes indexed by course as well as tips of the day. Visitors can read about her restaurants throughout the country, and her partnership in the Eataly marketplace empire, with U.S. locations in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and Las Vegas.

— Dolores Sennebogen

Deeply in love

Although millions of people enthusiastically proclaim their love for Italian food, few are likely aware of lloveitalianfood.it. I Love Italian Food is a nonprofit cultural association that promotes products made in Italy and works to protect the country’s agri-food industry. Although it’s an association of professionals, their digital platform provides everyday content for all Italian food lovers. If you follow them on Instagram or Facebook, they will feed you links to authentic recipes, often with the backstory on the dish. Their website, which can be read in Italian or English, also serves up interviews with chefs, information about Italian food products and news stories of interest. You can catch them on YouTube or peruse their recipe archive at iloveitalianfood.it/en/c/recipes/.

— Dolores Sennebogen

From the UK to you

The team behind a UK website called Great British Chefs has launched a sister site dubbed Great Italian Chefs. Their goal is to “bring you unparalleled access to some of the greatest chefs in the world as well as the latest food stories and trends.” In addition to profiling professionals who work in some of Italy’s finest restaurants, the website shares recipes that challenge home cooks to attain greater heights. Visitors are invited to comment on recipes or sign up for an electronic newsletter. You can also create an online recipe binder to organize and store your favorite dishes. Other features include well-photographed commentaries on each region of Italy and a browser that lets you search by recipe, ingredient, course or special diet. (greatitalianchefs.com)

— Dolores Sennebogen

Foodie down under

Actor and comic Vincenzo Prosperi lives in Australia but entertains food lovers around the world with his YouTube channel, “Vincenzo’s Plate.” A natural cook, Prosperi has a backstory in common with many Italian epicures: He learned his skills in his nonna’s kitchen. Repeatedly pestered by friends for recipes, he met the demand by launching a blog, a website, and, most recently, his YouTube channel. In addition to basic Italian cooking techniques, Prosperi teaches us to share food and laughter with those around us. His congenial parents and grandmother often join him in preparing dishes, adding a few twists to the recipes. Prosperi has used multiple media platforms to build a community of foodies that has made him “the happiest person is the world.” Visit youtube.com and search for Vincenzo’s Plate.

— Dolores Sennebogen

Nonna rules!

The website “Cooking with Nonna” was launched in 2009 in a Brooklyn basement kitchen, with Rossella Rago and her Nonna Romana creating traditional dishes from Romana’s native Puglia. The Washington Post described it as “a sweet Old World-paced online series dedicated to homestyle Italian cooking.” The website garnered national attention in 2010 when Rossella; her mother, Angela; and Nonna Romana notched a victory in the premier season of the Food Network’s “24-Hour Restaurant Battle.” In time, Rosella began inviting nonne from other Italian regions to showcase typical foods from their own kitchens. The award-winning series has led to two cookbooks that celebrate food, family and traditional holiday specialties. You can partake on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter, and at cookingwithnonna.com.

— Dolores Sennebogen

Getting it right

When Rosemary Molloy clicked on a website promising authentic Italian recipes, she said to herself, “No, that’s not right.” That moment back in 2013 inspired her to create her own site, “An Italian in My Kitchen.” Her first teacher was her Italian mother in Toronto. When Molloy moved to Italy in 1989, her education continued. “My mother-in-law and sister-in-law sure know how to cook,” she said. “I learned so much and tasted some of the best food I ever had in my life.” She took baking classes along the way to expand her expertise. Her blog is geared toward cooks of all skill levels, and her website is easy to navigate in search of cooking tips or appealing classic recipes. Molloy is also the author of a cookbook, “Authentic Italian Desserts,” plus an e-book, “It’s All About Pasta.” (anitalianinmykitchen.com)

— Dolores Sennebogen

 

Who needs words when you have Italy’s vast language of expressive hand gestures? Just ask these Italian toddlers.

Even when Italian kids learn to “use their words,” their bodies are a big part of the conversation.

You’d think that ALL Italian adults would hate ALL American junk food. Some of their reactions may surprise you.

And now, for a kid’s perspective.

ARRANGIARSI — What would you do if you were under quarantine in Sicily and you and your twin brother both played the violin?

VA PENSIERO — Italy’s legendary Frecce Tricolori send spirits soaring during a stirring aerial display.

LUNGA DISTANZA — Talk about social distancing! A pair of Italian tennis players rewrite the rules of engagement.

CENT’ANNI! — Nothing can keep Italians from their wine or their toasts.

VISTA CELESTE — Longing for a glimpse of Italy? You can still gaze down from above thanks to these breathtaking videos taken via drone by Parker and Clayton Calvert.

ALL’INTERNO DI POMPEII — While you’re traveling Italy via computer, take this captivating tour of Pompeii, courtesy of Corriere della Sera. To view, click here.

 

MANGIA BENE! — Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura prepares gourmet meals with whatever’s in the fridge while sheltering at home.

BELLI RICORDI — Photographer Steve McCurry helps us remember Italy before the crisis.

BUONA PASQUA, PRIMA PARTE — Andrea Bocelli’s live-stream Easter concert was a global blockbuster.

BUONA PASQUA, SECONDA PARTE — Cancelled for the first time in hundreds of years, Florence’s spectacular Easter festivities lives on thanks to filmmaker David Battistella.

VIVA LA MUSICA! — Hats off to Italymagazine.com for compiling a list of online concerts posted by opera houses across Italy. Click here for their article.

 

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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