40 decades later,’The Fever Still Burns’

By Alberto Macchione

It could be argued that there were three truly significant Italian American movies that cemented Italian culture into the zeitgeist. The Godfather, Rocky and Saturday Night Fever, the latter of which is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year.

Each of those movies was sold as ‘The American Dream’ all with anti-hero leads, all with flawed characters, failing the expectations of their families, their peers and the country that their families emigrated to. Underneath the Red White and Blue sheets were a different dream. The dream of a Red White and Green flag from southern Europe that had been defeated by war and had left regions with endemic poverty and few opportunities for growth. These people left close-knit communities and loving homes to make a life for themselves. They left to build America.

They went to survive, they went to make it. They didn’t always win like Vito Corleone. For most of them, winning was just Rocky Balboa making it to the final round. Surviving every well-trained punch that the stars and stripes adorning Apollo Creed could give. The subtext is America beating down this ‘other’ with all it might, The Italian Stallion, who with almost no education, no finance and poor preparation had the guts and determination to stand toe to with the world champ and take him to task. For most of them winning was just trying, such as disheveled and beaten Toney Monero crossing the bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan in the final scenes of Saturday Night Fever, traveling from youth to adulthood, from the very ethnic coffee drinking Brooklyn to the white tea drinking Manhattan (Italy to America).

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Italian Family Traditions

Our friend, Lee Bondarenka. is keeping up with his family traditions!

Pittsburgh’s Little Italy: Bloomfield

Our founder, Jack De Leonibus, was featured in Shady Ave Magazine’s recent piece about Bloomfield.

Check it out by clicking on the image below.

Pontifical Swiss Guard

By Alberto Macchione

Tourists, the world over, often visit the Vatican City in Rome to see the Pope, St Peter’s Basilica and the the highly recognisable spear wielding court jesters that guard the sacred city. Unbeknownst to many, these elaborately adorned security detail are a very serious battalion known as the ‘Pontifical Swiss Guard’.

Unlike the equally iconic Queen’s Royal Guard in the United Kingdom who are instructed to ‘stamp their foot and request that any nuisance step away’ the Swiss Guard are a highly skilled elite fighting force who are not only highly adept with hand weapons  but also possess one of the most impressive munition stocks of army piercing weaponry on the planet.

In the 15th Century, Switzerland’s small army had a reputation of overcoming much larger rivals. As Switzerland  was an impoverished country with few prospects for many, individual soldiers and small groups of mercenaries often loaned themselves out to other armies or leaders. The relationship with Rome began with Pope Sixtus IV who had a strategic relationship with Swiss rulers. The Pontifical Guard were officially appointed on January 22nd 1506 by Pope Julius II. This makes the Swiss Guard one of the oldest standing military units in the world.
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Sunday, Feb. 19: Esercito Concertante with Luisa Sello

Esercito Concertante

Featuring Luisa Sello, Anton Niculescu,  & Aurora Sabia with special guest Charles Mengine

Sunday, Feb. 19 | 5 p.m. | Heinz History Center’s Detre Library & Archives

$15 adults, $12 seniors, $10 students, military, Mondo Italiano and History Center members 

Inspired by the 100th anniversary of World War I, an army of musicians will transform the letters of soldiers from the war from pain into art. This original program is inspired by letters by Pittsburgh soldier Paul Howe (Paul Howe Papers and Photographs, 1902-2005, MSS 734, Detre Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center) and coordinated in partnership with Istituto Mondo Italiano.

This event features live instrumentation by international Italian flutist Luisa Sello, cellist Anton Niculescu, and pianist Aurora Sabia and readings performed by actor Charles Mengine.

The concert is a part of the project ‘Great Music’ supported by the Region Friuli Venezia Giulia and organized by the Association Amici della Musica of Udine and is included in the calendar of the Events for the celebration of the ‘World War 1915-1918.’ 

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