The Italian-Americans on PBS

iaLandscapeGreat new series on PBS coming next month!

The Italian Americans reveals how Italian immigrants challenged the notion of the American “melting pot” — chronicling four generations of Italian-American lives, from the massive late 19th Century wave of immigration to today.

From the importance of the family over an individual’s personal aspirations, to their distinctive, circular migration patterns, to the specter of the Mafia that still plagues Italian Americans today, this series peels away myths and stereotypes to reveal a world uniquely Italian and uniquely American.

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La Traviata Invites You to Italy

La-Traviata“I want people to walk through that door and feel they are in Italy,” says Christian Bou Chaaya, the owner of the Lebanese branch of La Traviata, a cozy 25-year-old family-run restaurant in Bologna, the culinary capital of Italy. He is proud to have brought the little Italian restaurant across the Mediterranean to Beirut.

Bou Chaaya, who has a background in hospitality and event planning in Qatar, had always planned to open his own venue in his home city, Beirut. On a business trip to Italy, he visited La Traviata by chance and fell in love with its authenticity, immediately deciding that it should be the restaurant through which he realizes his plan.

After some initial research revealed that La Traviata was ranked number one among Bologna’s 360 restaurants on the travel website Trip Advisor, Bou Chaaya was even more convinced of his choice, and he decided to approach the family with the idea of franchising a branch in Lebanon. The matron, Manuela Sabbatino, was easily swayed.“They were happy that someone was interested in expanding their business [even] before knowing my background and what I could provide them with,” he says.

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Eating Italy: My Italian Food Tour

fried artichokeOver on FBG they’re talking all things travel this week — from packing like a pro to the vacation workout, they’ve got it covered. For me, the best part of vacation isn’t the R&R but the eats!

There’s no doubt that history, architecture and art are major parts of Italian culture, but surely the nation’s most brilliant tour de force is the food. Hoping to get a better sense of the local restaurant scene, on my recent Roman holiday I chose to participate in a moving feast through one of the less touristy areas of the city.

My Taste of Italy tour started outside the original city limits of Rome, in the Trastevere neighborhood. Our guide, Valerio, called this area home and referred to it as the real Rome. Buildings here date back to medieval times and a maze of cobblestone streets led us from one fabulous eatery to the next.

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Italy’s Underdog City is a Foodie’s Paradise

great Italian pizza naplesOn the sweltering streets of Naples at 11 a.m., a man in a three-piece suit stood devouring what appeared to be a cake made of macaroni.

In fact, that’s exactly what it was: “Macaroni frittata” is not immediately what comes to mind when one thinks of Neapolitan cuisine but it is as authentic as the more iconic pizza and “spaghetti alle vongole” (spaghetti with shellfish).

Naples may not be Italy’s most popular destination for tourists, but its cobblestone streets and centuries-old houses with grand wooden doors are legendary among foodies. Located in the southeast of the Italian boot, the city’s cuisine draws from both the rich, country ingredients of its hinterland (called Campania) and the fresh seafood caught along its coast.

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Italian Grapes Find a Home in California Soil

Italian, wine, grapes, CaliforniaBeginning shortly after the unification of their country in 1861, millions of Italians emigrated to the United States and to Canada and countries in South America. Many brought grapevine cuttings with them.

Never be surprised to see an Italian surname among the descendants of those immigrants making wine in the Americas today (for just two examples, Zuccardi in Argentina or Pisano of Uruguay). In the United States, Italian-born winery and winemaker names are nearly as ubiquitous as vines.

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