The Gift of an Italian Christmas

By Al Mach

Much is said about the commercialization of Christmas and the loss of the Christmas spirit. So what is Christmas and what is behind the Italian tradition that has been exported to the world over?

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. It is a Roman Catholic tradition which is emulated by many other cultures throughout the world. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem was a coming together of the Holy Madonna, Saint Joseph, Baby Jesus and the three wise men who received an invite by The Star of Bethlehem or Christmas Star as it now often now known.

It may have also included the Innkeeper who received the travelers in a barn or cave, as his inn was full. The stories (as there many) and the scene is often supported by animal friends such as a Donkey, an Ox and the Camels of the Magi and may extend to others. The birth of Jesus, the first Christmas is recognized in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew in the New Testament of the Christian Bibles. [Read more…]

Rugby League World Cup, the Red, White and Azzurri!

By Al Mach

No helmets, no pads, no blockers, no first downs, no kneels and no time outs. Two teams of agile, fast and powerful football players have to be able to play every position on the field, be it offensive, defensive and special teams and regularly change from one position to the other during the full speed run of play in the time it takes for an NFL quarterback’s heart to skip a beat. This is the world of Rugby League Football.

2017 marks the 15th iteration of the World Cup of Rugby League, a game that started in the North of England in 1895. It differs from its sister sport Rugby Union which it is often mistaken for, in that the more modern and more free flowing game of Rugby League has smaller (Rugby has 15 players on the field while Rugby League has 13) and more versatile teams competing with ‘plays of the ball’ as opposed to constant scrimmaging in order to speed the game up and provide enthralled audiences with constant visibility of the football which often gets lost under the rucks and mauls (Rugby Scrimmages) of its predecessor, Rugby.

First held in 1954, the 2017 Rugby League World Cup will showcase 14 men’s and 6 women’s teams from around the globe in Pacific Island host nations Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea where the game has flourished. In Australia, Rugby League is the local form of Football. It is known as a working man’s sport and is often referred to as ‘the greatest game of all’ on the East coast of Australia where it has been a very popular and highly professional sport for over a century. In the US, the word ‘Football’ conjures up the very different images of Steely McBeam, Ben Roethlisberger in a shiny logo’d helmet behind a highly posed offensive line on perfectly manicured astro turf (Rugby League is played exclusively outdoors on grass). The two games have evolved from Ruby but taken very different paths. The games communities are even more diverse. The NFL generated more than $13 Billion in the 2016 season while in the USA has been floundering to try to get off the ground since before World War II. [Read more…]

Week of the Italian Language in the World

By Alberto Macchione

From October 16th to October 22nd, The President of Italy will be the patron of ‘Week of the Italian Language in the World’.  This is the 17th Year of the celebration of cultural events and happenings which this year will feature the ‘Italians in the Cinema and Italians at the Cinema’ acknowledging the remarkable contribution of Italian cinema and its everlasting legacy.

The language 65 Million Italian speakers reside in the European Union while 14 Million speakers make up minority language communities in Crimea, Eritrea, France, Libya, Monaco, Montenegro, Romania, Somalia and by expatriate communities in Europe, the Americas and Australia.

Italian is a ‘Romantic’ language in more ways than one. It is romantic in that is the language of love. It is undoubtedly the language of Giacomo Casanova, Rudolph Valentino and Romeo and Juliet, however the true meaning of ‘romance’ means that the language is derived from ‘Rome’ and thus being of Romantic origin.

Italian is the closest language to the Latin spoken in ancient Rome however it is surprising to many that Italian was not a universal language until after World War I. The reasons for this are varied however the main factor was that Italy did not become a nation state in the modern sense until 1815 in what is known as the ‘Unification of Italy’ or more correctly, the ‘Risorgimento’. [Read more…]

Personality Profile: Mike Manna

On Monday, October 9 from 5:30 – 11:00 PM, Pittsburgh area boxers will take on boxers from Italy at The Grand Hall at the Priory.

The event is presented by Pittsburgh Building Trades Donnybrook. Former World Champion and Boxing Hall of Fame member Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini will coach top amateur boxers from Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, while Olympic Gold Medal boxer Roberto Cammarelle will be managing the best boxers from Italy.

One of the Pittsburgh boxers is a friend of Ciao Pittsburgh, Michael Manna. We interviewed Michael about 4 years ago, but chatted with him again and updated our Q&A with him below.

Ciao Pittsburgh: How many years have you been fighting?

Michael: I had my first actual fight in 2011.

Ciao Pittsburgh: How did you get into boxing?

Michael: To prove something. When I was a kid, I would mess around in the boxing gyms but never fought until 2011. I wanted to do something to occupy my time plus I wanted to prove a point that no matter what life or someone throws at me, I will still be standing at the end.

Ciao Pittsburgh: What kind of training do you do during the year to stay in shape?

Michael: A lot of running and a lot of boxing-training which consists of shadow boxing, bag work, mid work, sparring, jumping rope, and running for rounds. Running for rounds means that I’ll take the number of rounds I will fight and try to run as hard as a I can on a track for three 3-minute rounds with a minute break in between. This allows me to get used to the rounds and catching my breath after each round. [Read more…]

Pittsburgh Opera presents Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro

Mozart’s screwball comedy returns to the Benedum for the first time in seven years
Pittsburgh Opera presents Mozart’s beloved madcap comedy The Marriage of Figaro, at the Benedum Center November 4th -12th.
Figaro is in love with the Countess’s servant Susanna, who he plans to wed that very day. However, their employer Count Almaviva has his eye on Susanna. In fact, the Count intends to invoke the hated feudal practice of droit de seigneur – the infamous right of the lord to sleep with a commoner’s bride on her wedding night. Figaro, Susanna, and the Countess are understandably outraged at this possibility, and are determined not only to prevent it, but to teach the Count a lesson while they’re at it.
The cast includes a quartet of talented American singers making their Pittsburgh Opera debuts plus some returning favorites.
Debuting are bass-baritone Tyler Simpson, a mainstay at the Metropolitan Opera, as Figaro; star soprano Joélle Harvey, singing the famously challenging role of Susanna; baritone Christian Bowers, who recently sang in Bordeaux and Malta, as philandering Count Almaviva; and eight-year Met Opera veteran bass Brian Kontes as the scheming, meddling Dr. Bartolo.

[Read more…]