Italian-American Profiles of Success: Natalie Bolea

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Natalie Bolea

Seeing Life Through a Lens

By Daniel Casciato

Local photographer, Natalie Bolea, feels as if she is always looking at life through the lens of a camera, whether or not she has a camera in her hands.

“The world just looks completely different to you,” says the Pittsburgh native and first generation Italian. “Once you start getting into photography, you are always thinking about it.”

Natalie’s passion for photography began by sheer serendipity when she was working in Washington, D.C. several years ago. A former co-worker was selling his dSLR camera and on an impulse, she purchased it knowing someone else would snatch it up quickly. Around the same time, a friend of hers from Baltimore received a dSLR camera as a gift from her husband and asked Natalie if she would like to take an Introduction to Photography class together at the Washington School of Photography.

From that first class, Natalie was hooked. “I just loved it,” she says.

Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. at Night

Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. at Night

As she began taking the class, she realized other students were gravitating to their specialty such as food, events, sports, family photography, etc. It was a bit more difficult for Natalie to find the type of photography she was drawn to. She took a second class at the Arlington Arts Center and for one of her class assignments, she went to Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. where she saw two teenagers talking. Because it was night time and she did not have her tripod, she rested the camera on a ledge and shot photos as the teenagers talked.

“Granted, looking back at the photos now, they look somewhat amateurish, but at the time, the setting was amazing with the lights around Dupont Circle. I was in love with how they came out,” she recalls. “It was then that I realized that I love to photograph people.”

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Check out Nicky Cooks on Cookspeak

biopicBy Nicky D Cooks

Please join me this Sunday October 12th at 11am. I am being interviewed by the host of the Cookspeak podcast series Tom Totin.  I will talk with Tom about food, cooking and the fun filled adventures that I had being raised in an Italian American family.

Tom Totin has been hosting the podcast series for about 6 ½ years. When he is not interviewing guests for his show, he works as a chef at Frescos in Wexford. He has worked in the culinary industry for 39 years. Tom has had a bevy of guests on his show some of which included; food writers, scientists, actors, columnists, and even a former astronaut. The home base for the podcast is the Pittsburgh Public Market.

You can listen to the interview by going to a few minutes before the interview. The Cookspeak icon will appear on the screen and you can then access the podcast. Or if you want to listen by phone, call the same number that you will call to access the show- 724-444-7444. If you miss the live broadcast, the archive of the podcast will be on this webpage as well.

For more information on Tom Totin and his podcast, check him out on twitter @cookspeaktom or on

Nicky D Cooks is the owner and operator of Nicky D Cooks Authentic Handcrafted Italian Biscotti and Pizzelle.

Follow her on Twitter @

Her website can be found at   

Also, check out her Facebook page @ for more information and great recipes.



Italian-American Profiles of Success: Emily Petraglia

EmjandWinstonHealthy Living Entrepreneur Staying Fit and Focused

For Emily Petraglia, health and fitness has become an instrumental component of her life. The 31-year-old native Pittsburgher who now lives in Palm Beach, Florida, currently works as a general manager of personal training at a sports club.

She recently started her own fitness website, Fitness Royalty (, containing healthy recipes, fitness tips, online coaching, and personal training. Within the next year, she also plans to launch a fitness clothing line that she’s been working on for the last three months.

Her whole family is currently in Aspinwall and Bloomfield. Her mom is a retired teacher who retired this past summer. Emily calls her the most amazing woman she ever met.

“I’m not just saying that because she’s my mom,” she says. “She has taken care of my dad, my brother and myself our whole lives. She is so kind-hearted and understanding, and so incredibly strong.”

Emily’s father used to own Liberty Auto Parts in Bloomfield. “He was the best dad a girl could ask for—he always knew how to make you laugh and even on your worst day, he could make you laugh so hard you’d forget your problems even if just for a few minutes,” says Emily. “I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like my dad. He was always smiling and always happy.”

Even when her dad was sick and dying, Emily says that he still told jokes to make others laugh. He passed away from cancer in July of 2009. Emily’s brother, Louie, still lives in Pittsburgh, and they have become really close after their father passed away.

“My mom, dad and my brother are my inspiration,” adds Emily. “The three of them have really made me who I am today. I can’t imagine my life without them.”

Emily took some time recently to respond to our questions about her new business venture and website, her Italian heritage and traditions, her proudest accomplishments and what she likes to do for fun.

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Italian Heritage Day at Heinz History Center

ItalianHeritageDay-PosterBy Nicky D Cooks

Please come and join me on Sunday, October 5th at the Heinz History Center. I will be at the Italian Heritage Day at Heinz History Center with the team members from Ciao Pittsburgh. Please come by and visit us. We will be the ones with some of my fresh made pizzelle on hand to share. Check out the link on Ciao Pittsburgh.

Italian Heritage Day at the Heinz History Center is a full day of interactive activities designed with K-12 students in mind. In honor of Italian Heritage Month, local community groups and museum staff will facilitate educational activities on every floor of the museum. Activities are conceived in a manner that will allow all members of the family to work together to learn about Italian American history and culture.

Intergenerational participation is encouraged, so bring tua madre, tuo padre, tua nonna, tuo nonno, tua zia, tuo zio, e tutti i tuoi fratelli, sorelle e cugini. Children 17 & under get into the museum for free on Italian Heritage Day, so this is a great way to have the kids involved in this activity.

There are many fun and exciting activities scheduled for this day; learning how to play bocce with Major League Bocce, preparing and taste traditional Italian American foods with Slow Food Pittsburgh, experience Old World Farming with the Italian Garden Project and learning basic Italian vocabulary with La Scuola d’Italia Galileo Galilei.

For a complete list check out the events page at the Heinz History Center:

Besides fun family activities, Italian Heritage Day will also feature an Italian American bazaar in the Mueller Center with vendors, live entertainment, and information tables about local Italian heritage groups.

Italian Heritage Day is made possible through a generous donation from Mascaro Construction. For questions regarding Italian Heritage Day or the Italian American Program, please contact Melissa Marinaro at 412-454-6426 or



Eating It Up, Italian Style

sicilian trapaniGreat article we came upon in The Spokesman-Review about Italian food. Here’s an excerpt:

I was sitting in a family-run restaurant, tucked away on a narrow cobblestone street in the capital of Tuscany, nearly finished with a bowl of Ribollita soup.

I’d been savoring each spoonful.

The beans for this soup were fed one by one into an empty potbellied wine bottle, then covered with water and flavored with hand-picked sage, fresh garlic, salt and peppercorns, and left to simmer in the dying embers of last night’s cooking fire. Local fresh black leaf kale and house-baked Tuscan bread give it additional body.

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