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…]

National Prosecco Day; I’ll Drink to That!

By Alberto Amore

Prosecco is the best selling sparkling wine in the world and more than 4 million cases have been sold in the US alone, so it is only proper that we celebrate with a glass or two.

National Prosecco Day will be held on August 13. The day will be marked with festivals, promotions and all manner of Prosecco based treats. Think, Ice cream strawberries and prosecco, Pizza and Prosecco tours and Prosecco donuts! If that isn’t living the sweet life, I don’t know what is.

Prosecco is named after the Italian village in the Veneto region near the city of Trieste where the grape and wine has its origins. Most Prosecco wine is still a product of this region although grapes can be sourced from Brazil and other countries.

Prosecco is a variant of sparkling wine which can be enjoyed in the very celebratory and bubbly ‘spumante’, the effervescent ‘frizzante’ or the relaxing ‘tranquillo’. Being Italian, these bottles of bubbly are very fresh and uncomplicated heralding the arrival of autumn in Europe and reflecting on the fruits of the season’s harvest. [Read more…]

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).

[Read more…]