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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Verdi: The Force of Destiny (La Forza del Destino)

composer_02_1By Alberto Macchione

Almost everybody knows the famous composer Italian composer ‘Verdi’ who was born this month in 1813, and those who don’t will find his music familiar. Verdi’s compositions have adorned television commercials, thread through pop music and classically, well, ‘La Traviata’ is simply the most popular Opera in the world. 

‘Rigoletto’, ‘Il trovatore’, ‘Requiem’ and his masterpiece ‘Aidia’ are some of the greatest librettos ever written with scintillating scores that are unparalleled. If all that isn’t enough, Verdi’s music is a mainstay in the movies, you can hear it in ‘Twilight’, ‘Django Unchained’, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ and has been credited in over 300 television shows and films including ‘Ren and Stimpy’ and ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine.’

While Verdi is possibly the world’s most famous composer to you and I, what might not be known outside of Italy is the significance of his role in Italian political history. Verdi was not only a genial musical creator but he was instrumental in the creation of the Italian state. If General Giuseppe Garibaldi was General George Washington who united the territories as a leader in the new America, then Giuseppe Verdi was Benjamin Franklin who leveraged his notoriety and genius to not only foster unity throughout a disjointed population but was foundational in defining Italy much in the way Franklin defined the American ethos during the Enlightenment. [Read more…]

Beyond Star Trek; Pittsburgh’s Zachary Quinto Stars in Sequel Opening This Weekend


By Alberto Macchione

Stranded on a hostile planet, Captain Kirk, Spock and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise face an alien threat. Slated for a July 21 release, ‘Beyond’ the new Star Trek installment looks to build on the $853 million dollars already collected at the box office. The new franchise has trebled the takings of any Star Trek Motion picture so far, and from what we have seen in the trailers, is set to do it again.

The re-imagining of Spock was a delicate casting decision as the character transcends the science fiction universe from which it is derived. Pittsburgh-born Zachary Qunito who has a science fiction pedigree having starred in the highly successful television series ‘Heroes’ and ‘American Horror Story: Asylum” will reprise his role as Spock for the third time.

Quinto sought the approval of the enigmatic Leonard Nimoy when he took on the role of Spock saying that he had lost his own father very young and that his father and Nimoy were “around the same age [and that] the physical resemblance is undeniable. [Leonard Nimoy] was an incredible friend and influence on me.” [Read more…]

The Ultimate Sacrifice: The Story of St. Valentine

st-valentineBy Alberto Macchione

We give our loved ones cards and chocolates each year to mark the international day of Romance, St Valentine’s Day, February 14th. But who is Saint Valentine and what did he do?

There is much conjecture about whether there are two or three Saint Valentine’s or whether they are in the fact the same person.

‘THE” Saint Valentine however is known to be a Roman Priest who existed under the reign of Emperor Claudius II in the 3rd Century AD and day was declared as St. Valentine’s Day by Pope Gelasius I in the 5th Century AD.

Rome was amidst heavy engagement in all directions. The Romans were waging civil war in Milan and several threats existed from the Goths while attacks were being waged in the west against the Gallic Empire. [Read more…]