Frank H. DiCristina … and Gina

Frank H. DiCristina … and Gina

Frank DiCristina (1920 – 2015) took great pride in being Italian and, especially, Sicilian. A man rich in character and personality, Frank was extremely proud of his family and their Sicilian heritage, his Catholic faith, andhismilitary service. His family was his most valued treasure, and he lived by the words “tutta la famiglia.” Frank grew up in Atlanta, GA, in the Catholic Italian community, and his love of heritage and faith followed him throughout his life. While living and working in Fayetteville, NC, he was very involved in the Sons of Italy and was recognized for numerous achievements. Although he passed away in 2015 at the age of 95, he once had a love in his life that he cherished as much as his family. She was a wooden donkey named Gina.

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Earthquake Tie-Rods

The Ties That Bind
— Jackie Capurro

The first time that I visited my paternal cousins in the Abruzzo region in 1976, the houses of the four families that belonged to my relatives were interspersed among another 10-15 houses on a single gravel road, Colle Marrollo, that ran along the crest of a hill outside the village of Scerni, inland from the Adriatic seaside town of Vasto. As we walked along the road, I noticed what looked like very large metallic rods attached to the exterior surfaces of the walls of many houses. When I asked what they were, I was told that they held the house together in the event of an earthquake.

At first, I thought that they were trying to see how much their gullible young American cousin would believe, but they weren’t joking. In fact, not only do these metal tie-rods truly hold the houses together, they also allow the occupants to “pull the walls back together” if they shake loose! I was intrigued!

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Cuzzupa, a Traditional Easter Bread from Calabria

A classic Easter dessert in the region of Calabria, the cuzzupa is a lightly sweetened cake with eggs nestled into it. It is a tradition to make one cuzzupa for each member of the family, and the size of each cake may depend on age and “hierarchy” of the family member– the head of the family gets the biggest cake while the children get the smallest ones! Cuzzupe are a nice alternative to chocolate and other sweets that children receive at Easter time.

Cuzzupe can be made in many shapes. They’re molded by hand into braids, rings, hearts, nests, baskets, dolls, etc. A different shape may be used for each member of the family.

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Poem: Dear Ancester

Dear Ancestor

Author Unknown

Your tombstone stands among the rest
Neglected and alone.
The name and the date are chiseled out
On polished, marbled stone.
It reaches out to all who care
It is too late to mourn.
You did not know that I exist
You died and I was born.
Yet each of us are cells of you
In flesh, in blood, in bone.
Our blood contracts and beats a pulse
Entirely not our own.
Dear Ancestor, the place you filled
One hundred years ago
Spreads out among the ones you left
Who would have loved you so.
I wonder if you lived and loved,
I wonder if you knew
That someday I would find this spot,
And come to visit you

2010 IFAFA Conference in Hartford, CT

Wow, we did it!!!!! …. It was the first time the Italian Culture Center of Education and Cuor d’Italia ever even thought of hosting a national conference, but …. we did it!!!

The conference started unofficially on Friday night, October 14, with Board and Open Member meetings. Later, we gathered in the dance hall, where Cuor d’Italia dancers taught Sbrondo, a fast-moving dance from Emilia-Romagna. Then, off to the Hospitality Room for relaxing and a “get to know each other” evening. Lots of food, drink and merriment.

Saturday morning started with the following workshops, lectures and entertainment:

  • Cooking With Nina: Demonstration & tasting delicious Polpette Di Riso e Patate – Nina DiMascio
  • Dance workshops: Doris Beckert, Jackie Capurro, Mark DeSanctis & Susie DeSanctis Christiansen
  • Lecture: Italian Migrations – Jason Scappaticci
  • Lecture: Food & Unification of Italy – Prof. Dario DelPuppo
  • Lecture: The Italian Design – Prof. Antonio Scontrino
  • Music & Singing: Travelling through Italy – Prof. Enzo Boscarino
  • Cantiamo Insieme: Italian songs – Christine Petrucci (Remember La Spagnola?)
  • Create Your Own Rosary Beads

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(as performed by Il Quartiere Italiano, San Francisco Bay Area, California)

Performed in many countries, mazurkas are usually flirtatious couple dances. In Italy, La Mazurca is danced primarily throughout the northern part of the country, although Sicilian versions do exist. This is a courtship dance which shows its character in a series of mimed teasing and coaxing, with first the women, then the men, promenading before one another to give each other the once-over.

This mazurca is danced to “Oi Bela Vorejsse V’ni,” a traditional song of Piemonte in Piemontese dialect. In the teasing lyrics, the man tries to entice the woman to go away with him. She replies that, if he wants to marry her, she’ll gladly join him; otherwise, she’ll just wait where she is.

This dance is done with no less than three couples, and it looks nice with five to six couples. If you want more couples to participate, a second circle could be set up if the dance area is large enough.

BEGINNING POSITION: Double circle, partners facing each other, men with backs to center of circle. Man and woman hold multi-colored ribbons between them (1 yard lengths in several festive colors, knotted or sewn together about 6” from either end) both in right hands at approximately shoulder level. Man’s free hand on hip, woman’s free hand holding skirt. Circle moves counter-clockwise (CCW).

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(taught by Il Quartiere Italiano, San Francisco Bay Area, California)

We learned this dance at the 1989 IFAFA Conference in Utica, NY, presented by David A. Valentine, as taught to him by Karen P. Gottier in 1986. This dance is from the area in northeastern Italy known as the Sudtirolo, South Tyrol, formerly part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which became the Alto-Adige region of Italy after World War II. The cultural heritage of this region is Germanic/Austrian. When performing this dance, the Austrian heritage of the dance should be explained. It is not an Italian dance, but a Germanic dance from what is now part of Italy. It is included in an Italian folk dance repertoire because it is danced now by Germanic Italians. A nice video of this dance can be found on YouTube at: < >

Beginning formation: Couples in a circle facing LOD. Partners stand side-by-side with woman on man’s right. Arms are crossed in front, right arm above (skater’s position) with hands held at chest height.

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La Giga Occitana

This choreography was created for BALLIAMO! of Sacramento, California, based on material presented at the 1994 Mendocino Folklore Camp by Celest DiPietropaolo and Marie DiCocco. It was taught at the 2002 IFAFA Conference in San Francisco by Drew Herzig, choreographer for Balliamo! Folk Dance Troupe of Sacramento, CA.

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This dance is taken from the book Dances of Italy by Bianca M. Galanti, published in 1950 by Chanticleer Press Inc., New York, NY. La Furlana Ziguzaine was danced spontaneously in the courtyards of the castles in western Friuli during the grape harvest. This is a courting dance; lively flirtation is an essential part of the dance.

Formation: For one or several couples. If danced by several couples, after the intro, couples form a circle facing CCW with women to their partner’s right.

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Costumes from Abruzzi & Castel di Sangro

We continue the series of descriptions of folk costumes taken from the book, now out of print, Il Costume popolare in Italia, by Emma Calderini, published by Sperling & Kupfer, Milano. In this issue, we highlight two costumes from the region of Abruzzi. Click here for the entire gallery

Blouse of homemade fabric with a scooped neckline, decorated with crocheted lace at the neck and sleeves. Bodice of hand-woven fabric; separate sleeves are attached with colored lace and embroidered with gold braiding (see detail). Wide pleated skirt striped at the bottom with bands of fabric and velvet. Small silk apron. Woolen knit stockings. Shoes of black leather. Hair parted at the forehead and braids gathered in the back. A handkerchief of white muslin, embroidered in the corners, covers the head allowing glimpses of the silk ribbon that ties around the head. Gold pendant earrings. Necklace of hammered gold beads. Gold rings with images of saints.


Holiday Attire of Orsogna

Blouse of flannelette, decorated at the neck with lace and on the front with narrow pleats. Skirt of heavy wool with velvet appliqués and colored stitching, gathered in pleats at the waist and smooth in the front. Little taffeta jacket, decorated with fabric remnants and velvet. Apron of embroidered silk, hemmed with an embroidered lace border. On the head and shoulders, a shawl of beautiful Damask silk. White knit stockings. Shoes of black leather. Large earrings of wrought gold (see detail).


Detail of bodice from Castel di Sangro
Detail of gold earring from Orsogna