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Internet: America’s young people discover Italy through Italy4Kids

Italy told to American children and students to bring them closer to learning Italian language and culture: this is the objective of Italy4Kids, the online interactive portal created by the Embassy of Italy in Washington that makes it possible for young people from 5 to 18 to access all sorts of information about our country through videos, quiz, and games, as well as Twitter and Facebook.

Launched on the eve of the eleventh edition of Italian Language Week in the world, Italy4Kids – available at <> – is intended as an interactive and easy to use learning tool. Even the youngest internet navigators can play games that will allow them to explore Italy’s regions, design an “Italian itinerary” in Washington DC’s museums and public spaces and discover the bonds between Italy and the United States. In this way, e.g., a 6-7 year old can learn to count to ten in Italian while an older child can get information on the AP in Italian.

“New technologies and social media allow us to open the doors of our Embassy and country to thousands of students who want to know more about Italy and are growing more and more interested in learning Italian,” says Ambassador of Italy to the USA Giulio Terzi, who also notes that the initiative will reach an audience of future tourists and clients of ‘Made in Italy’.

— Press & Public Affairs Office, Embassy of Italy

Homemade Wine: Great Memories

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My grandfather made homemade wine, and so did many Italian immigrants who came to the United States. It was a great tradition, and many people will tell you great stories about the annual fall event.

Those who sold grapes for wine would often deliver them, and they were often stacked in front of homes. The smell would fill the air, and even more so when it came time to crush the grapes. It was a painstaking process, starting with cleaning all the equipment and wooden barrels. Within a week or two, it was time to press the grapes and fill the five-gallon glass jugs with the wine. My grandfather kept his wine in barrels.

I was very young but was given a little glass, and it was no big deal. My grandparents had wine with meals, and I never saw anyone get drunk. Wine was part of the meal, and I still have a glass of wine with dinner.

Since the passing of my grandfather, no one in my extended family makes wine. The homemade wine tradition has stopped for most Italian-Americans. I have had wonderful homemade wine that was great, and some tasted like vinegar. Wine-making is an art and so much a part of our Italian heritage. Our ancestors knew the health values of wine, and we are told today that wine in moderation is good for you! Yes, homemade wine is almost gone, but not my memories!

— Prof./Cav. Philip J. DiNovo

Italy’s Accordion Industry: Tiny And Thriving

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Paul Torna sent in this link to share with IFAFA Members. The article describes the community of Castelfidardo, in the Marche region of Italy. Paul has relatives in nearby Nereto. Since Tradizioni doesn’t have copyright permission to publish the entire article, readers are encouraged to click through to the article for more information and pictures. Please click on the link below (or copy and paste it to your browser):

Notte della Taranta Festival

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The Notte della Taranta Festival 2012 in Salento, Italy

La Notte della Taranta is the largest music festival dedicated to the revival of pizzica music of Salento and its fusion with other music ranging from world music to rock, from jazz to symphonic. Born in 1998 on the initiative of the Unione dei Comuni della Grecìa Salentina and of the Istituto Diego Carpitella, in recent years the festival has grown in size and cultural prestige thanks to the Province of Lecce – which since 2001 has been part of organizations that promote and organize La Notte della Taranta in the Puglia Region.

This year on August 25, the Convent of the Augustinians in Melpignano will serve as the backdrop for La Notte della Taranta. A unique event that annually attracts over 400,000 spectators, the festival is divided between the towns of Greek Salento (Calimera, Carpignano Salentino, Castrignano dei Greci, Corigliano d’Otranto, Cutrofiano, Lecce, Martignano, Melpignano, Sternatia, Soleto, Zollino) and the municipalities of Cursi, and Galatina Alessano.

From the second week of August until the end of the month, the notes of the pizzica light up the nights of Salento. Like every year, thanks to the Foundation, La Notte della Taranta, will come to life this year for the 15th edition, a festival which now appears as a major factor in the rebirth of culture and tourism in Puglia. The festival will kick off in the second week of August with the traveling Festival and will end with the Concertone of Melpignano on Saturday, August 25.

This original artistic endeavor grows from year to year, thanks to the musicians who, over the years, have given their unique contributions. From Stewart Copeland, drummer of The Police and now true ambassador of Taranta in the world, to Ambrose Sparagna, who gave birth to the Folk Orchestra La Notte della Taranta, through the extraordinary experiences provided by Joe Zawinul, Victor Costa and Mauro Pagani and more recently with the outstanding performances of Maestro Ludovico Einaudi.

On August 25, 2012, Maestro Goran Bregovic will conduct the Orchestra of the Night of Taranta onstage in Melpignano, giving life to a project, original music, in which the music of the two shores of the Adriatic will mix.

Once again, La Notte della Taranta, the largest music festival dedicated to the restoration and enhancement of pizziche of Salento, will be an important meeting place of peoples and cultures.

Rificolona in Florence — Ona, Ona, Ona!

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Rificolona in Florence Ona, Ona, Ona!

Ona, Ona, Ona,
O che bella Rificolona,
La mia l’é coi fiocchi,
La tua l’é coi pidocchi!
(Ona, ona, ona,
What a beautiful Rificolona,
Mine with bows is tied,
In yours, lice do reside!)

Florentine children sing this song as they wander through the streets of Florence the first week of September, carrying papier-mâché lanterns tied to the ends of sticks, called rificolone. There are several theories as to where the tradition originates from, some think it commemorates the triumphant entry of Florentine troops into Siena on August 2 1555, when the soldiers tied lanterns onto the ends of their pikes.

More probably the Festa della Rificolona grew out of the great autumn market held on September 7, the day before the Nativity of the Virgin, in Piazza Santissima Annunziata. It was probably the most important market-day of the year for the farmers as it was their last chance to earn money in preparation for the coming winter: In order to arrive early the inhabitants of the outlying regions would set off long before dawn and carry lanterns, made by suspending candles within tissue-paper wind-shades, to light their way. Entire families would come, dressed in their Sunday best, but they were ignorant country folk and their attempts at elegance only made the city people laugh in fact Florentines still call an overdressed, over made-up woman a rificolona. Children would blow whistles at them, and make their own lanterns with colored tissue paper to follow along, or shoot at the farmers’ lanterns with blowguns, in an attempt to knock over the candles and set the tissue paper ablaze.

The market still exists today in the form of a huge fair in Piazza Santissima Annunziata in early September; it was the first fair held by organic producers in Italy, and remains one of the most important, with wonderful foods and performers of all kinds. Florentine children still get out their lanterns in the beginning of September and there are parties in the squares, with street theater and music. The Festa della Rificolona closes with a procession on the night of the 7th, from Piazza Santa Croce to Piazza Santissima Annunziata, which is led by the Cardinal; he addresses the crowd, then there’s a final party in the streets until the early hours of the morning.


Vino Novello

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It’s Time to Celebrate the Bounty of the Harvest

Everybody is waiting for the first wine of the year, vino novello, which goes so well with the chestnuts that also appear in late autumn. As the days shorten and the shadows lengthen, people have always gathered to celebrate the bounty of the harvest. The most important crop in Tuscany is wine, and much is planned: in mid-September Greve will host the annual Rassegna del Chianti Classico , an ideal occasion to taste the most recent vintage and decide whose wines you want to stock up on. There will also be shows (including a photographic exhibition) and panel discussions.

On the last weekend of September the town of Impruneta will hold the annual Festa dell’Uva, a festival in which the town’s four neighborhoods compete to see who can provide the best allegorical representation of the grape harvest. It’s street theater at its best, and the town square will come alive with beautiful floats and fancifully costumed performers.

The last week of September Rufina will hold Bacco Artigiano, a festival featuring the wines of Pomino and Rufina (little-known Tuscan gems). The first wine of the year is, of course, vino novello, which goes so well with the chestnuts that also appear in late fall. The wine will be bottled at the end of October, and you will be able to decide which you like best at two sagre scheduled for early November, one at Pontassieve and the other at Montespertoli .

Vin novello means new wine, and it would arrive even sooner if there weren’t a law requiring producers to wait until November 4th to release it. Carbonic maceration, the technique used to make vin novello, differs substantially from that used to make most wines: the grapes are placed, whole, in CO2-filled filled tanks, and the juices they contain undergo intracellular fermentation without the assistance of yeast. The resulting wine is light, lively, and has a fruity bouquet with unmistakable overtones. It is also relatively low in tannins and doesn’t really keep well, which is fine because it goes best with fall specialties such as roasted chestnuts. Most of the major Tuscan wineries produce Vin Novello, some entirely from grapes fermented under carbonic maceration, and some by cutting wines made with carbonic maceration with wines made traditionally. The wine varies greatly from producer to producer, so taste around to determine which you like best. Pontassieve’s Sagra del Vin Novello, in early November, is the perfect place to start!

In Memoriam: Victor Gugliuzza

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Victor Gugliuzza

December 22, 1921 – July 29, 2011

Victor Gugliuzza, affectionately known to many in IFAFA as one of “the Victors” along with his long-time companion Victor Peck, was born Victory Roy Gugliuzza in 1921. He grew up with two sisters and a brother, all of whom predeceased him.

During World War II, he served in the Army for four years, including two years in Saipan in the Marianas archipelago in the western Pacific, near Guam.

Returning from the Army, he attended Kansas City University where he completed his Masters Degree in Art. He worked at several advertising firms before settling in at Western Auto Supply Company where he worked for 28 years. While working at Western Auto, he travelled four times to Europe where he made contacts with people for portrait work. He now has drawings in England, Wales, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, and, outside Europe, in the Virgin Islands, Costa Rica, and the Canary Islands.

His drawing career came to a halt when doctors found cancer in his right eye, which was surgically removed to prevent the cancer spreading. Unable to draw, he took to using the computer to create paper sculptures, which he did until the last few months of his life.

Victor also discovered an interest in International folk dancing, which he enjoyed for more than 40 years. He danced several times a week and gave instructional programs. For 15 years, he specialized in Dutch folk dance, wearing wooden shoes. Then he taught Italian folk dance for three years. Long after he was unable to dance, he, with Vic Peck, attended IFAFA Conferences to provide whatever support they could.

Together “the Victors” collected international folk music from many sources, specializing in versions of schottisches from around the world. They were also instrumental in transferring all of the dance instruction sessions from past IFAFA conference tapes and compiling them onto DVDs.

Victor’s gentle, smiling face will be greatly missed.

In Memoriam: Dr. Joseph J. Bentivegna

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Dr. Joseph J. Bentivegna

June 8, 1928 – March 6, 2011

Joe Bentivegna was a long-time member and supporter of IFAFA. He was born in Dunmore, PA, and passed away at his home in Loretto, PA.

“Dr. Joe” earned his degrees in sociology, rehabilitation counseling and vocational rehabilitation. He worked his way through college as a chef, rising to the position of garde-manager at the Sagamore resort in upstate NY and the Biltmore Hotel in Miami, FL.

He began his academic career in 1957 at St. Francis College where he served as an assistant dean and assistant professor of education. He became director of one of the country’s first Upward Bound programs where he helped thousands of disadvantaged high school students receive an education and attend college.

He alsotaught for many years t the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in Johnstown and served as President of Bender Electric Company in Carrolltown. In later years, he was a hospital administrator and established a private practice as a vocational expert.

Joe was very proud of his Italian heritage. He was the founder and director of the Pirandello Club, the Italian Heritage Society and the Italian Musicale, and hosted a weekly Italian radio program. He was a member of the Governor’s Folklore Council and a board member of the American Italian Historical Association and of IFAFA. His wife, Patricia Bentivegna joined him in his love of Italian culture and in his support of IFAFA over the years.

“Dr. Joe” is also remembered for his operatic tenor voice and instrumental talents. He was an avid bird-watcher, cook, and gardener. He firmly believed that the measure of the worth of any civilization was found in the quality of its tomatoes.

Dr. Joe will be missed.

Children’s Abruzzese Fairytale

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Gracie Scala Adamson grew up as the youngest of seven daughters in an Italian immigrant family in Australia. Gracie’s mother, Chiarina, was born in Vasto, Abruzzo, and this is one of the fairytales she would tell her children. Le Tre Favette (The Three Broad Beans) was one of Gracie’s favorite stories, but one that she could not find in fairytale books. Inspired by her mother’s storytelling, and driven by a desire to pass on the tradition to her nephews and nieces, she recently translated the story, created the illustrations, and had it published.

Leggi tutto “Children’s Abruzzese Fairytale”

Beautiful Liguria – Travel Concierage

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Anna Merulla is the founder of Beautiful Liguria, a travel concierge service that offers everything from touring, hiking excursions, weddings services, cooking lessons, and personal shopping in this great region. In 2009 she decided to begin sharing her personal knowledge of the beauty, the culture, and the history of Liguria in which she’s immersed every day. This article is from, used here with the permission of the author.