The Last Goodbye

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By John. M Viola

As the dog days of summer ascend upon Washington, D.C., and our eyes turn towards the impending fall, it is the time of year around the NIAF Headquarters that we begin to call “Gala Season”—those three months leading up to the signature event of our Foundation and, we hope, the Italian American community at large.

I’ve wanted to take the opportunity to put this message out to you, our members and supporters, to provide a little bit of context around the history of our Gala Weekend and the new direction that our team and leadership have been evolving it towards.

For those of you who have participated once or twice, or those of you that make it an annual pilgrimage, you have surely seen a drastic evolution in our annual event over the past 39 years.  This year marks the final occasion in which our Gala Weekend will be hosted at the Washington Hilton, the same place where we had our first gala 39 years ago.  It’s with some reservations, but mostly excitement, that we move our gala for the 40th Anniversary in 2015.

What started as a bi-annual dinner for a young Italian American foundation 39 years ago has evolved into an annual gathering of thousands from Italy and the United States and a weekend long schedule of celebrations and community business.  What was once only a dinner has grown into a weekend of conferences, movie screenings, meetings, parties and general merriment. But at the heart of it all, the mission remains the same.

First and foremost, it is to raise important support for a foundation that continues to be committed to doing all that it can for the betterment of every member of the Italian American community and for the preservation of our culture and heritage for future generations. And secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the Gala Weekend serves as an opportunity for all of us to get together once a year.

No matter where time and circumstances have taken us, whether we live in neighborhoods that our families first settled 100 years ago or far off in reaches of this great country, our Gala Weekend is an opportunity for us to be together in the comfort and celebration of our shared heritage and culture.

I invite you to look carefully at the weekend we have planned and think about being a part of what we do here in Washington at the end of every October.

For those who have participated in the past, it is the great chance to relive the memories in a familiar setting and create new ones with your NIAF family.  For those who have not been here, it is a chance to come and see what we are all about and get an understanding of just how much work the National Italian American Foundation does year after year to be your voice in Washington and an institution for all Italian Americans.

John M. Viola is the NIAF president and chief operating officer.

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#MusicaMondays Brings You ” ‘O Sole Mio” (My Sunshine)

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It’s time for another #MusicaMondays, when Team NIAF brings you the original Neapolitan lyrics to some of the most popular songs we all know and love, along with the English language translations side by side, so that those of us who have not yet learned Italian (or Neapolitan for that matter) can finally understand the beautiful meanings behind those songs that have made up the soundtrack of generations of Italian American life!

For this week’s installation of #MusicaMondays, we bring a song known the world over, and one that must be familiar to every Italian ear, no matter how many generations one might be removed from La Madre Patria…  a Neapolitan classic that is literally one of the most recognized songs in the world… ‘O Sole Mio.

‘O Sole Mio, translated to My Sunshine in English, was written in 1898 by Giovanni Capurro to music composed by Eduardo di Capua.

‘O Sole Mio has been performed by countless, including icons of opera like Enrico Caruso, Beniamino Gigli, and Mario Lanza. Long-time NIAF supporter Sergio Franchi recorded this song on his 1962 debut album, Romantic Italian Songs, and Luciano Pavarotti won a Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal with his 1980 version.

Many artists have created new lyrics for the tune in their own language.  In 1949 American singer Tony Martin recorded “There’s No Tomorrow” which used the melody of ‘O Sole Mio. A decade later, while serving in Germany with the U.S. Army, Elvis Presley heard the song and after his discharge, he requested that new lyrics be written especially for him!  Presley’s song “It’s Now or Never” and was a worldwide hit, and in concert Elvis would explain the origin of “It’s Now Or Never” and have singer Sherrill Nielsen perform a few lines of the original Italian version before commencing with his version.

And now, for your enjoyment, here are the lyrics in both languages for one of the most important works in the Italian American Songbook…

‘O Sole Mio (My Sunshine)

Che bella cosa è na jurnata ’e sole,

What a beautiful thing is a sunny day,

n’aria serena dopo na tempesta!

the air is serene after a storm!

Pe’ ll’aria fresca para già na festa…

The air is so fresh that it already feels like a celebration…

Che bella cosa na jurnata ’e sole!

What a beautiful thing is a sunny day!

 

Ma n’atu sole cchiù bello, oi ne’,

But another sun that’s brighter still,

’o sole mio sta nfronte a te!

it’s my own sun that’s upon you!

’o sole, ’o sole mio, sta nfronte a te,

the sun, my own sun, it’s upon you

sta nfronte a te!

it’s upon you!

 

Quanno fa notte e ’o sole se ne scenne,

When night comes and the sun has gone down,

me vane quasi ’na malincunia;

I feel almost melancholy;

sotta ’a fenesta toia restarria

below your window I would rest

quanno fa notte e ’o sole se ne scenne.

when night comes and the sun has gone down.

 

Ma n’atu sole cchiù bello, oi ne’,

But another sun that’s brighter still,

’o sole mio sta nfronte a te!

it’s my own sun that’s upon you!

’o sole, ’o sole mio, sta nfronte a te,

the sun, my own sun, it’s upon you

sta nfronte a te!

it’s upon you!

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Tour the Italian Marketplace at NIAF Central – Mike’s Deli and The Italian Garden Project

In the weeks leading up to NIAF’s 39th Anniversary Gala Weekend, the Pensieri Italo-Americani blog will be giving you a peek at some of the personalities and events in this year’s celebration.

First up: NIAF Central is back! And this year it promises to be better than ever, with live music, samplings of Italian foods and beverages, products and services, and more! Think of it as our own Italian American neighborhood marketplace. Let’s start with the return of Mike’s Deli and welcome a new participant, The Italian Garden Project.

Mike’s Deli

Anyone will tell you their spot for a great sandwich, the perfect bread or amazing pasta, but if you want the BEST, you go to Mike’s Deli located on historic Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.

Engulfed in decades of family tradition, the shop’s history in the Belmont community started back when owner David Greco’s maternal grandparents migrated to America from Naples in 1919, initially settling in Brooklyn, but then relocating to the Bronx. “Where it was considered to be country and ‘l’aria era piu fresca’ (the air was fresher) as our grandmother would say,” David writes, on the deli’s website.

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David Greco

David’s maternal Nonno (Grandfather) Gennaro, a trained butcher, opened his first shop on Arthur Avenue in 1922, with several others opened soon after. Jump ahead to 1947 when David’s father Mike, at age 17, migrates to New York from Calabria, and works in Gennaro’s grocery store on Arthur Avenue. Like the fairy tale goes, the new guy in town falls in love with the shopkeeper’s only daughter, they marry and have four children, one being David.

Mike decides to open his own retail market on Arthur Avenue – Mike’s Deli- and his hard work, persistence and insistence on quality food and products makes the establishment not only recognized regionally, but nationally.

From mouthwatering Italian specialties, meats, cheeses and breads, to high quality pastas, sauces and heavenly desserts (hungry yet?), you have an entire Italian marketplace at your fingertips.

All of the aspects of life that Italian Americans hold dear – food, family, love- Mike and David Greco have brought to this authentic Italian deli.

David Greco

David Greco

“On any given day you will see fresh mozzarella being stretched and shaped into twists or rounds, hanging from dowels to dry. Or perhaps it will be a day when Mike, breaks into an aria in a strong clear voice that at once identifies him as a Puccino aficionado,” David says on the store’s site.

Visit Mike’s Deli inside Arthur Avenue Retail Market at 2344 Arthur Avenue, Bronx, NY and for more information check out the website at www.arthuravenue.com. Also, plan on being at NIAF Central on Saturday afternoon during the Gala Weekend when Mike’s Deli will cater an old-fashioned sandwich lunch for all.

The Italian Garden Project

Long before the popularity of organic produce and utilizing those coffee grains for composting, there were Italian immigrants creating beautiful and plentiful vegetable gardens, using just their bare hands and knowledge of the earth.

“At one time, traditional Italian American vegetable gardens were so commonplace we took them for granted. Created by humble heroes of self-sufficiency with age old wisdom, these gardens are glimpses into the past that can lead us into a brighter more sustainable future,” Italian Garden Project founder Mary Menniti says in a video on the organization’s website.

Photo Source: The Italian Garden Project

Photo Source: The Italian Garden Project

Menniti said she founded the Italian Garden Project to showcase the methods of these immigrant Italian gardeners, in the hopes that current and future generations will learn from this lifestyle and carry it on. To do so, Menniti began to seek out traditional Italian American vegetable gardens throughout the country, capturing the gardens and their gardeners by photograph and video.

The Italian Garden Project website serves as a “repository of this gardening heritage,” she explains.

“Many of us grew up with immigrant parents and grandparents that live closer to the earth than we do today,” says Menniti. “They knew about such things as conserving resources and living lightly on the earth. They composted before composting was cool.”

On a personal level, this concept touches Menniti, as her grandfather Antonio was part of the first wave of Italian immigrants to America, coming to the United States at the young age of 16. “Even though he had no more than a third-grade education, he had wisdom about the earth and how to survive with his own hands,” she says.

Photo Source: The Italian American Project

Photo Source: The Italian American Project

Through her website, TheItalianGardenProject.com, Menniti said she hopes the tradition and wisdom of these gardeners lives on, adding that she feels a sense of responsibility and urgency to catalogue their knowledge for future generations.

“In these times of growing economic and environmental uncertainty, what [grandfather Antonio] knew is becoming increasingly relevant.”

For more information on the Italian Garden Project, please visit their website at http://www.theitaliangardenproject.com. Also, be sure to mark October 4 on your calendar, when Mary Menniti will be at NIAF headquarters from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., teaching a class on growing fig trees.

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NIAF DC Gala Weekend October 23-26

This year, NIAF will host its 39th Anniversary DC Gala Weekend, October 23-26, at the beautiful Washington Hilton in historic Dupont Circle.

photo block 1The multi-day affair is a time to celebrate the vivacious and influential Italian American community, with a variety of receptions, including Saturday night’s gala, discussion panels on pertinent topics to Italian Americans and other special events, including a screening of the upcoming documentary series, THE ITALIAN AMERICANS, set to air on PBS February 2015.

photo block 2One of the fun and really unique characteristics of the gala weekend is our Italian American neighborhood and marketplace, NIAF Central, open on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Here, you can take a stroll down the piazza and enjoy the familiar tastes, sights and sounds of Italian American life, as you mingle amongst the Italian and Italian American Exhibitors.

photo block 3Partake in mouth-watering food and delectable libations, including a complimentary lunch provided by world-famous Mike’s Deli, direct from Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, N.Y.  And then round off your meal with delicious coffee and sweets from our premier partners, or spend time visiting with brands you love or ones you’re just discovering here.

photo block 4Over the next few weeks, we will be giving a taste of what is in store for you at NIAF Central and the gala, spotlighting vendors, organizations and entertainers featured at this year’s weekend event.  So stay tuned! For more information on the gala and to purchase your tickets, please visit our gala website at:

https://www.niaf.org/events/niaf-39th-anniversary-gala/

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#MusicaMondays brings you the Neapolitan classic “Pigliate ‘na Pastiglia”

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On #MusicaMondays, the NIAF team brings you the original Neapolitan lyrics to some of the most popular canzoni Napoletane.  And, to make a full connection with our Italian American community, we provide the English language translations side by side, so that those of us who are not yet fluent in Italian (or Neapolitan for that matter) can finally understand the beautiful meanings behind those songs that have made up the soundtrack of generations of Italian American life!

This week’s #MusicaMondays, constitutes a song that is a bit more modern, but no less loved contribution to the Neapolitan songbook… Pigliate ‘na Pastiglia (Take a Pill) a 1957 classic by the songwriting duo of Nicola Salerno (known as Nisa) and the incomparable Renato Carosone.  Together these two icons created innumerable hits throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, and we at NIAF are pleased to share this brilliant work with you today.  Keep in mind, these translations are meant to express the truest meaning of the lyrics… so if you are looking for a perfect translation, you might not find it here, but, we are confident you will all appreciate the true meaning of this wonderful song!

Pigliate ‘na Pastiglia (Take a Pill)

Io cammino ogni note,

I walk every night,

io cammino sbarianno,

I walk deliriously,

io nun tengo mai suonno,

I am never sleepy,

non chiudo mai ll’uocchie e non bevo cafe’!

I never close my eyes and I don’t drink coffee!

 

Coro: Va’ te cócca, siente a me!…

Chorus: Go to bed, listen to me!…
Va’ te cócca, siente a me!…

Go to bed, listen to me!…

 

‘Na perziana ca sbatte,

A shutter slams,

‘nu lampione ca luce,

A lamp switches on,

e ‘nu ‘mbriaco che dice, bussanno a ‘na porta

A drunken man says, banging on the door

“M’arape Cunce’?”

Open the door for me Cunce?”

‘A tre mise nun dormo cchiu’,

Three months and I haven’t slept,

‘na vucchella vurria scurda’

I want to forget to take a mouthful

Gente diciteme comme ‘aggia fa?

Folks, tell me what I can do?

 

Pigliate ‘na pastiglia

Take a pill

Pigliate ‘na pastiglia, siente a mme!

Take a pill, listen to me!

 

Pe me fa addurmi’,

For me, it makes me sleep,

pe me fa scurda’

For me, it makes me forget

il mio dolce amor

My sweet love

 

Pigliate ‘na pastiglia,

Take a pill,

Pigliate ‘na pastiglia, siente a mme!

Take a pill, listen to me!

 

Pe me fa senti’

For me, it makes me feel

come un gran pascia’

like a big pasha

e mi inebria il cuor!

and it intoxicates my heart!

 

Dint’ ‘e vetrine ‘e tutte ‘e farmaciste

In all of the shop windows of all of the pharmacies

la vecchia camomilla ha dato il posto…

The traditional chamomile has given way…

Alle palline e glicerofosfato

To balls of glycerolphosphate

Bromotelevisionato: grammi zero zero tre…

Bromotelevisionato* 0.03 grams…

Ah!

Ah!

Pigliate ‘na pastiglia, siente a mme!

Take a pill, Take a pill, listen to me!

 

‘Into ‘o scuro ‘na gatta

In the darkness is a cat

mastecanno ‘na sarda

chewing a sardine

doce doce me guarda

sweetly sweetly it looks at me

me guarda se struscia miagola e fa:

It looks at me, rubs itself, meows and says:

Siente a mme, va te a cucca’

Listen to me, go to bed

Siente a mme, va te a cucca’

Listen to me, go to sleep

So’ ‘nu ciuccio ‘e carretta

I am like a donkey pulled/carted along

Carrecato d’ammore

Pulled by love

ca se tira stu core

pulling this heart

stu core che cerca la felicita’!

this heart that is looking for happiness!

‘A tre mise nun dormo cchiu’,

For three months and I haven’t slept,

‘na vucchella vurria scurda’

I want to forget to eat

Gente diciteme comme ‘aggia fa?

People tell me what to do?

 

Pigliate ‘na pastiglia,

Take a pill,

Pigliate ‘na pastiglia, siente a mme!

Take a pill, listen to me!

Pe me fa addurmi’

For me, it makes me sleep

pe me fa scurda’

For me, it makes me forget

il mio dolce amor

my sweet love

 

Pigliate ‘na pastiglia

Take a pill

Pigliate ‘na pastiglia, siente a mme!

Take a pill, listen to me!

 

Pe me fa addurmi’,

For me, it makes me sleep,

pe me fa scurda’

For me, it makes me forget

il mio dolce amor

My sweet love

 

Pigliate ‘na pastiglia,

Take a pill,

Pigliate ‘na pastiglia, siente a mme!

Take a pill, listen to me!

 

Pe me fa senti’

For me, it makes me feel

come un gran pascia’

like a big pasha

e mi inebria il cuor!

and it intoxicates my heart!

 

Dint’ ‘e vetrine ‘e tutte ‘e farmaciste

In all of the shop windows of all of the pharmacies

la vecchia camomilla ha dato il posto…

the traditional chamomile has given way…

Alle palline e glicerofosfato

To balls of glycerolphosphate

Bromotelevisionato: grammi zero zero tre…

Bromotelevisionato* 0.03 grams…

Ah!

Ah!

Pigliate ‘na pastiglia, siente a mme!

Take a pill, Take a pill, listen to me!

 

Dint’ ‘e vetrine ‘e tutte ‘e farmaciste

In all of the shop windows of all of the pharmacies

la vecchia camomilla ha dato il posto…

the traditional chamomile has given way…

Alle palline e glicerofosfato,

To balls of glycerolphosphate,

bromotelevisionato dittiti’, bicarbonate

bromotelevisionato, bicarbonate

borotalco e seme ‘e lino, cataplasma e semolina

talcum powder and linseed, poultice** and semolina

‘na custata ‘a fiorentina, mortadella, dduie panine

A florentine steak, mortadella, two sandwiches

cu’ ‘nu miezo litro ‘e vino nu, caffe’ con caffeine

with half a  litre of wine, a coffee with caffeine

grammi zero zero tre…

  1. 03 grams…

Ah!

Ah!

 

Pigliate ‘na pastiglia

Take a pill

Pigliate ‘na pastiglia

Take a pill

Pigliate ‘na pastiglia

Take a pill

Pigliate ‘na pastiglia, siente a mme!

Take a pill, listen to me!

 

*The term bromotelevisionato cannot truly be translated.

** a soft,  handful of plant material or flour, applied to the body to relieve soreness and inflammation and kept in place with a cloth.

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Welcome to another #MusicaMondays! Here’s the famous Neapolitan song Reginella!

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With #MusicaMondays, we at NIAF will bring you the original Neapolitan lyrics to some of the most popular songs to come out of this tradition.  And, to make a full connection with our modern community, we will provide the English language translations side by side, so that those of us who have not yet learned Italian (or Neapolitan for that matter) can finally understand the beautiful meanings behind those songs that have made up the soundtrack of generations of Italian American life!

For this week’s installation of #MusicaMondays, we bring you one of the most famous Neapolitan songs of all time… Reginella.

 

Regninella, or Little Queen in English, was written in 1917 by Libero Bovio, one of the most prolific contributors to the Neapolitan Songbook (his other famous contributions include Lacreme napulitane, Silenzio cantatore, Tu ca nun chiagne, ‘O Paese d’o sole, and Guapparia).  Gaetano Lama wrote the music as a waltz, and the piece was published by the musical publisher La Canzonetta.

Reginella tells the story of a man who runs into a lost lover on the streets of Naples and recalls how painful his life was when she left him.

Reginella (Little Queen)

Te si fatta ‘na vesta scullata,

You wearing a low-necked dress,

nu cappiello cu ‘e nastre e cu ‘e rrose,

a hat with ribbons and roses,

stive miezo a tre o quatto sciantose,

you were amongst three or four chanteuses*,

e parlave francese… è accussì?

and you spoke French… is it so?

Fuie l’atriere ca t’aggio ncuntrata?

Was it only the other day that I met you?

Fui l’atriere, a Tuledo, gnorsì…

Was it only the other day, on Toledo**, yes sir…

T’aggio vuluto bene a tte!

I loved you!

Tu m’é vuluto bene a me!

You loved me!

Mo nun nce amammo cchiù,

Now we do not love each other any more

ma, a ‘e vvote, tu,

but, at times, you,

distrattamente, pienze a me!

distractedly, think of me!

Reginè, quanno stive cu mmico,

Reginella, when you were with me,

nun magnave ca pane e cerase,

we ate only bread and cherries,

nuie campavamo ‘e vase, e che vvase,

we lived on kisses, and what kisses,

tu cantave e chiagnive pe’ me…

you sang and cried for me…

E ‘o cardillo cantava cu ttico:

And the goldfinch used to sing along with you:

«Reginella ‘o vò bene a ‘stù Re!»

“Reginella loves this King!”

T’aggio vuluto bene a tte!

I loved you!

Tu m’è vuluto bene a me!

You loved me!

Mo nun nce amammo cchiù,

Now we do not love each other any more,

ma, a ‘e vvote, tu,

but, at times, you,

distrattamente, parle ‘e me!…

distractedly, speak of me!

Oi cardillo, a chi aspiette stasera?

Oh goldfinch, who are you waiting for this evening?

Nun ‘o vide, aggio aperta ‘a caiola,

can’t you see,  I have opened the cage,

Reginella è vulata, e tu vola

Reginella has flown away, and you fly

vola e canta, nun chiagnere ccà!

fly and sing, do not cry here!

T’è ‘à truvà ‘na patrona sincera,

You must find a sincere mistress (owner),

ca é cchiù degna ‘e sentirte ‘e cantà

who is more worthy of hearing you sing

T’aggio vuluto bene a tte!

I loved you!

Tu m’è vuluto bene a me!

You loved me!

Mo nun nce amammo cchiù,

Now we do not love each other any more,

ma, a ‘e vvote, tu,

but, at times, you

distrattamente, chiamme a me!

Distractedly, call to me!

* A female singer of popular songs, especially in a nightclub.

** Via Toledo, the major shopping street in Naples.

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NIAF Leadership Critical of New York Gubernatorial Candidate Rob Astorino Remarks

PENSIERI_CUOMO_ASTORINO

By John M. Viola

New York is my home state. It is a state with a large and well-developed Italian American population and, of course, an important role in the history of our community in the United States. So it should come as no surprise that in its impending gubernatorial election we see Italian American candidates on both sides of the aisle (a repeat of the election four years ago, which also saw two Italian Americans running against one another).

Last Monday, the Republican candidate, Rob Astorino, compared incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the Anti-Corruption Moreland Commission to the actions of a Mafia boss, going as far as quoting from “The Godfather” about offers that can’t be refused. Obviously, every major Italian American group in the country has reacted with shock and disappointment to candidate Astorino’s flippant use of such tired and detrimental anti-Italian stereotypes. And, of course, the leadership of the National Italian American Foundation is of no different opinion.

However, I would like to take the conversation a step further and point out that this is not just about the perpetuation of stereotypes, but about a lack of unity and civility in how members of the Italian American community deal with one another and our shared identity. I would be hard pressed to find an example of another ethnic group that would sling stereotypical barbs at one another in a local community board election, let alone a race of such exposure and importance. But, in the Italian American community, we are often our own worst enemies. NIAF is a non-partisan organization, so it is not for me or any of us to comment on policy or party. But, as the leading organization in the Italian American community, I can say, if nothing else, we need Italian American leaders of civility and respect for one another and our own community.

Many of us often look at the state of our ethnicity here in America and shake our heads at why it is so difficult for us to make major strides. The sad truth is that for as much progress as we have already made, it has often been the internal lack of respect and consideration for one another, and popular perceptions about us that has set us backwards in our struggle for full appreciation in this great country of ours.

There is always the question of how far our efforts towards anti-defamation really go in effecting negative misconceptions of the Italian American community. The results really are hard to measure. But, what can be said for sure is that when those members of our own community who are seeking roles of leadership and high profile so carelessly use and perpetuate these disgusting myths, it does very little to help us, and indeed sets us back far further than anyone from outside our own ethnic group could!

Shame on you, Mr. Astorino, not just for the shameless use of a cheap cliché, but for the disgraceful example you are setting for young Italian Americans…the future leaders of our community and our nation.

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Welcome to #MusicaMondays! The traditional Neapolitan song “Io te vurria vasa” (I Long to Kiss You)

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Since our NIAF 2013-2014 Region of Honor is Campania, we thought we should start a new tradition to celebrate the incomparable musical traditions of Naples and the Regione Campania!  Canzóna napulita, as it is known in the Neapolitan language. It has for centuries played an important role not just in the music of Italy, but in the general history of western European musical tradition!

With #MusicaMondays, we at NIAF will bring you the original Neapolitan lyrics to some of the most popular songs to come out of this tradition.  And, to make a full connection with our modern community, we will provide the English language translations side by side, so that those of us who have not yet learned Italian (or Neapolitan for that matter) can finally understand the beautiful meanings behind those songs that have made up the soundtrack of generations of Italian American life!

For our first song, we will translate Io te vurria vasa (I Long to Kiss You), first published in 1900 and considered a cornerstone of Neapolitan Song!

The song originates with a true love story, of the writer Vincenzo Russo for Enrichetta Marchese. A union between the penniless poet and the young girl, the daughter of a jeweler, was strongly opposed by her family. So Russo, in the great tradition of the star-crossed lover, wrote her this song.

Io te vurria vasa (I Long to Kiss You)

Neapolitan:

Ah! Che bell’aria fresca…
Ch’addore ‘e malvarosa…
E tu durmenno staje,
‘ncopp’a sti ffronne ‘e rosa!
‘O sole, a poco a poco,
pe’ stu ciardino sponta…
‘o viento passa e vasa
stu ricciulillo ‘nfronte!

I’ te vurría vasá…

I’ te vurría vasá…

ma ‘o core nun mmo ddice

‘e te scetá…

‘e te scetá!…

I’ mme vurría addurmí…

I’ mme vurría addurmí…

vicino ô sciato tujo,

n’ora pur’i’…

n’ora pur’i’!…

Tu duorme oje Rosa mia…
e duorme a suonno chino,
mentr’io guardo, ‘ncantato,
stu musso curallino…
E chesti ccarne fresche,
e chesti ttrezze nere,
mme mettono, ‘into core,
mille male penziere!

I’ te vurría vasá…

I’ te vurría vasá…

ma ‘o core nun mmo ddice

‘e te scetá…

‘e te scetá!…

I’ mme vurría addurmí…

I’ mme vurría addurmí…

vicino ô sciato tujo,

n’ora pur’i’…

n’ora pur’i’!…

Sento stu core tujo
ca sbatte comm’a ll’onne!
Durmenno, angelo mio,
chisà tu a chi te suonne…
‘A gelusia turmenta
stu core mio malato:
Te suonne a me?…Dimméllo!
O pure suonne a n’ato?

I’ te vurría vasá…

I’ te vurría vasá…

ma ‘o core nun mmo ddice

‘e te scetá…

‘e te scetá!…

I’ mme vurría addurmí…

I’ mme vurría addurmí…

vicino ô sciato tujo,

n’ora pur’i’…

n’ora pur’i’!…

English:

Ah ! What a nice air fresh …
What perfume of hollyhocks …
And you ‘re sleeping
On these rose leaves
The sun gradually climbs ,
and warms this garden …
a gentle wind passes and kisses
this curl on your brow!

I long to kiss you
I long to kiss you
But I do not have the heart
to wake you
to wake you
I long to drift into sleep
I long to drift into sleep
close to your breath
for just an hour
for just an hour

You sleep oh my Little Rose
and sleep deeply
while I stare enchanted
by your lips like coral
and such fresh meat
and these black tresses
put me in my heart
a thousand devilish thoughts

I long to kiss you
I long to kiss you
But I do not have the heart
to wake you
to wake you
I long to drift into sleep
I long to drift into sleep
close to your breath
for just an hour
for just an hour

I can hear your heart beats
pounding like the waves
you sleep, my angel
who knows who you are dreaming of
jealousy torments
this sick heart of mine
Do you dream of me? Tell me!

Or do you dream of another?

I long to kiss you
I long to kiss you
But I do not have the heart
to wake you
to wake you
I long to drift into sleep
I long to drift into sleep
close to your breath
for just an hour
for just an hour

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Finding The Italian American Power Button

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By John M. Viola

It’s safe to say that in a job like mine, you need to be passionate about your Italian American heritage. One of the extensions of that passion, for me, is the urge to collect the objects and antiques that were part of the Italian American experience.

 I recently stumbled upon a large assortment of Italian American novelty buttons from the 1920s through the 1980s. The messages on the buttons certainly gave a sense of where our community was in those eras. In the ’20s, the theme was mutual aid societies and religious festivals. In the ’40s, the messages were about Italian Americans being proud of their American-ness. Into the ’70s, buttons called for unity, pride and an interesting concept called “Italian Power.” 

As I started to dig into the concept, I realized our community’s shared recollections of the 1970s tend to gloss over how far from assimilation we Italian Americans were in those days. We often look back at our ascendency as Americans as a simple path from immigration and poverty to the middle class and beyond, accomplished through hard work, dedication and family values. But it was not that simple.

Even as late as the 1970s, the Italian American community was grossly underrepresented in Washington, in academia, and in the halls of power throughout the country. In June 1971, a New York Magazine article, “Risorgimento: The Red, White and Greening of New York,” addressed the struggles of our community towards assimilation. Not only were we not assimilating, we were being left behind by other ethnic groups that had come to America the same time as our families. The article points out that in 1971, “while almost one-quarter of the freshman class at City University [was] Italian … only 14 out of 165 of the university deans, and less than six percent of the city’s college level teachers, [were] Italian.” Of the 90 high school principals employed in New York City at the time, one was Italian, and less than 10 percent of the city’s 60,000 school teachers were of Italian ancestry.

Statistics like those led to the founding of our National Italian American Foundation. NIAF was created to fight for positions, influence and power here in the nation’s capital on behalf of all Italian Americans. So it brings me back to the idea that Italian Power, even as recently as 40 years ago, was something of a pipe dream.

Since then, we really have seen ourselves arrive as a functioning and important group of 25 million in this great country of ours. I’d like to think, in retrospect, that organizations like NIAF were integral in that jump to empowerment. Forcing our people to understand that while divided we were a community of struggling families, united we were a major force in the American social fabric.  

So what comes next? If we were to design the Italian American button of today, sometimes I think it would say, “We’re here and we’ve forgotten who we are.”

I look into the future of our community and realize that in a world where information and identity move so quickly, our culture and our Italian American identity can’t be maintained in the institutions our community now has. Just like the old mutual aid societies of the ’20s and ’30s didn’t suffice in the era of Italian Power in the ’70s, groups like ours need to evolve.

I see this evolution as a coming together of the different parts of our community.  There are groups that have existed for decades and, like the Order of Sons of Italy, even for a century, with proud histories, excellent traditions, vigorous membership and service. There’s UNICO and its service throughout the nation and, of course, NIAF and the works we have been doing for nearly 40 years.

But, in many ways, these groups represent the Italian tendency to fracture and to recreate one another’s efforts. I challenge our community to look into the future and see our major Italian organizations merged together as one, working towards the shared goals and missions, and representing a community more unified than it has ever been. 

In October, during our annual Gala weekend, I laid out that challenge at the “State of NIAF” conference. It was met with great enthusiasm, saying it was exactly what we needed to preserve our culture and identity in the next generations. It was also met with great reservation, expressing that the merging these groups would be dead on arrival.

All I know is this: while my grandparents were considered a “mixed marriage” because my grandfather is Sicilian and my grandmother is Barese, my parents simply thought of themselves as Italians. At 30 years old, I don’t care about what group, society or faction we belong to within our community, and neither do my friends. We care about being Italian first, and fighting to make sure that our people remain a community and future generations have every opportunity to receive this gift of identity and culture that previous generations have fought so hard to pass onto us.

For the first time in our century-and-a-half history, we need to achieve real unification. And if Italian American unity can be achieved, perhaps we can finally get to that concept of “Italian American Power.”

 John M. Viola is the NIAF president and chief operating officer.

 

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Author Michael Zarocostas Wants You to Know About Detective Joe Petrosino

As a first generation Italian American whose mother came from Sicily, I had always wanted to write about an actual Italian American to counteract the myriad stereotypical mafia villains in literature and film. When I lived in New York, I got my chance. I was doing research at the New York Public Library on a completely different subject and accidentally came upon old newspaper articles stored in microfiche about Joe Petrosino. I became fascinated with this true-life American hero.

Before Eliot Ness and Frank Serpico and other famous crime fighters in our history, there was Petrosino, a stocky 5-foot-5-inch, hardnosed cop nicknamed “Bulldog Joe.” In 1895, New York City Police Commissioner Teddy Roosevelt appointed Petrosino as the first Italian American detective in the NYPD. Over the next 14 years, Petrosino not only fought some of the most vicious criminals and gangs in New York City’s history, but also established himself as a legend along the way by forming the NYPD Bomb Squad and creating the first anti-gang unit known as The Italian Squad (to fight the mafia). The press even dubbed Petrosino “The Italian Sherlock Holmes” for his wits, and one city alderman proclaimed that Petrosino “knocked out more teeth than a dentist” for his violence.

It’s my goal to make the real-life cop Joe Petrosino as famous as the fake criminal Vito Corleone. So I wrote “The Barrel Murder,” which is based on an actual 1903 criminal case assigned to Petrosino. The story traces the NYPD’s investigation of the April 14, 1903, barrel murder, in which a man was found stabbed to death, dismembered and placed on display in a barrel in Little Italy.

Two NYPD outcasts hunt for the killer: Petrosino and Inspector Max Schmittberger (nicknamed “The Broom”). As they work the barrel murder, Petrosino and Schmittberger encounter a lunatic doctor, the Secret Service, vicious Sicilian Mafiosi known as the Morello Gang, and a mysterious code that may unlock the secrets of the killing and a rumored crime syndicate in the City.

—Michael Zarocostas

NIAF guest blogger Michael Zarocostas is a lawyer and a #1 Bestselling Amazon author who lives in Los Angeles with his beautiful wife Lianna, their amazing daughter Vesta, and two obese rescued cats Vito and Luca. Michael’s work has been honored by the Kindle Book Review, Suspense Magazine, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Nicholl Fellowship, the Chesterfield Writers Film Project, and the Rupert Hughes Prose Writing Competition (at the former Maui Writers Conference). Visti his website at www.zarocostas.com

Giuseppe 'Joe' Petrosino

Giuseppe ‘Joe’ Petrosino

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