Caravaggio's work has been far-reaching, even four centuries after his death at the age of 39. Here, a painting by the master appears on a stamp from Kampuchea, the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Mark your calendars for next Monday, July 12, when BBC Radio will examine the work and life of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio -- or, as he has been known to generations of art lovers, simply Caravaggio -- on the 400th anniversary of his death in July 1610 at the age of 39.
This series of on-air verbal portraits includes a discussion by John Gash, senior lecturer on the history of art at Aberdeen University. Topics include an introduction to the artist, an examination of his painting techniques including chiaroscuro, the politcal climate of Caravaggio's times, and more.
During his time, the brawling artist was known as much for the beauty of his public commisisons -- including "Martyrdom of Saint Matthew" and "Calling of Saint Matthew" -- as for his penchant for fighting and arguments.
Notes BBC Radio's website, "When Caravaggio moves from northern Italy to seek patronage and fame in Rome, the celebrity he attracts there is entwined with visceral and violent behaviour, which itself is then replicated in aspects of his work that depict sacred Christian subjects."
BBC Radio's broadcasts are available online.
As we prepare to celebrate our nation's independence, we here at NIAF are mindful that Italians have supported the U.S. since the beginning of our country's history. Here is just a sampling of Italians who helped the American colonies become the United States of America.
- Three Italian regiments, totaling some 1,500 men, fought for American independence: the Third Piemonte, the 13th Du Perche, and the Royal Italian.
- Filippo Mazzei, a Tuscan physician, fought alongside Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry during the American Revolution. Mazzei drew up a plan to capture the British in
- Italian officers in the American Revolution included: Captain Cosimo de Medici of the North Carolina Light Dragoons; Lieutenant James Bracco, 7th Maryland Regiment, killed at the Battle of White Plains; Captain B. Tagliaferro, second in command of the Second Virginia Regiment, a direct subaltern of General George Washington; 2nd Lieutenant Nicola Talliaferro of the 2nd Virginia Regiment; and Colonel Richard Talliaferro, who fell at the Battle of Guilford. Other Italian officers, most from
- Major John Belli was the Quartermaster General of the U.S. Army from 1792 to 1794. The first settler in
- Three of the first five warships commissioned by the Continental Congress of the new American government, were named Christopher Columbus, John Cabot and Andrea Doria. Doria was a 16th century navy admiral from
- Francesco Vigo (1747-1836), is believed the first Italian to become an American citizen. A successful fur trader on the western frontier (today the mid-western states of
To learn more about Italian American contributions to our country's history, visit NIAF's website.
Who are your favorite Italians or Italian Americans in U.S. history? Share with us!
HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!
NIAF thanks military historian Rudy A. D'Angelo for his assistance with this fact sheet.
Actor Robert Davi on the set of "The Dukes."
Mark your calendars! Actor Robert Davi ("Die Hard," "The Dukes") will perform "A Tribute To A Legend: Davi Sings Sinatra" at Hofstra University's John Cranford Adams Playhouse on July 16 and 17 at 8 pm. and July 18 at 2 p.m.
During the three performances, Davi will be accompanied by the 30-piece New York Big Band, led by Joe Battaglia.
Born in Astoria, Queens, New York in 1953 to Italian immigrant parents, Davi was inspired as a child by Italian neo-realism films and later received a drama scholarship from Hofstra University. He has been influenced by the storytelling of legendary directors Federico Fellini, Vittorio de Sica, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Luchino Visconti and Roberto Rossellini. His body of work includes more than 60 films, in which he collaborated with prominent directors and producers including Steven Spielberg.
For more information, visit www.hofstra.edu/HofstraEntertainment.
Italian mafia boss Giuseppe Falsone was arrested in France on Friday, after more than a decade on the run, in a joint operation by police from both Italy and France, according to reporting by the BBC and National Turk.
Falsone, 40, was caught in Marseille and was believed to have undergone plastic surgery and been using false identification. He had already been sentenced to life in prison for murder and international drug trafficking.
He is thought to have been the mafia boss for Sicily's province of Agrigento.
Last month, Italian company Italcementi, the world's fifth largest producer of cement, opened a new plant in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Work on the facility began in 2006 and was completed at a cost of $500 million dollars, representing the company's largest investment in North America today.
Italcementi employs 2,300 workers at seven plants across the United States. This particular plant, which has been outfitted with cutting-edge technology, is able to produce two million tons of cement each day.
Speaking at the facility's inauguration, Italian Ambassador to the U.S. Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata lauded the unique collaboration in the fields of science and technology that exists today between the U.S. and Italy.
Said Terzi, "The National Science Foundation estimates that over 15 thousand scientists of Italian origin are active in the U.S. From biotechnologies to astrophysics, from nanotechnology to nuclear physics, many Italian scientists have contributed substantially, over the last decades, to the American scientific progress. As an example, let me mention the small group of Italian researchers working in Silicon Valley, who in the 1980's developed hardware and software components still essential to our computers. Thanks to them, for instance, the control room of this 'state of the art' plant in West Virginia is so advanced."
Terzi also lauded West Virginia's Italian roots, adding as he concluded that, "Let me also pay a warm tribute to the hard working Italian community in West Virginia. They are here, as representatives of a long history of dedication and commitment to the industrial and economic development of the State and the Union."
Congratulations to Livernano and Casalvento Wines, two Italian varietals produced by NIAF Board Member Bob Cuillo that were recognized at the 71st Annual Los Angeles International Wine Competition.
Judged in May, the competition highlights the best wines from around the world. This year, Cuillo's Livernano, Janus Casalvento and Livernano Riserva wines all received silver medals while Casalvento Riserva 2007 took the gold medal. Auguri!
Planning a visit to Tuscany? Consider a visit to Cuillo's Livernano, which is far more than a winery. The estate is a working farm that also produces olive oil, honey, vegetables and fruits in addition to serving as an exclusive hotel complete with swimming pool.
Tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., the Yankees' World Series Trophy will be on display at The Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center in Little Falls, N.J.
If you're in the New Jersey/New York area, this is an amazing opportunity to view the trophy first-hand, at a museum created by Yankee great and proud Italian American Yogi Berra. Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for children.
Can't make it tomorrow? Check out the museum's host of acitivites throughout the summer, which advance its mission to teach children about baseball and the social and cultural values taught by sports participation both off the field and on.
Upcoming summer events at the museum include a behind-the-scenes tour of Yankee Stadium on July 19 and again on August 10, a three-day Sports Business Camp from July 19-21 for high school students looking to gain insight into careers in professional sports and a Sports Broadcasting Camp featuring New York broadcasters Bruce Beck and Ian Eagle from July 24-30.
Click here to learn more.
NIAF Board President Joseph V. Del Raso, Esq. stands in front of the site of a new dormitory for the University of L'Aquila, now under construction thanks to funds raised by NIAF.
For the past year, a NIAF partnership with the State Department has been critical to ongoing revitalization efforts in L’Aquila – in particular, providing support to the University of L’Aquila. As part of those efforts, NIAF donations have funded the reconstruction of a new dormitory for the university.
NIAF's board members visited the dormitory, which is now under construction, during the Foundation's Mission to Italy last week. While in L’Aquila, NIAF board members also toured the city with local fire and rescue officials and met with former University of L’Aquila students who, as part of the NIAF/State Department partnership, spent the past year attending U.S. universities to continue their educations.
While in Italy last week, NIAF board members toured L'Aquila, which sustained heavy damage during last year's Abruzzo earthquake.
NIAF is proud to partner with the City of Washington, D.C., in a bid to host the start of the 2012 Giro D’Italia. In support of that effort, we invite you to join us on July 11, 2010 for the Capital Criterium, a day of bike races in the nation’s capital.
The Capital Criterium features professional and amateur cycling races, including a GiroDC2012 charity ride by local celebrities and CycleLife Kids’ Safety Races for four age categories with free helmets and goodies for all participants. A CapCrit LifeStyle Expo will showcase many of the official bid supporters working to bring the Giro d’Italia here to D.C. in 2012! Go Giro!
Registration is free for participating children. More information can be found at www.capcrit.com.
The National Geographic Museum will host an exclusive first look at a new traveling exhibit, "Da Vinci - The Genius", on Thursday, June 17 from 9-10:30 a.m. The exhibit will officially open on the following day and will run through the summer, closing on September 12.
Created with the assistance of Il Genio di Leonardo da Vinci Museo (Italy) and Pascal Cotte of Lumiere Technology (France), the exhibit features a vast array of full-scale inventions re-created according to Da Vinci's personal codices (notebooks); reproductions of his most famous Renaissance paintings, including the Mona Lisa, Virgin of the Rocks and The Annunciation; detailed anatomical sketches; the preparatory drawings for the Battle of Anghiari; and custom video presentations.
A cadre of Italian artisans spent the last decade studying and interpreting Da Vinci’s codices and crafting the mechanical inventions shown in the exhibition. The artisans reproduced more than 120 of Da Vinci’s machine inventions, 67 of which will be on display. Among them are Da Vinci’s visions for the glider, parachute, precursor to the modern helicopter, forerunner of the modern military tank, automobile, submarine, ball bearing and gear systems, and others that were far ahead of their time.
The exhibition will also include an insight into the “Secrets of Mona Lisa,” featuring images showcasing the work of French engineer optician Pascal Cotte. With his cutting-edge, 240-megapixel, multispectral imaging camera, Cotte was able to uncover how Mona Lisa looked as she was originally painted, distinguishing between layers of over-painting, restoration and attempts at preservation, and identifying the individual pigments used by Da Vinci.
The museum will be hosting free family drop-in programs, during which children can create their own flying whirligig, on Saturdays July 10 and August 7 and at 2 p.m. on Wednesdays July 14 and 28 and August 11 and 25.
Processions are held prior to Tuscany's famed Palio.
La Festa di San Giovanni – The birth of
The Festival of Spoleto – Also known as the “Festival dei Due Mondi” (“Festival of the Two Worlds”), this arts celebration has been held every June and July since 1958. It hosts top-class performances of opera, theatre, music and ballet, attracting internationally known artists. Click here for more details on this year’s performances.
Ferragosto – In
What are some of your favorite Italian celebrations?
Assistant Attorney General Thomas J. Perelli speaks to guests in the Department of Justice's Great Hall as Francesco Isgrò, John A. DiCicco, John J. LaCorte, Jr. and Hon. Francis M. Allegra look on.
In a ceremony at the Department of Justice today, members of Washington, D.C.'s Italian American community gathered to commemorate the life and work of Charles J. Bonaparte, the 46th Attorney General of the United States and the founder of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
For the 50th year in a row, distinguished guests from the Department of Justice, the New York-based Italian Historical Society of America and others gathered to honor Bonaparte. Born in 1851, Bonaparte's grandfather was Jerome Bonaparte, the younger brother of Napoleon.
A portrait of Charles J. Bonaparte stands on display in the Great Hall at the Department of Justice.
In 1908 Bonaparte, a resident of Baltimore, became the 46th Attorney General of the United States. He soon discovered that he was hampered in carrying out President Theodore Roosevelt's "trust busting" policies due to the lack of a permanent investigative staff. On July 28, Bonaparte issued the order that made his special investigative unit a permanent subdivision of the Department of Justice. In 1935, what began as a 23-man force led by Bonaparte was renamed the FBI.
Speaking at the event, Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli described Bonaparte as "a bold man and a brilliant lawyer who dedicated his life to serving his country." He noted that today's Department of Justice priorities, including ending corruption on Wall Street and the department's new Access to Justice Division, are very much in line with Bonaparte's vision and work. "I think Bonaparte would feel very rewarded by what we're doing today," he noted. "...We are in many ways following his example."
Cristiano Maggipinto, the Embassy of Italy's First Counselor for Social & Consular Affairs, also spoke at the event, noting that despite the Bonaparte family's original French roots, their descendant's actions were characteristically Italian.
"The interest of the Bonaparte family in law and the administration of justice was a trait they derived from [Romans]," Maggipinto told the more than 100 guests gathered for the event, noting that the Napoleonic Code was basically an adaptation of Roman law. "Charles J. Bonaparte was very Italian from this point of view," he added with a smile.
For the dad who loves football, buy him tickets to see LOMBARDI, a new play opening on Broadway this fall, as the perfect Father’s Day gift!
The play, written by Academy Award winner and Steppenwolf Theater Company member Eric Simonson, is based on the best-selling biography “When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss and opens on September 23, 2010.
This original work brings the audience into the life and times of one of America's most inspirational personalities, Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi. It is directed by Tony nominee Thomas Kall (In the Heights). Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years) and Judith Light (Ugly Betty, Who's the Boss?) head the cast.
Through an exclusive offer, get 30 percent off tickets to all performances between September 23 and November 21, 2010. To take advantage of this opportunity, visit BroadwayOffers.com and use code LOFNF506 or call 212-947-8844 and use code LOFNF506.
The 34 students participating in NIAF's Amb. Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery are continuing their exploration of Italy this week with a trip to Bevagna, a medieval town whose businesses shut down once a year for a week of re-enacting medieval crafts.
Each year, Voyage of Discovery sends college students of Italian American heritage to Italy to explore the land of their ancestors. This year's trip to Campania and Umbria will end tomorrow, after nine days.
Click below to view an interview on Italia 2 TV with community leaders and participating students about the trip:
In a new twist on the trip, Voyage of Discovery participants blogged daily about their experiences in Italy. Visit www.niaf.org/voyageofdiscovery/for posts on how these students have experienced the land of their ancestors.
Want to visit Italy this summer but worried about your bank account? NIAF sponsor Stay and Visit Italy/Orofino Tours is offering a variety of travel opportunities starting at just $499.
Choose from any of the company's Regional Modular Italy Tours, which include packages to Rome, Florence and Venice, the Amalfi Coast and Rome, Tuscany and Umbria, Sardinia, Calabria and Sicily or just Rome.
Additionally, the company offers stays at hotels in Rome, Naples, Maremma, Calabria, Sardinia and the Sicilian Islands with rates starting at $49.
On i-Italy.org this week, writer Benedetta Grasso details Italian President Giorgio Napolitano's visit to Washington, D.C., reporting with particular color on his meetings with U.S. President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
On May 25, 2010, Napolitano, now in his 80s, was received at the White House for the first time. As Grasso notes, "This official visit means a great deal for both Italians and Americans. The issues at stake range from the several wars that are going on around the world to the current global economic crisis, from the domestic politics of both countries to the role of Italian culture and language abroad."
For those not familiar wtih Napolitano, Grasso provides a brief history of his career. Italy's president was a prominent leader of the Italian Communist Party until it was dissolved at the end of the Cold War. Its dissolution lead to the creation of a number of different political parties, including Italy's Democratic Party -- the largest oppostion force in Italy today. President since 2006, Napolitano has been a great supporter of Obama.
During their talks, Napolitano and Obama discussed (among other topics) the current financial crisis, with Napolitano noting that, "even with the present crsis, worsened by the Greek national debt, the Euro and the European Union are not at risk." The leader advocated for more discipline in the European Union’s budget and more effective management of several fields, including economic policy and the environment. Napolitano also invited Obama to visit Italy again in 2011 and take part to the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the country’s unification.
Click here to read more about Napolitano's visit with Obama.
Napolitano also attended receptions at the National Gallery of Art and the Italian Embassy. On the following day, he met with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. According to Grasso:
"American women are justifiably proud of her, and so is [Napolitano], who praised her yesterday during their official meeting as 'the first lady speaker of Italian origin.' To which [Pelosi] jokingly replied: 'The first Speaker of Italian origin. Male or female.' A member of the National Organization of Italian American Women (NOIAW), Pelosi indeed has served for 13 years as a board member of the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF)."
During their meeting, Pelosi spoke about Washington's ties to Italy, noting that:
“When I became Speaker, Mr. President, I had the curator restore a lot of the Italian artwork that makes our Capitol so beautiful, not only here, but in the Rotunda and throughout the Capitol. It is a sign, another link to Italy. But we have tens of millions of links to Italy in the contributions made by Italian Americans in our country, and we all think that President Napolitano must have the best job in the world to be the President of Italy.” Click here for more coverage of Napolitano's visit with Pelosi.
“When I became Speaker, Mr. President, I had the curator restore a lot of the Italian artwork that makes our Capitol so beautiful, not only here, but in the Rotunda and throughout the Capitol. It is a sign, another link to Italy. But we have tens of millions of links to Italy in the contributions made by Italian Americans in our country, and we all think that President Napolitano must have the best job in the world to be the President of Italy.”
Click here for more coverage of Napolitano's visit with Pelosi.
Napolitano's trip also includes a trip to the Library of Congress and visits with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice John Roberts in addition to former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
Rooms in Sextantio, an Italian albergo diffuso.
In “Saving Towns by Filling Rooms in
The idea is the brainchild of Giancarlo Dall’Ara, an Italian hotel marketing consultant inspired by a visit to a remote village in Friuli, writes Williams. She explains:
"The principle is that rooms, decorated in a consistently authentic and local style, are scattered throughout different buildings within the town but overseen by one manager. A traditional breakfast might be served at a local cafe or in the kitchen of one of the local houses, or delivered to your room. Call it a B & B village.
Like a holiday apartment, an albergo diffuso allows travelers to imbed themselves in village life, but the bonus is that it offers the basic services of a hotel. There is a reception or central area to report to — sometimes a cafe, other times a shop — where a manager is available to help with questions, recommendations or bookings."
As one former guest explained to the Times, “We loved living next door to locals with their dogs and their washing lines. Scenes from life!”
Perhaps more interesting than the article is the accompanying slide show depicting rooms in hotels, like the Sextantio, scattered throughout medieval hamlets. The scenes show visitors walking craggy, time-worn streets and feasting in seemingly ancient rooms.
According to the article, there are now more than 40 albergi diffusi in Italy, and the trend is emerging in Spain and Croatia as well. So, what's your take on this idea?