Articles by: B. S.

  • Events: Reports

    Celebrate the Dog Days of Summer with the 129th Giglio Italian Feast

    From July 6th to July 17th come out to Italian Williamsburg in Brooklyn to enjoy the timeless festival that brings Italian culture to the forefront of New York City life, engaging in the festivities that our ancestors once participated in.

    The 129th Giglio Italian Feast returns to Brooklyn next month for 12 days of celebration.  

    From  July 6th to July 17th, Williamsburg’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel will host the festivities, which includes faith, food, music, history, and neighborhood pride.

    Beginning in 1903, the Giglio (Italian for “lily”) festival was brought over from Italy after Neapolitan immigrants settled in the neighborhood.  

    The 12-day festival features a five-story, hand-crafted, 80-feet tall, four-ton tower with a statue of Saint Paolino on top.  A 12-piece brass band is also carried on the tower and performs as 125 men carry the structure through the neighborhood streets.

    The fun begins on Wednesday, July 6th, at 6:00 p.m. with the opening night mass followed by the candlelight procession.  Giglio Sunday is on July 10th, with the Capo Parade at 9:00 a.m., Mass in Honor of Saint Paolino at noon, and the Dancing of the Giglio and The Boat at 2:00 p.m.  Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is on Saturday, July 16th, with midnight mass in Honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

     The festival comes to an end with Old Timers Giglio on Sunday, July 17th beginning at 1:00 p.m.  The closing ceremonies and raffle drawing will be at 10:00 p.m.

    The festival will also host Catholic Masses in several different languages.  Other popular attractions of the festival include children’s rides, artwork, Italian-themed souvenirs, and Italian delicacies, including zeppoles and braciola.

    The leader of this year’s festival is Capo Paul "Bo" Pennolino.  The Capo is an honorary member of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish who leads the tower through the streets, carrying a megaphone and calling out orders - Forward! Up! Down! Dance! Circulate! - to the 125 men carrying the tower, making it “dance,” which is why the festival is often referred to as the “Dance of the Giglio”.

    The festival also includes a re-enactment of the Neapolitan Saint Paolino’s release from captivity. The performance includes an ornate, custom-made ship docking with the Giglio tower on the Brooklyn streets.

    As many immigrants from Noli, Italy came to Brooklyn at the beginning of the migration wave in the early 1880’s, they were eager to pay homage to the Madonna and their patron saint, Saint Paolino.  Southern Italian’s devotion to the Madonna is well-known, but their devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is of the highest order, as many of the first immigrants quickly contributed to the building of the original Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.  After the church was established, the residents were quick to honor their revered Saint Paolino with an annual feast.

    Saint Paolino began as a Bishop in Nola, Italy in the fifth century.  Legend says that in 410 A.D., North African pirates invaded Nola.  During the raid, Bishop Paolino fled to the countryside saving some of the town’s children.  As Bishop Paolino returned to the town, he came across a sobbing widow who told him that many of the young men of the town, including her son, had been taken into slavery.  Bishop Paolino decided to offer himself in exchange for the boy, and was taken prisoner, freeing the widow’s son.

    While in North Africa, word of his courage and self-sacrifice spread and reached a Turkish sultan.  Swept away by the tale of altruism, the sultan negotiated the release of Bishop Paolino.  Through his help, Bishop Paolino and his paesani were freed.

    As Bishop Paolino returned to Nola, the entire town greeted him carrying lilies, a symbol of love and purity.  The homecoming extravaganza is considered the first observance of what has become the annual feast and has since been accepted into other Southern Italian’s cultural celebrations.

    In the 1950s, The Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel took over the feast.  The church combined the Giglio Feast with the feast honoring Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  Since 1958, the Giglio Feast has been celebrated in July, with its activities leading up to its culmination on July 16th, the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

    The festival’s hours are Monday-Friday 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., Saturdays 6:00 p.m. to Midnight, and Sundays noon to 11:00 p.m.  The address for the event is 275 North 8th Street at Havemeyer Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn 11211.

  • Events: Reports

    Samantha Pugliese Named Winner of Eataly-IACE Photography Contest

    Samantha Pugliese of Manhasset High School has been named the winner of the Food in Focus IACE Photography Contest at Eataly New York for the 2015-2016 school year. Famed food photographer Francesco Tonelli, in collaboration with Eataly and the Italian American Committee on Education (IACE), selected the winners, which will culminate in an awards ceremony on June 18th.

    Second place was awarded to Hennessis Veras of LaGuardia High School and third place was awarded to Gilian Marinoof also of LaGuardia High School.   

    The Eataly and IACE competition exposed students between the ages of six to 18 to the importance of incorporating healthy food into their lifestyle through an in-depth tasting tour in Eataly’s marketplace and cooking demonstrations of simple and traditional Italian

    The students were shown a video of Tonelli teaching the best practices to use for food photography.  

    He then invited students to submit one to two photos of Italian cuisine that captured what they learned. Tonelli selected the contest winners based on which submissions best visually captured the spirit of Italian cuisines, and which photos best incorporated Tonelli’s expert techniques, favoring “appetite appeal” over the technical nature of the photos.

    On Saturday, June 18, at 9:30 a.m., IACE will close the academic school year with a special awards celebration breakfast for the winners and committee at Eataly’s La Scuola Grande.  

    The first, second, and third place competition winners will receive, respectively: a dinner for four at Eataly’s fine-dining restaurant, Manzo; a tasting tour for four at Eataly’s marketplace; and an Eataly gift box, filled with delicious products imported from Italy.

    IACE is a New York based non-profit organization that promotes the study of the Italian language and culture within the tri-state area.  Operating under the supervision of the Consulate General of Italy in New York, IACE students embark on tours of Eataly’s marketplace, exposing students to the importance of fresh, whole foods, and ways to incorporate healthy food into their lives.

    Eataly is the largest Italian marketplace in the world.  Its philosophy is “Eat, Shop, and Learn”, and offers a place where consumers can discover high-quality food and drinks at affordable prices. The marketplace hosts various restaurants where consumers can try new flavors and combinations, shop for products, and learn more about Mediterranean culture through courses on food, wine, and nutrition. With 30 locations around the world today, Eataly came to New York in 2010 in a space of more than 50,000 square feet.    

    Francesco Tonelli was born in the Marche region of Italy and raised in Milan.  He learned from his mother, who grew up on a farm in Central Italy and understood how to grow and cook different foods. Tonelli has worked in kitchens and hotels across Europe, and today is a professor of culinary arts at The Culinary Institute of America and a prominent R&D chef and food stylist for La Cucina Italiana of Milan.

    Through his work he still incorporates what he learned from his mother’s cooking. Tonelli’s immersion into the culinary world has made him one of the most demanded food photographers in the world.    

  • Art & Culture

    Richard Gere Named President of This Year’s Taormina Film Festival

    You may say this year’s Taormina Film Fest in Taormina, Sicily, is right up Richard Gere’s ally. With the combination of film, acting, and social activism, Richard Gere is the perfect person to lead the event. 

    The opening night of the event will be dedicated to eradicating homelessness, which Gere has been a strong proponent for in recent years. 

    Italy’s Ministry of Social Policies will be launching their #HomelessZero campaign at the event, which aims to raise awareness and fighting marginalization.  The event will also host 300 homeless people from Sicily to fill the Ancient theatre of Taormina.

    Gere is a famous supporter of human rights around the world, including his public support for human rights in Tibet.  He has also supported HIV/AIDS awareness and Survival International, an organization dedicated to protecting the rights and lands of tribal peoples around the world.

    Gere has had his share of problems at award shows in the past.  In 1993, Gere was banned as an Academy Award presenter after he denounced the Chinese government while in his capacity of being a presenter.  Gere has publically called for the Chinese government to recognize Tibet as an independent sovereign state.

    Gere will join the impressive list of past stars of international cinema who have hosted the event, including Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, Audrey Hepburn, and Tom Cruise.   Other stars expected to join Gere at this year’s event are American actress Susan Sarandon and Italian director Marco Bellocchio.

    Gere is no stranger to the Taormina Film Fest.  Last year Gere and his family attended the festival and taught a master class on cinema.  Gere was also awarded the Taormina Arte Award.

    The annual film festival will be presenting more than 100 productions this year, including documentaries, short films, and previews.  About 21 countries will be represented at the event, a list that spans the globe from China to Finland.

    After being one of the centers of international cinema between the 50’s-70’s, the Taormina Film Fest has endured the test of time to remain one of the main film festivals of Italy and one of the most respected internationally.  With an annual audience of around 5,000 people, the festival’s notoriety grew from its distribution of the prestigious David di Donatello award from 1957-1980.  The award is presented each year by The Italian Academy of Cinema, similar to the Academy Awards, and is presented for superb cinematic production and performances in Italian and foreign films.

    The film festival is held at the historic Ancient theatre of Taormina, which is believed to date back to the Roman era.  With the blend of the architectural history of the amphitheater and the continuing progression of the films and performances recognized and shown at the festival, the 62nd Taormina Film Fest is sure to be another memorable event.

  • Events: Reports

    Well…They Do Say Opposites Attract

    The project was developed in collaboration with the Higley Lab - Program in Cellular Neuroscience of the Yale School of Medicine, New York.  With the blend of art and science, the project is dedicated to the brain and its neurons.   

    The pieces show the rhythm of fluorescent neuroimaging, as it combines with the transparence of the paper and reveals the interior landscape of our minds.

    Inspired by the decorative shapes that form the mind’s thoughts, the art evokes the “synapse and the intuition of our own light.”  Using an array of different colors, the works show the beauty of the brain by examining it at the microscopic level.  

    The exhibition finally comes to New York after a long tour around the world, with stops in New Delhi at the India Art Fair 2015, Milan at the Contemporary Art Pavilion of EXPO Arte, and Miami at the Miami Hispanic Cultural Arts Center last year. 

    Curated by Nicollette Ramirez Gagosian, the show will have a new series of works, including drawings and a site specific installation. The event is sponsored by the Consulate General of Italy in New York and by the BFA Foundation for the Arts.

    Scapagnini’s art career has taken her through the world’s artistic centers.  Born and raised in Rome, Italy – where she still lives – the contemporary artist graduated Sapienza University in Rome and then moved to Paris to begin her art education, which continued in New York at the School of Visual Arts.  

    Her work has been shown and collected internationally, including in India, Hungary, Italy, and Sweden.  This is Scapagnini’s fourth show in the United States and first in New York since 2007 at the S.V.A. Exhibition.  

    About the Artist:
    Serena Scapagnini was born in 1983 in Rome, Italy. She graduated in Semiotics and History of Religion at La Sapienza Univesity, Rome and she began her art education in Paris (Paris VIII)  and then New York, where she studied at the School of Visual Arts. Her work has been shown and collected in United States, India, Sweden, Hungary, Italy.  She lives and works in Rome.

    The exhibition is upcoming in New York, at the Phillip Johnson’s Glass House / Studio Vendome Art Gallery. It is curated by Nicollette Ramirez Gagosian. The show displays a new series of works, including drawings and a site specific installation.
    The event is patronize by the General Consulate of Italy in New York and by the BFA Foundation for the Arts.

    Studio Vendome Art Gallery, New York
    July 12th / September 14th 2016
     330 Spring St, New York, NY 10013

  • Facts & Stories

    The World’s Most Famous Arena Honors The World’s Most Famous Boxer

    New York City renamed a street that runs along Madison Square Garden “Muhammed Ali Way”.  The late boxing great headlined a number of fights at the venue, which was formerly known as the “Mecca of Boxing”.  Ali passed away last week at the age of 74 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. 

    Muhammad Ali saw great success at The Garden, despite once claiming that Madison Square Garden was, “too small for me”.  Many of Ali’s early fights occurred at Madison Square Garden, earning a number of victories there as he amassed an impressive record of 19-0 with 15 wins by knockout by the end of 1963.  Ali fought at The Garden eight times, including his 1971 epic, “Fight of the Century”, against Joe Frazier.  

    Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the temporary renaming of West 33rd Street, saying, “Today we are paying tribute to the man in the heart of this city.  He deserves this naming honor and more."

    While famous for his boxing greatness and unmatched self-promotion, Ali’s recognition also comes from his civil rights activism that made him one of the 20th century’s most memorable figures.  His public appeal for the equal treatment of all humans touched boxing and non-boxing fans, and his refusal to be inscripted into the armed forces during the Vietnam War earned him unparalleled popularity for publicly doing what so many Americans wanted to do.

    De Blasio said Ali “never backed down from a fight in or outside the ring.”  Originally born Cassius Clay, in 1965 he denounced his “slave name” and changed his name to Muhammad Ali as he publically became a Black Muslim.  In 1966, Ali refused to be inscripted into the Army as he publically claimed he was a conscientious objector.  He stated that war is against the teachings of the Qur’an.  He said he was not “trying to dodge the draft”, but that he was not supposed to take part in wars unless declared by Allah or The Messenger.  He explained, “We don’t take part in Christian wars or wars of any unbelievers.”

    Fans identified with the three-time world heavyweight champion and Olympic gold medalist when he stated, “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten-thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?" 

    In 1999, Time magazine named Ali one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.  He was also dubbed Sportsman of the Century by Sports Illustrated.  In 2001, President Bill Clinton presented Ali with the Presidential Citizens Medal, which recognizes an individual "who has performed exemplary deeds or services for his or her country or fellow citizens," and in 2005 President George W. Bush awarded Ali with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian award and recognizes those individuals who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors".  

    There are no current plans to permanently rename West 33rd Street in honor of Ali.  New York streets may be renamed permanently if legislation is passed by the city council and signed by the mayor.  The city permanently renamed the streets surrounding Madison Square Garden “Joe Louis Plaza” in 1984 to honor the previous heavyweight champion who died in 1981.  However, the mayor’s office reassured that a permanent renaming of West 33rd would not affect Joe Louis Plaza.

    Former US president Bill Clinton and comedian Billy Crystal are to deliver eulogies at the boxer's public funeral in Louisville, Kentucky on Friday. Former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis and actor Will Smith - who portrayed Ali in the 2001 film Ali - will join Jerry Ellis – the brother of Jimmy Ellis, Ali’s former sparring partner and world heavyweight champion – and Ali’s cousins John Grady and Jan Wadell, nephew Ibn Ali, former brother-in-law Komawi Ali, and family friend John Ramsey as pallbearers.

    Lewis said, "Ali has always been an enormous inspiration to me, not only in my boxing career, but also in life. His journey began 74 years ago, and in that time, he not only transformed the world of sport, he used sport to transform the world.”

  • Style: Articles

    The Best of Italy at the International Vision Expo East

    The International Vision Expo East opens today, March 20, 2015 at the Javits Convention Center in New York.

    The ICE-Italian Trade Promotion Agency, together with Anfao (National Association of OpticalArticles), takes part for the first time in a collective exhibition of 26 Italian businesses hosted in a 240 sqm space.

    The International Vision Expo East, organized by Reed Exhibitions and Vision Council, is one of the main sector events in the US and globally, a showcase of the latest eyewear trends and technology that every year attracts over 30.000 experts. The 2014 edition has registered a record of presence with a growth of over 6% compared to 2013.

    The companies represented are: 3Momi, AL e RO design, Assoluto-My Way, Atmosphera, Danor, David Marc, Enox Eyewear, Essequadro, Exalt Cycle, Fabbricatorino, Frenk, Goo Design O., Gufo Italy, Ioves, Lara D’, Lastes Group, Liò Factory, Luxol, Mad in Italy, Martini Occhiali, Miraflex, Nexo, Nik 03, O-OK, Trevi Coliseum, Tyg Spectacles.

    The main goal of the initiative is to support the presence of the Italian businesses in the US, which would represent the second export market after Europe.

    The Italian eyewear business is characterized by a high export tendency: 85% of the production is actually destined to foreign markets.

    According to ISTAT, in 2014 the total value of the Italian eywear export reached 3,0 billions of euros, with an increase of 10,2% compared to 2013.

    USA, as confirmed by the US Department of Commerce, are a great buyer, having imported, in 2014 alone, $952 millions of Italian eyewear, up 11,6% compared to 2013. Worth mentioning the historic record of sunglasses exported: Italy surpasses China becoming the first US supplier and obtaining a quota of $692,7 millions, which represents an increment of 13% compared to 2013.