Every year, the United States president signs an executive order that makes October National Italian-American Heritage Month. October was chosen because it coincides with Columbus Day (probably the first Italian to grace North American shores) and was designed to recognize the incredible contributions Italian-Americans have made to American culture.
Italian-Americans are the fourth largest European ethnic group with 5.5 million Italians immigrating to the United States between 1820 and 2004. 80% of the immigrants came from southern Italy, escaping overpopulation and massive unemployment. While they initially worked as unskilled, manual laborers upon their arrival, by 1990 65% of Italian-Americans held managerial, professional or white-collar jobs demonstrating the perseverance and determination that’s characteristic of Italian culture. Ever heard of the Roman Empire?
Today, every town in America has an Italian restaurant, Italian-Americans have been popular in music for decades and Italian-Americans currently dominate reality television with the popularity of shows like The Real Housewives of New Jersey and The Jersey Shore. But these stereotypical portrayals of Italian-Americans in no way portray the intense diversity that exists within the Italian-American community. Italian-Americans have succeeded in everything from literature and fine arts, to politics and science. No stereotype can accurately portray these incredible people and this month we should celebrate all that they have given to this country.
We are ticketing a number of events that demonstrate the myriad of contributions Italian-Americans have provided to American culture. Of course many of these events are food related, because, let’s face it, Italian food is probably the best food on the planet. But, there are also incredible music events, films and even an interactive show designed to expose children and families to the beauty of Italian language and culture.
If you’re Italian, this is your month to shine; to feel proud and to celebrate your amazing culture. If you’re not of Italian descent, October is your chance to recognize the influence Italian-Americans have had on our multi-cultural American experience.
Tonight! Friday, October 21 – Due Zighi Baci and Passione Rohnert Park, California Tenor Michael Van Why and accordionist Sheri Mignano are Due Zighi Baci (Two Gypsy Kisses) and they will perform a special live pre-film concert of Italian music before the 8pm screening of PASSIONE, John Turturro’s wild, colorful, sexy ode to the music and people of Naples. Turturro describes PASSIONE as “a musical adventure that comes directly out of the people and the volcanic land they inhabit. Conjuring ancient stories and myths that still live — of love, sex, jealousy, and social protest — each song is a small screenplay, an emotional postcard.”
Saturday, October 22 – Italian-American Heritage Month! School Fall Festa! San Jose, California Join The Sabatino Memorial Family Resource Center and the San Jose Italian School for a great fundraiser! Lots of great food, including pizza, pasta, salad, garlic bread, biscotti, pumpkin bars, Torani sno-cones, apple cider, and more! Fun raffle, “carnival” games, face painting, and a performance by the Little Italy Kids Chorus! This performance alone is worth the price of the ticket! They are precious! Come and support the Italian School. This project needs everyone to keep it going and they are so grateful for your support! Grazie!
Sunday, October 23 – Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope) Chatham, New York The Pope is dead, long live the Pope. Beginning with a hilarious sequence in which an Italian TV newscaster reports a convocation of cardinals like a sporting event, veteran Italian director Nanni Moretti’s latest film settles down to become The King’s Speech, Italian style. Which is to say, the new Pope, played by the always compelling veteran French actor Michel Piccoli, suffers a crisis of self-confidence, and turns down the position. First Tony Soprano, then Patty Hewes and now the Pope-to-be consults a shrink. Self-proclaimed atheist Moretti treats the Catholic hierarchy with surprising affection and good humor. He can’t help scoring some political points, but the portrayal of the new Pope’s emotional and spiritual struggles is poignant and affecting.
Tuesday, October 25 – Il Mondo Vecchio Personal Salumi Dry Sausage Denver, Colorado Learn the basics of making salumi as well the the art and safe practices specifically associated with making salumi. This is a very hands on class! You will cut, grind, season, stuff, link, tie and dry your selection of Il Mondo Vecchio salumi and old world classics.
Wednesday, October 26 – Autumn in Italy — A Fundraising Dinner for Collective Roots San Mateo, California Collective Roots, together with San Mateo’s wonderful AcquaPazza, is celebrating Autumn in Italy to raise funds for Collective Roots amazing programs. Collective Roots builds breathtaking school gardens and unique open spaces where students’ minds and the community’s spirit can take root. They are also working to change their food system creating access to local, sustainable produce for the families that need it the most. By honoring the San Mateo Valley’s abundant past while celebrating a healthy sustainable future, they are building a food system that is robust, just, and proudly local.
Thursday, October 27 – Now That’s Italian! Ravioli Night with Now We’re Cookin’ Evanston, Illinois Fall encourages us to think about spending more time in the kitchen, and what better way to get the whole family involved than making home-made pasta. Come roll up your sleeves and learn how to make your own pasta dough. Since it’s Ravioli, the good folks at Now We’re Cookin’ will guide you through two wonderful fillings and a great sauce to top off the dish. Create, taste, and compare; these are Fall dishes to savor and serve often. The menu includes pasta made from scratch with burrata (cheese) or corn filling and olive oil, leek and red pepper sauce.
Thursday, October 27 – Paul Sorvino Sings Jersey City, New Jersey Experience the rich and powerful singing voice of one of Hollywood’s legends. A night of operatic arias, popular standards and classic neopolitan love songs. Soak in the splendor of the gloriously restored Loew’s Jersey Theater. Also available, limited seats to include a champagne reception with the legendary man himself!
Saturday, October 29 – The Medium Flagstaff, Arizona You are invited to a seance with Madam Flora! A concert version of famed Italian-American composer and librettist Gian Carlo Menotti’s spooky opera, “The Medium” will be performed at The Federated Church on West Aspen Avenue in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Saturday, October 29 – “ITALIAN” The Magical World of The Italian Fairy New York, New York
“ITALIAN” is an interactive learning show designed to expose children and families to the beauty of italian language and culture. The Italian Fairy is the character that will bring the audience through an enchanted world of words, music, dance and special effects.
Thursday, November 3 – Passionate Wine Tasting, Italian Dinner in the Meadowlands! Rutherford, New Jersey Come join the fun at this international social with Make Wine with Us of Wallington. Guests will taste an assortment of Italian wines including Chianti, Super Tuscan, Brunello, Barbara/Petite Sirah and Pinot Grigio. The wines will be paired with Italian cheeses, grapes & a surprise dinner will be served.
Saturday, November 5 – Once Upon a Time…Rome, Open City Brooklyn, New York This film examines the political and cinematic history of Rome Open City, which so memorably dramatized the WWII Italian resistance to the German occupation.
Wednesday, November 9 – Italian Reds for Fall with Oliver McCrum San Francisco, California With thousands of native grape varietals, Italy is a really fun wine producing country to explore. To narrow guests options, San Francisco’s 18 Reasons is focusing this tasting on Italian reds that pair well with fall/winter cuisine. Such varieties could include: Petit Rouge from the Vallee d’Aoste, Fumin from the Vallee d’Aoste, Lagrein from the Alto Adige, Aglianico from Taurasi in Campania, Piedirosso/Tintore di Tramonti from the Amalfi Coast in Campania, Nerello Mascalese/Nerello Capuccio from Faro in Sicily, and Frappato/Nero d’Avola from Vittoria in Sicily.