Tuesday, April 23

Month: December 2022

Stracciatella: A Sprinkling of This & That

An Introduction to the Report to the Congress of the United States: A Review of the Restrictions on Persons of Italian Ancestry During World War II

by Charles Tocci My paternal grandfather didn’t want to go to war. Born and raised in Quincy, Massachusetts, Arthur was a 23-year-old high school dropout who had secured a department store job by the time Pearl Harbor was attacked. He thought he was set up for life and going off to war would only jeopardize that.  But by January, Arthur had been drafted, after which he was sent to serve as a medic in the Pacific far from the possibility of split loyalties in Europe. But as difficult as the next five years would be for Arthur, he avoided the fate of thousands of other Italian Americans who were interned, displaced, restricted, or had their property confiscated when the American government classified some as “enemy aliens.” The scope and scale of this repression was detailed in a 2001 repo...
Bella Figura: On Italian American Identity


Photo by Joanna Clapps Herman. Stylized by Pummarola staff. by Joanna Clapps Herman I am strolling on the streets of Aix en Provence in a brilliant penetrating Mediterranean summer afternoon. The dry heat carries me up a gently sloping street lined with small shops and stalls: I’m on my way to meet up with my boyfriend, Jon, in a café. In the good heat, on this lively street and in the pleasure of being where I am, I seek now a bit of shade from the overhanging awnings (or was it just the shade of the buildings), now more sun. The street is filled with tourists coming back out into the afternoon after cooling naps behind closed wood shutters in small hotels. We wear espadrilles, colorful sundresses. We carry simple straw bags we’ve purchased only the day before on similar streets...

Blood & Power: An interview with John M. Foot, author of Blood & Power: The Rise and Fall of Italian Fascism

by Charles Tocci The specter of fascism hazes our view of Italy. The black shirts, Mussolini’s outsized visage under a fez, and the fascist salute bound around the public imagination as free-floating symbols. This fuzzy relationship between the past and history hampers our ability to clearly understand and learn from the Mussolini regime. It obscures the lived experience of millions of Italians under fascism from its emergence in 1919 through its installation as the Italian state in 1922 to the end of World War II.  John M Foot, professor of modern Italian history at the University of Bristol, reconstructs the microhistories of Italian life under fascism in his new book, Blood and Power: The Rise and Fall of Italian Fascism. In clear and compelling writing, Foot brings us into ...
Christmas Eve at Nonna Marcella’s house
Bella Figura: On Italian American Identity

Christmas Eve at Nonna Marcella’s house

by Federica Trabucchi It was the most magical time of the year. The time we used to wait for during all the other months since we were kids, but also as grown ups. I remember the party atmosphere that filled the days before Christmas Eve and that day itself. So, we used to have dinner at Nonna Marcella’s home for Christmas Eve. She was from Taranto, Puglia, Southern Italy, but she moved to Carrara with my grandpa—who was from Naples—after they got married because he came here to work. Now, in Carrara, there isn’t a big tradition about Christmas Eve: People usually celebrate Christmas Day at lunch, on the 25th of December, and most families don’t do anything the night before. On the contrary, in the south of Italy much importance is given to the night of the 24th December, maybe e...

Two Poems: Alex Gambacorta

The San Massimo Cures Salt on my bug bites takes away the itch.You dipped your pointer finger in the water.You dipped your pointer finger in the salt. Crushed the garlic clove in your arthritic hands—forced me to smell its sharpness.The smell you said, would clear me out. You put too much honey in my tea,and you would say, no one can take care of you but yourself.I laid my head on your shoulder. You worried I would catch a cold,as if I could grab the thing out of thin air. The outside bite of wind might suddenly make my nose run,and my chest tight. Wet hair might cause my sickness,you told me. Covered me in your scarf,tied the knot under my small chin.This damn thing. I kept it on while you watched me through your window,walking home. And I wante...
Bella Figura: On Italian American Identity, Stracciatella: A Sprinkling of This & That

The Slap!

Three Italian Women Remember: A small collaboration. We, in the Italian American community, are used to using our hands in perhaps one too many ways: to talk, to make, to garden, to cook, to hammer. But one other way is to give a decent smack to a friend, in a loving way to say hello; or to express an exclamative, “What a great idea!”; or provide a gentle back and forth on the shoulder which means, “Get out of here, that’s ridiculous.” My father said that a smack was dusting the other person off. Getting rid of them so to speak. In this dialogue between the three of us in a 100-word writing group, each of us wrote a piece, randomly, unexpectedly about slapping and smacking. We think they belong together.  I’m going give you such a . . . Slap We were always together; our pa...