L'Italo-Americano

italoamericano-digital-8-22-2019

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THURSDAY, AUGUST 22, 2019 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 J ohn Turturro never hid his love for our country. Born in Brooklyn, the child of immigrant parents, he's been looking for his native family back home in Italy for quite sometime. Before getting on that transatlantic ship, half of his family lived in Sicily, the other half in Puglia. In the early 20th century, a piece of Italy's deepest South courageously traveled to America seeking a better life. The New York actor, director and screenwriter sublimated their efforts by becoming cinema royalty. His aim, both on stage and on the silver screen, is to find and to tell the his parents' story. He looked for it in Sicily and he looked for it in Puglia, he knocked on relatives' doors, he met them on the street, in town and in the countryside. He keeps on running after them, rummaging in their memories seeking for pieces of his own Our ties with the past are important, just like the effort we make to keep them alive From the director history. And then, here he is, in Giovinazzo, in front of the Madonna of Corsignano: "It's dad's Madonna!" he said with emotion, in a strongly accented Italian that sounds like New York. Pieces of the past that live in present day Puglia and in his own life and history in the US. Turturro is with a historian, who explains to him how, originally, in the 17th century, his surname was written in two words, Tur Tur, because it was the nickname given to the men guarding the coast from the height of military towers to keep an eye on the sea and alarm town if Turkish pirates were on the way. It's more than curiosity, that of John Turturro: it's finding history and a bit of Italy in his own name. And it's such an important thing here, on the other side of the ocean, where you can grow up with Italian language and culture at home, but then you become Italian-American, and end up speaking English better than Italian. Maybe you end up knowing them both well, but you still remain a mix between two worlds, or the synthesis of the many cultures and universes forming the place you grow up. Even the early Italian-American community realized how that "fence" running around the many Little Italies of America had little use against cultural contaminations. Through work, marriage, sheer case, you quickly stopped being "only" Italian to become part of the "Italian-American" definition, one indicating someone who may well have grown eating a lot of pasta, but also gulped down a lot of America. But those communities had social and family rituals that kept them connected to the past: they never forgot their cultural background. Today, on the other hand, keeping in touch with our roots is more difficult, especially in large, multicultural cities like Los Angeles, where trying to do it can be really hard work. Children are immediately more American than Italian-American. Everything is faster: it seems like a generation went lost between those who arrived and integrated and those who, the third generation, are largely americanized. This is natural and automatic, but it's also an important loss. Because our cultura di mezzo, the culture in between the Italian and the American, gets weaker and weaker. In the meanwhile, the old generations, those who for decades kept the Italian-American culture alive, are slowly leaving us. When then true pillars of the community go, the loss is even bigger. This is why we want to mention here three great supporters of L'Italo-Americano, men who always believed in our paper and found in its pages a stronghold of Italianità, a project that still carries on with pride its original mission: to nurture our cultura di mezzo. Salvatore DiVita, born in New York in 1934, a great author who, for many years, told us curious and original stories and each week would meet the community through these very pages with his column, La Vita Italiana. A bright and enquiring mind, able to space from articles about Santa Claus to other about Domenico Modugno's Volare, from portraits of Yogi Berra to the stories hidden under the ashes at Pompeii. Do look for his articles on our online archive. He'll still be a surprise. Frank Claro, with his Claro's Italian Market, always supported his own paper, but also L'Italo-Americano. On his shoulders, almost 70 years at the service of the Italian community, through the importing of Italian products, an activity that allowed Italian-American families to keep on cooking and eating authentic Italian food. Last, but not least, Stefano Giuseppe Riboli, founder of the San Antonio Winery, the historic wine company located at the very heart of LA, a pioneer of the American wine industry. He wasn't only a great L' Italo-Americano supporter, but he also made of serving the Italian community his very own trademark, by importing Italian wines to the US. We told his story and spoke about his inheritance in our issue of the 25th of July. Look for it: there you'll finda piece of LA history and of all Italian-Americans. Simone Schiavinato, Director NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS

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