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Where Angels Come To Earth: An Evocation of the Italian Piazza

Where Angels Come To Earth: An Evocation of the Italian Piazza

Every type of communal life that goes on in the Italian city touches upon the piazza at some point. It seems likely that if you live near a piazza in an Italian city or village, you will visit that piazza at least once in a typical day, and so will most of your neighbours. Vincenzo Pietropaolo and I are sitting…

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Centro Arte e Cultura Alberto Di Giovanni in Roccamorice

Centro Arte e Cultura Alberto Di Giovanni in Roccamorice

To honour his hometown of Roccamorice in the mountains of Abruzzo, Alberto Di Giovanni established an exquisite cultural museum in a restored chapel in the heart of the village. The project began about 10 years ago when the municipality was able to fund the reconstruction of the “Baron’s Chapel,” a private chapel of the Barone Giuseppe Zambra.  A tall, square,…

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The Gentrification of Griffintown

The Gentrification of Griffintown

Dedicated to my grandmother Maria Luisa Agostino, my great-aunt Carmela and my father-in-law Domenico Adornato who, like thousands of other Calabrese immigrants, cultivated their roots in Griffintown – “u villaggiu” – for over 50 years. Griffintown lies by the Lachine Canal just south of Montreal’s downtown. Neglected for decades after the closing of the Canal in 1970, the area is…

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The Other Italy

The Other Italy

In Canada and the United States, Italians form an ethnic community whose values and traditions represent an alternative to the North American status quo. This particular reality often leads to the assumption, among other North Americans that Italy, unlike Canada or the US – countries composed of plural “national identities” – hosts no minority ethnic communities of its own. Historically,…

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Sicilian Ruins: Resurrecting Poggioreale

Sicilian Ruins: Resurrecting Poggioreale

In a June 2012 editorial in a local Piedmont newspaper on the earthquake in Emilia-Romagna, the editor was careful to express his sympathy for the loss of life and injuries. But he was otherwise on another mission: that earthquakes in Italy do more than just knock down old buildings and towers. He explained that when an earthquake destroys a church…

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Place des Arts’ 50 Years

Place des Arts’ 50 Years

On September 21, Montreal’s Place des Arts – the largest performing arts centre in Quebec – celebrated its 50th anniversary, marking the occasion with a presentation of Léo Delibes’ opera Lakmé and officially opening the 2013-2014 season of the Montreal Opera Company.   Considered one of the major construction projects that changed Montreal's metropolitan landscape in the 1960s, the Place des Arts…

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Italy For Beginners

Italy For Beginners

Can you imagine waking up every morning in a place where nearly every street has a coffee bar or gelato stand? Where you can sit on your balcony and watch the sunrise or set behind a majestic duomo in the distance? Where beauty and culture are at your fingertips? This place could seem like a dream, but for one summer, it became my reality:…

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Montreal, a Patchwork City of Design

Montreal, a Patchwork City of Design

A cross between the brash New York huckster and the fun-loving Parisian artist, Montreal is the entrepreneurial designer. It’s the only city in North America with a commission to encourage the development of the design industry, which has been recognized as Montreal’s leading cultural sector. Design permeates Montreal’s living environment, cultural expression, and identity to such an extent that in…

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Guanti Bianchi

“I took the photo in Napoli’s iconic Piazza del Plebiscito. The pattern of the soldiers marching in formation initially caught my attention. In particular, the stark contrast of their white gloves really stood out to me. I remember thinking as I composed this image that I had to hurry and capture the photo before the soldiers crossed the white line.…

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Civil Life on the Canals

Civil Life on the Canals

Venice has a reputation as a “serene” city – its surname in Italian is la serenissima (the most serene). Read the daily paper, Il Gazzettino, and you rarely find reports of violence and mayhem. However, a few years ago Il Gazzettino carried a disturbing story of an incident on the island of Lido. It involved an elderly lady on a…

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Alfonso Gagliano, Life After Politics

Alfonso Gagliano, Life After Politics

Alfonso Gagliano hopes that his legacy will be more than just a long political career that ended in scandal. Months away from his seventieth birthday, Gagliano doesn’t follow politics anymore, despite spending almost twenty years in federal politics. Right now, his focus is on winemaking. It’s mid-October 2010, and Gagliano Vineyards – in the town of Dunham in Quebec’s Eastern…

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The Long Way to Rome

The Long Way to Rome

All roads lead to Rome, as they say, but none compares with the experience of walking the Via Francigena. A thoroughfare for a thousand years, traversed by kings and paupers, merchants and bandits, this little-known route laces the Italian boot and ties together a rich and rewarding story. It isn’t the camino di Santiago, to be sure. You know that one, the…

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Enrico Tonti: The Most Powerful Man in America

It is widely accepted that the Italian contribution to the exploration of the New World ceased after a brief period of great discoveries. Cristoforo Colombo discovered America in 1492, and Giovanni Caboto landed in Newfoundland in 1497. Amerigo Vespucci explored the east coast of South America: his map was the first to recognize that the lands that the Europeans had…

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Baldassare Forestiere’s Underground Gardens

[caption id="attachment_3861" align="aligncenter" width="660"] Baldassare Forestiere[/caption] Baldassare Forestiere’s Underground Gardens is a work of art that expresses the conflicted and often bifurcating experience of Italian immigration to America. Under a ten-acre parcel of land in rural north Fresno, California, Baldassare Forestiere (1879-1946) dug over one hundred underground tunnels and rooms where he lived throughout his life. Though Forestiere’s Underground Gardens…

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Breathing New Life into Vancouver’s Italian Cultural Centre

It's a few minutes past six on a warm Vancouver evening in May outside Vancouver's Italian Cultural Centre. Joe Finamore, President of Vancouver's Italian Cultural Centre Society, introduces Father Louis Piran, pastor of St. Helen's Parish. Under clear blue skies the Scalabrinian prete, resplendent in his official garments, steps forward amidst an ambience of Italian pride to deliver his invocation.…

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La Finestra

In the summer of love, I was 12 years old and living a white bread existence in the west end of Toronto the Good. Our house, a one and a half story, post-war ruddy brick and white lathe edifice, stood proudly on the corner lot of Holbrooke and Tenby, a "slightly irregular" testament to my father's stubborn conviction that he…

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Sunday in Woodbridge

I have just returned from Woodbridge, where my mother and father live "behind the Wall." They were all dressed up and waiting when I arrived at about 3:30 in the afternoon, to take them out for dinner - my father in the tie and sweater I got him for Christmas, my mother in her hat. The funeral is not until…

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Interview with Heritage Minister Sheila Copps

ACCENTI: Thank you for agreeing to appear in the inaugural issue of Accenti Magazine. Sheila Copps: No problem. I'm very excited about it. It's wonderful. ACCENTI: You delivered a very emotional address during the ceremony designating Madonna della Difesa Church a national historic site. Do you feel a special attachment to the Italian Canadian community? Sheila Copps: I was taught to speak French by…

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