Commentaries

Italy, A Tempo Pieno – Between Two Worlds

Italy, A Tempo Pieno – Between Two Worlds

It has been my experience as an educator and a self-proclaimed ambassador of Italian culture that when people think of Italy, they think of three things: the food, the history, and the trains never running on time. They are right on all three counts (although, unbeknownst to them, the third is a direct result of the second). More frequent travellers…

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Parenting Challenges of the Digital Age

Parenting Challenges of the Digital Age

The digital revolution, mostly driven by an addiction to convenience, speed, and instant gratification, is unfolding at a dramatic pace. It is compromising child development and changing the nature of human interaction. That this transformation has provoked a limited reaction from most parents and teachers, is disconcerting. Albert Einstein once said that “Everything that can be counted [digital] does not…

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Light and Space in the Piazza

Light and Space in the Piazza

In 2007, legal immigrants made up 6.2% of the population of Italy. The number of illegal immigrants was not clear. That same year, three-quarters of Italians surveyed thought that there were an excessive number of foreigners living in Italy. The women didn’t belong. I registered that the first time I saw them – standing in clusters, chatting, some smoking, their…

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Italians’ Gift for Organizing

Italians’ Gift for Organizing

Italians, it seems, have a special talent for evolving simple concepts into complex and efficient creations. Throughout the centuries, in countless fields of endeavour, Italians have taken raw elements or the germ of someone else’s idea and developed them into something functional and beautiful from which many others could benefit. In myriad commercial brands – from high fashion to interior…

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Celebrating Italian Food

Celebrating Italian Food

I have decided that I do not want an engagement ring. What I want instead is an engagement kitchen. I have never been much of a jewellery lover anyway. I thought I was not a cooking lover either, but I have discovered that I am! For those of you who have read the Summer 2012 issue (Accenti 26), you won’t be surprised by…

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Home, Belonging and Identity

My fascination with cultural identity stems from the fact that I grew up immersed in three separate cultures that were often at odds with each other. I was legally Canadian, culturally Italian, and linguistically, a Quebecker. This hyper-awareness surrounding my cultural identity was only compounded when I left Montreal and moved to Newfoundland for graduate school in 2007. Leaving multi-ethnic…

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Italian Gerontocracy: When the Patch is Worse than the Hole

Italian Gerontocracy: When the Patch is Worse than the Hole

When Italians see a hot topic, they dive into it with a lust and passion worthy of a better cause. As a result, and not so infrequently, they take a good belly flop. One of the hottest issues in recent years is the gerontocracy dominating Italian business, media, academia and politics. The topic is sacrosanct, so don’t get me wrong.…

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Dilemmas of a Social Network Addict

All of a sudden, the twit in me has re-surfaced and I've been tweeting away. I've decided to lay down the dirt, or in layman's terms share an opinion or two, about social networks (nice title for a movie). Let's see. We have Facebook and Twitter, both frequented by nerds and fashionatos, the latter being the fave of the entertainment…

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A Television Christmas

A Television Christmas

In the early 1980s, Vancouver’s Italian community was the city’s third largest ethnic group and one of the most active and colourful. Some of the skills and traditions that the Italian immigrants had brought changed the city’s lifestyle and image. The fashion-conscious wore Italian designer clothing, and the Italian piazza-inspired habit of sipping espresso and cappuccino at outdoor tables created a…

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Coming Home

Coming Home

Pulling in, we spot the "Calabria Mia" plaque fixed on the brick façade of the old train station. As we descend from the train, the ferrovia employees scramble to offer their services, each trying to outdo the other with answers to our questions. There is always time for small talk. Antonio, wrongly guesses we are from Latin America. He insists we must be from the "Ki-a-pas.". "No,…

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Italian Immigration and Its Continuing Influence on the Structure and Culture of North American Society

Italian Immigration and Its Continuing Influence on the Structure and Culture of North American Society

In the fall of 1999, I began offering a course in North American Italian literature. After years of reading about classes with titles such as Italian Canadian Literature or The Italian American Experience, I decided to offer a North American Italian Literature course, though my university has few Italian American students. Much of what I have observed about American and…

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Mainstream Media and the Godfather Legacy

Mainstream Media and the Godfather Legacy

In 1972, Francis Ford Coppola's controversial screen adaptation of Mario Puzo's best-selling novel The Godfather opened in theatres across North America to overwhelming critical and popular acclaim. The Godfather's success, like it or not, married, even more solidly, all Italians to the mobster mystique. In Hollywood, an opportunistic film industry followed its success with a slew of spin-off and rip-off…

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Politics and the Book Fair

"The real risk for writers is to be relegated to the forgotten, censored. How can we deal with a government that reduces culture to profits and literature to bestsellers?" This question was posed by Vincenzo Consolo, when he explained to the press why he, along with fellow high-profile authors Umberto Eco, Antonio Tabucchi, and Andrea Camillieri, refused to participate in…

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Italian Americans and Italian American Cultural Power

Shortly after winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, Toni Morrison said that the personal significance of the award was that as an African American it gave her power. What Morrison meant was that her fiction allows her to combat the often maligned image of African Americans and to place their contributions to society on the American cultural map. Morrison's lesson…

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