Living La Vita Italiana

Jul 11, 2018 214

BY: Paul Basile

I envy the first Italian Americans: those brave souls who catapulted themselves into the unknown and stared down countless hardships to create a better life for their families in a strange, new land. They brought with them little more than the shirts on their backs and the culture that shaped them, but that was more than enough.

Settling with their paesani in ethnic enclaves, they reconstructed that culture from the ground up, celebrating La Vita Italiana in their homes, businesses, places of worship and wherever else they gathered. Family recipes were prepared by heart in their kitchens, canzoni popolari flowed from their Victrolas, their ancestral tongue was spoken in clubhouses and on street corners, prodotti italiani were sold in shops down the block, and they turned out in droves each year to honor patron saints who had watched over them for centuries.

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