First U.S.A. Book Presentation on the “Birth of New Biccari in Philadelphia”

Nov 23, 2022 411

BY: Richard Leto & Erick Lucera

The first U.S.A. book presentation on the “Birth of New Biccari in Philadelphia” was held at the History of Italian Immigration Museum (HIIM) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Saturday, November-19. The HIIM is in the heart of the Little Italy enclave of South Philadelphia. Our host for the event was the Filitalia International & Foundation organization. The book event was held in the newly designed space of the HIIM called the Enrico Caruso Theatre. 

The book describes the story of the many Italian immigrants from Comune di Biccari, Region of Puglia/Province of Foggia who migrated to Philadelphia at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century and found their new home in various sections of the city. Most of the attendees at the book event traced their ancestral Italian immigrant roots to Comune di Biccari and their connection to Philadelphia.

The books body of work connected with aspects of the HIIM and the great Italian immigrant history/legacy within the City of Philadelphia. The first book presentation of the “Birth of New Biccari in Philadelphia” was held this past August-2022 in the town hall square of Comune di Biccari.  Co-authors Erick and Giuseppe Osvaldo Lucera presented “New Biccari” to the residents of Biccari.

The book presentation held at HIIM was the first one held in the United States and so fittingly in Philadelphia.  Erick Lucera, a Philadelphia native and co-author of “New Biccari” presented the books background and outlined how genealogy research was used to show how clusters of numerous Italian immigrants from Biccari settled in sections of Philadelphia as part of early mass migration building a “New Biccari.” The book is a collaboration with relatives Giuseppe and Gennaro Lucera who are Biccari historians and personally knew of the migration of fellow Biccarese who during the Great Arrival settled in Philadelphia. Today many descendants and generations of those early Italian immigrants make up the “New Biccari” in the surrounding Philadelphia area and across the United States.

The book event was made possible by the generous support from the leadership of Filitalia International who hosted the event at their museum. Many thanks go out to Paula Bonavitacola - President, Filitalia International, Dr. Pasquale Nestico – Founder/President Emeritus, Trisha Volpe – Executive Director, Nicholas Santangelo - Assistant Director, Saverio Nestico -,1st Vice President, Alida Mirarchi – Member of Language and Cultural committee, Michael Bonsera – Curator of HIIM.

Representatives from various Italian American organizations also attended the book presentation; Catena Marie Spiritosanto, National Overseer of the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum in Staten Island, also of Radio Voice Italia and Mike De Sapio, Board Member of the Italian Enclaves Historical Society.

As noted by Trisha Volpe, Executive Director of Filitalia International; “this was one of the most successful book signing events held at the center with co-author Mr. Erick Lucera, and his cousin Mr. Rich Leto and a full house at the museum on a Saturday afternoon - the presentation was extremely well done and very interesting, and many of the guests who were from Biccari themselves had come to share stories and learn more about the genealogy data that Mr. Lucera had collected over the years.”

About the authors:

Richard Leto was born and raised in South Philadelphia and is the grandson of Italian immigrants Aniello and Elisa (Basile) Lucera who emigrated from Comune di Biccari in 1902/1910 and settled in South Philadelphia. He is the cousin of the book co-author Erick Lucera, who is the great-grandson of Aniello and Elisa (Basile) Lucera.  Erick currently resides in Boston, Ma. and starting back in 2009 has travelled many times to his ancestral village of Biccari where his book journey started. Mr. Leto has helped his cousin Erick throughout the years with personal family photos/research along with the August-2022 book presentation in Biccari-Italy and the most recent event at HIIM in Philadelphia.

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