Your gateway to everything Italian/Italian-American in California

Monday, November 13, 2023

Recap: NIAF United Nations Welcome Reception


NIAF among the first Italian American organizations to be recognized as a non-governmental organization (NGO) with Special Consultative Status by the United Nations' Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)!
To commemorate this momentous occasion, on the evening of November 1st, the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations welcomed a delegation of NIAF's Board of Directors for a reception at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Foundation leadership was joined by several notable diplomats from the General Assembly of the United Nations, Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations, Permanent Mission of the United States of America to the United Nations, and the President of the United Nations' Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

🎥 NIAF Welcome Reception at the UN Recap Video: Click the link below to watch the recap video!

I am not Italian



I am not an Italian. I am a proud, patriotic American. I was born and raised in the United States, I look at the world from an American perspective, and I am a product of American culture, in particular its pop culture. Admittedly, my lifestyle, my belief system, both politically and religiously, my taste in movies, TV shows, music, food, clothes, and so on... were all shaped by American mass culture, that is pop culture, than any customs and traditions my parents and grandparents had. Sure, we ate pasta on the Holidays along with traditional "American" foods (see my articles "Thanksgiving, Italian-American Style" and "Ideas On How To Celebrate An Italian American Christmas" here), sure, my older relatives would speak a foreign language when they didn't want me and my siblings to know what they were talking about, -in this case the language was Italian, - and yes, our last names ended in vowels as compared to my "fellow" White American classmates who had names like Smith, Brown, and Johnson. We had our own religious traditions too, but they weren't really anything ethnic, just Catholic customs that most other Catholics shared. So why is the focus of this website specifically Italian history and culture in California? Why do I even care about it?

Though I came from a thoroughly de-raciated, very stereotypical assimilated White American background with few vestiges of Italian culture, I attended culturally and racially diverse schools. In these schools both on the playground and in a classroom setting as part of a study course, I was forced to reckon with my racial and cultural background. Not satisfied with just being "White," and therefore no different from the Smiths and Johnsons, when I finally recognized my family's Italian background, no matter how faded it now was, I not only became proud of it, but I wanted to know more about it.... 

Being forced to think about my family's history and race got me researching both. I always knew we were of Italian descent, but I never recognized the significance of that, and it was never a major part of my everyday life. I was only around anything that could be called "Italian" when I was around my grandparents, and even that wasn't a lot. Everything else about Italians I only knew from Hollywood, and Hollywood hasn't always been kind to us. As I learned about the history of Italian immigrants in the United States in general, living in California as I was, I started focusing more on that region of the country regarding them, and after doing so, I became very angry.

Angry because I was cheated! So much rich history, fascinating stories and customs, that wasn't taught in schools. The largest mass lynching in American history wasn't in my school text books, for example. And everything we were told about Italians- the Roman Empire, the Italian renaissance, so on... I looked at as an outsider... I never knew that we were learning about my very own ancestors. Unlike my black, Hispanic and Asian friends who have whole chapters dedicated to their heritages in America and can identify with the characters in those chapters by the very fact that they are identified as Hispanic, Black and Asian. But no one ever called me "Italian" or "Italian American." Why is an American with black skin called "African American" even though they were never in Africa and may know nothing about African culture? But when I call myself "Italian American" or "European American" I get laughed at?

But I digress.... the point is I fell in love with my family's Italian history and customs, even if we don't practice them much if at all anymore, and dedicated my life to preserving, celebrating, and promoting them. I no longer call myself "Italian," or "Italian-American," or even "American-Italian." Because my everyday lifestyle does not reflect anything "Italian," but was formed and created by American pop culture. I AM AN AMERICAN. Who has a love for history and culture, for learning about other nations and cultures, so why not start with the nation and culture of my ancestors, Italy? I am an American.... of Italian descent thanks to my ancestors, and an American who loves all things Italian (but second to my love of America.) And this website and blog focuses on Italians in California because I happen to live in that American state.

Little Italy San Diego Tree Lighting & Christmas Village December 2nd, 2023


Little Italy Tree Lighting & Christmas Village


They are here!  Click here to download your picture with Santa, for FREE, from the 2022 Little Italy Tree Lighting & Christmas Village.


Ho Ho Ho… Can you hear those jingle bells? This year SANTA IS BACK for our annual Little Italy Tree Lighting and Christmas Village on Saturday, December 3rd from 4:00pm-8:00pm!

Transforming into a winter wonderland with Christmas twinkle lights down all the streets, our beautiful urban neighborhood will be adorned with 10-foot tall nutcrackers and kinetic tree holiday displays on street corners, Christmas songs and more. Family, friends, and neighbors are invited to come together to experience true holiday joy at this family-friendly event and enjoy the neighborhood’s festive décor—including two Christmas trees, Joshua Hubert’s Aurora tree at Piazza Basilone and the permanent 25-foot tree at Piazza della Famiglia, seasonal vendors, live music and entertainment, holiday treats, a traditional Italian tree lighting ceremony, and this year SANTA IS BACK to grant everyone’s Christmas wishes!

You can also enjoy... read more here.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Thanksgiving "Italian American Style"

Thanksgiving is coming up soon this year for us Americans and being a quintessential and distinctive American holiday, I’m sure many of us want to keep it as traditional as possible. That is with the traditional foods: turkey and stuffing, yams, mashed potatoes, corn (on or off the cob), and desserts like Pumpkin Pie. But as a free and diverse nation we sometimes mix it up a bit and add bits of our ancestral culture to make our celebration our own and unique. In my own family we would have a zucchini casserole, and along with the Turkey, as a main dish some sort of pasta, usually Manicotti or Stuffed Shells. Lasagna and meatballs was and still remains the main course on Christmas for us. For dessert, along with American favorites like Pumpkin and Apple pie, we’d have cannoli, biscotti, and some sort of Italian cookies.

Before I go on let me explain briefly the story of Thanksgiving, for those who don’t know. Traditionally we were taught that it was a meal shared between the Pilgrims and Native Americans in the new Plymouth colony back in the 1600s to celebrate and thank the Natives for helping the Pilgrims learn to survive in their new environment. The “Pilgrims” were British Puritans looking for a new land to freely practice their religion and eventually landed in what is now Massachusetts. This meal is said to have occurred around the first Harvest time in November. It was made an official holiday by President Abraham Lincoln on October 3rd, 1863 in honor of the ending of the Civil War.

Traditionally, Americans would use it as an opportunity to gather with family to share a large meal, celebrate and give thanks for…well….anything. It’s just a time to remind us to appreciate what we have in life, especially our families.

In addition to food, adding a few Italian dishes to the American table, for entertainment in the background my family, our gatherings usually organized by older members, would have old Italian American favorites singing. Names like Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and so on. Yet another distinctive Italian American trait of our very American Thanksgiving and other family gatherings is “The Italian Goodbye.” At the end, when each of our usual 50 or 60 guests go to leave, each one has to say goodbye to each individual personally and inevitably get into a long conversation with each one. Consequently it takes at least an hour for each guest to go from saying the first “Goodbye” to actually getting out the door. To say nothing of getting into their cars and finally driving away!

But I digress…for ideas on how to have a Thanksgiving “Italian American style” click on this Google search link and feel free to comment here on what, if anything, your family does to make Thanksgiving Italian.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving! Auguri!

Saturday, September 30, 2023

St. Helena's Italian heritage festival set for Oct. 7

 St. Helena's Italian heritage festival set for Oct. 7

St. Helena's Italian Heritage Month celebration, Festa Italiana, will be from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7, at Lyman Park.

The event will feature food, wine from local Italian-owned wineries, Italian music, the raising of the Italian flag, and the singing of the Italian national anthem by Katie Hopgood-Sculatti.

Organizer Anthony Micheli is seeking all types of Italian vehicles — cars, motorcycles, farm implements — to be displayed for the event.

Italian-owned wineries who haven't participated in the past but would like to be part of the event should contact Micheli at 707-486-3832. Read more here.

Saturday, September 23, 2023



Sunday, September 24


The first South San Francisco Festa Italiana 2023 will take place on Sunday, September 24, 2023 at Orange Memorial Park from 11 am to 5 pm.

By Italian American Citizens Club, City of SSF & California Columbia Assoc.

Date and time

Sunday, September 24 · 11am - 5pm PDT


Orange Memorial Park

1 West Orange Avenue South San Francisco, CA 94080

About this event

  • 6 hours
  • Mobile eTicket

The first South San Francisco Festa Italiana 2023 will take place on Sunday, September 24, 2023 at Orange Memorial Park from 11 am to 5 pm. The event will showcase South San Francisco and Italian history and culture. It is a FREE, FUN FAMILY EVENT.

Attendees will be treated to on-stage entertainment performances and the Italian cultural dance troop, the Tarantella. Attendees can sip Tuscan wines, “Manga” Italian cuisine, view cultural displays, and stroll amongst Italian exotic vehicles and cars from yesteryear.

South San Francisco Mayor Flor Nicolas and Italy’s Consul General Sergio Strozzi will address the crowd to highlight the day’s events. Guests can also choose to participate in a Bocce Ball Tournament (prior sign-ups are required) and enjoy the Festa’s Family Fun Kid’s Zone with face painting, story reading and much more! Youngsters can also participate in the SSF Youth Soccer Goal Challenge!

...The Festa is a presentation of a partnership between the City of South San Francisco, the Italian American Citizens Club of South San Francisco, and the California Law Enforcement Columbia Association with contributions from several brother and sister Italian organizations throughout the area. It is an opportunity to showcase, celebrate and share the rich Italian history and culture of the peninsula.

South San Francisco has a rich Italian history, and the city has evolved from “The Industrial City” to a biotech hub while not shedding its original identity. It has become a diverse make-up of cultural communities that love to share their history. This will be the first Festa Italiana for South San Francisco and the only such event on the peninsula.


Recap: NIAF United Nations Welcome Reception

  THE NATIONAL ITALIAN AMERICAN FOUNDATION RECAP NIAF among the first Italian American organizations to be recognized as a non-governmental ...