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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Italian Americans: A Legacy of Valor and Patriotism


Italian Americans: A Legacy of Valor and Patriotism

Italian Americans have played a significant and often overlooked role in the history of the United States, notably during pivotal conflicts such as the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Their contributions underscore a deep tradition of patriotism and service to their adopted homeland, enriching America's narrative with their courage and commitment.

Italian Americans in the Revolutionary War

While the presence of Italian Americans during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) was relatively limited compared to later conflicts, there were notable individuals of Italian descent who made significant contributions. Filippo Mazzei, an Italian physician, and close friend of Thomas Jefferson, is a particularly distinguished figure. Mazzei’s advocacy for liberty and human rights influenced the ideological foundations of the new nation, with Jefferson paraphrasing his writings in the Declaration of Independence.

Mazzei’s commitment to the American cause was unwavering; he actively promoted support for the Revolution in Europe, helping to garner crucial aid from France and other countries. While few Italians lived in the American colonies at the time, Mazzei exemplified the spirit of unity and support that characterized the contributions of Italian Americans in America's fight for independence.

Italian Americans in the Civil War

The Civil War (1861-1865) saw a more noticeable involvement from Italian Americans, who fought with valor on both sides of the conflict. Their participation reflected the deep divisions within American society but also highlighted their integration and commitment to their new country.

One of the notable Italian American figures during this period was Colonel Luigi Palma di Cesnola, an immigrant from Italy who commanded the 4th New York Cavalry. Di Cesnola received the Medal of Honor for his heroism, particularly noted during the Battle of Aldie in 1863. His leadership and bravery were emblematic of the sacrifices made by Italian Americans during the war.

In addition to soldiers like di Cesnola, Italian immigrants contributed in other ways, such as through logistical support and supplying the forces. Their involvement underscored not only their desire for a united and free America but also their readiness to defend the principles upon which the nation was founded, even at great personal cost.

Italian American Patriotism

The patriotism of Italian Americans extends beyond their contributions to specific wars. It is embedded in a tradition of service and civic engagement. Throughout American history, Italian Americans have actively participated in political, social, and cultural development.

During World War II, the loyalty and patriotism of Italian Americans were once again evident despite facing significant prejudice and suspicion, particularly once Italy allied with Axis powers. Many Italian Americans served valiantly in the U.S. Armed Forces, while others contributed on the home front, demonstrating unwavering support for the United States.

Italian Americans have continued to influence the fabric of American society, with their rich cultural heritage contributing to the diversity that defines the United States. Today, their patriotism is celebrated through various cultural organizations and events, which help preserve their unique history and contributions.


The legacy of Italian Americans is a testament to their enduring patriotism and their significant contributions to the history and development of the United States. From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, and through to modern times, Italian Americans have consistently demonstrated a profound commitment to their adopted homeland, enriching the nation with their bravery, service, and cultural heritage. Their story is a vital part of the broader American narrative, illustrating the diverse and inclusive spirit that defines the United States.

Italian Americans and the Celebration of Independence Day: A Fusion of Patriotism and Heritage

Independence Day, or the Fourth of July, stands as a symbol of freedom and unity in the United States. For Italian Americans, this day holds deep significance, serving as an opportunity to honor their adopted homeland while celebrating their unique cultural contributions. The intertwining of American and Italian traditions on this day highlights the profound patriotic spirit and rich heritage of Italian American communities.

Embracing American Patriotism

Italian Americans have long demonstrated a strong commitment to American values and ideals. Their enthusiastic participation in Fourth of July celebrations is a testament to their patriotism. Across the country, Italian American communities engage in a variety of activities that blend both American and Italian customs, creating festive environments that celebrate freedom and heritage alike.

Community Celebrations and Parades

Many cities with significant Italian American populations, such as New York, Boston, and Chicago, host grand Independence Day celebrations that prominently feature Italian American participation. Parades are a highlight of these festivities, where Italian American organizations, such as the Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA), proudly march with the Stars and Stripes and the Italian Tricolore. These parades often include displays of Italian culture through traditional music, dance, and folk costumes, reflecting the dual heritage cherished by Italian American families.

Festivities and Food

Food plays a central role in Fourth of July celebrations among Italian Americans. Traditional American barbecue staples like hamburgers and hot dogs are often complemented by Italian favorites such as pasta dishes, cannolis, and gelato. It is not uncommon to find Italian American households hosting large family gatherings featuring both Italian and American culinary delights.

In cities like San Francisco and New Orleans, where Italian American communities are vibrant, public events during the Fourth of July often include food festivals showcasing an array of Italian dishes. These events not only celebrate American independence but also highlight the cultural contributions of Italian Americans to the nation's diverse culinary landscape.

Honoring Military Service

Independence Day is also a time for Italian Americans to honor the service and sacrifices of their community members in the U.S. Armed Forces. Italian Americans have a proud history of military service, from early conflicts like the Revolutionary War and Civil War, to World War I, World War II, and more recent engagements. Memorials and ceremonies on the Fourth of July often include tributes to Italian American veterans, underscoring their dedication and patriotism.

Celebrating Freedom and Heritage

For many Italian Americans, the Fourth of July is a day to reflect on the journey of their ancestors who left Italy in search of a better life in the United States. It is a day that symbolizes the freedoms and opportunities they found in America, allowing them to build prosperous lives while maintaining their cultural identities. The celebrations often include storytelling sessions where elders share tales of their immigrant forebears, fostering a sense of pride and continuity within the community.

Cultural Events and Performances

Incorporating Italian cultural elements, such as opera performances, folk dances, and art exhibitions, into Fourth of July festivities helps Italian Americans express their dual identity. For instance, cities like New York host special events at Italian cultural centers, where community members can enjoy concerts featuring both the American national anthem and "Il Canto degli Italiani," the Italian national anthem. Such events promote cultural appreciation and unity, reinforcing the bonds between all Americans.


Independence Day is a day of profound significance for Italian Americans, embodying their love and loyalty to the United States while celebrating their rich cultural heritage. Their enthusiastic participation in July 4th festivities, with a blend of American and Italian traditions, exemplifies the integrative spirit that defines the American experience. As Italian Americans gather with family and friends, march in parades, enjoy festive meals, and honor their veterans, they continue to uphold the ideals of freedom and unity that the Fourth of July represents. This celebration not only highlights their contributions to American society but also reinforces the enduring values of diversity and inclusion at the heart of the nation.

To read more about Italian Americans and the Revolutionary War and patriotism, click here: Italian Americans and the Revolutionary War - Google Search , Italian Americans and patriotism - Google Search

Monday, May 27, 2024

Italian Cultural Society of Sacramento Summer 2024 Language Class Schedule


The Italian Cultural Society of Sacramento has released the schedule for its Summer Italian language classes. For more information, click here. SUMMER SESSIONS & CLASS SCHEDULES (

Italian Cultural Center of San Dego Presents Paths to Italy Saturday June 1 4 - 6 pm


Paths to Italy

Saturday June 1

4 - 6 pm

At Convivio's Amici House in Little Italy

Discover paths to Italian citizenship, residence, home ownership, and touring

with three experts

Dreaming of becoming an Italian citizen, resident, home owner, or more knowledgeable traveler?

Join San Diego's Honorary Consul and Convivio Director Tom Cesarini, ICC's CILS Program Director Patrizia Lissoni, and Elena Bernardi of Cultural Italy to discover tips and steps towards Italian citizenship, residence, home ownership, or glorious touring in Convivio's charming space in Little Italy.

To celebrate Italy's Festa della Repubblica, ICC and Convivio collaborate in helping our constitutencies get curious abut how to become... more Italian!

Time for questions and gelato for all from GelatoLove to follow.

All your donations will be split equally between Convivio and Italian Cultural Center, both not-for-profit associations.

Suggested donation is $15 per participant.

2024 San Francisco Italian Heritage Parade


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The 2024 San Francisco Italian Heritage Parade is less than six months away, so mark your calendars and join us on Sunday, October 13th, in North Beach!

Participate in the Parade!
We're talking to you—yes, you! There's still time to sign up and march in this year's parade. All bands, drill teams, dance groups, civic organizations, comedic teams, and, of course, our beloved Italian-American groups are welcome.

If you're looking for unique ways to stand out, we're here to help.

Register now to march in the parade!

Sponsor the Parade!
As a non-profit event, the Italian Heritage Parade thrives thanks to our wonderful community and sponsors.

Explore our sponsorship packages on the website and reach out if you're interested in supporting this year's celebration.

Come and meet the 2023 Court of Queen Isabella


Come and meet the 2023 Court of Queen Isabella

Don't miss out on the Festa Italiana on June 1st & 2nd, 2024 right outside the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club and come and meet your 2023 Queen Mia Nicole Soracco and her royal court on Saturday June 1st, 2024.   (NOTE: they are only attending on Saturday) 

Be part of this unforgettable moment and reveal the excitement with us. 

Head over to our Instagram and Facebook to keep up to date of all our events. 

Festa Coloniale Italiana San Francisco June 1 & 2 2024

Festa Coloniale Italiana | June 1 & 2 | SF Italian Athletic Club

Experience the vibrant heart of Italy right in your city at the upcoming street festival!

Here’s what you can expect! 🇮🇹🎉

  • 103rd Statuto Race: Sunday morning run 🏃‍♂️

  • Live Music: Vanessa Racci, Cory Pesaturo & more 🎶

  • Food & Wine: Authentic Italian taste tests 🍝🍷

  • Family Fun: Marionettes, crafts, pizza tossing! 🍕✨

Learn more about the event! If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or a vendor, click here.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Santa Claus and the Italian Diaspora in the Arctic


Italians immigrated to almost all parts of the world, the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, Latin America, and the North Pole. Wait...what?? The North Pole? Yes, the North Pole; we all know Santa Claus lives there, along with his wife, some elves, and maybe a few reindeer, but what you probably didn't know was that Santa was Italian.

Okay...well...yeah...that's not exactly all true either. Santa Claus, the real-life model being Saint Nicholas of Myra, is now entombed in the Italian city of Bari. So in reality he never made it to the North Pole, but is now Italian, though he is only Italian through "adoption" since he was born and lived his whole life in what is now Turkey. 

According to Lfe in Italy, "San Nicolò di Bari began life in the late third century AD as the son of a wealthy Christian family in Patara, a Greek-speaking colony of the Roman Empire located in modern Turkey. There is little historical documentation on his early life, but it is known that he became Bishop of Myra while still a young man. His life as a cleric spanned through the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian and later Galerius, to the eventual legalization of Christianity by Constantine. During that time span, San Nicolò is known to have destroyed pagan temples in his diocese and participated in the pivotal Council of Nicea in 325 AD, where he spoke out against the Arian heresy. One legend claims that San Nicolò slapped the heretic Arius in the face during the Council. This is a rare case of the saint showing a temper, as most legends and tales attributed to San Nicolò are of a much gentler kind."

A Legend Begins

As further explained by Justin Demetri writing for Life in Italy, "There are numerous versions of this legend, but they all begin with a poor man that could not afford dowries for his three daughters who, as a consequence, were not considered suitable for marriage. With no other opportunities available, the poor man was considering forcing his daughters into prostitution (some versions say they were going to be sold into slavery). When San Nicolò caught wind of this horrible situation, he decided to use his inherited wealth to help the three young women. On three separate occasions, late at night, San Nicolò secretly tossed bags of gold through an open window of the poor man’s house. According to one version of the legend, they landed in shoes or stockings that were drying by the fire. The first two sacks of gold allowed for a proper dowry for the two eldest daughters, but the poor man wanted to find out who the mysterious gift-giver was. In some versions, the poor man catches San Nicolò in the act, only to have the pious saint-to-be crediting God with the gift.

"However, there is another version of the story that says San Nicolò, who understood the poor man wanted to catch him in the act, decided to drop the third sack of gold down the chimney, instead of using the window, as he did for the previous two. After providing dowries for the three daughters, the generosity of San Nicolò began to spread. After that, it was believed that any anonymous gift made in his diocese of Myra was attributed to him."

The Bishop of Myra Becomes Italian

Life in Italy goes on, "San Nicolò is said to have died of old age on December 6th in 343 AD, a rarity in a time when most saints were martyred. His bones were laid in a Greek sarcophagus in the cathedral of Myra, which became a popular pilgrimage site shortly after his death.

"For over seven hundred years San Nicolò’s relics lay in Myra. However the city was then conquered by the Seljuk Turks, who threatened the safety of the pilgrimage site. In 1087, sailors from Bari arrived in Myra and stole the bones from the church in a race against Venetian sailors who wanted to do the same. On May 9th, 1087 the sailors returned to Bari with the holy relics of San Nicolò, where in 1089 they were placed in a new crypt by Pope Urban II. The people of Bari built an enormous Basilica over his bones, which now directed pilgrims to Southern Italy instead of Asia Minor. With a much safer pilgrimage route, San Nicolò became one of Western Europe’s most popular saints."

 According to the CNN article The Italian town where Santa Claus is buried | CNN, Bari is now trying to capitalize on tourism by making the world know (or think?) that it's the final resting place of the "real Santa Claus":

"A new awareness is spreading among some Baresi, eager to boost efforts to exploit the Nicholas-Santa link and turn Bari’s Christmas connections into a tourist highlight. Many spots in Bari are named after the saint. There’s a San Nicola bakery, a stadium, a bar, a hotel and an orecchietteria (a shop where traditional handmade earshaped orecchiette pasta is sold). In December actors walk around town alternatively dressed as Santa and San Nicola. 

"Paco Ricchiuti, head of Velo Service, a local tourist operator, has started to cash in on Bari’s Christmas tie. He organizes guided tours to the basilica and the local museum where Saint Nicholas artifacts are held. Other tour stops include San Nicola stadium, a research center dedicated to the saint and wall paintings around the town that have turned Saint Nick into a pop-art hero.

"In the Bari Vecchia historic district, there are various murals of the local hero, including one in which he’s doing yoga. Ricchiuti says he wants to turn Bari’s Christmas link into a brand.

“We take visitors on guided walking, bike and rickshaw tours, the vehicles have just been painted with images of San Nicola and Father Christmas, and we like to take actors dressed as both along to enhance the experience,” he says. Tourists are also treated to the popular San Nicola beer made with local ingredients. A smaller beer bottle called “Nicolino” features an image of the saint on its label.

"Brewer Paola Sorrentino says she created the beer to pay homage to the saint, who’s also the protector of beer-makers and strangers. “I’m Neapolitan and this city has welcomed me with open arms, just like its patron. Plus I’m a brewer so what better way to celebrate and thank San Nicola,” she says.

"Souvenir T-shirts bearing the image of San Nicola can also be bought in Bari, but Ricchiuti says the town should do more to sponsor the Christmas link worldwide.

“I’m happy that the real Santa is buried in my hometown, which is the origin place of the myth of Santa Claus,” he says. “People around the world envy this and we don’t realize how blessed we are.”"

They celebrate hm on his feast day of December 5th: "Celebrations for Saint Nicholas Day begin in Bari on the night of December 5. Locals attend Roman Catholic Mass at dawn the next day and then tuck into hot chocolate, pancakes and sticks of fried polenta called sgagliozze.," says CNN, "Street concerts are held as the statue of San Nicola is paraded through the old district to a huge Christmas tree. Bars and pastry shops are open non-stop."

"San Nicolò – How Did He Become Santa Claus?

"So how did this pious and generous saint become a jolly fat man delivering presents on Christmas Eve?," Life in Italy explains. "The origin of the American Santa Claus stems from the traditions surrounding San Nicolò, but is more directly influenced by the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas. As stated above, San Nicolò was one of Europe’s most popular saints, and traditions of gift giving on December 5th, the eve of his feast day, were widespread. The Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas gets its name from a shortened version of San Nicolò’s name in Dutch – Sint Nikolaas- and he is portrayed wearing the robes of a Catholic Bishop. This tradition was brought over by Dutch settlers to their colony of New Amsterdam and when the British took over the settlement, which later became New York City, they also took on the tradition of the gift giving Sinterklaas. The new settlers mispronounced the Dutch name, and so Sinterklaas became Santa Claus.

"As the Santa Claus myth grew, the character became an entity unique to American culture, and started to resemble the historical San Nicolò less and less. Even though the Santa Claus tradition is so far removed from the veneration of San Nicolò, the most important parts have never changed. Both San Nicolò and Santa Claus are devoted to children and both are kind, gift giving figures known for their charity and selflessness...." 

In the American version of San Nicolo di Bari, Santa Claus, though some of his bones are entombed in Italy, somehow the rest of him is living in a village in the North Pole. How this Greek-speaking Catholic Bishop from modern-day Turkey ended up living there or why he choose to reside in such an isolated, cold and lonely spot (save for his wife and elves) rests somewhere in the annals of legend and myth, but I can personally deduce that he picked it for its central location making it easier to deliver gifts all over the World. So only one question then arrives: why aren't there pilgrimages to the North Pole? Well actually a few questions come up, like are there Greek or Italian restaurants in the Arctic? (I'm guessing there's a pizza place.)

So yes, long story short, Santa Claus is an Italian immigrant of Greek (modern day Turkey) origin that is now a citizen of the Arctic. And I will be asking my parish priest to organize a trip there, though we may wait until Summer. 

You can read more about "Santa Claus" here:

San Nicolò di Bari - The Original Santa Claus - Life in Italy

The Italian town where Santa Claus is buried | CNN

Saint Nicholas - Wikipedia

Santa Claus: Real Origins & Legend | HISTORY

saint nick italy - Search (

santa claus - Search (

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!

Italian Americans: A Legacy of Valor and Patriotism

  Italian Americans: A Legacy of Valor and Patriotism Italian Americans have played a significant and often overlooked role in the history o...