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North End sounds (and Scorsese’s passion for doo-wop)

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I was not one of those kids who sang on the street corners. I didn’t have a good voice and by my teen years I tended to hang out less than I did when I was younger. But I remember the kids singing in the park during the day or on cold fall nights around fire-lit barrel. Just like in the movies, as the saying goes. In doing my own research on the North End I spoke to Nick Savino a while back. Nick spoke about his love for doo wop and acapella. He told me how he and his ...

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For the Love of Figs

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“How many figs do you have on your tree?” This is all I hear during harvest season in my family. Over the past few years, my husband, Jamie, and my father, and my brother, Tony, each acquired fig trees for their yards. Since the first year of cultivating them, these men relentlessly compete over quantity. Among their four trees, the quality of the fruit never wavers – plump, ripe, hearty delicious figs make it to the table every year. Grazie a Dio! Figs are among the oldest cultivated crops, grown by the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks. In Italy, it’s ...

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Italian American Heritage Month – Something to Celebrate

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This month is Italian American Heritage Month and as always there will be many events, programs, and celebrations in Boston, including a Columbus Day parade. In all of this it might be easy to miss a very vital contribution of Italian American heritage, one that is literally staring you in the face. I refer to Bosontiano itself, both the magazine and the website. The website began in 2011, followed by the magazine in 2013. Both have already become important local icons of Italian American heritage, just as both mark the continuity of that heritage through the lives, stories, and announcements ...

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Thinking of selling your home?

(photo courtesy Mark Moz)

Yes, we continue to be in a “sellers’ market.” However, having everything in order will help you obtain top dollar for your home. There are several factors that you should take into account when getting ready to enter the real estate market. First and foremost, speak to a professional. A good realtor will provide you with invaluable counsel. Ask friends and family for a realtor that will be a good fit for you. Interview realtors and go with your instincts. Make sure that you “click,” as you will have to go through a lot with this person. Walk through the ...

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Milan EXPO 2015: Visit it, Enjoy it, and Be Proud

Stefano Salimbeni at the Milan EXPO 2015

A fresh, first person, passionate recount of our collaborator Stefano Salimbeni’s visit to the Milan International Exposition. A joy for the eyes, more than for the palate, a challenge for the legs – and the wallet – more than for the intellect and anyway at the end of the day (and in this case is usually a long one) a breath of fresh air for our (too often and for too long repressed and subdued) pride of being Italian. Obviously after a six-hours-only visit, at an event that would require at least the same amount of days, the first impressions ...

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Boston Real Estate: Now is the time!

Bostoniano's new real estate columnist, Dino Confalone.

Boston and its surrounding area’s real estate market is the hottest it has ever been. The concept of being undervalued in relation to cities like San Francisco, Miami, New York and Los Angeles continues to fuel the cash infusion of global investors. In my opinion, the spring of 2013 was the game changer and Boston became a “Seller’s Market”. Have you invested in Boston? If not, what are you waiting for? This past spring, we could classify the real estate market as a “beast” and it truly was not for everyone. However, with historic low interest rates and steady appreciation, ...

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The North End Connection

J & N Market, Corner of Prince and Salem Street (North End of Boston), 1980 ©Anthony Riccio

In February I wrote about what I called “The American Connection” and some people misunderstood what I meant. Some thought I meant that I grew up with doubts or confusion about my Italian identity. That is not the case. I want to clarify what I meant and then use it as a stepping stone to talk about “North End identity.” In that February article, I talked about my former BU colleague Patricia Park’s frustration at often being perceived as non-American because of her Korean ancestry and physical features, and of her own sense of not feeling fully American because of ...

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Wicked Good Italian Dialects

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A recent visit to my father’s hometown of Abbadia San Salvatore in Siena gave me interesting insight into the concept of dialect. Family had taken me to a local restaurant, and the cousins who’d moved out of town ordered “una latina di Coca Cola” or a can of Coke. Those relatives who still resided in town similarly ordered Cokes, but pronounced it much differently, dropping the hard C sound entirely, instead asking for “O’a-Ola.” As any native Bostonian knows, dropping a letter (like an R) gives the English language a certain flair all its own, and certainly gives the listener ...

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Hiding in plain sight: Remembering Sacco and Vanzetti in the heart of Boston

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August 23 marks an important anniversary in the history of Massachusetts. It was on this day, in 1927, that Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed after being convicted for the death of two people during an armed robbery in South Braintree. I’m not bringing up this symbolic date to shine a light on the history of what happened. Many have done so before, and the story is so complex we would need a book to explain it all. What I do want to focus on, though, is what is left in our modern day metropolis to commemorate what happened ...

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Growing up speaking North End English

Image courtesy http://italyonmymind.com.au/

In his 1975 study of the North End, “The Italian-American child: His sociolinguistic acculturation,” Fr. Lawrence Biondi stated that “The English spoken in the North End is English that is heard nowhere else in New England or Boston. North Enders have a strong tendency toward being uniquely apart — they are not quite Italian, but not quite American either” (p. 36). Those of us who grew up in the neighborhood would not be surprised at this statement. We did have a way of speaking that was unique to the North End, though much of it was shared by Italian Americans ...

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A magical moment at St. Anthony’s Feast

St. Anthony of Padua feast and procession in the North End of Boston.

A few years ago, I’d experienced Saint Anthony’s Feast in Boston’s North End for the very first time. Growing up Italian in Buffalo, I’d enjoyed summer Italian festivals before, as they’re a regular annual fixture in most American cities. But nothing could prepare me for the sights and sounds of this, the largest Italian Religious Festival in New England. That day, my husband, Jamie, and I headed into Boston on the last weekend of August, when it’s customarily held, with his grandmother, Josefina or “Josie”, an eighty-five-year-old Italian immigrant whose wish it was to see the feast “one last time.” ...

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Bridging the long-distance gaps with grandparents

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While it’s not uncommon these days for Bostoniani to find many miles on a road map, or even a world map, separating their kids from their grandparents, it’s also easier than ever before to minimize that distance by incorporating some easy techniques for bringing the generations closer in heart and mind. Travel Together Planning and partaking in a family vacation, reunion, or outing can sometimes rejuvenate familial bonds, or just provide another excuse for getting together. Whether it’s a day-long family reunion, a fun meeting spot between states, or a leisurely travel destination, an occasional trip provides a welcome retreat. ...

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