Home / Columns (page 7)


Zio Mario’s Miracle Cure


I have never seen so much blood in my life … which isn’t saying much, considering I am only 7 years old. Regardless, I am horrified as I watch the blood pour out of my kneecap from three different deep scrapes. I sit dumbfounded for a good 10 seconds, silently watching the crimson cascade down my leg before I feel the sting. Once the pain comes, the tears follow. I close my eyes and through increasingly pathetic sobs, I call out for my older cousin — who apparently hasn’t realized I am no longer trailing behind her. “Rosaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnaaaaaaa! Come back! ...

Read More »

An Italian Thanksgiving Dinner


Thanksgiving and ravioli! Not Thanksgiving and Turkey, but Thanksgiving and ravioli: homemade ravioli; my father’s homemade ravioli. I remember that he would start to make them a few days before the holiday. I can still see the flour, eggs, water and other ingredients spread out on the kitchen table. I can see him mixing the dough, rolling it out, and then cutting it into sections to be filled with the cheese he had prepared. His ravioli were huge, and they were delicious. If you are like me and millions of Italian Americans (not just from the North End) your Thanksgiving ...

Read More »

The Legend of Johnny Martino


October is Italian Heritage Month, and I’m certain the pages around me will be filled with tributes to Italians and to the North End. There is certainly a lot to be proud of and a lot to display. But October is also the month of Halloween. A quintessentially American holiday with roots in the native Celtic religion, Halloween in the North End was a lot of fun. The streets were filled with kids in costumes, and there were so many buildings with so many apartments to get candy. And there were a lot of adults around, as always, to keep ...

Read More »

NOT your stereotypical grandma

Viva i nonni! (Photo by Luigi Mengato.)

There are a variety of Italian grandmother stereotypes in the media these days, and not surprisingly, my own grandma doesn’t fit any of them. Unlike the archetype we see portrayed in TV and movies, she never force fed me pasta while screaming ‘Mangia!’ and as far as I know, she never shuffled around the house in a button-up apron and worn slippers My grandmother embodies sass, self-respect, and independent thinking. She has never been one to suffer fools, tolerate nonsense, or bite her tongue. I’m told she was always like this. She was one of five children, and the only ...

Read More »

Paging Dr. Clooney!


I’d only been studying abroad in Bologna for two weeks when I hurt my knee. The director of our program organized a group climb up to the top of the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca. While there was a road that led up to the sanctuary, it was also possible to reach it along a 3.5 kilometer roofed portico consisting of 666 arches and maybe a million shallow steps (rough guess). The views from the top were spectacular; the atmosphere was positively peaceful. Little did I know at the time, the portico took more than 100 years to ...

Read More »

You Say Bidet. I Say ‘No Way’


It was the spring of 2003 and I had been living abroad in Bologna for a few months, and in that time had truly embraced the Italian lifestyle. I was eating nutella at almost every meal; I adored lazy Sundays when nothing was open; and I could barter for bootleg dvds at il mercato with the best of them. Moreover, I was rarely surprised by Italian unknown customs anymore. There remained, however, a few facets of Italian life to which I had yet to fully conform. The first of these unaccepted aspects was the tragic and always unfair cappuccino rule. ...

Read More »

Dating Italian Men Isn’t Always Easy


My parents set me up with unrealistic expectations of romance. Don’t get me wrong, Vincent and Angela Festino are wonderful genitori. I miei filled my childhood with hugs, Nutella and Totò Cutugno sing-a-longs in the car. My parents’ love for me knows no limits, and their love for each other is truly the stuff Lifetime holiday movies are made of. Their soul-mating began with an unexpected meeting at a bus depot, was almost crushed by a plot twist you never saw coming, and journeyed across the Atlantic Ocean to Italia and back again, before finally reaching its happy ending in ...

Read More »

“What is un colpo d’aria?”


We have been driving with seven people cramped in the compact car for over an hour; it is not entirely clear if I will ever walk upright again. When we arrive in the town center of Corato, my mother, sister and I hop — or rather limp — into the back seat of our cousin Franca’s car for the remainder of the ride to Zia Rosa’s house. And lucky me, I get stuck in the middle seat, which only furthers my rapidly developing case of scoliosis. I sit back and the leather scorches my skin. It is August in Puglia ...

Read More »

The shameful secret in our basement


It is a well-known fact that I can be bribed to do almost anything with the promise of my mother’s frittata. Just last week, I rearranged my Saturday to walk my parents’ dog, Rufus, in exchange for a 12-egg fluffy frittata with my name on it. As I sampled my egg earnings, my father mused, “you know, when I was a kid, my mother would send me to school with peppers and eggs for lunch and I would be so embarrassed. And here you are, hoarding this simple omelet as if it were gold.” I wash down the frittata with ...

Read More »

An Italian railway adventure


It is 34 degrees Celsius when my sister Lisa and I board the train in Bologna, and it is even hotter as we come to a sudden stop in the middle of the Italian countryside. “What’s the problem?” asks my sister nonchalantly; she’s not particularly worried. Nor is the middle-aged man with whom we share the train car; he was unaffected by the lurching halt and didn’t miss a beat as he chatted into his cell phone. He’s wearing a wrinkled grey suit and red sneakers — an odd combination for such a hot day. I look out the window ...

Read More »

“So … he’s a wizard?”


As soon as the words leave my mouth, I regret them. Not only because I realize how naïve I sound, but because a part of me is afraid of the answer.

Read More »

Last Minute Deal Saves Serie A on RAI International


Just five days before the start of the Italian soccer championship, Serie A fans outside Italy can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Their beloved calcio will be broadcast by RAI. After learning from Italian newspaper Repubblica that RAI had failed to renew international broadcast rights for soccer, thousands of customers protested against the television station, threatening to cancel their paid subscription. Various media outlets now are reporting that RAI has reached a one-year deal with media company MP & Silva, which holds rights to broadcast Serie A internationally through 2015. To reach a deal, MP & Silva “made a ...

Read More »