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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

All Things Italian: Casa Italia

If you want to get back to your Italian roots....this is the best way to do it! Look at what is offered!! DM
The Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago (500 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1450) celebrates the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy and the long-standing friendship between the U.S. and Italy with  "A Sense of Place," a free exhibition of works by seven Chicago-based artists with Italian ties, June 4 - Sept. 16, 2011. "A Sense of Place" officially opens to the public in Chicago June 4, and will have a presence in the Italian Pavilion in the World in Venice this summer through a film Marco G. Ferrari is creating around all seven artists and their work. "A Sense of Place" runs through Sept. 16, 2011 and may be viewed free of charge by the public Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. For more information on the exhibition and other "Italy @150" events, visit or call 312-822-9545.
 [I met Anne Marie Cina at a recent art exhibition where I also showed my photographs. She is an outstanding watercolor artists! DM]
 The Watercolor World of Anne Marie Cina featuring "Growing up Italian in Chicago," a presentation of a series of 15 paintings accompanied by narratives recalling Chicago in the 50s and 60s. Displayed from October 1 - 23, 2011 in the Casa Italia lobby; an artist's reception will be held from 1 - 4 p.m. on Sunday, October 16. .
[This is a must go to event. My friend, Dominic Candeloro, PhD and his new book are featured.)
 The Italian Cultural Center at Casa Italia Announces its Publication of a Major New Book on Chicago Italians. Reconstructing Italians in Chicago: Thirty Authors in Search of Roots and Branches.  The book will be presented at Casa Italia at 10 am on Saturday, October 8, 2011 in the Florentine Room. Compiled and edited by Dominic Candeloro and Fred L.Gardaphe` is a major step toward making Chicago's Italians the best documented (and best understood) in the nation. The writers represented in this Anthology include: Leonard Amari, Michael Antonucci, Tony Ardizzone, Robert Benedetti, Adria Bernardi, Dominic Candeloro, Kathy Catrombone and Ellen Shubart, Paolo Ciminello, Jerry Colangelo, David Cowan and John Kuenster, Bill Dal Cerro, Lisi Cipriani, Peter D'Agostino, Fr. Gino Dalpiaz, Tina DeRosa, Annette Dixon, Chickie Farella, Anthony Fornelli, Fred Gardaphe' Thomas Guglielmo, Billy Lombardo, Calogero Lombardo, Robert Lombardo, Ernesto R Milani, Rose Ann Rabiola Miele, Gloria Nardini, Daniel Niemiec, Gianna Panofsky and Eugene Miller, Peter Pero, Tony Romano, Vince Romano, Judy Santacaterina, Giovanni Schiavo, Anthony Sorrentino, Rudolph Vecoli, and Peter Venturelli.  
The Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans will celebrate Columbus Day, the Unification of Italy & the Italian Community on Monday October 10, 2011. Festivities begin with 9 a.m. Mass at The Shrine of our Lady of Pompeii followed by a wreath  laying at 10 a.m. at Arrigo Park in Chicago. The parade will begin at 12:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. on Columbus Drive between Balbo & Randolph, Chicago. A reception will be held at Casa Italia at 3:30 p.m. Bus transportation from Casa Italia to Pompeii will leave promptly at 7:30 a.m., and from Casa Italia to downtown leaving promptly at 10:30 a.m. Bus transportation & reception $25 per adult; $10 per child. Reception only $15 per adult, children under 12 free. Cash bar beer & wine. Honorary Parade Marshal Josette Mentesana Weber; Parade Chairman Alessandro Motta, consul general of Italy; Honorary Parade Marshal, Buddy Valastro, star of TLC's Cake Boss. Call 708-450-9050 to reserve your seat on the bus and for the reception.  
The Casa Italia Fall Festival will be held from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. at the Festival Center October 15 - 16, 2011. The event will feature the Chicago Swordplay Guild, a wine making presentation, cultural activities, presentations and exhibits, a farmers market, entertainment and food and beverages for purchase. 
A Writer in the Making Workshop will be featured from 10 a.m. to Noon on November 5, 2011 in the Florentine Room at Casa Italia. Journal writing and the adventures of self discovery will be examined through one-word prompts. The workshop is presented by Gloria Valentino, CEO of Challenger - Encourager - Optimist; Heart-to-Heart Gatherings. No charge but RSVP requested at (708) 345-5933. 

Student Mingle at ICO Home Coming

During the recent Illinois College of Optometry Home Coming, an alumni/student mingle session was held. Featured in this picture are two ICO students (left) and (right) Dr. Richard Kattouf (Chair, ICO Board of Trustees), Dr. Dominick Maino,(ICO Alumni Council President/Alumni ICO BOT member), and Dr. Pam Lowe (she's done everything!)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What's in a name?

My son (Dominic) and his wife (not named Dominic) is about to present me with another grandchild in November. My first grandchild, Dominic, is absolutely amazing! Now my dad, Dominic, and I, Dominick ( did you notice the slight change in spelling?) happened to like the name Dominic (or Dominick) as you can imagine. So far there has been 4 generations of Mainos in the USA named Dominic. 
Now, here's the confusing part....what do we name the next grandchild....who we happen to know will be a boy? I have suggested the name, Dominic...but only received a smile as a response from my son and daughter-in-law.
Over the last couple of years, I've tried to get back to my Italian roots. Sometimes not quite getting to where I wanted to be (trying to learn Italian is going to take a bit more effort) to using my Italian genes to help me be an artists (a great deal more success here...I've exhibited my photography in several venues including in the Chandelier Room of Casa Italia in Stone Park, Il and singing opera (tenor) with outstanding performers from the New york Met and Chicago Lyric Opera Houses.)
As I embrace my heritage, I was wondering if I could find out more about naming conventions used in Italy. Here's what I found out....BTW...the story the author tells here about "Nick" also happens in my household....when someone calls out the name Dominic!
It's a boy! But what's his name?
Well it has been an exciting week in the Monolo house with a brand new baby boy arriving a couple of days early. Our second grandchild, perfect in every way just like his older sister, Adriana. We all wondered what our new grandson's name would be but it was top secret -- probably to avoid nine months of family pressure.

Our family has loosely continued the Italian naming conventions, particularly with the boys, but that has led to some confusion, just as I'm sure is the case in Italy. We often joke about the time that my brother's girlfriend was in an accident on the way to a family wedding reception. Someone went to the microphone and asked that Nick Tropea please step into the lobby for a message -- and half the room emptied out. That is a slight exaggeration but the point is clear. In my father's family of 11 children, with most of the oldest sons of those eleven being named Nicholas, Nicola, Nicolino or some such version, it does get out of hand.

Italian naming patterns are typical of other European countries but the large Italian families contributed to the chaos. I am told that this confusion is what led to the endearing Italian practice of assigning nicknames, soprannomi, to everyone.

The naming practice has also wreaked havoc with genealogists who could get thrown off to a completely different line by finding the birth record of an uncle's son, just months off of the real Giuseppe they really seek. I almost fell into the same trap when tracking my grandmother's birth record, finding her cousin's first and wanting to believe the elusive record was discovered. While the Italian naming traditions complicate things, at least when armed with the information, one is better equipped to avoid squirreling up the family tree.

On the positive side, it kept life simple, decisions were fewer, structure decreased anxiety. Just pull out the chart and your child's name is determined -- at least for the first few:
  • a. the first male is named after his paternal grandfather
  • b. the second male is named after his maternal grandfather
  • c. the first female is named after her paternal grandmother
  • d. the second female is named after her maternal grandmother

After that, anything goes and the pressure is on though there were still guidelines. Subsequent children would be named after parents, a favorite aunt or uncle, a saint or a deceased sibling or other relative.

Coming to America meant breaking tradition to some. I interviewed the president of the Italian Club of St. Louis last evening for our "Chi Sono, Chi Siamo" project and learned that his mother, enamored with films, named each of her five children after movie stars, while an earlier interviewee said her siblings were named after opera characters.

So our big announcement finally came. He will be called Hudson Joseph. At least we got one family name in there. Cent'anni, Sonny. Ti voglio bene. 

Debbie Monolo writing in Fra Noi even if my next grandchild's name is not Dominic, it appears that we are following Italian tradition. My son (Dominic) and his wife (again not named Dominic) will name the new arrival, Vincenzo (Vincent). His middle name, however, will be that of his paternal grandfather. 

As an aside, I should mention that my since Italians had so many individuals with the same name, they often gave nick names. This tradition is not only followed by Italians however. My wife is Puerto Rican...they also assign nicknames to family members....often more than one. When I first dated her, I could never figure out if she had 30 brothers and sisters...or only 7. I am sad to report however....that there wasn't a Dominic among them...perhaps some day! DM