The first and finest podcast for Italian Americans... delivering history, discussion, and connection with smarts, heart, and a lot of laughs. 🇮🇹🇺🇸
IAP 191: Her Superhero Dad: How An Italian American Daughter's Love Inspired a Literary Career
When we think about the Italian American experience, our mind floods with images of parents and grandparents, traditions passed on through time with the family, and a multi-generational story that plays out over a lifetime of shared memories. But, how do we best pass on the story of a loved one who we have lost?
In this week’s episode, we meet Michele Cerullo McAvoy, whose quest to answer that exact question led her into a new career as an award-winning children’s book author.
As Father’s Day approaches, we sit down with this New Jersey native (who may or may not have known our very own P.O.B. in his high school days) to discuss Michele’s 2016 Moonbeam Award-winning book, “My Superhero Grandpa,” the story of a boy and his beloved grandpa, who watches over him with superpowers, even though grandpa is in Heaven.
Michele shares stories of her own Italian American father, whose life inspired this book, and some of her others, as she sought ways to introduce her father’s story to her children, even though he passed on before they were born.
We talk about ways to honor our ancestors, whether it’s through genealogical research or more creative and artistic pursuits, and how preserving family stories is vital for future generations to have a relationship with their forebears.
Michele also tells us about how during the COVID-19 pandemic she started The Little Press & Blue Bronco Books, a traditional children's book publisher that specializes in books promoting the social and emotional welfare of our youth, and she stresses just how important it is to produce quality work for children to move our culture forward.
With Father’s Day around the corner, join us as we hear this heart warming story of how a father’s love inspired a new career, and a chance to make a difference in the lives of so many children!
For more about Michele and her books, visit http://www.michelemcavoy.com/.
IAP 190: Potentially Dangerous: When It Was a Crime to Be Italian -- A Conversation on Italian Internments with Filmmaker Zach Baliva
In the United States of America, it was once a crime to be Italian.
That’s what filmmaker Zach Baliva, director of the forthcoming documentary, “Potentially Dangerous,” reveals to our listeners in this all-new episode of The Italian American Podcast!
As America crept closer to its second World War, the government grew suspicious of some citizens based not on what they had done, but on where they were from, registering more than 600,000 Italians and Italian Americans as “Enemy Aliens." Many were under curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., and more than 10,000 individuals were forced from their homes and businesses. Hundreds were placed in military camps without trial.
Zach recounts how he discovered the stories he shares in this documentary, which is one of the participants in the Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum, an annual event created by Hollywood directors Joe and Anthony Russo (Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Endgame) in partnership with the National Italian American Foundation and the Italian Sons and Daughters of America to support projects that highlight the Italian American experience.
But this is, after all, the Italian American Podcast, so we will get into a heated debate about this often under-studied period in Italian American history, and question whether the story of Italian internment was purely misguided overreaction, or if there might be a more complicated origin to this sordid tale.
Be sure to listen to this episode filled with passionate discourse and intimate stories of a chapter of Italian American history that is not often discussed!
To support the “Potentially Dangerous” Kickstarter campaign to assist with funding for this project, visit:
IAP 189: A "Certified" Success: The Italian American CEO Leading a Wellness Revolution
For many Americans, the gradual reopening of the country means more time out of doors, the slow return to gyms, and the chance to take a good look at how we’ve been treating our bodies during the many months we’ve spent, for the most part, indoors.
But why weren’t we examining our indoor environments this way before the pandemic? This week’s guest, Paul Scialla, is the Italian American Founder and CEO of Delos Wellness Solutions, and he has made it his mission to help merge physical health with building science.
According to Paul, Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their lives indoors, which can wreak havoc on our bodies, so he has developed a variety of wellness-based products for the buildings that encase so much of our daily lives.
We’ll discuss Paul’s Italian American upbringing in suburban New Jersey, and how his family background and professional experiences on Wall Street helped lead him down the path to wellness advocacy.
In true Italian American Podcast style, we also talk about the Italian aversion to air conditioning and how the famed “Mediterranean Diet” might just owe as much to the rural lifestyles of its subjects as it does to the food they eat.
We’ll explore Paul’s early career on Wall Street, how he evolved from a financier to a wellness revolutionary, his landmark agreement with the Vatican, and how the company’s commitment to wellness for all has drawn support from some of the most famous names in science, business, government, and entertainment… all done in the name of providing wellness solutions to as many people as possible.
If you’re a believer in the power of place to affect our lives, you won’t want to miss this very timely episode!
For more information about Paul Scialla and his work with Delos, visit www.delos.com. To learn more about the International Well Building Institute, visit www.wellhealthsafety.com, and to discover the WELL Health Safety Rating program, visit www.wellcertified.com.
IAP 188: The Past, Present, & Future of Italian Americans in Boxing with Special Guest Coach Dino Spencer
For many Italian Americans, the sport of boxing is synonymous with Italian American pride, thanks to the timeless accomplishments of legendary names like Rocky Marciano, “Boom Boom Mancini," Jake La Motta, Carmen Basilio, and the late, great Angelo Dundee.
But one very dedicated Italian American has made it his life’s mission to help preserve the sport’s legacy, while training a whole new generation of talent both in and out of the ring.
On this week’s episode, we’re joined by celebrity trainer Dino Spencer, owner of Miami Beach’s World Famous 5th Street Gym, to discuss his four decades in the squared circle… from his tutelage under Hall of Fame trainer, and fellow Italian American Angelo Dundee, to the more than 10,000 men and women he has trained over his illustrious career -- including world champions in boxing, MMA, UFC, and other martial arts.
Dino also shares how he ended up as the “Trainer to the Stars," having gotten into the ring with such high-profile clients such as Adriana Lima, Dave Chapelle, Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, David Schwimmer, Christopher Walken, Mark Walberg, Mario Lopez, Jeremy Piven, and Michael Phelps.
We'll also dive into the fabled history of the World Famous 5th Street Gym, from its start in 1950 when Chris Dundee began promoting big-time boxing in Miami Beach to how it quickly became the celebrated University of Boxing, overseen by Chris, the “Wizard of Oz," and his brother Angelo, the “Prince of Oz," and how it was a magnet for a wide range of international celebrities including Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Jackie Gleason, Malcolm X, The Beatles, Sean Connery, Frank Sinatra, Sylvester Stallone, and a myriad of others who were absorbed into the gym’s legendary mystique.
With Italian American pride as such an important theme to this episode, we also talk about Dino’s own heritage and how he has worked to learn more about his roots and share them not only with his family, but also to reconnect to a whole new generation of boxing talent in Italy, and how he has set out to build these new Italian emigres into better fighters -- and better people -- through their shared Italian American heritage.
Whether you’re a lifelong fan of “the Sweet Science” of Boxing, or just a lover of great Italian American stories, this episode is certainly one you will not want to miss!
For more information on the 5th Street Gym, visit www.5thstgym.com.
IAP 187: Italian Food: Separating Memory from Myth with Special Guest Karima Moyer-Nocchi
When Italian Americans are gathered, it's usually a safe bet that the conversation will turn to the topic we seem to love most… the culinary delights that are Italian food!
In fact, many of us like to recall enjoying delectable homemade meals with the famiglia… while discussing what we plan to eat at the next sitting!
Who can blame us for this obvious obsession? Italian cuisine has captivated the world’s palates for generations… but have you ever stopped to consider the history behind what’s on your plate, or asked yourself how much we really know about the generations-old recipes we treasure?
Culinary historian Karima Moyer-Nocchi has dedicated her career to this very question and, this week, she is sharing some of her discoveries with our team!
Karima is the author of the critically-acclaimed Chewing the Fat - An Oral History of Italian Foodways from Fascism to Dolce Vita, and The Eternal Table: A Cultural History of Food in Rome. In her books, she reconstructs history through the lens of food, sharing how Italy’s various historic interactions with other civilizations profoundly influenced its foodways, and how today’s Italian cuisine is a product of a long and often overlooked evolution.
We’ll ask the question, “Is there such a thing as authentic Italian food?” and discuss how the food our ancestors ate is quite different from the plates we know today. We also discuss the surprising history of some of our favorite foods, where and how Italian and Italian American cuisine intersect and how different they can be, and whether or not the passion that has evolved around Italian food might just be its undoing!
So why not prepare a plate of your favorite maccheroni, and join us as we dive into the history of Italian food… from memories to myths!
This episode is sponsored by Mediaset Italia.
IAP 186: More Amore: Exploring the Great Italian American Songbook with Special Guest Jenna Esposito
If the places we hold dear were to be set to music, then the soundtrack for New York’s Little Italy would be sung by this week’s guest, Jenna Esposito. Known as the “Voice of Little Italy,” this passionate Italian American has performed across the country and in some of the most hallowed music venues in the nation but, without fail, she always lends her talents to the annual San Gennaro Festival on Mulberry Street.
This week, Jenna joins co-host John M. Viola as she discusses her latest album, “More Amore: Songs from the Great Italian American Songbook,” which is set to be released later this month.
They’ll explore how Italian American music has evolved from its Italian origins, how it has defined our ethnic experience, and how it continues to serve as a reminder of the many ups and downs of the Italian American experience.
Jenna also shares how the wide variety of styles and influences that make up the Great Italian American songbook -- from the Canzone Napoletana, to standards by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Connie Francis, and even Lou Christie and Dion’s 1960s pop hits -- have managed to influence her career and connect her to the countless Italian American performers who have come before her.
Jenna will be celebrating the release of “More Amore” with a show on the Metropolitan Zoom platform on Friday, June 11, at 7 p.m., when she and her band will be performing live in studio, and audience members will be able to join and interact with her via Zoom.
This episode, and the upcoming interactive musical experience, are both must-listens for any fan of the Great Italian American songbook!
For more information, visit https://metropolitanzoom.ticketleap.com/jenna- esposito-061121/.
This episode is sponsored by Mediaset Italia.
Very enjoyable. Love the Italian Sicilian heritage being kept alive.
Episode 183 the lawsuit for Columbus Day
At 12 minutes in the lawyer says that the “minority community doesn’t understand that we can’t wipe out one communities heritage and ceremonies to replace it with another.....” Well he sits very uneducated about Columbus and the colonization of America then bc that is exactly what happened here on this continent, that Columbus and many others did to Indigenous people. Both sides of my family are recent Italian American immigrants to this country and I’m in full support of getting rid of the worship of a man who does not represent me or my culture. This lawsuit is ridiculous and there are so many ways we as Italian Americans to honor our culture and repair the harm of our ancestors.
Great Podcast and Hosts!
I have been a listener to this podcast since the beginning, and have grown to love it more and more! From the show content to all of the hosts, it’s been an extreme pleasure hearing it week after week! It covers everything about our Italian American heritage, and I really appreciate all the hard work they put into it! I also now listen to Dolores‘s podcast, Bella Figura, the Tradition of Living Beautifully, and enjoy that so much as well!
Thank you again for always reminding us where our Ancestors are from and the importance of carrying on our traditions as Italian Americans!