Dear Readers, November Notes with an Italian Connection:

Auto Aficionados were saddened by the recent loss of Martin Swig (1934-2012), “”the guy who invented automotive enthusiasm”.  Swig was the co-founder of California’s “Mille Miglia” and every year the day before departing for the big race an assembly of beautiful vintage automobiles was on view in front of the Fairmont Hotel atop Nob Hill, in San Francisco for all to enjoy.

Swig graduated from Stanford in the late 1950’s and immediately put his Business Degree to work in the car business, selling Alfas and Fiats at European Motors in S.F. and later branched out on his own in the San Francisco Auto Center.  A racer of great vintage cars, he entered the Italian Mille Miglia revival and was inspired to start his own event in 1991, the California Mille Migliawhich has run every year since. Swig’s enthusiasm for cars, driving, dining and spending time with friends old and new lead him to found diverse car rallies such as the Double 500 (500 kilometers in old cars that cost less than $500), and the Anti-Football week-end Rally.
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Boys and Girls’ Towns of Italy, 50th annual fashion show luncheon will feature the beautiful clothes of designer Lily Blue. The Luncheon will take place at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco and will benefit the works of the Boys and Girls’ Towns of Italy. Save the date Friday, November 30, 2012, call Sue Hoffman for tickets ($100) Tel. (415) 665-4483 and come and enjoy yourself for a good cause. As you may recall Monsignor John Patrick Carroll-Abbing, founded Boy’s Towns of Italy, Inc. way back in 1945 after the end of the World War II. The Irish priest, in Vatican Diplomatic Services, was asked by Pope Pius XII to being a mission to help homeless and hungry children of the war develop into responsible and productive citizens.
Monsignor would later comment , “As I put my hand on the door knob ready to leave, I suddenly realized that the Holy Father’s blessing was all I had. There was no organization, no funds, no buildings, no co-workers-just a blessing.” The American government placed the Monsignor in charge of supervising the distribution of War Relief Donations from the Jewish, Protestant, and Catholic charities of the United States. During his frequent trips to America, he began speaking and raising funds for what was to be his life’s work, the founding and incorporation in 1951 of Boy’s Town of Italy, Inc. and the opening of its facility for boys in the outskirts of Rome.
By 1955, Girls’ Town of Rome was founded thanks to the efforts of screen star Linda Darnell and Mother Dominic Ramaccotti, a religious sister and university administrator from Maryland in the U.S. Boys’ Town of Rome and Girl’s Town of Rome later united under the title of Boys’ Town of Italy, Inc. Today, these organizations offer homeless children a chance at life. Many children are survivors of abandonment, family dysfunction, domestic violence, wars, and oppressive poverty.
Today, they are prepared for life though education, career preparation, and self-government. Boys’ Town of Italy has earned a fine international reputation, studied by many, in the manner of giving the children the opportunity to assume responsibility by becoming “citizens” of each community as a storekeeper, banker, commissioner, judge or mayor and elected by their peers. Thousands have passed through the doors of these institutions over the years and youngsters from Italy, Albania, Kosovo, the former Russian Republics, Ethiopia and Somalia have found their way to a new chance at life. In the U.S.A for more info. write or call Boys and Girls’ Town of Italy, 250-E 63rd St., New York City, 10065. (212) 980-8770 or
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Cinema’s 69th edition of the Venice International Film Festival began with a dramatic changing of the guard. The board of the Italian Biennale which oversees the storied fest, replaced Marco Mueller, who had been the festival’s artistic director for the past eight years, with Alberto Barbera, who served as its artistic director from 1999 to 2001 and Barbera is looking to reshape the event by putting it on a diet. “At a certain point, says Barbera, 62, who immediately began streamlining the proceedings, it was bigger than it needed to be”.
Some already are applauding Venice’s new look. Gianni Amelio, director of the Turin Film Festival and the most recent Italian to win Venice’s coveted Golden Lion for best film with the drama Così Ridevano (The Way We Laughed) in 1998, says the films selected during Mueller’s regime were often of high quality but that their sheer number was overwhelming. “It was like being at a delicious buffet, where there is so much choice that you can’t possibly try all and leave feeling you missed something”.
Eataly, the fifty-thousand square-foot food emporium dedicated to Italian food and wine, located at (the old Toy Building) 200 5th Ave, New York, 10010 (tel. 212-229-2560), is open every day and worth a visit on your next visit to the “Big Apple”. The project is the brain-child of Oscar Farinetti, a successful Italian businessman, who after selling his big-box consumer electronics (stereos, washers, dryers, air conditioners, etc.) stores in Italy to a big conglomerate for millions, decided to invest and indulge his Piemontese passion for good food and wine, by buying wineries, cheese producers, mineral-water companies and other Italian fine food producers and then opening the first Eataly in Torino, in an old Fiat Factory.
After Eataly’s success in Italy and even Japan, Oscar Farinetti pitched the idea of an Eataly across the Atlantic, in New-York City to Joe Bastianich, who in 1993 opened his first restaurant with his mother, Lidia and his partner Mario Batali, who have since established some of New York’s most celebrated restaurants, including Babbo del Posto, Lupa as well as restaurants in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. After the trio agreed on the project, a year and a half later in 2010 Eataly opened, with New York’s Mayor Bloomberg cutting the pasta ribbon and in the first couple of months, twenty thousand people a day by head counts were waiting to get in.  Eataly is like a giant grocery store where every department has its own single-themed restaurant. The vegetable department has a vegan restaurant and there is no pasta in the fish restaurant, it is all fish. For the sweet-tooth there is a dessert bar with great gelato, a steak house called Manzo, two espresso bars and much more, including a marketplace with books and housewares for sale. Visit their website www. for more info.
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Figghiu Beddu (Sicilian dialect for beautiful son) is the title of Alfred Zappala’s new book. Longtime readers with “roots” in the Italian Isle of Sicily will remember Signor Zappala as the founder of the bricks and mortar “All Things Sicilian” store and online source for all things Sicilian food products, back in 2000, some of which were deemed best in its category at the nation’s premier food event, the Fancy Food Show. Mr. Zappala, who holds a law degree, teaches at prominent law schools in Boston and is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Italy, is no longer “minding the store” but is now living for the most part near Acicatena, Sicily. In 2010, he wrote a book titled The Reverse Immigrant, and in 2011, Gaetano’s Truck – completing the circle.
He is still in touch with his fans in the U.S. and flies back to teach law and speak to groups about Sicily, its history, its culture and people. I’ve read all of Alfred Zappala’s book, which are humorous but “molto” informative too. Order Figghiu Beddu now as it is due for release November 30th. Price is $20. Send a Check to: Alfred Zappala, PO Box 1632, Lawrence, MA 01842 or online at Figghiu_beddu.html
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Gino Federici has a fantastic voice and his CDs are the ones that always accompany me when I go on any trips outside the city. In 2004, I first heard Gino’s music played over the speakers at Gitty Joons, a small boutique on Union Street, in San Francisco where the owner was a fan. She had two of his CDs Serenata and Italy Swings with such songs as, More, Baciami, Nel blu dipinto di blu, and Quando Quando for sale. When she told me Gino was performing live in Las Vegas I searched the Vegas Entertainment guide on my next visit and attended his live performance at Harrah’s where amazingly his voice sounded even better.
We stayed in touch, via his website, after the economic downturn caused Gino to leave Las Vegas. Recently, I learned Gino was auditioning for “The Voice” television program. It didn’t come to pass, but let me share some info with you on Gino so that you can “meet” him too and hear his music on his or for more info. Gino (517) 231-5237. Gino Federici is Italian born and raised in Torino. A naturalized American citizen, he emigrated to the United States in 1974 and first set up residence in Seattle. Labeled by his fans as “soooo romantic… a voice like liquid gold… and a singer with soul emotions”, he brings a sensual and romantic touch to an international repertoire which he fluently delivers in Spanish, French and English, languages he learnt by leaving home at 18 to follow his studies in London, Paris and… around the world. 
When I inquired recently about his audition for “the Voice” he replied “No, they didn’t call me. But I applied for an audition for several reasons: 1) I wanted to release a single and believed my voice could stand on its own and it would have given me a boost on promotion.  2) Being 72 would have also given people tremendous confidence in themselves if they ever doubted their possibilities, in later years, had waned. The good news is that I have influenced many people by just applying.  3) I am now reentering show business with a new band and began by helping raise funds in Michigan, where I live now, for cancer awareness at a recent Grand Gala affair. “Keep enjoying life. 
It’s worth every breath”.  Don’t ever give up. Just keep showing up.  Gino Federici is a singer/songwriter, author, speaker, and a 23 year veteran-performer of top Las Vegas venues. 
He performs with the Lansing Community College’s 18 piece jazz band while working on his third full-length CD. His music can be heard on major TV shows and purchased on iTunes worldwide as well as at  and http://
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