The very best that Italian American Heritage Month has to offer in L.A.

The Italian Heritage Month's celebration in Los Angeles is very rich and sure to satisfy every appetite, culinary, artistic and cultural

The Italian Heritage Month's celebration in Los Angeles is very rich and sure to satisfy every appetite, culinary, artistic and cultural

The Great Seal of the United States declares “out of many, one.” That reminds us that this nation wouldn’t exist, without the merge of people coming from different countries. 

Every year, the President of the United States declares October as Italian American Heritage and Culture Month. 

It’s essential to preserve the legacy of courage, hard work and magnanimity, passed by the first Italian immigrants on to the following generations of Italian-Americans. 

Browsing the calendar of upcoming events to be held at the White House, my attention is caught by South By South Lawn, a festival of innovations aimed at improving our world.

On October 3rd, President Obama is scheduled to discuss about climate changes with 2016 Academy Award recipient for Best Actor, Leonardo DiCaprio.

The latter, aside from his celebrated talent in acting, is a longstanding activist and founder in 1998 of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation for biodiversity, habitat conservation, and climate change solutions.

Leonardo is certainly not an isolated case. On the contrary, he is in a very good company, because like him lots of Italian-Americans, still too often stereotyped, have a more profound worth as human beings, actively making their part to better our world.

However, people have a hard time looking beyond the surface. 

Consul General of Italy, Antonio Verde. Photo Courtesy of A. Verde

Consul General of Italy, Antonio Verde. Photo by J. Bastos

As the Consul General of Italy in Los Angeles, Antonio Verde, rightly said: “Personally, I do not like rhetoric. But, when it comes to our community, the attributes of selflessness and generosity are far from empty words. The solidarity demonstrated within our community, in the aftermath of the recent devastating earthquake in central Italy, talks by itself. I wish you all to celebrate in the company of your family, and of the special members of our community, the Italian-American Heritage Month and all the events organized in this framework by, among others, our “Team Italy / Sistema Italia” (the group that, together with the Consulate General, includes also the Italian Cultural Institute, the Italian Trade Agency-ICE, the Italian Tourist Agency-ENIT and the Italian American Chamber of Commerce West-IACCW).

The Italian American Heritage Month shall serve as an eye-opener towards the Italian-American contributions to our society. 

No doubt, the Italian Heritage Month’s celebration in Los Angeles is very rich and sure to satisfy every appetite, culinary, artistic, and cultural.

Kick-off on the calendar is the eight-annual Taste of Italy, real food and wine extravaganza, to be held on Saturday, October 1st from 5 to 10 pm, in historic Little Italy, adjacent to the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles (IAMLA). 

Here is a personal invitation to all our readers from IAMLA Director, Marianna Gatto: “We invite everyone to our fantastic ‘Taste of Italy.’ The event features dozens of the region’s great Italian restaurants, nearly 75 wonderful Italian and Californian-Italian wines, live entertainment by LA Opera, the Jasmine Tommaso Trio featuring Giovanni Tommaso, and much more. It takes place in historic Little Italy with Los Angeles’ most historic buildings as a backdrop. 

The event benefits the IAMLA, and provides attendees a glimpse of the diverse cuisine of Italy’s various regions, as well as its wines and other products, and the cuisine of the Italian American diaspora. L'Italo-Americano readers can use the codes ITALO5 and ITALO20 at check out for $5 or $20 off tickets. It's a great way to inaugurate Italian Heritage Month!

Trade Commissioner at the Italian Trade Commission (ICE) in L.A., Florindo Blandolino

Of the same opinion is Trade Commissioner at the Italian Trade Commission (ICE) in L.A., Florindo Blandolino, who also highlights how there is still room for a wider promotion in the US of less known aspects of Italian identity: “‘Taste of Italy’ is the event I like most, and would advise anyone not to miss this fantastic culinary marathon. 

I am convinced that our fantastic, multi-faceted country is still relatively unknown in the States. I believe there is room for new events, particularly in those sectors that possibly define the essence of Italy today better than food and fashion. 

Not many people know that our export to the States is primarily made of machinery (robotics) and pharmaceutical products, and there would be many unexpected features of our production that could perhaps be of some interest to the Italian-American community.”

If you ate and drink with moderation during Taste of Italy, and you still feel ready to fill up your stomach in the best tradition of ancient Romans, you don’t want to miss the “en plein air” feast, starting from 5:30 pm on October 2nd at the Barnsdall Art Park, that precedes the screening of Fellini’s classic, Satyricon

As far as gastronomic events, another exceptional one not to be missed is going to feature stellar Chef Mario Batali, who - in occasion of the release of his, Big American Cookbook, with over 250 recipes representing the best of American regional cooking - is going to pour out his life and career as one of the most mouthwatering chefs across the world. 

The conversation, organized by Pasadena’s Vroman’s - Southern California’s oldest independent bookstore - and moderated by former L.A. Times food editor and columnist, Russ Parsons, is going to be held at the Pasadena Presbyterian Church, on October 26th, from 7 to 9:30 pm. 

Under the cultural umbrella of initiatives, there is plenty to attend to. 

As highlighted by Director of Italian Cultural Institute in L.A. (IIC), Valeria Rumori: “In particular, we would like to highlight the art opening at the IIC on October 6th, ‘Unknown Monk’ by Alex Folla and Elena Trailina, organized by the IIC in collaboration with the J. Paul Getty Museum. The exhibit is on display at the IIC until November 11th

Their work features the same gold leaf techniques as used by 15th century painter Giovanni di Paolo. Simultaneously, one of Di Paolo’s newly restored altar pieces will be on display at the Getty Center with the exhibit, ‘The Shimmer of Gold: Giovanni di Paolo in Renaissance Siena’ (on display from October 7th to January 8th).

On October 15th, the two artists, Alex and Elena, will also be holding a special interactive workshop, illustrating the analogies between realizing a fresco and making a pizza. 

The ‘16th Week of Italian Language in the World’ with the theme of Italian and Creativity: Brands and Traditions, Fashion and Design, will be held from October 17th to 23rd and will include multiple events, including the just mentioned workshop by Folla and Trailina, as well as a fashion lecture by Dennita Sewell, Fashion Curator at the Phoenix Art Museum, and a celebration of the 500th anniversary of the publication of Ludovico Ariosto’s ‘Orlando Furioso’, with a special performance by Italian theatrical/musical company, ‘Il Ruggiero.’”  

In addition to the awesome initiatives recommended by the IIC, here are other very interesting events.

On October 13th at 7 pm, at the Hollywood’s bookstore Book Soup, the four authors of Crime + Music: Twenty Stories of Music-themed Noir, will discuss and sign their new collection of sinister short tales that tap into the realm of rock and pop history.

Among them, Jim Fusilli - rock and pop music critic of The Wall Street Journal - is the author of Boy Wonder, set in the world of contemporary electronic dance music. 

On the same evening, from 8 to 9.30 pm at the Last Bookstore in Downtown LA, there is another musical-themed meeting with singer/songwriter and musician, Emily Lembo.

Judging by its name, Illicit Ghost, her indie/electronic projected is announced to be “chilling.” 

For the ones among you who can’t wait to celebrate Halloween, on October 19th, from 7 to 8:30 pm at the same location, “An Evening with Horror Screenwriters” - featuring The Grudge and its sequel, The Grudge 2’s writer Stephen Susco, among others – is no doubt going to be “bone-chilling.”

At the above mentioned, Vroman’s bookstore on October 17th at 7 pm – you’ll meet with satirical cartoonist, Dan Piraro, creator of Bizarro, a single-panel cartoon, that since January 22nd, 1985, appears daily in 350 markets throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia. 

The author is going to discuss and sign his latest coloring book for adults, Bizarro Land and other Creative Haven, which apparently works great as a remedy to our daily stress. 

For the ones among you who are more into astronomy and stargazing, you don’t want to miss a conversation with former NASA astronaut, Mike Massimino, in occasion of his new memoir, Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe - on the same evening, but different location (Skylight Books, bookstore in Los Feliz area, starting at 7:30 pm).

If you’d rather spend a couple of hours learning something new in a more academic setting, at least these two lectures are not to be missed.

On October 18th, at Dodd Hall 275 (UCLA’s campus), from 5:30 to 7 pm,  Dr. Massimo Rospocher, Research Fellow at UCLA’s Institute for Italian and German Historical Studies, will examine the historical figure of Pope Julius II, in a lecture, titled Julius II: the Warrior Pope Between Celebration and Condemnation

On October 27th , starting at 7:30 pm in occasion of a cycle of archeological lectures at the Getty Center, Alessia Amenta, curator and director of the Vatican Mummy Project will share recent scientific discoveries revealing a new interpretation of two small mummies in the Vatican Museums’ Egyptian collection.

These items, called “pseudo-mummies,” due to their unusual appearance, were believed to enclose the remains of either small children or animals. Is that really so?

If you’re more the type of persons who thrive on the energy of live music performances, here are a few suggestions. 

Turin-born pianist and composer, Ludovico Einaudi, with his unique musical alchemy that draws on elements of classical, rock, electronica and world music, is going to perform in occasion of the release of his new album, Elements, on October 8th at 8 pm, at UCLA’s Royce Hall Auditorium. 

For pop music lovers, Italian singer/songwriter Max Gazzè and Italian rock band Negrita are going to perform in occasion of the annual tour HitWeek, at the West Hollywood’s club, Whisky a Go Go, respectively on October 16th and October 24th, with the same formula: door opens at 7:30 pm and show starts at 9 pm. 

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