The Abruzzo and Molise Heritage Society of the Washington, D.C. area was established in June 2000 by a small group of Abruzzesi and Molisani (natives and descendants of immigrants) who eventually settled in the Washington, D.C. area.
Although the community of Italians and Italian-Americans in the Washington D.C. area is rather modest, it has a relatively large number of Abruzzesi and Molisani who recognized the need to foster the cultural heritage of these two regions specifically, as well as Italy broadly.
The Society welcomes anyone who has an interest in preserving and sharing in the rich traditions and values that are unique to Abruzzo, Molise, and to Italy in general to join!
Canzano-By Nancy DeSanti Province of Teramo, Region of Abruzzo The beautiful small town of Canzano in the province of Teramo has approximately 1,861 inhabitants, known as Canzanesi. It is renowned as one of the centers of traditional Abruzzese cuisine.Canzano is located on a group of hills in the northern Vomano valley in a strategic position which explains the importance of this nowadays small center. Historians have determined that the territory was inhabited in prehistoric times, and neolithic arrows have been found in the vicinity. During the Iron Age, it was settled by the ancient Italic tribe of Praetutii and later by the Romans. The town of Canzano is located on a hill from which one can admire a striking view of the valley below and the chain of the Gran Sasso mountains. The built-up area is made up of noble palaces, 16th century houses, valuable churches, and still very visible remains of the ancient city walls, from which a well-preserved tower stands out. Very striking is a dense network of caves that are true and proper “cold rooms” once used to collect rainwater and to conserve foodstuffs. On the Colle Castellano, there stands the splendid baroque church of the Madonna dell’Alno where, according to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared three times to a peasant. On the place of the first apparition, there stands the small church of the “Forgiveness.” In the Romanesque church of San Salvatore, beautiful frescoes from the 14th century are preserved. Canzano is famous for its handmade production of lace and embroidery– traditions handed down by the women of the town with passion and patience. The town is probably most famous for a traditional recipe passed from generation to generation–the famous “Canzanese turkey” (tacchino alla canzanese). This delicious jelly dish, served with a side of pickles, was almost a casual discovery. The local people realized that turkey broth prepared in the morning became gelatinous towards evening, thus incredibly enhancing the flavor of the meat. The recipe strictly requires the female turkey because its tender meat is more suitable for oven cooking. Consolidated over time, the ancient recipe is the undisputed favorite of the restaurant La Tacchinella. With now four generations in command, family owners have been running it since 1970. But it is eight meters (26.25 feet) below the restaurant where an ancient wonder dating back to about the year 1100 A.D. can be found — the so-called neviera (ice house). The ice house is an old structure for natural refrigeration, by which meat was once stored using snow. After pressing the snow into straw, which insulated the snow, the result of a combination of snow and straw was then placed inside niches to lower the temperature and to obtain a true and proper cold room. While the air continued to circulate, the temperature was able to go down to zero degrees in winter. When spring arrived, the melted snow was then filtered and held aside as clean water for domestic use, without any waste. This thousand-year-old invention was brought to Canzano by the Saracens, as portrayed in the emblem of the town, and it represents a living testimony of ancient technology. Today, besides being a wine cellar, the ice house is an enchanted place where visitors can enjoy an exclusive candlelit dinner, eight meters under the ground and a thousand years back in time. What to See Important Dates Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canzanohttps://www.italyheritage.com/regions/abruzzo/teramo/canzano.htmhttps://www.eurcamping.it/en/excursions/canzanos-ice-house-a-journey-back-in-timehttps://www.discoverteramo.it/en/Location/Canzano/180-15-1.html Italiano Tradotto da Ennio Di Tullio Provincia di Teramo, Regione Abruzzo La bellissima cittadina di Canzano nella provincia di Teramo ha circa 1.861 abitanti, detti Canzanesi. È rinomato come uno dei centri della cucina tradizionale abruzzese. Canzano è situato su un gruppo di colline nel nord valle del Vomano in una posizione strategica che spiega l’importanza di questo piccolo centro oggi. Gli storici hanno stabilito che il territorio era abitato in epoca preistorica e nelle vicinanze sono state rinvenute frecce neolitiche. Durante l’età del ferro, fu colonizzato dall’antica tribù italica dei Praetutii e successivamente dai Romani. Il comune di Canzano è situato su un colle dal quale si può ammirare un suggestivo panorama sulla valle sottostante e sulla catena del Gran Sasso montagne. L’abitato è costituito da palazzi nobiliari, case cinquecentesche, chiese di pregio, e resti ancora ben visibili dell’antica cinta muraria, da cui svetta una torre ben conservata. Molto suggestiva è la fitta rete di grotte che sono vere e proprie “celle frigorifere” un tempo utilizzate per raccogliere l’acqua piovana e conservare le derrate alimentari. Sul Colle Castellano ci sorge la splendida chiesa barocca della Madonna dell’Alno dove, secondo la leggenda, la Vergine Maria apparve tre volte ad un contadino. Sul luogo della prima apparizione, ci sorge la piccola chiesa del “Perdono”. Nella chiesa romanica di San Salvatore, ci sono conservati bellissimi affreschi del XIV secolo. Canzano è famosa per la produzione artigianale di pizzi e ricami, tradizioni tramandate dalle donne del paese con passione e pazienza. La comune è probabilmente famosa soprattutto per una ricetta tradizionale tramandata da generazione a generazione: il famoso “tacchino alla canzanese” (canzanese turkey). Questa deliziosa gelatina, servita con un contorno di sottaceti, è stata quasi una scoperta casuale. La gente del posto si accorse che il brodo di tacchino preparato al mattino divenava gelatinoso verso la sera, così esaltava incredibilmente il sapore della carne. La ricetta richiede rigorosamente la femmina di tacchino perché la sua carne tenera è più adatta alla cottura al forno. Consolidata nel tempo, l’antica ricetta è la preferita indiscussa del ristorante La Tacchinella. Con ormai quattro generazioni al comando, la famiglia proprietaria lo gestisce dal 1970. Ma è otto metri (26.25 piedi) sotto il ristorante che si nasconde un’antica meraviglia risalente al 1100 D.C.: la cosiddetta neviera (ghiacciaia). La ghiacciaia è una antica struttura per refrigerazione naturale, dove un tempo la carne veniva conservata utilizzando la neve. Dopo averlo pressato la neve nella paglia, che isolava la neve, la risulta di una combinazione di neve e paglia veniva poi riposto all’interno di nicchie per abbassare la temperatura e ottenere una vera e propria cella frigorifera. Mentre l’aria continuava a circolare, la temperatura poteva scendere fino a zero gradi in inverno. Quando la primavera arrivava, la neve sciolta veniva poi filtrata e tenuta da parte como aqua polita per l’uso domestico, senza alcuno spreco. Questa invenzione millenaria fu portata a Canzano dai Saraceni, come raffigurato nello stemma del comune, e rappresenta una testimonianza vivente di antica tecnologia. Oggi, oltre ad essere una cantina, la ghiacciaia è un luogo incantato dove i visitatori possono godersi un’esclusiva cena a lume di candela, otto metri sotto la terra e mille anni indietro nel tempo. Attrazioni del luogo: Date da ricordare: Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castel_di_Sangrohttps://www.italyreview.com/castel-di-sangro.htmlhttps://www.gentlemanultra.com/2015/04/07/from-miracle-to-disappearance-what-happened-to-castel-di-sangro/ https://www.afar.com/magazine/italys-new-alt-stazione-rest-stops-serve-michelin-cred-food
A Gem of a Wine from Abruzzo-AMHS Secretary Joseph “Sonny” Scafetta, Jr. obtained permission to reprint this article from the publication Fra Noi. Sonny has three cousins in Abruzzo who grow the grapes mentioned in the article. March 2024
Nazzareno De Angelis: International Opera Star of the First Third of the 20th Century-By Joseph “Sonny” Scafetta, Jr. Accomplished opera singer Nazzareno De Angelis was born on November 17, 1881, in the city of L’Aquila (population 70,967 in the 2013 Census) which is the capital of the province with the same name in the region of Abruzzo. His first serious exposure to music came in local choirs as a boy soprano. Earning praise for the excellence of his voice, he became a part of the choir of the Giulia Chapel and later the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. He left the Vatican at the age of 13 to begin studying with Dr. Faberi at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. For several years, he studied both baritone and bass parts. Eventually, he settled on singing in the lower bass. He spent his last two years at the Accademia developing his repertoire and performing in recitals. He returned home to L’Aquila at the age of 21 and made his professional opera debut there at the Comunale in May, 1903, in Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix as the Prefect. One month later, he performed at the same theater in another opera, Le Educante di Sorrento, by Emilio Usiglio. Impressed by his performances, the manager of the Teatro Quirino in Rome engaged De Angelis to play Oroveso in Bellini’s Norma in July, 1903. Later that year, he appeared in two productions in the Teatro Adriano: first, as Il Spettro (The Ghost) in Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet and then as Sparafucile in Verdi’s Rigoletto. During 1905, De Angelis toured the Netherlands. After the tour, he was invited to all the major opera houses in Italy. He made his debut at La Scala in 1907 and appeared often under the baton of its principal conductor, Arturo Toscanini. He cut his first audio discs in 1907 and 1908 for Fonotipia Records. In 1909, he sang at the Paris Opera as the High Priest in Spontini’s La Vestale. During 1910 and 1911, he sang for the Chicago Grand Opera. For the season of 1911-1912, he sang a series of acclaimed roles at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. In 1913, he returned to La Scala to sing the role of Archibaldo in Montemezzi’s L’amore dei Tre Re (The Love of the Three Kings). When Italy entered World War I in May, 1915, the draft eligible 33-year-old bachelor De Angelis moved to the Chicago Opera Association and stayed there until 1920. He then returned to Italy and made a sequence of tours throughout Europe. In 1931, he recorded Boito’s Mefistofele in Milan for the Italian label of Columbia Records. It is the only role that he recorded in its entirety. He retired from the opera stage in 1939 at age 58 and thereafter provided voice lessons to pupils in Milan and Rome, where he died on December 14, 1962, at age 81. During his 36-year career, De Angelis appeared on stage more than 1,500 times, performing roles in 57 different operas. He was especially celebrated for his powerful portrayal of the title role in Mefistofele which he sang about 500 times between 1906 and 1938. He was also admired for his portrayals of Creon in Cherubini’s Medea and Moses in Mosè in Egitto. Selections from his recorded output, consisting mainly of arias and duets by Verdi, Rossini, Boito, Wagner, Puccini, Meyerbeer, Halévy, Thomas, Gounod, and Weber, have been issued by Preiser Records on two separate CDs, i.e. #89042 and #89507. His complete Mefistofele was re-issued on CD by Naxos Records in 2003 as #8.110273-74. Sources, both accessed March 14, 2021:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazzareno_De_Angelishttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L’Aquila March 2024
AMHS SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS: WHERE ARE THEY NOW?-Julia Paola is in Italy! By Maria D’Andrea-Yothers Julia Paola, winner of the AMHS Scholarship in 2019 and currently a director on the AMHS board, departed for Torino in 2022 to obtain her Italian citizenship, which she did, in 2023. In November 2023, she passed an Italian fluency exam with a C1 “Advanced/Native” level fluency. She is currently studying at the Università degli Studi di Torino, pursuing a master’s degree in Area and Global Studies for International Cooperation, which she hopes to complete in 2025. As an AMHS scholarship winner, Julia became an honorary Society member and served as an intern. She has remained involved with the Society and supporting events while living in Italy. Julia is originally from Annapolis and graduated in the Spring of 2022 from the George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs and Political Science with a concentration in International Politics for Europe and Eurasia. She also had a minor in Italian Literature and Language and served as the president of GWU’s Societa‘ di Cultura Italiana from May 2020 until she graduated. Her paternal grandparents are Piemontesi and Calabresi. She has been fortunate to visit her family in Torino and study abroad in Siena. During the 2020-2021 school year, she worked as a teaching aid for Italian virtually at her former high school. After earning her master’s degree, Julia hopes to remain in Italy or Europe to work with refugees, teach Italian or English, or help others with Italian heritage to pursue their own Italian citizenship. She also hopes to write a guide for how to obtain one’s citizenship by applying directly in Italy as it was an invaluable experience for her and unlocked many potential opportunities.Auguri Julia! March 2024
A Message from the President-Dear members and friends: I am excited to share with you some Society updates as we move into the new year. First, you will notice a change in the format of our notiziario. We will be moving away from the every other month format to a rolling format. We will send shorter, more frequent notices to the community closer to when events and programs are happening. What this means is that you will receive more frequent and more timely information. The message from the president will be sent quarterly in the future. Secondly, something I have been very interested in doing is reaching out and cooperating more with other Italian organizations in our area. We are successfully fostering our relationship with the Italian Cultural Society and will be sharing some of their events with our members. To highlight two in particular, we will be joining them on a tour of the National Gallery of Art and most excitingly we are being offered discounted admission to their Savoring Italy Abruzzo discussion with food and wine pairing. Thirdly, we are interested in soliciting any feedback from members on improvements they would like to see to the Society. This could be things that we used to do that you would like to see come back or entirely new ideas. We have several new ideas on the horizon that we are working on. We will also soon be looking to amend the bylaws of the Society to make the organization more dynamic and efficient. You will hear more about this process in the future. If there are any ideas regarding the bylaws or other matters, please reach out to me at email@example.com. We also have many interesting virtual and in person events and activities on the horizon. Please visit our events calendar to be in the know and keep your eye on your email for further communications: https://www.abruzzomoliseheritagesociety.org/mission/events/#!calendar. Best regards,Chris Renneker March 2024
Expert Discusses Evolution of Roman Coins, Officers Installed At First Meeting of 2024-By Nancy DeSanti, 1st Vice President—Programs Dating from 44 B.C., this Julius Caesar coin, minted while he was still alive, helped seal the Roman leader’s fate.Credit: Courtesy of Michael C. Markowitz For the first AMHS program of the new year, members were treated to a very informative and entertaining talk, “Show Me the Money!” at Casa Italiana on January 28, 2024. The speaker, Michael C. Markowitz, is an expert on Roman coins. He told us all about the evolution of Roman coins from lumps of metal in 300 B.C. to gold Imperial coins by 476 A.D. It was a good way to fight off the winter blues, have a fun afternoon of camaraderie, and get a history lesson, all at the same time. Mike, who gave us a virtual talk last July, was born in New York City. His mother’s side of the family is Italian (Neapolitan), while his father’s ancestors emigrated from Ukraine to Romania. Mike attended the University of Rochester, then the University of California, Irvine. He worked for many years in the aerospace industry in southern California before moving in 1991 to northern Virginia where he is a senior research specialist for the Center for Naval Analyses. He is a contributing writer on ancient and medieval coins for CoinWeek.com and a member of the American Numismatic Society and the Ancient Numismatic Society of Washington, D.C. He also serves on the vice president of the Fairfax Coin Club. Mike said that one of his most memorable times was spending an afternoon inside the coin vault of the archaeological museum in Siracusa, Sicily. As Mike explained, coins were a Greek invention that the Romans borrowed. The gold, silver, and bronze coins resembled the Olympic medals. The process of minting the coins involved a hot furnace, so workers wore caps to keep their hair from catching on fire from sparks. Since most Romans could not read, the symbols on the coins were a form of official communication. During Rome’s long history, Mike noted, billions of coins were struck in thousands of types, and millions of them survive today. Mike advised anyone interested in collecting Roman coins to “buy the book before you buy the coin,” to avoid getting scammed. He displayed on a nearby table some of his collection of coins and books which he referred to during his talk. Michael C. Markowitz He explained how coinage in the Roman economy went through cycles of debasement, inflation, and currency reform. One of the most interesting coins Mike showed during his Power Point presentation was a Sestertius of Emperor Titus, with its detailed depiction of the Colosseum. It sold for a whopping $409,395 in April 2011. Interestingly, Roman coin designs influenced classic American coinage. For example, the image on the U.S. winged Liberty dime, which was minted from 1916 to 1945, was sometimes confused with the Roman god Mercury who wore a winged helmet. Hence, the American dime with the winged Liberty head on the front was commonly but erroneously called the Mercury dime.One fascinating historical fact Mike told us about was the Julius Caesar coin, probably the most famous Roman coin, which got him killed. No living person was ever depicted on Roman coins until Julius Caesar had a coin minted with his profile on the front. However, on the back, the coin had the Latin abbreviation DICT PERPETVO (“dictator in perpetuity”). The coins were minted for less than two months from early February to mid-March, 44 B.C., because Caesar’s brazenness so alarmed some of the conservative senators of the Republic that they assassinated him in the Senate on the Ides of March. We also learned that one of the principal uses of the coins was to pay the army. Since there were no banks in those days, the payroll master would often put the coins in a terracotta clay pot and bury the clay pot underground in a field or an unused area. Of course, if the payroll master died in battle or from the plague or another disease, the clay pots would remain hidden. So, even recently, these pots filled with coins have been discovered by accident across areas of the former Roman Empire, including Great Britain, Spain, and Italy. Many thanks to AMHS Secretary Sonny Scafetta for suggesting the speaker, to Maria Marigliano for her technical assistance, to Peter Bell for handling the logistics of organizing the lunch which was catered by A. Litteri, to Julie Finigan Dal Forno for assisting with the raffle, and to all those members who donated prizes and bought tickets. March 2024
AMHS Elects New Officers and Board Members-At its general meeting on November 19, 2023, members of the Abruzzo Molise Heritage Society of the Washington, D.C. Area, elected a new slate of officers and Executive Board members.
The elected officers and board members assumed office on January 1, 2024, and will be installed at the general membership meeting to be held on January 28, 2024.
A Message from the President-I am very honored to have been elected to be the AMHS President. I want to start by thanking Ray LaVerghetta for his service as President and for the service of all the board members and officers whose terms ended January 1st. As a volunteer organization, we are only able to exist due to the generosity and immense talent of those who serve on the board and in officer positions. To recap our recent events, our annual wine tasting was on November 19th. As long-term members we now have been trying some different formats for this event and the most recent iteration was a tremendous success. The wine tasting was followed by our December holiday lunch at Osteria da Nino where we were treated to a delicious multi-course meal and great camaraderie. We were also reminded of the Monongah coal mining disaster, the anniversary of which was near to the date of our lunch. Lucio D’Andrea delivered a very informative short lesson on the importance of this event and the connection to our regions of focus. In the upcoming year, we have several great events and activities planned. We will be bringing back the virtual film discussion series on January 14th with Jim Toscano. We will be starting with a discussion about a documentary on the Malocchio (Evil Eye). Our first Sunday luncheon will take place on January 28th when ancient coin expert, Michael Markowitz, whose mother was Italian, will speak to us about the evolution of Roman coinage from lumps of metal in 300 B.C. to gold Imperial coins in 476 A.D. In February, our members will have a chance to visit the Kennedy Center for a performance by Italian-American comedian, Matteo Lane. Also in February, we will be having our first happy hour of the year. We will visit the recently opened and much acclaimed cocktail bar Grazie Mille (One Thousand Thanks). We also have a virtual genealogical event scheduled for March 10th. As we start the new year, I look forward to continuing the successes of the society and laying the foundation for AMHS to be successful well into the future. If there are any ideas or improvements that you would like to share, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. Best wishes for the new year!,Chris Renneker
Expert to Discuss Evolution of Roman Coinage-For the first AMHS program of the new year, members will be treated to an informative and entertaining talk, “Show Me the Money!” on January 28, 2024, at 1:30 p.m. The speaker, Michael Markowitz, is an expert on Roman coins. He will tell us all about the evolution of Roman coinage from lumps of metal in 300 B.C. to gold Imperial coins in 476 A.D.
WITH THANKS TO ROMEO SABATINI AND RYAN TURNER
The Society dedicates its website to Romeo Sabatini, who worked tirelessly for over 10 years developing and maintaining our original site; and to Ryan A. Turner who, in honor of his grandmother Rosemarie Antonelli Turner (whose father Frank emigrated from Abruzzo), gifted the Society with funds to develop this new site. The Society is grateful for Romeo’s time and for Ryan’s generosity, which bridge the past with the future for the benefit of all AMHS members and friends.