Chicagoland Italian American Professionals Presents: 1st Annual Bracciole Festival


1st Annual Bracciole Festival

The Chicagoland Italian American Professionals ( presents the 1st annual Bracciole event held in the Chandelier room at Casa Italia in Stone Park on March 24th from 2pm to 5pm. Home cooks are going to present their version of the famous Italian bracciole for attendees to sample and judge. Prizes awarded to the best bracciole and to the attendees. Home cooks interested in participating should call Salvatore, the executive director, at 312.617.5031. Admission is $15 for members/$30 for non-members/free for the home cooks presenting their Bracciole.

Admission includes sampling of the bracciole, wine, pasta and salad. For tickets to the event, visit our website or pay cash at the door.

Attached pictures are from our 2nd annual Cuccidati event that was held at Casa Italia this past December.  There was over 15 home bakers that presented their Cuccidati, a Tribune staff reporter and there were over 120 attendees.

Don’t miss out on this wonderful event.  Purchase your ticket today for the 1st annual Bracciole festival.

Click here for tickets

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The St. Joseph Altar Tradition Continues at St. Ambrose Church on The Hill

Sunday, March 18, 2018, 8:00 am – 3:30 pm

Once again, this year, St. Ambrose Church on The Hill will celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph by setting the traditional St. Joseph Altar on Sunday, March 18, 2018. The St. Joseph Altar Committee has been very busy with all the preparations necessary for another successful altar.  The Committee has added several new people who have joined the St. Joseph Altar Committee. See photo below of the Committee. Sitting: Linda Traina, Anne Danter, Domenica Allen, Toni Pagano, Suzie Fragale, Loretta April. Standing: Louisa Cottone, Marie Wohlert, Vicki, Calcaterra, MaryAlice Neri, Becky Towers, Sue Favazza, Frances Regalia, Rosemary Parentin. The preparations for the St. Joseph Altar at St. Ambrose Church are astounding and the contributions of the committee, volunteers, businesses, and the community are most generous.

At its last meeting the Committee reviewed the schedule for the week leading up to March 18 and discussed all the activities that bring the altar to life. The committee has decided that this year’s altar will offer more of the most popular items that people ask for and sell those items at a more reasonable price. “We want everyone to be able to take home something from the altar,” said, Marie Wohlert, Co-Chairperson. Among the items being offered are arancini (rice balls), stuffed artichokes, breaded eggplant and plenty of cuccidatti (fig filling cookies), giuggiulena (sesame) cookies and pignolata (round dough balls deep fried and smothered in honey.  All these are traditional foods are prepared  for the Feast of St. Joseph in towns all across Italy. You will also find the traditional St. Joseph bread offered by several bakeries on The Hill. Of course, there will be plenty of baked goods donated by parishioners and friends.

Once again, there will be an altar set up in the school gym, as well as the main altar in the school cafeteria. “We hope this will accommodate the popularity of this event,” said MaryAlice Neri, Co-Chairperson. There will be food served in the gym and the cafeteria. Last year this event served lunch to over 500 people. Admission is free but a freewill donation is asked when going through the food line.

As you may know, Monsignor Polizzi started the Altar in 1971. He wanted to make sure that the tradition of setting up an altar to honor St. Joseph on his feast day would be preserved and continued. He decided the best way to do this would be to bring the celebration to the church.

Every year the committee honors a special group of people (or person), who have shown service and commitment to the parish and the community. This year’s honorees are The Past Chairpersons of the St. Joseph Altar. This year’s Co-Chairs, MaryAlice Neri and Marie Wohlert, have contacted all past Chairpersons (unfortunately, some have passed away over the years). This special group of women will be honored at the 11:00 mass on Sunday, March 18, 2018.

Before mass students from St. Ambrose will perform the Tupa Tupa (knock knock) play, which depicts the Holy Family searching for a place to stay. After mass, Monsignor Bommarito will lead a procession carrying a statue of St. Joseph and followed by The Honorees and guests to the school cafeteria. He will bless the Main Altar and the altar upstairs in the gym. All guests are welcomed to the food line (cafeteria and gym) after 12:30 pm and sample the many items donated by local restaurants and chefs (freewill donation accepted).

Guests will have plenty of time to purchase the items on the Altars. All proceeds from the St. Joseph Altar are donated to St. Ambrose School for tuition assistance for children in need.

Many volunteers are needed to make this event come to life, during the preparation week and the day of the event. Please look in the church bulletin for volunteer information for the St Joseph Altar. If you are interested in helping out, please contact:  Loretta April at 314-550-4059. Thank you for considering to help with this wonderful annual tradition at St. Ambrose Church.

The Committee encourages donations from local restaurants and businesses to be shared with guests attending the event.  If you know of a food service business who would like to donate a bowl of salad, pan of pasta, tray of sandwiches, or any other food items, please contact Loretta April at 314-550-4059.

Any individual who would like to donate baked goods or other homemade items to the St. Joseph Altar, bring your donation to the St. Ambrose school cafeteria on Saturday, March 17, 2018, between 9:00 am – 3:00 pm.

St. Ambrose Parish and The St. Joseph Altar Committee look forward to sharing this wonderful tradition with the community. All are welcome to another successful St. Joseph Altar on March 18, 2018.

Loretta Vitale April

St. Joseph Altar Committee Member

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Mussolini movie shines spotlight on far-right populist appeal in Italy

In the movie Sono Tornato, Mussolini explores modern-day Italy and gets a chance on a TV show to lecture the people.
In the movie Sono Tornato, Mussolini explores modern-day Italy and gets a chance on a TV show to lecture the people.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A stout man in military uniform wakes up in a playground in Rome and is perturbed to see many dark-skinned children.

“We’re under invasion,” he mutters, before brushing the dust off his uniform and walking away. He keeps walking, never turning left, but stops when he sees the date on a newspaper – April 2017.

He faints.

For the man is none other than Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and he is not supposed to be alive, having been killed in 1945 by freedom fighters.

But Mussolini is back – at least in the movie Sono Tornato (I’m Back).

The third-highest grossing movie during its opening weekend early this month, it has raised questions about Italians’ tendency to forget the lessons of history and the enduring appeal of right-wing politicians in the country.

The movie comes as Italy gears up for a general election on March 4 to appoint its 65th government since the fall of fascism. Questions about the appeal of Mussolini and right-wing parties are especially relevant now, with anti-immigration and far-right populist parties looking likely to come to power.

The centrist Democratic Party of Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni is trailing a centre-right coalition led by media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi and a populist party called the Five Star Movement in the polls.

Unlike the Germans, who have done much soul-searching about the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, Italians have not reflected as deeply on the rise of Mussolini.

While the dictator remains a taboo subject, Italians view him with a mix of guilt and nostalgia.

They recognise that Mussolini’s regime was a repressive one that persecuted Jews and its political enemies, but some also credit him for laying the foundations for Italy’s modern welfare state.

Mussolini was said to have contributed to the establishment of pension funds, trade unions and state oil companies, and also ordered that land be given to farmers and World War I refugees.

The movie has generally garnered positive reviews, with independent film critic Gabriele Niola praising it for shedding light on rising anti-migrant populism in Italy.

Still, a movie about Mussolini is not without controversy. The fact that it was released on Feb 1, a few days after the Holocaust Memorial Day celebrations, also triggered criticism.

At a press conference in Rome, the movie’s director Luca Miniero said: “The idea that Mussolini returns is scary because we all know Italians have become populists, thanks to the media”.

In the movie, Mussolini explores modern-day Italy and gets a chance on a TV show to lecture the people: “You Italians are a people without memory,” he says. “When I left, you were illiterate. Now I come back and I still find you illiterate, paralysed in front of your mobile phones and TV screens, dazed and full of terror. Italy is falling into a precipice, and you need a WhatsApp alert message to notice this?”

Miniero also wanted to highlight that Italians had a part to play in enabling the rise of Mussolini.

“The soft, nostalgic feelings expressed by people in the movie towards his coming back reveal a disquieting moral heritage: That Mussolini is one of us,” he said.

In the movie, people line up to shoot selfies with the tyrant, laughing and saluting him in the traditional fascist right-arm-raised style.

Mussolini, who aims to rebuild his empire, asks bartenders, butchers and farmers: “Do you think tyranny is good, would you like it again?”

Many reply: “Yes.”

“I haven’t created fascism. I just borrowed it from the conscience of Italians,” says Mussolini.

In fact, fascism is not quite dead in the country – a splinter of the defunct fascist party Fratelli d’Italia will run in the centre-right coalition led by Mr Berlusconi.

The movie has struck a chord too for its frank dissection of the problems plaguing Italy, whose youth unemployment rates are above the European average and where old people outnumber newborn babies.

Mrs Rosi Scrulli, 60, a pensioner living in Rome, found it balanced. “The film is funny when it makes fun of the tyrant, but at the same time also very serious when it depicts the decline of Italian society.”

Indeed, in the movie, Mussolini gets angry with his admirers and admonishes them: “We are still at war, and you don’t even see it. Our enemies are our high unemployment, poverty, low birth rates. Yet the biggest ambition for young people is to become chefs.”

Some politicians have warned Italians against forgetting the lessons of history. During the recent Holocaust Memorial Day, Ms Anna Finocchiaro, Minister for Relations with Parliament, said it was important to remember the Holocaust.

The Democratic Party politician also sounded a warning against electoral “fascist revivals”, saying “without memory there is no future”.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2018, with the headline ‘Mussolini movie shines spotlight on far-right populist appeal in Italy’. Print Edition | Subscribe
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