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The Italian American Podcast

Author: The Italian American Podcast

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The first and finest podcast for Italian Americans... delivering history, discussion, and connection with smarts, heart, and a lot of laughs. 🇮🇹🇺🇸
166 Episodes
As the air begins to chill, and the days grow shorter and shorter, it’s the perfect time of year to snuggle up with a good book— and if you love to read about your Italian American heritage and culture, Nicola Orichuia of Boston’s I AM Books is the man to help you pick the perfect page-turner! I AM Books is Boston’s first—and only—bookstore created specifically for the nation’s 25 million Italian Americans. Nicola is here to share the story of this unique creation, from its almost accidental birth to its status as Italian American landmark.  We’ll discuss his recent decision to wind down the brick-and-mortar location in the North End, and how this “strategic retreat” was only possible thanks to the growing online trade that IAM Books has begun to develop all over Italian America. Nicola tells us about his journey from his home in Rome to Chicago as a journalist working for Italian American publications, such as Fra Noi and his creation of the Bostoniano magazine before diving into Italian American cultural entrepreneurship. He also shares his dreams to help others explore the undiscovered writers of Italian Americana and how he wishes that his store continues to bridge between Italy and the United States. We discuss how migration changes the Italian story and how digging deeper into one’s roots helps strengthen authentic pride in where one comes from. And we share how the writing of Italian Americans helps offer a voice into a world that many Italians in Italy are unaware of. So put down your favorite book for just a second, and join us as share the story of a “shop around the corner” for Italian Americans everywhere!
Well Podcast fans, its time once again to turn our eyes to our beloved Motherland for the continuing drama that is Italian politics, as our cousins across the Atlantic are gearing up for the latest constitutional referendum facing voters in the Italian Republic --including those living abroad like the many Italian American dual citizens here in the United States.  On September 20-21, Italians will go to the polls (or vote by mail) to decide whether or not to approve a constitutional law that amends the Italian Constitution in various aspects, most notably reducing the number of Members of Parliament between the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate from a whopping 945 to just 600, cutting over 1/3 of the seats in both houses! As the vote has drawn closer and closer, many of our listeners who hold citizenship abroad have written us seeking some insight in to just what's at stake in this latest election, so in order to help listeners navigate the confusing waters of Italian politics, we asked Umberto Mucci, founder of We the Italians, to help explain what this referendum could mean to Italians everywhere and just how overseas representation could be affected. Umberto helps us understand the complications of Italian government, including the plethora of political parties and the different voting structures. We also talk about the pros and cons of this proposed referendum and how it could be the harbinger of significant political reform for il Bel Paese. We’ll also compare and contrast the Italian and American political systems and how each country’s governmental structure is affected by its own national culture. With American elections looming right around the corner in November, this week’s episode is one you most certainly won’t want to miss as you start to think about what makes a government work… and what doesn't!
As August begins to creep into September, families everywhere are preparing for winter by gathering together to partake in a much-loved Italian American tradition… gather the whole famiglia as we take your through the history and how-tos of the art of tomato jarring! This New World fruit has become the staple of Italian and Italian American cuisine and now with the tomato harvest happening, our team decided to celebrate “la pummarola” by sharing our stories, strategies and science about this beloved tradition. We explore the history of the tomato, from its origins in the Andes mountains to its arrival in Europe, why Europeans and Colonial Americans originally believed it to be a poisonous plant, and how it beat this unfortunate reputation to become the cornerstone of Italian cuisine! We’ll then examine the various jarring traditions and methods, whether adding sugar to tomatoes is an honored tradition or a culinary sin, and how we might all be making tomato paste if Napoleon had never invaded Russia. We’ll also share our own family jarring stories and secrets, and perhaps stumble onto the perfect event to bring everyone back together once social distancing is a thing of the past! Call it pummarola or pomodoro… "to-may-to" or "tom-ah-to"… or whichever name you prefer, this humble fruit has defined much of our Italian American culture, and this week’s episode will take you deeper than you’ve ever imagined in getting to know the blessing that is the tomato!
In this week’s episode of the Italian American Podcast, we're presenting part three of our “Conversations on Columbus” series exploring the life and legacy of Christopher Columbus, and this week we’re examining the major accusations which Columbus’ critics charge him with. We’ll begin with an examination of when and how Columbus’ reputation began to suffer, and just what caused a figure that was once considered essential to the American sense of identity to fall so far, so fast. From there, co-host John M. Viola will present segments from the dozens of interviews he’s conducted on Columbus as he seeks to understand the major arguments being made by those who are seeking to remove Columbus from the national pantheon of heroes. These various academics will address issues around the term “Discovery of America," Columbus’ performance as both a sailor and a public servant, and the most concerning allegations concerning the legacies of slavery and displacement in American history. If this series is, in essence, a virtual hearing, this week’s episode represents the plaintiff’s case… after all, the side bringing the case is the side that bears the burden of proof, and thus always goes first! If you’ve decided to join us on this journey of exploration, you won't want to miss this essential episode!
In this week’s episode of the Italian American Podcast, we’re picking up with Part Two of our “Conversations on Columbus” series exploring the life and legacy of Christopher Columbus and we’re starting right from the beginning! As we set out to find truth in the current debates around the famed Genovese navigator, we’re seeking to understand just what primary historical documentation exists to provide insights into Columbus’s life, his deeds and, ultimately, his character.  Like any good history quest, we're beginning with source materials. Co-host John M. Viola will share portions of the dozens of interviews he’s already conducted on Columbus as he seeks to understand the various documents at the root of the conversation.  He’s joined by various academics and one impassioned student of history as they explore exactly what exists, where the documents are, and how even the most authentic of historical sources is open for interpretation. If you’ve decided to join us on this journey of exploration, you can’t afford to miss this important episode that dives right to the heart of how we know Christopher Columbus!
In this week’s episode of the Italian American Podcast, we’re setting out to tackle an issue that has been at the forefront of conversations surrounding the Italian American identity in the 21st Century. This issue is one that hits at the heart of our national mythology for Americans of all ethnicities -- the life and legacy of Christopher Columbus. Many of our listeners have called for us to weigh in on this highly-charged issue, and so we’ve set out to replace debate with dialogue and undertake a journey into the historical record of Columbus’ life, legacy, and relationship with the Italian American community. Over the course of many upcoming episodes, we will address a number of topics around the evolving issue with experts from various fields and perspectives, both from within the Italian American community and from without. In today’s introduction to that effort, moderator John Viola will take you through the way in which we developed our questions, some of the voices we are seeking to include in the conversation, and what we’d like to understand and share with our listeners at the end of this exercise. With such an important discussion to be had, for our community and for the United States overall, this is an introduction you’ll need to hear at the very beginning.
Please listen to this Special Announcement from The Italian American Podcast concerning our upcoming episodes entitled "Conversations on Columbus."
I scream, you scream, we all scream for… gelato? Or is it ice cream? And what’s the difference anyway? How about we find out? In this week’s episode, we’re celebrating “National Ice Cream Day” with a look at how Italians all over the world have influenced that frozen treat we all know and love. From Ancient Rome to Marco Polo, from Sicily, to England, to Hoboken, New Jersey, our team gives you the “inside scoop” on how ice cream, sherbet, granitas, and more evolved over thousands of years, and we will introduce you to some of the many Italians who have their fingerprints on that evolution... like Sicily’s own Francesco Procopio Cutò, the world-recognized “Father of Gelato," to the Hoboken immigrant who claims to have invented the ice cream cone! In the second half of our show, we’re joined by special guest, Nick Di Bona of Bona Bona Ice Cream in Port Chester, New York, to discuss how his Italian American roots inspired his own take on this special summertime treat, why his ice cream and gelato hybrid is the perfect metaphor for the Italian American experience, and what life is like for a professional “Gelataio” in the modern world! And if you love a good Italian American family squabble, you won’t want to miss the “Mad Scientist of Gelato” try to explain to Pat why he built a room that rains sprinkles in his flagship store! So whether it’s pistachio, spumoni, fior di latte or the like, grab a bowl of your favorite flavor and settle in for this week’s yummy episode!
For millions of Americans, hope springs eternal every April when baseball returns!  In this craziest of years, fans of the national pastime are gearing up for the first-ever July opening in baseball history. We're so excited to have baseball back that in this week's episode our entire team is taking YOU "out to the ballgame" with our special guest, Lawrence Baldassaro, author of “Beyond DiMaggio: Italian Americans in Baseball,” and “Baseball Italian Style: Great Stories Told by Italian American Major Leaguers Crosetti to Piazza.” Larry shares his knowledge of the sport’s Italian icons, from the playing field to the owner's box. We also share in an exploration of how baseball serves as the great metaphor for the American experience, and why the first Italian American success stories meant so much to our fast growing community, and taught many newly-arrived immigrants what “Americanism” is all about. Sharing stories of the sport’s greats, such as Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, and Mike Piazza, as well as lesser-known but no less important figures like Ed Abbaticchio, who was the first Major League Baseball player and first professional football player of Italian ancestry, Larry showcases the wide spectrum of Italian Americans who helped shape the game into what it is today. We also talk about baseball in Italy, where it is growing in popularity, and how some Italian American ballplayers might just have a shot at a professional baseball career... in their ancestral Motherland. Larry also talks about his forthcoming book on Tony Lazzeri, the first Italian-American superstar during the 1920s and 1930s, who was part of the Yankee's famed "Murderers' Row" lineup of the late 1920s, along with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Bob Meusel. With all five of our co-hosts on hand, the bases are truly loaded for this week’s episode! Join us as we explore the Italian American big leagues with Lawrence Baldassaro!
We have all learned about America’s Founding Fathers… but what about our “Founding Padres?” In celebration of Independence Day, we’re taking a look at Philip Mazzei, the Italian physician, winemaker, and philosopher whose close friendship with Thomas Jefferson inspired the phrase “all men are created equal” and other doctrines he added into the Declaration of Independence. For a contribution of such momentous meaning,  Mazzei is a relatively unknown figure today, so our team decided to explore the story of this foundational Italian American figure, and the other Italians present at the founding of our nation, to introduce them to modern audiences. But, because this is the Italian American Podcast, our conversation blossoms into a sometimes tense discussion about the deeper questions around the American Revolution, the relationship between Italian political thought and American ideals, and what it really means to be a part of something so very complex. It's a stimulating look at the grey spaces of history and identity... and the back-and-forth is so rapid fire and wandering, that it might just explain why they didn't allow too many Italians at the nation's founding! Keep the July 4 celebration going one day more, and see how the conversation makes you feel about the very heart of our American Experiment on this week’s episode!
In this final installment of “Updates from Italy,” host Patrick O’Boyle tries to find out what’s next for the Bel Paese as it continues to recover from COVID-19 for the rest of 2020 and beyond. This week, Pat is joined by Antonio Amendola of Agropoli, Campania, who has lived in four countries, including the United States. Pat and Antonio talk about the differences between European Union nations as they reopen and how the “New Normal” is yet to be defined as the countries each reopen. They also discuss what will happen in the upcoming weeks as Italy’s restrictions continue to be lifted and how the virus restrictions changed the face of Italy’s workforce. Antonio shares his take on "the “two Italies,” northern and southern, and what reopening could look like for each section of Italy. Finally, they celebrate the Italian spirit of survival as they discuss how Italy has and will continue to come out of this crisis stronger than ever!
Buona Festa del Papà, Paesani! A Happy Father's Day to every Dad, Papà, Nonno, Father-in-Law, and any special guy out there! There’s no blessing like having an Italian American father -- this week our moderator, John M. Viola, is turning his microphone on his very own Italian American dad, Vincent, when he sits down with him for a special Father's Day interview. Vinnie Viola, as he’s known to those who know him best, has a pretty interesting life story to share. In this week’s episode, our faithful moderator will take the opportunity to share his father with our show's faithful listeners. They’ll discuss his early life in an Italian enclave in Brooklyn, New York, what he experienced growing up in a house full of extended Italian famiglia, and how the sport of pigeon mumbling taught him valuable lessons that would play a role in his later success. Father and son will discuss his life as an Italian American at the United States Military Academy at West Point, his early days on Wall Street, the Italian Americans who mentored him along the way, and why he puts family above all else. They’ll also share some family stories, and insights into Vinnie’s favorite Italian foods and friends in this very intimate look at the most Italian American topic of all…. The love of family! Join us for an incredibly personal episode of the Italian American Podcast, and get to know this father and son a little better than before!
What is it like to be a resident of a popular Italian tourist destination as Italy reopens? That’s the question Pat O’Boyle asks Silvia Giagheddu, who resides in Northern Sardegna, in this week’s episode of Reopening Italy. Pat and Silvia discuss what it’s like to witness people coming back to the island after time in quarantine and how this is affecting post-COVID-19 life. While Sardegna wasn’t as badly hit as other regions of Italy, the residents are concerned that vacationers coming in from highly-affected regions might cause a new wave of the pandemic as they are allowed to travel unchecked. Pat and Silvia discuss what this could mean for residents of Sardegna and other popular Italian tourist areas. They also discuss Italy’s relationship with the European Union and how Italy needs the EU’s help to recover, as well as a comparison of lockdown life in Sardegna versus that of Lombardia and how the use of public transportation played a role in the virus’s spread across Italy. Finally, they’ll also discuss varied reactions to the return to pre-COVID-19 life, including how seriously people are taking new restrictions and how people’s perspectives have changed as a result.
Almost 900 years ago, there existed a land where peoples of all cultures, creeds and colors lent their talents to the building of a nation at the forefront of science, art and civic life.  It was a kingdom in the sun… an island at the center of the world.  That nation was the Norman Kingdom of Sicily, and in this week’s episode, renowned historian and medievalist Lou Mendola joins us from Sicily’s ancient capital of Palermo to explore what we today can learn from the island’s unique multi-cultural legacy. A native of Rochester, New York, and resident of Palermo for many decades, Lou is one of the world’s foremost Sicilian medievalists and one of only a handful of scholars whose works on the history of Southern Italy and Sicily have been published in English. His books have broken new ground not only as resources for scholars but also as benchmarks in outlining a Sicilian identity rooted in the Middle Ages. Over the last three decades, Lou has been consulted by the Almanach de Gotha, the History Channel, The New York Times, the BBC, the Vatican's Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the heads of several European royal dynasties. Lou joins Pat and John to explore how Norman Sicily was truly the “New York City” of its time as a melting pot of several distinct cultures and religions who all remarkably learned to live together and influence each other to create a distinct Sicilian culture. They’ll also discuss how Sicilian and Southern Italian history in general were influenced by the various peoples, polities and empires who passed through their territorial borders, and how Sicily served as an peacemaker and prototype in an era of ethnic and religious conflict. We’ll discuss the Kingdom’s rise and fall in stature from the 1300s through the Risorgimento, when the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was united into the Kingdom of Italy, and the thousand-year-old nation ceased to exist. And most relevantly, we’ll examine about how studying Sicily’s multi-cultural heritage might just offer insights on how a variety of cultures can co-exist in a shared and productive society, and how the Arab influence on Sicily served in the development of what we know as Sicilian language, cuisine and culture. Finally, we’ll get a sneak peek at Lou’s forthcoming book, The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, which is set to be the first English-language study of the kingdom since the 1960s, and promises to give readers a plethora of little-known facts that even touch on Italian American culture! Now, more than ever, the best of our history deserves examination, so join us as we venture back in time to explore Sicily and her multi-cultural legacy! For more about Lou Mendola or to order his books, visit or
In our latest episode of “Updates from Italy,” Prof. Patrick O’Boyle sits down with Giovanni Trotta, an Italian young professional who witnessed first-hand the changing dynamics of the European workforce as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Giovanni works for Amazon’s offices in Luxembourg, but returned home to his village of Laurino, Campania, for quarantine. Giovanni tells us how other young Italians are also returning home in the wake of Coronavirus and how this homecoming may change the dynamics of entire villages. They'll also discuss how remote work is slowly gaining popularity in Italy, and how Italians themselves are learning how to rely on modern technology as a part of the “new normal.” Pat and Giovanni also explore how Italians feel about the European Union’s response to the COVID-19 crisis in Italy and how a post “Italexit” EU could look. Finally, they also discuss how COVID-19 has changed the overall social fabric of Italy and talk about what its aftereffects mean for the country’s future.
Mary, Mary... How does your garden grow? If you're an Italian American, Mary Menniti is the person to answer this question—and many more—in this week’s episode of the Italian American Podcast. We're sitting down with Italian America's Number 1 Green Thumb to discuss her groundbreaking Italian Garden Project. Mary will share her appreciation for the centuries-old Italian American connection to the Earth and how our ancestors instinctively knew how to work the lands and harvest their bounty. We discuss how this connection to the land we live on helps humanity survive and how younger generations are slowly rediscovering the recipes and habits from ages past. Mary tells us how she visits Italian American gardens as a part of this project in order to help preserve the heirloom fruits and vegetables grown there and how the Smithsonian Institute is interested in this project as a true representation of Italian ethnicity in the United States. Mary also discusses what constitutes an Italian American garden, sharing her tips on how to best grow the staples of Italian American cuisine, from the heirloom tomatoes of a North End backyard to the mysterious "bacci beans" growing in Northern California.  She'll also shed some light on the rising popularity of foraging and why today’s “hipsters" are suddenly seeking out the same "weeds" Nonna used to pick for the perfect salad. Finally, we discuss how the noble fig tree has become the ultimate staple of an Italian garden and how it perfectly represents the Italian American experience with its uncanny ability to adapt and thrive in a land that is not its own... much like our ancestors. If you're an Italian American who fancies yourself a green thumb, or one who is seeking to acquire the age-old skills of the Italian home gardener, then discover how to make your garden grow, and what you'll want in it with Mary Menniti of the Italian Garden Project! RESOURCES:
For many months, Italy and her healthcare system have been at the epicenter of the most significant global health crisis in modern history.  But, now that the crisis is beginning to ebb, how has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the face of medicine in Italy? That’s the question Prof. Patrick O’Boyle poses in this week’s episode of “Updates From Italy,” where he interviews Rome-based physician Dr. Giulia D’Arcangelo about her first-hand experiences during the crisis and how she feels it has affected Italy’s health system as a whole. They’ll discuss the pandemic’s regional variances, including how regional differences in medical care helped the South escape the brunt of the outbreak. Dr. D’Arcangelo, a pediatrician, will also discuss how the crisis has affected how she cares for patients and how she’s had to address long term patient care as a result. They’ll also examine how COVID-19 has affected medical practice in Italy, including the future for socialized medicine and the differences between Italian medical care and care in the rest of the European Union.
For many Italian Americans, the start of summer means the start of "Feast Season," but the summer of social distancing looks like it's also destined to be the “summer of no feasts”… or is it? In this week’s episode, our team discusses how the current COVID-19 crisis has affected the most tangible representation of the Italian American community at large—our feasts. Yet, while most feasts have already been either cancelled or postponed this year, we are proudly unveiling a new project designed to celebrate these special events while they are on hiatus, and sharing them with our paesani around the world this year and for many years to come. Our “Italian American Virtual Feasts” project is a partnership with the Italian Sons and Daughters of America, in which our ultimate goal is to create a virtual museum where these feasts’ unique histories are cataloged and celebrated for all to experience across crowdsourcing of photos, videos, and other archival materials. Via an interactive map, we’re also hoping to show just how strongly Italian American culture has permeated our great nation. As you’ll hear in this week’s episode, Italian American feasts are a combination of social event, religious observance, and cultural celebration. While this year’s feasts may look a little different, it is our hope that this new and exciting adventure helps fill the void created by COVID-19 and brings these events to a wider audience this year and for generations to come. Do you know of a feast that we should include, or have some contributions that would make our project great?  Email us at so we could include your contributions in this unique digital experience!
In this week’s episode of Updates from Italy with Patrick O’Boyle, we talk to Giuseppe Aloi of SIT Italy, the travel company he founded in 1999 that focuses in particular on the beauties and treasures that Southern Italy has to offer, focusing on art, culture, and special events. Giuseppe tells listeners about what he thinks the future will hold for the post-COVID-19 Italian tourism industry, including what changes hotels need to make if they wish to stay competitive and stay open. He also discusses the Italian government’s plans for helping the tourism industry after this massive blow—including help for families whose livelihoods were displaced, as well as assistance for touristic agencies trying to rebuild. Pat and Giuseppe also discuss how Southern Italy was spared the brunt of COVID-19 due to the virus’s prevalence in northern regions, and what that could mean as the entire country reopens, including this summer as Southern Italy prepares for its traditional sagre and feasts.
What have you been doing doing your time in “lockdown”? We here at the Italian American Podcast have been doing what we do best-- working on being as unabashedly Italian American as possible!  Seeing as a big part of the Italian American identity is drawing from the interactions we have with friends, family and fellow paesani, more than two months in isolation have forced us to find some pretty innovative ways to be extra-Italian without leaving the house! Some of our discoveries have been so much fun that we figured we should share our proprietary strategies with our amici out there in Italian America, so in this week’s episode, we present: “10 Easy Steps To Becoming An EVEN BETTER Italian American While You’re Stuck At Home!" We’re exploring the various experiences we’ve had while living in quarantine and sharing how some activities that help pass the time can help strengthen the ties that bind us to our heritage— we’ll talk about how we are attempting to support Italian American small businesses without leaving the couch, how watching Mass online is changing how we live our faith, and why the right flour for the perfect loaf of Italian bread is a commodity one of us has cornered the market on! We also share what we’re cooking up in the “Cucina Quarantena,” where we’re recreating old family recipes, taking part in kitchen experiments, and getting the chance to truly sit down and pause while having a family meal with our loved ones. And, we’ll give you countless tips, tricks, and ideas on how to use this time to organize family photos, partake in a genealogical journey, learn a bit of Italian or a regional language, and much, much more! Sure, some states are reopening, although others are continuing to experience lockdown for the foreseeable future, but no matter when you and yours get the “all clear," the best part about this list is that it extends beyond lockdown, so you can try all of our suggestions even after the COVID craziness ends, and maybe get your friends and famiglia in on the fun too!
Comments (2)

Johnny Della Fave

I listened to this and other episodes while deployed overseas and it always made me feel closer to home and to the tribe. Thanks for the great IA content!

Dec 6th
Reply (1)
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