Estate of the Late U.S. Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Endows Heritage Travel Program with $2 million Gift

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) has announced today that the estate of the late U.S. Ambassador Peter F. Secchia, who formerly served in Italy, has committed an additional $2 million to endow the Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery Program, an all-expenses paid first-time travel to Italy program for young Americans of Italian descent.

“The Secchia Estate’s $2 million gift is an extraordinary contribution, and his third donation since he helped NIAF establish the program in 2000. It is also a reflection of the success of this program connecting young people to their Italian heritage and learning about Italy’s contribution to the world,” said NIAF Board Chairman Bob E. Carlucci. “His legacy will live on benefitting current and future generations,” added Carlucci.

While serving as the United States Ambassador to Italy from 1989 to 1993, Ambassador Peter F. Secchia came in contact with countless college students who were traveling to Italy for their first time. Witnessing their reactions, he was deeply moved by the look that he saw on so many young Italian American students’ faces when they first experienced the wonder that Italy has to offer.

Recognizing the lifelong impact that a trip to Italy has on these students’ identities, in 1999 Ambassador Secchia proposed that the NIAF create a program to send young Italian American students on their first trip to Italy so they could truly explore their heritage and experience the land of their ancestors.

In 2000, NIAF, with the financial support of Ambassador Secchia, launched the Ambassador Peter F. Secchia “Gift of Discovery” Program. The program was later renamed the “Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery.” The purpose of the program is to strengthen the Italian American identity by bonding young Italian

Americans to the country and the culture of Italy, and to help them gain an understanding of their heritage and a pride in carrying on that heritage.

The program is one of NIAF’s most important initiatives, having sent thousands of students on their first trip to Italy since the program’s beginning.

“With the Ambassador’s third generous gift, NIAF will be able to double the number of students accepted into the program for 2023,” said NIAF Special Program Director Gabriella Mileti.

The Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery Program takes place in NIAF’s Region of Honor, which is chosen annually and sends these college students on an all-expenses paid trip.

Ambassador Secchia passed away on October 21, 2020.

NIAF Firmly Opposes the NYC Department of Education’s Decision to Eliminate Columbus Day

(Washington, D.C. – May 5, 2021) The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) stands firmly in opposition to the New York City Department of Education’s decision to eliminate Columbus Day and replace it with Italian Heritage Day/Indigenous People’s Day. This decision, which was arrived at without any community input, effectively pits two communities, both worthy of their own independent celebrations, against each other. Moreover, the National Italian American Foundation, like millions of Italian Americans which it represents, believes Christopher Columbus’s courageous voyage was the catalyst that initiated over 500 years of immigration to the Americas by people from every corner of
earth seeking a better life for their families. We therefore believe this globally significant historic event is most deserving of a holiday.

Italian American Museum for Washington, DC Inaugurated (IAMDC)

Domenico Bellantone

Calling it an “an historic day for our Italian and Italian American community,” on December 15, 2020, CISC President Francesco Isgro, together with CISC Chair Fr. Ezio Marchetto, Italian Embassy First Counselor Domenico Bellantone, & donor Commendatore Robert Facchina cut the ribbon at the inauguration of the Italian American Museum of Washington DC (IAMDC). Due to covid-19 restrictions the event was limited to 10 people.

Italian Ambassador Armando Varricchio congratulated the CISC Museum Committee at a luncheon earlier at Villa Firenze and stressed the key role of people and culture in our Italy-US relations, as well as “the contributions that Italians and Italian Americans have made in the nation’s capital.”

Francesco Isgro
Robert Facchina

“So many historic events this year! But today is truly an historic day for our Italian and ItalianAmerican community. Thanks to the vision of Fr Ezio Marchetto, the generosity of Robert Facchina, and the hard work of our museum committee, we have built a museum that truly reflects the vast contributions that ItalianAmericans have made to our nation’s Capital. This museum is a reality today because of two years of volunteer work of our Board Member Elizabeth Di Gregorio and Parish Council member Anna Isgro, who served as co-curators. Thank you, Liz and Anna. And thanks also to our great museum designer David Fridberg. Thank you also to Tom Sweeney, Ciro DeFalco, Willy Meaux, the Marconi Project Team, for their work in recording the stories of members our community,” said Isgro.

“The Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center Inc., our nonprofit organization, was officially established in mid 2017 with the principal purpose of promoting and preserving programs and cultural activities for the ItalianAmerican Community in Washington DC. Within a year we were able to attract more than 100 Founders, financial donors, to support our mission. And most importantly we were fortunate to be the beneficiaries of Robert Facchina’s generosity, which helped us establish our museum — in record time! We have been fortunate to have a Board of Directors where every member has contributed and continues to contribute to the success of our organization,” added Isgro.

Italian American Cultural Center of Iowa purchasing iconic Butler Mansion for $3.3 million

The Italian American Cultural Center of Iowa is buying the property at 2633 Fleur Drive on contract for $3.3 million, according to Polk County real estate records. The transaction was recorded Dec. 28.

“We are really happy with where we are and now, where our future will be,” said Paolo Bartesaghi, president of organization. “We needed a bigger place. It’s still on the south side [of Des Moines]. … It’s a perfect location for us.”

Waterville mayor Nick Isgro draws criticism for proclamation of Oct. 14 as Columbus Day – 

“On Columbus Day,” the proclamation says, “we honor the skilled navigator and man of faith who President Benjamin Harrison described as a ‘pioneer of progress and enlightenment’ whose spirited voyage transformed the western hemisphere and inspired countless others to pursue their dreams and convictions in the face of seemingly insurmountable doubts and adversity. ”

Source: Waterville mayor draws criticism for proclamation of Oct. 14 as Columbus Day –

IAOVC Decries Disregard of Voters & Insult to Immigrants, Catholics & Italian Americans in NYC’s Cabrini Statue Debacle

“In this one move, the First Lady of New York has subverted the will of the people and insulted immigrants, Catholics and Italian Americans,” stated Dr. Manny Alfano, Founder and President of IAOVC

Source: IAOVC Decries Disregard of Voters & Insult to Immigrants, Catholics & Italian Americans in NYC’s Cabrini Statue Debacle

NIAF Supports the Life and Works of Mother Cabrini

Honorary Statue of Mother Cabrini Denied in New York City –

(Washington, D.C. – September 17, 2019) – The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) supports the life and works of Saint and Sister Francesca Xavier Cabrini, also known as Mother Cabrini. America’s first ordained saint, Mother Cabrini was summoned by the Pope to help the flood of Italian immigrants pouring into America in 1889. While in New York City, she opened 67 social service agencies across the city as well as orphanages, missionaries, day schools, classes in religious education, a nursery, a hospital, and much more. Despite Mother Cabrini’s devoted public service to the city’s poor and her popularity among New York City residents still today, she has been denied an honorary statue by the “She Built NYC Project.”

The mission of the “She Built NYC Project” is to create more statues of women installed around the city. A public vote was held to select the top female candidates to have honorary statues. Mother Cabrini obtained the most votes with 219 votes, winning by a two-to-one margin and clearly defining her as the winner as the second runner up came in with 93 votes. The wife of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chirlane McCray, leads the project. After the poll was taken, McCray formed a panel to review the results and make its own recommendations on the seven winners to be memorialized. The project is funded by about $5 million in taxpayer money.

The “She Built NYC Project” is ignoring the poll results and instead choosing to build statues of jazz legend Billie Holiday, desegregation activist Elizabeth Jennings Graham, Latina doctor Helen Rodriguez Trias, LGBTQ advocate Sylvia Rivera, America’s first black congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, Stonewall uprising transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson, and Robbins Reef Lighthouse keeper who saved at least 50 shipwreck and boat accident victims, Katherine Walker.

In the poll, Holiday, Graham, Trias and Rivera were not in the top seven, but the panel selected them anyway.

“Mother Cabrini’s contribution to New York City and her legacy are indisputable. The services she provided to poor and vulnerable Italian immigrants, most of them women, should not be ignored,” said NIAF Chair Patricia de Stacy Harrison. “On behalf of the National Italian American Foundation, we support Mother Cabrini’s life and works and believe that she should have her own honorary statue in the city.”

“Descendants of Italian immigrants that Mother Cabrini helped still live in the city and the fact that a poll by the people whose taxpayer dollars are funding these statues is being ignored is undemocratic and disappointing. The ‘She Built NYC Project’ should reverse its decision and include a statue honoring Mother Cabrini,” said NIAF Chair Gabriel A. Battista.

In order to publicly honor and acknowledge Mother Cabrini for her faith and social service, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio from the Diocese of Brooklyn will lead a procession on Sunday, October 6, 2019. The procession will begin from Mother Cabrini Park (41 President Street, Brooklyn NY 11231) at 3 p.m. and will end at Sacred Heart — St. Stephen Church (125 Summit Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231) for Mass at 4 p.m. for the intention of all immigrants.

For questions related to the procession, or press inquiries, please contact John Heyer II at or 718-965-7300 ext.1602, 917-402-9086.

An immigrant’s journey to US citizenship rebukes extremists in

For all of its contradictions and injustices, the 20th century American melting pot transformed millions of immigrants into productive citizens.

“Like the vast majority of the roughly 2 million Italians who arrived in the United States at the turn of the 20th century, my grandfather was looking for a better future. He found it in Brooklyn”

Source: An immigrant’s journey to US citizenship rebukes extremists in

50° Anniversario dello Sbarco sulla Luna

Washington, DC (19 luglio 2019) – Il 20 luglio 2019 ricorre il 50esimo anniversario dello sbarco dell’uomo sulla Luna, un evento epocale per l’umanità che ha segnato l’inizio dell’era spaziale, di cui anche l’Italia è stata e continua ad essere protagonista.

 “E’ motivo di orgoglio per l’Italia – ha detto l’Ambasciatore d’Italia Armando Varricchio – che a 50 anni dallo sbarco sulla luna un astronauta italiano, Luca Parmitano, assuma il prestigioso ruolo di comandante della Stazione Spaziale Internazionale. Gli astronauti sono “envoys of mankind”, inviati dell’intera umanità, e questa missione di Luca esprime appieno l’identità unica dell’Italia, fatta di cultura, bellezza, slancio verso il futuro, esplorazione e coraggio, innovazione tecnologica e cooperazione internazionale. La missione ‘Beyond’ riflette inoltre il significativo contributo italiano ai progressi industriali compiuti negli ultimi 50 anni in ambito aerospaziale. Facciamo i migliori auguri a Luca e ai suoi compagni di missione”.

Il 12 settembre 1962, il Presidente degli Stati Uniti John F. Kennedy annunciò al mondo, in un storico intervento al Congresso USA, che entro il decennio gli Stati Uniti avrebbero mandato l’uomo sulla Luna. Appena cinque giorni prima, il Vice Presidente degli Stati Uniti aveva annunciato l’accordo bilaterale USA-Italia per il lancio del satellite “San Marco”. L’Italia ha rappresentato quindi, sin dagli esordi dell’era spaziale, un partner significativo per gli Stati Uniti e tale collaborazione è andata rafforzandosi ulteriormente negli anni.

 L’Italia, oltre ad essere uno dei principali sostenitori della Stazione Spaziale Internazionale dell’ESA (Agenzia Spaziale Europea) svolge un ruolo prestigioso e riconosciuto all’interno della comunità spaziale internazionale, anche in forza degli accordi bilaterali tra l’ASI (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana) e la NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). Gli Stati Uniti rimangono, oltre all’ESA, il partner internazionale con cui sono state stabilite relazioni uniche ed insostituibili. Non a caso l’Ambasciata d’Italia a Washington si avvale della collaborazione di un Addetto spaziale, il Gen. Roberto Vittori, che è uno dei tre astronauti italiani in servizio attivo.

In campo spaziale, è molto significativo il contributo dell’industria italiana che ha, ad esempio, prodotto una percentuale significativa dei moduli pressurizzati della ISS stessa.

 L’umanità sta passando dalle operazioni in orbita terrestre bassa sulla Stazione Spaziale Internazionale a un futuro che può essere definito di esplorazione interplanetaria, proiettata ad una presenza stabile sulla Luna entro il 2024, per poi raggiungere Marte e oltre. L’Italia sostiene e continuerà a sostenere appieno questa sforzo.

 Cinquant’anni fa le missioni lunari dimostravano superiorità tecnologica e operativa. Oggi dischiudono opportunità di ricerca uniche, anche per lo sfruttamento delle immense risorse della Luna e per lo sviluppo dell’economia spaziale che ha applicazioni molto concrete per la vita di tutti i giorni, dallo sviluppo di nuovi materiali alle sperimentazioni mediche, dalle previsioni meteorologiche all’efficientamento delle produzioni agricole, dalle comunicazioni alla gestione dei disastri naturali, alle opportunità offerte persino dal turismo spaziale.  

376713 02: (FILE PHOTO) An astronaut’s bootprint leaves a mark on the lunar surface July 20, 1969 on the moon. The 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon mission is celebrated July 20, 1999. (Photo by NASA/Newsmakers)

Oggi, in occasione del 50° anniversario dell’allunaggio celebriamo la Luna e il suo passato glorioso, ma anche un futuro ancora più luminoso.


Washington DC’s Top Chef Fabio Trabocchi To Open Restaurant in Venezia

“Per me è un ritorno emozionante e necessario. Una sorta di sogno nel cassetto”. Non ha saputo resistere al fascino di Venezia, lo chef Fabio Traboccchi, che dopo oltre 20 anni di base a Washington e 6 ristoranti aperti negli States (sotto il nome Fiola e Sfoglina), ha accettato la sfida: ritornare in Italia per occuparsi del ristorante Dopolavoro (diventato Fiola anch’esso) dell’hotel Jw Marriott sull’Isola delle Rose.

Source: Ristoranti d’hotel a Venezia: Fiola at Dopolavoro – Gambero Rosso

Michéal Castaldo’s 2018–2019 East Coast Christmas Concert Tour Raised over $39K for Various Churches and Organizations

New York City—Michéal Castaldo’s 2018–2019 East Coast Christmas Concert Tour helped raise over $39,000 (in ticket sales and sponsorship) for the following churches and organizations located in the U.S. and Canada:

November 17, Christmas in Italia at Richwood United Methodist Church, in Richwood/Mullica Hill, NJ. The sold out concert was proudly supported and sponsored by Fulton Bank, Mt. Laurel; Giacomo Gattuso, Gibbstown; Heritage Winery, Mullica Hill; Hometown Transport, Woodstown; Kaitanna Solar, Mullica Hill; Kelley Funeral Home, Pitman; Martins Specialty Sausage Co., Mickleton; Mathis Funeral Home, Glassboro; Republic Bank, Glassboro; Total Quality Drilling, Newfield; A Tour of Italy Gift Shop, Smithville; Peach Country Tractor, Mullica Hill; Alfonso Palladino, Paulsboro; Berkshire, Hathaway, Fox & Roach Realtors, Amy Reuter, Realtor and Classic Cleaners, Glassboro; Federal Credit Union, Millville; Smith Funeral Home, Mantua; The Candy Box, Richwood; Weiss Department Store, Paulsboro; Sons of Italy, Paulsboro; Caterina & Vernon Dawson, Mickleton.

December 1, Christmas in Tuscany at the New Dorp Moravian Church in Staten Island, NY. This concert event was sponsored by Nurnberger Bierhaus, Joyce Fernandez, Dorothy Ambrosino, Colonel Clean, David and Bailing Young, and Sounds Big Productions, NYC. Food, wine, and other beverage contributions provided by The Gables LBI – NJ, Holtermann’s, and the Cake Chef.

December 9, Italian Christmas Concert in Town Plot, a fundraiser for Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Waterbury, CT. The concert was sponsored by Jerry Padula, Esq., Francesca’s Deli Norwalk – CT, Aitoro’s Norwalk – CT, LC Foods New Haven – CT, John Zaffina Contracting, Westport – CT, and New York City Olive Oil Coop (NYC, NY).

December18, Christmas in Italia at Blessed Sacrament Church, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Majestic Castle Music Productions and Blessed Sacrament Church partnered to help promote the Italian culture and heritage at this Italian Christmas Concert featuring the Odin String Quartet while raising funds to help Out of the Cold Program, St. Vincent de Paul, and ShareLife reach their fundraising goals for 2019. This concert was sponsored by Temperance Partners, Bernardo Funeral Home, Corazza & Palummo Charted Accountants, Teatro Verde, International Productions, Famiglia DiCecco, and New York City Olive Oil Coop. This is just a snippet (90 second video) of what the concert audiences experienced, Password: concert

December 27, Italian Christmas Concert in Buffalo, a sold out fundraiser at The Alden Presbyterian Church. Majestic Castle Music Productions, Mrs. Maria Foss, and The Parlato Family, Alden NY, partnered to help promote the Italian culture and heritage at this Italian Christmas Concert while raising funds to help Danny’s Helping Hands and The Children and Youth of the Alden Community.

Two of the concerts were sellouts, and more than 1900 people attended. The holiday tour concerts benefit the hosting churches and organizations while sharing the spirit of Christmas and the reason for the season with all involved.
Castaldo’s holiday concerts fill the hearts of audiences with the spirit of the holidays. Accompanied by the Castaldo String Quartet, he performs classic Advent and Christmas carols from his chart-topping, best-selling album, “Extravergine: Christmas in the Mediterranean.”

Castaldo is an award-winning, Italian tenor, who sings in the style of Andrea Bocelli. When putting his voice to a particular melodic song, the results are nothing short of wondrous. Castaldo’s rich operatic voice, strong but soft, is perfect in pitch and tempo and always on key. Castaldo, who studied music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, has toured North America and Europe, including performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Rainbow Room, Shea Stadium, Toronto’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre, and Italy’s Teatro F. Cilea and Pescara Opera House. His passionate performances consistently thrill audiences with sweeping romanticism. For more information about Michéal Castaldo, visit

To learn how your church can benefit from being part of the 2019–2020 Michéal Castaldo Italian Christmas Concert Tour, contact Charlotte Jayne at 631-256-6515 or