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.

Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President, Recounts Italian Traditions at 53rd Annual Charles Bonaparte Ceremony at U.S. Department of Justice

The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday August 23, 2013, was the site of the 53rd Annual Ceremony honoring Charles J. Bonaparte, the 46th Attorney General and founder of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in a program organized by Francesco Isgro, Chair of the Friends of Charles Bonaparte. The event’s Keynote Speaker, Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, spoke first about the importance of tradition in growing up in an Italian American family, and then pointed to the significant accomplishment of Charles Bonaparte in setting up an investigative force that evolved into the FBI. Luca Franchetti Pardo, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Italian Embassy delivered special remarks, noting the historic and continued cooperation between U.S. law enforcement agencies and their Italian counterparts. Also speaking were Judge Francis Allegra and Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis. Maria Marigliano, a senior official with U.S.A.I.D. opened the ceremony with the singing of the national anthems of the Republic of Italy and of the U.S.A.  Fr. Ezio Marchetto, pastor of Holy Rosary Church in Washington D.C., gave the invocation.   This year’s ceremony was supported by the Sons of Italy, the National Italian American Foundation, and the Lido Civic Club of Washington, D.C. Pino Cicala, founder of Antenna Italia in Washington, D.C., was recognized for having attended all 53 Charles Bonaparte ceremonies.

The Annual Charles Bonaparte ceremony was established in 1961 by the late John LaCorte, Sr., who was also the founder of the Italian Historical Society of America in New York. He worked diligently in his lifetime to help promote the accomplishments of Italian Americans, as a counterpoint to the negative perception of the ethnic group during that era.

LaCorte started his efforts in New York. After many years of lobbying and several set-backs, LaCorte finally succeeded in having a then-new bridge connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn named after a little-known Italian explorer of the New York Harbor—Giovanni Verrazzano.

LaCorte then came to Washington to promote the achievements of Charles Bonaparte. Bonaparte is the grand nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, whose parents were originally from Genoa, Italy. It is largely through LaCorte’s efforts that Charles Bonaparte has received his due credit as founder of the FBI.

When LaCorte first established the Charles Bonaparte ceremony in 1961, the late Judge Edward Re had just been appointed by President John F. Kennedy as Chairman of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, an office established here at the Department.

Judge Re assisted La Corte in establishing that first ceremony, making him the First friend of Charles Bonaparte. Judge Re also gave visibility to the ceremony by ensuring that Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy was present at the ceremony.

On that occasion, a granite monument honoring Charles Bonaparte was presented by the Historical Society to the Department of Justice. The monument is now installed at the Pennsylvania Avenue entrance of the United States Department of Justice.

(Pictured Judge Francis Allegra, Francesco Isgro, Luca Franchetti Pardo, David Margolis, Lisa Monaco – Photo courtesy Elissa Ruffino, NIAF)