In Italy, natural disasters are fairly common... Earthquakes, wildfires, landslides, floods, even volcanoes erupting. Americans give selflessly to these causes to help. Now our country needs help.
I'm putting out a call to Italian citizens and Italian-Americans to dig into their pockets--even if it's only a small amount--and donate.
Over 50 inches of rain and still counting... dam waters being released into rivers and creeks... homes, business and even rescue centers are being flooded.
It's time to do something!
Here's where you can help... Click the links below.
If you have a home in Texas or a nearby state that you can offer to a displaced family for free, AirBnB is waiving fees and has a special link to set up your offer.
Here's how you can prevent being scammed while trying to donate to help victims of Hurricane Harvey... Contact Charity Navigator. They list all legitimate charities along with ratings of each that are taking part in the recovery effort.
Are there Italians in Texas?
Of course there are. Italian heritage has spread all over the world. The 1990 census placed the number at 441,256, while the 2000 census put the number of Tex-Italians at 363,354. Although that shows a drop, there has been an influx of people rushing to Texas in recent years to fill jobs, so the number may be considerably higher. Houston especially has a large Italian-American population of nearly 100,000 and Dallas over 60,000.
Like Christopher Columbus himself, Italians were often in the employ of the Spanish court during that early period of discovery. Some soldiers of fortune came from northern Italy, but the larger numbers were from Sicily and Naples, provinces that were under the Spanish crown at various times. Francisco Vásquez de Coronado's trek across the High Plains in 1541 included soldiers with the Italian surnames of Loro, Napolitano and Romano, among others.
When Texas became settled territory in the late 1700s, individual Italian merchants began to arrive. Among them was Vincente Micheli who came to Nacogdoches from Brescia. In 1836, when Texas won independence from Mexico, Italian-born Prospero Bernardi was one of the Texans who fought at the Battle of San Jacinto. The older cities of San Antonio, Nacogdoches and Victoria have Italian families who date back to this period.
In 1880 Italian farmers settled in the flood-prone area of the Brazos Valley between Hearne and Bryan--by 1905 the town of Bryan had 3,000 Italians. In the same period of time, the Texas Pacific Coal Company hired thousands of Italian immigrants to work in their mines in the Fort Worth area. By 1910 Burleson and Robertson Counties also had large numbers of Italian residents. The Qualias Val Verde Winery in Del Riois the oldest licensed winery in Texas and was started by Frank and Mary Qualia from Milan.
Ischia Earthquake Report
from Staff writers, AAPNews Corp Australia Network:
Italian firefighters working through the night, sometimes digging by hand, freed a seven-month-old baby and then his two older brothers from the rubble of their home that collapsed when a 4.0-magnitude quake struck the resort island of Ischia during the height of tourist season. In the hard-hit town of Casamicciola, dozens of firefighters worked for 14 hours to dig the Toscano brothers out of their home, where they were trapped alone after their father was rescued and their pregnant mother managed to free herself.
Cheers went up with each rescue.
CLICK HERE to read more...
Important Info from Grand Voyage Italy
One of our GVI Facebook Group members wanted to reassure people that the effects of this earthquake have been minimal on Ischia... Here is the post:
If you're planning on viewing today's total eclipse of the sun in Italy, forget it. Not happening. Only Italian-Americans (and the rest of Americans) have that privilege today (and a small part of western Canada). But don't lose hope. If you really want to see a total eclipse in Italy, it will just take some special planning... and perhaps a time machine.
The last total solar eclipse visible from Italy occurred in the twentieth century, on February 15, 1961. So, a time machine would prove handy here. You might also travel back to see a partial eclipse on August 11, 1999 or October 3, 2005.
To see the next solar eclipse from Italy, log onto Bookings.com and make your reservations for August 2nd 2027. Let's see... I'll be 77, hopefully I'll have new knees by then and will be pretty spry for another Italy Voyage.
Beyond that, I suppose my son might book a flight to the Bel Paese to witness the solar eclipse of September 3, 2081. He' be 78 by then... perhaps he'll have some new knees and God knows what other body parts that they'll be replacing with future technologies.
The rest will have to be viewed by my great, great, great... er... great? - grandchildren on July 6, 2187 or May 16, 2227.
Of course, if we had a time machine we could take the ultimate Voyage and see all of them now... or before... or later?
Oh... and unlike my Photoshop montage above, one thing no one will be seeing in Italy is spaghetti and meatballs. It simply doesn't exist there...
(Getting out the cardboard solar eclipse viewer Lucas and I slapped together for this event...)
I think I first fell in love back in 1970... with the comedy writing of real life duo of Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna in their film Lovers and Other Strangers, based on the Broadway play in which they played the lead roles. These two geniuses wrote like my family lived. I recognized just about every character in the plot... overbearing, guilt-weaponized mother, the always bothered Dad, the son just trying to live his own life his own way, and siblings trying to out-do each other. "What's the story, Jerry" and plastic slip covers are my strongest memories from the plot. This film also has one of the most accurate and funny depictions of an Italian-American wedding that I've ever seen on screen.
But my love of their work grew stronger when I saw them play the leads in their '71 film Made for Each Other, a profile of the stumbling beginnings of a relation between two people who seem anything but made for each other. Again, they reminded me of my sisters or my brother and the way they stumbled into their own relationships and marriages.
Joe and Renee were in fact, made for each other in real life. Their comedy sense and character development were superb. Their timing perfect. We didn't laugh at them as much as laugh at ourselves when we watched them work. Bologna went on to appear in both film and television, one of my favorites being the American version of Blame it on Rio, a sexy May-September romp with co-star Michael Caine.
He could play it as tough as it gets and as funny as anyone would want. He plays a proud Italian-American catering venue owner in Love is All There Is (which Joe and Rene directed), whose Long Island son is wooing a real Italian princess while his own wife is trying to woo her hubby away from napping with his poodle to her bed. The story was based on Romeo & Juliette, except this time the feuding families were the Cappamezzas' (Half Heads) and Malacicis' (Bad Beans). This is one of the funniest films I've ever seen.
This real life tough guy battled pancreatic cancer for the last three years... an unusually long period for this fast moving cancer. “He had a beautiful life and a beautiful death having fully and gratefully experienced three years since being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at Cedars Sinai,” said Renee Taylor, wife of 52 years.
A common face in literally hundreds of TV roles, Bologna will be missed.
Italy is in the middle of the worst heat wave to hit the Boot in years. It is expected to only get hotter in the coming weeks as Ferragosto (the Italian vacation season) is set to begin on the 15th.
Yesterday, 16 Italian cities reached the rank of Bollino Rosso (a Red Alert), expected to rise to 24 major cities in the next few days. Every major city center is affected except for Genoa in the northwest part of the country. Temperatures are expected to break all past records, with some temperatures reaching 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the south-central region!
I pity the residents and tourists in Florence with scorching temperatures rising to 107F. And people trying to escape the heat in the mountains of Abruzzo were disappointed when temps rose to 104 F... very unusual for an altitude of 2500 feet above sea level. Even in Potenza--huddled in the mountains of Basilicata--the temperature equalled body temperature... 98.6 F, offering no relief. The worst is in Naples where it rose to 116 F... and if anyone thought they would cool off by taking a ferry to Capri, the heat there wasn't much better--111 F! Water temperature in Capri is a un-refreshing 82 degrees. One blogger living in Naples said that her pool felt like someone had "drawn me a warm bath".
This is the fifth heat wave to hit Italy this summer.
If you want to know how to stay cool while Voyaging in hot, hot Italy, check out THIS POST.
I've noticed our numbers have dropped slightly--perhaps by my own fault. There has been a lot going on so far this summer... a vacation on the Chesapeake Bay, planning a big camping party for my son's birthday, a couple of power blackouts, a minor health crisis (I'm OK and getting better)... all the while trying to put the finishing touches on a fireplace mantle and hearth that I built toward the end of last year. (The hand made tiles are finally installed!)
So, look forward to a deluge of new articles and photos in the coming weeks. I actually am backlogged on editing many that are almost finished.
We're still here, living our Italian life, cooking, laughing, loving and picking our home grown tomatoes from our garden...