Mother of Robert Allegrini, Regional Director of Communications for Hilton Hotels, Allegrini came to Chicago at 7-years old and settled among Toscani at 24th & Oakley. She discusses Balbo’s flight in 1933 during the Century of Progress, her journey to Chicago via Ellis Island, and reuniting with her father after three years of separation.
Leonard Amari, Esq.
Founder of the Italian American Political Coalition, Amari shares his thoughts on the Italian American political landscape, the controversy over redistricting, the new generation of Italian American politicians, and celebrated Chicago leaders like Frank Annunzio, Alderman Vito Marzullo and Illinois congressman Victor Arrigo.
Executive Director of the O’Hare Modernization Program, and a second-generation Italian-American of Sicilian descent, Andolino discusses growing up in a bilingual household, how her ethnic identity informed her personal and professional life, and memories of her family’s traditions
Currently Editor of Fra Noi, Chicagoland’s monthly Italian American newspaper, Basile discusses the paper’s history and its charismatic founder Father Pierini, Villa Scalabrini, Casa Italia, Senator Ron Turano, the media image of Italian Americans, Italian Americans in politics, and the Italian American community’s shift away from the city to the suburbs.
An actor, author, and founder of the Italian American Actors Guild in Chicago, Bacarella discusses Italian Americans in the Civil War who settled in Chicago, and the plight of Italian American actors in TV and film.
The son of immigrant parents, Bernardi grew up in Highwood among a large Northern Italian community. He reminisces about working at the exclusive North Shore Club as a caddy, and moving up the corporate ladder to found a successful financial management company and become president of the Union League Club.
Born in a mountain village near Lucca, Bertolini recounts his experiences as a young boy during WWII, how his father aided the Allies during the final months of the war, how his father was nearly killed by Nazi soldiers, and coming to America and the challenges of learning English.
The Senior Associate Executive Director of the Chicago Area Project and son of Dan “Moose” Brindisi, one of the founders of the Project created to assist inner-city youth. Brindisi grew up in multi-ethnic neighborhood near Grand/Ogden and discusses his mixed heritage, and the positive influence that his father had on Italian American youth and young immigrants.
Dominic Candeloro, Ph.D.
An historian and author, Dr. Candeloro’s topics addresses early immigration and patterns of settlement, the formation of Little Italys and their demise, Chicago Heights History, labor history, the role of the Church, and Italian American politics.
An award-winning journalist and second-generation Italian American, traces her roots to the West Side and Taylor Street starting in the early 1900s, where she continues to live. She recently co-authored with Ellen Shubart Taylor Street: Chicago's Little Italy.
The former mayor of Chicago Heights, Ciambrone talks about life growing up in Chicago Heights, the fight to save San Rocco church; the Anthony Scariano’s long legacy, an Appellate Court justice and an Illinois legislator, and the predominance of Italian/Americans in municipal politics.
Father Gino Dalpiaz
C.S. Fathers of St. Charles, Chicago and former director of the Italian Cultural Center, Stone Park, Father Dalpiaz, a second-generation Northern Italian, discusses the mission of the Scalabrian Fathers, the establishment of parishes, Mother Francis Cabrini, Taylor Street, the construction of the U of I, Chicago campus the Sacred Heart Seminary and Villa Scalabrini and memories of growing up in Melrose Park.
Granddaughter of controversial labor leader James Petrillo, President of the American Musicians Union, DeRosa discusses her grandfather and the fight to retain his name on Grant Park bandshell bearing his name
A popular film and television actor; Farina grew up in Little Sicily/Little Hell and shares his memories of growing up in hard-working family, his college-educated father, World War Two, the Great Depression, street processions, his thoughts on playing stereotypical roles and on the challenges that Italian Americans face in the industry.
A musician of traditional Italian music and an historian of Italo Balbo, Fiore discusses Balbo’s flight, the Italian neighborhoods of Chicago, prejudice, personal experiences growing up; and the role of popular music in the community.
Fred Gardaphé, Ph.D.
Currently Director of Italian American Studies at SUNY Stony Brook; Dr. Gardaphe skillfully dissects the topic of media images of Italian Americans; growing up in Melrose Park, race relations, and a number of authors who have written about Chicago’s Italian American experience.
Theodore Grippo, Esq.
Chairman of the American Italian Defense Association, Grippo discusses AIDA’s lawsuit against Time-Warner, which distributes HBO’s long-running series “The Sopranos,” the Sacco and Vanzetti case and its impact on the local Italian-American community, the media image Italian Americans, and his own experiences with prejudice.
Melrose Park Police Chief Jaconetti, one of the most highly decorated law enforcement officers in the nation, talks about the legacy of Anthony Buongiorno and his fight against crime, the Italian work ethic, World War Two, Italian Americans in law enforcement, and public image.
A first-generation Italian-American, Mordini gives a moving eyewitness account of the Our Lady of Angels fire and the subsequent demise of her predominantly Italian neighborhood, and talks about adjusting to Chicago life as a newly arrived immigrant.
Gloria Nardini, Ph.D.
An author, teacher and cultural commentator, Dr. Nardini discusses the role of women in the Italian American community, the challenges and benefits of living bi-culturally, Chicago’s Lucchese community, the role of social clubs, and the concept of bella figura.
Dominic Pacyga, Ph.D.
A Professor of History and the Acting Dean of Liberal Arts at Columbia College, Dr. Pacyga is a national authority on Chicago history. Dr. Pacyga comments on ethnic communities in Chicago; labor; living conditions; and social relations among immigrant communities. Dr. Pacyga was also featured in the three-part American Experience Series "Chicago: City of the Century."
WWII veteran from the Highland Park/Highwood Italian community, where many immigrants from the area around Modena had settled, Pasquesi shares his memories of WWII, including how his brother liberated their parents’ hometown, and the remarkable correspondence between his Italian-born father and sons throughout the war.
A second-generation Southern Italian, Purgatorio grew up in housing projects on Taylor Street. He gives commentary on neighborhood life, the eventual demise of his neighborhood, and Florence Scala’s fight to save it.
Senator Renato Turano
President of Turano Bakery and currently the first Italian-American to represent Italians abroad, Italian-born Senator Turano discusses how his family turned a small business into a multi-million dollar company, his memories of coming to America from Calabria at 15, family traditions, and his identity
Josephine Raciti Forsberg
Founder of the Second City Workshops, Forsberg is the daughter of a Tuscan father and mother of Sicilian descent. Forsberg addresses growing up in Oak Park, the discrimination she experienced during WWII and highlights from her career.
Granddaughter of Amabile Santacaterina, one of the most popular Italian-language broadccasters in Chicagoland, Santacaterina highlights moments from her grandmother’s career, including her contributions to the war effort.
A third-generation Italian-American and former president of FIERI-Chicago, Stella discusses his family’s connection to the Taylor Street neighborhood, his budding awareness of his ethnic identity, perceptions of Italian Americans in the media, and his vision for younger Italians Americans in the future.
Serritella discusses growing up in a well-to-do family in Oak Park, his family’s relationship with the Cuneo family, the role of religion among Chicago’s wealthy Italian Catholics, and his grandfather’s role as founder of the White Hand Society, an organization composed of businessmen and community leaders to fight Black Hand extortion.
Violet Valiani Chisholm
Valiani Chisholm discusses the 24th & Oakley community where she grew up, her parents’ involvement in labor strikes in the garment factories, attending university and marrying a non-Italian.
Rudolph Vecoli, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota, and former Director of the Immigrant Research Center, Dr. Vecoli is a nationally renowned expert on Italian immigration, and discusses patterns of migration, the formation of Italian colonies in Chicago, labor, and the padrone system.
Frances Varner (Amella) & Joseph Amella
Siblings Varner and Amella recall touching memories of growing up in Bridgeport, one of Chicago’s “hidden” Little Italys on the South Side, that contained a tightly-knit community of Southern Italian and Sicilians, relations between Italians and other ethnic groups in the neighborhood, religious processions and the closeness between childhood friends that still endures.