NIAF News Monthly

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March/April 2011

A monthly bulletin for Italian American organizations and media outlets, dedicated to promoting the language, culture and traditions of Italians and Italian Americans.

La Festa Della Donna-International Women’s Day
La Festa Della Donna, celebrated on March 8, is a holiday where Italian women receive a special yellow mimosa flower. The flowers serve as a token of appreciation and as an expression of female solidarity. Origins of this holiday can be traced back to two events that took place outside of Italy. The first event occurred on March 8, 1857 when women working in a garment factory in New York went on strike leading to the formation of the first woman’s union in the United States. The second event took place 60 years later when Russian women led a strike calling for “bread and peace” during World War I and the Russian Revolution. In 1945, the Union of Italian Women declared March 8 a special holiday to celebrate womanhood across the country. The holiday has evolved to the extent that women are choosing to give a mimosa to each other as a sign of gratification and appreciation.

Michelangelo’s David is in Trouble
Michelangelo’s David could topple over according to ANSA, Italy’s national wire service. Underground architect Fernando De Simone has warned that work on a new high-speed train line in Italy could cause the statue to fall. Tremors from tunnel excavation could wear on David’s ankles, which are riddled with microfissures.

“If the statue is not moved before digging begins, it will collapse,” De Simone said. “The risk of collapse or slippage in the marble of the statue’s lower joints will be very high if the resonance caused by excavation machinery for the high-speed train tunnel, as well as the vibrations of passing trains thereafter, are added to existing vibrations caused by groups of 60 visitors at a time…”

While De Simone has been encouraging Tuscany and Florence to move the statue of David to an underground museum that should be built, steps have not been done..

Beyond DiMaggio: Italian Americans in Baseball

Baseball holds a special place in the hearts of Americans and Italian Americans across the country. Lawrence Baldassaro, professor emeritus of Italian at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee aims to explore the love of baseball in his new book Beyond DiMaggio: Italian Americans in Baseball. Some of the most famous players were Italian Americans including Berra, Rizzuto, Torre, Santo Piazza and Conigliaro. The book explains the “chronological history of the evolution of Italian Americans in professional baseball” and focuses attention on the challenging aspects of being an Italian American baseball player during the 20th century. Discrimination and family obligations were two contributing factors that limited the number of Italian players in the first third of the 20th century, however, regardless of these obstacles, Italian Americans were able to create a strong presence in the baseball world that is still remembered and celebrated today.

Italy @150
March 17, 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy. This historical event is known as il Risorgimento, or Resurgence of Italy. Prior to the unification, the Italian peninsula was composed of separate states under different rule. The most famous face of Italian Unification was Giuseppe Garibaldi.
As an Italian national hero, he led the Italian patriots in an effort to combine the states and territories of Italy into a unified country. To celebrate Italy @150, Hon. Fabrizio Marcelli, Consul General of Italy in San Francisco, is having a birthday party on March 21 in Union Square in San Francisco, Calif, with a prosecco toast and birthday cake. Check out other events around the country at

Please send your group or city’s news on Italian American exhibits, cultural events, scholarships and special events to: Elissa Ruffino, the NIAF, 1860 19th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009. Or write her on the internet, e-mail address:

N.B. Events/programs noted are not necessarily endorsed or sponsored by NIAF.

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC and dedicated to preserving the heritage of Italian Americans.

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