October is National Italian American Heritage Month. At events across the country, we recognize the many achievements and contributions of Americans of Italian descent as well as Italians in America.
Italian Americans developed some of America’s largest industries and corporations.
The Bank of America (originally called the Bank of Italy) was established in 1904 by Amadeo Pietro Giannini in San Francisco.
And did you know …..
The first Italian American millionaire was Generoso Pope, who came to America from Benevento in 1904.
William Cafaro and Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr. developed the American shopping mall.
Leonard Riggio is the founder and CEO of Barnes & Noble. Robert DiRomualdo heads up Borders.
Italian Americans created many of our Favorite Things.
And did you know…
Mr. Coffee, the best-selling coffee maker in the world, was invented by Vince Marotta, who also invented the paper coffee filter and developed a better way to extract oil from coffee beans.
The Jacuzzi hot tub and spa were invented by the seven sons and six daughters of the Jacuzzi family.
The District of Columbia is named after Christopher Columbus but many Italians and their descendants built the city and its monuments.
Neapolitan immigrant Attilio Piccirilli and his five brothers carved the statue of Lincoln at the Memorial. (They also carved those famous lions on the steps of the New York Public Library.)
And did you know….
The Italian artist Constantino Brumidi decorated the Capitol Building’s interior dome, corridors, and the President’s Room where Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
The six statues that decorate the façade of Washington’s Union Station were sculpted by Andrew E. Bernasconi.
And of course, there are the writers. Here’s just a few.
Helen Barolini is an award-winning novelist, critic, translator and essayist, and one of the first to write a novel about contemporary Italian American women (Umbertina, 1979).
John Ciardi, poet and scholar, did the only English translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Don DeLillo is one of the most important contemporary American novelists. (Americana, Great Jones Street, White Noise, Libra, and Underworld.)
Pietro di Donato wrote Christ in Concrete, one of the few proletarian novels written by a blue collar worker.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gregory Corso are two prominent poets of the 1950’s Beat Generation.
Barbara Grizzuti-Harrison is the author of Italian Days which is considered to be a masterpiece of travel writing.
Ed McBain is the author of The Black Board Jungle and the inventor of the police procedural novel. His real name is Salvatore Albert Lombino.
Gay Talese is a prolific writer and one of the founders of the 1960’s “New Journalism”.
So go out and celebrate – honor those of Italian heritage who have so richly contributed to America … and the world.
Order up your favorite ice cream
and remember to thank
and Antonio Valvona.