Celebrating Italian Heritage with Thirty-One Days of Italians

L’articolo descrive il mese di ottobre, mese dedicato  agli italo-americani. Il mese, anche conosciuto come “Trentuno giorni degli Italiani”, inizia con i primi giorni in riconoscimento di tutti gli immigrati del passato. I giorni successivi riconoscono gli italo-americani che hanno influenzato l’America o il mondo in generale. Le persone onorate sono sia deceduti che ancora in vita. L’articolo parla anche di alcune persone come Yogi Berra, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dominick Ghiradelli, Joe DiMaggio, Vince Lombardi, e Frank Sinatra. 

From architecture to technology, men and women of Italian heritage have left an indelible mark on American society. Their contributions have added value to the growth of America, from its early years as a burgeoning country through its fast-paced changes in the 21st century.

Even before Thomas Jefferson brought the architectural style of Andrea Palladio to the colonies and before he befriended Fillipo Mazzei – with his contribution to the Declaration of Independence – Italian explorers were sailing for European countries and opening exchange routes across an ocean.

For this month’s celebration of Italian American culture and heritage, “Thirty-One Days of Italians” provides a list of incredibly accomplished people, each with their own day in October. Short biographies and resources provide a starting point for learning about the honored person of the day.

“Thirty-One Days of Italians” began in 2006, when online resources about outstanding people of Italian heritage were difficult to find. Today, an online search for any name on the website will bring up numerous results; but “Thirty-One Days of Italians” provides a foundation for research, and an October calendar filled with Italian American history.

The list includes 15 Honorary Members who have made such lasting contributions to American culture and society, they remain on “Thirty-One Days of Italians” every year. In alphabetical order, they are Father Pietro Bandini, Constantino Brumidi, Mother Francis Cabrini, Enrico Caruso, Christopher Columbus, Enrico Fermi, Amadeo Pietro Giannini, Guglielmo Marconi, Filippo Mazzei, Antonio Meucci, Maria Montessori, Andrea Palladio, Antonio Pasin, Arturo Toscanini, and Amerigo Vespucci. Some names may sound more familiar than others, but all have greatly contributed to the characteristic course of American society.

The month starts with acknowledging Italian immigrants. Many fled Italy during the turn of the 20th century and traveled to America – both North and South – for a better life, not only for themselves, but also for future generations. October 31 is set aside to honor someone of Italian heritage not on the list: a family member, a friend or neighbor, a co-worker, anyone of Italian heritage who has enhanced your life.

The remaining 14 days are filled from an assemblage of 60 people, with names rotating so each secures a day of honor every four to five years. (Names are selected one year in advance.) On this year’s list is acclaimed author Helen Barolini. Well-known for writing about the Italian American experience, and most notably for “Umbertina”, which examines gender and culture. First published in 1979, the book was reprinted 20 years later, and is often used for college studies on the subject. Helen died this past May, leaving behind her legacy to Italian American literature.

Yogi Berra is another accomplished Italian American on the list. Earlier this year, his life story “It Ain't Over” premiered, the documentary blends historical footage and photographs with interviews from fellow sports associates and admirers. Another Italian American with a designated day in October this year is Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the most cited researchers and scientists in the world – especially during the recent pandemic.

Ernest and Julio Gallo, Dominick Ghirardelli, and Anthony Rossi are pioneers in the food and wine industry. The Gallo family revolutionized the California, and essentially the American, wine industry. Ghirardelli founded his confection company in the mid-1800s, and his name has been synonymous with quality chocolate for more than 100 years. Rossi was the founder of Tropicana and developed a pasteurization process to extend the shelf life of citrus juice.

One more business legend to celebrate this October is Lee Iacocca. Under his direction in the late 1970s, Chrysler Corporation went from insolvency to profitability, and for his work at Ford Motor Company years earlier, he is recognized as the “Father of the Mustang.” Also on the list are exemplary politicians Geraldine Ferraro and Fiorello La Guardia, sports greats Joe DiMaggio and Vince Lombardi, and extraordinary musicians Henry Mancini and Frank Sinatra.

Rounding out the list is Giovanni Caboto. Sailing for England, he is more often identified as John Cabot. Noting Columbus’s spectacular first voyage, Caboto convinced King Henry VII to fund an expedition west. In 1497, he landed along the northeastern coast of Canada, claiming it a “newfound land” for the King.

For biographies, resources, and the complete 2023-2024 List, visit www.thirtyonedaysofitalians.com.