In the USA, Italian-American culture is massive and widespread. “Little Italy” neighborhoods can be found in most major cities, such as Philadelphia, Chicago, and Boston. The city of New York, famous for its influx of Italian-American residents, has several Italian neighborhoods, like Manhattan’s Little Italy, Italian Harlem, and Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. From Al Pacino to Lady Gaga, focaccia to cappuccinos, the impact that Italian culture has had on the USA cannot be overstated.
The influx of Italian emigration to the USA began in earnest around 1880. Prior to that, most Italian immigrants were middle-class merchants from the North, but between 1880 and 1925, hundreds of thousands of Southern Italians fled the poverty of the rural countryside to the prosperity of America. Today, the amount of the American population who self-identifies as having Italian heritage is around 5%, according to a 2016 federal census.
Read on to hear stories from three young Italian-Americans who reconnected with their familial culture by traveling to Rome with John Cabot University.
Joe D’Amore Took the Chance to Study Abroad in Italy
JCU Study Abroad student Joe D’Amore is one of the millions of Americans with Italian heritage. But what separated this Massachusetts resident from other Italian-Americans is that he decided to actively reconnect with his familial history. While being brought up by his first and second-generation Italian-American parents, Joe was constantly surrounded by Italian culture. Ever since he was a small child, he took trips with his family back to his father’s hometown of Montefalcione, near Naples, almost every summer.
These avenues of reconnection weren’t enough for D’Amore, who wanted an immersive experience of Italy. So he decided to take an opportunity to study abroad in Italy with JCU. Already having a basic grasp of the Italian language, the marketing major and Italian minor chose JCU because of the ease of traveling around Italy from its advantageous position in Rome. During his studies, he capitalized on the chance to travel variously throughout the country, including to the beautiful cities of Modena, Florence, and Naples.
Joseph Codomo Connected with His Family’s Language and Heritage
Joseph Codomo is another young American at the end of a long line of Italians and Italian-Americans. Joseph lived a relatively quiet life, confessing that “I am someone who has always lived with my family and never really out of my comfort zone.” This included in his efforts to connect with his Italian culture. He took language classes in middle and high school, but his lack of absolute fluency made him hesitant to flex his skills.
This all changed when Joseph decided to take a leap and study abroad at JCU for a semester in 2016. He wanted to immerse himself in his family’s culture, and to get the change to taste the delicious cuisines of the Mediterranean country. While navigating Rome, he took charge by forcing himself to speak Italian and letting go of discomfort. He eventually felt at home in Italy, enjoying the relaxing culture and connecting with friends from all over the world. The experience of re-connection changed his worldview for the better.
Stefanie Bacarella Followed in her Parent’s Footsteps
Stefanie Bacarella had the opportunity to study abroad with JCU in the spring of 2015. The communications major proudly identifies as an Italian-American from Long Island, New York, and was seeking to reconnect with her familial heritage. She grew up hearing a lot about her parents’ home city of Palermo, Sicily, and their various travels through the country. As a young adult, she yearned for the chance to experience Italy in the same way.
Thankfully, the JCU study abroad program helped to fulfill her wishes. She was able to learn a lot about Italian culture, especially while taking Intercultural Communications courses. Outside the campus, she gained a greater understanding of the slow-paced, relaxed Italian way of living, which she had previously only heard about through her parents. Seeing her family culture face-to-face taught her a lot, not only about Italy but also about herself.
Do you want to study abroad at an American university in Rome?
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