Italian immigrants and Italian Americans have played an important part in the history and growth of Cleveland. This is on display at the Italian Museum of Cleveland located in the Little Italy neighborhood of Cleveland.
In this video, Pamela Dorazio Dean, Director of the museum, led Dan Hanson on a quick tour of some of the Museum's displays and told the story of the Italians coming to Cleveland and helping build it and make it grow. The first wave of immigrants settled in what was called Big Italy but later moved to several neighborhoods in both the west and east sides including, of course, Little Italy.
Pamela told how many of the immigrants were skilled stone carvers and how they played an important role in the creation of the huge Guardians statues which became the inspiration for the Cleveland baseball team's name change from Indians to Guardians. The Feast of the Assumption and Columbus Day Parade were discussed and Pamela shared the history of how Columbus Day came to be celebrated. It resulted from the largest lynching in US history when 11 Italian immigrants were lynched in New Orleans in 1891. Pamela stressed that Columbus Day is mostly a celebration of Italian heritage.
The museum is free to visit and details can be found at www.iamcle.org.
Passing of Cleveland Opera Icon Soprano Andrea Anelli
Andrea Anelli at Opera in the Italian Cultural Garden in 2013
We are so sorry to learn of the passing of Passing Cleveland Opera Icon Andrea Anelli. She passed peacefully from a long-term cancer in her Chardon home the morning of 1/1/22.
Gregory Polyak, VP of Northern Ohio Opera League (NOOL) said "Soprano Andrea Anelli was the founder and co-director of three different opera companies: Opera Per Tutti (2006), rebranded as Cleveland Opera Theater (2014), and ContempOpera/Cleveland (2016). Each opera company had a different goal and audience to satisfy. And satisfy Andrea did with each company.
She not only created, auditioned, selected music, costumes, sets, directed, produced, found venues to perform in, and raised funds she sang in most of the productions. I am tired thinking of all she did. Succeeding in each endeavor makes her a Cleveland legend.
Most today say her Cleveland Opera Theater is today's highest level and most diverse in NE Ohio. She took them from a "founder-driven" to a "board-driven" entity for growth. "I never dreamed it could become what it did," Anelli said. "It so far exceeded my expectations. It's been quite a journey."
Rocky Colavito was an All-Star for six seasons (9 All-Star Games). He is the fifth player in the history of the AL to have eleven consecutive 20-home run seasons (1956–1966). During that span, he exceeded 40 home runs three times and 100 runs batted in, six times. He also led the AL in home runs, RBI, and slugging average once each. Colavito ranked third among AL right-handed hitters for home runs (371) and eighth for AL games played at right field (1272), at the end of his MLB playing career in 1968.
But Rocky is so much more than a bunch of all-star caliber achievements. He was a hero to a generation of Clevelanders and every kid in little league copied the stretch and other batting nuances of #6.
Rocky Colavito speaking at the ceremony
Rocky was in Cleveland to celebrate his 88th birthday and the dedication of his statue in Little Italy.
Basil M. Russo to lead Italian Conference Of Presidents
Cleveland's Basil M. Russo was elected to serve as the president of the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations. This office places Mr. Russo in the position of being the national spokesman for the Italian American community. This is the first time anyone from outside of the New York City area has been elected to serve as president of this organization.
The Cleveland Cultural Gardens are maintained by delegates of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation who are volunteers from the community. That includes the Italian Cultural Garden. Here are some of the volunteers cleaning up and planting on May 23, 2020.
Mick Spena working in the Italian Cultural Garden
Mary Anne Baucco and Rebecca Spena McCalligan
Dante statue wearing a mask
Italian Cultural Garden at One World Day
The Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation hosted the 74th annual One World Day on August 25, 2019. Police estimates say that over 30,000 people visited the Gardens and attended One World Day. There was a lot of activity in the beautiful and historic Italian Cultural Garden.
Besides a long career as successful attorney and judge, Basil M. Russo has always been involved in the Italian American community. He is the National President of the Order Italian Sons and Daughters of America, one of the largest Italian American organizations in the United States. Basil holds leadership positions in three prominent Italian American organizations in the United States, and as such, is now regarded as one of the most influential Italian American leaders in our country.
Maine has replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day, joining some other states and cities that have renamed the holiday. Columbus Day, the second Monday of October, has been a federal holiday since 1934. Judge Russo gives his response in this video.
Rest in Peace Gino Colage
The community is saddened by the passing of Gino Colage, who passed away at the age of 93. Since 1990 he passionately and voluntarily took care of the Italian Cultural Garden in Rockefeller Park. The Cleveland Cultural Garden Federation honored Gino in August of 2015 for his many years of dedicated service.
Gino had a deep-rooted love for Italy and was proud to be Italian American. He joined the Order of Italian Sons and Daughters of America in 1961 and Il Cenacolo Italiano di Cleveland in 1985. Gino was also a member of the American Legion Heights-Hillcrest Post 104.
Italian community at International Cleveland Community Day at the Cleveland Museum of Art
International Cleveland Community Day at the Cleveland Museum of Art is a celebration of the rich diversity of our region's multiethnic communities, featuring traditional music and dance performances, cultural displays, and ingallery experiences. The Italian community was represented with an information table.
Bea Collage at Italian table at International Cleveland Community Day
Bea Collage and Lisa Amato Reid
Italian Heritage Month 2018 celebrated at City Hall
The official opening of a month-long celebration of the Italian-American Community in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio was held on Monday October 1, 2018 in the Rotunda of Cleveland City Hall.
6 outstanding individuals of Italian heritage were honored at the event:
Frank T. Sinito
Councilman Matt Zone
Honorees with Committe Leaders Rose Zitiello and Pamela Dorazio Dean
The Cleveland Italian community was out in full force at the 73rd annual One World Day on the site of the Italian Cultural Garden. Members of the community marched in the annual Parade of Flags and later there was more fun as members of the Italian community shared their culture with thousands of visitors on One World Day.
Fashions from Italy at Cleveland multicultural party
A highlight of the 8th Annual ICC-WIN Cleveland Multicultural Holiday Celebration on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 at the Global Center for Health Innovation in Cleveland was the International Fashion Show featuring almost 100 models from about 30 countries.
Beatrice Colage and her father and Gino Colage represented Italy and the Italian Cultural Garden.
(Click on the white arrow to watch the video)
Beatrice is wearing a hand-sewn replica of a traditional 18th/19th century outfit worn by an "herb-woman" of the province of Vicenza in the region of Veneto, Italy. A wooden yoke would be carried over the shoulder to balance the transport of produce in baskets.
Gino is wearing a combination of regional men's fashions that were popular in Italy during the 18th and 19th centuries. Gino used to wear this costume when he participated in a choral folkdance group based in Canton, Ohio. With walking stick and carved pipe in hand, Gino is ready for his "passeggiata", or walk.
Gino Colage began caring for the Italian Cultural Garden in 1992. The Cleveland Cultural Garden Federation honored Gino in August of 2015 for his many years of dedicated service.
In a few weeks Mr. Colage will be celebrating his 92nd birthday - Happy Birthday, Gino!
Sadly, Paul Sciria passed away at age 88 on Friday June 23, 2017.
His life was full of accomplishments including creating La Gazetta in May, 1992. Paul Sciria was inducted into the innaugural class of the Cleveland International Hall of Fame in 2010. He was Cleveland's first TV investigative reporter. And much more.
Basil was inducted by his daughter Gabriella and son-in-law Joseph Rosalina.
Basil Russo with his daughter Gabriella and son-in-law Joseph Rosalina
Click on the white arrow in the image below to watch the video of Basil Russo' induction. Make sure your speakers are on and you can make the video full screen once it begins by clicking the icon in the lower right corner.
Basil M. Russo is the National President of the Order Italian Sons and Daughters of America. Russo spoke at the celebration of the beginning of Italian Heritage Month in the rotunda of Cleveland's City Hall. He told of the importance of Columbus Day and how some groups mischaracterize the meaning of Columbus Day for their own personal agenda. He said that Columbus Day represents the beginning of the historic process of immigration to America and should be celebrated by all ethnic groups.
A record crowd of over 2,000 attended the July 31, 2016 performance by the artists from the Opera Circle Cleveland Company who were joined by dancers from the Cleveland Ballet in the beautiful Italian Renaissance Garden.
If you were unable to make the performance, you can view videos and photos of the evening.
A highlight of the 6th annual Holiday Celebration of Cleveland's Diversity held in the atrium of the Global Center for Health Innovation in the Cleveland Convention Center by the International Community Council-Worldwide Intercultural Network (ICC-WIN) was the multicultural fashion show.
An Herb - Woman of the Environs of Vicenza (Veneto, Italy)
Beatrice Colage is representing an Herb - Woman of the Environs of Vicenza (Veneto, Italy) for the Italian Cultural Garden. She has hand sewn a replica of a traditional, 18th /19th century outfit worn by an "herb-woman" of the province of Vicenza in the region of Veneto, Italy. A wooden yoke was carried over the shoulder to balance the transport of produce in baskets.
Beatrice is accompanied by her 90 years old father, Gino Colage. Gino was one of three honorees at the 70th Annual One World Day in August at The Cleveland Cultural Gardens. Gino Colage is wearing a combination of regional men's fashions that were popular in Italy during the 18th and 19th centuries. Gino wore this costume when he used to sing and dance in "I Gagliardi Italiani" - a choral folkdance group based in Canton, Ohio. Black or brown leather shoes complete the traditional regional outfit. With walking stick and carved pipe in hand, Gino is ready for his "passeggiata", or walk.
Italian Heritage Night in Cleveland City Hall - October 5, 2015
The 10th annual Italian Heritage Month celebration was held in the Rotunda of Cleveland City Hall on Monday October 5, 2015. Cleveland Councilman Matt Zone and Mayor Frank Jackson started and continue this annual event. Councilman Zone served as MC and though Mayor Jackson was out of town he sent a video message.
The full house saw 5 outstanding individuals honored for their contributions to their Italian heritage and community:
Pamela Dorazio Dean
Judge Kenneth A. Rocco
"Christopher Columbus" and Giovanni Castiglione (Giovanni sang the Italian national anthem)
Italian Cultural Garden's Gino Collage honored on One World Day
Gino Collage has been a tireless volunteer and caretaker of the Italian Cultural Garden in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens for many decades. He was honored for his service at One World Day 2015 and introduced by Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation Vice-President Anda Cook.
Opera in the Italian Cultural Garden - July 26, 2015
In 1930, the Italian Cultural Garden opened as a "symbol of Italian culture." Almost 70 years ago the Italian Garden hosted the San Carlo Opera in the lower level amphitheater. In 2008, the Italian Cultural Garden Foundation revived this tradition by presenting Opera in the Garden.
A record crowd of over 2,000 attended the July 26, 2015 performance by the artists from the Opera Circle Cleveland Company. This included Tenor Mikhail Urusov who has performed at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Russia.
If you missed the 2015 Opera you can see photos and videos of every song. Be sure to watch the videos full screen.
Bishop Anthony Pilla inducted into Cleveland International Hall of Fame
Anthony Michael Pilla, the son of Italian immigrants, was born in Cleveland and was educated in public schools until high school which he began at Cathedral Latin.
Pope John Paul II announced his choice of Father Pilla as Auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland on June 30, 1979. On November 18, 1980 Bishop Pilla was named the Ninth Bishop of Cleveland and was installed on January 6, 1981.
He took seriously the challenge to be a messenger of God to our world, in our time. In collaboration with parishes, priests, pastoral staffs, diocesan, civic and community organizations, he led and educated, called for faith and action on the vast social, political, economic, national and international issues we face every day.
Bishop Pilla's leadership resulted in the Church in the City initiative, a powerful reminder of Catholic social teaching in action.
The Anthony M. Pilla Program in Italian American Studies at John Carroll University is unlike any other in the nation and continues his love of Italian Studies.
Bishop Anthony Pilla was inducted into the Cleveland International Hall of Fame on April 29, 2015 by Sam Miller.
Columbus Day was celebrated in Cleveland's Little Italy on October 13, 2014 starting with Mass at 10 AM at Holy Rosary Church. The parade through Little Italy began at noon. The annual Columbus Day celebration was sponsored by the Italian Sons and Daughters of America (ISDA) and the Northern Ohio Italian American Foundation (NOIA).
The July 20,2014 Opera in the Italian Cultural Garden, performed by artists from the Opera Per Tutti Opera Company, was another overflow event. Congratulations to Joyce Mariani, Executive Director of the Italian Cultural Garden Foundation, and her team for this tremendous event.
Stay informed about the local Italian community by signing up for the free Italian eNews mailings. You can select other groups as well. It's easy and free. Fill out the form for the free Italian eNews.
Columbus Day Parade through Little Italy
Columbus Day was celebrated in Cleveland's Little Italy on October 14, 2013 starting with Mass at 10 AM at Holy Rosary Church. The parade through Little Italy began at noon. The annual Columbus Day celebration was sponsored by the Italian Sons and Daughters of America (ISDA) and the Northern Ohio Italian American Foundation (NOIA).
Cleveland Councilman Matt Zone was Grand Marshal of the Parade and Patricia E. Russo was honored as Italian Mother of the Year. 110 units marched in the parade including 7 marching bands.
Italian American Heritage Month 2013 - City Hall Kickoff
Italian American Heritage Month 2013 was celebrated in the Rotunda of Cleveland City Hall on Monday, October 7, 2013. The event was sponsored by the Cleveland Italian American Heritage Committee with Co-Chairs Rose Zitiello, Councilman Matt Zone and Mayor Frank Jackson.
The Italian American Heritage Month Celebration focuses on honoring Italian Americans who were nominated for their outstanding efforts in the categories of individual, youth, public service, City employee and business.
Mayor Jackson and Councilman Zone applaud 11 year old Giovanni Castiglione for his singing of the Italian and US national anthems
The Italian Cultural Garden was host to many performances during the annual One World Day and Festival celebration on August 25, 2013. Tom Beradinelli marched with the Italian Flag during the Parade of Nations down MLK Boulevard.
Tom Beradinelli marched with the Italian Flag at One World Day
Feast of the Assumption
Little Italy was again the place to be around August 15th for the parade, Mass, celebration and fun of the Feast.
Mayfield Road in front of Holy Rosary Church
Remembering the real reason of the Feast
Primavera's Mike Zaccaro getting ready to play
Opera in the Italian Cultural Garden
Over 1,500 people attended the July 21,2013 Opera in the Italian Cultural Garden performed by artists from the Opera Per Tutti Opera Company. Congratulations to Joyce Mariani, Executive Director of the Italian Cultural Garden Foundation, and her team for this tremendous event.
Dan Doty, Jeanette Davis, Andrea Anelli, Rebecca Freshwater and Leodigario Del Rosario (not in this picture Benjamin Czarnota)
While the photos and videos on those 4 pages capture some of the event you really need to experience it live. Check out Opera per Tutti's performance schedule and make plans to attend the Opera in the Garden in 2014
And be sure to see the photos on the Faces in the Crowd page to see some of the 1500+ attendees and how they enjoyed the performance.
Michael and Deb Johns with Andy and Norma Hoffman
in front of Dante
Nacy Panzica inducted into Cleveland International Hall of Fame
Nacy Panzica was inducted into the 2013 Class of the Cleveland International Hall of Fame in a dinner ceremony on Wedenesday May 8, 2013. Nacy joined a stellar class of inductees. He was inducted by Angie Spitalieri, Executive Director of Northern Ohio Italian American Foundation and Business Manager of La Gazzetta Italiana.
The kickoff event for the 2012 Cleveland Italian American Heritage Month took place in the Rotunda of Cleveland City Hall on October 1, 2012. The recognition ceremony was sponsored by the Cleveland Italian American Heritage Committee with Rose A. Zitiello serving as Chair and Councilman Matt Zone as Co-Chair.
Antoinette Didato, with Mayor Frank Jackson and Councilman Matt Zone, was presented the 2012 Individual award
You've seen Italian Culinary Specialist Mario Rizzotti from Academia Barilla on the Iron Chef Show. Here he tells us how to tell if olive oil, balsamic vinegar and other products are authentic Italian. Also why he doesn't use bread to taste oils. From the Fabulous Food Show in Cleveland, Ohio.
If you weren't one of the 1300 or so who attended the opera in the Italian Cultural Garden on July 29, 2012 you can see 4 pages photos and videos from the evening.
Dan Doty and Rebecca Freshwater
The Solon Italian Club announced recently that Don DeRoia was selected “Man of the Year” for 2012-2013. This is an honor bestowed on a member of the organization who best exemplifies the spirit of the club.
Don is a tireless worker and an always-willing man behind the scene, volunteering on several committees, cooking and serving for club events and pitching in wherever possible. He is has been a member of the Solon Italian Club since 2002 and is currently serving his second term as Secretary of the organization.
Don works for ConAgra Foods. He and his wife, Marie live in Solon and have three children, Andrea, Don and David.
Don DeRoia family
The statue of Dante Alighieri was sculpted by Sandro Bonaiuto who was born in Cleveland, Ohio of Italian parents.
The Dante statue was unveiled and dedicated in a special ceremony in the Cleveland Italian Cultural Garden on June 29, 2012 that also celebrated the 66th anniversary of the Republic of Italy.
Ken Lanci, Mayor Jackson and sculptor Sandro Bonaiuto unveil the Dante statue
Members of Coro Brigata Alpina Julia Congedati performed at Cleveland City Hall
Dante's Divine Comedy Italian Cultural Garden - 9-18-11 Discussion and readings (in Italian and English) from the classic The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri in the Italian Cultural Garden. The Divine Comedy is considered the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature. Dante is known as the Father of the Italian language.