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Local Italian-American Club celebrates food, culture, and language

Created date

October 14th, 2016
Linden Ponds residents Ann Fogarty and Joe Campanelli represented the Italian-American Club at a recent activities fair, where residents could get information about all of the clubs and committees on campus.

Linden Ponds residents Ann Fogarty and Joe Campanelli represented the Italian-American Club at a recent activities fair, where residents could get information about all of the clubs and committees on campus.

The retirees who live at Linden Ponds relate to one another based on a variety of different shared interests and commonalities. One topic that brings residents together is common cultural heritage. The Erickson Living community’s robust resident-run Italian-American Club on campus does just that.

Mangia, mangia

Not surprisingly, club members love to enjoy Italian cuisine. Several times a year, the 50-some club members gather for meals at local Italian restaurants like La Scala. 

Resident Ann Fogarty, who acquired her Irish surname through marriage, serves as current president of the club. Ann’s mother hails from Genova, Italy, and her father was born in the Abruzzi region. Ann speaks fluent Italian and has visited Italy several times. 

“I spoke Italian before English,” she says. “My mother and father always spoke Italian in the house, but we learned English in school.” 

She says the Italian-American Club also meets for special dinners in Linden Ponds’ on-site private dining room, where they enjoy Italian meals prepared specially for them by the dining services staff.

“They do a good job cooking Italian food,” Ann says. “We have antipasto, and then they might serve chicken Parmesan, lasagna, or maybe shrimp scampi. For dessert, we might have Italian ice cream, spumoni, and, of course, wine. We also have some delicious Italian pastries that people can take home with them.”

Italian cultural events

The Italian-American Club also organizes outings to enjoy Italian-themed cultural events in Boston and surrounding towns. 

Ann says they typically go to the Feast of St. Anthony, an Italian festival in Boston’s North End. The lively four-day event takes place every August and features a parade, live entertainment, and all kinds of mouthwatering Italian street food.

“They have all these tables where people sell homemade cannoli and all kinds of other foods,” Ann says. “You can buy jewelry, pocketbooks, Italian T-shirts—you name it.”

After enjoying the festival, club members usually go out for dinner at a great Italian restaurant. Ann says one of her favorite local spots for Italian food is The Venetian in Weymouth, Mass. 

Films from the homeland 

Resident Joe Campanelli is a former vice president of the Italian-American Club. Joe’s family originates from Bari, Italy, and he has also visited the country several times. However, he didn’t learn to speak the language.

“My folks only spoke it to themselves so the kids couldn’t hear what they were saying,” he says with a laugh. 

Joe has created videos of his travels to Italy, as well as to Switzerland and France. They have been aired on Linden Ponds’ in-house television station. 

Joe arranges showings of Italian films and documentaries for the club. One of the films Joe has shown is about MOSE, a project to protect the city of Venice and the Venetian Lagoon from flooding. Over the summer, Joe showed a documentary about potential plans to connect Sicily to the Italian mainland via railroad.

At monthly Italian-American Club meetings, Ann typically does some sort of fun Italian-themed presentation. At one recent meeting, she taught the group some Italian words and phrases. During another meeting, she recited a poem about Italian-Americans and their history.

“I try to say something positive and inspirational at every meeting,” she says. “I try to make it interesting.”

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