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      A big year at the Casa D’Italia

       
      By
      Feb. 6, 2013

      On November 1, 1936, Montreal’s Italian community gathered on Jean Talon Street in Little Italy to celebrate the opening of its community center. Seventy-six years later, the newly renovated Casa D’Italia continues to bring together the Italian community to celebrate all that is Italian.

      President of the Casa D’Italia Executive Board since 2010, Angela Minicucci and her dedicated team of staff and volunteers have put together a vast array of events and activities for the coming year.

      This year the Casa will present a four-part Education Series. The first installment, taking place from February 20 to 25, will look at the Regions of Italy, with a focus on Calabria, Sicily and Veneto. Events will include lectures, wine tastings, and travel experts.

      From March 18 to 24, the Week vs. Racism will feature a lecture on the rise of fascism and how it affected Italian Canadians, a lecture on the internment of Italian Canadians during World War II, an encore screening of the documentary film, Fifty Italians: The men who saved 50,000 Jewish lives, and the film premiere of La Main… et les autres.

      La cucina della Nonna will take center stage from April 25 to 28.

      “This is a fun one,” Minicucci comments.

      “It’s not just about cooking. We will be inviting grandmothers to share their secret recipes, but it’s really about what happens in the kitchen della nonna, basically how the nonna is the patriarch of the family… The decisions, events and social gatherings that all happen in the kitchen. We’re putting value on these women who are often forgotten,” she continues.

      The final installment of the Educational Series – Italian History Week – will run from June 10 to 16. The lectures will focus on all that is Italian, from the Roman Empire to the Italian immigrants in Canada.

      “Our goal is to make the Education Series an annual four-part series at the Casa,” Minicucci explains.

      Every year the series will focus on the same four subjects – regions of Italy, Week vs. Racism, La cucina della Nonna, and Italian History Week – with different topics, guests and events.

      On February 22, the Casa will host a six-course dinner that will celebrate the wines and poetry of Veneto. Countess Massimilla Serego Alighieri, an actual descendant of Dante Alighieri, will be the guest of honor. She will discuss the wines of the Masi and Serego Alighieri wine cellars in Italy.

      On the night of March 2, the Casa D’Italia will once again participate in Montreal’s annual Nuit Blanche. On March 9 and 10, the Casa D’Italia will celebrate International Women’s Day with a two-day conference and celebration. And when Montreal’s Italian Week comes around in August, the Casa will once again be a principal venue.

      From September 15 to December 15, the Casa D’Italia will present Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Times: Italian Canadian Experiences During WWII, a national travelling exhibit that commemorates the experience of Italian Canadians during World War II.

      The Vendemmia and the Fisarmonica Pazza events will take over the halls of the Casa in October. In November, cinema comes to the big screen at the Casa D’Italia with Cine-Vita, an annual three-day film festival.

      A vital part of the Casa D’Italia’s financial structure are three annual fundraisers that bring in $250,000 every year: the Texas Hold’Em Night in April, a golf tournament in May and the Casa’s annual banquet in November.

      “We still have to complete our capital campaign and we still have to complete some of our permanent exhibitions that pay homage to the Italian community. That is our primary focus in the coming years,” Minicucci comments.

      “We’re working really hard to build the Italian Canadian Archives of Canada that will be housed at the Casa. It’s going to be a collaborative effort. We have the material. We have the experts. But it takes funds at the structural phase to create a space that meets national archival standards,” she continues.

      “To me, this is just the barebones. There is so much more we want to do. We’re working on it,” Minicucci adds with a smile.

      The Casa D’Italia is located at 505 Jean Talon Est in Montreal’s Little Italy. They can be reached at (514) 271-2524. Their website – www.casaditaliamontreal.org – is scheduled to be re-launched this Spring.

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