Sunday, July 29, 2007


Two weeks ago, we visited New York City on our family vacation. As you may remember, I stayed in the area (Newark, NJ) for the 1994 World Cup game between Italy and Ireland but our only venture into the Big Apple was to see the Yankees play in the Bronx the night before. So seeing New York City proper has always been something I have wanted to do.

On our first night we stopped into a small pizzeria called "Bella Napoli" near Rockefeller Center. The food was good and there was the constant music of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra songs playing in the background which made for a good atmosphere. There were pictures of various members of the Azzurri posted on the wall behind the counter. There was one of German coach Jurgen Klinsmann holding a super-imposed pizza that I thought was pretty funny too.

The next day we visited Ellis Island. Even though my dad did not come through there I found it very moving as I thought of the thousands of immigrants that arrived there with only the clothes on their back and maybe a suitcase or a steamer trunk with all of there possessions. I know that some of the older Calabrese that my dad knew when I was a kid had probably come through there but sadly they are no longer around to ask.

The record for the most persons processed was 11,000 in one 12 hour period in 1907. That is nearly one thousand people per hour. The medical staff had roughly 6 seconds to scan an immigrant for illness or disease and mark their lapel or shirt with a code so they could receive aid if needed. It was truly an amazing place.

The Statue of Liberty was the second part of the tour and I found it interesting that we were required to go through a security check before we boarded the boat and again before we entered the actual Statue. Again it was quite an amazing place. The National Park Service does a good job of keeping the area clean and providing adequate food and restroom facilities too.

The following evening we took the Subway to Chinatown at Canal Street. From there it is just a few blocks to Mulberry Street and Little Italy. As soon as I got there I felt like I was somewhere else, somewhere familiar. In the back of my head I kept hearing the words to a whole bunch of Billy Joel songs too. "Big Man on Mulberry Street","Scenes from an Italian Restaurant", 52nd Street" and "Anthony's Song (Movin' Out)" to name a few.

The back cover of The Stranger album was in my thoughts too. The picture of Phil Ramone, Liberty DeVito, Doug Stegmeyer, Richie Canatta and Billy Joel on that album is reminiscent of some of the basements that I spent my childhood in. Lots of stories, lots of wine and lots of good food. For me, as an Italian kid growing up in the 70's, that picture was also my idea of being Italian and what being from New York must be like. Even though Billy Joel isn't Italian, I always thought that he played the part well.

As you might find in Italy or anywhere in Europe. there were merchandise stands with jersey's, photos and posters of the Azzurri. There were photos of Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro and Frank Sinatra among others. It was fun to browse and try to barter for a better price.

We ate dinner at a place called La Mela which means the "The Apple" in Italian. The food was good and there was a guy playing the guitar and singing songs. A few tables away were a group from Umbria. They were having a serious conversation about something in Italian and when they talked it sounded like they were reading poetry.

On the way out I noticed this table with some overweight middle aged guys and it looked like something right out of the Soprano's. Don't stare too long or you might get shot!

Little Italy was a great experience that didn't last long enough for me. For a brief second I felt like I might have been somewhere in Italy. Perhaps in Rome or maybe even in Fuscaldo with by dad's family.

Unfortunately the Italian identity has been diluted here in Cincinnati and isn't as noticeable as it might have been in the '70's when I was a kid. The elders don't get around very much anymore and the next generation and their kids have melded into the suburban mainstream.

While there are a few groups that continue some of the traditions, it just doesn't have the same feel that it had 30 years ago when I was a kid. I feel bad that my kids don't really get the chance to be around that very much. But I was very happy that they got to see Little Italy.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Francesco Totti announces his retirement from the National Team

Azzurri and AS Roma superstar Francesco Totti has announced that he is retiring from the National Squad. He said he is concerned about his long term health and thought it would be best to step aside at this point. Totti was only a few months removed from a horrific broken ankle when he played for the Azzurri in the World Cup last year. However he has not played for the National Team since then.

His announcement has ended nearly a year of speculation about his future. Of course this decision has sparked a full range of reactions from complete understanding to disappointment and even anger at the way he handled the situation. The National Soccer Federation (FIGC) had given him until the end of July to make up his mind due to upcoming Euro 2008 qualifiers against France and Ukraine in September.

Totti says he is retiring from the Azzurri

Time to move on says Totti

Donadoni diplomatic about decision

He honoured us

Totti selfish?

And now more criticism

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Time for a little touch-up

It is hard to believe that it has been a year since Italy defeated France in the 2006 World Cup Finals in Germany. The night before the game, I decided to give Blogger a try and come up with a place that other Azzurri fans could come for news about the team. Little did I know that it would consume me for the next two months.

Unfortunately, things like a job and everyday life can get in the way of a fun thing. So my work on this blog has diminished quite a bit. But I will continue to update the site if I run across something interesting. I will also keep updating it as the next round of qualifying games and the actual Euro 2008 tournament approach.

So in honor and celebration of this anniversary, I have added a couple of new sections entitled 2006 World Cup Videos and 2006 World Cup Fun Stuff. They contain various videos, mainly from YouTube, that are compilations of the games and post-game celebrations and some of the goofier things that followed.

Being a big U2 fan, I really like the compilation video using the song "One". The "Azzurro" video is also a favorite and it is surprising that some of the players are actually good singers but they are Italian so I would expect nothing less! The little clip of Roberto Baggio at the end of it is pretty cool since he has been one of my favorites for a long time. And my youngest son is a big Nintendo fan and we think the Ultimate Zidane Headbutt Compilation is hysterical with all of the video game references in it.

A few of the videos have been posted here before but now quick access to the Zidane head butt incident and others is just a few clicks away. So please enjoy.

And to my pal Isis. Thanks for being a good friend and giving me top billing on your blog. I hope you always realize that "Laif is nau"!!!

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