WASHINGTON: The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) celebration is this weekend. Join the festivities for the new NIAF Museum opening on Friday, to the Expo Italiano, a full day of all things Italian, wine, food, gelato and more on Saturday.
The Saturday night awards gala will be followed by a rollicking after party and, on Sunday morning, mass at the Holy Rosary Church, the Italian National Parish of Washington.
Italian Heritage in America is rich and original
And the group has plenty to celebrate, going back to the actual writing of the Declaration of Independence.
Born in 1730, Philip Mazzei was a surgeon, merchant, diplomat, and writer. Mazzei is known for his ideas on separation of the Church and State, equality and liberty and natural rights.
He is often credited with being the first to use the expression “All men are by nature equally free and independent, and all men are equal.”
In 1774, William Paca, an original signer of the Declaration of Independence was born in Maryland to parents that are thought to be from Benevento and Naples, Italy. Paca was a successful lawyer and Maryland legislator. He was a member of the Continental Congress that rose up against the British. And he is an original signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Constantino Beltrami was an author, traveler and amateur anthropologist. He aligned with explorer William Clark and he quickly became engrossed with the American West and the native Indian. Beltrami chronicled his experiences in the new frontier writing books about his experiences with the Sioux, Chippewa, and Objibway people.
These are just three early Italian influencers who called America, and her early growth, their own. (Read about more Italian American influencers at Milestones of the Italian American Experience)
“The Anniversary Gala Weekend is not only NIAF’s preeminent event promoting and inspiring a positive image of Italian Americans, but it also provides much-needed scholarships to students and funds a variety of important projects,” said John Calvelli, executive vice president of public affairs, Wildlife Conservation Society and NIAF Gala chair. “This year we’re excited to highlight the region of Puglia, the famous heel of Italy’s boot that is considered the Tuscany of the South.”
Grand Opening of the National Italian American Foundation Museum on Italian Immigration
The NIAF Museum on Italian Immigration recounts the hardships that Italian immigrants faced from enduring the journey across the Atlantic by ship, to living in the U.S. and to their successes in the fields of music, entertainment, government, business and the extraordinary achievements of Italian American women.
The museum will feature historical art and artifacts and digital presentations providing visitors insight into the Italian American experience, including a new exhibit from Italy, Lontane Americhe: Faraway Americas.
The museum will have its grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, October 12 at 2:00pm . The event is open to the public. The NIAF Italian American Museum is located at the National Italian American Foundation’s headquarters at The Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Building, (1860 19th Street NW, Washington, D.C.)
The 43rd Anniversary of the National Italian American Foundation
Friday evening, Lidia Bastianich, Emmy Award-winning television host, best-selling cookbook author, and restauranteur will host an intimate three-course dinner and wine pairings featuring Puglia-inspired cuisine. Puglia is the NIAF 2018 Region of Honor.
Bastianich also will be available to sign her sixth, and latest book, My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family, and Food.
Saturday Expo Italiana
The Expo Italiana, open all day Saturday, is free and features more than 60 Italian American and Pugliese exhibitors. Attendees will be able to taste Italian wines and foods, including gelator from Dolci Gelati.
Also featured will be a presentation on Luigi Del Bianco, chief carver of Mount Rushmore.
The NIAF Gala Reception and Awards Gala
The NIAF Gala is a black-tie event of more than 2,000 attendees toasting a select group of honorees who have contributed at the highest levels in business, science, the arts, and government.
This year’s recipients include Lidia Bastianich, Vincent Boccia, president, Confindustria; Giovanni Caforio, M.D., chairman/CEO of Bristol-Myers Squibb; Antonio De Matteis, CEO, Kiton; Cav. Lav. Vito Pertosa, founder, Angel Group; and Carl Schramm, an American economist and entrepreneur.
Master of Ceremonies is Mark DeCarlo, three-time Emmy Award winner, comedian, and travel and foodie, expert. An Italian themed auction features a large selection of high-end offerings, including signed memorabilia, restaurants, and trips.
The annual after-party features live music and spirited sing-alongs.
A Sunday Mass, in Italian, will be celebrated October 14 at 10:30am at Holy Rosary Church, the Italian National Parish of Washington.
For more information, sponsorship information, or to purchase tickets, visit www.niaf.org/gala.