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Franky in New York

The Beautiful Life

And just like that, it's Holiday Season again... Are you ready for Christmas and the New Year approaching? We bet you are - and in case not, we've got you covered. Just scroll down: you'll find a pinch of traditional Italian American celebrations with a photo book focused on the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a glimpse of the Italian Christmas Markets, and the New Year's resolutions shared by some Franky's dearest friends.

Also, if you are looking for an inspiration that makes your heart smile, check Renée Louise's story, and how she has reconnected to her Italian family tracking back the journey her Grandma Maria Grazia made a century ago from Castelfranco in Miscano, province of Benevento, to Bridgeport, Connecticut.

'Tis the Season folks! Happy Holidays you all!
What does "New Year's resolution" sound like in Italian? It's the proponimento per il nuovo anno. Now, don't be scared: it may look awfully complicated, but it's not. "Proponimento" (proh-poh-nee-maè-ntow) is a derivative from the verb "proporre", that means "to propose". As almost always with words, follow the Latin: "proporre" comes from "propònere", whose literal meaning is "to put something before someone's eyes". If you visualize it, you can easily see how the figurative meaning has followed. In the reflexive form, "proporre" becomes "proporsi" and it means "to make a promise to ourselves": "proponimento" stems from it. This is exactly what we do when the new year arrives: a promise to ourselves, which we'll try to honor.
The Magical Italian Christmas Eves
Sitting around the table for an Italian family Holiday dinner is much more than simply gathering to eat together and celebrate. It's memories flying from the past, senses awakening to forgotten flavors, it's sharing recipes and sometimes revisiting them for the younger generations. Daniel Paterna, a photographer born and raised in Brooklyn to a Neapolitan family, and a second generation Italian American, knows the feeling very well. He has always enjoyed sitting at his grandparents' table, even for an ordinary Sunday meal, because he felt - even as a kid - that there was more than just food. Like when, after a meal, his Grandma used to take out the box with photos and postcards from her loved ones she left in Italy.

Once a photographer, Daniel hasn't forgotten that feeling. Indeed, he has chased it up and down his Brooklyn neighborhood, framing in his shots all the images that evoked to him those familiar vibes. And what is more Italian American than the Feast of the Seven Fishes, stemming from the Italian tradition of eating seafood at Christmas Eve? This particular ritual, a staple in any Italian American home, is spotlighted in a photographical project, Feast of the Seven Fishes: A Brooklyn Italian's Recipes Celebrating Food and Family, a sumptuous volume in which Daniel has poured all his love and memories, besides his artistic skills. Not only has he taken dozens of shots to the recipes, and to the places in Brooklyn where food is sold, bought, and prepared. He has tracked down his own family recipes, each one revealing a story, an anecdote, a glimpse of the Italian life in Brooklyn. "This is my intensely personal portrayal that powerfully illustrates the essence of the American experience: the ways food, family, and memory are preserved and changed by the immigrants who brought them to our shores, and the children of those immigrants who keep the flame alive."

To know more about Daniel Paterna, visit his website The book, published by powerHouse Books, is available on their website ( and on all major platforms.

IN 2022 I WANT TO...
What are we expecting from the coming year? And from ourselves? We've asked some Franky's friends what their New Year's resolutions are: these are their answers.
In Maria Grazia's Footsteps
When Maria Grazia Paoletta sailed across the ocean leaving native Castelfranco in Miscano, province of Benevento, to settle in Bridgeport, Connecticut, it was 1921 and she was 18. She left her hometown, but barely no one behind: her parents had passed, so had her little brother. The older one was already in the States, waiting for her. Maria Grazia was a strong woman, still at a young age: in Bridgeport she found a big community of Castelfranchesi, and even though she wasn't a true socialite, she passed the desire to connect with the Italian side of the family to her granddaughter Renée Louise.

Eight decades later, in the summer 2000, Renée Louise took a long trip to Europe before starting her new job. And of course she paid a visit to Castelfranco. "I was so eager to track back my maternal Grandma's journey, and to see where she came from. Now I can say it's been a life-changing adventure." Despite her little Italian (back then) and the almost zero English spoken by the Castelfranchesi, Renée discovered a loving extended family, made of dozens of "cousins", some family-related and many just at heart. She has kept going back to Castelfranco whenever possible (she's there right now, for her first Italian Christmas Holiday ever), and has looked up for anyone with Castelfranco ancestry. Until a few weeks ago - just in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Maria Grazia's journey - she founded The New Castelfranco Society, a Facebook and Instagram group that also has a newsletter. "I started just wondering where all this would lead me." says Renée, who goes emotional each time she speaks about Grandma Maria Grazia. "The feedback I got has been overwhelming." Next summer, Renée is planning to organize guided group tours in Castelfranco, not only to see the town but also to search for the papers testifying the history of the ones who, just like Maria Grazia, left their homeland for the unknown.

Interested in The New Castelfranco Society and in what they do? Find the link to the newsletter in their Instagram bio, or send an email at 
Christmas Market's Wonderland
Whether you are looking for a last minute gift or simply want to dive into the magic of the Christmas atmosphere, the Christmas markets are truly a Wonderland - and the ones in Italy are even better as they take place in architecturally stunning locations. Here's what our friends Ilene and Gary Modica from Our Italian Journey ( found when they visited the Christmas Market in Arezzo. And what follows is Ilene's journal of the trip.

"A quick day trip from Lucca took us back to one of our favorite towns, Arezzo, located on the far eastern end of Tuscany. Even with the rainy weather, we traveled with a group of friends to experience the beautiful Christmas Market this time of year.
We arrived as evening began to fall: as darkness emerged - the magic began. Piazza Grande was transformed into a winter wonderland filled with bright colors and lights beyond belief. Video mapping created moving snowflakes on one of the main buildings at the top end of the piazza. 
The market was busy with vendors selling food, pretzels, and hot cocoa with rum were two of our favorites, to hats, scarves, and mittens, ornaments in every shape and texture, as well as decorations for the home. Chocolate in various flavors and bundles were individually wrapped: that was one of the most crowded stands. The antique market usually held in this piazza has been relocated up to the Duomo area for December. 
It was an incredible few hours enjoying the beautiful lights, delicious treats, the chilly dry weather, and getting into the holiday spirit."

Arezzo Christmas Market will be in place until December 26th. Other renowned markets in Italy are open well after Christmas. Here are some: Bolzano (until January 6), Trento (until January 9), Milano (aka O Bej O Bej, until January 6), Bologna (until January 6). In Napoli, there's a special Christmas market going on all year long: the Artisan Presepe Market in via San Gregorio Armeno. 
Pack Your Luggage, Sicily Is Waiting For You

She's been put on hold by the pandemic, but finally her dream has come true again - and now nothing will stop her. Karen La Rosa, founder of La RosaWorks Sicily Tours & Travel ( is a Sicilian American who has been working for years between Sicily and the U.S. going back and forth, touring people through an authentic Sicilian experience. Now she's in full gear planning for 2022. First appointment, the Spring Western Sicily Tour in June, then there will be the Crossroads of the Mediterranean West in September, and a special October Southeastern Sicily Tour in partnership with Untold Italy's podcast host Kathy Clarke. What are you waiting for?

Contact Karen, and get a free Sicilian treat
Just for The Beautiful Life subscribers, Karen offers a special promo. Contact her through the website to discuss a tour to Sicily and receive a free Sicilian treat. Don't forget to include the phrase "Franky sent me".
The Little Orchestra Society, aka L.O.S., is back on stage with a special new season to celebrate its 75th anniversary and pay a loving tribute to the memory of its late founder, Joanne Bernstein-Cohen. L.O.S., traditionally focused on the youngest audience, combines theater, video, dancing, original scripts, and expertly crafted music education to form an engaging entrée into how music can spark creativity, add meaning and purpose in life, and build life skills in both the aspiring musician and the avid listener. This way, experiencing this music becomes like hearing from an old friend. The season includes four concerts, with more than a pinch of Italian tradition with two performances dedicated to Vivaldi and the Opera. 

Details of the program, starting January 29th at The Kaye Playhouse at The Hunter College in NYC, at
One last smile

before you go...
We already knew that nothing can stop Italian Grannies. Now we have the proof. After the world's longest carpet, 3,000 feet long, they have struck again. The Trivento Grandmas, a group of restless ladies from the province of Campobasso, have realized this one-of-a-kind Christmas tree with 1,300 granny squares: woolen crocheted "tiles". The tree will stay in Trivento until Befana Day, on January 6th. If you are over there for the Holidays, you may want to plan a detour and take a look at this.
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