The Italian Americans

Being Italian

Being Italian

Share memories of your Italian Heritage with The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) and they could be featured on the website for the upcoming documentary series, The Italian Americans, set to debut February 17th and 24th on PBS (check local listings)!

  • Entries can be in the form of text, photo, or YouTube Video and stories should support the website’s mission to celebrate Italian American culture and history (recipes, celebrations, family traditions, sports, music, family, neighborhood, military service).
  • Submitted entries must be relevant to the topic of the site; may not include profanity, personal attacks or hate speech; may not promote a business or raise money; and may not be spam. Anything you submit should be your own original work, photo or video.
  • You can send your entries to NIAF via Direct Message on Facebook or by using the hashtag #ItalianAmericansPBS on Twitter.

Marianna Gatto

Submitted by: PBS SoCal

Marianna Gatto is the Executive Director of the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles and author of Los Angeles’s Little Italy. Marianna is a passionate and devoted historian of the largely invisible and forgotten Italian community of Southern California which, ironically, traces its history to 1827, when the region was still part of Mexico.

Joe Buscaino

Submitted by: PBS SoCal

Joe Buscaino, L.A. City Council Member 15th District. Joe is a first-generation Italian American whose parents immigrated from Sicily in the 1960s. Joe was an LAPD officer for 15 years before running for L.A. City Council in 2012. Within the district he represents is San Pedro, today home to approximately 40,000 Italian Americans, the largest Italian community in the region. Joe has lived in the 15th Council District all his life which includes the Port of Los Angeles and the communities of San Pedro, Wilmington, Harbor City, Harbor Gateway and Watts.


Piero Selvaggio

Submitted by: PBS SoCal

Piero Selvaggio Owner, Valentino Restaurant. Born in Sicily, Piero immigrated to California in his early teens to live and work with his uncle who was a waiter at Chasen's. His first job was at a Hollywood party that Chasen's catered. A decade later he opened Valentino, one of the best Italian restaurants in the United States. He is credited with introducing authentic Italian cuisine to SoCal.


Steve Riboli

Submitted by: PBS SoCal

Steve Riboli is Vice President at San Antonio Winery, the last remaining winery in downtown Los Angeles. Owned and operated by four generations of the Italian-American Riboli family since its founding, the original San Antonio Winery in Los Angeles is a hidden gem and historical landmark which operates in the same community where it was founded over 98 years ago. Still sitting on its original location on Lamar Street at the time the heart of Los Angeles Italian American community, the winery is the last vestige of the rich winemaking tradition of the greater Los Angeles area.


LAaRT: Watts Towers

Submitted by: PBS SoCaL

Built by Italian American Simon Rodia, the scope and scale of the Watts Towers in Los Angeles are only matched by their fascinating history and artistic importance.


Bishop Frank J. Caggiano

Submitted by: WLIW

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano – Born in the Gravesend area of Brooklyn on Easter Sunday in 1959. His parents arrived in America in 1958 from the town of Caggiano in the province of Salerno, Italy. After a brief period as a sales representative at McGraw Hill Publishing Company, he began seminary studies and was ordained a priest. He later became Vicar General for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, and currently serves as Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, CT.

Pascal J. de Caprariis MD

Submitted by: WLIW

Pascal J. de Caprariis MD, FAAFP and Angela de Caprariis-Salerno, M.S. (brother and sister) – Brooklyn-born. Both followed the professional medical path of their grandfather, Pasquale, who came to America in 1899. His family had historically been comprised of physicians, lawyers, and professors in Italy.  Pascal is an MD known for his work in infectious diseases Angela has a Masters in Pharmacy.

Pat LaFrieda, Jr. and Sr.

Submitted by: WLIW

Pat LaFrieda, Jr. and Sr. (father and son) – of Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors, were both born in Brooklyn. Their ancestors came to the U.S. from Naples in the early 20th century and landed in Elizabeth, NJ. “Meat men” for generations, they brought their butchery business to Brooklyn and eventually back to Bergen, NJ. They are now suppliers of the finest meats in America to America’s finest restaurants.

Dr. Teresa Fiore

Submitted by: WLIW

Dr. Teresa Fiore – Born in southern Italy and emigrated to the U.S. in 1995, she holds the Inserra Endowed Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies at Montclair State University in NJ and serves as Associate Professor of Italian in the Department of Spanish and Italian.  Fiore's teaching and research interests include 19th-, 20th-, and 21st-century Italian literature, Italian cinema, Italian American culture, and immigration in contemporary Italy. She organizes and promotes Italian studies and Italian-American studies throughout the campus and the communities.

John L. Heyer II

Submitted by: WLIW

John L. Heyer II – Grew up and still lives in South Brooklyn (Carroll Gardens). Funeral Director, Pastoral Associate and Church Archivist at Sacred Hearts St. Stephen’s Church, Development Officer for Futures in Education and the Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn and Queens.  Active in the Carroll Gardens community, the Borough of Brooklyn and two neighborhood social clubs, he is committed to keeping Italian-American traditions alive through the younger generation. 

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