agosto 2020
around the neighborhood
Madonnari Arts Festival postponed
Little Italy Neighborhood Association and Baltimore Jazz Alliance have announced the Little Italy Madonnari Arts Festival will be postponed until September 2021. During the hiatus, a permanent mural and gallery dedicated to Madonnari will be created - the first of its kind in the United States and only the second outside of Italy. Artist Michael Kirby (left) has begun the mural on Slemmers Alley; it will consist of five vignettes on a backdrop of Renaissance architecture. (Watch the artist in action daily between 6-11 am.) The mural will serve as an entranceway into Little Italy and a permanent promotion of the arts festival. A video production will follow its progress and later posted on the Madonnari's website. The mural is funded by grants from Maryland State Arts Council and SouthEast CDC.

Plight of the Little Italy Lodge: All Lodge events for August have been canceled. As officers of the Little Italy Lodge consider the options available for its future - while it suffers financial ramifications of the pandemic - there is strong sentiment the Lodge is seen by many as core to the identity of Little Italy, that it is more than only a building, and that the people and families of those who provided the land, materials and labor to build it view it as much more than a financial issue. Moving forward, the Lodge Council will identify, investigate and gather information on possible courses of action for the future of the Lodge. Once that effort is completed, the membership base will be informed and asked for guidance on how best to proceed. No decisions will be made without members' input.

Pandola Learning Center delivers online courses: After the Rev. Oreste Pandola Learning Center in Little Italy had provided several online classes in the spring, students offered positive reviews and an interest for more online classes for the fall. Teachers and staff, therefore, are in the process of developing and designing curriculum for fall Italian language classes and possibly one for children. In addition, cultural and culinary Saturday sessions are being planned for in person as usual at the Center housed in St. Leo's School on Stiles Street. (Full safety precautions will be in place to follow health department guidelines.) It will not be possible to resume the original class schedule in-school in late summer or early fall; hopefully, the regular curriculum can resume in late fall or winter. Spring 2020 registrations will be transferred to the next session. With questions, email or call Rosalie Ranieri, principal, at 410.866.8494.

FBI, police, investigate Columbus statue crime: The FBI and Baltimore City Police are investigating the July 4th Columbus statue toppling in Little Italy by a throng of protestors. Hopefully, they will be able to identify the primary culprits; no arrests have been made as of this writing. Meanwhile, the broken statue is being repaired by a professional sculptor in Maryland - it will not be put back in its place in Columbus Piazza, instead moved to private property. Fundraising is ongoing for restoration and legal action, as well as to construct an iron fence around the statue's base to protect it from further vandalism. [See 'donate' link below.]

Italian Heritage Festival: Since Baltimore City is not issuing permits at this time for gatherings of more than 10 people, it's likely that plans for the second annual Italian Heritage Festival will not move forward for October. (More will be known in September.) The event initiated in 2019 and correlated with the Wreath-laying Ceremony in Columbus Piazza and the Columbus Parade planned by the Italian American community, in existence for almost 130 years, the longest-running of its kind across the nation.

Related Columbus statue articles:
Donations are being collected for several local Italian American
organizations fighting the Columbus statue crime of July 4th.
St. Leo's artwork restored, Masses resume
st leo's under scaffolding-1
Scaffolding inside St. Leo's Church was erected during the restoration of the artwork above the altar. The project is expected to be finished this month for which funds were donated. When you're comfortable attending Mass, please come to see the beautiful restoration!

Saturday 4:30 pm and Sunday 9:30/11:30 am Masses have resumed.

St. Leo's offers online giving: Because of the pandemic, St. Leo's Church was forced to cancel both of its 2020 summer Italian festivals, major fundraisers for the parish. If you are able to assist them with any donation amount, online giving is available or mail a check:
St. Leo's Church
227 S. Exeter Street
Little Italy /
Baltimore, MD 21202

(If you use weekly envelopes, please include yours.)
Q: What measures are being taken due to COVID during Masses, and what has changed? Is Communion still being offered and how is that handled? I am interested to return but want to understand the new normal.

A: Thank you for asking. Prayerfully follow your feelings. No one is being pushed beyond their comfort level. God bless you and keep you well! Here's what St. Leo's is doing:

- The church is sanitized after each Mass.

- Pews are blocked and sectioned to keep correct social distancing.

- Communion is distributed at the end of Mass so people can leave immediately after receiving the Host.

- Eucharistic Ministers sanitize their hands before distributing Communion and wear masks.

- All who enter the church must wear masks.

- 'Sign of Peace' includes no shaking of hands.

- Hand sanitizer is available at each entrance.

- Communion is offered only in the hand.

- Attendance is lower than usual, therefore, there is plenty of space for those wishing to attend Mass in person.
Little Italy restaurants are still cooking!
Little Italy restaurants wish to serve you while keeping staff, customers, and the community safe. Not ready to visit in person? Consider buying gift cards for future use. Gift card purchases are a great way to support your favorite Italian restaurant!

THANK YOU for supporting Little Italy's
family-owned businesses.
blast from the past
Angelina (née Cala) Casale (pictured in the 1930s) from Villa Rosa, Sicily, immigrated in 1918 and opened Casale's Grocery in East Baltimore. “My mom told me many stories about Nonna Angelina’s store,” said Mary Jean DeLauney. “Nonna knew which families were needy. As they purchased wares, she added an extra loaf of bread or pound of butter.” Angelina baked Italian bread to sell; her 6-year-old grandson, Paulie, used to dig out the centers, push the loaves together inside the display case, and would then bite the butter. “My grandparents thought they had rats!” said Mary Jean, “until one day they found him in action.” (Submitted by Mary Jean DeLauney.)

This vintage photo - and almost 200 more captivating photos -
is being published in a new book, Italians in Baltimore,
by Suzanna Rosa Molino.
Photographs and documents
in this book were submitted
by families of Baltimore
Italian immigrants.

This new title will be
available November 2, 2020.
Think Christmas gift!

Proceeds benefit the mission of the nonprofit Promotion Center for Little Italy, Baltimore.
$40/ad (reg. $60) or
$150 for 4 ads for remainder of 2020
paid sponsors
from our e-mailbox
"Good write up of July newsletter."
~ Gary M.

"Buongiorno! Thank you for sharing your newsletter with me. I'm going to share with family so they're aware and can donate to a worthy cause." ~ Daniel S.

"In the midst of the chaos regarding the Columbus statues, it's refreshing to see a publication regarding the heritage and contributions made by Italians. Unfortunately, I think we became much too comfortable and complacent with ourselves over the years. I think the notion everybody loves us ... look at the pasta, pizza, and so much delicious food people think we have. Look at how people flock to Italy every year, the luxury goods and cars we are loved for. We became too comfortable in thinking we were untouchable. We've been reduced to pasta, pizza and recipes. We need to bring to the surface, especially to our younger generations, our history in coming to America. The sacrifices we made so they can have what they have. We need to stop peddling the cheese and start influencing them on how important it is to have respect and integrity." ~ Maria T. C.

"Your words about the destruction of the Columbus Statue were fair and helped put perspective on why, even if people can, now better understand the explorer’s mixed legacy, the statue and memorial represented much more to us. I hate what happened to it and the video is disturbing. But there have been a number of disturbing videos these past months. And I think we are being called to re-examine many of our beliefs in this important moment.
When you wrote about it representing our grandparents' experiences immigrating here, that really resonated for me. The link to the civic groups letter was compelling, too, because through my volunteering at the Little Italy Lodge and St. Leo's, I know so many of the people and families who worked to erect the statue. Your words gave voice to my very conflicted feelings about the statue being pulled down."
~ Maureen C.

"I am so devastated and very angry after those [demonstrators] tore down the statue and threw it in the water. These ignorant individuals have no idea about real history. All I can do is pray for them as much as I don't want to." ~ Travis R.
"I received your latest Neighborhood News from Little Italy issue and I have a one-word reaction ... heartbreaking. After being born and raised in Little Italy (I'm 82), no other word comes to mind after reading of the closings, the church, and Columbus statue incident, et al. I had already decided that the world has gone completely NUTS but to watch Little Italy being dismantled and torn apart is beyond almost anything that every happened to me." ~ Joe P.

"Dear Little Italy: I am of mostly German descent, but I am outraged by what the evil radical mob did to the Columbus statue. While Columbus has a mixed legacy, and cannot be uncritically admired, we also should not let a mob dictate to us. I hope that you decide to sue the City of Baltimore. Their failure to protect this property caused this." ~ Brent B.

"Our family has a long history in the neighborhood. My grandparents Giovanni and Beatrice Iori (Yori) settled in Little Italy In 1914. They ran a little grocery store and had an ice and oil delivery business to support their family. My father, Joseph Yori, was born there in 1928. I was born there, baptized at St. Leo’s, and lived the first part of my life down the street from that little store. Even after my parents moved out of the city, we were always a part of the neighborhood supporting the festivals and other neighborhood events. One of the last things my father and I did together before he passed away was attend the Saint Anthony festival together.
My father loved that statue. He had such pride in the neighborhood and what that statue represented. My heart was broken when I saw the video of what happened." ~ Joann Y. W.

Director & Founder

Ray Alcaraz
Co-Founder & President

Celebrating 10 years! Promotion Center for Little Italy, Baltimore is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 2010 with a mission to promote Little Italy's events, community organizations, church, history, and Italian heritage.