Italian American Digest JT DIGEST Summer 2018 June First (1) - Page 5

SUMMER 2018 I talian A merican D igest PAGE 5 The refurbished Piazza d’Italia will be the site of Opera at the Piazza on June 15. Moore proposed a public fountain surrounded by colonnades and fea- turing a campanile, an Italian style bell tower. The location selected for the piazza was in the city’s warehouse district, as the 1970’s was a time that saw much interest in reinvestment in the downtown neighborhood. It was hoped the piazza would help revital- ize the area. Completed and dedicated by Moon Landrieu’s succes- sor, Mayor Ernest M. “Dutch” Morial, the Piazza d’Italia was ac- claimed as a postmodern architectural master- piece. Unfortunately, nei- ther public nor private funding was secured to finance further redevelop- ment of the area; the piazza did not realize its full potential and deterio- rated. The site was cited as a “post- modern ruin” resembling the ruins of the classical structures from which it took it inspiration. Fortunately the most recent of at- tempts to renovate and refurbish the site have successfully brought the piazza back into the city’s conscious- ness and it may now achieve the prominence for which it was origi- nally intended. - Enrico Villamaino III FOUR SEASONS STATUES Nestled in the corners of Jackson Square are the statues of the Four Seasons. These marble statues were pur- chased by Domonique Lanata in 1851. The Lanata family is one of the earliest Italian families to settle in New Orleans. Each statue represents a sea- son: Winter is an old bearded man, muffled in a cloak; Spring is a young girl, holding flowers; Autumn is a mature woman, sickle in girdle; and Summer is a young man, legs crossed, book at breast, luxuriant grapes resting on a tree trunk on which he leans. The Four Seasons Statues are amongst the oldest in Louisiana and a hidden gem in our city. - Megan Celona IMMIGRATION The first Italians came to Louisiana as explorers in the seven- teenth and eighteenth centuries. In the eigh- teenth century many Italians, primarily from northern Italy, arrived in Louisiana. The early Italian immigrants started businesses and supported the development of the arts. According to the Census Bureau, between 1850 and 1870 there were more Italians in New Orleans than anywhere else in the United States. In 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi led a successful expedition to conquer the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies which was ruled by the French Bourbons. In 1861, the Kingdom of Italy was created and the country unified, mi- nus Venice and Rome, which joined in 1866 and 1870 respectively. While unified geographically, the people were deeply divided along class, linguistic, regional and social lines. In southern Italy, the gap between wealthy landowners and poor peas- ants grew wider; many Southern Italians could not afford to purchase land. This coupled with the threat of organized crime and abject poverty motivated many Southern Italians to immigrate to the Americas. Tricentennial cont. on page 6 Summer is one of the Four Seasons statues in New Orleans.