Italian American Digest: Summer 2016

Vol. 43 No. 2 Summer 2016 Circulation 20,000 The Piazza’s Long Road to Glory Downtown’s Embattled Landmark Awaits Development Worthy of It T by Robin Heindselman he Piazza d’ Italia, the postmodern landmark that has divided public opinion since its completion in 1978, may be the slowest comeback story in recent memory. Considered an architectural masterpiece by many, the plaza has also weathered a reputation as a municipal boondoggle that never fulfilled its potential as a monument to the contributions of New Orleans’ Italian community. While much-needed renovations to the plaza are still underway, a promising development deal fell through in May, which means the city-owned surface parking lots flanking the Piazza will remain for the foreseeable future. The city had been in talks with Mexico-based ICD Sitra to develop a $126 million Hard Rock hotel project that would replace the parking lots. Those negotiations ended in May after ICD Sitra failed to submit documents on time and disputed the city’s lease terms, according to officials with the Canal Street Development Corp. While it has been reported that ICD Sitra considers the failure a “misunderstanding” and hopes to resume talks, for now the city agency Upcoming Programs at American Italian Cultural Center Italian Citizenship Information Session June 9, 6:00-7:00 p.m. Join the AICC to learn how you could become an Italian citizen. Find out if you are eligible for dual citizenship and what steps you need to take. To register, visit our website or send an email to: Italian Cooking Class June 30, 6:00-8:30 p.m. Join the AICC for an Italian cooking class led by Andrea Apuzzo, chef-proprietor of Andrea’s Restaurant. The class includes a three-course Italian meal with wine pairing. The class is limited to 30 students, so sign up today on our website. Above: The Piazza d’Italia today. Right: The city’s restoration plans include getting the Piazza’s fanciful water features flowing again. will continue to seek other developers for the site. The good news is that plans for restoration of the plaza are still very much in effect. Aside from getting the fountain flowing again, plans include grouting the stone for ADA compliance, repairing and painting the stucco, and replacing the neon lights with LED lights to increase efficiency and lower maintenance costs. Summer Language Classes Beginning the week of July 18 The AICC Italian Language Lessons are offered at four different levels. Sign up today on our website, Travel to Italy With Us! Restoring the fountain will likely be the most labor-intensive task of all; engineers plan to disasPiazza cont. on page 3 Sept. 12-22 (deadline to opt in, June 29) Join us for our first group tour to Italy, led by Alessandro, our native Italian language teacher. Reservations are limited. Call 504-522-7294 or email Alessandro at Italian American Digest 537 South Peters Street New Orleans, LA 70130 AIRF’s First GiveNOLA Day a Success T by Julia Dean Pre-Sort Standard U.S. Postage PAID Permit #289 N.O., LA he American Italian Renaissance Foundation participated in its first GiveNOLA Day on May 3. A charitable holiday, GiveNOLA Day is the community’s online-giving event to inspire people to donate to the nonprofit organizations that strengthen and fortify the community. To celebrate the occasion, the American Italian Cultural Center hosted a GiveNOLA Day party, complete with Italian cookies donated by Angelo Brocato’s and sample Italian language classes, as well as complimentary tours of the American Italian Museum. Volunteers Frances Conner, John Conner and Alexis Navarro generously donated their time to give tours of the museum and greet visitors on GiveNOLA Day. The American Italian Renaissance Foundation received numerous donations despite the malfunction of GiveNOLA Day’s online platform. Funds received from GiveNOLA Day will go toward sup- porting the American Italian Cultural Center, the American Italian Museum, the Italian American Digest and the American Italian Research Library, located in the Special Collections of the East Bank Regional Library in Metairie. The Foundation aspires to raise even more funds and awareness of its organization for its second GiveNOLA Day next year.