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trinacariaThe Italian Cultural Foundation at Casa Belvedere and Guernica Editions will be holding a reception to honor the publication of Trinàcria: A Tale of Bourbon Sicily on Monday, October 7, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, at 79 Howard Avenue, Grimes Hill, Staten Island, New York. Author Anthony Di Renzo will read from and discuss his historical novel, which has earned positive advanced reviews in Italy and the United States.

“As the book’s sponsor, we are pleased to host this event,” Gina Biancardi, Casa Belvedere’s founder and president, says. “We’ve never formally supported an arts project before. Once the restoration of our hilltop mansion is complete, we look forward to providing a venue for other Italian and Italian American artists to showcase their work.”

Di Renzo’s novel reflects Casa Belvedere’s continued exploration of Italian national identity. During the 150th anniversary of the Risorgimento, the foundation staged a public debate on Italian Unification. Moderated by Cavaliere Vincenzo Marra, this lively exchange between Pino Aprile, author of Terroni (Piemme 2010), and Lorenzo del Boca, author of Polentoni (Piemme 2011) touched upon the often painful historical and political issues discussed in Trinàcria.

We believe Di Renzo’s novel is “a timely book”, and “could contribute significantly” to the ongoing review of the fundamental question ‘did unification benefit or ruin the Mezzogiorno, the ancestral region of most Italian immigrants?’ on both sides of the Atlantic.

Casa Belvedere emerged as Di Renzo and consultant Roberto Ragone’s first choice of sponsors because of its mission “to preserve and promote an appreciation of Italian language, arts, literature, history, fashion, cuisine, and commerce”. Between August 15 and December 13, 2012, the foundation raised nearly $8,000 for the book’s production, marketing, and distribution.

“Without Casa Belvedere’s help, Trinàcria never would have been published,” said Di Renzo, associate professor of writing and Italian American history at Ithaca College. “I am grateful for the foundation’s continued support and hope my novel will contribute to its success.”

Fittingly, Trinàcria’s book launch falls near the anniversary of the Battle of Volturno, where Giuseppe Garibaldi’s Redshirts and Piedmontese troops defeated the Neapolitan army. Like Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s The Leopard, the novel chronicles the destruction of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies during the Italian Revolution. Its title, however, derives from the ancient Greek name for Sicily. Trinàcria refers to the island’s triangular shape and the three-legged gorgon on its regional flag. It is also the nickname of the book’s narrator and protagonist, Zita Valanguerra Spinelli (1794-1882), Marchesa of Scalea, whose turbulent life mirrors Sicily’s rocky transition from feudalism to capitalism.

The story begins when a Hollywood film crew invades Palermo to shoot an epic about the Italian Revolution. Researching the past, the director visits the city’s Capuchin catacombs. Preserved in the catacombs among over eight thousand mummies is Marchesa Spinelli. Dead for eighty years, she remains haunted with memories, and her spirit recalls her complicated relationships with her scientist father; a British wine merchant, whom the Marchesa failed to marry; her patriotic and rebellious granddaughter; and Giacomo Leopardi, the doomed Romantic poet.

Casa Belvedere’s October 7th reception is open to the public. The foundation requests a $20 donation per person. Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served. The author’s reading and discussion will be followed by a book signing. Copies of Trinàcria: A Tale of Bourbon Sicily may be available for sale at the event, or you may purchase the novel at 

A portion of all proceeds will benefit the Italian Cultural Foundation at Casa Belvedere. For further information, please contact Marian Sereno-Rodi at: (718) 273-7660 or

 Book Launch Participants

The Italian Cultural Foundation of Casa Belvedere seeks to preserve, promote and celebrate the rich heritage of Italy by encouraging an appreciation of the Italian language, arts, literature, history, fashion, cuisine and commerce through educational programs, exhibits and events. It carries out its mission through educational programs for all age levels.  The Foundation highlights the many positive contributions of Italians and Italian-Americans in the United States, empowers youth by fostering a deeper understanding of their heritage and culture, and ensures that the Italian language, traditions, holidays, feasts and family values stay alive.

Anthony Di Renzo, a fugitive from advertising, teaches writing and Italian American history at Ithaca College and has appeared in Alimentum, Il Caffé, Cottonwood Magazine, Essays & Fictions, Feile-Festa, The Normal School, River Styx, Syracuse Scholar, and Voices in Italian Americana. His most recent book Bitter Greens: Essays on Food, Politics, and Ethnicity from the Imperial Kitchen (State University of New York Press, 2010) was praised by Gastonomica: The Journal of Food and Culture. Trinàcria is his first published novel. For more information about his work, visit:

Roberto Ragone has undertaken a variety of activities related to cultural education. Former executive director of the New York’s Lower East Side Business Improvement District, Roberto served as marketing director for the Ciao America Film Project and president and publicist for FIERI, an organization of college students and young professionals interested in celebrating and promoting Italian culture. His professional motto is “Transforming Vision to Value.” To learn more about Ragone and his background, review his LinkedIn profile at:


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