Saturday, November 30, 2013

History on a Square Inch

by Michele Alonzo, School Amici Director

Gerardo Perrotta is one of the first Italians I met when I came to Cincinnati, 23 years ago. We have worked in the same College of Medicine for over two decades and he has been a teacher at the Italian language School Amici for the past seven years. When I first heard from Gerardo about his plan to write a book about Italian themes stamps, he was not even teaching for the school and my kids were probably still playing hide and seek. The project was interesting and innovative;   considering that Gerardo has lived in the USA for a long long time and is passionate about Italy and its history, I had no doubt that his book would be engaging and interesting for both Italian and American readers.  Gerardo has worked for many years on a diligent research, involving many sources both here and in Italy, to complete his book and, during all these years, has collected interesting facts on many Italians who have influenced the history of the United States during many centuries. So when this past spring he told me that the book was ready to be published, I was definitely glad that we readers could finally enjoy the end result of his intellectual dedication to a project he had at heart. I was also sure that each one of us, and not only stamp collectors, would like the publication, while being educated on the life of famous Italian Americans.

There are many ways to tell the Italian American history and Gerardo found a unique novel one in his book,” Phila-Italy Americana, Italian Themes on United States Postage Stamps”. Having collected stamps over many years, he discovered that there are many US stamps that have a clear Italian theme and many others whose connection to Italy is not so apparent. 
I think that Phila-Italy Americana is a book for any Italian American interested in learning about their heritage and for all those who appreciate Italian culture in general. The book is an easy read and lends itself to initiate conversation as each stamp presents an encapsulated view of our rich history. These stamps tell stories of significant events that led to the discovery and progress of our nation; they feature historical figures some of whom have never been to the United States and much less knew of its existence. The book also profiles a vast array of art and cultural items that have become part of the US national treasure. Many Italians have crossed the Atlantic Ocean during the last few centuries to come to the USA. The many interesting details gleaned from these stamps reflect Gerardo’s genuine interest to share with pride the contributions and legacy of these immigrants to the modern country. Their sacrifices coupled with many Americans who admire Italian art, culture, music and language; their contribution has allowed Italians to grow as the fifth largest ethnic group in the United States.

We modern Italians are the beneficiary of those who struggled to establish a foothold in this country. The story draws us closer as Italian Americans because it belongs to all of us. It swells our pride in our heritage and appreciation for this great country where we live.
Gerardo Perrotta's book symbolically embodies the pride of those who helped building and shaping up the United States of America, sometimes sacrificing their life for a better future. So if you are an Italian American, you will particularly enjoy this publication. I also think that the book could be an affordable meaningful gift for a relative or friend during the upcoming holidays and something to preserve for the generations to come.
The book is available in print and electronic format on, and
Buone Feste!