SOUTH PHILLY: Filitalia Celebrates Italy

Filed under: Featured News,South Philadelphia,South Philly,Subject Categories |

by Jean Donohue
Italian influence and charm distinguishes South Philly culture.
Family owned restaurants line the streets where pasta sauce is referred to as “gravy,” its trademark misnomer.
As a whole, Philadelphia is known for its mix of cultures with different ethnic groups boasting a center of pride. There’s the African American Museum on Arch Street, the Polish American Cultural Center on Walnut Street and as of June 2014, the History of Italian Immigration Museum on Passyunk Avenue in South Philly.

FILITALIA International’s History of Italian Immigration Museum on E. Passyunk Avenue and Mifflin Streets opened its  doors to the public July 8, 2015.

FILITALIA International’s History of Italian Immigration Museum on E. Passyunk Avenue and Mifflin Streets opened its doors to the public July 8, 2015.

Since its inception, the Filitalia International organization has bounded its mission to the preservation of Italian culture and is doing so by opening this museum in a community whose Italian flair has shaped a unique, local personality.
Filitalia International is a nonprofit that includes 20 chapters, nine of which are international. A center of the South Philadelphia chapter, The “M. Fabrizio & P. Nestico Center for Language and Culture” is located on E. Passyunk Avenue and Mifflin Streets.
Opened in 2005, the center offers Italian language classes at an affordable price. Members of the Filitalia organization receive a discount on services such as language classes and become part of a tight-knit network of Italian Americans. Annual scholarships up to $1,000 in value are awarded to elementary through college students who have been involved in the organization for more than two years. Filitalia also recognizes outstanding Italian Americans through its annual awards ceremony.
Barbara Ann Zippi, a recipient of Filitalia’s Humanitarian Award, conceived and produced the TV show, “Ciao Bella Living Italian Style”, for Radnor Studio Channel 21. A documentary of Italian lifestyle, its premiere episode (aired May 2, 2015) titled “Who makes the best gravy?” featured the South Philly bred Giacchino family.
Rosetta Miriello, president of Filitalia’s South Philadelphia chapter, is adamant about exactly what “Filitalia” translates to: love for Italy. She aims to inspire a sense of heritage into a particularly lukewarm generation of Italian Americans.
“We’re working for the future,” she said.
Filitalia’s awards and scholarships are just one way that the organization aims to celebrate Italian Americans; they hope the immigration museum will transcend Filitalia’s message to a larger canvas. Beginning July 8, 2015, the museum opened its doors to the public four days a week, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
With this, Filitalia International continues to honor heritage in South Philadelphia, a community whose Italian influence has made it the place of grit, guts, sharp wit and starchy cooking we experience today.

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