As a young boy, Anthony V. Riccio listened to his grandparents' stories of life in the small Italian villages where they had grown up and which they had left in order to emigrate to the United States. In the early 1970s, he traveled to those villages--Alvignano and Sippiciano--and elsewhere in Italy, taking photographs of a way of life that had persisted for centuries and meeting the relatives who had stayed behind. Several years later, he found himself in Boston's North End, again with camera in hand, photographing an Italian American immigrant neighborhood that was fast succumbing to the forces of gentrification. In a race against time, Riccio photographed the neighborhood and its residents, capturing images of street life, religious festivals, and colorful storefronts along with cellar winemaking sessions, rooftop gardens, and the stark interiors of cold-water flats.
Taken together, the photographs in From Italy to the North End document the arc of the Italian American experience on both sides of the Atlantic. Even as they forged new identities and new communities in the United States, Italian American immigrants kept many of their Old World traditions alive in their New World enclaves. Although elevators have replaced walkups and fancy Italian restaurants and upscale boutiques have replaced mom-and-pop storefronts, the old neighborhood and its Italian village roots survive in these photographs of la vita di quotidianità.
Anthony V. Riccio is Collections Maintenance Manager at the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University. His previous books include The Italian American Experience in New Haven: Images and Oral Histories; Farms, Factories, and Families: Italian American Women of Connecticut, both published by SUNY Press; and Boston's North End: Images and Recollections of an Italian-American Neighborhood. He is also the coauthor, with Silvio Suppa, of Cooking with Chef Silvio: Stories and Authentic Recipes from Campania, also published by SUNY Press.