Sicilian Connections Logo                                                           

The Williamsburg area of Brooklyn is linked to the Lower East Side of Manhattan by the Williamsburg Bridge and a thriving Italian community is still in evidence here. In fact Graham Avenue in East Williamsburg is now also referred to as Via Vespucci.

 

A large percentage of the Italian American population actually originate from the region of Campania, or more specifically the town of Nola. This is demonstrated every year in July by the Dance of the Giglio Feast which was introduced to the area by the arrival of the 'Nolani' in the 1880s in homage to their Patron Saint, San Paolino. This festival involves towers over five storeys high and weighing five tonnes being carried through the streets, together with a twelve piece brass band, to the rhythm of traditional Italian folk music. Since 1957, the festival has been celebrated together with the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and is a time when past and present Italian residents unite together to celebrate their heritage.

 

Via Vespucci was also home to the Motion Lounge which was a nightclub owned by Dominick Napolitano - the 'caporegime' of the notorious Bonanno crime family. This lounge at 420 Graham Avenue played a large role in Donnie Brasco, the autobiography of FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone, documenting his six-year undercover operation to infiltrate the mafia.

 

In 1888 the Saint Mary of the Snow Society was established by Italians who had travelled from Sanza in Italy, also in the region of Campania, in order to provide help and support to Italian immigrants. There are many other Italian societies in Williamsburg including the San Cono Society on Ainslie Street which hosts the annual Ciao Italy Performing Arts Festival in June.