Preserving Our Italian Heritage

For All of Us

“To preserve, protect, and promote the Italian-Sicilian cultural heritage among the descendants, immigrants, citizens and friends of Isola delle Femmine, Sicily and around the world.”

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Buongiorno a Tutti,

July 30, 2022 was a day FOI made history with the first screening of the historical documentary “Potentially Dangerous: When it was a crime to be Italian.” Winner of the National Italian American Foundation Russo Brothers Film Forum. Thanks to the Director/Producer Zach Baliva and his wife/co-producer Naomi Baliva for allowing us to have a private screening of this astonishing story of evacuation and internment of Italian Americans during World War II, many where from Pittsburg, Monterey, and Martinez. The 220 plus attendees were shown the 55-minute documentary depicting many of our grandparents that were evacuated during WW II.

As the Master of Ceremonies, I introduced Zach to our audience where he explained how this documentary began. He wanted to enter a documentary but did not have a story or clue of one. He Googled “unknown stories of Italian Americans” and what appeared was “Una Storia Segreta” The Secret Story edited by Lawrence Destasi and author of the book “Branded: How Italian Immigrants Became ‘Enemies’ During World War II.” Destasi was the project director of the traveling exhibit that traveled all around the country beginning in 1994. Today the exhibit items are stored at the Pittsburg Historical Museum and many were displayed at the screening.

The article and book caught his eye and he began his research. Zach and his team put together an extraordinaire documentary and it won first place. In attendance was Bob Scudero, son of Rose Scudero, Vincent Ferrante-Pittsburg Historical Society, and Alberto Bronzini all which had a part in the film. After the showing I mentioned that my great grandfather, Placido Abono, at the age of 97 was evacuated by stretcher from his Pittsburg home of 50 years to an Oakley farm. I then opened it up for comment.

Leonard Gianno remembered as a young boy that he and his family were evacuated as well as a couple of stories from Prudy Aiello DeMonner. Very emotional for all.

The attendees were treated to a reception of antipasto and plenty of vino along with lively conversation. Thanks to Mary Pappas Coniglio and volunteers; Cynthia Cardinale, Roselyn Malfitano, Linda Campbell Hayes, Midge DiMaggio, Robin Bruno, Alise Inzerillo, Cass Golshani, Paulette Lagana for another fabulous and memorable event.

In the fourth quarter we will be planning another screening but this time in Monterey. More details will be sent out as soon as it develops.

On August 28 your FOI Executive board, headed by Mary Pappas Coniglio and volunteers, entertained and wowed the Claude Grillo party with a delicious authentic Sicilian cuisine dinner. Claude had the winning bid of the live auction item at the “That’s Italian” Dinner Show. Check out this menu prepared by Mary and volunteers, wish you all were there.

To date FOI has conducted a Zoom Virtual meeting, monthly Family Rosary’s via Zoom, That’s Italian Dinner Show, FOI High Tea, Second Annual Scholarship Awards Picnic, Potentially Dangerous documentary private screening, increased our membership to 160 members, and our editor-in-chief, Alex Grillo has published 4 wonderful informative Il Notiziario (Newsletter).

So, as you can see your Executive Board and Martinez, Monterey and Pittsburg Chapters have been busy, and we will continue to. Stay tuned!


Mexico vacation ticket sales support scholarships


Our non-profit organization will promote our American Italian-Sicilian culture through a cultural student exchange program, by advancing higher education to Italian-Americans college bound students via scholarships, developing a professional group study exchange program, and assisting the current California sister cities of Pittsburg, Monterey, and Martinez in cultivating their relationships with Isola delle Femmine, Sicily for the preservation of our cultural heritage.

Governing Board

Vincent S. DiMaggio
1992 Founder & Chairman

Frank B. Bruno
1992 Founder & President

Mary Pappas Coniglio
1992 Vice President & Secretary

Executive Board

Vincent M. Malfitano, D.M.D.

Salvatore N. Coniglio
Liaison to Isola delle Femmine

Albert D. Seeno Jr.
Advisor & Business Consultant

Vincent S. Ferrante
Historian & Liaison Pittsburg,
Martinez & Monterey

Alexander A. Grillo Ph.D.
Historian & Researcher

Chapter Member Directors

Wolfgang Croskey
Pittsburg Chapter Director

Vincent M. Malfitano D.M.D.
Monterey Chapter Director

Mike Inzerillo
Martinez Chapter Director

Isola delle Femmine Committee
Pittsburg-Isola Friends Forever Committee
(In Isola)
Antonino Scala

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Growing up in the areas of Pittsburg and Monterey in the mid to late 40’s and hanging around the water fronts and the wharfs where the Sicilian fishermen mending their nets and attending many Sicilian dinners and events I listened to their stories and the talk of the “old country “. This gave me the awareness of our connections to the “old country” and the people. I always knew that something would be done officially one day. Who knew that I would be involved!
- Vincent S Di Maggio

Co-Founder “Friends of Isola delle Femmine Committee”