Plan a trip to Centro Culturale Italiano di Buffalo – Buffalo Rising
A recent visit to the newly opened Buffalo Italian Cultural Center (CCI) was a real treat in more ways than one. First of all, I have to say how nice it is to see this particular corner of Hertel and Delaware reclaimed. It would be interesting to know what this whole area once saw, before it became a series of malls and fast food restaurants. Fortunately, thanks to a group of passionate, daring and visionary people, the northeast corner has been saved from the clutches of a similar development, which continues to plague Hertel Avenue westbound.
Who would have thought that the old North Park Branch Library building could be redeveloped in this way? The front yard – a mini plaza – is a sight for sore eyes… and it’s not even over yet. There are still benches, plantations and a large fountain to wait, as well as a pétanque court. I predict 2022 will be another promising year for the ICC, culminating in a top-notch destination for anyone looking to immerse themselves in a true green, white and red authentic Italian setting.
The interior of the CCI is just as impressive as the exterior. Not only does it look crisp, but it’s also mapped with lots of interactive settings that flow together nicely. During my visit, I started with a cup of espresso at Café Curcio, expertly prepared by Maria Garozzo-Payne (main image). Other menu items include Americano, Cappuccino, Coffee, Tea, and San Pellegrino. Bakery products are also available, and soon there will be beer and wine to choose from. The more popular the café becomes, the more extensive the menu will be. Ultimately, this pleasantly surprising coffee will be the buzz of North Buffalo.
From there, I visited the Jacqueline Vito LoRusso gallery, where an exhibition (Buffalo My City) by the famous watercolorist Roger Lalli was presented. From there I headed, espresso in hand, into the Donna Fiorella fireplace room, which came together really well – it’s a relaxing place to sit and enjoy the company of friends, or to organize intimate gatherings.
Finally, I stayed at the Renzi-DiLeo Cucina (community kitchen), where I came across the “The chef’s table from Feroleto.” The last time I saw the space, it was still being built. Seeing it for the first time in its completed state was pretty neat. I could just imagine the cooking classes, the sharing of traditional recipes, the intimate community dinners, etc.
Downstairs I jumped into the conference, discussion and performance space, where a wide range of events and courses are already organized (see calendar). Anyone wishing to learn Italian or Sicilian languages (beginner to conversational) can register. Other interesting events that I noticed on the calendar include an Italian-American Film Festival and a Conference on Italian Painting in the Unification Era (two past events, but there are many more. on the horizon).
Also located at the kitchen level is the ‘Story Booth, ”where families can document their immigration stories and family lines (family trees), as well as family photos.
Do you want to preserve an authentic Italian recipe that has been handed down for generations, to pay homage to the matriarch or the patriarch of the family who deserves the merit of creation? The Story Booth is the place that will preserve this kind of invaluable information, which might otherwise be lost over time. It’s also a great way to share with others, who would appreciate the kind gesture. And what better way to honor a gesture of this nature than to concoct one of the culinary creations of the CCI cucina?
My last stop on my visit was to The Michael J. LoCurto gift shop, where I bought a silk scarf. Adding a gift shop to the mix is, well… a little extra fun! Considering that Hertel is such a plentiful shopping district, it makes sense to add more to the vibrancy (and walk) of the street.
What I love most about CCI is that there are so many cultural points of interest under one roof. After my whirlwind tour was over, I felt perfectly informed and refreshed – happy to have encountered more than I had expected.
Personally, I can’t wait for next summer, when I can sit outside with friends, enjoy a glass of beer or wine, while playing pétanque in the backyard. It is these types of rewarding experiences that are commonplace abroad, where they have bustling public piazzas (public plazas) that become the epicenters of community gatherings. Someday I’d like to see this kind of urban design replicated – oversized in a public space in the heart of downtown. In the meantime, CCI’s efforts to create a genuine sense of belonging are to be commended and commended.
“It has been gratifying to meet so many guests who have noticed how the Italian Cultural Center has given new life to this space,” said CCI. Executive Director John Vecchio. “Dorothy Neubauer recently visited two friends who were the former Library branch manager and a member of the office staff. Seeing the joy in their eyes as they rediscovered their old workplace was truly an inspiring moment for all of us! Our friendly staff and volunteers want to provide everyone who walks through our doors with a welcoming and meaningful visitor experience. The ICC has become a place where everyone, visitors and staff alike, feels welcome and open to the transformative potential of cultural exploration.
Learn more about the CCI.