From Italy to the North End

Photographs, 1972-1982

By Anthony V. Riccio
Foreword by James S. Pasto

Subjects: Italian American Studies, Immigration, American Culture, Italian Studies, American Studies
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Hardcover : 9781438466996, 208 pages, July 2017

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Documents the arc of the Italian American immigrant experience on both sides of the Atlantic.


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.


"Anthony Riccio's From Italy to the North End: Photographs, 1972–1982 is a rich repository of Italian and Italian-American visual history at a crucial moment in the groups' experience. " — Journal of the North End Historical Society

"…enlightening and inspiring…" — Voices in Italian Americana

"There is much to love in this book, and what stands out particularly are the faces, which are markers along a road not easily traveled, a road that will not ever be traveled again … Riccio captures the human condition in such intimate detail that I am simultaneously overjoyed and saddened with the turn of each page. " — Mark Spano, Ovunque Siamo

"…amazing photographs. " — San Francisco Book Review

"…an extraordinary body of work … very highly recommended. " — Midwest Book Review

"…an intimate pictorial look … Riccio's curiosity about the past gives us a real gift. " — Network Connecticut

"This is an inside job, Anthony V. Riccio says. That is what gives From Italy to the North End: Photographs, 1972–1982, its palpable warmth … [it] is as much a book of photography as it is a visual history of the Italian and Italian-American experience in one of the most storied neighborhoods in the country. " — Sunday Republican

"Anthony Riccio's photographs retrace the arc of immigration from ancestral villages in Italy to Boston's North End, documenting a lost world of an Italian American culture. His images will forever remind Italian Americans of the places their families left behind and the new home they created in America. " — Umberto Mucci, author of We the Italians: Two Flags, One Heart. One Hundred Interviews

"Riccio's photos magnificently capture daily life of Italians in the South of Italy and in Boston in the 1970s and '80s. Everyday people and their environment are brought back to life through an intense and moving visual testimony, seasoned with love. " — Margherita Ganeri, Università della Calabria

"Continuing in the tradition of his previous works, Riccio's photographs in From Italy to the North End immerse us in the colors, textures, spaces, and visages of Italians and Italian Americans at a significant historical moment. In the decade depicted here, Riccio does the important work of representing the transitions and transformations of Italian culture through images and stories of the last wave of Italians to experience immigration from Italy's villages and cities to the ethnic enclave that Boston's North End once was. " — Gwen Kordonowy, Boston University

"From Italy to the North End offers us a luminescent and sensuous panorama of Italian American life in the 1970s and '80s in one of urban America's most famous ethnic neighborhoods, Boston's North End, captured by gifted photographer Anthony Riccio in its waning days just before gentrification and displacement changed its character forever. This rich volume is a gift, a precious celebration and visual remembrance of worlds already passed into history. " — Tim Sieber, University of Massachusetts Boston

"From southern Italy's rural villages to the tenement flats of Boston's North End, Riccio's evocative words and images capture the essence of a bygone era. His subjects—many of whom gaze beatifically into the lens of their trusted photo-biographer—have, as the author so aptly notes, their lives mapped on their faces. Thanks to this engaging work, their stories are deftly preserved for our benefit. The exposition of the author's personal journey further enriches this compelling narrative, which leaves the reader grateful for Riccio's enduring commitment to the irreplaceable value of roots, tradition, and the quest for something greater than ourselves. " — Jill Deupi, Beaux Arts Director and Chief Curator, Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami