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Avoiding buyer’s remorse

You have been saving and saving for years and you’re finally at the closing table signing a huge packet of paperwork. Congratulations! You are now a homeowner! You unlock the door for the first time without your Realtor by your side and it soon sets in — buyer’s remorse — but unlike that coffee pot you purchased last week, you can’t return it for a full refund. To avoid this all-to-common scenario, start with a checklist of what you truly need in your next home. The first thing you need to do is tune out the chatter. As soon as ...

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Keeping up with those who have passed

There are many ways to get your daily news updates these days. Facebook and Twitter have a lot of news blurbs. Each TV news network has apps and updates, as do the local TV stations. But I’m an old fashioned guy who wakes up in the morning before work, opens the garage door, walks out to the driveway and picks up a fresh copy of the daily newspaper. About three seconds later, I realize I’m not wearing any shoes or socks … Being a genealogist, I don’t begin the morning newspaper with the headlines, local news or sports section. Yes, ...

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Walking in our parents’ footsteps

As we recount the passing days of winter and embark upon a new season of “What’s new?” it’s time to look forward to that changeling of seasons known as spring. Winter tapers off and we begin to relax as our wardrobe evolves from protective clothing to a more welcoming style. (No real Chicagoan is concerned about style during the cold months when comfort and warmth is the goal!) I invite you to walk in the footsteps of your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends — and your youth. This is the perfect time of year to come visit ...

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Decoding our community coverage

The Chicago area is blessed with nearly 100 Italian American groups and institutions that meet regularly and host more than 300 special events each year. Fra Noi is committed to shining a spotlight on these activities in our magazine, but that commitment comes with a challenge: how to cover a community that vast within the fiscal and physical confines of the publication. Through trial and error over the past quarter century, we’ve devised a system for accomplishing that, and I’d like to shed light on it now. Since Fra Noi doesn’t have the funds to send photographers and reporters out ...

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How Fra Noi helped me find my family

Having lost his father, first to divorce and then to an early death, Joseph Garofalo’s life was transformed when a Fra Noi profile led him to his extended family by his Dad’s second marriage. During the past year, I was reunited with my long lost family as a result of an article Leonard Amari wrote about me that was published in Fra Noi. The following describes how this happened. My parents were divorced when I was a baby. My mother and her parents raised me. My father, Denphon (“Danny”) remarried and had three more sons, my half-brothers, Mark, Chris, and ...

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Saving San Filippino

An Italian American language instructor from Nashville, Tenn., Rita Richardson has embarked on a global campaign to restore a gorgeous baroque chapel in a small Tuscan town. “No one in the U.S. is going to care about your abandoned little church in Italy,” our priest told us. “I wouldn’t waste the time and effort.” Rather than heed Father’s discouraging counsel, I steadfastly set off on my mission: to save San Filippino, a stunning 17th-century baroque chapel in a little-known town in Tuscany. Castiglion Fiorentino is a long name for a small town perched on a hill between the Val di ...

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Evviva San Giuseppe!

The altar my grandma arranges sits under one of our kitchen cabinets. The rosary hangs from St. Joseph’s neck. It’s deep purple with silver pieces between each bead. The statue is about a foot tall and hand painted. He has gray, purple, and brown cloth draped from his body. He’s typically depicted holding Baby Jesus, but in ours he stands alone surrounded by small votive candles. The tomatoes start to simmer right before guests arrive. Both of my uncles are in the kitchen. Steel pots sit on the stove and emit clouds of steam each time the lids are lifted ...

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Let’s all resolve to mangia italiano!

Because we go to press so far in advance, I’m penning this column in late December, even though it’s destined for the February issue. That places me squarely in the Resolution Zone, that fanciful timeframe during which we bind ourselves to a host of worthy and sometimes unattainable goals for the coming year. Those resolutions can expand, contract and morph as the months progress. As of this moment, I’ve resolved to: 1) Exercise more, consume fewer calories and in general take better care of my aging body. 2) Seek input from current and former Fra Noi readers and the community-at-large ...

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Exploring the land of Puccini

One of history’s most revered operatic composers, Giacomo Puccini presence is felt throughout his hometown of Lucca. In a country that is as synonymous with music as Italy, it takes supreme self-confidence to bill yourself as the city “where music feels at home.” Yet the city that lays claim to this title is not bel canto Naples nor operatic Milan but little Lucca — a jewel of a Tuscan town of 90,000 that was home to legendary composer Giacomo Puccini, the creator of such world famous works as “La Bohème,” “Madame Butterfly” and “Tosca.” So revered is Puccini in Lucca ...

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New land, new life, new name

Donato DiCarlo morphed into Dan DeCarlo on his way to achieving the American Dream. The warm June dawn reflected blindingly off skyscraper and seawater alike, shrouding the lady in silhouette. Donato, a tall handsome lad, had heard about the great statue in the harbor, a gift from France 20 years earlier, and hoped to see her, but the angle of the sun made it difficult. Like everything about his 16 years, nothing had come easy. Donato spoke no English, only his native Italian. Neatly dressed in a roughly woven brown suit, the best he could scrape together for the voyage, ...

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