Buona Festa di San Marco
My First Italian Feast!
Seeing that my husband is Italian, I want to learn more of his heritage and the things he enjoyed as child in New York. Both sets of Thomas’ grandparents immigrated thru Ellis Island from Italy, so i believe its important to learn of the past history of our family and pass it on to our children & grandchildren.
I’ve been picking up on some of the language and lingo along the way, learning some of the Italian ways. But to experience the culture is what I want!
We have been married a year and a half now; one of the things he talks of a lot is the huge Italian Feast he would go to when we was a kid. It always surrounds a religious theme, encircles family, food, faith, music, and of course- Great Authentic Italian Food! He gets a certain look in his eyes remembering these feasts along with memories of his grandmother (nonna) and his god-parents, aunt Carol & uncle Tommy, as well as all his cousins.. So thankful for those great memories for him!
So, we have talked about going to New York for the San Gennero Feast but time, money, and responsibilities have held us back (for now). We needed a short get away together so I decided to scan the Internet to see if there were any feasts close us here in northeast Tennessee.
The Feast of St Mark @ St Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church in Birmingham, Alabama showed up on the very weekend we were looking at.( www.feastofstmark.com ) So I knew we needed to go, plus I wanted to experience this great time with my best friend/soulmate/husband…
Little did we know how Jesus would set things up for us! We arrived at the road to turn in for the feast and a line of cars backed up into the highway. I said, “really there’s this many people coming to support this church, to remember St Mark’s contribution to the Gospel, & to embrace the Italian family?” WOW! This certainly made me take a real hard look at myself & ask if my commitment was just as strong and evident.
We got our arm bands and our commemorative book, then headed to the church. It was so packed that people sat behind the choir and filled the foyer( which is quite large) to watch it on large tv screens.
Next we headed to the building where the main food was (there was more food outside everywhere and inside huge tents on the grounds). This place was full of food! Eggplant Parmesan from Bernie’s by the famous Italian Chef Bernard Tamburello, Papardelle with Sausage & Peppers from the Graffeo Brothers, Chicken Marsala, Sausage in Creme sauce, Maccaroni & Cheese, Muffaletta’s from Mr P’s, Fresh Salami, Proscutto and so much more!
Then as we were walking thru the breezeway to go outside, we saw a large painting of the feast emblem- had to take a picture; and then we saw these medallions that had St Calorgero on them. Hmmm… Thomas’ grandfather was Colorgeo Frangipani from Sicily. So we wanted one but no price to be found. So I told Thomas I’d go find someone and we would get one. To our surprise the very person I went to was Monica Sbrissa. Monica & her husband Robert Sbrissa are the very people that started this feast here at this church! Next thing you know, we are getting our pictures taken lol. Monica was incredibly sweet and such an amazing person! She shared with us their inspiration to start this up and how it all came to be. With their first feast last year bringing in 1500 people and this years brought 3000!!!! I do believe Jesus meant for them to do this!
We enjoyed our food and had Sausages with peppers & onions from Arnone’s, pizza, Wine, chocolate amaretto cookies, fig cookies, Pizzelle’s, Italian wedding cookies, biscotti, etc…
We met so many nice and friendly people too. We purchased an Italian cookbook from a couple whose personal family recipes are inside, an Italian apron & keyring, & lots of cookies & Wine… We were given a free tshirt from Tellini’s Italiano…
Kids were hoola hooping, people were playing Bocce Ball, amusement rides, a cigar patio,& donated items(expresso machine, bicycle, gift certificates, etc) were being raffled off, & tons of smiles and laughter going on, couples dancing- old and young. Priceless.
Dancing with the Stars Fabian Sanchez was there dancing Mambo Italiano, and a band called Total A$$et$ played & Razz Ma Tazz played… traditional Italian music, music from the Temptations, the Lumineers, and some good oldies… They were Great! I’m still singing Mambo Italian & Cella Luna! Love it!
Then this gentleman comes over to say hello and to thank us for coming.. Turns out it was Robert Sbrissa! Next thing you know, pictures again lol… He was also so kind and friendly to us!
What a wonderful evening that led into the night… Italian music, awesome friendly people, great food, & wonderful community involvement for faith, friendship, & continuing the Italian legacy and culture so many remember from years past, so many will remember in years to come!
Thanks to the Sbrissa Family & all who participated in making this feast a success & to St Mark The Evangelist Catholic Church… You gave my husband a time To remember his heritage & his childhood memories, also you gave me a window to see The True Italian Culture… A simple life but full of love for family & friends!
We will be back next year, with Thomas’ parents & our children… We can’t wait!
Grazie e che Dio vi Benedica tutti!
Thomas & Audra Frangipani