The American Italian Cultural Center offers a monthly lecture series exploring a variety of Italian cultural and historical topics. The lectures are free for AICC members and students with a valid university or high school ID. There is a suggested $10 donation for non-members.

Origins of Siena: Myth vs Memory

Thursday, August 8, 2019, 6:30pm

With no clear textual or physical proof of an ancient Roman settlement, Siena faced considerable challenges to its assumed antiquity in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.  Far more than a point of pride, an association with a Roman past linked the Italian city-states of the early Renaissance with the glory and achievements of the former power, offered political legitimacy to republics, and informed identities while augmenting cultural worth. The damaging insistence by leading Italian writers like Giovanni Villani and Flavio Biondo of Siena’s Gallic–and thus non-Roman–origins prompted the Sienese state to engage an elaborate civic program in defense of its antiquity and Roman-ness, or Romanitas.  This presentation examines Siena’s intense efforts, most associated with an invented origin myth that linked the city’s foundation to Rome’s own Romulus and Remus, to manufacture a classical identity and assert its ancient authority.

Dr. Samantha Perez earned her M.A. and her Ph.D at Tulane University and works as an assistant professor at Southeastern Louisiana University. She is a native Louisianan.


Lecture: Preserving Italian Culture in New Orleans Cemeteries

Thursday, July 25, 2019, 6:30pm

Emily Ford of Oak and Laurel Cemetery returns to the American Italian Cultural Center for a fascinating lecture on preserving Italian culture in New Orleans cemeteries

This lecture will draw from the historic landscapes of all New Orleans cemeteries and from ongoing research into the preservation of Italian heritage. The impact of Italians in New Orleans cemeteries is most powerfully visible in Metairie Cemetery’s row of Italian society tombs, but Italian influence is present in all New Orleans cemeteries.

From the influence of 1850s Italian sculptor Americo Marozzi on Bywater cemeteries like St. Vincent de Paul and St. Roch, to hidden Florentine masterpieces in Cypress Grove, Italian artisans have subtly made their mark upon the development of our iconic cemeteries.

This lecture will also discuss the preservation of Italian heritage in New Orleans cemeteries, including the challenges of reclaiming society tombs, preserving family tombs, and a few inspiring success stories.


Author Reading: Kathy Curto

Thursday, July 11, 2019, 6:30pm

Join us at the AICC on Thursday, July 11 for an author presentation and book signing with Kathy Curto featuring Not for Nothing: Glimpes into a Jersey Girlhood.

“In this tense and tender memoir, Curto dishes up her family’s crazy moody love like rich red Italian gravy. Sometimes platters of it smash against the wall, sometimes warm bowls are savored on a lap. Too often, the plate is empty – with devastating consequences. But the reader feasts…Mangia Bene!”

-Irene O’Garden, Off-Broadway playwright

Curto’s book is a snapshot of an Italian American girlhood in Jersey: the trials and the tribulations. I devoured this book in one sitting.

-Megan (AICC)


Jason Berry, photo by Kathy Anderson

Italians and the Birth of Jazz

Thursday, May 16, 2019, 6:30pm

Join award-winning author Jason Berry for a presentation and signing of his latest book, City of a Million Dreams: A History of New Orleans at Year 300. In City of a Million Dreams, Berry delivers a character-driven history of New Orleans at its tricentennial. The lecture will focus on the birth of jazz and the role Italians played in its popularization. The book, which retails for $35, will be available for purchase.

On Jason Berry’s City of a Million Dreams: “His optimism, a faith of sorts, is grounded in the very story he tells, of a city still defined by ‘pageantries and memory rituals of its varied people’ and ‘where people of different colors and cultures have daily interactions as they have done for generations.’ His book, an indispensable history, explains both what we might take care not to lose and why it’s so easy to believe it will always be so.” — Larry Blumenfeld, The Wall Street Journal


Book Talk: La Passione How Italy Seduced the World

Wednesday, May 8, 2019, 6:00pm

Join New York Times best-selling author Dianne Hales for a presentation & signing of her newest book: La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World.

“[Hales’] love affair with Italy shines through as she recounts the histories of colorful characters who made their names through war, art, food, wine, music, and more. She brings the reader with her to experience the country’s long-lasting traditions and the people whose dedication keeps that legacy alive today… Frothy as a cappuccino and rich as tiramisu, La Passione is a delightful excursion into the heart of Italian culture.”


Octavia Books will be selling copies of La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World at the event for $26.00. Octavia Books is an independent, locally owned bookstore located in uptown New Orleans: 513 Octavia Street (corner of Laurel).


Challenging What You Thought About Sicilian New Orleans

Thursday, March 21, 2019, 6:30pm

In this talk, Dr. Justin Nystrom of Loyola University New Orleans will share some of the bigger surprises that came out of the research for his recent book, Creole Italian. This work documents the important role that Sicilian immigrants played in making New Orleans into one of the world’s great food cities.

Justin Nystrom is an associate professor of history and directs the Center for the Study of New Orleans at Loyola University New Orleans. He is the author of New Orleans after the Civil War: Race, Politics, and a New Birth of Freedom and the forthcoming Creole Italian: How Sicilian Immigrants Shaped the Culture of America’s Most Interesting Food Town.


Michelangelo and the Popes

Thursday, March 14, 2019, 6:30pm

All Michelangelo wanted to be was a sculptor, but Pope Julius II had other ideas, as did Pope Leo X, Pope Clement VII, and Pope Paul III.

A long line of Popes with an eye for talent commissioned Michelangelo, often against his will, to create works of art and architecture which the artist accomplished so superbly that the works continue to draw people from around the world to see some 500 years later.

Come see and learn about Michelangelo’s magnificent works commissioned by Popes during his lifetime including the Sistine Chapel Ceiling, the statue of Moses, the Last Judgment and even St. Peter’s Basilica! We will discover how and why the Popes coaxed the great master into the fields of painting and architecture when all he wanted to do was carve marble.

Join Tom Cortazzo at the AICC for this fantastic lecture on Thursday, March 14, 2019!