Dear Mr. Cannavo,
We picked up several copies the Italian-American Herald at the Villa Vosilla in Tannersville, N.Y. As editor of the Delaware Valley Italian-American Herald, your editorials show an intensely strong theme of preserving the Italian language and its related traditions in the Philadelphia area. However, the topics that you stress and the urgency needed to ensure the survival of this proud heritage have far-reaching effects for the Italian-American community beyond the Delaware Valley. We heard that you were recently at the Villa Vosilla and that you have been following the case in which a local Greene County attorney, and an Italian American at that, has successfully brought down the Villa Vosilla.
The Villa Vosilla fosters the revitalization and preservation of our Italian heritage and traditions that had been under siege from the time that our Italian ancestors began to arrive at these shores to make a better life for their families. They were met with certain hostility and between unwarranted shame and forced assimilation a whole generation lost their heritage and hid their ethnicity by going so far as changing their names and not using Italian. The shame and loss of the Italian language and its related heritage was further exacerbated by World War II, which led to another downhill slide of Italian pride.
In recent years fourth- and fifth-generation Italian Americans have begun to feel the Italian pride that had nearly been eradicated over the years. This is apparent by the resurgence of Italian being taught in our schools, Italian festivals attracting throngs seeking a day to celebrate their heritage, Italian-Americans students signing up for study abroad programs in Italy, and many seeking dual citizenship.
The Villa’s owners, fourth-generation Italian Americans, give the resort a very personal touch, continue Italian family traditions and keep the heritage alive. Some establishments may incorporate an Italian special event to their themes or have retained an Italian name. But the family Italian resorts of the villa style, worked and owned by family members, are only a faded memory. Some resorts were not winterized and some families just lost interest. Resorts, forced to sell, were replaced with commercial properties, timeshares, or not-for-profit groups. This family does something special to have survived. The Villa is not just a business; it is the family’s home, and guests are welcomed to feel right at home. This unique gem attributes its success to its dedication to its guests, and to working hard together as a family for the family legacy.
The handling of the whole matter, which we have also been following closely, is appalling. Its outcome has far-reaching effects. We have met visitors to the Villa Vosilla from the Greater Philadelphia area who make the 4½-hour trip because there no resort in their region or anywhere else that I know of that can compare with Villa Vosilla’s Italian vacation lifestyle, short of actually going to Italy.
Though the Villa Vosilla case is a New York State matter, its ramification impacts visitors and Italian Americans beyond the State of New York. Should you chose to print this letter, perhaps word would get back to a New York State official who is empowered to review such cases as the Villa Vosilla’s and their rulings that are often nothing more than court-sanctioned “estate robberies.” Then and maybe only then can the Italian-American community be assured that a miscarriage of justice has not been carried out against the Villa Vosilla and similar cases get truly fair adjudications now and in the future.
Editor’s note: Fulvio Ranni and Sal Evola are entertainers from West Chester, Pa., who sometimes perform at Villa Vosilla.