Our Town: Italian-American women of Williston Park

Our Town: Italian-American women of Williston Park

So far we have tried to describe the nature of American women, Latin women and Asian women. This week it’s time to take a look at the Italian women of Williston Park. 

One can always understand the nature of people by understanding the history of their country. America’s constitution tells us that we were created equal which means we must endlessly prove our self-worth. That’s why we are so darn competitive. So what about Italians?  

Geography is destiny. Italy is strategically located in the middle of the Mediterranean, which subjected them to endless foreign invasion. As a result they became insular, exposed to poverty and very family oriented. 

They learned to enjoy simple pleasures like food and community festivals. Over time they gave to the world the most satisfying food on earth. Ask any child what his favorite food is and he will always say “spaghetti and meatballs.”  

But if we’re to say that Italian women could be defined by the kitchen we would be falling very short indeed. So in order to learn about Italian women I turned to the locals.

The first person I interviewed was Rose Bonetti-Orsano from Peter Andrews. She is the one who designs their windows. She was born in America but her lineage goes back deep into the roots of southern Italy.  

Bonetti-Orsano is always fashionable and meticulous looking. I asked her to define Italian women and she told me they love to cook, to eat and to be with family. She said her family was all connected to the clothing industry in Italy, being seamstresses, tailors, etc. This brought to mind Luigi Suppa our town’s tailor.   Bonetti-Orsano and I started to name all the famous Italian fashion designers like Gucci, Fendi, Prada, Ferragamo, Versace, and Armani. It appears that the Italians like fashion. My dad loved cashmere and wore alligator skin golf shoes. His best friend was a buyer for Saks. 

I thought of Gay Talese, the famous Italian-American writer who is always dressed in custom made suits. Italians certainly love good clothes. Bonetti-Orsano was proof of this, so I shook hands with her got ready for my next interview. 

Next in line was my pretty niece Chiara, who is fresh in from Italy and now living in New York City. She is the personification of Italian beauty and is already designing men’s sweaters. 

I asked her to visit me in Williston Park so I could take her photo, introduce her to Luigi Suppa and observe what a young Italian woman looks like. I picked her up at the East Williston railroad station along with her mom, Alberta Vita the jewelry designer and Chiara’s Italian boyfriend, who looked exactly like James Franco only more handsome. What a group. 

There I was in my frumpy, baggy American clothes along with these three beauties that looked like they just stepped out of a fashion magazine. I rushed them down to meet Luigi Suppa and as the three of them sauntered along behind me, Chiara remarked, “You have the Venetian walk, very fast and very furious. Right here we could see the difference between Italians and Americans. We walk and they stroll. I rush along to a heart attack and they saunter along to get a cappuccino and relax. 

After she met with Luigi I took them down to Hildebrandt’s to take photos. High style at Hildbrandt’s. As I walked them back to the train station Alberta told me that Italians love beauty because every town has statues and fountains and gardens to admire. 

They got on the train and my article was done. Italian women can be defined in three ways. They generously give to others from the kitchen. But they also give us high style and fashion with their Gucci sunglasses and handbags and their Ferragamo pumps. The devil may wear Prada but Italian women look better in it.

More importantly the thing that Italian women give to the world is “la dolce far niente,” or the sweetness of doing nothing. Let me tell you what I mean.  

I once interviewed the Italian beauty Antonella Chiesa who was at that time public relations director of the Ville D’Este Hotel on Lake Como. We sat on the terrace of the hotel overlooking the lake and surrounded by the mountains of Northern Italy. We sipped cappuccino and laughed. 

As I finished the interview she asked me if I wanted to look into my future. I said okay and she took my empty coffee cup, put the saucer on top of it and turned it upside down. She then turned it right side up and said to me “look inside now and tell me what you see.” Such a cute coffee table game this was.   

I could not make out any message at that time but I now know exactly what it said. It said to slow down, and to enjoy the beauty of life all around you. This is the great wisdom that Italy and Italian women demonstrate in their high style and in their walk so thanks much to Antonella and Rose and Chiara and Alberta for your luscious sweet beauty and for the way you walk.

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