The American Italian Cultural Center Offers Unique Experiences To Honor the Past, Present and Future of American-Italian Culture

Photo credit: American Italian Cultural Center

Located adjacent to the Piazza d’Italia in the CBD, the American Italian Cultural Center provides a place for Italians to reconnect with their heritage and where non-Italians can learn more about a culture that is an important part of New Orleans. Founded in 1985 by Joseph Maselli, today his son, Frank Maselli, is chairman of the American Italian Cultural Center that honors and celebrates the American-Italian culture— past, present, and future. In 2020, the museum went through a renovation and the board is excited to show off the exciting things happening at the center.

More than just a museum, the American Italian Cultural Center (AICC) has a lot to offer the people of New Orleans. The center has Italian language classes of four different levels taught by Andrea Saunders-Basili. The classes, which are an hour and a half, can be taken in person or over Zoom. They range from $200 for members to $250 for non-members.

Photo credit: American Italian Cultural Center

Another interesting thing that the AICC does is help American Italians get in touch with their culture. The center offers dual Italian citizenship assistance for those who have a close ancestor born in Italy. At the AICC, the staff can help you figure out if you are eligible for dual citizenship and begin the process of obtaining an Italian passport for you or members of your family. American Italians can also research their family history at The American Italian Research Library located at the East Bank Regional Library in Metairie. Sal Serio, curator of the Italian American Research Center, will get you started with tracing your Italian family roots.

You can plan for a fun time at the AICC too! Wine tastings, lectures, concerts, and film screenings are events that happen at the center regularly. The center also hosts an annual St. Joseph’s Day celebration in October, as well as Festa d’Italia in the Piazza. If you’re looking for a vacation or a genealogy trip, the center’s trips to Italy are a fun way to connect with others who are interested in Italian culture. Group tours, with as many as 60 people, take place four or five times a year and are a way to make memories and new friends in a beautiful country and connect with a new culture.

Photo credit: American Italian Cultural Center

The AICC is home to the Louisiana American Italian Sports Hall of Fame formed to recognize the American Italians of Louisiana who, for generations, have participated and excelled in sports. Each year, a national sports figure of Italian descent and outstanding Louisiana athletes are inducted into the Hall of Fame. Also, annual scholarships are awarded to deserving high school senior athletes of Italian descent and are presented at the Louisiana American Italian Sports Hall of Fame Gala.

You won’t want to miss the gift shop at the center where you can purchase unique Italian gifts or enjoy an espresso. While you’re there, you’ll be able to enjoy the Luke Fontana Gallery of Jazz Photography, which is displayed on the wall.

Photo credit: American Italian Cultural Center

One of the most important things the center has done is coordinate the Saint Pope John Paul II Memorial Statue in the French Quarter. AICC chairman Frank Maselli and Franco Alessandrini coordinated the development of a plan that would place a marble statue of Saint Pope John Paul II in front of St. Louis Cathedral. According to the website, the statue commemorates Saint Pope John Paul II’s visit to New Orleans in 1987 and is a gift from the Archdiocese to the citizens of New Orleans for the tri-centennial in 2018. The Carrara marble sculpture was created by Franco Alessandrini in Italy and was blessed by Pope Francis at the Vatican on November 15, 2017. The statue was also blessed by Archbishop Gregory Aymond after the Tri-centennial Mass.

The American Italian Cultural Center is open Monday through Saturday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Help Keep Big Easy Magazine Alive

Hey guys!

Covid-19 is challenging the way we conduct business. As small businesses suffer economic losses, they aren’t able to spend money advertising.

Please donate today to help us sustain local independent journalism and allow us to continue to offer subscription-free coverage of progressive issues.

Thank you,
Scott Ploof
Big Easy Magazine

Share this Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *