(WTNH) — Italian immigration may have ended decades ago, but their influence in Connecticut is everywhere. There are many Italian specialty food shops, like P&M in East Rock.
“The Italian culture, the main thing is the food,” said Joseph Ciccone, owner P&M Fine Foods. “I grew up on good food. I’ve never known fast food.”
It’s the same inside Liuzzi Cheese in North Haven.
“My mom cooks dinner every night,” said Pasquale Liuzzi. “She’s been handed down recipes from her mother, who’s been handed down recipes from her mother.”
Pasquale Liuzzi, 17, represents the next generation of Italians in Connecticut. Liuzzi Cheese was started in 1981 by his family and is now operated by his father, Domenic.
Pasquale and his sister, Francesca, are millennials. American in every way, but they are trying to retain their Italian heritage.
“I think it’s very important to keep that tradition going,” said Francesca Liuzzi. “I’ve done it my whole life and I’ll definitely keep it up when I get older and have children.”More Italian in Connecticut:
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At North Haven High School, Pasquale is part of the Italian Club. He takes Italian language classes that reinforce language with traditions he’s known his whole life.
“It wasn’t until I started going to my friend’s house that I noticed they don’t eat pasta every night,” Pasquale said. “I’m something different.”
“I think there is that bonding that’s inevitable with any culture, but the Italian culture is especially tight-knit like that and especially in this area,” said Marcello De Pascale, a cousin of the Liuzzi’s. He says a specialty store like Liuzzi’s is great to keep the family and all Italian traditions together.
“From a single person coming here, he brought over about 60 people and the family has branched off from there,” De Pascale said. “So this has always been a hub for us to branch together and remember where we came from.”
Preserving culture can be hard in America. The longer a family is here, the more American that family becomes. But these millenials, these young Italian-Americans, are working to preserve as much as possible for the next generation here in Connecticut.
“I still believe in the culture, still believe in the traditions that I was brought up with,” said Giovanni Argento. “It’s now about carrying it on to the next generation.”