My niece Maria was baptized in May 2011. She was already one year old, which is rare for Catholic christenings. It was extra special for this reason because she was the life of her baptism, spoke throughout, and put on a little show for the crowd. Super adorable! Join the fun...
Van Saun Park is a lovely little zoo in Bergen County, New Jersey. My mother took my brother, sister, and I - and many of our friends and family - to it in our youth. And recently we returned to show off one of our favorite places to my niece Maria, already an animal lover at 1.
For the first time in many years, my mother's side of the family organized a family reunion in her native Long Island. Despite the heat, we all had a merry time chatting, looking at old photos, and eating (of course). Join in on the summer fun...
My husband and I brought baby boy to Italy to meet his Italian family. The first week in Italy was very exciting. It was Easter 2012. Join our celebration.
Just before leaving for Italy, Enzo met up with his family - many a cousin and a slew of other relatives - to say ciao and have a little fun. Here's what happened...
Finally, the sun was shining and we could bring Enzo outside to see a bit of Ischia, home of his ancestors on both sides of the family and his father. Join us for our weekend in the Pinette, pine tree parks.
While Enzo was recovering from a terrible stomach flu, he managed to crack a few smiles. And when he was feeling like his old self, he even took a trip to the Castello Aragonese in Ischia Ponte. Check it out...
The first time we took Enzo to the beach, it was in New Jersey, and he was about five months old. And it rained. These pictures are of Enzo's second time at the beach, this time in Ischia, Italy. We went to the Spiaggia di San Francesco. It made for a lovely afternoon. Come along...
On Sunday afternoon, Enzo joined his mom, two of his cousins, and one of his aunts for a peaceful walk in Ischia. Join us...
Enzo visited the restaurant of our friend Agostino's family, Trattoria Il Focolare in Cretaio, Ischia. Just after he ate baby food, we delighted in gnocchi made with eggplant instead of potato and pasta dressed in a sauce of porcini mushrooms and lemon, not to mention the abundant antipasto, whose star was eggplant parmigiana. Of course, Enzo would have preferred the grown-up food.
For three months in 2012 Enzo called his nonna's house in Italy home. Here are some precious moments he spent in casa...
Enzo finally got to enjoy Ischia's ocean when the heat struck in June. Here are some fun pics of him with his cousins frolicking in the sand and water.
Since Enzo was already baptized in the United States, he could not have another baptism in Italy. So, we had him blessed at a special Mass honoring his late grandfather for whom he was named instead. Later in the evening on that same day, we held a reception in his Italian nonna's garden. Join us...
Enzo truly enjoyed the final days of our three-month stay in Ischia in 2012. He hung out with his Italian cousins and spent quality time with his papa. Just before we returned to the States, Zia Rosaria joined us all the way from Florida. Yeah!
My Godson Nicholas graduated high school in 2012. My, my, how time flies! I still remember carrying him around the house on my hip. Now, he's three times my size. I'm very proud of him as he embarks on his college journey. But before he left, we bid him well at his party.
Baby Boy's second birthday in Italy paid homage to all things pizza. Join in the fun.
Cousin Amanda was confirmed in June 2011, and we all celebrated this coming of age with her at a lovely Italian feast. It was as much about our pride in the young woman she is becoming as it was an excuse to have some fun as a family. And you're invited...
Boy, did Maria have one beautiful first Easter celebration. Unlike her first birthday, she was feeling fine -- and eating as many goodies as she could get her hands on. She even met up with the Easter Bunny himself. Check it out.
The Easter Party always brings with it great expectations. And 2011's festivities did not disappoint. They featured colorful eggs, artistic cookie designs, and lots of cool kids. Join in on the fun.
Maria's first birthday lasted an entire weekend and featured a big cupcake just for her, lots of gifts in brightly wrapped packaging, and a fever for the birthday girl. Still, it was unforgettable. Enjoy the fun!
A great meeting of the minds occurred recently. Laura, 5, met Maria, nearly 1, for the first time. The pair of cousins ate, laughed, and went to the park. And they warmed the hearts of all who joined them. Join us for this wonderful encounter...
Celebrate the big 1-3 with my sweet cousin Amanda, who has grown up soooo... fast. Join us for cake, balloons, and a side party for my niece Maria, who just moved to N.J. with her parents.
The whole family - and a few good friends - got together for a four-day cruise that left from Miami and set sail for stops in Key West and the Bahamas. We even brought along baby Maria, who was the star of the show. Join the cruisin' party.
We had two - count 'em two - birthday bashes for my Goddaughter Amy in 2011. After all, she deserves it and we can't get enough party. Join the festivities...
I ushered in the new year with a happenin' bunch of folks - my parents and grandparents - in 2011. After a couple of rounds of Wii bowling and ping pong, Grandma and I were the only ones awake. But everyone quit snoring at the strike of midnight. Join us for eternal fun -
The family celebrated for an entire month this year. The culmination? One of the best Christmas celebrations we've ever had at home. You can join us for the party...
My husband Antonio and I have never spent Christmas together, and this year was no different. But before he returned to Italy to spend the holidays with his mamma and family, we did exchange gifts and share in a special meal. Here are photos from our merry Christmas 2010 -
My 8-month-old niece Maria is celebrating her first Christmas in 2010. Her nonni and zii (grandparents and aunts and uncles) wanted in on the act, so they headed to Florida for a pre-holiday bash. It might have been our best Christmas ever. You won't want to miss Santa -- err, Babbo Natale -- who also made an appearance.
We host a Halloween party every year, but this in 2010, we switched things up a bit. Instead of a costume party, we turned our garden into a pumpkin patch and got to painting. Zio Pasquale (my papa') even had his nieces and nephews helping him make wine. It was a true fall festival. Check it out.
My cousin Greg married Renee on Oct. 16, 2010 in Grand Rapids, Mich. The wedding weekend was full of family fun, starting with a wild road trip from Chicago on Friday and culminating with a rip-roaring, post-wedding breakfast on Sunday morning. Join us if you dare...
A wedding is a great excuse to have family members pose to capture enduring portraits. Believe me, when you're separated by distance or whatever reason, you'll find pleasure in dwelling on these photos. Check out some of the family portraits my mom recently took at her nephew Greg's wedding to Renee on Oct. 16, 2010 in Grand Rapids, Mich.
I recently made gnocchi alla sorrentina, which is gnocchi made from scratch with delicious tomato sauce, smothered in mozzarella cheese and baked in the oven. It was delicious and received applause from my parents, who joined me for Sunday lunch. Here, you can feast on gnocchi alla sorrentina -- at least with your eyes.
My mother's birthday was the perfect excuse for me to try and make a layer cake that I saw in Better Homes and Gardens. I have to say that it came out pretty well, and I think my mom enjoyed it, which is all that really matters. Happy birthday mamma! Check out the cake and mamma here...
When my cousins Ali and Amy (who is also my Goddaughter) invited me to see their soccer game on a summer-like fall day, I couldn't pass up the chance. They were on fire. But I was most proud to see that win or lose, they are always good sports and little ladies.
My nieces Francesca, Laura, and Giulia, are growing into amazing little ladies. Whenever I'm in their native Ischia, we set aside one night for a pajama party. In 2010, we had our best ever. You're invited to our slumber party...
Chef Nino Di Costanzo creates works of art with food. His dishes are as delectable as they are beautiful. His passion is most evident while at work, which is why dining in the kitchen is a must for visitors to Ischia's five-star hotel Manzi. Two coveted Michelin stars for Manzi's restaurant speak for themselves. Join us for the tasting menu...
Check out the beautiful tablescape that my cousin Fausto created for a family dinner party in his native Ischia, a small island off the coast of Naples in Italy, which is the home of my ancestors.
Now that just about everyone has seen the hit movie Night at the Museum, you can't come to New York without visiting the American Museum of Natural History. Recently, I went there for the first time in years with my husband Antonio and our friend from Italy, Ludovica. Join us.
Cousin Raffaele graduated high school in 2010, and his parents hosted a backyard bash to celebrate his accomplishments. We're very proud and sad all at the same time because he'll be going away to college in the fall. In the meantime, join the festivities...
For the first time in four years, Francesca was in the United States for the fourth of July, and she celebrated in style with her parents. Join them at their table and at the George Washington Bridge.
Cousin Alex recently celebrated his high school graduation with a backyard bash during 4th of July weekend 2010. With family, friends, and lots of food, it was a good time. We're proud of all he's done, but we'll miss him when leaves for college in the fall...
In June, my mom, my friend Alex, and I headed to Orlando, Fla. to visit my sister Rosaria, sister-in-law Jaci, brother John, and niece Maria. We had a rip roarin' good time. Join us.
Cousin Ali turned 10, and we celebrated double digits in style. There were finger-lickin-good ribs, burgers, and hot dogs on the menu. A tree of chocolate covered strawberries and delectable cheesecake joined the beautiful birthday cake on the dessert table. And fun was had by all. Check it out.
Last week, Maria Regina, the first granddaughter to Pasquale and Regina Di Meglio, finally met the New Jersey branch of her family. Boy was everyone happy to see -- not to mention hold -- her! You can join in on the excitement by looking at this fabulous photo album.
My Goddaughter and cousin Amy made her First Communion on May 16, 2010. She looked like the perfect little bride and made us all proud. Join us on her big day.
As Antonio left the United States to return to Italy in April 2010, I had my mother snap some photos of us in our garden, which was in full bloom for spring, replete with a rainbow of tulips.
Down in Florida, where my siblings live, my four-legged nephew and niece bring joy and wonder to the family. There is Bella, a female mix between beagle and basset hound, and Shilo, a beagle. They are equally cute -- and we'd like for you to meet them in these photos.
On April 9, 2010, we welcomed Maria Regina Di Meglio, daughter of John and Jaci Di Meglio, to the world. She is a bundle of joy and already has a great personality -- or at least it seemed that way when she talked to me on the phone just a bit after she was born. Come on and meet her.
Maria Regina Di Meglio, daughter to Francesca's brother John and his wife Jaci, returned home from the hospital with her mom and papa on Sunday. Join her as she meets her house and her pooch Bella for the first time.
My husband Antonio and I spent Easter Sunday together for the first time ever. We spent the day at Zia Concettina and Zio Raffaele's house, along with cousins Anna, Nino, Damiano, and Raffaele. What fun!
School children in our neck of the woods are well aware of Flat Rock Brook. It's a standard school trip, where we learn about tadpoles and frogs, leaves and trees. It's also a great picnic spot. Nature in the middle of sprawling suburbia, Flat Rock Brook is the ideal place to clear your head, too. Care to meditate?
In Leonia, N.J., people can get away from it all by playing, running, jumping, cycling, walking, and dreaming at Overpeck Park. It's a lovely way to spend an afternoon -- whether you want to play tennis, soccer, baseball or just run the track, then Overpeck is the place to be. You can also hang out on the benches, take in the sun, and check out the dog park. Good times!
Recently, Antonio and I spent a lovely spring afternoon at the Bronx Zoo. The animals were loving the return of warm weather, and they all came out to play. Visit them, too.
Every year, we invite the kids of the family to come over and decorate cookies and dye eggs for Easter. We hop around like bunnies, throw sugar and dye all over the place, and eat our work. You won't want to miss it.
The boardwalk at Point Pleasant Beach down the shore in Jersey offers a host of diversions, including Jenkinson's Aquarium. Although the aquarium is a bit pricey (12 bucks per adult for an aquarium you can get through in under an hour), it is fun to visit with the fish and little kids seem fascinated by it all. Come with us for a visit with the colorful creatures.
Our friend Agostino d'Ambra, a chef at his family's Focolare restaurant in Ischia, Italy, recently spent three weeks in the United States studying English -- and clowning around with us. Join him on his journey.
My family parties like (tame) rock stars. We trade in rock star Tequila for ice cream cake and pasta alla Pasquale and cold cuts and a table full of other foods. My cousin Amanda's 12th birthday party was no different. Join us for the fun and the food.
The noreaster that hit the Northeast over a weekend in March 2010 left many parts of New Jersey, Long Island, and Connecticut without power for days. We were even without water for two days. It was like the third world from when we lost our power at around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday to about noon on Tuesday. Check out the damage and repair work.
At the end of February in 2010, we were snowbound in New Jersey, under about two feet of snow. It was a Winter Wonderland. Come play in the snow with us.
Atlantic City made for a nice weekend getaway for Antonio and I and my parents. And now we can share our sweet weekend with you. Enjoy!
Super Bowl Sunday 2010 happened to be Ludovica's last day in the States before returning to Italy. Since her birthday would be a week later on Valentine's Day, we celebrated both the Super Bowl, and her Valentine's Day birthday.
My Goddaughter and cousin Amy had a slammin' birthday bash in early February. You too can come to the party in this photo album.
There's nothing like spending a day at the South Street Seaport with that unbelievable view of the Brooklyn Bridge and all those boats. There's shopping to boot and great spots for funny photos.
The George Washington Bridge is home to me. Having grown up in Fort Lee, N.J., home of the bridge, I can't help but see it and feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It was the symbol of my school spirit back at Fort Lee High, and it was my comfort when I returned home from New York City after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Taking my friends to see it in all its glory is my honor.
The American Museum of Natural History invited guests into its Butterfly Conservatory, where you could see beautiful butterflies -- one more colorful than the next. You can see many of them here, but it won't be the same as having one land on your head.
Antonio and I have never been ones to order sushi, but cousins Fran and William Liao made Antonio a fan of the Japanese treat when they recently took us out to lunch. The food was delicious, but the company was even sweeter.
When our friend Francesco Serpentone was in the United States, we wanted to show him as much of New York as is possible in one week. In one day, we took him to Chinatown, Little Italy, FAO Schwarz, the Apple Store, and Central Park. It was a full but beautiful day. Come along for the ride.
Who doesn't love a place where you can quench your thirst, eat buffalo wings, and play skee ball all at the same time? That's why Antonio and I love bringing our friends to Dave & Buster's. Good times are always had by all -- and that was the case with our friend Francesco Serpentone.
While our friends Francesco Serpentone, Domenico, and Titti were in the United States, we invited some other Italian guests over and had a lovely dinner at our home in New Jersey. Join us at the table.
Our friend Francesco "Serpentone", which means Big Snake and his nickname for his prowess at a video game featuring a big snake, visited the United States for one unforgettable week in January. Join us as we welcome him to our home, take him to Times Square, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, and Broadway.
Family friends Titti and Domenico, who traveled from Ischia in Italy, spent time with us in New York and New Jersey over a weekend in early January 2010. Mostly, we ate. Join us at the table.
Family friends Titti and Domenico recently traveled from Ischia, Italy to hang out a bit in New York before heading to Orlando, Fla. and then onto a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Bahamas with my parents, Regina and Pasquale. On my day off, I headed with the fabulous four for some shopping and site seeing in the best city in the world, New York.
New Year's Day saw a return of Zia Concettina and Zio Raffaele. This time, however, they brought their daughter Francesca, her husband William and their grandsons William and Phillip. We were at my parent's house -- and the laughs continued.
On the eve of the new year, I invited my cousins Anna, Nino, Damiano, and Raffaele, my Zia Concettina and Zio Raffaele, and my parents to my place for dinner and some fun while waiting for midnight.
The weekend before Christmas was marked by a ton of snow in the Northeast. My husband and I were celebrating Christmas on Sunday afternoon ahead of his trip home to Italy. We had a White Christmas. Lovely!
I took my husband Antonio to Disney World in December 2009 to celebrate our first anniversary. It was the first time we used the Disney dining plan, and we ate our way through the week we spent there.
Nights out with cousins Ralph and Connie and our friend Liz are always lively and full of fun. Liz treated us to dinner at the Old '76 House in Tappan, N.Y., which dates back to Revolutionary times. It was the perfect place for my Italian husband Antonio and our Italian friend Ludovica to taste a bit of Americana.
Our holiday is always humorous when we spend it with the Lo Basso's in River Vale. My cousins always offer a nice spread and big laughs. They delivered once again on Christmas Day 2009. Thanks for the good time.
Little cousins Nina and Marissa and their parents Big John and Miesha are always a delight. And they certainly made our Christmas Eve brighter. Mamma, Papa, Ludovica, and I certainly enjoyed their company. Join us for this special evening.
All the kids came to our place on the actual day of Halloween to trick or treat and take a few photos in Papa's famous fall display.
The Statue of Liberty is one of the major symbols of America. I never tire of visiting her. It's moving to think of all the immigrants, people who chose to be American, who saw Lady Liberty as they entered Ellis Island. And it makes me think of the voyage my own family took to arrive in the United States. They came to the U.S. after Ellis Island was closed, but they still longed to see the Statue that symbolized freedom and opportunity.
My husband and I celebrated our wedding twice -- once in Italy and once in the United States. Therefore, it seems like we are always celebrating an anniversary. On Nov. 29, 2009, we marked the first anniversary of our American vow renewal by taking our parents and friend Ludovica to Villa Amalfi, where we held our American reception, for a brunch buffet for the ages. We also ate the second coming of our vow renewal cake in the evening. Yum!
Thanksgiving 2009 marked the first time that my husband and Antonio hosted my parents and a couple of Italian friends at our home. It was a big success and we'd like to invite you to our table for antipasto and turkey and all its trimmings.
The Jersey Shore is one of the happiest places on Earth for a Jersey girl like me. It's always a pleasure to introduce the shore to my Italian friends. I recently took my husband Antonio and our friend Ludovica, who are studying English in the States, down the shore to Point Pleasant Beach in the middle of November. Join us on our trip.
On a sunny fall afternoon, I was blessed with the chance to babysit for my cousin William. When his mom and little brother Phillip returned from the doctor's office, we all had a blast. The kids reminded me of what my life was like everyday after elementary school. Ahhh, the good old days...
After two years of celebrating fall weddings, the Di Meglio family returned to host a happenin' and hip Halloween party for the kids. Join us as we solve a murder mystery, mummify the adults, and dress up for Halloween 2009.
New Jersey -- despite what people will tell you -- has many jewels. The Atlantic City boardwalk is certainly one of them. The Steel Pier, with its old-fashioned ferris wheel and row of food stands, and the colorful hotel casinos make for a good time. Bring my Italian family and their friends -- and you never know what might happen.
Castello Aragonese, which is attached to the island of Ischia by bridge, has been used as a fortress, prison, and love shack for royals. Today, however, it is a museum and hotel for tourists in Ischia, Italy. For our first wedding anniversary, my husband Antonio, a native of Ischia, surprised me with a reservation for a night in the castle. It was romantic and lovely and the perfect way to spend such a special day. See for yourself.
A new hotel, Mirage, and its restaurant, L' Incanto, are hidden gems in Ischia, Italy. The property offers spectacular views and romance. And the food at the restaurant will have you craving more.
Discover the Italian art of presepio, or the creation of miniature towns often displayed at Christmas. At the Museo del Contadino in Forio, visitors learn about wine making and the art of presepio. There, you can see presepi that are replicas of famous sites in Forio during the 1950s just before the island began attracting tourists and growing its tourism industry. © Photos by Laura Porraro
An elementary school class in Ischia recently visited the Museo del Contadino in Forio, Ischia to learn about the island of Ischia's rich tradition of wine making. © Photos by Laura Porraro
Ischia Ponte is the oldest town in Ischia, a small island off the coast of Naples. Once the home of the island's fishermen, Ischia Ponte's focal point is Castello Aragonese, which is connected to the island by a bridge. In fact, "ponte" means "bridge" in Italian and that's the origin of the town's name. Join us for this tour by photo of Ischia Ponte.
At the Ischia restaurant Focolare, the food is gourmet, the service is family style, and the wine keeps flowing. It's so good that you won't mind making the trek to this hidden restaurant.
Visit Castiglione, a healing thermal pool park and spa in Ischia, Italy.
Join me at a Sunday lunch in Italy. We'll enter the home of my cousins Gigino and Flavia and their children Fausto and Angela for homemade gnocchi (flour, not potato based) and lots of laughs. You'll see how typical southern Italians spend Sunday afternoon around the table.
My cousin Fausto spent had a typical Italian birthday celebration filled with food, friends, and family. You're invited to the party.
Join me for a day at the healing showers of Nitrodi in Ischia, Italy. Spy a traditional Italian picnic lunch and get spectacular views of Ischia's Maronti beach while taking in the sun and letting the healing water cascade onto you.
Our cousins from Australia recently visited us in Ischia, which was a great excuse for cousin Gigino (of Ischia) and his wife Flavia to cook a big meal, which featured everything from fried calamari to spaghetti with shellfish. Antonio and I brought the gelato and we took lots of family photos.
Join my cousin Damiano, his friends, and I for a dream weekend on the island of Ischia, an island off the coast of Naples that is home to our ancestors.
Witness the first meal Antonio and I served in our completed kitchen in Ischia, and the special fruit that sat on our table. Full of delicious bites, you'll come back for seconds.
Bagnitiello is a small thermal pool park and bay in Casamicciola, Ischia in Italy. Unlike the other thermal spas, this one is more peaceful -- at least until the tourists find out about it.
Once a year, the Expo, a cross between a flea market, carnival, and supermarket, arrives in Ischia, Italy and brings a bit of convenience to the island. Photos by Francesca Di Meglio
You're invited to Ischia, a small island off the coast of Naples, for the nuptials of Francesca and Antonio, which took place on Oct. 2, 2008. The bride's ancestors and now her husband are from this jewel of an island, and many of her American relatives traveled far to join the festivities. Photos by Foto Elite in Ischia Ponte, Italy
You're invited to the Thanksgiving-themed vow renewal of Francesca and Antonio, which took place on Nov. 29, 2008 in the bride's hometown of Fort Lee, N.J. in the United States. There were lots of Italian guests, all of whom stayed with the bride and groom themselves, and lots of Italian American fun. Photos by Bella Pictures and The Kiss Photo in black and white by Miesha Di Meglio
Witness the charms of Ischia's port and capital -- from the Santa Maria delle Grazie in San Pietro Church to the fruit market.
See a demonstration of how the world's great artisans create works of art
I enjoyed La Mortella Gardens in Ischia so much that I want to take you there, too. Enter this photo album to see the beautiful flowers and fountains that make up this wonderland in southern Italy.
The people of Ischia -- along with everyone else in Italy -- celebrated into the wee hours of the night after the Italian national soccer team defeated France to become world champions in the summer of 2006.
At this sanctuary, the monks and priests make grappa and take in the countryside.
Take a journey with Francesca as she tries her hand at making fresh ravioli for Thanksgiving.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways, starting with everyone's first stop in Venezia -- St. Mark's Square
Feel like a real Italian with dough between your fingers and pasta on your mind -- and maybe in your hair!
Experience the delight of spending a day at Negombo, a thermal pool park and spa in Ischia.
A day at one of Ischia's most popular thermal water parks is a great way to get revitalized and give your body a rest
My now husband Antonio and I once visited an agri-tourism hotel (known as agriturismo in Italy) near Benevento in Italy. Think bed and breakfast on a farm!