It's been my tradition the last few years to put up a post regarding Columbus Day. I am proud of my Italian heritage, indeed, my Genovese heritage (in the interest of full disclosure, la famiglia actually hailed from a small town in the Greater Genoa Metro Area... the Yonkers of Genoa, perhaps?). At any rate, Columbus, while being Genoa's most famous son, was not a nice guy by any stretch of the imagination. Why make this accomplished, yet evil, individual the guy on whom Italian-American pride is pinned?
How about changing the name of the holiday to Da Vinci Day? Who doesn't love Leonardo Da Vinci? The guy was a bona fide genius and polymath- he was a pioneer of just about any scientific or engineering field you could think of, and a master of a plethora of artistic media. As a Nerd-American and an Italian-American, I would heartily endorse a holiday honoring Leonardo.
Alternately, how about Dante Day? Dante Alighieri not only holds the distinction of being Italy's greatest poet, but the Tuscan dialect in which he wrote formed the basis of the modern Italian language. Sure, a lot of Italian-American linguistics originates in Southern Italy and Sicily (that's why cafone is typically pronounced "gah-vone", "Marone" is how "Madonna" tends to be pronounced, and what is known on the "boot" as "pasta e fagioli" bears the Arabic-influenced name of "pasta fazul"). At any rate, Dante is the father of the lingua franca italiana, and he wasn't a horrible person.
At any rate, it's difficult to remain unconflicted about Columbus- his accomplishments were manifold, but many of them were evil. Why not concentrate on accomplished individuals who weren't bad guys? Lucky Luciano managed to accomplish a lot, but nobody is proposing naming a holiday after him.
Anyway, enough of my yapping, how about a classic Italian love song? Here's the original 1961 version of Al di là, sung by "Betty Curtis", born Roberta Corti:
Happy Betty Curtis Day!