By Kohar Bayizian
Bella Italia Mia Inc., which means “My Beautiful Italy,” is a not-for-profit organization founded in January of 1998 by Diego A. Lodic.
It serves as a repository of the Italian culture and to educate all those interested in learning more.
Lodic, whose parents migrated from Canicatti, Italy, in 1920 was born in Staten Island, moved to Harlem and at the age of 10 moved to Queens. In 1963 he and his wife, Teresa, moved to Maspeth, where they reside to this day.
Bella Italia Mia was established in hopes to preserve the Italian Heritage, Lodic said. “We have a great culture and the new generation is not being exposed to it. I want to change this.”
One of Lodic’s inspirations was the negative stereotypes of Italians that were being portrayed in the media. “I started Bella Italia Mia in order to promote the positive image of the Italian heritage.” He said “society views us as a sub-culture of the lowest forms of the hoodlum element.” Lodic says his goal is to tear down this myth and replace it with the real meaning of being Italian.
Bella Italia Mia currently has 346 members, 90 percent of which live in Queens. They have monthly membership meetings every last Saturday of the month that take place at Christ the King High School in Middle Village. The group’s next meeting is on Saturday, April 26 with scheduled guest speaker Allesandra Belloni.
Throughout the month the club has social gatherings, lectures, discussions and performances. The group has held many events, such as “The Masks of Venice” presented by Emelise Aleandri, which was about the different masks of Venice, their origins and traditions. The group’s last film showing was of “Italian-American Women” and there was a three-day program at the Center for Italian-American Culture on Italian-American Women in Art, Literature and Society. Bella Italia Mia just recently organized a seven-day Caribbean cruise with “Antonio and Alba.”
Being the chairman of Bella Italia Mia, Lodic dedicates a majority of his time to the organization. He said that he usually puts in 70 hours a week along with his 12-person, part-time volunteer staff that work out of his basement.
Lodic said that he is so happy with the results of all his efforts. “It’s a lot of hard work and can be very strenuous at times but it has definitely paid off.”
To join, or for any other information, call 718-426-1240.