Boca Raton Italian remembers summers visiting quake-ravaged area

Local groups launch fundraising campaigns
Posted at 5:57 PM, Aug 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-24 21:24:35-04

Italians across South Florida are glued to news reports about the devastating earthquake which hit the central part of the country overnight. Several local organizations are already springing to help with relief efforts.

Vincenzo Gismondi grew up visiting Amatrice nearly every summer.

“It’s way up on this hill,” the Italian native remembered. “A beautiful medieval, old town.”

No trip was complete without a stop at the Hotel Roma for a plate of pasta all’Amatriciana; named after the city.

“Eating it right there meant a lot to us. As a restaurateur, it was truly authentic,” Gismondo described the plate.

He serves the recipe at his restaurant, Arturo's in Boca Raton. But today, the meal reminds him of chaotic scenes coming from his home country.

“Those things crushing on top of you. It must be devastating for families, anyone with children especially,” Gismondi said after watching news reports from the region.

A 6.2 magnitude earthquake rocked the area. The number of dead continues to rise.

Gismondi's family lives about two hours south and is safe.

He met with friends who run Italian-American organizations in Palm Beach County Wednesday.

Frank Lore, Jr. leads the local chapter of Unico National. It’s a service organization which raises money for scholarships and other causes. He announced part of the funds raised at the group’s annual cigar dinner on November 15 at Arturo’s will go toward relief efforts related to this earthquake.

“We’re proud of our roots here in the United States and when there is a call to arms, we answer,” LoRe, Jr. said.

Bob Silvani served on the National Italian American Foundation. Now, he volunteers for an Italian cultural group in Palm Beach County named Il Circolo. Both organizations are raising money to send to Italy.

“You can't give to every cause, so you pick the ones that are meaningful to you and you do what you can,” Silvani said.

Gismondi plans to visit Amatrice next month.

“It’s not going to be the same anymore. It'll be a shock to see the devastation,” he predicted.

If you would like to donate, click on the links below, or email the local Unico chapter at

National Italian American Foundation

Unico National

Il Circolo