By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Apr 04, 2009 at 8:41 AM

Oregon-based author Vincenza Scarpaci was scheduled to visit Milwaukee to talk about her book, "The Journey of the Italians in America," late last fall, but a broken wrist put the kibosh on that. Now, Scarpaci has two events here on Tuesday, April 7.

At noon, she appears at the Milwaukee Public Library's Central location, 814 W. Wisconsin Ave., and she'll be at Three Holy Women's St. Rita Hall, 1601 N. Cass St., from 7 to 9 p.m.

There have been a number of coffee table books using historical photos to recount the story of the Italians in America, but I think Scarpaci's "The Journey of the Italians in America" -- published by Pelican -- is different.

And it's not because it has a picture of my great-grandmother in it or because the late John Vagnoni and I helped Scarpaci secure some photos from Milwaukee, either. (She already paid for that work with a bottle of wine and some great hazelnuts from Washington State!)

First of all, I think the book's 300 pages -- cut from something like 800! -- aim to create something more compelling and engaging than a "family album" of Italian-Americans. Sure, there's the de rigeur photo of Lee Iacocca and a shot of the Italian Carabinieri Band playing in front of the Statue of Liberty. But, Scarpaci isn't afraid to air our "dirty laundry" and admit that the road to America wasn't always paved with gold and with dreamy thoughts of paradise on earth (see that great-grandma photo I mention above).

But I also know that Scarpaci worked long and hard on this book, digging everywhere for photos and tirelessly networking and working leads and connections to help ensure that her book would not only include photos from the Little Italys of San Francisco, New York, Boston and Philadelphia, but would also have photos of Madison's Greenbush and Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhoods, as well as from small cities and tiny towns across America.

Because Scarpaci knows that despite the stereotypes of the Italian city kid, immigrants went anywhere there was work. That's why you'll find great bakeries, sausage shops, mutual aid societies, restaurants and more -- all bearing Italian names in small-town Western Pennsylvania, in the UP of Michigan and in Northern Wisconsin, in the iron ranges of Minnesota and Ohio, in the mining towns of Colorado and in dust bowl Texas and Oklahoma, too.

Vincenza put her heart and soul and her sweat into this book, so it makes perfect sense that the cover photo shows her parents' wedding. It's her book. But, it's mine, too, and as Americans -- of Italian heritage or not -- it's also yours, since it cuts to the heart of how nearly all of us got here: through determination, hard work and by surviving the downs and celebrating the ups.

In case you want to cut to the (hometown) chase, photos from Milwaukee are on pages 47, 54, 58, 181, 218, 244 and 254. Madison pics can be found on pages 62, 81 and 172.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.