Italian Language and Literature
Interview: Mike Virgintino
Date of Interview: February 22, 2018
Summary by Alexandra Ponti
Michael Virgintino was born February 23, 1957 in the north Bronx. His maternal grandparents both came from Esperia, Italy and settled in the south Bronx. His paternal grandfather came from Matera, Italy, and his paternal grandfather came from Laurenzana, Italy, and both settled in the south Bronx. After getting married, Mike’s parents bought a house in the northeast Bronx in 1951, and slowly the rest of his family migrated up there, as well. His father worked as an accountant, and his mother worked as a secretary until Mike was born. Mike described the neighborhood as mixed, but a wonderful place to grow up. This was because he could always go outside and play baseball in the street with his friends. Despite being an only child, Mike did not feel lonely because of his many cousins and his neighborhood friends who were of Italian descent, as well as Sacndinavian and Jewish origin.
Education was very important in his household. Mike attended Holy Rosary School for elementary school and then Cardinal Spellman High School. After high school,
Mike majored in journalism at Fordham University and graduated in 1979. He was the first to graduate college on his father’s side. After Mike graduated, his parents moved out of the neighborhood because the neighborhood had changed and they no longer felt that they fit in with the new community. Mike names the most formative experience of his life his trip to his grandparents’ hometowns in Italy. He later goes into detail about articles he has written about the importance of being Italian in America.
LaPenta, Kathleen and Ponti, Alexandra, "Michael Virgintino" (2018). Oral Histories. 1.