Professor finds New York treasure in his native region of Abruzzi, Italy

2012-06-11

BINGHAMTON, NY – Binghamton University professor of French and comparative literature Sandro Sticca is currently working on a book detailing findings he has uncovered from a diary and log kept by a 25-year-old sailor in the 1840’s.

Several years ago, Sticca conducted research in a Renaissance castle, which was filled with documents of all kinds: legal, historical, social and literary. Among these items, he uncovered the diary and navigational log kept by Achille Capuano, a 25-year old sailor who from 1843-1846 served as a lieutenant in the King of Naples’ Navy. Written in precise, flowing script, the diary describes all the ports that his ship, the “Urania,” visited in his three-year tour at sea. The log includes color drawings of the ports Capuano visited, including a sketch of Jamestown as the ship sailed toward New York City.

Although Capuano spent only a few weeks of his three-year trip in the United States, more than half of the 136-page diary is devoted to his impressions of New York State.

“He was really struck by the beauty, the singularity of the New World, particularly New York,” said Sticca.

The diary offers descriptions of New York City, Philadelphia and Albany, while also including reflections about the numerous villages stretched out between Utica and Niagara Falls. Capuano’s diary also includes a range of historical notations about important figures such as Washington and Franklin, while offering a glimpse of the era that gave birth to the colonies. According to Sticca, the document is of enormous importance as it provides a foreigner’s prima facie description of New York state almost 150 years ago.

Sticca has been a professor at Binghamton University since 1964. Special interests include romance philology, medieval literature (Latin, French and Italian), medieval drama and lyric, the Renaissance, modern French and Italian literature, and comparative literature.

Sticca received his doctorate from Columbia University and is the author of The Latin Passion Play (1970), The Planctus Mariae in the Dramatic Tradition of the Middle Ages (1989), Il Convento di S. Maria del Paradiso (1989), La poetica del tempo sacramentale (1966), Saints. Studies in Hagiography, (editor), MRTS, 1996, La poesia di Gennaro Manna: Il Verbo del Sacro e dell’Assurdo (2009).

Sticca has edited several volumes, including, Medieval Drama (1972). He is the founder of Mediaevalia (1975), the journal of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (CEMERS), of which he served as editor from 1975-1979 and from 1995-2008.

Prior to serving as professor of French and comparative literature, Sticca served terms as chair of the Romance Languages Department and as director of CEMERS. In 1983, he was knighted when invested in the Order of the Knights of Templar; in 2007, he received a Doctorate Honoris Causa from Utica College in Humane Letters; in 2008, he was made a Cavaliere of the Italian Republic by Giorgio Napolitano, Presidente of Italy; in 2008, he received a Doctorate Honoris Causa in Art History from Accademia Internazionale “Citta’ di Roma” and in 2010, he was recognized by Binghamton University’s Harpur College of Arts and Sciences for his work on behalf of Mediaevalia and the Medieval Center.

Last Updated: 9/17/13