Una casa, due cucine: The Italian Immigrant Home with Two Kitchens in North America

Special Guest Presentation

Lara Pascali, Lois F. McNeil Fellow, Winterthur Museum

A number of Italians in North America have two kitchens in their homes; one on the  first floor, and a second in the basement.  While this set-up is pervasive in cities across North America, homes with two kitchens are uncommon in Italy. This presentation explores the significance of the basement kitchen in first-generation Italian homes in the United States and Canada.  Examining homes of various typologies in and around New York, Toronto, and Montreal  purchased by Italian immigrants between 1950 and 1980, Lara Pascali argues that for Italian women the basement kitchen is a liberating space, free from the constraints of formality and traditional room divisions. As homeowner Livia Liberace says, “Upstairs I feel closed [in], in the basement I am free.”