Articles by: Giulia Madron

  • Facts & Stories

    Cécile Kyenge Has a Dream

    Her trip was an odyssey but she made it! After three hours of flight delay, finally Cécile Kyenge, Italy’s Minister for Integration, arrived at the Italian Consulate of New York, on the eve of the 12th anniversary of 9/11. Warmly received by the Consul General Natalia Quintavalle and various exponents of New York’s Italian and Italian-American community, Kyenge explained briefly the program she intends to follow during her mandate. 

    As the first African-Italian Minister, Dr,. Kyenge (she is indeed a medical doctor, an ophthalmologist) is very interested to meet the Italian community abroad—broadly made of people who, for one reason or another and under different circumstances, have emigrated or are descendants of emigrants. Indeed, one of the objectives she intends to pursue during her mandate is “to create a network” of connections in Italy and abroad in order “to meet each other and enrich ourselves.” That is why, continues Kyenge, “I’d like talking about interaction rather than integration. It’s about meeting other cultures.”

    After this brief introduction, Minister Kyenge illustrated the different goals of her Ministry.
    “The first one concerns the International Adoption Commission,” she said. Italy is the second country in the world when it comes to adopting children. We want to reinforce the Commission and help it to better meet the needs of the families in juridical and economic terms.” From the point of view of her Ministry the integration of adopted children is very important—not only inside the family but also outside: at school and in the society at large. Family, school and education are in fact “essential factors that can facilitate integration.”

    The second goal of her Ministry is “the dialogue between different religions as a means of integration.” With the crisis that Italy is suffering, explains Kyenge, many people are falling apart and there are more and more poor families. The different communities with the help of state institutions have to act locally and come together in order to find new answers and try to redress the situation. Since many local communities today in Italy are made of immigrants, the inter-cultural and inter-religious dialoge is pivotal to create the necessary networks of solidarity and mutual assistance.

    “The third goal regards an important emergency in Italy,” said the Minister, “that of the children who immigrate into our Country without parents. Taking care of them is the responsibility of Regional governments. Fortunately, there are also many organizations that welcome these children and help providing them with the right upbringing and education”.
    In addition to this important theme, Kyenge threw light on the Romanian community in Italy and in Europe, highlighting the importance of their integration in schools, workplaces, and the health system, something that she will discuss later on this month in a meeting with regional officials.

    Italy’s Integration Minister concluded her speech with one goal she considers very important: the fight against racism, xenophobia and many different types of discrimination. “I am not telling you anything new if I say that episodes of racism have increased, also after my election,” she said outlining her program on this subject. Originally from Congo, Kyenge came to Italy to study medicine and decided to stay in the country, eventually becoming an Italian citizen. “We are trying to facilitate the process. Italy is dealing with a lot of changes. There are more than 5 millions immigrants and now many of them, like me, already have Italian citizenship.” And again, she continued, “despite all the provocations and insults I received, we must look towards the future and promote cultural change. For this reason I must thank Prime Minister Enrico Letta, who accelerated the development of our three-year plan against racism and towards integration.”

    Interestingly, Ms. Kyenge’s fight against racism also focuses on sport: “Sport must be a passion,” she underlined, “not the occasion for the explosion of violence. I chose sports, work, school, and communication as the means to fight all discriminations.”

    Communication here is of particular importance of course, since a correct communication is essential to further greater integration and eliminate the stereotypes attached to different peoples. “Differences,” concludes the Minister, “are not a weekness, but the main resource and strength of a country.”

    Ms Kyenge ended her speech by saying that she will also work in order to help Italians who live abroad to regain Italian citizenship in most cases when they, for different reasons, lost it.
    In short, her speech was one entirely looking to the future, a future based on peaceful coexistence and equal opportunities for our young generations. And speaking about young generations, after her speech, Ms. Kyenge received as a gift the t-shirts from a group of young citizens who participated to Italy's Youth Games organized by the CONI (Italian National Olympic Committee) at the event with US rapresentative Mico Delianova Licastro.

    No wonder that the morning after, Cécile Kyenge attended the “Table of Silence” at the Lincoln Center of New York, the annual event in remembrance of the victims of September 11. Then, Italy’s Integration Minister went to the at the United Nations to participate to a debate on the RtoP (Responsibility to Protect).

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  • Facts & Stories

    The ITC Thinks Positive and Bets on The US Market

    A very positive start of the week at the Italian Trade Commission's office of New York. On September 9th, Riccardo Maria Monti, President of the ITC, the Agency for the promotion and the internationalization of Italian companies abroad, met the press .


     During the meeting, held at the ITC
    office in NY, Mr. Monti, supported by Pier Paolo Celeste, Director of the New York office and coordinator of the ITC's US offices, threw light on the positive impact of Italian firms in the US market, which is facing a rapid economic upturn. 

    The challenge that the ITC wants to meet is to increase the Italian presence in a market that "is strong, open, stable, and in which we are well accepted," said Monti. 
For this reason, the ITC intends to strengthen the role of its five offices in the United States. New York, says President Monti, "will remain the reference point" but the re-opening of the office in Miami, the reinforcement of the ITC presence in Atlanta, Chicago, and Los Angeles are essential for the promotion of pivotal Italian Industries, especially those dealing with food, fashion and entertainment, but also with mechanics and mechanical engineering.

    The main objective, according to President Monti, is to refresh our Made in Italy by reinforcing its export network, by increasing the collaboration with several institutional organizations from Confindustria (the association of Italian industrialists) to the Italian Cultural Institutes in the US and by putting strong emphasis on the promotion of the biotechnological, spatial, and pharmaceutical sectors. The involvement of several start-ups in this process is also part of the project. 

    Monti also highlighted the key role that the United States play in Italy, as an important market as well as an important partner. In 2013, the US imported from the “Bel Paese” products with a value of 18.6 billion dollars, with an increase of almost 3% more compared to last year.

    This year, Monti continued, "we start with a base of 50 million euros, the double of the usual fundings for the ITC  promotion activities abroad," a positive sign despite the economic crisis. In fact, by the end of 2013 an increase in the commercial surplus of 15 billion is expected, which would be a historical record for Italy. This forecast is based upon the free-trade agreement between the European Union and United States, which will reinforce the competitive advantage of several Italian companies. 

    So far, the signs of commercial growth are encouraging, making the ITC confident in a good overall performance of Italy in terms of the export of Italian products to the US market.

    After duty comes pleasure. On the evening of the press conference, the ITC opened its doors to fashion. Monti hosted a fashion event, organized by Vogue Italia's Editor-in-Chief Franca Sozzani, at the New York office on the occasion of the start of New York’s fashion week. Many guests attended the event to admire the wonderful exhibition of dresses organized by Vogue Italia as well as the videos realized by young video-makers. A pleasant atmosphere in which, between a glass of wine and a tasteful finger food, you could take a look at the new trends in terms of fashion.

  • Style: Articles

    Italians (at Least Italian Designers) Do It Better

    The Big Apple opens its doors to Italian quality, creativity and innovation in a field in which Italy has played a key role over the last century and where it still continues to leave its mark.
    This special contest event was established by Riccardo Viale, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute of New York, and conceived and developed by Architect and renowned Designer Massimo Vignelli, President of La Fondazione “Friends of the Italian Cultural Institute of New York”. It will take place this year from September 6 through the 26, during the eagerly anticipated Fashion Week, which attracts an international elite in the fashion and design worlds. An exclusive, by-invitation-only preview will take place on September 9th with two special guests of honor: Franca Sozzani, Editor in Chief of Vogue Italia and Lapo Elkann, President of LA Holding of Italian Independent.

    This is the perfect occasion for promising young designers to show their works and gain international visibility. Every year, important Italian academic institutions in the field are invited to highlight the best designers among their graduates. Ten of them are then selected by a commission coordinated by Massimo Vignelli. But only three winners will go on the special podium awaiting them in New York City.

    This year the bronze medal has been awarded to Paolo Cappello, born in 1980 in Verona. With a degree in Industrial Design from the Politecnico of Milan, in 2007 he set up his own studio in Verona where he collaborates with professionals in architecture, graphics and communications. His talent, recognized worldwide, has already led him to receive many important awards. “Italy is the homeland of industrial design, of good planning made for real industry and great distribution. It’s a history that belongs to our country,” says Paolo, who is proud to see his work also recognized in New York and to become an ‘ambassador’ of Italian culture to the United States.

    The silver medal has been awarded to Davide Angeli. Born in 1982, his career took off in 2004 after meeting the Italian master of design Michele De Lucchi. He worked for various companies including Ferrari, curated several exhibitions in Italy and Europe and also designed the interiors for Moschino and other famous firms. Today he is a Professor of Industrial Design at the European Institute of Design in Milan and, working at Studio De Lucchi, he also cooperates with renowned advertising companies such as Oliviero Toscani.

    According to Davide, Italian design has been the avant-garde in the world of applied arts for more than 50 years. “It’s a way of thinking and planning that’s unique, despite globalization, because of its deep roots in Italian culture.” He likes quoting the reinassance master Giorgio Vasari, who in the second half of the sixteenth century stated that “innovating is looking at the ancient, getting rid of the old.” “Italy is the ideal country where this can still happen,” Davide adds. “This exhibition of Italian design, young and still unknown to many, is testament to New York’s ability to look at the future being even today the heart of cultural meeting and exchange.” 

    Last but not least, the gold medal has been awarded to two young designers: Valentina Del Ciotto and Simone Spalvieri. With respective degrees in Interior Design and Industrial Design from the Politecnico of Milan, in 2009 they founded the Spalvieri/Del Ciotto Studio, a meeting place for ideas, research and experimentation. Their work, characterized by formal, functional and simple designs, has already found great success in Italy and abroad. Their Italian and foreign collaborations include the likes of Colombo Design, Established & Sons and Nespresso.

    “We feel a great responsibility in representing the new Italian design in New York,” they agree. “This city plays a fundamental role in the creation of the ‘Italian Myth’ in the world of design.” According to both, Italians are not only masters of style and design but they are also able to roll up their sleeves during difficult moments. “Now we are more willing to change and we would like our works to reflect our desire for renovation.” The challenge, they say, is to “combine the high quality of Italian products and their planning, transmitted to us by the masters, with the potentiality of expansion and cultural opening offered by the Internet and today’s media.” In a constantly changing world, and because of new communication methods and technology developments, “being a designer is extremely complex.” What we have to preserve, they say, is “Italian culture and its product quality and planning, the only value that makes us recognizable and competitive all over the world.”

    While these talented young designers are in New York, they will be introduced to curators, graduates and deans of architecture and design departments affiliated with prominent academic institutions. There will also be several meetings with representatives of industrial firms in order to bring their talent to the attention of entrepreneurs aiming to develop collaborations and other business opportunities.

    The Prize includes a wonderful exhibition at the Italian Cultural Institute of New York, curated by Massimo Vignelli and presented by Pirelli, with a selection of one or two works of the ten winning designers as well as a series of collateral initiatives. After its first stop in New York, the exhibition will be on view in Miami this December, during the Design Fair/Art Basel Miami week. 
    This initiative is intended to become a yearly event for young talent in the Italian Design sector…and we all wish them good luck!


  • Facts & Stories

    Many Italians Stay Home this Summer

    Vacations. Until a few years ago we couldn’t wait to disconnect from our stressful jobs and leave to relax on some exotic beach with a cocktail in our hand.  Today, for many of us, the word “vacation” has been removed from our vocabulary. The economic crisis has emptied our wallets.

    Prices increase and many Italians decide to stay home this summer. 

    Compared to last year, in 2013 the number of Italian tourists has decreased by an amazing 4 million. This is the latest data according to the ISTAT (Central Institute of Statistics). Among the several causes that make vacations just an illusion are the increased costs of both services and transportation. Furthermore, what becomes the final straw is the rising unemployment rate, which reached 12% this year. 

    According to Confartigianato, between 2009 and 2013 the price index of vacationing services  increased by 15,1% and the transportation cost increased by a whopping 21,8%. Moreover, since last May, the national vacation packages increased by 12,8% in cost , while the international ones by almost 7%. In addition to all this, it must be mentioned that Italy holds the record in regards to the increase of the cost of fuel, which is 11% more expensive than in any other European country.

    This situation implied the substantial decrease of the tourist flow. The decrease in the number of bookings encumbers considerably on all the businesses connected to tourism, which in many cases have failed or at least are struggling.

    According to an ISNART survey, this year almost 24 million of Italians have planned to  vacation away from home. Yet, they have considerably changed their habits, spending less on their vacations.

    Following the data of this last survey, 41% of Italians reduced the number of their trips during the summer, 13% opted for more convenient destinations, especially in regards to the accommodations. Indeed, almost 10% decided to stay in private houses rather than in hotels. However, 28% of Italians did not let the crisis  negatively affect  their vacationing styles. It is expected that,  between the months of July and September, Italian tourists will generate  almost 29 millions trips, with majority concentrated in the month August. 

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    Which is Your Favourite Pasta (Boy)?

    Its success started more than 2000 years ago and today still continues to be the undisputed protagonist on our tables. We are talking about pasta, one of the most famous dishes in the world. A new project, created by the brand “Delverde,” to teach people the secrets and the recepies of this versatile product just landed in New York.

    The initiative is called “Pasta Sommelier,” and it will be held around Manhattan. Its aim is to tell people all about the history and the special characteristics of Italian pasta through tastings and instructional seminars  and demonstrations by four young, charming and talented chefs of the “Delverde” team, otherwise known as “Pasta Boys.”

    Last week, at the Italian Cultural Institute of New York, there was an interesting lecture by Stefano Miloni, a food and wine expert, who spoke about this famous food invented by the Romans.

    “Food is not invented by chance. Is not an act of creativity of a chef. Food is something that develops when times change. If you know the history you know how to eat, how to get the best pleasure,” explained Miloni. And on the most famous food in the world, he states: “Pasta is such a source of creativity. Seven versions of pasta are like seven notes. You could play all the music you want.”

    After the presentation, the team of i-Italy snuck into the kitchen of the Institute were the Pasta Boys were cooking up pasta dishes. These four chefs, Daniel Nicoletti, Tiziano Magliaro, Flavio Spini and Carlo Giachino were preparing two different pastas they were going to serve after Miloni’s presentation: one with pesto-zucchini sauce and one with eggplant, pecorino cheese and crispy bread on top.

    The concept of the Pasta Boys was invented to make the story and the culture of Italian pasta more entertaining, explained Carlo Giachino, one of the chefs. And what could be better then four good looking Italian guys who cook for you? You get the delight of the taste and the delight of the sight!

    “Four guys cooking in such a small you do that?,” we asked. “Nothing is impossible for the Pasta Boys,” said one of the chefs. And kept his word, to the joy of the starving guests.

    Before going back to Europe, Pasta Sommelier and the incredible Pasta Boys will continue their tour in Montreal, Toronto and San Francisco during the months of September and October.

  • Facts & Stories

    John R. Phillips is the New US Ambassador to Italy

    After four years of  David Thorn's service as the American Ambassador in Rome, President Obama decided to pass the baton to John R. Phillips.

    The famous lawyer from Washington, expert in class action and known especially for his successful battles against fiscal frauds, Phillips is one of the principal financiers of Obama's last political campaign. 

    Phillips graduated from the prestigious University of Berkeley, in California, and is founder of the important Washington law firm Phillips & Coen. From now on he will  manage the relations between Italy and the US, and all during a very delicate situation both countries are facing, not only because of the Datagate scandal, but also because of the period of political instability that Italy is currently going through.  What also makes the situation difficult is the economic crisis that in Europe is far from seeing an end.

    Married to the ex collaborator of the White House Linda Douglass, Phillips has another important advantage that might have brought Obama to nominate him Ambassador in Rome. In fact, his grandparents were Italians who emigrated to the United States. Their name was "Filippi," which then became "Phillips."

    His family's past explains also the bond that the new Ambassador has with the "Bel Paese" and that he wanted to reinforce in 2001, when he bought and restructured a villa from the XIV century located near Siena, in Tuscany, which is now a luxurious Hotel. The new US Ambassador will arrive in Rome in the next couple of weeks. 

  • Facts & Stories

    Pope Francis Leaves a Mark in Lampedusa

    The 8th of July was a special day for Pope Francis. It was his first trip to Lampedusa. The Sicilian island is one of the main destinations for many African immigrants who come to Europe in search of a better future for themselves and their families. Nevertheless, many of them never reach the Italian shores. 

    When Pope Francis became aware of what was happening, he decided to fly to the island and give a mass in order to make the locals aware of the immigrants’ situation.

    More than 15 thousand people welcomed Pope Francis on his arrival in Lampedusa to meet the locals and immigrants.

    “No one feels responsible for this (the tragedies of immigration), we lost the sense of brotherhood, we have fallen into a hypocrite behavior, ” said the Bishop of Rome.

    During the homily, Pope Francis mentioned the famous Italian writer Alessandro Manzoni and in particular the character of the “Unnamed,” the evil figure of his most important novel, The Betrothed.

    “Globalization and globalizing the indifference makes us all unnamed men, but we are all responsible even without name or faces,” he said.

    He continued, saying that in front of all the people who died in the sea we should “ask God to cry for our indifference, for our cruelty and the cruelty of the world, of those who make socio-economic decisions in the anonymity and that result in such tragedies.”

    What Pope Francis said was a open attack on globalization in general. We live in a society that makes us deaf in front of the screams of people who need help. And this is what brings us all towards the “globalization of indifference.”

    Before returning to Rome, Pope Francis concluded his visit with a stop at the Church of San Gerlando where immigrants and other inhabitants of the island were waiting for him. He said that Lampedusa should be “a lighthouse for the world, finding the courage to receive those people who are looking for a better life.”

    Once again, Pope Bergoglio confirms himself not only an authority of the Church but a man who is deeply committed to what happens in the world and is willing to change it, creating a better future grounded on universal brotherhood.

    According to Amnesty International Italy, the Pope’s trip to Lampedusa could represent a big step towards the respect of human rights for those who are immigrants or political exiles.  

  • Gay Marriage: A Historical Verdict

    A historical verdict. On June 26, 2013, with five votes against four, the Supreme Court of the United States declared  the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal law according to which marriage is restricted to men and women denying at the same time homosexuals the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples have, unconstitutional. But in the Californian case, the Supreme Court  avoided to pronounce itself in regards to Proposition 8, the referendum with which Californians rejected gay marriages in November of 2008. The Court in fact decided that supporters of Prop 8 have no legal requirement to ask its defense.

    This means that gay couples which are legally married can claim the same federal rights as heterosexual couples in regards, for instance, to paying taxes, adopting children or receiving inheritance.

    Shouts of joy and happiness came from the people outside the Court after having heard the sentence. “It’s a historical step towards equality, ” commented President Barack Obama on Twitter.

    We interviewed a few Italian- American in New York to learn what is their opinion in regards to this issue.

    “In my opinion it should have been done before,” claims Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa, Founder and President of the Italian American Museum. “Everybody is equal under the law,” he says, while receiving us in a place full of historical objects from the Italian – American tradition, “it's about human rights and what the Court decided was very important.”

    “I agree with the decision of the Court. I think that the rights of the couple have to be protected regardless of their sexual orientation,” says Francesco Cirillo, a young elegant lawyer and broker at Vivaldi Real Estate who was walking by.

    “One of my best friends just got engaged with his partner,” affirms David Alleva, son of the owner of the Alleva Dairy Italian cheese store, behind a counter full of delicious Italian food products “ So I am definitely for it.”

    However, some others disagree with the Court's verdict.

    “I don't agree at all with the decision of the Supreme Court,” says Giovanni Russo, a friendly Italian bartender who works at La Bella Vita Restaurant. “ I think a couple it is only composed by man and woman.” And, he quickly continues while seating some guests at a table, “the fact that only men and women together can have children, implies different rights.”

    “I disagree with this verdict. A family is a sacred and natural institution and marriage should be restricted to heterosexual couples. I am not saying they are different. I am saying it is not how it's supposed to be in the nature of mankind,” claims Rose Palumbo, an Italian-American retired lady from Cleveland who came to visit some friends and was really exited to be in the city.

    Even if the Supreme Court's last decision continues to divide the public opinion, this is for sure a big victory for the gay community in the US. 

  • Facts & Stories

    Making in Italy-Making in USA

    In occasion of the Year of Italian Culture in the USA, the Giannino Bassetti Foundation together with the Consulate-General of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco presented the project “Making in Italy-Making in the USA: Craftmanship, Technology and Design, Innovating with Beauty”. The initiative, whose intent was to build a bridge between the excellences of the Made in Italy and the technology of the USA, was held from June 11 to June 24 in San Francisco.

    A rich program whose aim was to present and discuss together the challenges of the so called“third revolution” and create a new concept of the economy of beauty.

    Making in Italy-Making in the USA was the perfect opportunity for several Italian and American craftsmen, makers and intellectuals, cultivators of beauty and experts in new technologies to compare multiple forms of creativity and innovation.

    A way through which American firms with their last-generation technologies met the Italian culture with its ability of interpreting and representing design as a form of poetry, beauty and business.

    The Giannino Bassetti Foundation, whose objective is to promote a new culture of making through responsible innovation, opens with this project a new path towards a future that will change the models of global production. According to Piero Bassetti, Chairman of the Foundation : “It is during this revolution, in which Italy and United States play both a key role, and both with their own characteristics, that we can go towards a change and find new ways to build the future of humanity”.