Articles by: Marina Melchionda

  • Events: Reports

    The Italian Singer Who Americans Love. A New Album & Tour for Carmen Consoli

    When summer arrives, we all need some very good music to refresh our spirits and enjoy our leisure time. Lucky enough our favorite Sicilian singer Carmen Consoli has just announced her new North American tour that will bring her to Chicago, New York, Boston, Montreal and Toronto.

    Not only. Her fans will finally be presented with a new album, "Elettra", being released in the US on the leading world music label Wrasse Records on June 15, 2010.

    The seventh of her career, “Elettra,” debuted at number two on Italy’s national charts in November 2009 (right behind Michael Jackson's posthumous album release). In this new work, following the path of "Eva contro Eva" (2006), Carmen continues exploring the female universe, women’s lives and experiences, including their complicated relationships with men. This time she is inspired by Elektra, the Greek mythology heroine, that as she herself explained, is an "expedient to talk about the different aspects of love, might it be maternal, carnal, promiscuous, or spiritual".

    A very concise album, 10 songs in some 40 minutes, "Elettra" is a powerful mixture of personal dramas and collective matters recounted with lucidity and expressive strength. Written and recorded in Sicily during the summer of 2009 "Elettra” is the most personal collection of songs in Carmen’s career employing Italian, Sicilian, Arabic and French languages and including a special duet with friend and mentor Franco Battiato, "Marie ti amiamo" (Marie we love you).

    The album’s opening track, “Mandaci una cartolina” (Send Us a Postcard) is dedicated to the sudden death of her father Giuseppe, while in “Mio Zio” (My Uncle), she surprisingly denounces her uncle's abuses. For the courage she showed in writing such a song, Carmen was awarded the 2010 Amnesty International Italy prize.

    The elaborated mixture of joy and sorrows traced in the album is sang both in Sicilian and in Italian with warmth, subtlety and vivid emotion.

    Thought the "cantantessa" ( little female singer, as she defined herself some years ago) has said that words and stories are central to Elettra, the music is just as sophisticated and captivating as the lyrics. It is since at least three years, since the release of "Eva contro Eva", that Carmen's music is in continuous evolution as she managed to elaborate a sort of pan-Mediterranean folk-rock with acoustic guitars, mandolins, violins, accordions, bouzoukis, and even string quartets.

    Carmen growth as a singer is also testified by the number of awards she received in the latest years: MTV Italian Music Award for Best Video (Parole di Burro - Buttery Words) in 2001; Best Female Artist at the Italian Music Awards in both 2002 and 2003 and Best Song at the Taormina Film Festival for the soundtrack of the international hit film (L’Ultimo Bacio - The Last Kiss). She also had another important recognition when nominated Artistic Director of the summer 2008 Etna Music World Festival in Sicily.

    Throughout the years Carmen also distinguished herself in the musical panorama for the numerous social and political causes she got involved in.

    In May 2006 Carmen was named a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF representing Italy then went on to headline the MTV Europe Foundation’s Exit concert in Vlore Albania, to benefit NGOs working against human trafficking in the European Union. In February 2005 Consoli was chosen to represent Italy at the Africa Unite concert in Ethiopia celebrating the 60th anniversary of Bob Marley's birth. She also participated in Quincy Jones' "We Are The Future" project, a live concert held at the Circus Maximus in Rome in May 2004, which was a fund-raiser to support children in war-torn cities.

    Needless to say, all of this boosted her international popularity and made of her one of the most famous Italian contemporary singers worldwide.

    The turning point of her American career, however, came in 2007 when Elvis Costello attended one of her concerts at Joe's Pub, New York. As quoted by Jim Bessman in Global Rhythm on March 13 2007, he remarked that Consoli “played more original musical ideas in her first three songs than most American, or for that matter, English bands manage in a whole evening”.

    That demonstration of great esteem by such a popular singer-songwriter, drove the attention of the American media on Carmen, who started following with attention her career.
    Defined "...a powerfully expressive vocalist, a superior melodicist, and a skillful if not virtuoso acoustic guitarist..." by the New York Rocker and “... a remarkable combination of rocker and intellectual ” by Jon Pareles of the The New York Times, Carmen is now the most looked at Italian singer in the US and her concerts are much waited for.

    We at i-Italy are waiting for her performance in New York just as well. And you? If you are in the City, Boston, Chicago, Toronto, or Montreal don't waste your time and go buy your ticket and find out how you like the new "Elettra"!

    What else to say? Welcome back "cantantessa"!

    Tuesday June 15, 2010
    Martyrs', Chicago IL
    3855 N. Lincoln Ave.
    8:00pm $18 adv. / $20 door
    Opening act: Caravan of Thieves

    Thursday June 17, 2010
    (Le) Poisson Rouge, New York NY
    158 Bleecker Street
    7:00pm $25 adv. / $30 day of
    Opening act: Jose Conde

    Friday June 18, 2010
    One Bennett Street, Cambridge MA
    7:30pm $22

    Saturday June 19, 2010
    FrancoFolies de Montreal, Montreal QC
    Place Loto-Québec Scène Loto-Québec
    (Outdoor Stage @ Corner of De Montigny & Clark)
    8:00pm FREE

    Sunday June 20, 2010
    Mod Club Theatre, Toronto ON
    722 College St.
    7:00pm $25

  • Riccardo Strano, Director of the Italian Government Tourism Board, and Arianna Zanelli, Secretary General of the Associazione Città e Siti Italiani UNESCO
    Art & Culture

    "Il Paesaggio Descritto". 44 Reasons to Visit Italy

    If you think it is impossible to bring together the best that Italy can offer you in terms of landscapes and historic and cultural sites, you are definitely wrong.

    On June 4 Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò inaugurated the exhibit "Il Paesaggio Descritto  -  UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy", a collection of 44 shots of 44 different Italian UNESCO Heritage Sites by photographer Luca Capuano.

    As many of you know, Italy is the country that hosts the largest number of UNESCO sites, might they be historical centers, natural parks, sea or mountain panoramas, monuments, or architectural landscapes. Luca Capuano traveled  throughout the  entire country, from the Dolomites in the North to the Aeolian Islands in Sicily, to portray  all of them through the lens of his reflex  camera. 

    The original exhibit, first inaugurated in Villa d'Este in Tivoli (near Rome) on March 2010, featured over 530 pictures, a huge collection  from which the photographer and the curator of the exhibit,  Tommaso Gavioli,  selected  numerous samples to bring to New York  for the exhibition at the Casa.

    The display, that will be on view through July 16, is the result of a collaboration between the Casa, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and the Associazione Città e Siti Italiani UNESCO: "Casa Italiana found out about this exhibit on the website of the Italian national newspaper La Repubblica and immediately contacted us showing a deep interest in hosting it in its headquarters. Thanks to the collaboration between Elsa de Giovanni, who became the on-site coordinator of this NY edition, and Mr. Gavioli, we are here after only two months from the first inauguration in Tivoli", said Arianna Zanelli, Secretary General of the Associazione Città e Siti Italiani UNESCO.

    Such an initiative  also has a symbolic meaning  for  her: "We must remember that New York itself hosts two UNESCO heritage sites, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, places that are traditionally part of the "Italian version" of the American dream and that have shaped in many ways the history of both these countries. This time we Italians are not coming as immigrants, but as ambassadors  of our national beauties that  somehow  represent 'the Italian dream' of many Americans".

    From the Royal Palace with its gardens in Caserta to the "Sacri Monti' (Holy Mountains) in Lombardy and Piedmont; from the Etruscan Necropolises of Cerveteri and Tarquinia to the  "trulli" in Alberobello, Apulia; from the Cilento Coast and Vallo di Diano National Park with the Archeological sites of Paestum and Velia, and the Certosa di Padula to the Archaeological Areas of Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata, the exhibit  takes  the visitor  on a virtual journey through the country. Its touristic value was further underlined by the presence of Riccardo Strano, the Director of the Italian Government Tourism Board in North America, on the day of the inauguration: the vivid colors of the pictures, the extraordinary combination of such different landscapes, left all of those attending enthusiastic about  a  possible visit to Italy  in the near future .

    "The exhibit was first conceived for two different reasons: first, we wanted to produce an accurate documentation of the state of preservation of these UNESCO sites in Italy; second, we wanted to offer the public a comprehensive overview of this extraordinary country, that we have the duty to take care of and hand  over  to  future generations", stated Mrs. Zanelli when we asked about the origins of the initiative. "Since the experiment to display a smaller version of the exhibit is proving to be very succesful, we are encouraged to  take  it  on both  a  national and  an international tour, in cities and territories where there aren't such  large spaces as Villa d'Este in Tivoli". 

    For Luca Capuano, selecting just 44 images out of the original 530 was a very delicate task that  inevitably changed or shaped the meaning of the exhibit.

    He was introduced to Mrs. Zanelli and the UNESCO scientific committee in Italy by his friend Mr. Gavioli and, although he is mainly a photographer of architecture, he was immediately appreciated for some works he had already done in the Province of Ferrara, where the Association's headquarters are located.

    We met him a few days before the inauguration and asked him about his commitment with  UNESCO. He told us about the fascinating way he carried  out  his appointment...

    Why do you think the Associazione Città e Siti Italiani UNESCO selected you among all the photographers they were supposedly examinating?
    They already knew me, my style and the works I had done before in the province of Ferrara.
    They gave me great freedom in the way I could carry out  this job, the "cut" and the "point of view" from which I could take my pictures. This is not only an exhibit about the 44 UNESCO sites in Italy, but it is also about the way I look at them, and the language I use to introduce them to the public. This is why the exhibit is called "Il paesaggio descritto" (The landscape described): it is  more  a subjective than an objective representation.

    What is the point of view that you talk about? What kind of photographer are you?
    My life is divided into two parts. My work as a professional photographer in the field of architecture for trade magazines and studios requires  me to use a language that is both  professional and commercial. My artistic projects, of which in most cases I am the first creator, allow me greater freedom of expression. Sometimes, as in this exhibit's case, these two aspects of my work cross: on one side these pictures document the reality as it is, on the other they are the fruit of a thoughtful consideration of what a "UNESCO heritage site" should represent. My conclusion is that the object of this preservation should be the identity of these places, that is the fruit of what they were when they were first created and of what they have become now, thus between past and present. In order to portray  this "identity" in my pictures I chose to remove all of the external contemporary elements that could distract the attention of the viewers, from the advertisement posters to the people walking by and the traffic. So there I was with very few spots that I could work with: using this lecture key made my work much harder, but it was the only way I thought I could carry it on properly

    How long did it take you to take all those pictures?
    It took me almost five months traveling up and down  Italy  by camper. I left from Florence in July and took my last shots in December. After two months of editing, we were ready for the inauguration in Tivoli for which we chose 10 to 20 images for each UNESCO site.

    How did you manage to come down to one picture per site for the NY exhibit?
    It was hard to chose which one to pick. I had to find another lecture key and I asked for the collaboration of the curator Mr. Tommaso Gavioli. We finally ended up giving more  emphasis  to my perspective than to the informative aspect of the project. So it is more a Luca Capuano than a UNESCO exhibit.

    How does it feel to have your works presented to an American audience?
    I think that we found in the Casa Italiana a great place for the exhibit: it has a consistent American audience that is very attentive to the Italian contemporary reality but, being committed to the spreading of the Italian culture, it is also deeply connected to the Italian community in New York. Its audience is extremely various and could thus be fascinated by it for cultural, historical or tourist reasons. The exhibit itself is accessible to an extremely large public that, according to their personal and cultural background, can respond to it in a different way.
    Beauty is a universal concept, that can be interpreted in as many different ways as the people who  observe it. I am curious to see how the New York public will respond to the beauty I  have tried to introduce  to  them through my exhibit.

    We invite all of you readers who happen to be in New York to visit the Casa Italiana this first half of summer. Whether you are an American fond for Italy, an Italian lonesome for his country of origins,  a passionate about photography or even a historian, we ensure you that you'll find a reason to fall in love with Luca Capuano's work

    Il Paesaggio Descritto
      UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy

    June 4 - July 16
    (Monday - Friday, 10 am - 5 pm)

    Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò at NYU
    24 West 12th Street
    New York, NY 10011
    tel. (212) 998-8739
    fax (212) 995-4012
    [email protected]

  • Life & People

    Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò. 20 Years of Italian Culture @ NYU

    It's late May and the school year is about to end.
    At 11 am the Village is unusually silent, as most of the students of  New York University are home preparing their final exams. The same  is true for  Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò  -  no buzzing around, the atmosphere is  quiet and relaxed,  and we are enjoying the "Marrakesh Revisited" exhibit by artist Corrado Levi hosted in its entrance hall and corridors.

    The season is  almost over, there are only a few events left on the calendar, not too many students in the library, the garden is  bathed in sunshine.
    It's the first real day of  spring in New York and, as director Stefano Albertini welcomes us  into his office,  we decide to sit outside and enjoy the warmth while having a chat about this past year at the Casa and the upcoming one.

    This year you have hosted a consistent number of events that have attracted the attention of both Italian and American media. The role of this institution as promoter of Italian culture in New York is constantly increasing...

    It has been a very intense year for us. We have hosted a number of important exhibits, the first of which I want to recall was the one dedicated to Alberto Burri that we organized in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute and the Fondazione Burri of Città di Castello . We consider it as part of a commitment to promote great Italian contemporary artists. The displays of the works by artists Matteo Montani and Corrado Levi are also part of this effort, just as the last exhibit we'll be hosting by Luca Capuano. "Il Paesaggio Descritto . UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy" will be inaugurated on June 4 and is a collection of pictures of Italian monuments, landscapes, squares, streets that the UNESCO recognizes as world legacies. It will allow the visitors to take a virtual tour among the greatest beauties of Italy.

    You also hosted two series of events that  enjoyed great  public success: "Adventures in Italian Opera" with journalist Fred Plotkin and "Genuinely Italian" by Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani. Will you re-propose them next year?
    The collaboration with the GRI was maybe the greatest novelty  on our calendar. As promoters of Italian culture in New York, we were proud of the partnership proposal they made us. It is true that often Italian cuisine is stereotyped and Italy is mainly considered the country of food and of the "bon vivants", but we can't ignore that cuisine is a strong component of our culture as it mirrors our local and national traditions and is an important part of our daily life. Our aim with GRI is to talk about the issue in a cultured way, keeping the attention of the public high at the same time.  I think that so far we have reached this goal in this first edition, and we are committed to do the same for the second one.

    The success of Fred Plotkin's "Adventures in Italian Opera", on the other hand, is actually already consolidated . The Opera singers that we had as guests up to now have been great  enterteiners for our public. Although they are used to perform on world - famous stages such as the Metropolitan Opera, they accepted to come to the Casa to talk  with Fred and our public about the  path that their personal and professional life  is taking.  Most of them not only showed an outstanding education and culture, but were also very nice and fun to talk to.

    Without a doubt ,  the Casa has the capacity to attract a more consistent English-speaking public  than any other institution in New York that promotes Italian culture. What do you offer more than the others?

    First of all, even if we have a fully Italian name, we are actually an American Foundation,  part of  New York University. Thus we have access or are closer to a public of students, professors, and academics, that are potentially interested in our programs.

    Second, one of the factors of most of our events is that they are in English, that works as the lingua franca for both Americans and Italians. Of course we  still have some events in Italian and promote it as a language, but we believe that no public should be excluded from our initiatives, especially when they could learn something through them.

    As a professor at NYU, you are constantly in contact with students who have made  Italy their field of expertise. How do they look at our country?
    Their interest in Italy has changed in the last few years, mostly because today our students have many more opportunities to spend some time there, maybe six months or a year, learn the language, and appreciate the Italian life-style. Not only  do they like our fashion, food, or cinema but they also learn to appreciate local cultures and traditions. So when they come back they are sort of "Italianized", they are completely in love with Italy, and for us professors it almost feels like  we are teaching  Italian students.

    One other thing that helps them develop a different or wider point of view on contemporary Italy is Internet. They can wake up and read the national news just as  if  they were there, navigate the web and be informed  about everything that they might be interested in. They can create their own, personalized relationship with Italy, and this is something they could  never  have done before...

    Every year, Casa Italiana sponsors and hosts a conference organized by PhD students in Italian. It is an important opportunity for them to focus on an  issue of their particular interest and confront with experts they can personally invite. I happened to talk to some of them, and I was impressed  by  how they feel supported and appreciated at the  Casa...
    They do everything alone, from deciding the  general  theme of the conference to  defining  the most specific particular, and they do it with enthusiasm. Last year's conference, entitled "Speaking up in Modern Italy", had somehow more media resonance than this years  which was focused on  the  Italian Middle-Ages and  the Renaissance. This is because contemporary issues are more attractive to the  general  public ;, but if we see it from the academic point of view, I can say without a doubt that they are doing an ever better and more interesting job.

    Generally speaking, we believe in the principles of "academic freedom" and "pluralism", might it be cultural, political, or pedagogical. Our Institution is based on these two beliefs. Although we are part of a private university, we have no masters that tell us what to do and who to invite,either on the American or the Italian side.
    We have been  fortunate  enough to have a founder like  the  Baroness Mariuccia Zerilli Marimò  who has perfectly understood that the most precious patrimony an academic institution can have is cultural freedom

    You were nominated Director of the Casa in 1998, 12 years ago. Is there a goal you feel you still need to accomplish?

    I have fulfilled many of the aims I had in mind. The Casa is nowadays a  renowned place both in New York and  beyond for the important exhibitions and events it hosts and I am proud of it. One more step I would like to take is to transform this place into  a real home for those who come, just as the name suggests. I would like to see it become a forum, a workshop, where everybody can feel at ease and express their ideas and opinions .

    It can be both a physical and virtual home. I was deeply impressed by the results of a recent survey we at the Casa sent to our audience. Not only a significant percentage of them responded - which shows that a large portion of our age-heterogeneous public is internet literate - but they also sent us  critical comments,  both good and bad , about our program and organization. We found out, as an example, that more than 12% of them has   attended more than 10 of our events, while another 11% feels we could improve  the way we distribute the informative material regarding our programs. The results of the survey show that they feel  like they are a part of theCasa ,  and that they can actively contribute to change and improve it as active members. They know that they can make the difference. 

     To conclude, let's talk about next year's celebrations for the Casa's 20th Anniversary. What are you organizing for this special occasion?

    The celebrations will be held on November 4. There will be a concert at the Skirball Auditorium with Maestro Marco Armiliato conducting the Steinhardt Student Symphony Orchestra followed by a fund-raising gala dinner that will take place at the Kimmel Center (NYU). The aim of the evening will be to collect the funds necessary to finance our activities and programs that will be very rich next year.

    During the evening we will also present a book on which we are working in collaboration with  Edizioni Olivares, a publishing house based in Milan. Aside  from the official history of the Casa, readers will find a collection of  anecdotes  by artists and men of culture that have supported our foundation and contributed to its growth. The work will also feature a special insert by our founder the Baroness, in which she writes about how she first conceived the idea of the   Casa and why she decided to invest in an institute aimed  at  promoting Italian culture in New York.

    An anticipation of next year's events calendar?

    Our 2010/2011 program will be very rich  in  attractive appointments for our public, with exhibitions, lectures and conferences. Our flagships will be the new editions of both the "Adventures in Italian Opera" and  Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani's  "Genuinely Italian"  series and the exhibit dedicated to the Italian poet Gabriele D'Annunzio, organized in collaboration with the Museo Vittoriale of Brescia. This display was not a choice made by  chance : since our 20th Anniversary falls in the same year  as  the 150th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy, we decided to honor one of  the most patriotic poets  in  the history of  our  country, the one that more then  anyone else speaks about the idea of "nation" in his works.

    Talking about literature, let's not forget one of our main events that has contributed to enhance the prestige  of the Casa as a cultural institute both in New York and in Italy: the Premio Zerilli-Marimò/ City of Rome, organized in collaboration with the Casa delle Letterature of Rome, now  in  its 9th edition.

    The rest of the calendar is still to be fully defined, as we will be working on it during the summer. In the meantime, we are getting ready to end this   succesful year with two events that  we have been waiting for and which will both take place on June 4: the opening of the exhibition "Il Paesaggio Descritto. UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy" by Luca Capuano and the round table that inaugurates the 2010 edition of "Open Roads", the film festival organized by Prof. Antonio Monda. For the occasion we will welcome popular and talented Italian actors and directors including  Carlo Verdone, Paolo Virzì, Rocco Papaleo, Giuseppe Capotondi, Pierfrancesco Favino, Giorgio Diritti, Gabriele Salvatores, Alessandro Angelini, Alessandro Aronadio, Susanna Nicchiarelli, and Valerio Mieli

    i-Italy will  certainly be there to cover both these exclusive events and interview their protagonists for our readers. So stay tuned, and if you can ,  join us on June 4 at the Casa, a true Home for all of us Italian New Yorkers.

  • Life & People

    Milan & CIIM. A Night of Italian Economic Excellency on Wall Street

    Wall Street, the Andaz Hotel. On May 13, the financial center of New York and one of its most luxurious hotels hosted Letizia Moratti, the mayor of Milan, for a presentation of the city in all its fabulous aspects, from culture to fashion, from business to tourism. The aim of "Impresa Milano - Innovation and Passion" was to  present to  the American audience  the main efforts made by the city's government to enhance the economic, cultural, and social life of its inhabitants through a wide range of projects and consistent financial investments.

    The public attending the presentation, hosted  on the ground floor of the tall skyscraper dominating the Financial District, was extremely various, both  as far as age and fields  of interest. Italian and American businessmen and students sat side by side with some of the highest representatives of the "Sistema Italia", the network of Italian and Italian-American public and private institutions and foundations based in the New York Area. Among them, the Consul General of Italy in New York Francesco Maria Talò with Deputy Consul Marco Alberti; the director of the Italian Government Tourism Board in North America Riccardo Strano; the President of the Italy-America  Chamber of Commerce Claudio Bozzo; and the President and Treasurer of CIIM New York (Confederation of Italian Entrepreneurs Worldwide) Tomaso Veneroso.

    The presentation started with an overlook of Milan as  the business and financial capital  of  Italy.

    The figures the mayor presented us strikingly  show  the dynamism and economical activism that have always characterized Milan. "Milan ranks among the top ten world economic centers with more than 280.000 firms specialized in a wide range of diversified industries. It is the city that attracts the highest number of foreign firms and the greatest percentage of FDI in the country.  We host about 25% of the headquarters of our national banks and more than 9,000 financial institutions. These and other factors bring our activity rate up to 70% for over 3 million residents and our GDP to 162 billion USD, 44,000 USD pro capita".

    In order to support  further growth  in this sector, the municipality has recently invested over 10 million euros in five different incubators to encourage young entrepreuners and spin off companies to invest in the city. Daniela Jabes, responsable for the project and President of NAICONS,  commented on the success of the initiative: "With such  a  small amount of money we attracted 73 companies operating in the field of food, biotech & life science, and fashion. I am confident that the city will invest more in this initiative that has proven to be a winning one"

    Milan's cultural life is outstanding  as well. The day before our meeting mayor Moratti had presented the "Museo del Novecento" (Museum of the XX century) at the Moma. It will be hosted at the Palazzo dell'Arengario starting next  autumn and will feature a number of collections of contemporary works of art. This is only one of the cultural initiatives promoted by the municipality. "Milan has a very rich cultural offer: 24 museums, 26 public libraries, 185 theatres, among which the world famous  opera  house "La Scala", and 335 cinemas. We also host the "Triennale", a  major event which began in the early 1930s that hosts collections and retrospectives on the most recent tendencies in the fields of architecture and design".  Milan has  also become one of the top  educational centers in Europe with 8 universities that offer prestigious Master and PhD programs and about 250,000 students. Its 80 research institutes, moreover, make it the Ital ian hub for hi-tech and bio-tech studies.

    With  such a vivid cultural life ,  in 2008 the city was awarded the Universal Expo 2015,  whose theme is  "Feeding the Planet  -  Energy for Life". "As we expect more than 20 million visitors, and 150 visitor countries, and will invest about 15.8 billion  euros  in infrastructure, the expo will give work to about 70.000 people, with an estimated  turnover of 63 billion dollars. We see it as a great challenge but also as a huge opportunity for our economy and for the image of our city".

    Following Mayor Moratti 's speech , the common feeling among the audience is that Milan is the modern capital of Italy, a symbol of re-birth, but also an example to follow for the other economic centers of the country, as Consul Talò underlined:"Milan and New York are so similar, they are both cities of opportunities. You investors, entrepreneurs, young talents that will shape our future sitting in the audience, look at it as an example to follow. Mayor Moratti has focused her mandate on education, without  which  any growth, economical or social as it might be, can be conceivable".

    As he finished his speech, Consul Talò introduced us to Tomaso Veneroso, the President of the Confederation of Italian Entrepreneurs Worldwide.  He defined him as a "representative of the new Italian entrepreneurship",  and decorated  him  with the "Stella al Merito della Solidarietà Italiana" making him Knight of the Italian Republic on behalf of President Napoletano. 
    We could not miss the occasion to interview him...

    How important  is it for you to be recognized by the Italian government for the work you do through CIIM?
    I look at it as a direct demonstration that Italian public institutions want to help young entrepreneurs like me living abroad in their effort to enhance the country's image and create new job opportunities. Personally I am focusing on creating new contacts , jobs , and educational opportunities for  Italian new-grads here in the US.

    Do you have any particular advice for them, given your multi-year life experience in the US?
    Not only must  they show great passion for what they do, but  they must also be willing to adapt their working methods and mentality to the new work environment they find here. They should have their aims very clear in their mind, and try to reach them with creativity, flexibility and fantasy. Finally, they should carry on their education to the highest level possible, work for a Masters or a PhD and acquire very specific skills that could make of them true assets in their job industry

    Why should an American enterprise hire an Italian grad?
    Italians first of all are incredibly multi-tasking, they can do several things at the same time and focus on all of them with the same attention.
    Also, they are flexible, and are willing to accept jobs that maybe their American colleges would never do. This is because they have a 360 degrees education that gave them a number of skills useful in a wider range of fields, but also because unfortunately they had to perform  many kinds  of duties back in Italy, which were not always very satisfying...

    How will the CIIM support their efforts in settling in New York?
    We organize a meeting every second Thursday of the month at the Armani Restaurant on 5th Avenue. It's a great opportunity for estabilishing new contacts for them. We are also planning to open a new branch in Washington DC: we feel it is important to be active in the capital of the United States and represent and defend Made in Italy  to our best  ability .   

    We finally finished our chat on the rooftop of the hotel, where Mayor Moratti and the other guests  were already  gathered  to enjoy the view of Manhattan in full spring.
    A buffet of oysters, Italian prosecco, wines and cheeses, and a full bar of desserts  fairly represented the elegance, refinement, and luxury of Milan, Italy's New York.

  • Life & People

    Gusts of Change at the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce

    When you get an appointment with the President of the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce somehow you don't expect to find yourself before a businessman that, aside from a suit and a tie, wears a smile so huge and has eyes so bright that you just can't help but notice them. Claudio Bozzo is a young, brilliant Italian businessman who was just recently assigned to guide the oldest bilateral Chamber of Commerce in the United States, the institution whose purpose is, since 1887, to enrich and enforce economic relationships between this country and Italy.

    Claudio, the President and Chief Operating Officer of Mediterranean Shipping Company (USA), the second largest container company in the world, is just in his early forties, and has been a member of IACC since 1996. He has served as a board member since April 2009 and in May 2009 was nominated as the IACC's representative to the Board of Directors of the European-American Chamber of Commerce in the U.S., Inc. (EACC), an established coalition of the European bi-national chambers of commerce in the United States.

    Since his election as President of the Chamber on January 27 2010, Claudio has shown all the enthusiasm that characterizes a prepared, experienced, successful young businessmen of his age not only by carrying on the work and initiatives of his predecessors, but also by proposing and sponsoring many important initiatives that have enhanced the role of the bi-lateral institution as a point of reference for Italian entrepreneurs desiring to enter the American market.

    Not only. Under his direction the IACC has increasingly become an active, dynamic institution very much engaged in the mission to support the social and economic growth of its members and young professionals interested in its activities. It does it through a consistent number of networking events and conferences that allow them to meet and learn more about the American economic panorama and the current market contingencies, thus establishing the bases for new, real, business opportunities in this country.

    We met Claudio at Columbia University during one of the conferences organized under his auspices, "The Mediterranean: A Market for the Third Millenium" that saw the internationally renowned economist Giancarlo Elia Valori talk before a significant audience of professionals, students, and diplomatic dignitaries, including the Ambassador of Italy to the United States Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata, and the Consul General of Italy in New York Francesco Maria Talò: an issue that attracted a full range of people and testified once again to the important social work performed by IACC under its new presidency.

    Claudio, how does it feel to be president of the oldest bi-lateral Chamber of Commerce in the US?

    Being also one of the oldest chambers of commerce worldwide, I look at it as a great honor. I was very impressed that its members elected me to be their President since I am so young, just as much as when I was elected President at the Mediterranean Shipping Company in 2006. Since we all know that in Italy it is much more difficult to be recognized for your merits when you are so young, by covering this mandate  I feel responsable not only towards my company and the IACC, but also towards young people like me that are waiting for their occasion to show what they can do. They are left aside for too many years, and when their time comes, it is often a bit late: they should be given a chance when they have the physical and mental capabilities that make them a unique resource.  Maybe something is changing, who knows. The "old school mentality" might be leaving its place to the logic of "meritocracy".

    And you're fully backing this evolution...
    Yes, I created a "gruppo giovani" (Youth Group) composed of young professional and students involved in the field of economics. They are those who are mainly responsable for the wonderful outcome of this conference, and I am very proud of how much they got involved with the IACC's activities.

    I also opened a Gruppo Donne (Women's Group), because I believe that they should be given many more opportunities to show how much they are worth. Also as President of Mediterranean Shipping Company, I assigned a good number of managerial roles to our female employees: they are detail-oriented, well-organized, and let me tell you, they often have much better communication skills than their male colleges, and thus better contractual power.

    It's a very difficult moment to promote changes, given the harsh economic times. How is IACC supporting its members in these contingencies?

    It's a very hard task for us. Italians often come to the United States with an idea of what they want to do and how they want to accomplish it, and sometimes it's very hard to advise them to follow a different path. The best way to face this crisis is to adapt your needs and aims to the environment you find around you. You just can't bring to another country your business model and want it to work perfectly just as it is.

    Once this is clear, we focus on helping Italian enterprises, that are mainly middle and small-sized, to find their niche market in the US, and only afterwords support them in starting a large distribution in the main urban centers and throughout the countryside.

    You represent the second largest container company in the world, Mediterranean Shipping Company. What is the key characteristic every company should have to succed in the United States?

    Without a doubt, the correct use of its human resources. A company can have huge possessions and wealth, but it is the people who run it and contribute to its growth through their work that make the difference. We at MSC have a significant number of foreign employees and managers, that we hire because of the outstanding expertise they have and that often comes from their cultural backgrounds. We are very careful in assigning them to the position that exactly fits their competencies, otherwise we would waste the possible contributions they could give to our growth. We are a huge multicultural, global company, but we still maintain the typical Italian family-structure. This was our strategy when we came to the United States, and we believe it's a winning one.

    Do you think that Internet could become a useful communication channel between the IACC and its members?
    One of the first things I put in my agenda when I was elected President was to create a new website for the Chamber. The one we had before was indeed very elegant, but not too effective. We launched a public contest, and already have a winner. The new website won't be too different from the old one but will feature a much larger data bank accessible to all of our members, as well as papers and documents that will consistently boost and foster their research. Maybe one day we'll also open an online forum, that will increase communications both among members and with our advisers.

    What are your other goals as President of the IACC?

    I have several changes that I want to make. There are many very valid professionals and experts at IACC that are definitely overwhelmed with day-to-day work, and have little time left to accomplish their mission. So, as a first thing, I will free them from much of their routine assignments and allow them to focus much more on their task to support economic interchanges between Italy and America at various levels.

    Second, I want IACC to organize many more networking events so that our members will have more possibilities to contact possible buyers, vendors, and so on. In the last few months we are also welcoming representatives of other Chambers of Commerce to all of our appointments: as an example, we had the Presidents of six foreign Chambers of Commerce at our Spring Luncheon last month. These events can become a great opportunity to enlarge our horizons, and contribute to the growth of our members, of Italian enterpreneurs and, finally, of the Italian economy. 

    The Italy-America Chamber of Commerce is a private, not-for-profit, membership organization that represents the interests of companies that have, or that are interested in establishing business and commercial relations between the United States and Italy. The IACC brings together businesses – ranging from individual entrepreneurs to large corporations – advancing the interests of its members through contacts and interaction with government agencies, trade associations and leading international organizations. The Italy-America Chamber of Commerce is a member of Assocamerestero, the world association of Italian bi-national chambers, and is affiliated with the United States Chamber of Commerce.

  • "Breaking Bread in L'Aquila". Solidarietà e Cucina nell'Abruzzo terremotato

    Se il rito dello spezzare il pane ha inizialmente assunto un significato evangelico dettato dal Nuovo Testamento, oggi riscopre una sua vocazione laica e si esprime nel gesto della condivisione tra amici, parenti, e vicini, dei beni essenziali. Spezzare il pane vuol dire condivisione con i più sfortunati, i meno abbienti, o in senso più largo, con i "bisognosi" di beni materiali e non, considerati immancabili nella vita sociale, privata e culturale di un individuo o una famiglia. E' un gesto d'aiuto, ma soprattutto di amore. 

    Maria Filice ne fa il titolo del suo libro, Breaking Bread in L'Aquila (Telos Press, 2010), un'opera che unisce le ricette della migliore tradizione culinaria italiana ed abruzzese ad un insieme di ricordi ed emozioni che la scrittrice italo-canadese ha vissuto in questa città. E' un omaggio alle vittime del terremoto del 6 Aprile 2009, persone che hanno accompagnato per lunghi anni i suoi numerosi viaggi in Italia e i momenti più importanti della sua storia d'amore con il defunto marito Paul Piccone, italo-americano orgoglioso nativo de L'Aquila. "Non voglio raccontarvi una storia triste. Celebro l'amore, la vita, e la cucina onorando la memoria di mio marito, delle vittime del terremoto e dei sopravvissuti che, anche se non sono ancora tornati alle loro dimore, continuano a parlare con amore di questi luoghi", dice l'autrice.

    E' a L'Aquila, nella Trattoria San Biagio dei fratrelli Luciano ed Andrea, che Maria Filice ha scoperto diverso tempo fa il calore della tavola italiana, il piacere sia dell'ospite che dell'ospitato di sedere fianco a fianco e condividere i cibi preparati per l'occasione. Da allora il suo appartamento dell'East Village di New York ospita questa stessa atmosfera, la sua sala da pranzo non è mai vuota, sui fornelli della sua cucina si susseguono pentole e tegami delle forme più svariate e dai contenuti sempre nuovi: "Il nostro appartamento diventò un centro culinario e filosofico. All'inizio era solo Paul a cucinare ma presto, un pò riscoprendo le ricette calabresi che si cucinavano a casa dei miei, un pò ispirandomi ai nostri frequentissimi viaggi in Italia, anche io ho iniziato a dedicarmi di più alla cucina: mi piaceva creare, sperimentare, inventare... "

    In Breaking Bread in L'Aquila Maria Filice raccoglie le sue ricette preferite ed offre preziosi e semplici consigli per chi si prepara ad offrire lauti pranzi e cene ad amici, colleghi, e parenti.  Le parole d'ordine? Conosci i tuoi ospiti, falli sentire a loro agio, e prepara sempre cibo in abbondanza così che possano gustarne in quantità.

    Non manca un piccolo capitolo dedicato  ai vini, tutti strettamente abruzzesi: "I vini d'Abruzzo sono tanto versatili e aromatici quanto lo sono i prodotti locali e le ricette che ne derivano. Dai più asciutti rossi, bianchi e rosè, al dolce passito, la maggior parte derivano da una miscela di varietà di uva locale (Montepulciano, Trebiano, Pecorino, Passerina, Malvasia e Cococciola) ed internazionale (Chardonnay, Merlot, e Cabernet Sauvignon)". Per ogni pietanza c'è un vino da abbinare "perchè in Abruzzo, come in tutte le regioni d'Italia, le tradizioni enologica e culinaria hanno sempre influenzato l'un l'altra evolvendosi insieme".

    Le ricette, suddivise per giorno della settimana, costituiscono il cuore dell'opera e sono divise in Antipasti, Primi Piatti, Secondi Piatti, Contorni, e Dolci. Tutte accompagnate da colorate e invitanti fotografie, catturano prima la vista e poi il palato, e si caratterizzano per essere estremamente semplici e raffinate allo stesso tempo, alla portata dei cuochi meno e più esperti.

    Tra gli Antipasti primeggiano le insalate, che siano di mare o di terra, e i crostini e le bruschette condite con olio a crudo e verdure fresche di stagione, dai pomodori alle melenzane.

    Tra i Primi troviamo ricette sostanziose come le orecchiette ai ceci, minestre di farro e di riso, pasta a forno con pomodori e capperi e pasta e fagioli, pietanze adattissime anche a fare da piatti unici soprattutto se arricchite da pancetta, ossobuco, o guanciale, come da tradizione locale.

    I Secondi, prevalentemente di carne, eccezion fatta per il baccalà e il dentice al forno, si accompagnano a contorni di verdure e tuberi quali patate, carciofi e funghi preparati in padella, al forno, o alla griglia, e aromatizzati con erbe, spezie e condimenti abbinati e emulsionati secondo tradizione, o seguendo l'interpretazione dell'autrice.

    Infine, largo spazio ai dolci: la crostata di albicocche, i biscotti e la torta di mele sono l'ideale per completare un pranzo in famiglia insieme a un buon liquore fatto in casa e un espresso stretto e piacevolmente amaro.

    Maria Filice non ha mai vissuto in Italia ma ha capito il vero segreto della cucina italiana: la semplicità degli ingredienti e della cottura che ne rispetti l'originale sapore ed aroma. La sua è un'opera importante non solo perchè permette al lettore americano di conoscere l'autentica tradizione culinaria abruzzese, essendo il libro pubblicato per ora solo in inglese, ma soprattutto perchè diventa simbolo di un abbraccio di fratellanza e solidarietà nei confronti di un popolo devastato, ma non sconfitto, dal terremoto.

    Tramite lei statunitensi ed abruzzesi condividono lo stessa esperienza emotiva, camminano per le stesse strade da ricostruire, e spezzano lo stesso pane seduti ad un'enorme tavola che unisce i confini dei due Paesi.

    Breaking Bread in L'Aquila, pubblicato il 6 Aprile 2010,  è già un successo di critica e pubblico negli Stati Uniti e in altri Paesi anglofoni, recensito dal Corriere Canadese, il Library Journal, Shizuoka Gourmet e Life in Abruzzi. I cittadini abruzzesi, in segno di ringraziamento, conferiranno a Maria Filice un'onorificenza il 15 Maggio 2010 a Santo Stefano di Sassanio, in provincia de L'Aquila

  • Life & People

    IACC Annual Luncheon. Piaggio Runs the Motors of Italian-American Economic Relationships

    In the heart of Midtown Manhattan, on elegant Madison Avenue, surrounded by tall and imposing skyscrapers, the New York Palace Hotel rears with true old-fashioned charm. It is re-known for being one of the most exclusive spots in New York, chosen by businessmen and guests from all over the world for their occasional visits to the city. On the second floor of this magnificent structure, just one flight of steps up from the big garden decorated with French-style chairs and coffe-tables in wrought iron, the Annual Luncheon of the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce took place on April 14.

    As many of you know, every year the Institution honors an individual or entity that has excelled in the promotion of high-end Italian products in the United States through the presentation of its Business & Culture Awards. As we walked around the garden and the rooms that welcomed us for a pre-lunch cocktail, we learned right away who was this year's winner: the most luminous and elegant corners of the venue were occupied by a motorcycle labeled Piaggio, the Italian company estabilished in 1884, famous worldwide for its most popular model, the Vespa.

    Institutional representatives and both Italian-American businessmen members of the IACC attended the event to congratulate Paolo Timoni, President and CEO of Piaggio Group Americas (PGA). Among them were the Consul General of Italy in New York, Francesco Maria Talò; the President of the Italian Trade Commission, Aniello Musella; the President of the Italian American Committee on Education, Berardo Paradiso; and the Attache for Cultural Affairs - Language and Literature at the Italian Cultural Institute, Giovanni Desantis. The former President of IACC, Alberto Comini, was also there together with the IACC Economic Advisor Professor, Giuseppe Ammendola, and the IACC Secretary General, Franco De Angelis.

    As lunch was about to begin in the Palace's Reid Salon, were some hundreds of us found a seat at the elegantly decorated tables, Consul General Talò stepped onto the stage to welcome us. "It is a pleasure to attend this event once again, as I consider IACC a symbol of one of the greatest links between the United States and Italy, the economic one. No better representative of this bond than Paolo Timoni could have been chosen this year. I myself own a Vespa, and I use it for both business and personal travel. Mine is not only a way to promote an historical Italian brand, but it is also a pleasure I enjoy, expecially in the spring time."

    At the end of his speech, he personally paid homage to Mr. Timoni, "in recognition of his contributions to strenghten commercial ties between Italy and the USA", as well as for his role in creating a name for superior technology, craftsmanship and design of Italian two-wheeled vehicles in the United States.

    Paolo Timoni joined the Piaggio Group in 2004, leading it to become the 1st motor scooter player in the USA in terms of total value of retail products. In 2006 AdvertisingAge named his Vespanomics advertisment campaign one of the ten most innovative in the US.

    Under his leadership, the Piaggio Group, a leading distributor of motor scooters and motorcycles marketed under the Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Piaggio, and Vespa brands, conquered 40% of the American market. Just in 2009, its sales increased by 20% with a dealership netork that has consistently grown nationally (80% fpr Aprilia; 60% for Moto Guzzi; and 360% a year for Piaggio/Vespa in the period 2004-2009).

    Mr. Timoni was awarded by IACC's new president, Claudio Bozzo of Mediterranean Shipping Co., Inc.(USA), who started his presentation with a funny quotation by his mother, "the best marketing agent" he has ever met: "My mother always told her girlfriends that if they wanted to remain young they had two choices: go to the plastic surgeon, or get themselves a Vespa". As the entire room broke into laughter, he went on to emphasize the main advantages of owning a Piaggio product in a big city such as New York: "You contribute to the lowering of pollution in the area, consume less and thus spend less, and have much better chances of finding a parking space".

     "A Piaggio Vespa", he concluded, "not only is a fashion product that has conquered Hollywood and big stars decades ago, but can also help you face the greatest difficulties of your everyday life in the city. Just think of the traffic, and the zigzaging you can do with your motorcycle..."

    Mr. Timoni, finally, thanked all of those attending, but also all the Piaggio employees in both the U.S. and Italy for all the work they have done to support his efforts.

    As we were served dessert and were about to leave, Mr. Timoni concluded his speech with a very inspiring thought that made us realize how committed to, but also passionate, he is to his role at this historical Italian company. "There are four elements that characterize my work at Piaggio in the last four years: inspiration; passion; resolution; results. I can see all of them coming alive when I walk around New York and find Vespas parked on the sidewalk and street. It's very satisfying for me: it's not only a personal accomplishment, but something I reached with a team of people, and I am proud of it".

  • Events: Reports

    Oh Yeah! Jovanotti is Back in the US!

    After reaching the highest level of popularity in Italy, Lorenzo "Jovanotti" Cherubini is ready to conquer the US public with the launch of an all-American album, entitled "OYeah!". His North American tour, about to begin this week, will touch the greatest music centers of the United States and Canada, including Toronto, Montreal, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, and of course, New York!

    New Yorkers already know Jovanotti very well; last year he came to the city twice. In February he presented his album "Safari", nominated for "Album of the Year" in Italy in 2008 with more than half a million copies sold. He then spent the entire summer in New York, gifting his fans with an avarage of one or two concerts a week, hosted at three historical clubs: Zebulon in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; Nublu in Alphabet City; and Joe's Pub, in Noho.

    "OYeah" is the fruit of the experience at "SoleLuna NY Lab", as it features a collection of some of his summer performances with his "fellow travellers" Saturnino Celani (Bass), Riccardo Onori (Guitar), and some of his new New York friends, including Gil Oliveira (Drums), Meia Noite and Gilmar Gomes (Percussion), Charles Blenzing (Keyboards and Piano), Christos Rafalides (Vibraphone and Marimba), Zeb "The Spy" from Cairo (Oud). Italian musician Mauro Pagani  and Jason Jackson joined him as well on one of these succesful events.

    This American debut album is divided into two CDs. On the first one, Lorenzo sings some of his  latest pieces, such as "L'Ombelico del Mondo" (The bellybutton of the world), "Serenata Rap" (Rap Serenade), "Piove" (It's raining), and Safari, "Dove ho visto te" (Where I saw you), and "Punto" (Stop); the latter three songs are from the album "Safari". He also improvises a song in English, "I wanna be starting something", and pays tribute to classic Italian music with "Parlami d'amore Mariù", a 1932 song originally interpreted by Vittorio De Sica in the movie "Gli uomini, che mascalzoni..." (Men, those rascals...).

    On the second CD, in contrast, we find re-arrengements of three songs Lorenzo particularly loves: "Buonasera Signorina" (Good Evening, Misses) by Adriano Celentano; "Lontano Lontano" (Far, Far Away) by Luigi Tenco; and "Staying Alive" by the Bee Gees.

    The album is a perfect musical portrait of the atmosphere felt during his performances in New York, when the extreme heat of those summer nights did not stop him or his public from dancing, jumping, and singing for more than two hours non-stop. As we participated in some of those concerts, we too could not refrain from being part of the party that now we can relive  in our living rooms and garages, or through our iPods on the subway thanks to "OYeah!"

    During his summer stay Lorenzo became loved among the American crowd that, as time passed by, started to increasingly frequent the clubs where he performed. His participation in a number of American national TV and radio shows, and the articles written about him in American newspapers and magazines, helped spread his popularity throughout the country.

    As a result his growing popularity, Lorenzo will make a special stop during his tour at Harvard on April 27; the prestigious university has invited him to give a conference on the theme  of "Music and Human Rights". It will be the first time that an Italian singer will cross Harvard's doors, and Jovanotti will take the occasion to explain to hundreds of students the relationship between popular music and the promotion and defense of Human Rights.

    Lorenzo has always publicly fought in defense of the weakest people, both through his music and his recording company "Collettivo Soleluna", which promotes projects of various entities in Third and Firth world countries. Among his most popular songs that dedicated to this theme, "Il quinto mondo" (The fifth world), and "La Vita Vale" (Life has a value), both are included on this thirteenth album, "Il Quinto Mondo", released in 2002.

    As he has lately publicly stated, Jovanotti's commitment to this cause is not diminishing, and will continue to be expressed through his music.

    Lorenzo is currently working on a new album, the 17th in his more than 20 year long career, but he is taking a break to come here and present us with another few evenings of 100% fun.

    If you live in NYC or its surrounding areas, participate in i-Italy's contest. "What would you do if you met Jovanotti?": send your answer by April 21 to [email protected] and give yourself a chance to win two tickets for his performance at Webster Hall.

    If you don't live in the New York area, here is the full calendar of his upcoming American tour. Find the closest city to you, pick your date, and enjoy!

    Jovanotti & Soleluna NY LAB North American Tour 2010 (East Coast/Mid West leg):

    Thursday, April 22, 2010 Washington DC 9:30 Club
    Saturday, April 24, 2010 New York, NY Webster Hall
    Sunday April 25, 2010 Philadelphia, PA World Cafe Live
    Wednesday April 28, 2010 Boston, MA Paradise Rock Club
    Saturday May 1, 2010 Montreal, QC L'Astral
    Tuesday May 4, 2010 Toronto, ON Lee's Palace
    Thursday May 6, 2010 Chicago, IL Lincoln Hall

  • Events: Reports

    "Terre Promesse". Italian Topography at the Calandra Institute

    On April 22-24 the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute will host "Terre Promesse: Excursions Towards Italian Topographies", a conference focused on Italian "cultural landscapes" or, in other words, on how Italians and their culture have changed and molded the territory where they settled throughout the world.

    The event will see a number of eminent scholars, academics, researchers, and authors facing the issue both on a geographical and historical level, in 14 different sections, and touching it from a social, political, and cultural point of view. The panels, "Travelling Writing", "Points South and West I", "Common Grounds", "Gardening and Harvesting", "Narrated Landscapes", "Sacred Spaces", "Space into Place", "Little Italies", "Re-Mapping Italian America", "Architecture Abandoned, Reclaimed, Re-Imagined", "Creative Spaces ", "Contested Landscapes/Contested Readings", "Land in Literature", "Points South and West II", will all be hosted at the Calandra Institute, the most preeminent research institute on Italian and Italian-American studies on the East Coast.

    This is the third year that the Calandra Institute is the focus of the attention of the Italian-American Academic world with a conference that is capable of  attracting not only experts in the field from both Italy and the US, but also a wide public of Italian-Americans or lovers of Italy and its culture that find it to be a powerful source of information and knowledge.

    The numerous breaks, refreshments, as well as the inauguration dinner offered by the institute and its Dean Prof. Anthony J. Tamburri on April 22 will also become an occasion for the participating speakers  to exchange points of view, information and opinions, and possibly to start new research projects and partnerships among Cultural Institutes and Departments of Italian and Italian-American Studies across the country.

    Joseph Sciorra, folklorist and Assistant Director for Academic and Cultural Programs at the Calandra, took the time to talk with us about the conference's program, its purposes, and its central importance in the institute's annual calendar of events.

    This is the third year that the Calandra Institute organizes and hosts a "mono-thematic" conference of such a breadth. How have things changed from the first edition?
    I think that, generally speaking, it is getting better and better every year. Already last year we had a very interesting conference titled "The land of our return", in which we faced themes that are never or very rarely studied on a scholarly level, and it was very successful.

    This year we are looking at "cultural landscapes", a theme that is broad enough in its scope but, at the same, is quite specific so that we'll get some very targeted papers. It deals with everything from an imagined landscape to the very practicality of planting a factory, or harvesting tomato plants...

    During one of the panels that I will ch
    air, "Gardening and Harvesting" we will also watch two movies on gardening practices. One by Lucia Grillo, "Terra Sogna Terra", and another about Anthony Scotto and Giulia Prestia, a young couple living in the Italian-American neighborhood of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, named "Memories of Repasts".

    For the first time, we will also focus on Italy and its former colonies, such as Eritrea and Ethiopia, since we are adhering to the idea that the notion of Italian topography is so wide that it can include places like Brooklyn and Toronto, just as well as Libya and Eritrea

    The scope is not to talk about how many Italians there are in these places, but how Italians interact with the territories they are settled in.

    A broad theme that can really interest a wide public...

    Yes, last year we had a huge attendance, and we expect the same for this year. This is in spite of the fact that two other important conferences are taking place in this same period. The Hofstra University organized one this past week, while Stony Brook University is having its event on Friday, the first day
    of our conference. I am troubled by the lack, or the seeming lack, of collegiality of some of my colleagues that seem not to understand that we should cooperate and organize our calendars so that people and scholar's won't find themselves having to choose which event they should attend. It feels like the Italian-American community is still operating as if it's 1953 and everybody is a member of a social club. They are competing against each other, when there should be no competition.

    Why did you choose this particular theme this year?

    We chose it for two main reasons. First, it is a theme that scholars have been dealing with for some time, since it involves gender, cultural, and historical issues. Second, it's a theme of which I have been writing specifically for a good number of years, looking at Italian-American spaces here in New York City, particularly religious ones.

    Besides chairing two panels, you will also present your own paper, "Vernacular Exegesis of the Gentrifying Gaze: Saints, Hipsters, and Public Space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn". What will you talk about?

    I look at the neighborhood of Williamsburg in Brooklyn and the ways in which long-term Italian American residents and new Hipsters settling there are interacting in the area of the public-staging of religious processions. My interest is to see how Italians are reacting to these new arrivals.

    They feel invaded...

     Change is by definition what a city is about, especially in New York's case. The idea of invasion goes back to the 40s, 50s, and 60s, when Anglos felt that New York was being invaded by Italians. So what goes around, comes around...

    Today the situation is somehow different, given that this new incoming is mainly caused by the Italian-Americans themselves that choose to rent or sell their houses to the new incomers and go live outside the city, maybe with their children. It's the individual "egoistic reasons" against the general interest  that is contributing to the change. Still, this does not detract from the general feeling of loss experienced by the community today.

    There are several panel speakers who are obviously non-Italians. Why are they interested in Italian themes and issues?

    There is an historical attraction to Italy, but today Italian-Americans themselves are becoming  a subject of interest to scholars who are not necessarily Italian. Our history and culture provide information about  the ways American society operates on a number of different levels. Pick your subject...

    I am reading a book about New York, "Naked City" by Sharon Zukin, that reserches historical and radical culture in the city, labor activism. While in the past, authors of such books would mainly talk about Jews, Anglos, Germans, to provide examples of activism, in this book Italians are the first ethnic group mentioned. You can clearly notice a rising interest toward the history of Italian-Americans.

    If you had to give advice to the readers about the conference panels that, in your opinion, they should definitely follow, what would it be?

    There are two panels I would never miss. First, the panel I am actually chairing, "Gardening and Harvesting", that features two film screenings and a speech by Patricia Klindienst on Sacco and Vanzetti's gardening.  It's a newborn field of study that I find of particular interest, and even if I weren't involved in it, I would without a doubt attend it with the public. Second, "Creative Spaces" with author Tiziana Rinaldi, filmmaker Antonino D'Ambrosio, and Lorenzo Brusci who is coming from Italy. He does marvellous "acoustic gardens", sound environments for which he has became internationally famous, especially in India and Germany. 

    Two others that look very interesting are "The"Little Italies" one, that will take place on Friday afternoon, with
    Stefano Luconi, Jerry Krase, and Dana David, and "The Re-Mapping of Italian-America", that will feature contributions by Joseph J. Inguanti, Francesca Canadé Sautman, and Ottorino Cappelli

    And finally, of course, one cannot miss the keynote panel with Luisa del Giudice…

    Terre Promesse:

    Excursions Towards Italian Topographies 

    April 22–24, 2010

    John D. Calandra Italian American Institute  

    25 West 43rd Street, 17th floor, Manhattan

    (between 5 th and 6 th Avenues)  

    THURSDAY, April 22, 2010 

    6:30-8:30 pm


    Anthony Julian Tamburri

    John D. Calandra Italian American Institute

    Queens College, CUNY 

    James Muyskens

    Queens College, CUNY 

    Francesco Maria Talò

    Consulate General of Italy in New York


    FRIDAY, April 23, 2010  

    9–9:30 AM

    Coffee and Pastries 

    9:30–10:45 AM


    Travelling Writing

    Chair: Nancy Ziehler, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute 


    The Dead Sang with Dirt in Their Mouths

    Joseph P. Cosco, Old Dominion University 


    Found in Translation: Symbolic Representations of la madreterra in Literary and Vernacular Writings

    Fulvia Masi, Bard College 

    Click to Enlarge: Connecting Memories, Places, and Cultures in the

    Virtual Paese

    Robert Oppedisano, Editor/Writer 


    11–12:15 PM


    Points South and West I

    Chair: Vincenzo Milione, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute 

    The Italians of the Jamestown and Virginia Colonies

    Giuseppe Di Scipio, Hunter College/CUNY   

    Here Come the Sicilians: Another Puzzle Piece in the Making of New Orleans

    Gerald T. McNeill, Southeastern Louisiana University, and Melissa Puglia McNeill, Stuart Hall School for Boys  


    The Making of Little Italies in the Appalachian Hill Towns of West Virginia

    Victor A. Basile, Independent Scholar 


    11–12:15 PM


    Common Grounds

    Chair: Maria LaRusso, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute 


    Fright or Delight: The Cultural Implications of Wild Fungi as Food

    SUSAN M. ROSSI-WILCOX, Independent Scholar 


    Social Justice and Democracy: The Significance of a Commons

    CHRISTINE F. ZINNI, State University of New York at Brockport


    12:15–1:30 PM

    Lunch on your own

    1:30–2:45 PM


    Gardening and Harvesting

    Chair: Joseph Sciorra, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute


    Memories of Repasts (Film)

    Karina S. Ramirez, The New School Media Studies Program

    Gardens of the Mind: Memory, Ecology, and Justice in the Story of

    Tullio Inglese

    Patricia Klindienst, Independent Scholar


    Terra sogna terra (Film)

    LUCIA GRILLO, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute 


    1:30–2:45 PM


    Narrated Landscapes

    Chair: Rosangela Briscese, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute 

    La Brigantessa: The Life of a Female Brigand

    Rosanna Micelotta-Battigelli, Author 



    Paola Corso, Western Connecticut State University  

    U Bizz’ di Creanza: A Piece of Politeness

    Joanna Clapps Herman, Manhattanville College 


    3–4:15 PM


    Sacred Spaces

    Chair: Dominick Carielli, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute


    To Struggle for a Place at the Table: Italian-American Protestants in Italy

    Dennis Barone, St. Joseph College

    The Role of the Holy Place: Memory and Nostalgia in Italian Jews Who Emigrated in Israel After World War II

    Cristina Bettin, Ben Gurion University

    Vernacular Exegesis of the Gentrifying Gaze: Saints, Hipsters, and Public Space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

    Joseph Sciorra, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute


    3–4:15 PM


    Space into Place

    Chair: James Periconi, Italian American Writers Association


    Tales of a West End Italian Boy

    Nicola Battigelli, Author

    Performing Nostalgia in Caterina Edwards’ Homeground and Marco Micone’s Deja’ l’agonie

    Simone Lomartire, Leeds Metropolitan University

    The Place and the Action: The Metaphor of the Square According to the

    Social Enterprise

    Paola Melone, Institute of the National Research Council


    4:30–5:45 PM


    Little Italies

    Chair: Christine Gambino, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute


    Imagined Little Italies

    Stefano Luconi, Università degli Studi di Padova 

    America’s Little Italies as Visually Contested Terrains

    Jerry Krase, Brooklyn College/CUNY

    Re-Membering the Neighborhood: Creating Community with Food Exchange

    Dana David, Pace University 


    Saturday, April 24, 2010  

    9–9:30 AM

    Coffee and Pastries

    9:30–10:45 AM


    Re-Mapping Italian America

    Chair: Anthony Tamburri, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute


    America as Garden of Plenty and Hell on Earth: Pre-and Post-Immigration Images of the Promised Land and their Relation to Italians of the Great Migration

    Joseph J. Inguanti, Southern Connecticut State University 


    From the Nostalgia of Origins to Creating Home: Making Place at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School, New York City, 1923-1940

    Francesca Canadé Sautman, Hunter College/CUNY 


    Italian America: Beyond the Imagined Nation

    Ottorino Cappelli, Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”


    11–12:15 PM


    Architecture Abandoned, Reclaimed, Re-Imagined

    Chair: Donna M. Chirico, York College/CUNY 

    Il Borgo Fortificato: Culture, Traditions, Life

    John C. Russotto, Independent Scholar, and M. Gabriella Gasbarre,

    Italian American Community Club of Rochester


    Vernacular Architecture of the Alto Molise

    John Caserta, The Design Office

    Preserving History in the Old Neighborhood: Saving the Our Lady of Loreto Church, East New York, Brooklyn

    Marilyn Ann Verna, St. Francis College, and Mario Toglia, Calitri American Cultural Group

    11–12:15 PM


    Creative Spaces

    Chair: Fabio Girelli-Carasi Brooklyn College/CUNY 

    Terra, Diana, and Other Buried Voices: Losing the Earth for the Heavens

    Tiziana Rinaldi, Author 

    Terra Promessa (film)

    Antonino D’Ambrosio, La Lutta NMC  

    Architettura Sonora/Applied Acoustics

    Lorenzo Brusci, Sound and Experience Design 


    12:15–1:30 PM

    Lunch on your own

    1:30–2:45 PM


    Contested Landscapes/Contested Readings

    Chair: Ottorino Cappelli, Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale” 

    Speaking of Place: Campanilismo as Linguistic Practice in Northern Italy

    Jillian R. Cavanaugh, Brooklyn College/CUNY 

    Re-imagining the Colonial Landscape: Notions of Faith, Healing, and Prestige in Goffredo Alessandrini’s Abuna Messias

    AnneMarie Tamis, New York University 

    Segni italiani nelle strade americane

    Maddalena Tirabassi, Centro Altreitalie/Globus et Locus 


    1:30–2:45 PM


    Land in Literature

    Chair: Fred Gardaphé, Queens College, CUNY 

    The Transnational Origins of Antonio Stoppani’s Il bel paese

    Erica Moretti, Brown University 

    Paradise from Mud and Stone: Visions of Italy in the Work of Ignazio Silone and Iris Origo

    Fred Misurella, East Stroudsburg University  

    Place and Narrative as Real and Metaphysical Catalysts in Fiction

    Gioia Timpanelli, Author

    3–4:15 PM


    Points South and West II

    Chair: Joseph Sciorra, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute 

    A Northern Southern Italian of the Eastern Western United States:

    A Topographical Analysis of John Fante’s Fiction

    Jim Cocola, Worcester Polytechnic Institute


    Piedmont on the Pacific: Labor, Race, and Place and the Origins of Italian Winemaking in California

    Simone Cinotto, University of Gastronomic Sciences


    “Il Fuoco di Minonga”: The 1907 Mine Disaster, the Landscape of Coal, and the Making of Transnational Italian Identity in West Virginia

    Joan Saverino, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania


    4:30–5:45 PM


    Closing Keynote

    Gastronomic Utopias, Promised Land

    Luisa del Giudice, Independent Scholar 



    All presentations are free and open to the public.


    For further information see the Calandra Institute's Website   or call (212) 642-2094

    The Calandra Institute is a university institute under the aegis of Queens College.

  • Events: Reports

    57 Reasons to Learn Italian

    It might not be by chance that this year's edition of NECTFL (North Eastern Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) was held at the Marriott Hotel in Times Square, THE place where every single day you can hear people speaking in dozens of different languages.

    On the fourth floor of the elegant and exclusive hotel, between the Spanish and French aisles, the "Viale Italia" occupied the entire Boot 300.

    Green, white, and red flags and banners, books, and maps of Italy and its regions, decorated the long corridor, where stands of the main Italian institutions and Italian Language Schools operating in New York and the US were visited by hundreds of visitors and professors.

    These three days of workshops, sessions, receptions, exhibit area visits, and collegial networking organized within the 57th edition of NECTFL, interested about 2,100 world language professionals and confirmed Italian as one of the most attractive languages to American potential or actual students and teachers of a second language.

    Also, given the recent discontinuing of the Advanced Placement Italian Language and Culture by the American College Board in the year 2008-2009, the successful outcome of this event highlights the importance of the efforts made by Italian institutions, organizations, and foundations, who keep promoting its studying also as a major working skill for those operating in fields of international vocation such as fashion, cuisine, music, and high-tech.

    As we followed the inauguration of Viale Italia, we had a chance to check out the stands and notice how informative and well-arranged they were. The first one we stopped at was the one of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, presided by Dean Anthony J. Tamburri. In what was with no doubts the most technological spot we found in the Italian space, he represented one of the flagships of the City University of New York, as Calandra is nowadays considered the most prestigious research institute in the East Coast for the promotion and study of Italian-American culture and history.

    Just in front of Calandra's Stand was ILICA's (Italian Language Inter-Cultural Alliance), one of the main sponsors of the Italian pavilion: "We are proud of this initiative, as the number of people visiting the Viale shows how well the Italian language is loved both in New York and beyond. Being an Italian, and not an Italian-American as most of my friends here are, I felt it not only an honor, but also a duty to help organizing our presence at NECTFL. After all we are all part of the same community, we share a common culture, and we must always be ready to support each other for the good of our people", said President Vincenzo Marra.

    Consul Laura Anghillare, the highest Institutional Office, attending, backed him completely, as she represents a consular administration that has made of the promotion of the Italian language one of its strong points. "Besides the American citizens who wish to enlarge their cultural horizons by learning a new language, or the Italians living here who wish to maintain and hand down their cultural background to their children, there is also a consistent number of Italian-American young adults that are rediscovering their roots starting with the learning of the Italian language.
    In all three of these cases we can't afford or allow the loss of this cultural patrimony, and are tenaciously fighting to defend it and spread it", she stated, as we were joined by Berardo Paradiso, President of IACE (Italian-American Committee for Education).

    Mr. Paradiso traced back with us the reasons why many of the Italian-Americans here in the United States do not know the language anymore. "About 4.2 million people came to this country in different waves of immigration. Most of those who came between the end of the XIX century and the beginning on the XX did not teach their descendants the Italian language both because the greatest number of them did not speak anything but dialect, and also because it soon became the language of the enemy as the war broke out. After three or more generations we finally find people of Italian heritage who are not ashamed of their origins and want them to become part of their life. We welcome this desire, and try to boost it through a whole range of projects and educational activities that we sponsor both here and in Italy".

    One of the main partners of IACE is the "Scuola d'Italia Guglielmo Marconi", also present at NECTFL 2010 and represented by its Dean.

    Dean Anna Fiore runs this unique bilingual and bi-curricular education institution that welcomes students from the Preschool level through Liceo. "We recently started a partnership with the University for Foreigners of the City of Perugia to enhance Student Exchange Programs and research projects on bi-lingual teaching. We also wish to involve our teachers and the parents of our students in Specialistic Adult Courses on Bi-Lingual didactics and Italian as a foreign language. It's a 360° goal that we aim to achieve, and we felt there would be no better way to start promoting it than from here".

    Alfio Russo, the Director of the Education Office at the Consulate General of Italy in New York, highlighted how important it is to know the Italian language in every field of art and literature: "Italian is an essential tool for Opera lovers, fashion enthusiasts, for gourmets who love our cuisine, and for those who love literature classics such as Dante's Inferno or Pirandello's works. We want to involve both Italian and American students in all of this, we want to take them to the museums to admire our artists' works of art; take them to concerts and theatrical representations, as we believe it is the best contribution we can give to the enrichment of their life and their growth".

    As other stands suggested, there is another great way to learn Italian: visit Italy!

    ENIT's (Italian Government Tourism Board) spot featured brochures and flyer's from every region of the peninsula, the perfect destination for every kind of tourist, from the sea lovers to the mountain lovers; from the gourmet traveler to the adventurer. The message basically was that, in order to learn the language at the highest level, one has to experience a life moment in Italy, pick the place or territory of his dreams, and just let it conquer him. Talking to the local inhabitants, going to the neighborhood grocery shop, or chatting with somebody you don't know in the city park, can make you feel more Italian and learn more of the Italian way of life that any book could ever do...

    Living a few months in Italy or spending a nice vacation there can also improve your vocabulary and grammar skills much faster. You would mostly speak in Italian to the people surrounding you, and would learn new words everyday.
    However, if you still feel you need or want help with your Italian skills, you can contact EduItalia, an organization that helps both foreign professors and students to find a good school or university anywhere in Italy. With their stand they confirmed a constant presence at NECTFL: it's the third year that they participate in the initiative, given their strong interest in Americans as traditional lovers of Italian Culture.

    According to all of those we spoke to, this year's edition of the North Eastern Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages was a success, and all of the Italian institutions attending are intentioned to participate to next year's appointment in Baltimore.

    They announced it during a fabulous reception sponsored by ILICA and enriched with Chef Andrea Tiberi's delicious dishes, held at the Consulate General of Italy in New York.

    A piece of lasagna, Italian cheeses, and dozens of baba pastries were the perfect ingredients of an evening in which the only language accepted to laugh and enjoy each other's company was...Italian!