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Articles by: Letizia Airos

  • Arte e Cultura

    “Chiara” di Dacia Maraini. Da donna a donna

    Una semplicità che poche donne di successo sanno mantenere. Nei suoi occhi sempre serenità e consapevolezza, intensa curiosità.  Scruta gli interlocutori con dolcezza.

    Mi sorprende sempre la sensazione di familiarità  e generosità con cui accoglie  chiunque. Anche quando parla da sopra un palco, di fronte ad una platea. Ha un’infinita capacità di raccontare, lo fa da autrice e studiosa, ma è anche una persona splendidamente autentica. E un’altra cosa di lei mi colpisce da sempre: la sua intensa e perenne femminilità.
     

    Dacia Maraini,  scrittrice, critica, drammaturga, editorialista di diverse testate, è uno dei nomi della letteratura italiana più tradotti nel mondo. Sempre in prima linea si spende da decenni in temi sociali, mantenendo costante il proprio impegno femminista.
     

    Questa volta la vedo  parlare a New York - presso la Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò – dopo l’introduzione dal direttore Stefano Albertini, del  suo ultimo lavoro: “Chiara di Assisi. Elogio della disobbedienza”.

    L’accompagna in questa presentazione la studiosa di NYU, Jane Tylus,  tra le sue opere: “Reclaiming Catherine of Siena’.

     
    In “Chiara di Assisi. Elogio della disobbedienza” Maraini racconta di una donna mistica in un percorso non solo di santità, ma anche di grande dignità e umanità.
     
     
    Mi fermerò a riflettere con la scrittrice al termine dell’evento. Questo mio articolo vuole raccontare  il suo libro passando attraverso tre momenti: la  mia lettura, le parole scambiate personalmente con la scrittrice, un breve resoconto dell’incontro pubblico.
     
    Quella di Chiara è  certo la  storia di quella giovane donna che, a piedi scalzi, seguì Francesco d’Assisi per vivere in povertà. Ma, se leggete il romanzo, vi rendete conto che è  anche il racconto di una  ragazza  che, di pagina in pagina, entra lievemente nel nostro mondo e si fa scoprire attuale.
     
    “Possiamo guardala con gli occhi di oggi la sua decisione della poverta” mi dice Maraini “quello che lei chiamava ‘privilegio della poverta’ è un passo molto importante. Non possedere nulla. Un’idea molto profonda del possesso come limite. Chi non possiede è libero. In un mondo come quello di oggi, dove se non possiedi sembri non valere niente, è un bel esempio da seguire”
     
    Il percoso che l’autrice ci fa intraprendere nel suo romanzo è affasciante, ricco di curiosità storica e umana. Il suo approccio è intellettuale ma denso di tenerezza. Da donna a donna, con Chiara.
     
    Sotto i nostri occhi la sua profonda religiosità laica nel raccontare quella libertà di Chiara di essere "nudi al mondo". Con le sue descrizioni e introspezioni, la scrittrice stuzzica anche la capacità e la necessità di trascendere dentro di noi, di trovare a nostra volta una via verso una nostra religiosità, un senso religioso. Che si creda o no. 
     
    E non a caso nella sua conversazione la laica Dacia Maraini, citando Benedetto Croce, dice: “Non possiamo non dirci cristiani.”
     
    Il suo interesse per il Cristianesimo e la Chiesa soprattutto medioevale, racconta al pubblico, la rende estremamente rispettosa.   “Sono tanti anni che mi occupo delle mistiche - mi dice quando le chiedo perchè questo libro -  sono arrivata a loro attraverso la letteratura che hanno scritto. Ci sono cose straordinarie, purtroppo poco conosciute e tenute chiuse nei conventi. Dunque, attraverso la letteratura, sono arrivata anche  alle persone. Una di queste è Chiara, una donna di grande forza e di grande energia di intelligenza e soprattutto un modello di idealismo “
     
    Di Chiara dice: “Ha una grande dignità. E’ stata la prima donna a scrivere una regola. Lei contrastò l’organizzazione apicale del convento che non era diversa da quella della società dei suoi tempi.  Si impose perchè non esistessero gerarchie e perchè tutte le consorelle fossero uguali. Lei per prima fece i lavori più umili. La Chiesa allora era era ricchissima, potente, era un vero impero.” La disobbedienza di Chiara quindi va considerata all’interno di un consapevole  percorso.
     
    “Chiara narra un’Italia che conosciamo poco, autonoma e misteriosa, ma non senza rispetto dell’ordine.” dice nel corso della presentazione . Si perchè Chiara, come San Francesco, voleva rinnovare la Chiesa disobbedendo, ma rimanendo al suo interno.
     
     
    Mi dice “ La disobbedienza di cui parlo/parla non riguada il proprio egoismo. E’ un fatto etico. Ricorda Antigone. Disobbedisci alle legge umana, terrena per il rispetto di una legge più importante: quella della coscienza.”
     
    E la povertà diventa per la santa strumento potente di libertà. “Viviamo in una società dove il denaro da il potere. Quello di Chiara è un insegnamento che vale fino ad oggi.”
     
    Perchè scrivere questo libro? E quanto c’è di Dacia in Chiara?  La santa era una donna coerente, democratica, fedele al suo ideale fino alla fine.
     
    La scrittrice mi risponde: “Per esempio l’ammirazione per l’idealismo in un Paese come l’Italia che attraverso gli stereotipi è conociuto per essere poco idealista. Io penso che pesonaggi che hanno portato fino in fondo i loro ideali vadano conosciuti meglio”.
     
     
    La conversazione sul palco dell’auditorio della Casa Italiana  tocca temi legati al misticismo, alla storia di Chiara ma anche alcune testimonianze della vita di Dacia Maraini.  Come il ricordo di quando fu rinchiusa, insieme alla sua famiglia, in un campo di concentramento. Non sono mancati neanche cenni a temi come la mafia (ricorda il giudice Falcone) e dichiarazioni  di grande speranza per un Italia piena di risorse.
     
    E naturalmente è venuto in mente il nuovo Papa . “Ho trovato molto di Papa Francesco  in questa storia. Il nuovo pontefice si ricollega a quella tradizione che ritorna alla parola di Cristo. Non si parla di Guerra, di odio, di violenze. Ma di amore e dialogo. Credo che questo Pontefice ci stia provando nel modo giusto. E questo è un importante messaggio per tutti, anche per chi non crede.”
     
    E grazie alla mia - confesso notturna – intensa lettura del romanzo  aggiungo altre due considerazioni sul percorso di Chiara che Maraini ci ha raccontato con grande letteratura.
     
    Ancora oggi noi donne dobbiamo lottare più di un uomo per essere considerate. L’insegnamento e la testardaggine della santa di Assisi può esserci utile. Possiamo cambiare qualcosa solo se combattiamo senza aggressività, ma con determinazione. Rimanendo noi stesse, senza usare strumenti violenti.  Con l’onestà della nostra differenza. Senza scegliere strade facili come quella di usare per esempio il proprio corpo. Solo così nessuno penserà di avere il diritto di usarci a sua volta.
     
    Nelle pagine dell’ultimo libro di Dacia Maraini ho trovato anche questo.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  • Arte e Cultura

    I 'lavori in corso' di Gianmaria Testa


    Nei luoghi dei concerti, durante le prove, i tecnici locali ci guardano curiosi e credo pensino a Babele.

    Sappiamo che non è così.

    Tutto questo girare ci ha regalato un linguaggio strano e condiviso che è già musica prima di suonare.

    Passiamo il Brennero senza sosta di dogana.

    Ognuno portandosi dentro, aperta, la sua frontiera.


    Gianmaria Testa



    ----


    "Men at Work" si confida con te e ti mette in faccia la realtà. Con ventitre canzoni che ripercorrono una ventennale carriera. Pensieri e desideri, storie vere, denunce attaverso le note on the road che svestono l’autore e creano l’incanto di una poesia pura, che attraversa lo spazio, intorno e dentro di noi.

     
    Cantautore e chitarrista, Gianmaria Testa nella sua “prima vita” ha fatto il capostazione nelle ferrovie italiane. La sua musica continua  a raccontare spostamenti, traghettamenti di diverso tipo.  Narra il viaggio che questa vita ci fa fare, attraverso le sue difficili tappe. Con le sue soste a volte forzate, con le strade da lasciare, da scegliere e con quelle che, troppo spesso, vengono imposte.

     
    Testa ha una voce vera, viva, una sonorità che attaversa l’aria con calore e ti avvolge con semplicità.   E' un autore generoso che vive quello che scrive.  Sveste la propria anima con pensieri snocciolati in musica,  conquista e lascia chi lo ascolta a sua volta un pò nudo.

     
    Si confida, si confessa, provoca, taglia con i suoi versi la nostra mente. E le denunce pure e limpide, che a volte escono tra una nota e l’altra, colgono nel segno con la migliore poesia. Come sempre fa la migliore poesia.

     
    'Men At Work' , è un doppio album live in cui Testa narra il suo viaggio tournée in Germania insieme a musicisti amici, come Giancarlo Bianchetti, Philippe Garcia e Nicola Negrini.
    Le note sono le sue: inconfondibili. Con un pò di tango, del rock, bossa nova, ballate classiche, blues…. Una musica ‘poliglotta’ diremmo, come vogliono essere  le sue parole in musica in giro per il mondo,  quando vedi il pubblico ipnotizzato persino dal dialetto piemontese. Le parole vengono afferrate nella loro intensità e non si ha bisogno di traduzione.

     
    E il disco raccoglie le migliori suggestioni della canzone d’autore italiana. I temi affrontati sono importanti e delicati. Anche se solo sfiorati a volte, sono profondi e approfonditi. Scavano nella nostra coscienza.


    Testa suona, recita e canta di lavoro perso o tolto, di migrazioni vicine e lontane, di amore e morte,   di violenze ma anche di speranza … I suoni, in genere ben misurati, possono anche salire e lo fanno un pò seguendo l’intensità del tema. Come  capita - per esempio -  nella lettera di licenziamento di "Cordiali saluti".

     
    Le emozionanti canzoni sugli emigranti - prese dall'album "Da questa parte del mare" -  dovrebbero essere parte di un programma di insegnamento nelle scuole. Ascoltarle nel contesto di questo doppio album sono ancora più incisive, vere. Importanti in questa vita che chiude porte e frontiere, che lascia indifferenti.

     
    Perchè il titolo "Men at work “ ? Risponde Gianmaria Testa: “Perchè parlo di lavoro, ma anche perché è ora di finirla con l'immaginare che arrivi qualcuno per salvarci dalla crisi. Occorre mettersi al lavoro insieme per superarla”. Lavori in corso, quindi.  Ed è un vero viaggio costruttivo quindi quello di questo grande della musica d'autore italiana.

     


  • Life & People

    “Honey,” Something to Think About …

    Valeria Golino’s first first film as a director, is a daring movie from many points of view, as it touches on a taboo subject: assisted suicide.

    Taboo above all because we don’t readily talk about death, especially these days. We do not like discussing how we might die, nor think about the solitude that surrounds death. It almost seems that dying is no longer part of the human condition.
     

    If we start talking about euthanasia, the taboo becomes even more obvious.

    Yes, we are facing the most confrontational of topics, one that is seldom addressed by contemporary society. Daily life, in particular that of the young, seems shaped in a way that denies the existence of death.
     

    Golino’s movie portrays, with rare courage, the story if Irene, a young woman who helps terminal patients with assisted suicide.
     

    The mother having passed away and with a father living in Rome, Irene lives by the sea where she takes long swims, almost cathartic when contrasted against the death that she faces daily. No matter the season, she dives into the sea with unrelenting strokes. She has studied medicine and, like much of her peers these days, she did not complete the degree.
     

    Miele is Irene’s pseudonym. In a muffled, and at the same time neurotic manner this young lady moves in a society where her actions are considered a crime. In exchange for money, she administers Lamputal, a lethal drug for veterinary use bought in Mexico, which in big doses causes death in people.
     

    But when a man, an engineer in his sixties, suffering from depression, asks her to complete her job, “Miele” tries her best to make him change his mind. This turns into a rough, but also a tender relationship.
     

    Watching ‘Miele’ you are left to question yourself, and you realize that the first wrongful assumption in regard to euthanasia is thinking that it’s not going to ever affect you.

    Golino throws this issue at us with detachment mixed together with sweetness, using personal, private stories.
     

    The first part of the movie is emotionally difficult to bear, almost an agony, but it is part of a path to follow together with the director. Irene, determined to help terminal patients, could leave a viewer dumbfounded, too striking is the contrast between her young body and the death that she sees first-hand. She helps others to die and then calmly returns to her own life, to her sexual life, to her being a young woman.
     

    Hyperactive, she even seems to use high volume music in her ears to fight off the thoughts brought on by the strange commitment she has chosen. It is the encounter with the existential crisis of the old intellectual that unhinges her apparent inner balance. Her new client questions her own identity which turns out to be fragile and less determined than what she had thought it to be. It changes her life.

    "I help sick people, I am not a hired assassin," she will tell him. This difficult movie that manages to talk about death, and lets you "feel" death without showing it, has a poetic ending.
     

    The work directed by Valeria Golino is one of a kind. Watching the movie you realize it has not been made to be liked at any cost, but rather to face a difficult issue. And this is probably the underlying strength of her directing, assisted by the superb performance by Jasmine Trinca (Irene) and Carlo Cecchi (engineer), acting in a detached and at the same time poetic way.
    ---

    The film will be present in NYC on March 7th at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center. Click here for further informations regarding tickets and showtimes:

    >>>

  • Facts & Stories

    A Conversation with Diana Bracco


    I met Diana Bracco in Washington outside the annual convention of the National Italian American Foundation, where she was being honored with a Special Achievement Award in Philanthropy. But that’s not the only reason for our meeting.


    There’s a special biographical connection between the great Milanese-born entrepreneur and the Italian- American experience. “My grandfather and my father came to Milan from a small village in Dalmatia no one has ever heard of,” says Bracco.


    “To start from a place like that and grow the way they did means that, besides being lucky, they were full of drive and intelligence. In my opinion, Italian-Americans are the very image of this type of growth. I’m very proud of this recognition, which I intend to dedicate to my family, and I’m sure that by bolstering the relationship between the Italian-American community and Italy we only stand to learn more, share our stories and combine our resources.”


    For the last few months Bracco, the Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Bracco, a multinational healthcare company, has acted as President of the Universal Expo set to take place in Milan in 2015. Roughly 140 countries, including the US, will participate. She has used her new role as an opportunity to appeal to Italian Americans to visit the country during the six months of the Universal Expo to rediscover their roots and the beauty of Italy.


    “I urge you to come to Italy in 2015. Take your children and grandchildren long to the Expo so they can see our country on such an unrepeatable occasion. The Italian Pavilion will provide the magic of a journey through the Italy of yesterday, today and tomorrow, a combination of tradition and innovation showcasing the world-famous Italian style. For them it will be a way to rediscover their roots and Italy’s cultural heritage.”

    Bracco, in short, is a bit like an ambassador to her city. Clearly a city she loves. “Milan is a very vibrant city, full of culture, theater, music and art. There are many events, so many that it’s hard to perceive how it coheres. Maybe what I ask is that a city design its own image and work toward that. Milan has lost some of its old industrial plants Many people have moved out of the city. Naturally, this entails making changes, and Milan can do a lot to build its image as a cultural, philosophical and lifestyle mecca.”

     
    Clearly, Expo 2015 will be a part of the process aimed at revamping the city’s identity. The theme, “Nurture the Planet, Energy for Life,” gives the Expo the opportunity to launch a global debate about the problems facing humanity in the third millennium: food, resources
    and sustainability. So Milan will provide a platform for a new discussion concerning the world economy and two very important and difficult subjects. “On the one hand, food safety. On the other, ensuring there is enough food—food and water. Water will play a very significant role in the Expo.” These are major issues that go beyond economics and aren’t your usual Expo fare.


    “We don’t want Expo Milan to be a one- way conversation. We want to welcome everyone’s ideas. We want to start a discussion for the world, for many countries, taking into consideration their various identities. Expect to see the whole spectrum represented in an extremely innovative way.” The Expo will be a great opportunity for Milan and the rest of Italy, putting both at the center of the world’s attention, the real place to be. No fewer than 20 million visitors are expected to visit between May 1st and the end of October 2015.

     
    The Site. Architecture and Themes
    The Expo Milano 2015 site was designed with the support of internationally renowned architects such as Stefano Boeri, Ricky Burdett and Jacques Herzog. Its common core is the idea that everyone on the planet should have access to food that is healthy, safe and sufficient. The site is devised as an island surrounded by a canal that brings one of the basic elements of this “extraordinary setting” into the project: water. Together with the canal, the site’s main symbolic elements help to define the set- ting at its cardinal points: The Hill is one of the site’s principal landmarks and home to the Mediterranean agro-ecosystem.


    The Open Air Theatre will host concerts, plays and official ceremonies. The Lake Arena will be the venue for special water shows, fireworks, concerts and performances. The Expo Center comprises three inde- pendent functional blocks: an auditorium, a performance area and an office block. There will also be Thematic Areas, a Biodiversity Park, a Future Food District, and a Children’s Park. Dozens of countries will have their own pavillon, including the U.S. In the Italian Pavilion, regions and cities, companies and associations, will show to the world the culture and tradition of Italian food that stand out thanks to the high quality of raw materials and finished products.


  • Art & Culture

    How Italy's Biggest Energy Company Invests in Culture in the US

    Why is Eni such an active participant in cultural promotion around the world? What drives you, an Italian, worldwide energy company, towards culture?

    We actively promote artistic, cultural and musical events in Italy and around the world. We invest in culture because culture goes hand in hand with the commercial investments we make in the countries where we operate. This involves a long-term investment in the territory, in international relations, and in spreading the values of sustainability, innovation and efficiency. We place culture at the top of our agenda because broadcasting and supporting culture is a means of operating in a society with which everyone deeply identifies. “Let’s give energy a new energy” captures the meaning of all that we’re doing for the culture and best describes our commitment to increasingly energizing the culture, in keeping with our original motto (“culture of energy, energy of culture”) that defines our connections to artistic and cultural endeavors.

    What is, then, your formula?

    Our reach goes far beyond economic support. The word partnership is apt, given its deeper meaning of working together in a creative and well-organized fashion. It’s a company working with private foundations and public institutions for the greatest benefit of the culture by adopting innovative models and remaining dedicated to quality and accessibility.

    We collaborate with the most prestigious museums, special places aiming at sharing their cultural riches with the support of a company like ours.

    For example: our collaboration with the Met in New York and our partnership with the Louvre in Paris as well as the Vatican Museums. For us, art means putting unique masterpieces on display and making them accessible and totally free.
     

    In recent years we have developed a formula especially designed for art exhibitions that focuses on finding original ways of reading unique artwork. We thought it important that every masterpiece in an exhibition be accompanied by tools for learning more about it. This formula, proposed in the extraordinary exhibitions at Palazzo Marino – in collaboration with the city of Milan, the Louvre and the Vatican Museums – became a big hit with the public. We’d like to propose this model to Mayor de Blasio, who we know will be an excellent first citizen of New York. 

    In 2013 Eni was Corporate Ambassador for the Year of Culture in the United States. Any comment on that?

    This “Year” succeeded in introducing the American public to various aspects of the richness of Italian culture. There were over two hundred cultural events on the calendar in over fifty US cities. We were the chief partner for The Boxer at Rest at the Met in New York (which attracted over ninety thousand people in six weeks). For Eni, American journalist-writer Gay Talese provided his personal take on the statue and discussed his career as a journalist with the New York Times. This year we also supported the international Cameristi della Scala tour, which recently staged “Fantasies” from Verdi’s operas at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium in Boston and New York’s Carnegie Hall.

     

    Now you’re supporting the young architect Antonio Saracino’s “The Guardians” at Bryant Park, featured in this issue. In this case, you backed a work of art that at the time didn’t exist yet. That was bold.

    To honor young talents and contribute to their success is a choice Eni has made for a long time now. We believe that new generations can significantly contribute to innovation. Innovating and looking to the future are essential to Eni’s identity, an integral part of the way it operates. We have chosen emerging talents to spread our message since 2010.                                 

  • Style: Articles

    With Massimo Vignelli. Timelessness: Essence of Design

    His house speaks of the past, but also the present. This little universe is where Massimo Vignelli lives and works. He is a design world icon, though he cringes when I call him this.
     

    We sit at his desk: a plate of metal on a stand. These plates are found all over New York,covering holes in the streets during repairs to the grid and sewer systems, strong enough to support the weight of a truck. “Timeless objects are made with simple materials and minimal work, work is expensive…” It’s hot, but the metal cools us down enough to have a long and passionate conversation.
     
    We speak of design, all things related to design, how design affects our lives. On one hand, there are so many things on the market created to be consumed and replaced; on the other, there are objects that remain, thanks to their timeless qualities. This is the first in a series of conversations dedicated to the ideas and objects of design, starting with the concept of timelessness. That is, when a design is born and lives to be timeless.
     
    “Before speaking of timelessness we should differentiate between design and styling. Design, when it’s a good design and possesses all the qualities of the perfect design, lasts over time, which is its fundamental requirement. Styling is ephemeral by nature, it is whatever is in style. The concept of timelessness refers to long duration and has a basis in “responsibility”. The designer’s responsibility toward the user and toward him or herself consists in operating in such a way that things don’t get thrown out. True design is not disposable. Styling is “disposable”. Design has a logic, skeleton and musculature of its own.”
     
    These words define the entire public and private life of Massimo Vignelli and Lella, his wife, an architect and his companion in both work and life. Both of their lives are characterized by design; they live it down to the smallest details. It even determines the clothes they wear, their accessories, their linens.

    Let’s begin by quickly confronting the idea that design is an unattainable world and that, especially in today’s times of crisis, it can seem like a luxury, or a way of life for the few and the rich. But can’t design—timeless design—be a way of saving? Saving signs, materials, energy, and even money? If design lasts, then in these times it could be useful to reflect on the lasting power of our purchases. On whether they are necessary or if they serve us.

     
    “Of course design can be a way of saving—and it must be! Good design is above all economical—economy is its fundamental component. In the absence of economy we have styling. Design is the most direct way of achieving a goal, it doesn’t tolerate waste. True design is ethical and moral. Styling isn’t—it’s the opposite. Styling is freedom without limits and confines. Design, on the other hand, proposes these confines, it has its own protocol and can be very severe.”

    So is design just a world of rigor? Rigid and tedious? “No. Design can also be very lively, cheerful, playful. But it’s a joy that derives from intelligence, not emotion. And that’s another big difference between design and styling. It’s not that emotion is necessarily separate from intelligence. There’s a relationship between them. Every work evokes emotion. But when emotion derives from the intelligence of the work’s creator, it has a staying power, and that’s timelessness. When a work is only emotion, on the other hand, everything fades after the initial impact. It’s like an orgasm, fleeting...”

    I endeavor to draw a comparison. Is it like the difference between Falling in Love and Loving, as in the book by renowned sociologist Francesco Alberoni? Massimo smiles, amused.

     
    “Love is timeless, being in love is ephemeral. The relationship between timelessness and the ephemeral is also the basis for the discourse on design. Our lives are ruled by this dichotomy. Timelessness and the ephemeral. It impacts everything. From choosing a utensil to choosing a whole piece of furniture. A choice based on timelessness will last a lifetime, but an emotion-driven choice will last only a few years. You have to filter everything that passes in front of you, everything you see. The worthwhile lasts, the unimportant passes. The same is true for music, literature, not just for design.”

    Now Massimo Vignelli is on his way to give seminars at the Vignelli Center for Design Studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology. We’ll continue our conversation in issues to come. As we say goodbye, I take a closer look at his desk. I can’t help but noticing one of his drawings. It depicts, in minute detail, all of the (few) objects he plans to take with him. From his suitcase to his socks, from his toothbrush to his iPhone charger…. Design is part of his private life. His life. Down to his list of things to pack.

     

  • Life & People

    It Takes an Italian-American Neighborhood. Interview with John Viola


    Tell us a bit about NIAF. How, why and when was it born?

    The National Italian American Foundation was founded in 1975 to be our community’s first national voice in Washington. NIAF was created to serve a real need in our community. At the time, that meant an organized presence in national politics. From there I think the community saw NIAF as a new way of doing things and began to look for “membership,” which is how we ended up becoming a membership organization.

     

    No one can help noticing how young you are relative to previous national NIAF leaders How does NIAF work to relate to younger generations?

    Obviously my age (I will turn the big 3-0 on August 17th) says that NIAF’s Board of Directors is committed to being at the forefront of a new generation of community leadership. In terms of how we engage younger generations, I think it’s a threefold approach. First of all, we need to preserve our heritage and language so the next generations identify themselves as Italian Americans. And for me that means we need to correct the tragedy of abandoning Italian as a community language during World War II. We need to give the gift of Italian language back to the new generations so they can be a part of a larger Italian community around the world.

    Second, we need to speak to younger Italian Americans in new ways, so we have begun to really concentrate on social media content, evolving the NIAF blog, completely re-engineering NIAF.org (which will be unveiled at our 38th Anniversary Gala weekend on October 25-26th here in Washington DC) and finding partners like i-Italy that do such a great job of deciphering the issues and reporting on what’s important to Italians and Italian Americans. We are not journalists, but we can be a great platform for the community.
     

    Finally, we need to be changing what it is we offer young people for their support. We are expanding from promoting traditional scholarships to creating job fairs, fellowships, internships with some of our members, entry-level jobs and other work experiences. Our generation faces an incredible uphill climb when entering the job market, and we want to make the resources and opportunities created by established and engaged Italian Americans available to the next generation of Italian Americans. I see lots of successful Italian Americans who like the idea of giving a young Italian American a shot at success, and I want our foundation to help make that happen more often. We need to look out for one another.

    People think NIAF is just an elite Washington lobby. Why is it important for ordinary Italian Americans to belong to NIAF?

    This is the single most important thing to me and the driving reason for my coming here almost 2 years ago. People think of NIAF as elitist because, frankly, we’ve often acted elitist. Like any organization, after almost 40 years you need to have a “gut check” and really reassess who you are and who you want to be going forward. I think I can safely speak for our leadership and certainly for myself when I say the new NIAF is for the entire community. I’m a big believer in respecting everyone. We want people passionate about our community and culture, regardless of their personal income.
     

    All Italian Americans have a place here at NIAF because this organization can be the central place, the rallying point, the umbrella – or however you want to see it – for the entire community. We’re committed to gathering the resources of engaged Italians and Italian Americans to support good, virtuous, and efficient grass-roots work in our community and projects of excellence that concern our people and culture. As we assimilate, and it gets harder and harder to access our culture at home or in a familiar neighborhood, we want NIAF to be the place where people can come and feel at home.We want NIAF to be the neighborhood! And I think if you’ve been to our recent events, both big and small, you are beginning to sense that.

    What do you have planned for this year’s gala in Washington?

    Well, the Gala Weekend is certainly evolving, and that’s a multiyear process. That said, this year will have old favorites and some new aspects. First of all, the traditional Saturday afternoon auction luncheon and the Friday night live entertainment have been combined into an all-new event called “Come Fly With Me,” which we are really excited about. It’s a Casino night, auction and party hosted by NIAF and Alitalia, and it is going to be a night of Italian-American fun like you’ve never seen before! It will be hosted at the Reagan Building here in Washington, which is a beautiful venue, and we have a ton of exciting details we are working on with Alitalia to really make the event special, but we’re in the final stages of planning, so I won’t give them away just yet! Let’s just say if you think a red-carpet event is something, wait until you walk the green carpet!
     

    On a more serious note, we are really excited that this year will be the first in what we see as a long-term partnership with the Italian American Studies Association. This partnership means our attendees will be treated to quality conferences featuring the foremost Italian and Italian-American thinkers tackling questions that mean something to our community and its future. We will also hold a second “NIAF: Ieri, Oggi, Domani” conference, which was such a great success last year, and has turned into an opportunity for the community to speak directly to NIAF’s leadership, hear what we are planning for the coming year and, more importantly, tell us what is important to them. And of course, we have the movie screenings, wine tastings, and expo space that people love so much.
     

    Our 2013-2014 Region of Honor is Campania, which I am personally excited about because it’s where my grandparents came from, and they will be introducing our audience to all kinds of food, wine, products and companies.
     

    Finally, the Gala Dinner itself will have evolved a little from last year. We are trying to inject some entertainment into the later part of the event and make the first portion of the evening about highlighting our amazing honorees, telling their stories and hearing their thoughts. It really killed me last year (my first) when I saw how hard it was for people to share with us on their night of honor with a room of 2,000 clinking forks and knives, so we want to avoid that. We are also bringing in live subtitles on the big screens, so for the first time ever we won’t have any Italian-English language gap!

    And then of course we have some great surprises planned for the Chairman’s after-hours party, which is really important to us, believe it or not. It’s the time when everybody gets to let down their hair and really bask in the glow of being around thousands of very proud Italians and Italian Americans. And the good company of family is at the heart of who we are as an organization. Anyone who saw me screaming “O surdato ‘nnammurato” at last year’s gala knows how much I love being together in the warmth of our songs and traditions!

     ---

    At the 38th anniversary Gala of the National Italian American Foundation (Washington, DC, October 26) there will be three Honorees: Diana Bracco, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Bracco; Roberto Colaninno, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Piaggio &C. S.p.A.,
    and George Randazzo, Founder National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. More info:
    http://www.niaf.org.

  • Art & Culture

    Erri De Luca: Naples is the Center of My Entire Nervous System

    Poetry lives in his daily life. He has experienced it, especially during the most difficult times. Erri De Luca – writer, translator, poet – is originally from Naples and has lived a very intense life.

    He has been a laborer, truck driver, warehouse worker, bricklayer. He has worked in politics and for humanitarian causes. These experiences provided him with important life lessons and have inspired his poetry.

    Carrying Naples inside of him, as do many Neapolitans who no longer live there, he lives in contrasts. He left Naples at 18. He returns, physically, every now and then. Even when he is far away, his mind and heart remain there.
     

    “My senses were created in Naples. That place is my center; it’s the center of my nervous system. My nervous system was formed there, as well the education of my emotions. I don’t mean walking arm-in-arm with a young lady. For me, it’s about fundamental feelings of compassion, anger, and even shame. They’re feelings that crop up every time I think of Naples. I hear them inside my head when I react to news coming from the city, every time they call me to comment on some distasteful piece of news from Naples.”

    As he describes his childhood, the story emerges of a city to hear as well as see. “I grew up in avery narrow alley. There was not much of a view, but the sounds worked miracles. You could hear everything that was going on beyond the walls and the streets. The city was very acoustic.” 
     

    It was an education that took place through listening, especially in dialect. “Voices, cries, prayers, lamentations of my mother. All in Neapolitan.

    Italian is my second language. It’s difficult to explain to non-Italians, because in their experience dialects don’t really exist – only the inflections of pronunciations that distinguish one place from another. It’s rarely found outside of Italy, this radical differences in vocabulary and phonetics among our dialects. We come from a country of ‘multiple languages.’ In Naples, we speak one of these languages.”

    Leaving Naples.
    So what does Erri recall of his departure from Naples? He was young, he left suddenly, and never went back there to live. “I had built up a lot of drive to get out, and the drive at a certain point materialized. I opened the door to my house…and I closed it slowly behind me, not letting it slam. I disappeared. I went down the stairs, I went to the station and I took a train. I separated myself from the future that had been set for me. I immediately threw myself into the fray. I remember precisely the emptiness of the descent; it was a deep void. For me, those stairs were an abyss, and I would never go up them again.” 
     

    For Erri De Luca, New York City, America, and Naples are linked by a personal red thread. The United States entered his life even before he visited. His grandmother was Ruby Hammond and she was raised in Birmingham, Alabama. His name, Erri, comes from Harry, even though he dropped the “H.” 
     

    “Neapolitan America”

    But America didn’t just exist in family stories. He had lived it and seen it while he was still a boy in Naples. “The U.S. Sixth Fleet is headquartered in Naples. There were aircraft carriers and whole squadrons. Entire neighborhoods in Naples were inhabited by American soldiers and officers. America was all around me.”
     

    This “Neapolitan” America joined the America that was already inside him. He looked very much like those young Americans, those soldiers who descended from ships and were seen wandering around Naples while on leave.

    “My body resembled theirs. Once I was even taken in by the American police since they had mistaken me for one of their soldiers. Physically, America fit me; it was my calling card. I was an American in Naples. “
     

    At last — New York

    But Erri visited New York City for the first time just two years ago, and did so as a famous writer on tour to present his book. We asked him to describe some of feelings upon his first “return” to America.
     

    “I had just read a travelogue written by my father, who had been in New York after the war. He had longed for America and had read a lot of American literature. So I tried to see New York through his eyes, looking for what he had seen him in the 1950s. Of course I made it up; I completely imagined the stories hidden inside of my father’s diary. I followed him as he went to Ellis Island, the terminus of the journey for emigrants, and I went to the top of the Empire State building, again because he had been there….”
     

    A city that is unique

    Our conversation seemed to be a relay between Naples and New York. We went back to Naples and asked Erri for some tips to tourists who want to visit. “Naples is not a touristic city in the classic sense. It’s not like Rome or Florence. Naples must be visited alongside a Neapolitan, someone who will take you by the hand, not because you need to be protected but because only a Neapolitan can open up the city to you. Otherwise, you won’t see anything. You need a friend in Naples. It’s a secret city. For however beautiful it is, for as much as it seems completely open with its wonderful bay, it’s actually impenetrable.” Perhaps an intrinsic aspect of this city is its impenetrability and its religiosity.

    “It’s a religious city, even superstitious. In particular, there is an intimate worship of the dead, who are never erased or excluded, but continue to be with us. There is great adoration of the relics. Neapolitans have entrusted themselves to the intercession of the patron saint Gennaro who saved them from the plague, the lava from Vesuvius, and earthquakes. The city has its own ‘holiness’ which is neither in heaven nor on earth.”
     

    An earthquake within. As in so many of Erri De Luca’s books, there lives and seethes a tension that feeds his research and transforms it into poetry. In this way, he exorcises the interior earthquake that is so often within us. And he allows something sacred to grow in its place, something which takes us back to Naples, where his senses were constructed.

     

  • Arte e Cultura

    Anno della Cultura. “Italy Inspires US”

    READ THE ARTICLE IN ENGLISH  >>>

    Ambasciatore quali sono state le motivazioni che hanno portato ad indire l'anno della Cultura italiana negli USA?
     

    L’obiettivo principale è portare qui, nel Paese più importante del mondo, il meglio di ciò che l’Italia ha da dire al mondo.  La cultura è, naturalmente, anche parte importante della politica estera. Con questa iniziativa promuoviamo quindi l’Italia, ma anche l’amicizia tra Italia e America. 

    Certamente l’Anno della Cultura punta a valorizzare la nostra arte, il made in Italy, i paesaggi, la nostra capacità di creare e innovare. Nel passato come oggi. Ma vuole declinare tutto questo attorno ad un concetto. Un valore che il Rinascimento ha esaltato e di cui oggi continuiamo ad avere tremendo bisogno: la centralità dell’uomo. E’ a questa dimensione che, in ultima analisi, ci rimandano i capolavori universali della musica, del teatro, della letteratura e del cinema, le conquiste della scienza e della tecnologia. Senza dimenticare che da quando ci vestiamo a quando guidiamo un’automobile , da quando ci sediamo a tavola a quando  arrediamo la nostra casa, nelle emozioni che proviamo o negli oggetti che usiamo, c’è spesso un pizzico d’Italia, di bellezza e originalità italiane. L’Italia è stata, è, e fortunatamente continuera’ ad essere una fonte d’ispirazione. Con la sua creatività a misura d’uomo. “Italy inspires US” è lo slogan che ci è venuto in mente –complice anche il gioco di parole - per sintetizzare tutto questo. Senza arroganza, ma con legittimo orgoglio, l’Italia è molto più di un Paese: è uno stile di vita. 

    Ora l'anno della Cultura negli Stati Uniti, fortemente voluto dal Ministero degli Esteri, termina il suo primo semestre. Ci fa un bilancio?

    Lo spirito dell’Anno della Cultura è coinvolgere il maggior numero possibile di attori pubblici e privati in iniziative che facciano da base per la costruzione di partenariati solidi e duraturi e di network sempre più ampi ed efficaci.  In pochi mesi abbiamo messo insieme più di 200 eventi in oltre cinquanta città degli Stati Uniti. L’adesione delle nostre aziende nel ruolo di sponsor è stata molto positiva: segno che le imprese italiane, nonostante un momento delicato dell’economia, hanno percepito questa iniziativa come piattaforma di opportunità. Un tempo, non lontano, queste rassegne si realizzavano soprattutto con risorse pubbliche. Ora, invece,  sono i privati a fare la parte del leone.

    Straordinaria è stata anche la risposta sul lato americano. Le istituzioni ed organizzazioni USA coinvolte sono oltre 80. E i numeri crescono giorno per giorno, grazie all’approccio “bottom-up” che abbiamo deciso di adottare. L’Ambasciata, i Consolati e gli Istituti di Cultura negli Stati Uniti e lo stesso Ministero degli Esteri a Roma continuamente ricevono nuovi input da un ventaglio molto ampio di soggetti. L’Anno della Cultura appartiene a tutti coloro che vogliano far parte di un grande progetto di amicizia, a patto di proporre idee di qualità. E sostenibili: sia dal punto di vista economico che da quello della capacità di generare ulteriori iniziative nel tempo.

    Quando possiamo, cerchiamo ad esempio, di trasformare la singola mostra in accordo tra musei, per esposizioni o progetti futuri. Presentiamo i nostri parchi tecnologici agli investitori e ricercatori americani, ed ecco un’universita’ americana propone di aprire un campus biotecnologico in Italia. Il concorso su Boccaccio o le inziiative su Machiavelli (per entrambi ricorrono nel 2013 anniversari importanti) sono occasioni per incrementare la diffusione dell’italiano e il numero di studenti che portano l’italiano all’esame Advanced Placement Italian (AP).      

    Come è stato accolto dagli americani l’anno della cultura?

    Benissimo, sia dalla gente comune che dalle autorita: dal Presidente Obama al Vicepresidente Biden, ai tanti Governatori e Sindaci che incontro girando per il Paese. Ricordo qui solo alcuni esempi: il Presidente Obama ha citato l’Anno della Cultura Italiana nella solenne “Proclamation” del Columbus Day, sottolineando che gli Americani si sarebbero uniti nel celebrare il “ricco patrimonio”italiano “e i legami durevoli tra i nostri due Paesi”.

    L’ex Segretario di Stato Hillary Clinton aveva salutato l’Anno con una battuta che resterà agli annali: “Pensavo che ogni anno fosse l’Anno della Cultura Italiana!” Altrettanto ha fatto il suo successore John Kerry lo scorso febbraio a Roma, pochi giorni dopo la sua nomina, scherzando sul fatto che sin dal 1492, a partire da Colombo e Vespucci sono stati “i secoli della cultura americana e italiana”, e affermando che “in verità, la cultura italiana è dappertutto nel nostro Paese”.  Grande `e anche l’attenzione dei media, tutti i principali organi d’informazione hanno parlato di Italy in US 2013.

    L'iniziativa è andata avanti nonostante una situazione politica difficile in Italia e malgrado la crisi economica.  Ora il cambio di Governo. Proseguirà lo stesso? Ci sarà continuità anche con il nuovo Ministro?
     

    Può forse sembrare paradossale, ma lo spirito dell’Anno della Cultura esce in qualche modo rafforzato dalla crisi. Le difficoltà ci aiutano a fare squadra, ottimizzando le energie di tutti per promuovere al meglio l’Italia e la sua cultura. Si tratta di un obiettivo fortemente condiviso dai tanti attori pubblici e privati che con entusiasmo sostengono le numerose iniziative in programma. Il sostegno dei partner privati è sinonimo di qualità, vitalità e sostenibilità delle politiche culturali – un modello che il Ministero degli Esteri italiano è fortemente impegnato ad approfondire e sviluppare.

    Quali sono state le iniziative di cui va personalmente orgoglioso?

    Citandone qualcuna in particolare rischierei di scontentare gli esclusi! In generale sono sinceramente orgoglioso di tutte quelle che stiamo attuando. Ma se proprio dovessi scegliere una categoria, vado ancora più fiero di quelle che ci permettono di portare alla luce aspetti meno noti dell’Italia e, così facendo, di imprimere slancio a nuovi progetti concreti.

    Un esempio tra tutti: le celebrazioni dei primi cinquant’anni di cooperazione spaziale tra Italia e USA ci hanno permesso di ricordare (quanti lo sanno?) che fummo tra i primissimi paesi a mandare un satellite in orbita, il San Marco 1, lanciato il 15 dicembre del 1964 dalla base di Wallops Flight in Virginia. Al tempo stesso abbiamo potuto valorizzare lo straordinario livello di ciò che oggi facciamo (tantissimo: una gran parte della Stazione Spaziale Internazionale è per esempio “Made in Italy”). E abbiamo così creato una cornice ideale per la firma del nuovo Accordo di cooperazione nel settore spaziale tra Italia e Stati Uniti, che aprirà una serie di opportunità scientifiche ed economiche nuove.

    Infine, anche per suscitare la curiosità dei non addetti ai lavori, abbiamo previsto che il logo dell’Anno della Cultura venga presto portato a bordo della Stazione Spaziale da un astronauta italiano.

    Cosa ci dobbbiamo aspettare allora nei prossimi mesi?

    In cantiere abbiamo davvero tante iniziative: per tenersi costantemente aggiornati su preparativi ed eventi in cantiere invito a seguire il calendario sul sito Internet http://www.italyinus2013.org/, su Facebook attraverso la pagina https://www.facebook.com/italyinus2013, e su Twitter attraverso l’hashtag #2013ItalianYear, attraverso cui ciascuno è invitato a condividere idee, impressioni e informazioni, nonché sugli account della piattaforma social media dell’Ambasciata d’Italia a Washington, www.twiplomacy.it/USA.

    Soltanto a New York, dal 3 giugno, avremo invece al prestigiosissimo “MET”, il Metropolitan Museum of Art, uno degli eventi più importanti dell’Anno: la mostra del “Pugilatore a riposo”, celebre statua bronzea greca della seconda metà del IV secolo a.C., rinvenuta a Roma alle pendici del Quirinale nel 1885 e conservata al Museo Nazionale Romano. Un esempio – se mai ve ne fosse bisogno – di come la nostra Penisola sia un crocevia di genti al centro del Mediterraneo, e di come la cultura che vi si è sviluppata, che è oggi la cultura italiana, sia il frutto di una mescolanza unica ed originale di influenze diverse.


    La cultura rimane la vera ricchezza su cui l’Italia può puntare più di ogni altro Paese. Il MAE l’ha capito. L’anno della Cultura ne è stato una dimostrazione. Non pensa che seri  programmi, che puntano sulla diffusione della cultura e sul turismo in Italia, siano anche un buon passo per superare la crisi economica?
     

    Assolutamente! Non soltanto il MAE, ma tutto il sistema Italia all’estero è impegnato in questa direzione. Questo sforzo produce dei frutti concreti. Per quanto riguarda gli Stati Uniti, l’Italia si conferma come la destinazione europea maggiormente sognata e desiderata dagli americani,  ed una delle piu’ visitate, in particolare dagli “affluent travelers”.
    Il viaggio in Italia è ambito come un’esperienza unica che permette di vivere innumerevoli emozioni .     Non a caso, nel programma  dell’Anno abbiamo dedicato una specifica sezione all’Italia dei Territori, che raccoglie eventi, iniziative e suggerimenti legati alla promozione del territorio italiano e delle sue peculiarità, anche da parte dell’ENIT. All'interno di questa sezione, sotto il cappello "Itinerari segreti", sul sito Internet www.italyinus2013.org ogni mese proponiamo, in collaborazione con il Touring Club Italiano, con il FAI-Fondo Ambiente Italiano, e I Parchi Letterari, tre itinerari (uno al Nord, uno al Centro e uno al Sud) riguardanti angoli nascosti del nostro Paese.

  • Art & Culture

    Anno della Cultura. “Italy inspires US”

    PER LEGGERE L'ARTICOLO IN ITALIANO  >>>

    What were the reasons that led to the Year of Italian Culture in the U.S.?

    The main objective was to bring the best of Italy to the most important country in the world. And culture, of course, is an important part of foreign policy. With this initiative we promote Italy, but also the friendship between Italy and America.

    Certainly the Year of Culture aims to promote our art, the Made in Italy label, our landscape, and our ability to create and innovate, as we did in the past and as we continue to do so today. But all of this organized around a concept. A value that the Renaissance exalted and which today is still relevant is the centrality of man. It is this dimension that, ultimately, brings us back to the universal masterpieces of music, theater, literature, and film, and the achievements of science and technology.

    Whenever we get dressed to when we drive a car, sit down to eat, furnish our home, or even in the emotions we feel or the everyday objects we use, there is often a touch of Italy, of Italian beauty and originality.  
     

    Italy was, and fortunately continues to be a source of inspiration with his creativity on a human scale. “Italy inspires the U.S.” is the slogan that came to us – which also encompasses a play on words – to synthesize all of this. Without arrogance, but with legitimate pride, Italy is much more than a country: it’s a way of life.
     

    We’re now in the second half of the Year of Culture in the United States. It’s been strongly supported by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Can you give us an assessment?

    The spirit of the Year of Culture seeks to involve the largest possible number of public and private initiatives that create a basis for building strong and lasting partnerships and increasingly broad and effective networks. In just a few short months we have put together over 200 events in more than 50 cities in the United States.

    The number of companies that agreed to be sponsors was a very positive sign that, in spite of difficult economic times, Italian companies have perceived this initiative as a platform of opportunity. Up until very recently, these events were executed mainly with public resources. Now, however, the private sector contributes the lion’s share.

    The response on the American side has been extraordinary. There are over 80 U.S. institutions and organizations that are involved. And that number is growing day by day, thanks to the “bottom-up” approach that we decided to adopt. The Italian Embassy, ​​Consulates, and Cultural Institutes in the United States as well as the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Rome continually receive new input on a very wide range of subjects.

    The Year of the Culture is perfect for anyone who wants to participate in this project of friendship as long as there are quality ideas. And they must be sustainable, both from an economic point of view and from the potential to generate additional initiatives actions over time. An example of this is when we try to transform one individual show into an agreement among several museums to collaborate on future exhibitions and projects.

    We presented new and innovative technology to American investors and researchers, and one American university proposed developing a biotechnology campus in Italy. The competition on Boccaccio or the initiative on Machiavelli (both celebrate milestone anniversaries in 2013) are opportunities to increase the diffusion of the Italian language and the number of students who take the Advanced Placement (AP) exam in Italian.

    How did Americans respond to the Year of Culture?

    It was very well received by both the general public as well as those in power, from President Obama to Vice President Biden, to many the many governors and mayors I met as I toured the country. There are a few moments that stand out.

    President Obama cited the Year of Italian Culture in the solemn proclamation on Columbus Day, noting that the Americans would join in celebrating the rich Italian heritage and the enduring bonds between our two countries.

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hailed the Year with a joke that will remain in the annals: “I thought every year was the Year of Italian Culture!” Current Secretary of State John Kerry did likewise last February in Rome, a few days after his appointment, stating that since 1492, beginning with Columbus and Vespucci there have been “centuries of Italian and American culture,” and that “in truth, Italian culture is everywhere in our country.” It’s also received a lot of media attention of the media, with all of the major media outlets covering the Year of Italian Culture in the U.S. 2013.

    The initiative went on as planned despite a difficult political situation in Italy and the ongoing economic crisis. There’s now a change of government. Will it go on as before? Will there be continuity with the new Minister?

    It may seem paradoxical perhaps, but in a certain way the spirit of the Year of Culture has been reinforced by the crisis. The difficulties help us to become a team, optimizing everyone’s energy to better promote Italy and its culture.

    It is a common goal that is strongly and enthusiastically supported by many public and private institutions. The support of private partners is synonymous with the quality, viability, and sustainability of cultural policies; the Minister of Foreign Affairs is committed to developing and deepening this model.

    What are some of the initiatives of which you are personally proud?

    Citing any one in particular would risk upsetting the ones I excluded! In general I am sincerely proud of everything we have implemented. But if I had to choose a category, I’m especially proud of those that allow us to bring to light lesser-known aspects of Italy and, in so doing, create the impetus for new projects.

    I’ll give you a specific example: the celebration of the first 50 years of cooperation in space between Italy and the U.S. has allowed us to remember (how many know this?) that we were among the first countries to send a satellite into orbit. The San Marco 1 was launched on December 15, 1964 from the base of Wallops Flight in Virginia. At the same time we were able to enhance the extraordinary level of what we do today, which is a lot. A large part of the International Space Station, for example, is “Made in Italy.” And so we have created an ideal setting to sign a new agreement on cooperation in space between Italy and the United States, which will open a series of new scientific and economic opportunities.

    Finally, and also to awaken the curiosity of the uninitiated, we predict that the logo of the Year of Culture will soon be brought on board the space station by an Italian astronaut.

    What’s up next? Can you tell us about the upcoming event in New York City?

    There are so many. For up-to-date information, visit the calendar of events at www.italyinus2013.org and our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/italyinus2013. You can also follow us on Twitter at via the hash tag #2013ItalianYear as well as the social media platform of the Italian Embassy in Washington at www.twiplomacy.it/USA.

    Everyone is invited to share ideas, reactions, and information. One of the most important events of the Year will take place on June 3 at the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City: the opening of the exhibit “Boxer at Rest,” a famous Greek bronze statue from the second half of the fourth century BC, discovered in Rome at Quirinale in 1885 and restored at National Museum in Rome. This is a perfect example – as if one were ever needed – of how our country is a crossroads of people at the center of the Mediterranean and how the culture that has developed over time. Italian culture today is the result of a unique blend of original and different influences.

    Culture remains the true wealth on which Italy can rely more than any other country. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has understood this. The Year of Culture was a demonstration of this. Don’t you think that serious programs that focus on the dissemination of culture and tourism in Italy are good step in overcoming the economic crisis?

    Absolutely! Not only the Minister of Foreign Affairs, but the entire Italian system abroad is engaged in this direction. This effort produces concrete results. As for the United States, Italy is confirmed as the European destination dreamed that Americans dream of most and is one of the most visited, especially by affluent travelers.

    Traveling to Italy is the setting for a most extraordinary experience. Not surprisingly, we’ve dedicated a specific section of our website (www.italyinus2013.org) to “Italy of the Territories,” which collects events, initiatives, and suggestions related to the promotion of the Italy as a particular and remarkable area. Within this section, under the title “Secret Itineraries,” every month, in collaboration with the Italian Touring Club, the Fondo Ambiente Italiano (Italian Environmental Fund), and Parchi Letterari (Literary Parks), three itineraries (one in the north, one in the center, and one in the south) are presented to promote the hidden corners of our country.

    FOR MORE INFO VISIT:
    (www.italyinus2013.org)

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