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Articles by: Letizia Airos

  • Op-Eds

    EDITORIAL “Happy Italian Heritage Month”


    ●● (10-10-3) so when you write about ocean you write about shore (51-6-3) there’s no water flowing and no flower snowing (14-1-3 )when you do what you were dreaming of you may be assailed by fears


    I’ve kept to my promise of beginning every editorial note with a poem. Only this time I’m using several random verses. That’s right, random. They’re lines from “Ellis Island,” a poem by Robert Viscusi, assembled by the Random Sonnet Generator, which can be found on the poem’s website (ellisislandpoem.com).


    Why “Ellis Island”? Because it’s an extraordinary poem that tells the all-American story of immigration, an event in which Italians played a large role.


    ●●●●


    Which leads us to this issue of i-ItalyNY. October in New York is the most Italian month of the year, so we began a new collaboration with the prestigious Italian Heritage and Culture Committee of New York; the traditional booklet they publish this time of the year, listing all Italian and Italian-American events, is now a special insert of i-ItalyNY. It is by far the most comprehensive, up-to-date guide to our “Italian city” this fall.


    And it’s no coincidence you’ll find here our interview with Frank G. Fusaro and Angelo Vivolo, the leaders of the Columbus Citizens Foundation, the association responsible for organizing the Columbus Day Parade.


    ●●●●


    Yet our cover story takes us back to Italy, an Italy that gave rise to an internationally recognized dream: Ferrari. My interview with Flavio Manzoni, Ferrari’s Design Director, explores the history and future of Italian excellence; and we begin by remembering our great friend and maestro, Massimo Vignelli, the international icon of Italian design who passed away this May. Feature articles include Stefano Albertini’s interview with world- renowned film director Gianni Amelio and Consul General of New York Natalia Quintavalle’s reflections on the challenges facing an Italian presidency of the EU Council. Then we travel back to Venice to meet Giampaolo Seguso, a major glassmaking artisan as well as a poet, and to Naples to meet Amedeo Scognamiglio, the leading manufacturer of cameos—without, however, leaving the comfort of New York; indeed both men have established major branches of their business here. New York is, after all, the biggest Italian city outside Italy. And, if you’re looking for a glimpse of Italian American politics, jump to Jerry Krase’s piece on the “tribulations” of Governor Andrew Cuomo and Anthony Tamburri’s column about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s combinatio nova.


    We will travel to Italy, however, in our Tourism section. Eugenio Magnani, the director of the Italian Government Tourist Board for North America, relates his personal memories of Italy’s “small islands,” as special as they are yet little known. Last but not least, an interview with former Italian Ambassador to the UN Paolo Fulci, now president of Ferrero. Fulci, a Sicilian who calls the small island of Salina “home,” shares the very Italian (and Italian-American) story that brought little islands—in Italy and across the globe—to the world’s attention.


    ●●●●


    So, take a gander at this voluminous issue, visit our website, follow us on Facebook and watch our show weekends on Channel 25. Our new series is full of surprises. And please send us your suggestions and comments. They do us good. Have a happy Italian Heritage Month!


    ([email protected])

  • Tourism

    The Langhe. What Makes this Place so Special? The Answer is Blowin’ in the Wind!

    “I was born on September 24, 1954, in Alba, the ‘capital’ of the Langhe hills. My father was from Barbaresco, my mother from Barolo,” says Oscar Farinetti, mulling over his homeland. The cities where his parents come from are also home to two famous namesake wines.

    But today we’re standing in front of Eataly, the megastore on 5th Avenue, and Farinetti’s words are a breath of fresh air amid the traffic of Manhattan. Fresh air, it turns out, will be the
    subject of much of our interview.

    “Alba is incredibly situated: south of Turin, in the plain of the Tanaro river, a 34-mile straight
    shot from the Ligurian seaside city of Savona. To the west are the beautiful hills of Roero, to the east the beautiful hills of Langhe. The latter are ‘kissed’ by God because they produce slightly rounded hazelnuts considered the best in the world as well as important Italian red wines: beside Dolcetto and Barbera, the legendary Nebbiolo grape, which is produced by the conjunction of the Marin (costal) winds coming from the shores of Savona and the fresh air of the maritime Alps that come down from Monviso. The winds create a distinctively humid microclimate that leaves a little morning frost on the Nebbiolo vines that we call, unsurprisingly, “Marin”. Nebbiolo grapes, aged for three years in Barbaresco and four in Barolo, are used to make Barbaresco and Barolo wine.”

    Oscar could go on forever talking about wine. But we cut him off. We want to know about the older town of Alba. Then we can get back to its extraordinary natural surroundings and what men made with them.

    “In ancient Roman times, the town was called Alba Pompeia. It was pretty well known, and
    it was close to Pollenzium (now Pollenzo), the most important Roman city in Northern Italy, now home to the University of Gastronomic Sciences. [Farinetti is an affiliate of the school.] There was a coliseum that could fit 25,000 people. Back then, a city with over 25,000 inhabitants was like a city with five million today. It was the last “gate” before entering Gaul. In Julius Caesar’s day, it was the last Roman outpost. North of Turin was Gaul. Afterward, the development of Alba underwent several different phases.”

    The Middle Ages being one fundamental phase, as it was for many Italian cities, especially in the center and north.

    “Right. That marked the beginning of castles and municipalities. There were 100 municipalities in the Langhe, each with an average of 1,000 inhabitants. Every hilltop had a castle and surrounding village. You can still see many of them: Grinzane Cavour, Barolo, Serralunga d’Alba, Govone, Magliano Alfieri, Roddi, Mango and Beneve. Agriculture flourished.”

    A little way away is Savoy, a prominent territory since the Middle Ages, now split between France, Italy and Switzerland. Savoy is the seat of the Savoy dynasty, where the future kings of Italy came from...

    The Savoys settled in the area and built a castle in Santa Vittoria for vacations. In the mid
    1800s Carlo Alberto built his court in Pollenzo. He created the first prototype of a farmstead. He saw the enormous potential in Piedmont’s cuisine and agriculture. His son, Vittorio Emanuele, the first King of Italy, bought Fontanafredda and settled there with his lover, Bela Rosin. That was a thriving period for the Langhe, too, up until World War One. Then came “la malora” (‘ruin’)”.

    You’re referring to the title of Beppe Fenoglio’s book. Fenoglio was an important writer who came from the Langhe. His home in Alba is now a museum and center for literary studies.

    “La Malora (Ruin) is an extraordinary novel. It begins: “It was raining all over the Langhe,
    and up in San Benedetto my father was getting wet underground for the first time.” So it begins with the rain, with the soil, with the death of his father. And it recounts the hunger of those times, the epidemics. The population dwindled. Farming dwindled. It didn’t take a turn for the better till after the Second World War.”

    And today we have a new marvelous territory...

    “I remember a lesson on change held in Fontanafredda by Alain Elkann. He read the first three pages of La Malora, which takes place about sixty years ago, and then two pages from the Michelin guide. What a contrast! In a span of twenty kilometers around Alba there are now 22 restaurants with Michelin stars. And besides Barolo and Barbaresco, there’s another big secret: white truffles.”

    What’s the reason for the Langhe’s success compared to other nearby places? Why is the Langhe prosperous and rich while, for example, Monferrato, in the province of Asti, is not?

    “It’s true. When you get off the turnpike in Asti, you pass poor Monferrato where they sell
    Barbera for next to nothing, whereas we sell Barolo for 30 Euros a liter. They have truffles, too,
    but no one knows about the truffles of Asti. It’s chance. It depends on the men born in a certain
    time in history. In the Langhe we owe everything to one person, Giacomo Morra. He owned the
    Hotel Savona, the first place in Italy to get a Michelin star. In 1946 he found a truffle weighing
    two and a half kilograms and decided to give it as a gift to President Truman. It made headlines around the world! In 1947 he gave one to Hitchcock, then one to Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot. Every year he gave one to a big star. Around the world, the white truffle became synonymous with Alba.”

    So the truffle is the first ambassador of the Langhe?

    “Yes, it put the Langhe on the map. But we have a phenomenal economy in all sectors.
    Ferrero produces the world’s supply of Nutella. There’s Miroglio, the second biggest Italian
    apparel firm. The Pallinis invented Famiglia Cristiana, the second biggest Italian weekly. Now we have Unieuro Elettrodomestici and Eataly...Alba is an insane hotbed of activity.”

    The Langhe area also has ties to the anti-fascist Resistance Movement.

    “True. But it’s not as though we did anything out of the ordinary. We just knew how to tell
    our story. Thanks to major writers like Cesare Pavese and Beppe Fenoglio. Once told, a thing
    lives on. If it’s not told, then it’s already dead. The people of Alba have a great talent for telling
    their story.”

    And how do you account for that?

    “We believe that everything happens on account of the wind. The answer is always in the
    wind. The moist winds from the gulf of Genoa and Savona reach the cold air from the Alps, so
    you can breathe in the sea air while you’re in the hills. This biodiversity extends to the vegetables and animals as well as to human beings, to their creative minds...

    What part of the Langhe do you love best?

    “I live in Novello, in the area of Barolo. Novello, Barolo, Morra and Monforte form a rectangle of beauty, a valley of splendors that is the valley of Barolo. Full of castles. Everything’s
    special, and the period of the grape harvest is extraordinary. After that comes truffle season.”

    What about tourism? Is the area well known to foreigners?

    “Tourism grows forty percent every year. It mostly attracts rich tourists. They eat well and
    sleep in castles... The number of rooms in agriturismi has tripled.”

    And how do you spend your time?

    “Walking in the countryside, visiting castles, wine cellars, farms, museums. There’s always
    something to do.”

    Do you have any advice for American tourists?

    “Spend at least three days in the Langhe. It’s the best place to eat in Italy. The quality of life
    is best. And the hilly panorama is first-rate. It’s on par with Montalcino and Chianti. Tuscany
    only has one advantage over us – a hundred more days of warm weather! There’s a reason the
    wine produced in Langhe is called Nebbiolo. We’ve got the fog (nebbia in Italian). But the
    Langhe is cooler. And it’s good that fewer people come here. So come, but don’t come all at
    once.”

    Finally, is there a particular dish and wine you’d recommend?

     “We have the richest cuisine in Italy. A menu with 18 to 22 appetizers. Five first courses,
    various second courses. And then there’s the cheese, among them Robiola. Gourmands consider beef from Piedmont to be the best in the world. The only beef to eat cruda (raw) raw. I’d recommend eating carne cruda with a glass of Dolcetto. Then try agnolotti al plin (pasta stuffed with three roast meats) with Barbera Superiore d’Alba. After that, brasato al Barolo and a glass of Barolo. For dessert, a light amaretto cake, a delicacy you have to eat with a glass of Moscato d’Asti.

    How’s that for the ultimate journey?

    Breathtaking landscapes, hillsides dotted with castles,
    vine-laden slopes, a whole lot of history and one culture’s gift for storytelling. Not to mention
    Oscar Farinetti’s gift for keeping this story alive in the world.

  • Style: Articles

    It’s All Because of That Ceiling. For you Massimo, Wherever You May Be

    ARTICOLO IN ITALIANO >>>

    The first time I interviewed you, I stepped into your home, what in my imagination was a temple of design, almost afraid. And it certainly was a temple. The light seeped through a huge window and proceeded through an elongated living room.
     

    The silence was deep but it  as if music had been playing in the background, maybe Mozart…

    At the end of the room, on the left, a big black desk. A metal sheet, one of those used to cover road works on the streets of NY, that only you could have thought of using in this special way… to draw on.
     

    Seated around that table we had our video interview and right there – but I didn’t know it yet – we would have other long timeless chats…

    I started off by asking you why you had left Milano. “It’s too small – you said – too provincial. The ceiling is too low. I came to NY thinking that the ceiling would be higher here, only to discover that the ceiling here doesn’t exist at all”.

    This reply marked the beginning of our friendship. Now I know. In a few incisive words you made me understand my own choice to live in NY.

    Our association started pretty much straightaway, in fact on that day when you, during an official presentation, decided to broadcast that same interview on a big screen. It took me by surprise.

    I knew the contents were good, but I dreaded your aesthetic judgment. Yes, I was truly afraid of you. When I saw you introducing it with such pride, seated in a corner of the room I cried happy tears.
     

    Timeless conversations. This is what I would call our afternoons spent talking. We talked about design, but not only. And it was normal for you. Design was in every breath you took, your scrupulousness touched every topic.

     

    ‘Scrupulousness’, a word that could sound boring, but it was never such with you. Your pencil would draw it, with those precise hands that I’ll never forget. There was order and also the chaotic order, that part of you that you slowly unveiled to me. The famous ‘Canone Vignelli’, that formula, so fundamental for the new generations, those rules that instead of compressing creativity helped developing it.

    I had a pure intellectual in front of me, with an approach to life dense with curiosity, with continuous desire to study, to go below the surface, always and in any which way. With that push to consistently do better, even the same things, but better…

    We talked and I had the impression that my questions would not only be answered, but would themselves give you something in return. You asked me all sorts of things, your curiosity growing exponentially as soon that a technological topic would come up. I remember when I handed you my iPhone to touch a QR and watch a YouTube video. Your eyes, your smile, your voice, turned into those of a child amazed at the latest discovery. Steve Jobs, you so loved talking about him…and then the computer and all that had to do with it… Even with the troubles you said you encountered using it… but maybe that wasn’t the problem. Maybe it was just that the pencil simply ended up prevailing. A battle you couldn’t win. But I remember clearly when you stood next to Mauro Sarri while he was transferring your drawings onto the computer… How much attention looking for accuracy in what he was doing. And then, always beside you, your MacBook Air, your IPad, your iPhone.

    It’s true, the pencil always prevailed. Something else that surprised me once was a piece of paper abandoned on your desk before you were due to leave for somewhere. A list of what you needed to bring with you. A list that was not written, but drawn with extreme detail, from the underwear to the ipad charger.

    Massimo, you supported our editorial project like few have! And you did it with endless generosity, by following it closely, but at the same time with respectful distance. You saw our magazine coming to life, advising us on how to simplify the graphic, presenting us with a new logo, discussing its contents with me.

    There have been two moments when you grabbed your pencil suddenly, in your usual manner, and you did for us, in front of us.

    I’ll never forget those moments: when you started rethinking our logo and when you designed our car, our Fiat 500. The pencil, that black and white drawing, and those pastels to colour it. Fascinating. The initial insecurity of your hand, so beautiful, searching for direction, looking for the perfect traits. Then soon after the confidence of your mind that knew the right path.

    And you never stopped interacting with us, asking for our advice…

    A tricolour 500? It could have been aesthetically dangerous. You Massimo knew that from the very beginning. You wanted to design it yourself, and that’s why you said: “Letizia I can’t let i-Italy drive around NY in an ordinary car. You’ll see, it’ll stand out and it will be beautiful.”

    And how can I forget the day you saw it realized?!

    We drove it to your doorstep and you started walking around it. Ten times? At least. You liked it, even though the red wasn’t exactly what you expected. But you liked it. And the evening of the ‘La fondazione’ Gala you chased me saying: “Listen Letizia, I want to go back home with you, in the little car!”
     

    The editorial staff of i-Italy adored you. You’re in everybody’s heart. When we worked together, filming, you’d interact with everyone, you’d remember their names, one by one. You wanted to find out more about them and Iwona, our photo reporter, who loves Italy and writes about it, was probably your favourite.

    We have many memories of you Massimo, even though we’ve only known each other for three years. And now that you’re not with us anymore, I can’t think of anything else but those hours spent together in your home. We won’t have any more of those moments.

     I remember with how much anticipation you waited for the arrival of new furniture to hide some books that distracted your eyes in the living room. Anyone would expect Massimo Vignelli looking for an expensive designer solution…

    But the man that I consider - without the slightest doubt -  the greatest contemporary designer, could also love IKEA. You told us with firm conviction how fantastic and economical you deemed some of the solutions the Swedish brand proposed. And sure enough you picked one of those for your books.

    And I then realized that the intellectual had once again taken over. You studied her, you studied her disease, you studied her mind. You asked your intelligence to help you love her even more.

    Lella. A few months ago you issued a tribute to her. Amazing. Elegant. Unique. Design by Lella, an overview of the work you have produced together, not only design, but interiors, furniture objects, set-ups, fashion, jewellery. An electronic book that summarizes your whole life together, but that, above all, celebrates Lella and women. Women in the design world. All women.

    I know that distributing in an electronic format was a conscious choice of yours. Your acceptance that the net has won over the paper – paper that has been fundamental in your design – but I sincerely hope that it could soon be published, for it to become a book that we can touch.

    Women, young people, children, couples at work together. They were all important reference points for you. You respected the feminine universe in a way only few know how to. You loved the young, in a way that was critical and constructive at the same time. You were extremely close to children.
     

    It was very easy for you to empathize with other couples. And it happened to me when you met my partner. You welcomed him into your life. You two would talk about politics, not one of my favorite topics. You gave us plenty of advice which I hope we’ll be able to follow.

    I’m about to conclude this recollection of you, addressed to you before anyone else. And I’ll do it by publishing one of your emails that revealed to me, once again, your greatness, not just intellectual, but also human.
     

    “ Thank you for sending me the copies of the i-Italy magazine and especially for the space dedicated to me. You truly are a darling. The magazine is improving and becoming increasingly more real… in the text of the interview there is a big interpretation and translation error, but don’t worry, the readers won’t notice….You translated ‘scala’ (scale) with ‘scalinata’ (staircase). The point is that I wasn’t talking about staircases, but about scale as an intangible value. In Italian you’d use the same word, and it’s the context that changes the meaning. If you replace ‘staircase’ with ‘scale’, you‘ll see everything will be right again. I wasn’t talking about staircases, really not…! Try and read that paragraph again and you’ll see the difference. As I said don’t worry, it’s not a scientific publication, otherwise I would leave a bad impression, here no one will notice…(at least I hope).”

    The greatest contemporary designer. I regret that Italy, once again, hardly realized it.

    I know, you said it Massimo: it’s all because of the ceiling!
     

    Massimo. Massimo the Great.

  • Style: Articles

    Tutta colpa di quel soffitto. Per te Massimo Vignelli, ovunque tu sia

    ENGLISH VERSION >>>

    Dovevo intervistarti, era la prima volta. Sono entrata quasi intimorita a casa tua. In quello che, nel mio immaginario, era un tempio del design. E lo era. La luce filtrava da un enorme finestrone  e attraversava una lunga sala. C’era un profondo silenzio, ma sembrava ci fosse musica. Mozart forse...
     

    In fondo, a sinistra una grande scrivania nera. Una lastra di metallo, di quelle che si usano per coprire gli scavi dei lavori in corso per le strade di New York, che solo tu potevi immaginare di usare in modo così accogliente per disegnare.  Lì seduti, intorno, avremmo fatto la nostra prima intervista video e lì - ma questo ancora non lo sapevo - avremmo poi avuto altre lunghe chiacchiarate senza tempo.
     

    Ho cominciato chiedendoti perchè hai lasciato Milano. Mi hai risposto: “Perchè è troppo piccola, è provinciale. Il soffitto è troppo basso. Sono venuto a New York pensando che il soffitto fosse più alto e ho scoperto che qui il bello è che il soffitto non esiste.”

    E’ stata questa risposta l’inizio della nostra amicizia. Adesso lo so. In poche, ma efficaci parole, mi hai fatto anche capire il perchè della mia scelta di vivere a New York.
     

    E la nostra frequentazione è cominciata quasi da subito, ovvero da quel giorno in cui tu, ad una presentazione ufficiale, hai voluto trasmettere quell'intervista su un grande schermo. Non me lo aspettavo proprio.

    Sapevo che i contenuti erano buoni,  ma avevo un pò il timore di un tuo riscontro estetico. Sì, è vero, ti temevo. Quando ho visto che la presentavi con orgoglio, seduta in un angolo della sala ho versato lacrime di felicità.
     

    Conversazioni senza tempo. Li definirei così i nostri pomeriggi passati a parlare. Parlare di design, e non solo di design. Ma non era strano per te. Il design permeava ogni tuo respiro, il tuo rigore toccava ogni argomento.
     

    ‘Rigore’, una parola che potrebbe sembrare noiosa, ma che con te proprio non lo era. C’era la tua matita che lo disegnava, con quelle mani precise che non dimenticherò mai. C’era l’ordine e c’era anche il disordine ordinato, che piano piano mi hai fatto scoprire di te. Già il famoso Canone Vignelli. Quella formula, soprattutto per le giovani generazioni per te così fondamentali. Quelle regole che non comprimono la ceatività, ma la sviluppano.

    Avevo davanti a me l’intellettuale in tutta la sua purezza. Un approccio alla vita denso di curiosità, desiderio di continuo approfondimento. Quel superare la superficie, sempre e comunque. Quella ricerca di fare sempre meglio, anche le stesse cose.
     

    Parlavamo, e le tue domande mi davano l’impressione di darti oltre che di ricevere. Mi chiedevi di tutto, la tua curiosità cresceva in maniera esponenziale appena si trattava di qualcosa di tecnologico. Ricordo quando ti misi in mano il mio iPhone per puntare a un QR code e vedere un video su Youtube. I tuoi occhi, il tuo sorriso, la tua voce, diventavano quelli di un bambino. Stupiti davanti ad una nuova scoperta. Steve Jobs, come amavi parlarne… e poi il computer con tutto quello che comportava. Con quella difficoltà che dicevi di avere nell’usarlo. Ma forse non era proprio così. La tua matita prendeva semplicemente il sopravvento. Era una battaglia che non potevi vincere. Ma ricordo bene quando ti mettevi affianco a Mauro Sarri, che riportava sul computer i tuoi disegni. L’attenzione con cui lo seguivi. E poi davanti a te, sempre il tuo MacBook Air, il tuo iPad, il tuo iPhone. Immancabili.
     

    Vero, la matita vinceva sempre. Un’altra delle cose, con cui mi hai stupito, è stata un foglio abbandonato sulla scrivania prima di una tua partenza. Sopra c'era la lista di cosa dovevi portare. Una lista che non era scritta, ma disegnata nei minimi dettagli, dagli indumenti intimi al caricatore dell’iPad.
     

    E,  Massimo, sei stato accanto al nostro progetto editoriale come pochi. Lo hai fatto con infinita generosità. Seguendolo da vicino, ma anche con una rispettosa distanza. Hai visto nascere il nostro magazine, hai dato consigli per semplificarne la grafica, ci hai regalato un nuovo logo. Hai discusso con me sui contenuti.
     

    Ci sono stati due momenti in cui hai preso la matita all’improvviso, come fai spesso tu, e lo hai fatto per noi davanti a me.
    Non li dimenticherò mai. Quando hai cominciato a ripensare il nostro logo e quando hai disegnato la nostra 500. La matita, disegno in bianco e nero e poi quei pastelli che coloravano. Magici. L’insicurezza della tua mano, bellissima, che cercava all’inizio, il percorso giusto, i tratti perfetti. Poi la sicurezza della tua mente che aveva trovato la strada. Ed il tuo confrontarti con noi, il tuo chiedere anche consigli. “Che ne dici?”.
     

    Una 500 tricolore? Poteva essere qualcosa di esteticamente pericoloso. Massimo, lo avevi capito prima di tutti. Hai voluto disegnarla tu. E’ per questo che mi hai detto: “Letizia non posso permettere che i-Italy giri a New York con una macchinetta banale. Vedrai, si noterà e sarà bella”.
     

    E come posso dimenticare il giorno che l’hai vista realizzata? Te l’abbiamo portata sotto casa e tu hai cominciato a girarci intorno. Dieci volte? Si almeno. Ti piaceva, anche se il rosso non era esattamente quello che volevi. Ma ti piaceva. E la sera del Gala de LaFondazione, mi inseguivi dicendo: “Letizia, guarda che voglio tornare a casa con te, dentro la macchinetta!”
     

    La mia redazione ti amava. Sei dentro il cuore di tutti. Quando lavoravamo insieme, filmavamo, tu interagivi con tutti.  Ricordavi i loro nomi. Uno per uno. Volevi sapere di loro. E Iwona Adamczyk, la nostra foto-reporter, che scrive di Italia e ama l’Italia più di tutti noi,  forse era la tua preferita.
     

    Sono molti i ricordi che abbiamo insieme, Massimo. Eppure sono solo tre anni che ci siamo frenquentati. E, ora che non ci sei più, non posso spostare la mente da quelle ore dentro casa tua. Non ci saranno più. Sono tanti i momenti vissuti insieme.
     

    Ricordo con quanta attesa hai aspettato dei mobili per coprire dei libri che distraevano lo sguardo nella tua sala. Chiunque avrebbe immaginato Massimo Vignelli alla ricerca di una soluzione costosa e 'firmatissima'.
     

    Ma quello che secondo me – e te lo dico senza ombra di dubbio – è il più grande designer contemporaneo, sapeva amare anche IKEA. Raccontavi con ferma convinzione  come sono bellissime certe soluzioni anche economiche che la ditta svedese propone. E infatti ne scegliesti una proprio per i tuoi libri.
     

    Mentre parlavamo, una presenza costante. Quella di Lella. La tua compagna, la tua vita, inghiottita nell’Alzaimer. Piano piano ho capito che la portavi dentro. Ancora di più.  Anche quando non era, silenziosa, seduta nella nostra stanza. Anche quando mi dicevi: Lella non c’è.

    E ho capito che l’intellettuale ancora una volta aveva preso il sopravvento in te. La studiavi, studiavi la sua malattia, la sua mente. Avevi chiesto aiuto alla tua intelligenza per amarla sempre di più.
     

    Lella. E negli scorsi mesi esce il tuo omaggio a lei. Stupendo. Elegante. Unico. Design by Lella, una panoramica sul lavoro che avete sviluppato insieme, non solo nel campo del design, ma anche degli interni, oggetti di arredamento, allestimenti, moda, gioielli. Un  libro elettronico che riassume tutta la vostra vita, ma che soprattutto celebra Lella e  le donne. Le donne nel design. Tutte le donne.
     

    Lo so che mandarlo in giro in formato elettronico fa parte di una tua scelta. Della tua constatazione che la rete ha vinto sulla carta – la carta che è stata fondamentale per il tuo design – ma io spero che presto venga pubblicato, che diventi un libro da toccare.
     

    Le donne, i giovani, i bambini, le coppie nel lavoro. Punti importanti per te. Rispettavi l’universo femminile come pochi sanno fare. Amavi i giovani e lo facevi in maniera critica e costruttiva al tempo stesso. Eri vicinissimo ai bambini.  
     

    Ti immedesimavi subito con le altre coppie, che come la tua, lavoravano insieme. Ed è successo anche con noi quando hai conosciuto il mio compagno. Lo hai fatto entrare nella tua vita. E con lui parlavi anche di politica, argomento che io non amavo troppo toccare.  Quanti consigli ci hai dato. Speriamo di riuscire a seguirli.
     

    Chiudo questo ricordo di te che rivolgo a te. Prima di tutto. Lo faccio riportando una tua email. Email che cosa mi ha rivelato ancora una volta la tua grandezza non solo intelluttuale, ma anche umana.

    “Ti ringrazio per avermi portato copie di i-Italy e soprattutto per lo spazio dedicatomi. Sei veramente un tesoro. La rivista diventa sempre meglio e sempre più vera…. Nel testo dell'intervista c’è un grosso errore di interpretazione e traduzione, ma non importa tanto i lettori non se ne accorgono… Tu hai tradotto "scala " con "scalinata". Il fatto è che non parlavo di scalinate, ma di scala come valore intangibile, che in inglese si traduce in "scale" con lo stesso significato intangibile che ha in italiano. Il difetto è che in italiano si usa la stessa parola, ed il significato cambia nel contesto d'uso. Se tu sostituisci "Staircase" con "Scale", vedrai che tutto va a posto. Non parlavo di scalinate, ma di ben altro….! Prova a  rileggere quel paragrafo e vedrai la differenza.

    Come ti ho detto non ti preoccupare, non è una pubblicazione scientifica, che altrimenti ci farei una brutta figura, ma qui nessuno se ne accorge ( almeno spero…)

    Il più grande designer della contemporaneità. Mi dispiace che, ancora una volta, l'Italia se ne è accorta troppo poco. Anzi pochissimo. Lo so, tu dici:  tutta colpa del soffitto...

    Massimo, grande Massimo. 

  • Facts & Stories

    Immigration. Its stories. A resource for all

    VERSIONE IN ITALIANO >>>
     

    The sky is gray, promising another rainy day in New York. It's nine o'clock in the morning. Two rangers and a professor - all three of them Italian-Americans - are taking part in the visit of an Italian official. 
     

    The president of the Chamber of Deputies, Laura Boldrini, is preparing to go to Ellis Island, which from 1892 to 1954 was the main entry point for immigrants who came to the United States. The boat is called Liberty IV, and it will arrive at the area still affected by the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy.

     
    The building of the museum located on the island is back in use, although the heating  still does not work. It's quite empty here, everything is still kept elsewhere.
    Yet that piece of land at the estuary of the Hudson River, remains the physical and metaphorical reference to those who had sailed in pursuit of the American dream. It is worth to visit nonetheless. "This is the first time I come to Ellis Island, and I wanted very much to come here as the Speaker of the House,"said Laura Boldrini before stepping off the boat.
     
    Who are the three Italian-Americans that accompany the Speaker of the House? They are: Franco Paolino, Danielle Simonelli and Anthony J. Tamburri. All three with different stories, but each one of them emblematic. 
     
    While Boarding, Laura Boldrini, immediately met ranger Franco Paolino. He's young and has a good command of the language of his origins. He hails from Aversa. He greets her speaking in Italian, with great warmth and emotion, and accompanies her to the boat. Ellis Island is waiting, ranger Danielle Simonelli, on the other hand, speaks only English, like many other Italian-Americans of his generation.
     
    Emigrating to the U.S. often meant leaving behind the mother language in order to integrate. His grandparents / parents aimed to become Americans, before anything else. Therefore the cut of the linguistic umbilical cord was necessary. 
     
    In Danielle Simonelli's case, clinging to his roots  is immediately visible. He tells not only the story that the museum exhibits, but also add some details about his family, of the Italy that he has kept inside and rediscovered like a precious treasure.
     
    Yet another Italian-American, is the Dean of Calandra Institute, Anthony Tamburri  who unveils to the Speaker of the House the many hues of an Italian-American presence in the U.S., so strongly rooted in the past. 
    It was an emotional visit. Tens of thousands of people have placed their feet on that island, after a long and exhausting journey. They brought their history, encountering other stories. And once again,  some of the poorest passengers, those in third-class who make us understand what it meant to crowd the island with expectations, often lengthy, for their health and identity checks.
     
    The richest, as a matter of fact, almost always completed these procedures directly on the ship. 
    It was referred to as the Island of Hope or the Island of Tears.  There was actually a risk of being rejected. Sometimes even families would be separated. The children were permitted to enter and  their father not.
    This is the data of 12 million immigrants who between 1892 and 1954, landed on Ellis Ilsand. 80% were admitted, 2% was sent back to the country of origin for various reasons, and 18% were held in waiting for further investigation.
     
    Only a few people are accompanying  Boldrini. Along her side are the Consul General Natalia Quintavalle  and Deputy Consul Roberto Frangione. 
     
    We are with them, among the few journalists. No private boat, no special escort. On the way back on the ferry, as we talk to her, she is approached by an Italian tourist, stunned at recognizing her.  "Yes, she replies, I am, Laura Boldrini."
     
    And she wanted to visit Ellis Island, as much as visiting the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Memorial, where one of the most serious industrial accidents in the history of New York took place. It caused the death of 146 people (123 women and 23 men), mostly young Italian and Jewish immigrants. The workers, locked for fear that too many breaks would be taken, did not managed to escape and survive. 
     
    The path that Laura Boldrini says she wants to achieve is ideally linked not only to the history of immigration, but also to the role that women have had. She strongly believes: "The woman was vital and active - she says - she was not just the follower. She was essential for inclusion into society."
     
    She repeats several times that migrants are an added value for all countries, and that today they are such for Italy. During her short stay in America she meets not only representatives of the past Italian emigration, but also those of the new one." A pride, in both cases, which brings out a mixture of feelings," she says. 
     
    A visit to Ellis Island is an important opportunity for Laura Boldrini. She listens carefully to  Anthony Tamburri and the rangers. She asks questions. They are mostly technical, but at times full of details unavailing an almost maternal sensibility. It's a obvious emotion.
     
    Nothing has changed. In the Mediterranean, it still happens today. "I come across the same states of mind - she says - such as in Lampedusa; fears, risks, not speaking the same language, and at the same time the desire to succeed, courage, sometimes despair. These are the same stories of those I met during the years of work as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "
    Surrounding her are a few people. She stops and emotionally looks at a staircase. "These are steps to the entrance to New York or to the return back to their country of origin." The guide says: they have not been completely restored, the floor is worn out.
     
    The men and women who passed the medical and legal screenings, entered the country that would grow and become what it is today, thanks to them. "it is on that energy that the United States of America is founded upon. Immigration is a resource," says Laura Boldrini. 
     
    On the way back  a light rain continues to drizzle while we are moving away from the Statue of Liberty who appears to still watch us vigilantly. We leave behind a museum that everyone should visit, and which story should be retold in school books. 
     
    We can say that the few Italian authorities have visited it with such intensity. Intensity, which was not only institutional, but quite personal. Because behind today's data, such as the statistics of the immigration of today, there are most importantly all people, stories and families.

  • Fatti e Storie

    L’emigrazione con le sue storie. Ieri ed oggi. Una risorsa per tutti

     ENGLISH VERSION >>>

    Il cielo è grigio e New York promette un’altra giornata piovosa.  Sono le nove di mattina. Due ranger ed un professore - tutti e tre italo-americani – partecipano ad una visita di un’alta carica dello Stato italiano.

    Il presidente della Camera dei Deputati, Laura Boldrini, si accinge ad andare ad Ellis Island, principale punto d'ingresso, dal 1892 al 1954, per gli immigranti che sbarcavano negli Stati Uniti. Il battello si chiama Liberty IV, approderà su un territorio che ancora risente del passaggio devastante dell’Uragano Sandy.
     

    L’edificio del Museo che l’isola ospita è di nuovo in uso, anche se non funziona ancora il riscaldamento. E’ vuoto però, tutto è ancora custodito altrove. Ma quel fazzoletto di terra, alla foce del fiume Hudson, rimane riferimento fisico e metaforico di chi era partito per inseguire il sogno americano. Vale la pena di visitarlo lo stesso. “È la prima volta che vengo a Ellis Island, ci tenevo moltissimo come Presidente della Camera “ dice  prima di sbarcare.
     

    Ma chi sono i tre italo-americani  che la accompagneranno? Sono Franco Paolino, Danielle Simonelli e Anthony J. Tamburri. Con le loro storie diverse,  ma emblematiche.
     

    All’imbarco, Laura Boldrini, incontra subito il ranger Franco Paolino. E’ giovane e ha un buon possesso della lingua di origine. E' originario di Aversa. La accoglie così parlando italiano, con grande calore ed emozione, e l’accompagna al battello. Ad Ellis Island l’attende invece la ranger Danielle Simonelli, lei parla solo inglese, come molti altri italo-americani della sua generazione.
     

    Emigrare negli USA ha significato spesso cancellazione della lingua di appartenza per integrarsi. I suoi nonni/genitori dovevano diventare americani, prima di ogni cosa. Andava quindi tagliato il cordone ombellicale linguistico.
     

    Ma l’attaccamento alle origini in Danielle Simonelli è subito palese. Racconta non solo la storia che il museo raccoglie, ma anche alcuni dettagli della sua famiglia, di quell’Italia che ha conservato dentro e riscopre come un tesoro prezioso.
     

    Sarà un altro italo-americano,  il dean dell’Istituto italo americano Calandra, Anthony J, Tamburri a svelare al Presidente della Camera dei deputati  molte sfumature di una presenza italo-americana negli Usa che così fortemente affonda le radici nel passato.
     

    E’ stata una visita piena di emozioni quella dello scorso venerdì. E' commovente camminare su quell’isolotto,  dove decine di migliaia di persone hanno poggiato i loro piedi dopo un viaggio estenuante.

    Lo hanno fatto portando la propria storia, incrociando altre storie. E ancora una volta erano i passeggeri piu’ poveri, quelli di terza classe per interderci, ad affollare l’isola con attese, spesso lunghe, per controlli  sulla salute ed identità.
     

    I più ricchi, infatti, quasi sempre effettuavano le procedure direttamente sulla nave.
     

    Veniva chiamata l’Isola della Speranza o Isola delle Lacrime. Infatti c’era il rischio di essere respinti. Poteva succedere anche di veder separare componenti di una famiglia. Un figlio magari poteva entrare, il padre nò.
     

    Questi i dati; 12 milioni gli immigrati, tra il 1892 il 1954, hanno messo i loro piedi ad Ellis Ilsand. L’80% passava, il 2% per centro doveva tornare al paese d’origine per vari motivi, il 18% sostava in attesa di accertamenti.
     

    Accompagnano il presidente Boldrini poche persone. Con lei anche il Console Generale, Natalia Quintavalle ed il Console Genarle Aggiunto, Roberto Frangione.
     

    Siamo con loro, tra pochi giornalisti. Nessun battello privato, nessuna scorta speciale. Al ritorno sul traghetto, mentre parliamo con lei, si avvicina anche una turista italiana. E’ stupita e  la riconosce. ‘Si - risponde - sono io, Laura Boldrini”.
     

    E l’ha voluta proprio fare questa visita, insieme a quella al Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Memorial, dove avvenne il più grave incidente industriale della storia di New York.  Causò la morte di 146 persone (123 donne e 23 uomini), per la maggior parte giovani immigrati italiani ed ebrei. Gli operai, chiusi a chiave per paura che rubassero o facessero troppe pause, non riuscirono a fuggire e salvarsi.
     

    Il  percorso che Laura Boldrini dice di voler realizzare idealmente è legato non solo alla storia dell’emigrazione, ma al ruolo che hanno avuto le donne.  Ci tiene a dirlo: “La donna era una parte vitale ed attiva –  dice – non era solo al seguito. Era fondamentale per l’inserimento nella società.”
     

    Ripete più volte che i migranti sono un valore aggiunto per tutti i Paesi, e oggi lo sono per l’Italia. Nel corso del suo breve soggiorno americano incontra, non solo rappresentanti della classica emigrazione italiana, ma anche quelli della nuova. “Un orgoglio in entrambi i casi, che provoca un misto di sentimenti” ci dice.
     

    La visita ad Ellis Island è un’occasione importante per Laura Boldrini. Ascolta con attenzione sia Anthony Tamburri che la ranger. Pone domande. Sono tecniche, ma anche piene di dettagli legati ad una sensibilità quasi materna. E’ visibile l’emozione.
     

    Non è cambiato niente. Nel Mediterraneo oggi succede ancora. “Ritrovo gli stessi stati d’animo – ci dice – come a Lampedusa, le paure, i rischi, il non parlare la stessa lingua e poi il desiderio di farcela, il coraggio, la disperazione a volte. Sono storie di vita,  gli stessi racconti di chi ho incontrato negli anni di lavoro all’Alto Commissariato delle Nazioni Unite per i rifugiati”.

    Intorno a lei poche persone. Si ferma a guardare con emozione una scala. “Sono questi i gradini verso l’ingresso a New York o il ritorno nel proprio paese di orgine”. Dice la guida. La scalinata ha il  pavimento molto consumato.
     

    Se quelle donne e quegli uomini riuscivano a passare lo screening medico e legale, entravano in quel Paese che sarebbe cresciuto e diventato quello che è oggi, proprio grazie a loro. “Su queste energie  si fondano gli Stati Uniti d’America. L’immigrazione è una risorsa”, commenta Laura Boldrini.
     

    Al ritorno un leggera pioggia continua a sfiorare il battello, da lontano la Statua della Libertà sembra ancora guardare e vigilare. C’è un museo accanto a lei che tutti dovrebbero visitare, il cui racconto dovrebbe vivere sui libri di scuola.
     

    Noi possiamo dire che poche autorità italiane lo hanno visitato con tanta intensità. Intensità non solo istituzionale, ma anche personale. Perchè, dietro i numeri di oggi come quelli delle statistiche sull’immigrazione, ci sono prima di tutto persone, storie, famiglie.

  • Library: Articles & Reviews

    The Realist and the Dreamer

    This book is dedicated to Lella Vignelli, an inspiration to all women designers who forcefully stand on the power of their merits.” So begins this excellent book just published in electronic format (You may download it at www.vignelli.com).

    Massimo Vignelli’s tender and intimate dedication carries through the entire book, which takes you into the world of the couple and immerses you in their work, their way of thinking, not only in the story of the designs they have been creating over the last half- century, but also in a lifestyle and ethic of great discipline and responsibility. Page by page, the book becomes a manifesto of style, full of intellectual honesty and intelligence.

    A call to arms The intensity of Vignelli’s dedication is important for one to understand the book fully; it contains a fierce yet coolheaded call to arms. For years, writes Massimo Vignelli, the collaboration between female architects and designers and their partners has been underappreciated. The creativity and influence of women was not accepted, and often their contribution was ndervalued if not completely ignored. This was the case even with the most famous partnerships: Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich, Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand, Alvar and Aino Aalto, and Charles and Ray Eames.

    “Female architects have often been relegated—by assumptions, by the media, by ignorance or arrogance—to supporting roles, even when they shared the position of partner,” says Vignelli. Little seems to have changed to this day. A recent article in Architectural Record noted that even though women make up 40% of all architecture majors in America today, they represent only 17% of the work force in major architectural firms.

    Of course there have been multiple recognitions for women in recent years. In 2013 the Museum of Modern Art held the exhibition “Designing Modern Women: 1890-1990” in which they noted “modern design of the twentieth century was profoundly shaped and enhanced by the creativity of women.” Macho attitudes “The supporting role of the woman architect has often been created by the macho attitudes of her male partner” writes Massimo Vignelli. “Most of the glory went to the men (not accidentally) while the women, as partner architects, found that their role was dismissed or totally ignored.” He has always wanted to create a brand that presented the couple together. But it wasn’t always easy: “For years our office sent our work to magazines properly credited. For years they only gave me the credit.”

    Many projects in the book were begun and completed by Lella herself, and she collaborated closely on others. Lella often said, “Massimo is the dreamer, I am the realist. He flies high, and sometimes I have to pull him down....”

    Their collaboration, their similar understanding and approach to design, has been extraordinary. But it hasn’t been without its hiccups. “We had complete trust in each other’s judgment, even if sometimes the discussions were quite animated,” says Vignelli of Lella. In our opinion, such openness reveals their humanity.

    “Both of us despise obsolescence in design; we consider it an irresponsible attitude toward the user and toward society. We detest a wasteful culture based on greed, we detest the exploitation of the consumer and of resources; we see this as an immoral attitude,” continues VIgnelli. “Lella’s sensibility toward natural materials, textures, and colors is quite apparent in her work: Linen, wool, silk, woods, silver are often the foundation of her creative palette. Her clothing design also reflected the same approach, based on sober values and thoughtful intelligence. Lella’s work, as her life, has been a fantastic blend of logic and playfulness, spirit and pragmatism, down-to-earth logic and idealistic vision.”

    The book provides a dense, yet minimalist portrait of their story, with pictures of their work dating from 1964 till today. The book divides their work, in Italy and America, into several chapters: “Furniture Design,” “Interior Design,” “Exhibition and Showroom Design,” “Product Design: Glass, China, Silver,” and “Clothing Design.” There you have it: Lella and Massimo Vignelli, partners, lovers, and husband and wife for over half a century.

    A role model for all women “Her personality has made her a role model for all women,” writes Massimo. On the last page, with a black background, is a close-up of Lella wearing a 17th century inspired necklace she designed. “Here, Lella is modeling her necklace. We have often said that the problem with some designers is that they play with the appearance of things rather than getting at their essence. Lella has been consistent throughout her career: she is unfailingly intelligent; rigorous, not arbitrary; timeless, not trendy. She is an inspiration.”

    Her inspiration has infected contemporary design and united this singular couple. “Design is one,” says one of their slogans. “If one knows how to design one thing, one can design everything.” But in their book design also takes two.   

  • Tourism

    Italy’s Fourth-Largest City and What It Has To Offer

    Those who know Turin, know it as the city where the automobile was born. The presence of FIAT makes it a major industrial center at the international level. But Turin is also a city of art, culture and innovation. Our conversation with Pietro Fassino thus begins with the obvious question:

    “What’s the connection between culture and business? How does one present the ‘Turin system’ in the United States?”

    “For most of the twentieth century Turin earned a reputation in the world as a large manufacturing city, a ‘one company town’ tied to car manufacturing, like Detroit in America. But

    Turin was also the first capital of Italy. However briefly it was the capital, you can still feel the effect of that to this day. In the more recent collective imagination, Turin has gained popularity thanks to the FIAT brand and Juventus, the city’s soccer team.

    Times have changed and, unlike other industrial areas, Turin reacted to the economic changes produced by the global market with great energy. New neighborhoods have replaced old factories. And the traditional work ethic of Turin’s people has allowed entrepreneurs to reinvent a role for them, to diversify production.

    Hence the hinterland represents the second largest exporter in the country. Along the way more ventures have been consolidated, making the city a desirable place to invest capital and set up business. Today we’re a metropolis with 100,000 university students, a city with an advanced service industry, and a cultural capital with museums and theaters that organize shows, festivals, and events year-round.

    The recent promotional events we organized in the Big Apple were aimed at presenting American investors with the picture of a modern and many-sided city in southern Europe that is still an innovation leader.”

    Why should an American visit the city?

    To soak up its marvelously preserved architecture and urban landscape, its rich patrimony of palazzos, piazzas, and enviable beauty. Its richness can be enjoyed in the enormous patrimony of our museums, the Egyptian and the Mole Antonelliana, in the store of treasures from the early days of film, or by passing through the numerous portrait galleries housing collections of modern and contemporary art. There’s also a surprising blend of music, cuisine, and culture in the city.

    To quote Augusto Monti, Turin remains “a fake indigent,” a city that turns up surprises and attractions. The Department of Tourism in Turin has many package deals to delight in he beauty of Turin and its surroundings, including hotels and resorts and high-end dining.

    Can you tell us more about the relationship between Turin and the 2015 Expo Milan initiative? You’re focusing on Turin’s proximity to Milan to make it a gateway to the Expo.

    Thanks to high-speed trains Turin is a little less than thirty minutes away from the Lombardy capital. Milan’s universal food expo is the perfect occasion to offer the several million visitors from around the continent to take advantage of the initiatives organized by the city. In 2015 Turin will be the European Capital of Sport. It will display the Shroud of Turin and celebrate important anniversaries, such as the bicentenary of Don Bosco, one of the most famous Saints in the Christian tradition.

    You coined the slogan “Bet on Turin.” What does that mean?

    Turin is a city of the new economy and technology
    research. Our city has an entrepreneurial heart that attracts qualified personnel from all over Europe who come here for work and play, thanks to the cultural renaissance we’re experiencing. The automobile infrastructure has been here for a hundred years. Norwegian mining engineers come here to study. There is a General Motors research center here. Turin is a large city and many of its neighborhoods have experienced a
    metamorphosis thanks to the upkeep of industrial areas abandoned by manufacturers on the far outskirts. It’s a great chance for international markets to invest, especially in the city’s north end, where there are still large spaces to redevelop and profit from a flourishing real estate market.

    Any personal tips to share about Turin? What’s your favorite area to walk? Your favorite historical building? Your favorite local dish?

    Turin is a city of extraordinary beauty with a rich history. Its roots stretch to the Roman city of Augusta Taurinorum. I have a lot of favorite spots. The city has many baroque buildings, boulevards, parks along the river, and a precious green hill. The eight-mile stretch of porticoes shading the most elegant shops in the city center is something to be proud of. I would tell an American tourist to visit the museums and portrait galleries, to stroll along the shop-lined streets and have lunch at one of the many traditional trattorias, where they’ve been serving up agnolotti del plin with truffles for a hundred years. Next I’d suggest visiting Palazzo Carignano, where 153 years ago Camillo Cavour brought together the parties that would lead to the unification of Italy, or stop by one of the historic cafes for a bicerin, a delicious concoction made with dark coffee, cocoa powder, and cream.

    For those who can’t make the trip, how can they familiarize themselves with the city from afar? Any books, movies, albums you would recommend?

    Well, they should first get the latest guidebook. As one of the Olympics slogans put it: “Turin never stays still.” Yet one book I’d recommend is a childrens’ book woven with solidarity and sympathy for the less fortunate—which feels very contemporary despite being written 130 years ago—Edmondo De Amicis’ masterpiece “Cuore” (Heart). As for music, I have to admit that Turin puts me in mind of jazz, of its twilit aspects. That should be clear given that I organized a festival for the genre. As for films, there are tons that refer to the city, especially in the last few decades.

    Consider that at least fifty films are shot in Turin every year. But I’m happy to name one that does a good job of showing a certain side of the city: “The Sunday Woman.” The movie is based on a book by Carlo Fruttero and Franco Lucentini, a couple of brilliant, true Turinese writers, and magnificently directed by Luigi Comencini, with an all-star cast including Marcello Mastroianni and Jacqueline Bisset.

    What kind of relationship do you have with New York?

    I have great admiration for the dynamism of the city and its diverse mix of people. It’s a place, one of the most representative of the United States in my opinion, where our co-nationals distinguish themselves every day by their work.

    You have led an important political career.You were the national secretary of your party and a minister before becoming mayor. In the meantime, the Mayor of Florence has become the Prime Minister. The question seems natural even for an American who knows little about Italian politics: what is the relationship between national and local politics in Italy today? How did mayors get to be so important?

    Mayors have direct contact with citizens. Young and old, student and worker turn to their districts for answers. The municipality is the closest representation of the entire public administration. Who knows the woes and aspirations of the territory better than mayors?

    Before we go, let’s talk a moment about the province of Turin. You’re from Avigliana. How does that province continue to define you?

    It’s a town at the onset of the valley of Susa with twelve thousand inhabitants, a very pretty place with two lakes located just under Mount Pirchiriano. On the summit is the 11th century monastery of Sacra di San Michele. It’s mystical as well as extremely beautiful. I feel deeply connected to Avigliana, given my family ties to it. Like me, my grandfather and my father – who was a commander in the Italian resistance movement against Nazi-fascists – were born there. Part of my story and my roots are there.

    **Piero Fassino was born to a traditional socialist family. A member of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) since the late 1960s, he rose to become a national leader. He presided over the transformation of PCI into the Democrats of the Left, of which he became the Secretary in the early 2000s. He is now one of the leaders of the Democratic Party and since 2011 he is the Mayor of Turin.

  • Tourism

    Italy’s Fourth-Largest City and What It Has To Offer

    Those who know Turin, know it as the city where the automobile was born. The presence of FIAT makes it a major industrial center at the international level. But Turin is also a city of art, culture and innovation. Our conversation with Pietro Fassino thus begins with the obvious question:

    “What’s the connection between culture and business? How does one present the ‘Turin system’ in the United States?”

    “For most of the twentieth century Turin earned a reputation in the world as a large manufacturing city, a ‘one company town’ tied to car manufacturing, like Detroit in America. But

    Turin was also the first capital of Italy. However briefly it was the capital, you can still feel the effect of that to this day. In the more recent collective imagination, Turin has gained popularity thanks to the FIAT brand and Juventus, the city’s soccer team.

    Times have changed and, unlike other industrial areas, Turin reacted to the economic changes produced by the global market with great energy. New neighborhoods have replaced old factories. And the traditional work ethic of Turin’s people has allowed entrepreneurs to reinvent a role for them, to diversify production.

    Hence the hinterland represents the second largest exporter in the country. Along the way more ventures have been consolidated, making the city a desirable place to invest capital and set up business. Today we’re a metropolis with 100,000 university students, a city with an advanced service industry, and a cultural capital with museums and theaters that organize shows, festivals, and events year-round.

    The recent promotional events we organized in the Big Apple were aimed at presenting American investors with the picture of a modern and many-sided city in southern Europe that is still an innovation leader.”

    Why should an American visit the city?

    To soak up its marvelously preserved architecture and urban landscape, its rich patrimony of palazzos, piazzas, and enviable beauty. Its richness can be enjoyed in the enormous patrimony of our museums, the Egyptian and the Mole Antonelliana, in the store of treasures from the early days of film, or by passing through the numerous portrait galleries housing collections of modern and contemporary art. There’s also a surprising blend of music, cuisine, and culture in the city.

    To quote Augusto Monti, Turin remains “a fake indigent,” a city that turns up surprises and attractions. The Department of Tourism in Turin has many package deals to delight in he beauty of Turin and its surroundings, including hotels and resorts and high-end dining.

    Can you tell us more about the relationship between Turin and the 2015 Expo Milan initiative? You’re focusing on Turin’s proximity to Milan to make it a gateway to the Expo.

    Thanks to high-speed trains Turin is a little less than thirty minutes away from the Lombardy capital. Milan’s universal food expo is the perfect occasion to offer the several million visitors from around the continent to take advantage of the initiatives organized by the city. In 2015 Turin will be the European Capital of Sport. It will display the Shroud of Turin and celebrate important anniversaries, such as the bicentenary of Don Bosco, one of the most famous Saints in the Christian tradition.

    You coined the slogan “Bet on Turin.” What does that mean?

    Turin is a city of the new economy and technology
    research. Our city has an entrepreneurial heart that attracts qualified personnel from all over Europe who come here for work and play, thanks to the cultural renaissance we’re experiencing. The automobile infrastructure has been here for a hundred years. Norwegian mining engineers come here to study. There is a General Motors research center here. Turin is a large city and many of its neighborhoods have experienced a
    metamorphosis thanks to the upkeep of industrial areas abandoned by manufacturers on the far outskirts. It’s a great chance for international markets to invest, especially in the city’s north end, where there are still large spaces to redevelop and profit from a flourishing real estate market.

    Any personal tips to share about Turin? What’s your favorite area to walk? Your favorite historical building? Your favorite local dish?

    Turin is a city of extraordinary beauty with a rich history. Its roots stretch to the Roman city of Augusta Taurinorum. I have a lot of favorite spots. The city has many baroque buildings, boulevards, parks along the river, and a precious green hill. The eight-mile stretch of porticoes shading the most elegant shops in the city center is something to be proud of. I would tell an American tourist to visit the museums and portrait galleries, to stroll along the shop-lined streets and have lunch at one of the many traditional trattorias, where they’ve been serving up agnolotti del plin with truffles for a hundred years. Next I’d suggest visiting Palazzo Carignano, where 153 years ago Camillo Cavour brought together the parties that would lead to the unification of Italy, or stop by one of the historic cafes for a bicerin, a delicious concoction made with dark coffee, cocoa powder, and cream.

    For those who can’t make the trip, how can they familiarize themselves with the city from afar? Any books, movies, albums you would recommend?

    Well, they should first get the latest guidebook. As one of the Olympics slogans put it: “Turin never stays still.” Yet one book I’d recommend is a childrens’ book woven with solidarity and sympathy for the less fortunate—which feels very contemporary despite being written 130 years ago—Edmondo De Amicis’ masterpiece “Cuore” (Heart). As for music, I have to admit that Turin puts me in mind of jazz, of its twilit aspects. That should be clear given that I organized a festival for the genre. As for films, there are tons that refer to the city, especially in the last few decades.

    Consider that at least fifty films are shot in Turin every year. But I’m happy to name one that does a good job of showing a certain side of the city: “The Sunday Woman.” The movie is based on a book by Carlo Fruttero and Franco Lucentini, a couple of brilliant, true Turinese writers, and magnificently directed by Luigi Comencini, with an all-star cast including Marcello Mastroianni and Jacqueline Bisset.

    What kind of relationship do you have with New York?

    I have great admiration for the dynamism of the city and its diverse mix of people. It’s a place, one of the most representative of the United States in my opinion, where our co-nationals distinguish themselves every day by their work.

    You have led an important political career.You were the national secretary of your party and a minister before becoming mayor. In the meantime, the Mayor of Florence has become the Prime Minister. The question seems natural even for an American who knows little about Italian politics: what is the relationship between national and local politics in Italy today? How did mayors get to be so important?

    Mayors have direct contact with citizens. Young and old, student and worker turn to their districts for answers. The municipality is the closest representation of the entire public administration. Who knows the woes and aspirations of the territory better than mayors?

    Before we go, let’s talk a moment about the province of Turin. You’re from Avigliana. How does that province continue to define you?

    It’s a town at the onset of the valley of Susa with twelve thousand inhabitants, a very pretty place with two lakes located just under Mount Pirchiriano. On the summit is the 11th century monastery of Sacra di San Michele. It’s mystical as well as extremely beautiful. I feel deeply connected to Avigliana, given my family ties to it. Like me, my grandfather and my father – who was a commander in the Italian resistance movement against Nazi-fascists – were born there. Part of my story and my roots are there.

    **Piero Fassino was born to a traditional socialist family. A member of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) since the late 1960s, he rose to become a national leader. He presided over the transformation of PCI into the Democrats of the Left, of which he became the Secretary in the early 2000s. He is now one of the leaders of the Democratic Party and since 2011 he is the Mayor of Turin.

  • ‘Madreterra’ (Mother Earth). A Lamp for Sardinia

    VERSIONE ITALIANA DELL'ARTICOLO >>>

    What brings Flavio Manzoni, Ferrari design director, at CIMA (Center for Italian Modern Art in New York) on May 1 ?
     

    We find ourselves surrounded by a few selected architects, designers and journalists, in this important centre established in New York in 2013 – the result of the brilliant intuition of its director, Laura Mattioli– to promote the study of Italian modern and contemporary art.
     

    In the air New York’s familiar vitality, around us the masterpieces of the Italian Futurism currently on display, and at the deep end of the room a massive Leucos lamp comes into view. It almost looks alive, like a giant looking down upon us, with its head at the top end of the elongated arm supporting the electrical wires.

    The deep and heartfelt motivation that brought Flavio Manzoni to design the lamp with such care and attention to details, is also the reason behind his presence here. We talk about the lamp with him, seated underneath it, surrounded by the works of Depero, from 1920s, like : “Citta’ Meccanizzata dalle ombre” (City Mechanized by Shadows) and “Cavalcata Fantastica” (Fantastical Ride). Unique atmosphere.

    “I came here to present the projectMadre Terra. New York is one of the stages of the initiative conceived to support the victims of the flood that hit Sardinia on November 18, 2013. I strongly wanted to give a substantial personal contribution to help rebuild one of the worst hit areas of Sardinia.”

    Flavio Manzoni, born in Nuoro, italian pride, today the mind behind the design of the Ferrari masterpieces – he has also designed for  Lancia, Volkswagen, SEAT – this time doesn’t want to talk about his cars. He wants to tell us about his wonderful native land, so gravely wounded. It’s because of Sardinia that he undertook a two day trip to New York bringing with himself only his daughter and a lamp.
     

    How did the idea to raise funds by designing and auctioning a lamp come about?

     “It comes from a previous job I did with Gabriele Cestra and Leucos. A charitable initiative to the benefit of the City of Hope, a clinic in Padova where, together with other designers, we personalized the lamps.

    So I thought, instead of using canvas or any other means, I could use a lamp precisely for its symbolic value. Because it represents the light in itself, and not just hope. It’s something that inherently brings you to highlight and focus on something, to meditate and somehow also generate hope”.
     

    The lamp is dense with details. Some parts are abstract, vaguely resembling fractures on a terrirory that could be imaginary but is actually real… but there are also figurative elements which for Manzoni have an important symbolic value.

    “It describes, in a somehow elaborate way, some sort of stream of consciousness that started when this event happened. I haven’t lived in Sardinia for a very long time, since I was 18. I left it to follow a dream, to become architect and designer. But this tragic flood truly brought me back to my roots, almost fiercely.
     

    So for a few days I let my thoughts flow. Considerations and memories emerged that later played a role in the composition of this work. The object is characterized by two levels, one that we could define abstract or a sort of cosmogram, each figure with its own meaning.
     

    The second level is instead made of figurative and allegorical images evocative of my personal bond with my land. For example, there is an image that reminds me of my father, who passed away a short time before this disaster. I wanted him to be there. But there’s also my son, because when something like this happens you start thinking of how much our relationship with the Earth has radically changed compared to the past. This should make us think, more than anything else, of who will be coming after us.”
     

    A new sense of life from something that was shattered. A positive piece of art…

    “That’s exactly right. The lamp symbolizes light in every way, aslo for its colors and the signs which are mainly red. They almost seem like scracthes, like wounds representing the Earth violated by men, but at the same time symbolizing the human sacrifice, because this is what we are talking about. It has been a huge price to pay for Sardinia. At the base of the lamp you can find the reading key of the work, while the lamp cap itself can be considered the work of art in its entirety.”
     

    Living away from your homeland, to then suddenly rediscover it because of a tragedy. Can you describe how does it feel?

    “The feeling is that the lives that we lead, so frenetic, always overworked, is a life that takes you away from the intimate and symbiotic relationship with your land. Something happened to me that had also happened to Costantino Nivola. He is a great artist cited in the lamp because it’s named Madre Terra. It’s centered around the mediterranean motherly figure, which for us Sardinians symbolizes the earth. Nivola, the greatest sardinian artist of last century, is also very well known here as he worked in New York for many years. He, like me, had strenghtened the bond with his land of origin when he was away from it. Sometimes distance helps you recuperate that sense of belonging and reconciliate yourself with your roots.”

    This lamp is in New York now, it has already been in many other places. What’s the itinerary?

    “It first went to Cagliari, then to the Bologna Art Fair, the Milan Furniture Fair and is now here in New York. It’s about showing it around allowing it to be seen and known. It’ll go on auction at the end of July. There are only three handmade pieces, all unique even if the mold is the same. The funds raised will be used to rebuild the Maria Rocca school in Olbia, which is so badly damaged it cannot be reopened and therefore needs to be rebuilt from scratch. I really wanted to have a very concrete target”.

    Inside the lamp there is an inscription. Can you tell us more about it?

     “The inscription is a metaphor which summarizes the meaning of  Grazia Deledda’s novel “Canne al Vento”. Grazia Deledda was a distinguished writer, she won the Nobel Prize in Literature and during the flow of thoughts I mentioned above some passages of this novel were coming to my mind. There is a character, a servant from a small farm, who worries about the approaching winter and the danger brought by rainfalls. ‘Canne al vento’ (Reeds in the wind) is a metaphor of the human fragility.
     

    What I inscribed in the lamp is : “Reeds in the wind, reeds are the men, wind is the fate that bends them, crashes and curves them, so they can raise again stronger than before”. It’s a message of hope and will to rebuild and reflect on what happened”.

     Hope for the young… what did your daughter tell you during this project?

    “She observed the whole creative process, because I talked often about it. She is very affectioned and truly close to me, so she has a special interest in what I do. She also has her own relationship of geographic distance with Sardinia”.
     

    It’s not easy to describe the gaze of this great designer as he talks about his daughter. To her, maybe without realizing it, he dedicates this lamp, hope for the future of the extraordinary place that Sardinia is.

     ---

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