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Articles by: Francesca Giuliani

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    The Migrating Pizza Makers from Naples Conquer Manhattan

    Italians who do not reside in Naples know that they can get their fix of original Neapolitan pizza and delicious buffalo mozzarella at any of the Fratelli La Bufala locations in the country. Starting next Friday, New Yorkers will have the same privilege: the Neapolitan eatery opens in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, on Broadway and 76th Street.

    Fratelli La Bufala comes to New York after six years of activity in Miami and 110 openings around the world. The brand has come a long way since its inception in 2003, when the “brothers” opened their first restaurant in Via Medina, Naples. 
     

    “We were very passionate but we had no idea that Fratelli La Bufala would become such a successful ‘format’ on a global scale,” says Paolo Aruta, CEO of EmmeSei Group, the company that owns the brand FLB  among other concept-chains.

    The sister companies are “MammaOliva,” all centered on the use of olive oil, “Mò Food Café,” offering a wide range of breakfast foods and coffee, and “Vulkania,” offering Neapolitan cuisine with an emphasis on the use of fire stones as a cooking tool. Each is very popular in its market, testifying to the scrupulous study that is key to succeeding in the restaurant industry.

    When talking about the La Bufala brothers we have to use quotes, as the three partners who founded FLB are not blood related, but rather partners in business bonded by a brotherly love for Neapolitan traditional cuisine and  by an extremely solid global vision for it.

    “The hoax is in the name,” Aruta jokes, as in Italian “La Bufala” not only means “the buffalo,” but it also translates “the hoax”. “We are not really brothers, but we feel like we are. We started everything together, from scratch, trying to bring our traditional dishes around the world, and giving them a modern twist.” Considering such a high purpose and all of the brothers’ dedication, the lack of a blood relationship sound like a white lie. 

    The “La Bufala” brotherhood, the recipe of FLB’s success, is centered on buffalo-derived products: “They are our flagship, buffalo is present in our menu from the appetizer to the desserts, prepared with buffalo milk,” Aruta says.

    These products vary from the scrumptious buffalo mozzarella, which according to Manzo “is what will make you want to come again,” to the tasty and nutritious buffalo meat: “It is leaner than chicken or turkey, recommended in all diets and a great source of protein. Our menus here include nutritional facts and pictures, so that the customer can understand what he is eating both visually and as far as intake is concerned,” Sabato Manzo explains.
    Manzo is responsible for the development of the FLB “format” abroad, and over the past three months, he accomplished the opening of FLB locations in Piccadilly Circus in London, in Berlin and in Istanbul. 

    Pizza is also at the core of the FLB philosophy. “It’s the original Neapolitan pizza, whether you like it or not,” Aruta says.
    The values of FLB allow no compromising with Neapolitan flavors, even when the local customers are not used to them and require education. “I’ll never forget what happened in our restaurant in Hampstead, London, where customers would ask for ketchup and mayo to season the pizzas and the pastas. We didn’t even have those in store. It was tough at first, then they understood,” Aruta tells i-Italy. 

    The authenticity of the Neapolitan taste also depends on the ingredients, imported daily from Italy or hand-picked from local vendors when it comes to fresh and seasonal produce: “Our menu changes four times a year, thanks to our strong logistics mechanism we are able to import all that we need to produce everything in-house. Even fried starters are never frozen, but freshly made by our chef,” says Aruta.
    “We even make pastiera the way it’s made in Naples, and for that you need Italian corn, Italian honey…I can mention all of the key ingredients, we have them all delivered every day,” Manzo adds.

    The pizzaioli, the pizza makers, are another special asset at FLB: “We train them internally and they are often sons and heirs from the historical pizzaioli families of Naples. They are often related with each other. If you don’t pick your pizzaiolis in those circles, you’re not going to eat real Neapolitan pizza,” Aruta reveals.

    Pizzaiolis at FLB are also what makes each restaurant personable, what gives each of them a lively atmosphere: “Working in such international environments is rewarding for them, they bring all of their energy.”
    FLB’s motto is “Pizzaioli Emigranti,” migrating pizza makers, originally referring to the international wanderings of the three founding partners before they joined forces to open their first pizzeria. It now applies perfectly to the globetrotting army of FLB’s pizzaiolis, who wear a t-shirt that says “Pizzaiolo Emigrato,” emigrated pizza maker, behind their back. “We are the ones who make them emigrate!,” Manzo jokes.

    Layout-wise, the position of the pizzaiolis is the same in every location: “You can see them working from our windows, passing by. Our ingredients and our brick oven are right on display, not hidden in a basement. It’s as clear as it gets,” Manzo tells i-Italy.

    The oven they use is the same worldwide too: “We have a craftsman from Naples that follows us around the world every time we open. He builds the oven, then tests it with the pizzaiolo before the opening,” Aruta says. 

    Given the pizzaiolis, the ingredients and the ovens, solving the pizza equation is simple: “Whether you are here or in Naples or in Dubai, the pizza you’ll eat is the same in every FLB restaurant,” Manzo explains.
    Standardization made perfect, but not the McDonalds’ way: “We offer a standard, but the atmosphere is key,” he adds, and the brothers know well. “We have studied our competitors: there are so many Italian pizzerias in this city that understood how to market Italian dining the easy way. They are soulless, they all offer the same. Sometimes they even use gas ovens or electric ovens, and they have no problem exposing them.” 

    Determined to conquer New York, FLB plans on doing so by first inviting New Yorkers for a taste, knowing that that flavors will work their magic.

    The tasting experience is the real ace in the hole, according to Manzo: “It’s the first time that we organize events to meet the neighbors and the press before our grand opening. We are investing in meeting New Yorkers, treating them with a sample of what we bring. We want to establish friendly neighborhood relationships.” 

    Both in New York and Miami, the chosen locations are residential areas rather than the touristy parts of the cities: “Tourists eat and leave, we want to last over time: we want you to tell your friends and lovers that you want to take them here because of what you had the last time you came. We want you to develop an addiction,” Manzo and Aruta tell i-Italy. 

    From our experience, we already know we will be returning customers, especially if the idea of a “Pastiera Party” casually mentioned by Manzo between one slice of Pizza Margherita and the other during our conversation, will actually become reality. 

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    Piceno: The Best Kept Secret of Le Marche Region Unveiled in New York

    Previously on i-Italy we have discussed the beauty of Le Marche, the “calf” of Italy, located just two hours from Rome and facing the Adriatic Sea.

    The Region is the only one in the country to have a plural name: derived from the German word “Marks,” or borderlands, the name testifies to the richness and variety of the Region, which results from grouping different independent Marches into one land. 

    Each of the Provinces that constitute the Region today are very active in promoting themselves independently, as each of them is characterized by its own landscapes, traditions and specialty products, each of which deserve historical and cultural explanations to be fully understood.

    Over the last few days, New York has had an interesting taste of the peculiarities of the Ascoli Piceno Province.

    A delegation of representatives from the territory, led by Piceno enthusiast and renowned food historian Francine Segan, who fell in love with the area after visiting it last November, took over the city with their spontaneity and friendliness, with several glasses of fine wines and massive quantities of “olive ascolane” (a delicious meal starter made with pitted Tenera Ascolana olives, stuffed with slow simmered, seasoned beaf, chicken and pork meats, crumbed and fried). 

    In a series of delightful tasting events, Segan introduced New Yorkers to the history and the culture of the Piceno area, while describing the charms of the region, which features a breathtaking Riviera, hilly inlands characterized by vineyards, wineries and mountains, the Sibillinis, all within reach with a 30 minutes drive from east to west.

    Over the past few days, i-Italy attended two important events promoting the Piceno area in New York. 

    The first event was held on April 17 at the 92Y Cultural Center in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where wines from the Piceno Wines Consortium were offered with olive ascolane and other delicacies cooked on the spot by Chef Emilio Pasqualini from Cantina del Picchio Restaurant in Offida. Pasqualini was specifically flown in for the occasion, and used Segan’s nearby apartment as a base for cooking and frying. 

    Piero Celani, President of the Ascoli Piceno Province and former Mayor of Ascoli Piceno for 10 years, was at 92Y to welcome the guests and tell more about the Piceno area. He started out his speech by using a provocation: “How many of you know that Ascoli Piceno is older than Rome?”

    Not many people in the room knew, and many even had trouble locating Le Marche on Italy’s map. “So far, we have kept our land’s secrets to ourselves. We were so satisfied with what we have that we didn’t feel the need to share it,” Celani told i-Italy. 

    The President elaborated on how this tendency is being reversed: “We have a gap to bridge, but our margins of improvement are extremely high: what is typically considered as ‘Minor Italy,’ the less known parts of our country, have no less culture, history and traditions than the big cities of art.”

    Celani really believes that the experience of the territory for American visitors, “who value a high quality of life,” will be key to give new life to tourism in Italy as a whole: “We want to organize an incoming from New York to Ascoli in October. We want Americans to experience the high quality of life we can offer. That is going to benefit our area as well as the whole ‘sistema Italia’,” he said. 

    The second event i-Italy attended was held on April 19 at the International Culinary Center, where Chef Pasqualini offered a cooking lesson to the students of the Center’s renowned school. 
     

    He prepared “pizza al formaggio,” a typical cheese bread from the area that is the perfect match for the indigenous passerina and pecorino wines, and unveiled the techniques to obtain the perfect olive ascolane (each olive must be hand pitted by cutting the pulp off the pit in a spiral form, then their shape has to be recomposed by inserting a tiny meatball in it, and patting each of them individually for ten times before dipping it in egg and crumbing it). 

    Bringing the flavors and the recipes of their land to New York was fundamental to communicate the reality of the Piceno area, Giovanni Vagnoni from Le Caniette winery tells i-Italy: “What we did here in New York has to do with the culture of our land.” 

    Vagnoni, Vice-President of the Piceno Wines Consortium, has been selling his wines in the US for over 15 years, but the products alone can’t do justice to a region so full of tradition: “It’s hard to communicate the Italian lifestyle, it’s better to make it an experience through emotions and flavors. These are definitely tomorrow’s means of communication.” 

    When considering Segan’s love and appreciation for the Picenos and their land, Vagnoni is proven correct: “Francine was bewitched by our region and by our people: we are gentlemen from the country, and we recommend you visit us to understand our land. Those who come always leave a piece of heart with us.”

  • Life & People

    “Not Just a Thing of Nostalgia.” New York Celebrates Apulia. A Conversation with Michele Emiliano, Mayor of Bari

    These days and until April 26, New York celebrates its “Settimana Pugliese,” or “Apulian Week,” one of the most awaited events by the lovers of Italy’s heel in the United States.

    The initiative is organized each year by the United Pugliesi Federation, association of the Apulian heritage bearers in New York which counts on over 2000 member families and groups all the Apulian association of Greater New York.

    On April 15, the Annual Gala of the United Pugliesi Federation was held at Russo’s On The Bay, in Howard Beach, Queens.

    Michele Emiliano, Mayor of Bari, was guest of honor of the event. Emiliano has held his position as Mayor from 2004. Before he was elected, he was the Anti-Mafia Procurator for the District of Bari, a role that he maintained from 1995 to 2003.  

    Invited by John Mustaro, President of the United Pugliesi Federation, Emiliano had the chance to meet the Apulian community of New York and representatives from the Italian institutions in the city, such as Consul General of Italy Natalia Quintavalle and Antonio Bernardini, Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations.

    Michele Emiliano described the event as exciting and extremely meaningful: “It is especially meaningful for the Apulians in Apulia, as the Apulian community in the United States supports them very actively,” he told i-Italy.

    Such occasions, he added, “are not just a thing of nostalgia and memories from the past, they have a very practical side: after years of hard work our fellow Apulians in the United States have acquired key positions in this country, and they are happy to put their social role to the service of the Apulian enterprises. Their support is vital to these enterprises.”

    During the conversation with i-Italy, the Mayor underlined how proud the Apulians are of their fellows’ achievements abroad.

    He elaborated on how New York City represents a fundamental benchmark for Apulians: “Through New York City we can reach out to the whole world. This city is a symbol of peaceful coexistence for all mankind.”

    In this respect, Apulia and New York City have something in common: “Apulia is a borderland, and it has a millenary culture of tolerance, it welcomes everybody. Let’s not forget that the saint patron of the region, Saint Nicholas, was a black man.”

    If Apulians are surely a warm-hearted and welcoming people, what they still don’t do enough of is venturing outside of their beautiful land. “For some of them traveling is a taboo. They should learn more about the rest of the world, learn more languages,” Emiliano tells i-Italy.

    The Regional government could also be more helpful: “It could support Apulians more in their scouting activities abroad. There are so many products from Apulia that would perform very well in the global market, but they have to be promoted and presented in the best way.”

    This is also true when we consider Apulia itself as a touristic destination: “Tourists really appreciate the proximity to the sea and the tranquility of our countryside, even more so when they learn that they can rent a trullo house or a masseria for their stay.”

    The Provinces of Trani, Brindisi, Lecce and Taranto will be voting next May 6 and 7 to renew the composition of their local governments. We ask Emiliano about the qualities that a good Mayor should possess to help his or her community thrive. “Mayors are well know with the local notables and with children alike: they hold a community together.”

    Their mission is to hold their communities together even when parts of it are located on other latitudes: “They have to represent their communities and be present in the activities of their members abroad as well. That’s the way to generate enthusiasm and to keep everybody engaged with the very important solidarity with the homeland. If they miss on this, mayors fail on a very important part of their job.”

    The American authorities are also very interested in preserving the Italian heritage in the United States, Emiliano tells i-Italy: “Losing this element of cultural richness would be terrible. Homologation is the opposite of what made the US a great country: diversity.”

    Emiliano is hopeful that the Year of Italian Culture in the United States, 2013, will be a valuable opportunity to reach out to the younger generations of Italian-Americans, helping them discover their cultural heritage in all its complexity: “We need to find new ways for them to reconnect with Italian language. Bilingualism is a great chance to help both of our countries grow together.”

  • Fatti e Storie

    “Non solo ricordi e nostalgia”. Quando New York celebra la Puglia. Intervista a Michele Emiliano, Sindaco di Bari

    La settimana pugliese a New York, l’evento più atteso dagli amanti e dai nostalgici del tacco d’Italia, è in corso in questi giorni e durerà fino al prossimo 26 aprile. 

    L’iniziativa è curata dalla United Pugliesi Foundation, organizzazione che rappresenta un punto di riferimento per almeno duemila famiglie di emigranti pugliesi di seconda generazione che vi aderiscono, e che riunisce tutte le associazioni pugliesi dell’area metropolitana di New York.

    Lo scorso 15 aprile, la United Pugliesi Foundation ha celebrato il suo Gala Annuale nella prestigiosa cornice di Russo’s On The Bay a Howard Beach, nel Queens. Ospite d’onore dell’evento, Michele Emiliano, Sindaco di Bari dal 2004 e magistrato di punta nella lotta alla criminalità organizzata (prima di entrare in politica ha infatti ricoperto il ruolo di Sostituto Procuratore della Direzione Distrettuale Antimafia del capoluogo pugliese, dal 1995 al 2003). 
     

    Invitato dal presidente della fondazione John Mustaro, Emiliano ha incontrato la comunità pugliese e importanti rappresentanti delle istituzioni italiane a New York quali il Console Generale d’Italia Natalia Quintavalle e il Vice Rappresentante Permanente d’Italia presso le Nazioni Unite, Ambasciatore Antonio Bernardini che hanno a loro volta presenziato il gala.
     

    Michele Emiliano ha descritto la serata come “un evento entusiasmante”, un incontro tra autorità italiane e comunità pugliese denso di significato: “Specialmente per i pugliesi in Puglia, per i quali la comunità pugliese in America fa tantissimo”. 
     

    Nel caso di eventi come quello organizzato dalla United Pugliesi Foundation infatti: “Non si tratta solo di nostalgia e ricordi, ma anche di qualcosa di molto pratico”, spiega Emiliano. “Dopo tanti anni di lavoro i nostri corregionali hanno acquisito posizioni di primo piano in questo paese, e utilizzano il loro ruolo sociale per aiutare le nostre imprese, che ne hanno grande bisogno”. 

    Nel corso della conversazione con i-Italy, il Sindaco sottolinea con quanto orgoglio il successo dei pugliesi all’estero venga vissuto in Italia, e in particolare Emiliano argomenta su quanto New York rappresenti un punto di riferimento fondamentale per la Puglia: “Attraverso New York noi raggiungiamo il mondo intero. Questa città è il simbolo della federazione del mondo e della possibilità per tutti i popoli di convivere”. C’è una somiglianza fortissima, in questo senso, tra la Puglia e New York. La Puglia infatti “è una regione di confine con un’antichissima tradizione dell’accoglienza. Il suo protettore, San Nicola, è un santo dalla pelle nera”.

    Se è vero che l’accoglienza è una delle loro caratteristiche distintive, quello che però i pugliesi di Puglia non fanno abbastanza è uscire fuori dai confini della loro splendida regione: “Per alcuni di loro i viaggi all’estero sono ancora un tabù. I pugliesi dovrebbero conoscere di più il resto del mondo e le lingue straniere”, dice Emiliano. 

    Sotto questo aspetto, il Sindaco aggiunge, l’aiuto della Regione Puglia potrebbe essere più significativo: “Dovrebbero essere più sostenuti nelle loro attività di scouting all’estero. Moltissimi sono i prodotti pugliesi che si potrebbero vendere a livello mondiale, ma queste eccellenze vanno promosse adeguatamente e presentate nel modo giusto”. Tra queste eccellenze c’è anche la Puglia come destinazione turistica: “la vicinanza al mare, la cultura diffusa, la possibilità di affittare un trullo o  una masseria godendo della tranquillità delle nostre campagne” sono qualità estremamente apprezzate dai turisti stranieri. 

    Alcune province pugliesi si preparano a votare per le elezioni amministrative il 6 e il 7 maggio prossimi. Trani, Brindisi, Lecce e Taranto sono chiamate a scegliere i loro nuovi sindaci.

    Chiediamo a Emiliano, quali sono le prerogative di un sindaco che aiuta il proprio comune a crescere? “I sindaci sono figure politiche che riescono a tenere insieme una comunità intera: sono conosciuti sia dai bambini che dai VIP”, commenta. 

    I sindaci debbono anche rappresentare la loro comunità, e a questo proposito debbono essere sempre più attivi, dimostrando con i fatti di essere presenti anche al fianco delle comunità italiane all’estero: “è così che si fa crescere l’entusiasmo, che si mantengono i legami, che cresce la voglia di impegnarsi in questo lavoro di solidarietà reciproca tra la madrepatria e le comunità italiane all’estero. Se si trasformano queste relazioni in processi burocratici, senza amore e senza passione, i sindaci perdono gran parte della loro funzione”, afferma Emiliano.

    Quando invece un sindaco ricopre con passione questo ruolo coesivo del tessuto sociale, ovunque nel mondo la sua trama sia presente, nascono opportunità preziose: “E’ la terza volta che vengo a New York. Abbiamo cominciato ad avere un rapporto molto stretto e vorrei convincere il Presidente della Regione ad intensificarlo”. 

    Questo non solo perché le aziende pugliesi trarrebbero un vantaggio sia dall’importante “momento di ripresa economica che l’America sta vivendo”, dice il Sindaco di Bari ad i-Italy, sia perché “anche le autorità politiche americane sono interessate al processo di consolidamento culturale italiano nelle comunità locali. La perdita dell’identità e della lingua italiana nelle nuove generazioni costituisce una perdita secca anche per gli Stati Uniti”. 

    Il poter contare invece sul contributo al dinamismo culturale ed economico di una comunità che si sente sia americana che italiana è senza dubbio una ricchezza da preservare.

    Dice Emiliano: “L’omologazione è il contrario della filosofia che ha fatto grande l’America, ma comincia a diventare difficile trasmettere la lingua italiana. È necessario inventare nuovi modi per suscitare l’interesse dei giovani italo-americani, facendo capire loro che il bilinguismo è un’opportunità straordinaria”.

    Il 2013, l’Anno della Cultura Italiana negli Stati Uniti, potrebbe essere l’occasione giusta per mettere in atto nuove strategie per coinvolgere i più giovani, aiutandoli a ristabilire un contatto con le radici perdute.

    “Speriamo di riuscire a costruire qualcosa di significativo, anche con il supporto del Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali”, nonostante i pesanti tagli che ad esempio nel caso delle celebrazioni per il 150° Anniversario dell’Unità d’Italia non hanno consentito che la realizzazione di iniziative molto sobrie. 

    Secondo il Sindaco di Bari, infatti, il centocinquantesimo dell’Unità d'Italia è stato un’occasione non pienamente sfruttata per diffondere efficacemente la cultura italiana all’estero. 

    Emiliano si augura che nel 2013 le cose vadano diversamente: “Speriamo che il Ministero comprenda l’importanza dell’Anno della Cultura Italiana negli Stati Uniti, e che con il sostegno delle Regioni si investa concretamente in questa importante opportunità”.

  • Fatti e Storie

    Quando l’Italia esporta tecnologia: incontro con Paolo Scudieri

    A dispetto di quanto si possa credere, l’Italia non esporta solo prodotti gastronomici d’eccezione,  vini preziosi, oggetti di design e collezioni dei suoi stilisti famosi in tutto il mondo. In molti casi l’Italia è leader nel settore della tecnologia. Le sue eccellenze in questo campo  vengono da aziende che rivoluzionano il mercato globale con la loro costante ricerca di perfezione, con soluzioni innovative e competitività. È il caso di Adler Group.
     

    Adler Group è il secondo gruppo industriale del Mezzogiorno per grandezza e fatturato, che conta 58 stabilimenti in tutto il mondo. È guidato da Paolo Scudieri, imprenditore illuminato e dotato di grande intuito, che ha portato l’azienda di famiglia, una camiceria fondata da papà Achille nel 1956 nel difficile quartiere napoletano di Ottaviano, a diventare un colosso nel settore automotive. 
     

    L’intuizione rivoluzionaria di Achille e Paolo Scudieri fu quella di immaginare prima degli altri i mille impieghi che i poliuretani avrebbero potuto avere nel rendere più confortevole la vita di tutti noi. Dopo anni di ricerca sui materiali, molti successi e ben 25 brevetti depositati all’attivo, Adler Group oggi è leader nella progettazione e nel design degli interni dei veicoli su strada, dalle auto agli autobus fino agli autotreni, e fornisce i suoi prodotti ai più grandi marchi automobilistici del mondo. Tra i suoi clienti vanno ricordati infatti FIAT, Maserati, BMW, Ford, Toyota e Renault.

    Il focus di Adler Group e di Paolo Scudieri è mettere al centro l’uomo e le sue esigenze, tra cui quella di comfort e di benessere: “Trascorriamo in auto in media tre ore al giorno,” dice Scudieri ad i-Italy durante una lunga conversazione in redazione, “Se queste tre ore trascorrono in modo piacevole tutta la società ne trae un beneficio”.

    Questo approccio olistico al prodotto e ai suoi destinatari ha sempre portato Scudieri a ricercare fonti di ispirazione per il miglioramento della propria offerta in campi non necessariamente collegati a quello del suo business.

    Dalla sinergia tra settore automotive e industria aeronautica, per esempio, è nato l’ambizioso progetto di realizzare la prima auto in carbonio di serie, tanto leggera da permettere il sottodimensionamento delle unità frenanti e la riduzione della cilindrata del motore, a tutto vantaggio dell’ecosostenibilità.

    “Per crescere nel mondo globalizzato non ci si può più focalizzare solo sul proprio settore, bisogna sviluppare uno sguardo laterale, andando a cercare in campi solo apparentemente distanti idee che possono rivelarsi strategiche.”

    Ed è proprio questo il principio che ha portato Scudieri nel Nord America. Le due tappe del suo ultimo viaggio, Filadelfia e Montreal, sono state luoghi chiave per siglare due importanti accordi per Adler Group.

    Il gruppo è già attivo negli Stati Uniti da diciotto anni, e così determinante nel supportare il processo di ripresa economica in città come Detroit, dove il gruppo possiede uno stabilimento che dà lavoro a 3000 dipendenti, da fargli ricevere il Premio Speciale NIAF 2011 per il Business Internazionale.

    A Filadelfia, Scudieri ha visitato il College of Science and Technology della Temple University, dove non solo ingegneri industriali ma soprattutto ricercatori in medicina e farmacia potranno partecipare alle attività del laboratorio di design e progettazione che Adler Group aprirà ben presto.

    Utilizzando la realtà virtuale e dati parametrici, saranno in grado di fornire le specifiche tecniche per la progettazione dell’acustica e degli interni dei veicoli come immaginati dai clienti in tempo reale, abbreviando un processo che altrimenti durerebbe dai 10 ai 15 mesi.

    Scudieri ha detto ad i-Italy che il laboratorio: “Sarà la realizzazione del mio sogno di potermi sedere a un tavolo con il mio cliente e pianificare insieme le caratteristiche dell’auto. È qualcosa di veramente innovativo, mai realizzato prima da nessuna impresa. Ci darà un preziosissimo vantaggio competitivo intellettuale.”

    A Montreal, invece, Scudieri ha incontrato Albert De Luca, Presidente della Camera di Commercio Italiana in Quebec e Vicepresidente di Deloitte Canada, dove è a capo della divisione Ricerca e Sviluppo. Con lui ha discusso della possibilità di istituire un centro di ricerca e sperimentazione per Adler Group a Montreal, che sarà strategico per le attività del gruppo in tutta l’area nordamericana e nel mondo.

    “Tutto ciò avviene in Canada perché c’è una fortissima attrattività dei territori. L’area canadese offre notevoli vantaggi di costo e di riconoscimento degli investimenti”, ci dice Scudieri.

    Nonostante per l’AD di Adler Group globalizzazione non significhi delocalizzazione, e nonostante l'azienda conti ancora sette stabilimenti sul territorio italiano, di cui ben tre in Campania, Scudieri ci confessa che visitare il Nord America è sempre un’esperienza rigeneratrice: “Qui mi incoraggio e trovo la forza per tornare in Italia, dove il dire e il fare non coincidono quasi mai. Dire e fare in America sono la stessa cosa.”

    La scelta di mantenere tre stabilimenti operativi in Campania è particolarmente coraggiosa. Nella storia familiare degli Scudieri, infatti, c’è anche un episodio di vendetta da parte delle organizzazioni camorriste. Nel 1984 il padre di Paolo, Achille, fu vittima di una rappresaglia a colpi di arma da fuoco per aver denunciato delle estorsioni.

    L’intenzione che anima Paolo Scudieri a continuare ad operare ad Ottaviano e in altre aree della Campania è quella di voler contribuire attivamente e in prima persona alla crescita di territori che ancora versano in situazioni di estremo degrado.

    Dell’Italia di oggi, Scudieri dice che “è ferma, è assente dalle dinamiche del mondo, e non agevola chi vuole fare impresa”. Scudieri annovera la burocrazia come primo dei fattori frenanti lo sviluppo: “è impossibile ottenere licenze edilizie in tempi ragionevoli, per non parlare della lentezza della giustizia”.

    Se si riuscirà a salvare l’Italia, Scudieri non ha dubbi, sarà merito dei giovani, specialmente di quelli che torneranno in patria dopo aver vissuto da cittadini del mondo: “Potranno contaminare positivamente contesti troppo legati al passato”, ci dice.

    A proposito dei giovani che lavorano con lui in azienda, Scudieri afferma: “Guardo loro e mi innamoro, mi insegnano a non essere mai appagato, a non sedermi mai. Me ne circondo, e il mio obiettivo è di farli crescere.”

  • Facts & Stories

    When Italy Exports Technology: A Talk With Paolo Scudieri, CEO of Adler Group

    Italy does not only export top quality foods, precious wines, designer items, and the latest fashion creations to the United States.

    Although common wisdom holds that the exportation of technology moves from the US to the rest of the world, some excellent Italian firms have the ability to invert that route, especially when enlightened businessmen are at the helm.
     

    It is the case with Adler Group, an automotive colossus that specializes in engineering and designing car interiors, from the acoustic components to the seat covers, with the principal aim of maximizing comfort.

     

    The business was founded in 1956 in Ottaviano by Paolo Scudieri’s father Achille in one of the toughest neighborhoods of Naples to do business due to the Camorra's heavy presence there.
    Achille Scudieri was also personally attacked by camorrists, when in 1984 he reported an extortion to the police and was then shot while driving his car. The accident was not deadly, but the memory of it is still very strong today. Adler, in fact, never left Campania, with the intention of having an active role in fighting organized crime by empowering workers and helping the economy to grow. 

    Achille converted his shirt sewing factory into a polyurethane production plant, following his intuition that this material would have had a fundamental role in making life more comfortable with their countless uses.

    The intuition was a very fortunate one, and it was followed by many others: Adler has now over 25 patents and counts 58 plants all over the world. 

    In the Americas, the group has been active for almost 20 years, and its contribution to the economic growth of the United States’ automotive sector has recently been acknowledged by the National Italian American Foundation, which awarded CEO Paolo Scudieri with the NIAF Special Award in International Business in 2011, when Adler opened a manufacturing plant in Detroit that gave work to over 3,000 people in the area.

    Scudieri recently visited the United States and Canada to seal two very important deals for Adler Group. 

    In Philadelphia, he will establish a design laboratory at the College of Science and Technology of Temple University, where students from different backgrounds, from medical to engineering, will be able to experiment with virtual reality simulations of the design project, using a technology that will dramatically shorten a process which would normally take 10-15 months.

    In Montreal, he met Albert De Luca, President of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Quebec  and Vice-President of Deloitte Canada, where he is head of the Research and Development department. With him he discussed the establishment of a Design and Experimentation Center for North America, which will be strategic for Adler Group’s activities in the continent, as well as globally.

    We met Scudieri at i-Italy’s headquarters in New York, after his visit to Philadelphia and before he left for Montreal. Scudieri told us about his excitement for these two North-American projects he just accomplished: “In such a moment of globalization we need to invest in innovation, competitiveness can’t just be a matter of costs anymore,” he commented. 

    The Philadelphia virtual laboratory for design is something that will help Scudieri realize his dream of “sitting at a table with our clients and plan the vehicle’s characteristics together, as the clients themselves imagine it. It’s something that has never been done before and it will give us an intellectual advantage on our competitors, and it will benefit clients that will be able to skip to the implementation stage right away.” 

    Scudieri’s brilliant intuition consisted in imagining such a research partnership with the Sbarro Institute, a most important US incubators specifically dedicated to the medical and pharmaceutical industry. 

    “In order to grow, you can’t just focus on your core business anymore, you have to develop a lateral vision and associate with others doing things in fields that may seem unrelated, but that are instead really strategic,” he told i-Italy. Medicine students and researchers in fact, focus their studies on the person’s well-being, which is what Adler Group designs for the vehicle user: “It’s about putting men at the center: the well being of men in all contexts, including vehicles. On average, we spend 3 hours per day driving. If those 3 hours are spent comfortably, the whole society derives a benefit from it.”

    Scudieri’s ability to combine knowledge from different fields resulted in an innovative and unique project of using carbon, largely employed as a construction material in the aviation industry, to produce cars that will be more sustainable and safer at the same time. “Working in synergy is key,” Scudieri said.

    Although in his vision “globalization does not equal to delocalization,” and although Adler Group still has 7 production plants in Italy, Scudieri told us that his trips to America are always refreshing: “Here I get the energy to go back home and deal with the problems we have there.” Scudieri mentions bureaucratic obstacles to doing business, a legal system that is too unresponsive and slow, and little or no reward for investment. 

    “Italy is still largely absent from the world’s dynamics, but I hope that it can change and I believe in the power of the younger generations,” he comments, while telling us that his young collaborators are the greatest source of his inspiration to never give up: “We never have to be satisfied, we can never sit back and relax. I look at the youth and I fall in love each time, and I take from them all the strength I need to be competitive.” 

    Scudieri believes that the drivers of the change for Italy will be those younger Italians moving around in the globalized world: “Open-mindedness is what they will bring back, contaminating in the most positive way the Italian reality, too tied to its past.” 

  • Art & Culture

    Obama in Naples: a Play About the Italian-American Special Connection

    What would happen if Obama went to Naples to fix its problems? Would he be successful in such a complex enterprise? 

    Claudio Angelini, former RAI journalist, President of the Dante Alighieri Society and playwright, has written a musical comedy that answers these questions. “Obama in Naples” premieres in New York City on April 25 at the June Havoc Theater of the Abington Art Complex, where it will be played until May 6. 

    Curious about the reasons that would lead Obama to Naples, other than to accept Major Luigi De Magistris’ recent invitation to visit the city, we interviewed Angelini about his comedy and the special connection between New York and Naples, that goes way beyond their geographical position -- both cities in fact lie on the 41st parallel.

    “I believe there is a strong bond between the USA and Naples. After all, a NATO base is located in Naples, and American tourists are always very numerous there,” he told i-Italy.

    Angelini, who started his career as a journalist in the Neapolitan newspaper Il Mattino, learned that Naples is a city with a strong faith. “It is the only city with a saint patron that performs miracles every year,” he noted. 
     

    Naples’ faith is also mixed with a strong fascination with charismatic figures: “When President of the Republic Sandro Pertini visited the city after the earthquake in 1980, the population was so relieved that he went that his visit really had a reinvigorating effect.”

    When John Fitzgerald Kennedy visited Naples in 1963, that fascination with charisma peaked very high, enhanced by the strong admiration that Neapolitans feel for Americans: “Kennedy was shocked by their enthusiasm,” Angelini commented.

    Angelini felt that very same enthusiasm for all things American in Naples when two and a half years ago he was there to present his book on the first year of the Obama presidency , titled “Obama: Un Anno di Sfide” (Obama: A Year of Challenges). 

    “Neapolitans were extremely interested in Obama, the audience was full of questions about him. Some of them said it was their dream to meet Obama. I felt a very similar atmosphere as the one that I experienced in 1980 during Pertini’s visit. That’s when the idea of writing the play came to me.”

    The plot of the play is the story of an Italian journalist who, after working in the US for a long time, goes back to Naples to write a reportage on the aftermath of the 1980s earthquake. He is then confronted with all of the problems that afflict the city, but the population will start gossiping about his real identity. Is he really a journalist or a secret agent preparing a visit of the American President to Naples? Obama will in fact come visit Naples, and his arrival will excite the population and give room for unexpected twists in the story.

    The show promises to stimulate the debate on the issues ailing Naples, that Angelini tried to draw the audience’s attention upon in a way that also gives them the possibility to appreciate the great moral value of its inhabitants, the real driving force of the long awaited “change” that Naples needs and that Obama promised to his fellow Americans when he was campaigning for the election in 2006. 

    “In the play, Obama encourages Neapolitans to believe in themselves and in their potential,” Angelini explained. This message is present in all of his speeches that address those social groups who are most in need, “from the African-Americans to the Palestinians,” he added.
    “There is a similarity among all of those who are in need, and in Naples the good wins over the bad.”

    The play, originally written in Italian, will be performed in New York in a translated version. Angelini, however, is in touch with the directors of prestigious theaters in Naples such as the Teatro Festival and the Teatro Augusteo, with whom he is discussing taking the play by next Fall. “It’s something I really look forward to doing,” he told i-Italy. 

    What happens at the end of the show? Does Obama magically solve all of Naples’ problems? We are not going to spoil the ending, but we can anticipate an indiscretion: “Obama will fall in love with Naples and ask to become a citizen of it,” Angelini revealed. 

  • Events: Reports

    April is Sagrantino Month in New York City: Celebrate it at Eataly

    Attention lovers of Italian wines: April is Sagrantino Month in New York City.

    Sagrantino is an indigenous grape variety cultivated in Umbria, the central region of Italy. The Consorzio Tutela Vini Montefalco, the Sagrantino wines producers’ consortium, is relatively young – it was founded in 1981 – but the wine itself has a long and rich history. 

    The earliest mention of the Sagrantino in an official document dates back to 1549, in an order for Sagrantino grapes made by the Jewish trader Guglielmo da Trevi, but documents that date as far back in time as 1088 testify the presence of Sagrantino vineyards in the Montefalco area. 

    Sagrantino derives its name from the Latin “sacer,” sacred. It was produced and used by the monks as sacramental wine, and also enjoyed by local farmers during religious celebrations such as Christmas and Easter, when it was a very important element of the ritual feasts.

    Sagrantino grapes are used to produce different kinds of wine: the red “Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG,”produced with 100% Sagrantino grapes, characterized by a very high concentration of polyphenols and tannins for a very strong and structured taste; the “Montefalco Rosso DOC,” produced by combining Sagrantino grapes with Sangiovese grapes, also very diffused in the Montefalco region; the “Montefalco Sagrantino Passito DOCG,” also obtained by Sagrantino grapes alone and extremely sweet and structured; and the “Montefalco Bianco DOC,” a combination of Umbrian indigenous Grechetto grapes with Trebbiano grapes.
     

    The promotion of Sagrantino wines produced by the Montefalco Consortium, currently counting 213 members, will consist in a series of tasting events and educational sessions in New York City, for both wine industry representatives and consumers. 

    Selected Montefalco wines will be featured in the menus of Eataly’s restaurants and Eataly’s La Scuola will host weekly lessons for wine lovers with the Montefalco winemakers. Free tastings will also be available at Eataly Vino throughout the month.

    Sagrantino Month officially started yesterday, with a luscious lunch offered at Eataly’s Manzo restaurant to the food and wine journalists of New York City. Seven of the Consortium’s producers were present at the event: Adanti, Antonelli, Arnaldo Caprai, Tenuta Castelbuono, Colpetrone, Perticaia and Scacciadiavoli

    Diana Tesei, major of Montefalco, also attended the event and presented the beauties of Montefalco in her introductory remarks, preceded by a brief welcome to the guests by Eataly’s patron Oscar Farinetti.

    Guido Guardigli, President of the Consortium and owner of Perticaia Winery, was present at the lunch. In his speech he discussed the peculiarities of Sagrantino wine: “Sagrantino is a different wine, an elegant wine to be tasted with matching foods. I’d compare it to Armani, rather than to Valentino. If it were a city, it would be New York.”

    Guardigli has been in the winemaking business for 10 years, after he retired as a farmer: “I consider myself as young, and I have a young winery. ‘Pension’ to me only means the hotel you go to when you are sojourning in Rimini, by the sea!”

    About his work as a farmer he said that his father, a carpenter artisan, used to pick on him for studying agriculture in college: “He used to say that everybody succeeded as a farmer without studying, and I had to go to school for it!”

    His earliest memories about wine are the words of his grandfather, who would produce his own Sagrantino for the family: “When we sat at the table he would always say that wine could be drank after eating pasta. From him I learnt to always pair wine with food.”

    The pairings of wine and food at the Manzo lunch were impeccable: red wines were associated with a Castelluccio lentils soup and with a second course of wine braised duck. Passito wine was served with “pizza di Pasqua,” an Easter cake filled with cream with almond croccante ice-cream on the side.

    Pairing wine and food is also very important to appreciate the aging of the wine, Guardigli explained to i-Italy: “Every year in mid-September I host a tasting event in my winery, ‘Pecorino e Sagrantino,’ when we pair 5 different vintages of Sagrantino with Pecorino cheeses.”

    About the Sagrantino Month promotional initiative, Guardigli told i-Italy that “New York is a fundamental city: if something exists, you can find it in New York. As Sagrantino exists, we’d like it to be available here.”

    Speaking of the difference of Sagrantino from other wines, Guardigli said: “Its difference is a source of richness, it has a personality and original characteristics. It is robust, it has a very long lasting taste and it is the perfect kind of wine for aging. Its flavor can hone in the span of 20 years. It requires patience and it raises curiosity.”

    Farinetti commented on the Sagrantino too: “It is really good. I love Umbria and I try to go there every time I am in Italy. Umbria tastes like Sagrantino, an indigenous, autochthonous wine. Wines like Sagrantino are the marvels of Italy. We have to focus on them and leave the French wines to the French, as they have 250 years of advantage on us in producing them.”

    Donatella Tesei, Major of Montefalco, was very proud to represent her town in such a prestigious occasion. “Montefalco is in the heart of Umbria, which lies in the heart of Italy. It is also known as ‘the balcony of Umbria,’ as from its hilly location it dominates the region. From Montefalco you can see Assisi, Spoleto, Spello, Perugia. It’s a breathtaking landscape.”

    Eataly will also dedicate an entire month to the promotion of the specialty products from Umbria. It will happen next November, Farinetti reveals i-Italy. “I am very excited and I’m sure we’ll do something very nice with the Umbrian excellences,” he commented.  

  • Events: Reports

    Springtime Emotions at ENIT New York: Introducing “Aperitivo in Piazza”

    Among the rituals that better represent Italian lifestyle, the “aperitivo” is definitely one of the most pleasant and enjoyable ones.

    Aperitivo could roughly be translated as something that “opens” the night (“aprire” means “to open”), and is an occasion to see friends before dinner time, sipping cocktails or a good glass of wine while nibbling on some hors d’oeuvres, and either decide where to spend the rest of the evening or prolong the chitchat, the drinking and the eating until late.

    Aperitivi are usually offered in all Italian bars, and the most pleasant ones happen in the warmer months, at outside tables of bars and restaurants located in a piazza, a square, where the chitchatting, the drinking and the nibbling is combined with people-watching, another extremely popular activity among Italians. 

    ENIT New York offered an authentic aperitivo experience to American tour-operators, tourism sector representatives and press. “Aperitivo in Piazza: Springtime Emotions” was the first of a number of social occasions ENIT plans on organizing in the future, an opportunity for American lovers of Italy to better understand the culture and the lifestyle of the boot-shaped country and to be informed with the latest news and tips about touristic itineraries and hidden gems in Italy to discover and spread the word on.

    Eugenio Magnani, Director of ENIT New York, welcomed his guest to the ENIT office in Rockefeller Center, where the stunning view on Rockefeller Plaza provided the “piazza” for the aperitivo experience, that was also the occasion for all the Italian institutions’ representatives in New York to gather and show their support to the initiative.

    Consul General of Italy in New York Natalia Quintavalle said in her introductory remarks that “Aperitivo in Piazza” brought her back to the pleasant evenings spent in Versilia with friends, and complimented Magnani on the initiative, which she defined as “an inspiration to make our travel to Italy a must.”

    Magnani acted like a competent showman with a very well planned itinerary, halfway in-between a guided tour of Italy’s most beautiful destinations and an entertainment show with its visual segments and live interviews. 

    Several videos were in fact proposed to the audience: from breathtaking postcards from Naples with the musical accompaniment of Dalla’s Caruso interpretation, to a slideshow of the most beautiful piazzas of Italy, all the way down to the trailer for John Turturro’s “Passione,” to an extremely amusing presentation of the secrets of Florence. 

    After an amazing visual journey to the Cinque Terre area of Liguria, ready for the touristic season even after the severe floods of last October, a live Skype call with Vernazza’s major Vincenzo Resasca surprised the guests, who could hear from the major an interesting update on the steady recovery of the five villages from the natural disaster they experienced.

    Fred Plotkin, a lover and connoisseur of Italy, was also present at the event, and he gave a very fitting definition of the people from Liguria, “who don’t advertise their treasures as much as other Italians do, but who will welcome you warmheartedly once you go visit their region.”

    Aperitivo in Piazza was also a pleasant occasion for the American tour-operators, journalists and tourism businessmen to get acquainted with less famous destinations in Tuscany such as Forlì, where an interesting exhibition on early 1900s sculptor Adolfo Wildt investigates Michelangelo’s influence on the artist and Wildt influence on artists such as Gustav Klimt. 

    After entering the Aperitivo state of mind, at the end of the show, the many guests could soothe their nostalgia of Italy with a selection of wines and finger foods, practicing for their next (and we believe soon-to-be-booked) trip to Italy.

  • Life & People

    Encouraging Women Leadership in the World

    On March 15, International Women’s Day, The Society of Foreign Consuls in New York organized a reception in celebration of the commitment of women throughout the different immigrant communities in the city, contributing to the diversity and richness of New York City.

    At the Consulate General of the Russian Federation, Consul Andrey Yushmanov welcomed the women Consuls of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Italy, Kazakhstan, Poland, Saint Lucia, Slovenia and Venezuela. Each nation picked an exemplar woman member and leader of their communities in New York, the Honorees of the night.
     

    Koula Sophianou, Consul General of the Republic of Cyprus and President of the Society of Foreign Consuls, greeted the guests and stated: “We live in this great country, the United States, in which women play a very important role in society.

    Each one of the honorees today serves as an example to all us here on how to live a better life, a life of giving to our community, not just the one we are from, but the community where we reside.”

    Initiated last year by Consul General of the Republic of Kazakhstan Raushan Yesbulatova, the reception in celebration of Women’s Day was so successful that it was established as an annual celebration.
     

    Italy was represented at the event by Deputy Consul General Lucia Pasqualini, who awarded the Italian Honoree for the night, Silvia Formenti, MD, Professor and Chairwoman of the Department of Radiation oncology at the New York School of Medicine.
     

    Pasqualini said that collaborating with The Society of Foreign Consuls was a beautiful experience: “Working with the women Consuls of so many different countries has been very interesting and we were very enthusiastic to participate,” and added: “Consul General Quintavalle accepted immediately, and we couldn’t have done differently since in our Consulate women are the majority.”
     

    Commenting on the gradually increasing presence of women in Italian diplomacy, Pasqualini said: “We are still not that numerous, but hopefully the change will be sensible in the results.”  

    On the choice to nominate Formenti as the Italian Honoree, Pasqualini commented: “Silvia Formenti gave a significant contribution in the field of medical research and she is an amazing banner for representing our country today.”
     

    First Chairwoman at NYU and first Chairwoman in her specialty in the United States, Formenti believes that “Women today have to be given the opportunity to think they can become leaders, which is not something to be taken for granted.”
     

    The importance of encouraging women to pursue leadership positions is something that both Formenti and Quintavalle are very actively encouraging, and about the Consul General Formenti told i-Italy: “It is great to have a woman Consul such as Natalia Quintavalle here in New York, she is an extraordinary person and we are all very proud of her. She knows how important it is to promote women in society, which needs to be pursued at all costs.”
     

    Formenti’s advice to young girls in Italy who are struggling to find opportunities for a better future is “to be resilient against rejections and disappointments,” and to get back on their feet as fast as they can, “no matter how often they fall.”
     

    Penne with Vodka sauce and Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli in Butter and Sage sauce prepared by Serafina’s Chef Vittorio Assaf were the Italian dishes offered at the reception that followed the awarding ceremony, featuring typical delicacies from the cuisines of all the participating countries.

    Italian wines were also available among other international spirits, and we asked Alessandra Rotondi, Italian sommelier, to define the most feminine among all Italian wines.
    “I’d pick Falanghina,” she said. Falanghina derives its name from the Latin ‘falanga,’ the stakes supporting the grapes in the vineyard: “like women, falanghina grapes are autonomous but when they have a support to grow on, they become wondrous…like wonder woman!”

     -----
    Since its founding in 1925, the Society of Foreign Consuls in New York has represented the world’s largest diplomatic community. This unique organization, whose members are gathered from the 112 NYC-based Consulates General, is steered by an Executive Committee made up of elected members representing all countries via the following regional groupings – Europe, Africa, West & South Asia, North & South America, the Caribbean & Central America and East Asia & Western Pacific.

     

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