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Articles by: I. I.

  • Art & Culture

    It is Time for a Bilingual Revolution

    The book The Bilingual Revolution: The Future of Education is in Two Languages tells the story of a grassroots movement that emerged out of the dedicated involvement of motivated parents, educators, and community actors willing to create and support dual language programs in New York City public schools.
     
    Combining insight on learning and living in two languages, the book shares practical applications and examples of bilingual education, from preschool to high school. With New York City as a backdrop, Fabrice Jaumont, from a personal and scholarly perspective, recognizes in his book the successes and setbacks of these programs through vignettes that feature the parents and educators he helped initiate bilingual programs in their schools.
     
    Ofelia García, Professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and world-renowned expert in bilingual education, wrote the book’s foreword, “Bilingual Education, Making a U-Turn with Parents and Communities:”
     
    Usually books on bilingual education are for teachers and little attention has been previously paid to how families can act to ensure that American public schools develop bilingual education programs for their children. The most important story told by Fabrice Jaumont in this book is that of the desire of American families to have their children schooled bilingually, in English, but also in a language that has deep connections to them.”
     
    Although the roots of bilingual education in the United States can be traced back to the early 17th century, Jaumont describes a new phenomenon sweeping the country with the objectives of:

    • Embracing families' and communities' own unique cultures and promoting their linguistic heritages as important parts of the greater international mosaic of our society
    • Helping facilitate community re-engage with public schools
    • Promoting a social, economic, and cultural sense of community and helping to bridge gaps that continue to divide us

     
    Nicknamed the “godfather of language immersion programs” by the New York Times, Fabrice Jaumont has more than 25 years of experience in international education and the development of multilingual programs in the United States. In spearheading what he calls the “Bilingual Revolution,” Jaumont has put his expertise at the service of the French, Italian, Japanese, German, and Russian communities by helping them to develop quality dual language programs in their local public schools. He is himself the father of two bilingual and bicultural girls who attend a public dual language school in Brooklyn.
     
    A true believer in the benefits of bilingualism –from improved critical thinking to a profound sensitivity toward other people and cultures-, Jaumont depicts and encourages the development of bilingual programs. It is his belief that these offerings can positively transform and empower children, schools, and communities in unprecedented ways. In the diversity of the stories he shares, Jaumont paints a picture of a viable 21st-century solution to preserve linguistic heritage and raise a generation of young bilingual, bi-literate, multicultural citizens of the world.
     
     ===

     

    The Bilingual Revolution: The Future of Education is in Two Languages by Fabrice Jaumont ($19.99, 210 pages, 6x9, paperback, ISBN: 978-1-947626-00-3) is scheduled for release on September 5, 2017 and is now available for pre-order on tbr-books.com (POD).
    Other formats: hardcover ($59.99, 6.69x9.61, ISBN: 978-1-947626-03-4), ebook ($13.99, ISBN: 978-1-947626-02-7) and audiobook (($13.99, ISBN: 978-1-947626-06-5).
    Also available in French under the title: La révolution bilingue : le futur de l’éducation s’écrit en deux langues. Upcoming translations include: Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, Italian, German, Polish, Chinese, and Russian (expected December 2017).
    TBR Books is a new independent Brooklyn publisher with a focus on revolutionary ideas for culture, education, and human development.

     

  • Foto di Francesca Magnani
    Facts & Stories

    I.E.F. "Italy: Exporting Beauty"

    Monday, January 27, the first international edition of the Italian Export Forum (IEF) took place in New York, at the School of Visual Arts Theatre. Launched by the Founder and CEO of The ONE Company, Lorenzo Zurino, IEF wants to establish itself as a ‘home,’ a space for the various actors involved in exporting and promoting the Made in Italy brand abroad to come together and share their experiences, resources, and goals for the future. 

     

    “The Forum proposes itself as an effective tool for supporting those businesses seeking a content-driven internationalization rather than one made up of slogans,” Zurino explains. 

     

    Following the first edition, which took place in June 2019 in Piano di Sorrento, IEF now makes its way to New York, a crucial point of reference for the promotion of the Made in Italy brand, with a panel titled "Italy: Exporting Beauty," featuring the following speakers: Gianfranco Sorrentino, President of Gruppo Italiano (GI); Monica Mandelli, Managing Director of gloabal investment firm KKR; Andrea Benetton, CEO of Cirio Agricola and Maccarese Agricola; Rocco Totino, Partner of accounting and consulting firm Grassi & Co; Giovanni Colavita, CEO of Colavita USA; Franco Pavoncello, President of John Cabot University in Rome; Valeria Fascione, Campania Regional Minister for Internationalization, Startups and Innovation; Mimmo Turano, Sicilian Regional Assembly Deputee; Nello Musumeci, President of the Region of Sicily. 

     

    Moderated by Journalist and co-founder of Your Italian Hub, Francesca di Matteo, the panelists shared their perspectives and experiences regarding the internationalization of Italian businesses and the promotion of the Made in Italy brand, particularly focusing on key strategies and mindsets to adopt and on how to avoid falling into common mistakes.

     

    The President of Gruppo Italiano, a non-profit association that brings together Italian restaurateurs, importers, and distributors, Gianfranco Sorrentino, opened the event by stating that “Italian export is a valuable resource for the country and for the world, and must be supported in every way.”

     

    Mr. Zurino then asked the audience to join him in observing a moment of silence for the recently deceased American basketball legend Kobe Bryant. He then briefly introduced the Forum, claiming that he plans to bring it “wherever the Made in Italy brand will be, which means everywhere!”

     

    He then gave the floor to Lauren Merkel, the Director of Partnerships at Global NY, who read a hearfelt letter by NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo, in which he expressed his appreciation for the initiative’s “entrepreneurial and innovative” spirit, confirming his government’s willingness to collaborate with Italian projects. “The Italian community continues to make great contributions to the entire world,” the Governor wrote, “well reflected in the distinctive tastes, timeless styles, and bold designs generated by individuals of prolific talent and creativity.” 

     

    This intervention was followed by a speach from the Consul General of Italy, Francesco Genuardi, who stressed the need to celebrate and promote “not only 'Italian Tradition and American Innovation' but also Italian Innovation and the American tradition of loving Italy.”

     

    The panelists then began to discuss their experiences with internationalization and their specific roles within this dynamic. Monica Mandelli (Managing Director of gloabal investment firm KKR) spoke about her experience in helping Italian companies to position themselves and grow in the US market. She then spoke about Endeavor Italy (of which she is the VP) and its mission to identify promising entrepreneurs and providing them with the right tools and advice to expand abroad. “Italy exports great talent,” she said, “and that’s what we look for - not only products but people, talent, passion.”

     

    The Forum then showed a video intervention by Andrea Benetton, the CEO of Cirio Agricola and Maccarese Agricola, who argued that “Made in Italy is an exceptional brand” and is internationally recognized as such but that is no longer enough, especially on the American market. “Companies have to learn to work together, because that’s the only way to grow.”

     

    Rocco Totino of accounting and consulting firm Grassi & Co, urged Italian entrepreneurs to be strategic, to think more long-term rather than just short term and especially to “do their homework,” study the destination market in depth, and surround themselves with the right advisors and counselors to help them navigate the US market. “The culture is different and it is necessary that they understand it and learn to adapt.”

     

    He was echoed by Giovanni Colavita, CEO of Colavita USA, who also stressed the necessity for Italian companies to adapt to the US market, explaining how his own company chose to invest in educating the consumers to foster a deeper understanding of their products and thus create a demand for them. 

     

    “Oftentimes, Italian companies mistakingly think that because they are known in Italy, they must also be known abroad,” he said. “They don’t know how to comunicate themselves. They either turn to American agencies who are very good at their job but don’t know anything about the Italian context surrounding the products they are promoting, or they turn to Italian agencies who understand their products but not the American market. That’s why we recently created, along with i-Italy, Your Italian Hub, a communication agency serving as a bridge between Italy and the US.”

     

    It was then time for another video message by the President of John Cabot University, Franco Pavoncello, who expressed his belief that Italy is entering a “new Renaissance,” that its excellencies are flourishing and becoming known and appreciated throughout the world. 

     

    Valeria Fascione then spoke of her experience as Campania's Regional Minister for Internationalization, Start-ups, and Innovation and how her team has been working to select new local business with export potential as well as the foreign markets that are best suited to receiving them, which of course include the US but also Singapore and Israel, for example. 

     

    Still from the more institutional perspective, Mimmo Turano briefly illustrated the plan that the region of Sicily is implementing to support the internationalization of its businesses, stating that “These initiatives have contributed to growth in all sectors, though the food industry remains the strongest.”

     

    Finally, the President of the Region of Sicily, Nello Musumeci, was the star of the night, engaging the audience with his direct and simple approach. He particularly highlighted the importance of overcoming stereotypes and the need for corageous entrepreneurs. Additionally, he was one of the few who spoke of internationalization not only in the sense of exporting Italy abroad but also of attracting foreign investments. 

     

    “We want to encourage American investments in Sicily because now is a time of great opportunity,” he explained. “Sicily has to change its mentality. Its position at the center of the Mediterranean is ideal for attracting foreign capital. We have to be optimistic.”

     

    The audience was fully engaged in the discussion and followed up with questions that touched upon every aspect the panelists covered, from the need for institutional support, to the importance of educating foreign consumers in recognizing the value of Italian products; from the necessity of helping businesses select the right advisors, to that of preparing young people to be open and ready to look for opportunities abroad. 

  • Art & Culture

    March 25th is Officially National Dante Day

    The Italian cabinet has approved the proposal of Culture Minister Dario Franceschini to make March 25th National Dante Day or “Dantedì” as we approach 2021, which will mark the 700-year anniversary of the death of poet Dante Alighieri. 

    The date of March 25th has been identified by scholars as the beginning of the journey into the afterlife narrated in The Divine Comedy. 

    According to Minister Franceschini, Dantedì will be “a day to remember in all of Italy and the world Dante’s genius with numerous initiatives involving schools, students, and cultural institutions.”

    Various Italian intellectuals, scholars and cultural institutions including Accademia della Crusca, Società Dantesca, Società Dante Alighieri, and the Italian Society for the study of medieval thought. 

    As the father of the Italian language, the poet has come to represent an important symbol for Italy as a unified country, one that is particularly important in the era of Brexit and the various waves of separationist movements spreading across Europe. “Dante is the unity of this country,” Franceschini stated, “Dante is the Italian language, Dante is the very idea of Italy.” 

     

  • Facts & Stories

    “Il Giorno della Memoria” in New York

    "Remembrance Day is not for the victims; they can’t forget. And they certainly don’t need a special anniversary to do so. As the son of an Auschwitz survivor arrested in Florence, I don’t need a special date either. Remembrance Day is really for everyone else, for those who weren’t born yet, for the children of the few civilian heroes who strove to save human lives, for the millions of 'spectators' who didn’t want to or couldn’t do anything to stop what was happening, for the children of the persecutors.
    When the Red Army liberated Auschwitz on January 17, 1945, the spectacle was so ghostly and apocalyptic it’s no wonder they didn’t ask many questions. Yakov Vinichenko, one of the soldiers who threw open the gates, recalls: “Not even those of us who saw it wanted to believe it. For years I tried to erase it from my memory, until I realized that would make me an accomplice, a culprit. So now I remember it, even if I still can’t understand it.”

    * Andrea Fiano is the son of Nedo Fiano, an Auschwitz survivor.

    --

    January 27th - the day in which the gates of Auschwitz were broken down in 1945 - marks International Holocaust Rememberance Day, a day to commemorate the victims of the Shoah.

    In Italy, this day - also referred to as “il Giorno della Memoria” - was officially recognized by the Parliament by the Law 211 in 2000. 

    Every year, the Consulate General of Italy in New York together with the Italian Cultural Institute, Centro Primo Levi, Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò at NYU, the Calandra Institute at CUNY and La Scuola d’Italia organize a series of cultural initiatives to educate youger generations on the history of totalitarianism, and to raise awareness regarding racism and xenophobia. 

    These institutions believe that “education is paramount in forging the integrity of the new generations and instrumental in laying the basis for a better society.” Which is why they stand alongside the student community, their families and educators, in keeping alive the memory of Holocaust victims and therefore reaffirming the values of equality, democracy, and respect for human rights.

    From 9 am to 2pm on Monday, January 27th, the Consulate General of Italy hosts a public ceremony at 690 Park Avenue in which they invite audiences to read out loud the names of the Jews deported from Italy and Italian territories.

     

  • Facts & Stories

    Italian Food & Jazz at Lucciola NYC

    Beloved Upper West Side Italian restaurant, Lucciola, kicks off the new decade with its first-ever Jazz Night, which will take place on January 16 starting at 7:30pm.

     

    The first in a new series of musical soirees, Thursday’s event will feature live jazz music by the Stefano Doglioni Trio and guitarist Pasquale Grasso. 

     

    Born in 1986 in Feltre, Italy, jazz bass clarinetist Stefano Doglioni has performed in Italy, Holland, Switzerland, France, Africa, and the US, and has had the privilege to work with notable musicians such as Freddie Redd, Franz Elsen, Charles Davis, Leroy Williams, Jimmy Wormworth, Ari Roland, Chris Byars, Sacha Perry, John Mosca, Clifford Barbaro, Luigi Grasso, Pasquale Grasso, Zaid Nasser, Keith Balla, Alex Hoffman, The Mingus Orchestra, William Ash, Neal Miner, Tyler Mitchell, Tardo Hammer, Billy Drummond, and Grant Stewart.

     

    Pasquale Grasso comes from Ariano Irpino, Italy. He has been living in New York since 2012, where he quickly made a name for himself in the city's vibrant jazz scene. Grasso became part of the Ari Roland Quartet and the Chris Byars Quartet, performing in clubs and music festivals, and recording in the studio regularly. Later that year, Pasquale was named a Jazz Ambassador with the U.S. Embassy, going on to tour extensively across Europe, Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Cyprus, Lithuania, and Ukraine, among others.

     

    He has performed with many leading musicians of the international jazz scene such as Barry Harris, Charles Davis, Freddie Redd, Frank Wess, Leroy Wiliams, Ray Drummond, Murray Wall, Steve Grossman, Tardo Hammer, Jimmy Wormworth, John Mosca, Sacha Perry, Ari Roland, Luigi Grasso, Chris Byars, Zeid Nasser, Bucky Pizzarelli, China Moses, Harry Allen Quartet, Grant Stewart, Stepko Gut, Nicolas Dary, Dado Moroni, Agostino di Giorgio, Michel Pastre Big Band, Gianni Basso Big Band, Joe Cohn, Oscar Zenari, and Luca Pisani.

     

    The two have already performed together and now you have a chance to listen to their wonderful music as you enjoy a delicious Italian meal in the restaurant’s intimate and romantic setting.

     

    Opened in November 2017 by Michele Casadei Massari, Alberto Ghezzi and Gianluca Capozzi, with co-founders Erica Monti and Luca Filicol, the restaurant is dedicated to the city of Bologna. It takes inspiration specifically from Pupi Avati’s 1985 film “Graduation Party” and to actor Nik Novecento, who “embodied the values of Bologna, from his passion, soul, courageousness, and kindness.” Lucciola wants to honor the memory of Novecento, who passed away at a young age, by creating a space in New York “where he could have come and spent time.”

     

    For more information on the performers, check out their respective websites:

    www.stefanodoglioni.com

    www.pasqualegrasso.com

     

    Lucciola is located at 621 Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

    Website: www.lucciolanyc.com

     

  • Art & Culture

    Verdi Reads Verdi in the Bocelli Home

    Andrea Bocelli and his family usher in the new year with a special cultural event imbued with authentic Italian tradition. Their residence in Poggioncino becomes the stage for a highly unique celebration of the most Italian composer of Italian Opera, Giuseppe Verdi

     

    A very intimate representation of the show titled “Verdi legge Verdi” (Verdi reads Verdi) directed and interpreted by Massimiliano Finazzer Flory, all centered around the great composer’s authentic thoughts and words.

     

    “A double hommage,” says Finazzer Flori, “to Verdi the philosopher and to Bocelli the poet. There is an extraordinary ethical unity between the great composer and our singer: a love of the land and for the people.”

     

    And these the fascinating words of Andrea Bocelli:

    “An unexpected gift, a beautiful, magical event: we send a heartfelt thank you to our friend Massimiliano Finazzer Flory, who through his theatrical piece wanted to bring back intact the emotion of finding ourselves face to face with an immense flesh and blood Giuseppe Verdi… The story and the great ethical lessons of Verdi - a reserved and generous man, visionary and tormented - emerge in all their actuality and universality.”

     

    According to Finazzer Flory, Giuseppe Verdi and Andrea Bocelli would have really liked each other. “I’m certain of it. Both of them claim freedom as a universal human right and the supreme joy of free creation. That’s how this necessity was born...this impulse to propose this show about Verdi in his home for Veronica, his family, in Lajatico, which drew people with the desire to learn. An hommage to the Theatre of Silence, a truly unique open air venue.”

     

    Finazzer Flory will be busy with “Verdi legge Verdi” throughout the entire year of 2020, during which the show will tour the United States, Europe, and Italy. 

     

  • Art & Culture

    Iconic Italian Musician CARMEN CONSOLI Returns to the United States

    Ms. Consoli is a remarkable combination of rocker and intellectual.” — The New York Times
     
    Carmen Consoli is the most successful female singer-songwriter Italy has ever produced.  Throughout a 25 year career the musician has been defined by her unflinching emotional live performances of songs that examine broad themes of love, illness, solitude and friendship from a feminine — and feminist — perspective.  Her innovative mixture of Italian song with indie-rock influences, bossa nova rhythms, traditional Sicilian musical styles and jazz and blues-inspired riffs have engendered a generation defining sound unique to the Italian music scene.  
     
    Consoli’s November tour marks the Sicilian-born artist's return to the States after nearly a decade.  The North American dates are part of Consoli's Eco Di Sirene (Echo of Sirens) world tour which will touch down in New York, Boston, Washington DC, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco following stopovers in Havana, Cuba and Santiago, Chile.  Eco Di Sirene is Consoli’s critically acclaimed 2018 live album and Italian concert tour project in which the “Cantantessa” performs from her career-spanning repertoire accompanied by a female string duo consisting of violinist Emilia Belfiore and cellist Claudia della Gatta.  This female trio forming a metaphor the Trinacria symbol of the Sicilian Island.  

    Highlights from Carmen Consoli’s remarkable career include being the first female artist to perform at Rome’s Olympic Stadium, the only Italian artist invited to take part in a Bob Marley tribute event held in Ethiopia and headlining in New York City’s Central Park.  More recently Consoli has been Concert Master of Puglia’s “La Notte della Tatanta” and appeared on Italy’s Sanremo Festival.  Consoli has been awarded Italy's Tenco Prize as well as Davide di Donatello and Nastri d’argento awards.  She has also served as a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador and is an Amnesty International Italy prize winner.  Additionally Carmen Consoli has been bestowed the honor of Knight of The Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.

    ----
     
    LISTING INFO

    Monday, November 11, 2019 | New York, NY
    Angel Orensanz Foundation
    172 Norfolk Street, New York, NY 10002
    Time: 8:00pm
    Tickets $33-$71 >>>

    Wednesday, November 13, 2019 | Boston, MA
    Regattabar
    The Charles Hotel,1 Bennett St, Cambridge MA 02138
    Time: 7:30pm
    Tickets $45 >>>

     
    Thursday, November 14, 2019 | Washington,DC DC
    Studio Theatre
    1501 14th St NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20005
    Time: 7pm
    Tickets: Free by Reservation >>>

    Saturday, November 16, 2019 | Miami, FL
    Hit Week Festival at North Beach Bandshell 
    7275 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL
    Time: 7pm
    Tickets: Free by Reservation >>>

    Monday, November 18, 2019 | Los Angeles, CA
    Zipper Concert Hall 
    200 South Grand Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90012
    Time: 8pm
    Tickets: $44 - $65 >>>

    Tuesday, November 19, 2019 | San Francisco, CA
    Brava Theater
    2781 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
    Time: 8pm
    Tickets: $39 - $55 >>>
     

  • A stained glass image of Mother Cabrini. https://cabrinishrinenyc.org
    Facts & Stories

    A Commission to Oversee Creation of New Mother Cabrini Statue

    "Mother Cabrini was a great New Yorker and a great Italian-American immigrant who did untold good for the people of this state, and there is no doubt she is deserving of a statue in her honor," Governor Cuomo said. "With the help of this new commission, we are going to get this done to help ensure Mother Cabrini's legacy of service to her community and those who are less fortunate is remembered for generations to come."

    The commission will provide recommendations to the Governor pertaining to the design, location and installation of the new memorial. The State's requests for proposals will seek ideas for the overall design and the statue's exact location. The commission will initiate broad outreach to the art community as soon as possible, including contacting art institutions and organizations as well as direct artist outreach. Once the design proposals are reviewed by the commission, the commission will select the finalists and present those to Governor Cuomo, who will make the final selection.

    Angelo Vivolo, President, Columbus Heritage Coalition, said, "Mother Cabrini's selfless work changed the lives of children, immigrants and countless others. Governor Cuomo's support will help us memorialize her generous legacy, and I am eager to work with the Governor and the rest of the commission to bring together a statue that will honor a true public servant."

    The Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn, said, "I am grateful for Governor Andrew Cuomo's steadfast commitment to seeing Mother Cabrini honored with s statue recognizing her life's work here in New York City. I accept the responsibility the Governor has charged me with to lead this commission. I look forward to creating a lasting tribute to the Patron Saint of Immigrants so that her legacy will live on forever."

    Mother Cabrini was an Italian-American who founded many organizations to help the needy. She was the youngest of 13 children, born in Lombardy in 1850, and before migrating to the United States, she took vows and founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, an order that served and schooled orphans.

    Mother Cabrini arrived to the United States in 1889 on a mission to help Italian migrants. While in New York, she taught at St. Joachim's parish, the Church of Our Lady of Pompeii, and the Transfiguration Catholic Church - all in Manhattan - as well as St. Rita of Cascia in The Bronx and the Church of St. Stephen in Brooklyn. Over the course of 35 years, Mother Cabrini founded dozens of institutions that would serve the less fortunate, including educational organizations and programs to support other fellow Italian-Americans who arrived as immigrants. Among those were the Columbus Hospital, which was eventually renamed the Cabrini Medical Center and was housed in Manhattan for many years before closing in 2008.

    Mother Cabrini was originally buried in West Park and is now interred at the St. Frances Cabrini Shrine in Manhattan, which she founded. In 1946, nearly 30 years after her death, Mother Cabrini became the first naturalized U.S. citizen to be canonized. She is recognized as the patron saint of immigrants. Several academic institutions, religious buildings and hospitals across New York are named after her.

    ---

    The commission comprised of 19 members appointed by the Governor includes:

    - Maria Bartiromo, Journalist 
    - Frank Bisignano, CEO and Chairman, First Data
    - Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito
    - Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, Diocese of Brooklyn
    - Bishop Orlando Findlayter
    - Philip Foglia, Italian American Legal Defense and Higher Education Fund
    - Mario Gabelli, CEO, Gabelli Asset Management and Member of the Board of Directors, American-Italian Cancer Foundation and the Foundation for Italian Art & Culture
    - John Leo Heyer II, Diocese of Brooklyn Italian Apostolate
    - Maureen Sherry Klinsky, Author
    - Gary LaBarbera, President, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York
    - Joe Plumeri, Former Chairman, CEO of Willis Group Holdings
    - Erminia Rivera, Member, Maimonides Medical Center Board of Trustees
    - Joseph Sciame, Chair, Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations; Vice President for Community Relations, St. John's University
    - Carlo Scissura, Chairman of the Federation of Italian-American Organizations and President & CEO of the New York Building Congress
    - Mary Ann Tighe, Chief Executive Officer of the New York Tri-State Region of CBRE
    - Veronica Tsang, Executive Vice President and Chief Retail Administrator, Cathay Bank
    - George Tsunis, Chair, Battery Park City Authority
    - John Viola, former President, National Italian American Foundation
     - Angelo Vivolo, President, Columbus Heritage Coalition

  • Facts & Stories

    Help Restore The Historic Casa Belvedere

    Located on Grymes Hill in Staten Island, Casa Belvedere was built in 1908 by Louis A. Stirn and Laura Roebling-Stirn and was then known as Stirn Mansion. The building, with its Italianate-style, neo-Renaissance exterior, and its arts & crafts style interior, is of great historical significance. It is a New York City Landmark and is listed on the New York State and National Register of Historic Places.

    In 2010, the mansion was donated to the Italian Cultural Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Italian art and culture. Since then, Casa Belvedere has worked to foster the general public’s knowledge and appreciation of Italian language, arts, cuisine, history, music, fashion, and commerce through educational programs, exhibitions and special events. 

    Among the activities it offers are language and cooking classes, musical performances, a film festival, art exhibitions, fashion shows, car shows, lectures, book presentations, gardening classes, and bocce lessons just to name a few. 

    The foundation’s mission also includes the preservation of Casa Belvedere itself, where all the activities are held. The building suffered severe damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and has been undergoing vast reparations. The upper level rooms however, are still in need of restoration. 

    For this reason, the foundation is asking for people’s vote in the 2019 Partners in Preservation: Main Streets campaign to help them win a grant that will allow for the repairs and enable them to turn those rooms into additional galleries. 

    Partners in Preservation is an initiative created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express to engage the public in preserving and increasing awareness of America’s historic places and their role in sustaining local communities. The main street campaign, which runs from September 24th to October 29th, invites the public to vote once a day for up to five Main Street projects to determine which sites will receive $2 million in preservation funding.

  • Art & Culture

    Italian is the 4th Most Studied Language

    A study by Ethnologue, a research center dedicated to language, revealed that Italian is amongst the most studied languages in the world, coming in fourth place after English, Spanish and Mandarin, and right before French. During the 2016-2017 academic year, it counted 2.145.093 students across 115 countries. 

    Within the European Union, however, the most studied language is by far English, which is part of the program for 97,3% of secondary school students, followed by French (33,8%), then German (23,1%), Spanish (13,6%), Russian (2,7%) and finally Italian (1,1%)

    The numbers are also different within Italy, where, after English, the most studied foreign languages are French (72,3%), Spanish (18,8%) and German (8,7%). Although in many schools, the study of Spanish is rapidly increasing on its way to surpassing French. Interest in studying Mandarin and Arabic is also on the rise, particularly in private schools and universities. 

    As for the most spoken languages, a rather difficult rating to establish since there is no single way to determine how many people speak a language at a certain time, English is of course number one overall spoken language, (by 190 million people, that is 17% of the global population) followed by Mandarin, which in turn is the most common mothertongue (908,7 million)

    Italy comes in 21st place with over 67 million speakers. It is however more diffused as a mothertongue, counting native speakers in 26 different countries as a consequence of widespread Italian emigration. 

    Overall, it’s quite remarkable that a language such as Italian, which is associated with a restricted geographical area (it is an official language in Italy, San Marino, Vatican City, Switzerland and some areas of Slovenia and Croatia), has such wide-reaching and seemingly growing draw. It certainly speaks to the general appeal of Italian culture worldwide, to the strength and potential of Italian soft power.  

     

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