Articles by: Kayla Pantano

  • Facts & Stories

    Italian Citizen Confirmed Dead in Berlin Attack

    Horror struck Berlin on Monday evening when a Schwarzmuller rental truck plowed into a Christmas market. Of the 12 people who were killed in the terror attack, the government confirmed that Italian woman Fabrizia Di Lorenzo was one of them.

    "The German judiciary, as reported by Germany's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has performed the necessary verifications and unfortunately it is now certain that among the victims there is also the Italian national, Fabrizia Di Lorenzo," Italy's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Angelino Alfano, said. "I am affectionately close to her family and loved ones and join them in their immense grief."

    After Aflano confirmed her death, Premier Paolo Gentiloni took to Twitter to offer his condolences.

    "Italy remembers Fabrizia Di Lorenzo, an exemplary citizen killed by terrorists. The country joins in the pain of the family.”

    President Sergio Mattarella expressed his sorrow too.

    "The news that Fabrizia Di Lorenzo has been identified among the victims of the Berlin massacre confirms our worst fears of the last few days. The pain at her death is great. Once again one of our young compatriots has been the victim of the senseless, execrable violence of terrorism. I express the solidarity and closeness of the whole country to Fabrizia's parents and brother.”

    The 31-year-old was reported missing by her family after the attack. Her mobile phone and travel pass were found near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church where the hijacked lorry careered through huts and stalls packed with visitors. Her parents and brother traveled to Berlin to help German officials with DNA identification of her body.

    Originally from Sulmona of L'Aquila in Abruzzo, she had been living in Germany for several years, working for a logistics company. Her relatives own Ristorante Lucia in the North End neighborhood of Boston.

    Police in Germany and across Europe are still in search of the prime suspect, Anis Amri. The 24-year-old Tunisian is believed to be armed, leaving Europeans to face the prospect of a holiday season with a violent and radicalized man on the loose.

  • Style

    Big Changes to Boost Milan Men’s Fashion Week

    Carlo Capasa became president of the Camera Nazionale della Moda (National Chamber of Italian Fashion)—a non-profit that promotes the development of Italian fashion in national and global markets—in April 2015. Since then, he has supported emerging design talent and has encouraged the industry’s engagement with Milan as a fashion capital. A simple look at the numbers will tell you he achieved just that.

    The upcoming Milan Men’s Fashion Week (January 13-17) has 37 runway shows on the program, two more than last year’s edition. And there will be debut shows from seven designers: Billionaire, Cédric Charlier, Federico Curradi, Malibu 1992, Palm Angels, Plein Sport, and Wood Wood.

    But Capasa does not deny the changing atmosphere, referencing Bottega Veneta and Gucci’s decision to unite their men’s and women’s runway shows in February.

    “We are in a moment of big changes and reconsideration: the designers and the companies are asking themselves how they can improve established strategies, also to tap into new generations, who have different needs and desires and above all a vision of the world that is very different,” said Capasa. “The unification of the runway shows is just one example.”

    However, he remains optimistic, saying the event will be “strong, innovative, and international.” In fact, some of the runway shows will feature both men and women, including Marcelo Burlon, Cédric Charlier, Damir Doma, and Dsquared2.

    Several established names in men's fashion will be gracing the agenda, including Antonio Marras, Frankie Morello, Moschino, and N.21.

    The event is also filled with new creative directors, including Alessandro Sartori of Ermenegildo Zegna, who will make his premiere on opening night. Other debuts feature Francesco Risso of Marni, Guillaume Meilland at the helm of Ferragamo, and Lee Wood of Bikkembergs.

    There are also positive signs from the 82-year-old fashion icon, Giorgio Armani. Before journalists jet off to Paris, he is set to close the week on January 17. But at 10:30am on that same day he will be hosting back-to-back runway shows of three emerging brands: Japan’s Yoshio Kubo, the Malaysian Moto Guo, and the Chinese Consistence.

    "Milan is going through a moment of huge aesthetic, cultural and creative ferment, of which fashion is an active part," Armani told WWD. "That is why I decided to expand and structure my initiative in support of the most talented designers to establish a unique and exciting day in Milan's schedule."

    Though, this isn't the first time Armani has welcomed new talent to present their work. Earlier this year, he supported the likes of Ricostru and Miao Ran, and back in 2014 he presented Christian Pellizzari.

    The National Chamber of Italian Fashion has collaborated on his most recent venture, of which Capasa desires others to follow suit. “Armani has once again demonstrated his generosity and willingness to support young people and Milan. We can all make an example of his coherence and dedication,” said Capasa.

    Capasa continued to emphasize the importance of the industry in Italy’s economy. “We should never forget that textiles and fashion is the second industry of our country and continues to offer hope and opportunities to young people. Not to mention its contribution to Italy’s image in the world, which is priceless.”

    For the same reason, Capasa hopes that collaboration with local and national authorities will continue. “There has been a fruitful dialogue with Milan Mayor Beppe Sala from the start and we hope that the new government will continue along the course started by Matteo Renzi and Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda, who understood the value of textiles and fashion as an economic driver of the country.”

  • Vincent Viola arrives at Trump Tower for meetings with the President-elect on Dec. 16. (Bryan R. Smith, AFP/Getty Images)
    Facts & Stories

    Trump Taps Vincent Viola as Army Secretary

    President-elect Donald J. Trump has picked Vincent Viola as Secretary of the Army. Viola is the founder of high frequency trading firm Virtu Financial and owner of the NHL’s Florida Panthers. He also served as the chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange in the early 2000s.

    Trump cheered Viola as “a man of outstanding work ethic, integrity, and strategic vision, with an exceptional ability to motivate others.”

    “Whether it is his distinguished military service or highly impressive track record in the world of business, Vinnie has proved throughout his life that he knows how to be a leader and deliver major results in the face of any challenge," Trump said in a statement.

    Trump continued to say that he is "living proof of the American dream,” as Viola grew up in a family of Italian immigrants in Brooklyn, where his father worked as a truck driver.

    Viola is a 1977 United States Military Academy graduate and veteran of the U.S. Army. He trained as an Airborne Ranger infantry officer and served in the 101st Airborne Division. He also graduated from New York Law School in 1983. 

    After the 9/11 attacks, Viola founded and helped fund the creation of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, which researches counterterrorism policy and educates soldiers and government officials on how to confront threats.

    Of his many charitable efforts, he endowed the Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J. Chair in Catholic Theology at Fordham University, where two of his three sons attended. Viola also serves on the Board of Directors for the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF), a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the Italian American heritage, which has offered their sincerest congratulations.

    “On behalf of the Italian American community, the National Italian American Foundation congratulates our Board Member Vinnie Viola on this prestigious appointment. He is a patriotic American who served his country as an Airborne Ranger infantry officer after his graduation from West Point, and then earned a successful reputation in the financial community,” says Joseph V. Del Raso, NIAF Chairman.

    “His leadership skills are evident in every cause he has undertaken and America will truly benefit from these talents. His personal commitment to the Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point 

is just one example of how Vinnie has shared his success by investing in making America a better and safer place for all of us.”

    Viola himself is also extremely optimistic about this opportunity.

    “This great honor comes with great responsibility, and I will fight for the American people and their right to live free every day,” Viola said in a statement. “A primary focus of my leadership will be ensuring that America’s soldiers have the ways and means to fight and win across the full spectrum of conflict.”

  • Dining in & out

    A Cheese-Centric Trattoria

    As the saying suggests, good things come in three. Husband-and-wife team, Gianfranco and Paula Bolla Sorrentino, along with Partner and Executive Chef Vito Gnazzo, own a trilogy of Italian restaurants in Manhattan—a long way from Gianfranco’s native Naples. First, they opened Il Gattopardo as scheduled a few days after the 9/11 tragedies, demonstrating the city’s collective strength and resilience. It quickly grew into one of New York’s preeminent power-Italian restaurants widely popular for dishing out traditional Southern Italian comfort food.

    Confident in their initial success, they embarked on an ambitious project, renovating the ground floor of an early 20th century illustrious apartment building to house The Leopard at des Artistes. Akin to the former, the restaurant is founded in top quality fare, hospitality, and outstanding service. However, the restored Howard Chandler Christy murals that adorn the walls and the unparalleled wine list are equally as enticing.

    Moving Il Gattopardo down the block to the historically landmarked Rockefeller Townhouses three years ago, the youngest sibling of the restaurant family is Mozzarella & Vino, located opposite the MoMA. Giving the space more informality with a rustic interior, the menu reflects the simplicity and authenticity of Italian cuisine and showcases the best products from Campania.

    Italian-Born World Traveler Settles in New York

    At the age of fourteen, in order to pay for his studies, Sorrentino entered the industry as a commis at a five-star hotel in Capri before advancing to the renowned Quisisana. Quickly discovering his fervor for food, he ventured to London to work at The Dorchester. Thereafter, he had the great fortune to work at the Four Seasons in Tokyo. When he was 30, he moved overseas to the US and eventually settled in New York, where he realized that this was his home. He opened his first bar on the Lower East Side, and in 1990, he proceeded to open Sette MoMa, where he started working with Chef Gnazzo. Ten years later, the prevailing Il Gattopardo group was born.

    From Salerno to the Sorrentinos

    “Vito is like the great Italian wines; he is absolutely becoming better and better with age,” Sorrentino raves of Chef Gnazzo. Hailing from the same region—born and raised in Salerno, he began his culinary career in Milan at the three-Michelin-Star Antica Osteria del Ponte. He immigrated to the States in the 1980s, working in Los Angeles, before moving to NY, where he became the artist of the Sorrentinos’ kitchens. “I never met a chef who has such a respect for the ingredients and his craft. Even after so many years in the US, he is one of the very few Italian chefs who has kept the Italian taste,” Sorrentino continues. According to Gnazzo, the main ingredient derives from the heart. “The food is prepared with lots of passion. Without this fundamental ingredient, the food, the hospitality and the service, wouldn’t be the same.”

    Low-Priced High-Quality

    Mozzarella & Vino distinguishes itself from its counterparts with a more affordable, seasonally inspired menu with a heavy emphasis on Mozzarella di Bufala Campana and affettati served in a fast and easy way with the Italian approach to exceptional quality.

    Though the moderately priced menu is simple, the freshness and flavors are anything but. Everything is made on-site from scratch and twice a week the best of ingredients are flown in from small artisanal farms in Campania. “As we all know, the Cucina Italiana is a cuisine of fresh, natural ingredients, and we apply this concept to all of our restaurants. We go twice a year to Italy to taste new products and to see how our producers work,” Sorrentino proudly says. Gnazzo also owns a property in Felitto, where he cultivates wild fennel and harvests the pollen, which he brings back to incorporate into certain courses.

    Through their careful, handpicked process, each season brings a collection of different dishes. “In the fall we might add a traditional borlotti bean soup scented with prosciutto, hearty slow-braised beef tenders with mashed potatoes, or an Italian sausage dish,” Gnazzo explains. However, the classics will always be on deck, like homemade meatballs with fresh tomato sauce, ravioli, and lasagna. This methodology translates to sweets as well. On his most recent annual summer trip to Salerno, Gnazzo collaborated with the acclaimed pastry chef Pietro Macellaro to create distinctive desserts.

    All About the Wine and Cheese

    The unassuming space boasts a chic and inviting atmosphere with dark wood tables, a sleek enoteca style bar, and a glass-encased, sun-drenched back patio. The restaurant balances modern design and old-fashioned hospitality that makes you feel at home. And who doesn’t love wine and cheese when visiting family? “We have the best buffalo mozzarella from both Cilento, which is sweeter, and from Caserta, which is saltier,” Sorrentino acclaims. “We also have an array of buffalo milk cheeses, like caciocavallo, treccione, smoked mozzarella, butter, and so on.”

    Their small wine list focuses on showcasing smaller family estates and independent Italian winemakers. “With our Enomatic wine dispenser made in Montepulciano we can store opened bottles of wines in perfect condition for over a month. This allows us to serve rare and expensive wine by the glass,” Gnazzo says. In fact, Sorrentino personally selects every bottle. “He is always in search of something new and worthy that pairs perfectly with my dishes.” 

  • 1) Dolce & Gabbana - Crêpe Dress with Appliqué
    Art & Culture

    Christmas Fashion: Italian Style on Sale

    ‘Tis the season for…shopping! And while Italian craftsmanship is go-to source for indisputable elegance all year round, now is the most wonderful time of the year to splurge. With sales left and right, even the most strong-willed fashion gurus can’t resist discounted Italian couture. And there’s never a better time to snap up a vamped style than in December with endless holiday parties and the New Year just around the corner.

    But as Christmas is all about giving, keep your fellow sleek and chic loved ones in mind and let these gifts from some of the best Italian designers be your guide. From plissé velvet skirts to sheepskin fur coats, here are 10 ideas for clothes and accessories that go beyond silver and gold.

    1) Dolce & Gabbana
    $4,295 $2,577

    Inspired by the world of fairytales, this crêpe dress with a flared skirt has the power to make every woman feel like a princess. The bold red alone radiates sophistication, amplified by the square neckline and balloon elbow-length sleeves, but the toy soldier appliqué adds a fun, childlike flare.

    2) Missoni
    $395 $198

    Who says T-shirts are limited to the gym? Wear this silver-lamé top casually or dress it up, but shimmer regardless. A lightweight find with a dreamlike design, it’s ideal for dancing the night away.

    3) Versace
    $3,495 $1,747

    Versace’s Jagged Baroque print—inspired by the jagged vertical lines of Veruschka paintings—takes the form of multicolored sequins in this round neck, long sleeved, cashmere-wool-silk blend knit top. The relaxed fit is perfect for a casual affair, but the subtle shine matched with the delicate knitting makes this a sexy alternative to the traditional Christmas sweater.

    4) Giorgio Armani
    $575 $345

    Keep warm and cozy from day to night in this furry, mohair cardigan with a two-tone color-block effect. The classic round color and button closing provide for a sophisticated look and the pops of pink add a touch of femininity.

    5) Valentino
    $5,900 $3,540

    If winter has any perks, one is that the colder temperatures call for rich fabrics, like velvet. This lush, gray skirt screams grace and its grosgrain-trimmed waistline accentuates your figure, while the pleated effect elongates your legs.

    6) Roberto Cavalli
    $1,140 $684.00

    Alternatively, you can swap your skirt for these straight leg devoré velvet trousers. Perfect for any festive occasion, they’re embellished with a red and black garden pattern with out of this world gold star accents.

    7) Fendi
    $13,000 $6,500

    Nothing makes a statement like fur, especially when it’s dyed a light aqua blue. Turn heads while beating the season’s chill in this sheepskin, oversized coat. Inlaid with a wavy motif in a contrasting color on the lower edge and complete with lapels and long raglan sleeves, this is a practical and groovy outerwear option.

    8) Emilio Pucci
    $980 $588

    A staple in women’s fashion over the years, these elbow-length nappa leather gloves are wild and classy at the same time. Sure to keep your fingers nice and toasty, another selling point is the pink and orange cactus print—guaranteed to brighten up even the darkest of days.

    9) Prada

    Though admittedly not a sale, for an Italian luxury fashion house it’s hard to beat the price. The steel and gold sequin ball earrings with a metallic finish are designed to dazzle, and no outfit is complete without a little glam.

    10) Furla
    $328 $262.40

    Play up any ensemble with Furla’s Metropolis mini crossbody bag in acciaio-metallic. Glitter galore, twinkle like a star and ring in the New Year the right way with just your essentials close by.

    See slideshow for accompanying pictures.

  • Events

    Dino Risi Retrospective at the MoMA

    Presented in collaboration with the Istituto Luce Cinecittà in Rome, the MoMA is hosting a major film retrospective of the late Dino Risi (1916—2008) from December 14—January 6. The event opened with the New York premiere of the new 4K restoration of The Easy Life (1962).

    Italian filmmaker Dino Risi achieved tremendous success during the Italian economic miracle of the 1950s and ‘60s with his searing satires. Chiefly centered on the newfound prosperity of his countrymen, his films hint at Italy’s boastful sense of confidence as a result of the unforeseen flourishing economy following World War II. Populated by farcical and grotesque overtones, he lampoons the politicians, playboys, and priests of his time, helping to establish the style known as Commedia all’Italiana.

    The youngest of three boys, Risi was born in 1916 into an affluent family. His father was a distinguished Milanese physician at the Teatro alla Scala, where Benito Mussolini was one of his patients. Though Risi intended to follow in his father’s footsteps by pursuing a medical degree, a chance meeting with director Alberto Lattuada led to a job as an assistant on the historical drama Piccolo Mondo Antico (1941). And so Risi found a new vocation: cinema.

    Being anti-fascist, his family decided to escape Mussolini’s reign. They took refuge in Geneva, Switzerland, where Risi took a film course with exiled French director Jacques Feyder. Once back in Milan, he earned a degree in psychiatry to please his father, but in his spare time he made documentary shorts that attracted critical attention. Shortly after in 1951, he directed his first feature, Vacanze col Gangster (Vacation with a Gangster).

    Throughout his career, he directed more than 80 feature movies, documentaries, and television shows, many of which are among the most widely seen comedies of the postwar era. They feature some of the greatest actors and actresses of the time, including Alberto Sordi, Vittorio Gassman, Nino Manfredi, Ugo Tognazzi, and Sophia Loren.

    Though he was snubbed by leftist intellectuals for not partaking in the political battles of the ‘50s, by incorporating elements of sentimentality and comedy in his films he earned the affection of an Italian public eager to put war trauma in the past. In 2002, Risi received the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the Venice Film Festival. He passed away six years later at 91 years old in Rome, survived by his two sons, Marco and Claudio, both film directors.

    The retrospective features newly struck 35mm prints of 15 Risi films, including Belle ma povere (1957), The Widower (1959), and Scent of a Woman (1974). The MoMA is also premiering recently rediscovered documentaries that he literally made in the ashes of WWII, which portray Neorealist portraits of Lombardic and Neapolitan street life and culture between 1946 and 1950. Underappreciated gems, such as Love and Larceny (1960), March on Rome (1962), The Thursday (1964), and In the Name of the Italian People (1971), are also on display.

    For a detailed schedule and to reserve tickets, click here.

  • Life & People

    Meet a Renaissance Man

    From folk to classical, music has always played an important role in Italy, inventing instruments such as the piano and violin. But of course, the Italian culture is also one steeped heavily in food, popular for its regional diversity and abundance of different tastes. Sicily, in particular, is a cross-section of both of these arts, home to the country’s largest opera house, Teatro Massimo, and often nicknamed “God’s Kitchen” for their variety of noted cuisines and wines. So it’s only natural for Messina-born Roberto Scarcella Perino, who now lives in New York City, to be torn between them. “I have two passions in my life: good music and good Italian cuisine,” Perino shares.

    The art of music...

    Since he was a child, he knew music was going to be a big part of his life. His nonno, a surgeon who could speak Latin and Greek, played the violin and sung as a tenor. Moreover, his aunt was a soprano, who frequently sang with Franco Corelli—an Italian opera singer celebrated universally for his powerhouse voice—and another aunt also played the piano very well. Surrounded by the trade, he followed in his loved ones’ footsteps and started taking piano lessons at seven years old, subsequently writing music. “I wanted to write music for different reasons. For one, I needed to create, the other because I didn’t like to study so much or to practice scales. To me, writing music was like drawing for kids.”

    At the age of 20, he moved north to study at the Conservatory Giovanni Battista Martini and at the University of Bologna. Afterwards, he entered the workforce as a composer, commissioned by the Fondazione Arturo Toscanini in Parma, later having operas performed in Pisa (A Caval Donato, 1999), Busseto (Merli Verdi e Cucù, 2001), and Torino (Blackout, 2008). Repeatedly touched by his music, Perino feels that hearing the sounds of his own creations are often the best moments of his life. “Whenever I listen to the performer or an orchestra play my music, I realize that what was once just an idea became something that I can really touch, that I can really enjoy.”

    ... and the art of food

    Similar to the craft of song, he was also exposed to the culinary arts at a young age, as his father was fond of hosting his big family and cooking for them. During his time in Emilia-Romagna, which he considers the capital of food, he first learned how to cook fresh pasta. “That was the moment my creativity took two different paths,” Perino recalls. Upon this discovery, though still pursuing a career in music, he immediately immersed himself into cooking. He threw parties, made meals for his friends, and asked his parents about recipes. However, in terms of recipes, he never follows them the “right way.” This ensures variation so that no two ever dishes are ever the same. Akin to listening to his music, Perino is gratified by the process of preparing food because when it’s finally ready he feels a sense of accomplishment.

    Moving to America

    In 2001, he moved to New York, where he presented himself as a composer and, to his surprise, was very well received. He found a job at New York University and is now a Senior Language Lecturer of Italian. It was here where he premiered his first ballet, Colapesce (2004), at Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò. Perino went on to write two more ballets, Constellations (2005) and Basket-Dance (2007). Impressively, the latter was performed both in Pisa and at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. He continues to write music, presenting two world premieres this last spring at Casa Italiana, Piano Sonata No. 2 and String Quartet No. 1

    Cooking in New York

    Perino also finds the time to cater private parties and to teach others how to cook. “It is beautiful to share all of my knowledge about Italian cuisine,” he says. Proud of his Sicilian roots, he always utilizes the region’s ingredients, like eggplant, almonds, and “lots of tomatoes, of course.” Although he’s removed from his motherland’s Mediterranean climate, he takes advantage of places like the Union Square and Chelsea markets to buy the freshest ingredients. While, for example, he can’t find Sicilian eggplant, he adapts to the American-grown alternative. Fortunately, he loves the result “because it’s like tasting Sicily from New York.”

    Another aspect he misses from home is collecting almonds from the beautiful mandorlo in fiore (almond trees). This makes tasting his semifreddo alle mandorle (almond parfait) even sweeter because it reminds him of his childhood. “It’s a beautiful moment and very nostalgic at the same time.”

    His most popular dish that he likes to cook and that others always request is Parmigiana di Melanzane (Eggplant Parmesan). “When I prepare dinner for my friends, I offer a part of Italy to them, especially a part of Sicily, of my culture, of my family, my family’s recipes. It’s a beautiful way to share what I am,” he says. This happens also with music. “I write my music in a small room with just the piano. Then in a big hall, I present all of my music, which is actually my story translated with notes.”

    The two arts as one...

    “Composing a dish is like putting together different elements of the taste, like the sour of the lemon or the sweet of the honey. All of the elements are different from each other but when combined they make something unique. The same thing happens when I write my music. When you do an orchestration you have the string, the clarinet, and the percussions together. You invent and you create a new sound that is unique just for the precise moment. Just as you need time to enjoy beautiful music, you need time to taste a fantastic dish.” 

  • Facts & Stories

    Ferrari Raises $7 Million for NIAF’s Earthquake Relief Fund

    Italian sports car manufacturer Ferrari S.p.A. donated a one-of-a-kind 949hp LaFerrari to RM Sotheby's, which sold for $7 Million at their Florida Charity Sale during the Ferrari Finali Mondiali weekend at the Daytona International Speedway.

    Ferrari created the car as a gift to its home country to aid reconstruction in the aftermath of the August 24 and October 26 earthquakes. All of the proceeds will benefit the National Italian American Foundation’s (NIAF) relief fund.

    RM Sotheby’s graciously contributed their expertise in order to raise the highest amount possible for such a significant cause. In fact, the price achieved represents a record for the most valuable 21st-century automobile ever sold in a public auction.

    “The earthquakes which have struck Central Italy this year devastated the lives of thousands of people, and the money raised by the sale of this LaFerrari could not be put to a better use,” says Rob Myers, CEO and Chairman of RM Sotheby’s.

    This featured coupé is a carbon-fiber hybrid, and is the 500th of its kind – the last car in the limited-edition line, originally limited to 499 cars. The LaFerrari boasts a unique livery with a distinctly Italian theme: a red exterior with a white dream line on the hood and rear windshield. Power still comes from the 6.3-liter V12 engine, coupled with an electric motor, which is good for 949 hp and 663 lb-ft of torque. Top speed is 218 mph.

    “Words cannot describe the appreciation we at NIAF feel for the generosity of our friends at Ferrari S.p.A. A gift of this size is simply unprecedented in our community, and we are honored by the confidence Ferrari has shown in us and our Relief platform,” NIAF President and COO John M. Viola shares.

    “The Italian American Relief Fund was created so that we could give the Italian American community a place to come together and support shared efforts to do the most possible good for Italy in her times of need. Needless to say, Ferrari's contribution towards this goal will make an incredible difference for a great many people in real need.”

    NIAF is currently working with Ferrari S.p.A., local officials in Italy, the Embassy of Italy, and the U.S. Department of State to identify which project this money will fund.

    For information on the Italian American Relief Fund and to donate, click here.

  • Art & Culture

    10 of Italy’s Best Christmas Markets

    Due to its proximity to Austria and Germany, the Trentino-Alto Adige region has a long tradition of Christmas markets. However, from Northern Italy down the peninsula to Sicily, the festive atmosphere spreads throughout the country. Here are some of the most popular, all offering local handicrafts, seasonal food and wine, and, most of all, Christmas cheer. With gift ideas for everyone and fun activities for all ages, these markets are perfect for shopping and having a jolly good time.

    Bressanone, South Tyrol, Trentino-Alto Adige

    Centered around the venerable Cathedral, amidst centuries-old buildings, the markets here truly capture the magic of Advent. The Cathedral’s 800-year-old Gothic cloister lends a unique aura matched with the multimedia music and light show. Taste Valle Isarco’s specialties, share a carriage ride, or splurge on the traditional handicrafts, like carved wooden figures, candles, and glass and ceramic souvenirs.

    Merano, South Tyrol, Trentino Alto Adige

    Known for being a city of relaxation, it’s only fitting that this year’s theme of the Merano markets is “Enjoyment and Recreation.” The whole town is embellished for the season, and in the central square you can watch figure skating shows or hit the ice yourself. Afterwards, warm up with a cup of tea or mulled wine in the heated stalls, while admiring the backdrop of snow tipped mountains. The products on deck range from toys to knitted goods to fresh pastries.

    Bassano del Grappa, Veneto

    Housed in charming, little wooden chalets, these markets take over the whole town. Located in three different piazzas, Piazza Garibaldi, Piazza Montevecchio, and Piazza Libertà, they offer handicrafts, food, and festive gifts. Hop on the Lilliputian train and chug throughout the city, but get off at the Piazza Libertà for a ride on the antique carousel. If you visit on the weekend, keep your eyes out for Father Christmas and his elves.

    Milano, Lombardia

    The city of Milan celebrates the feast of its patron saint, Sant Ambroeus (Milanese dialect for Sant'Ambrogio), annually on December 7. And the Milanese love Christmas. So as a means to get in the holiday spirit while honoring the 4th century archbishop, they start the festivities early with a fair known as Oh Bej! Oh Bej! Taking the form of street markets arranged around the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio, they offer everything from antique stalls and buskers to roast chestnuts and candy floss. This three-day celebration is a great way to get some Christmas shopping done early.

    Santa Maria Maggiore, Piemonte

    Be sure to mark your calendars for Piedmont’s biggest Christmas market, only one-weekend long. For the occasion, more than 200 exhibitors will display their crafts and homemade specialties. The craftsmen even open the doors of the workshops for a behind-the-scenes look, allowing everyone to get in touch with the traditions of the Viegazo Valley. Between the splendid decorations, the Christmas carolers, and the food, including 'stincheèt' - a thin sheet of flour cooked on a stove topped with butter and a pinch of salt - it’s an event not to miss.

    Firenze, Toscana 

    There are many Christmas markets in Florence, but the biggest one is located in the beautiful Piazza di Santa Croce. Inspired by the tradition of the German city of Heidelberg, the 55 wooden huts house a mixture of Italian and German delicacies and other unique gifts. This year, for the first time, a monastery from Belarus will attend the event to sell its holiday handicrafts. Of course the children will enjoy the decorations and illuminations, but the carousel is usually their favorite.

    Roma, Lazio

    The Eternal City’s most famous markets are in the Piazza Navona, built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian and now home to three spectacular fountains. During the season, the square transforms into a bustling, colorful shopping spot, selling nativity scenes and Christmas sweets, like biscuits and nougat. Wander around and watch the street artists and acrobats and of course, visit Santa Claus. But be sure to come back on January 6, when Befana hands out presents to good kids and coal to the not-so-good ones. 

    Napoli, Campania

    More than a market, Via San Gregorio Armeno is dedicated all year long to its presepi (nativity scenes), but the narrow alley truly comes alive during December. Crammed full of stalls, the artisans are known for their beautiful handcrafted figurines, as Neapolitans make the best in all of Italy. Buzzing with locals and tourists alike, the nativity scene statuettes, made from wax, bronze, cork, and clay, are definitely the most popular purchases. However, the figures on sale also encompass athletes, politicians, and international stars.

    Cagliari, Sardegna

    Every year, Cagliari hosts a 12-day Christmas fair, which showcases products like local food and wine, toys, and handmade crafts. The markets in the Piazza del Carmine and on Corso Vittorio Emanuele are a great opportunity to experience the best of “Made in Sardinia” and the perfect place to taste Sardinian Christmas sweets, like pabassinas - iced raisin-nut cookies with anise seeds and a citrus flavor. So, though the region is better known as a summer beach destination, the capital sure knows how to embrace the holiday season.

    Taormina, Sicilia

    Taormina, though beautiful all year round, becomes even more magical in Christmas time, and it's a great spot for those who prefer mild temperatures to snow. During December and through Epiphany, a folkloric atmosphere takes over the small, hilltop town with concerts, exhibitions, nativity scenes, and historical enactments. The stands are full of sweets, like Sicilian cakes, crafts, and everything you need to decorate for the season.

  • Art & Culture

    Two Must-See Art Exhibits in Northern Italy

    New exhibitions in the Galleria dell'Accademia and the Gallerie d'Italia will delight art lovers with some never-before-seen works in the country.

    Giovanni dal Ponte (1385-1437)
    A Protagonist of Late Gothic Florentine Humanism
    Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence

    The late Florentine painter Giovanni dal Ponte acquired his name from the location of his studio at Santo Stefano a Ponte. He is eminent for his varied and prolific production, including panels, fresco cycles, and decorated objects, and is important for bridging late Gothic and Early Renaissance.

    The exhibition at the Galleria dell’Accademia presents around 50 of his works from Italian and foreign collections with the hopes of introducing him to a wider public. Specifically, it aims to demonstrate his role in the development of Florentine early Renaissance painting.

    One treasure on display is the triptych from the museum of San Donnino in Campi Bisenzio, created originally for the church of Sant'Andrea in Brozzi. It is his main surviving work from the earliest period and illustrates his influences from Gherardo Starnina.

    Many of the exhibited masterpieces have been specially restored for the occasion, including the large triptych entitled The Coronation of the Virgin with Four Saints. The restoration reveals the brilliant colors and dal Ponte’s delicate drawing-technique.

    Giovanni Antonio Canal—Canaletto (1697—1768) and Bernardo Bellotto (1721-1780)
    Bellotto and Canaletto, Astonishment and Light
    Gallerie d’Italia, Milan

    Coined Canaletto, the Venetian painter is famous for his large-scale landscapes of the city, but he was also an important printmaker in etching. The majority of his works comprise of the canals and Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace), portraying Venice’s waning traditions with strong local colors. His nephew and pupil, Bernardo Bellotto, was also a master of vedute (large, detailed paintings or prints of a cityscape or vista) and was celebrated for his works depicting European cities.

    “Bellotto e Canaletto. Lo stupor e la luce” boasts a selection of 100 paintings, drawings, engravings, and other works by the two artists, of which around a third have never been shown before in Italy. The exhibit is a result of important loans from private collections, as well as private and public museums from all around he world. Visitors are encouraged to compare and contrast the different visions and interpretations of the landscapes by Canaletto and Bellotto.