Articles by: Maria Cammarata

  • Life & People

    The Joy of Promoting Italian Business in Miami

    Twenty years ago, Tommaso Cardana left Verbania, on Lago Maggiore, in the northern region of Piemonte, to pursue a Master’s in Venezuela, where he landed his first job. A few years later, he set sail for Miami. “It was October twelfth,” he says, “Columbus Day! Like Columbus, only 508 years later and with a suitcase instead of three caravels!” 

    The story behind your company is well worth telling. 

    Work led me to creating Tomson Hospitality. Until 2007, I was working for Piazza, a leader in the professional steel kitchenware industry in Italy. While the company was undergoing restructuring and organizational changes, it decided to close its office and warehouse in the United States and run everything from Italy.  

    After attempting to move the whole family back to Italy (I had two little girls at the time), we decided to return to Miami. I knew the producers, restaurant owners and chefs, and I launched this hospitality services venture. I started using the girls’ room as an office, at a desk I still have, and my car for storage and shipping. It was a one-man show! 
    It wasn’t easy. I didn’t have any capital, so everything I made I reinvested in the company. I had to do everything, from sales to purchases to deliveries to accounting. It wasn’t easy to break into a market where my competitors were big well-known firms.
    But there was a strong target—
    My intuition was to concentrate on the medium/high-end market, offering quality products and excellent service. Fortunately, at the time, Miami didn’t have many medium/high-end restaurants, and therefore all the major distributors concentrated on the segment that for them was profitable. Sacrifice and perseverance are what led me to where I am today, which is beyond my wildest expectations. 

    Then you went on to start another business, Tomson Casa, a company that imports home supplies from Italy and distributes them to North American through chain stores and online commerce. And for the last year you have been President of the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce for the South East, Miami (IACCSE). 

    The post is a great honor. Moreover, it holds special significance for me, since my first work experience in Miami was as an intern for three months in the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce. After three months as an intern, I was hired, so for the first 16 months in Miami I was working within the Chamber. In 2012, a time when the Chamber was going through a rough patch, I was elected to the administrative council and, thanks to our group effort, we managed to help the Chamber bounce back.
    IACCSE is made up of 240 company members, some from Italy and some from America. Every two years the member companies elect 11 entrepreneurs, managers and professionals to its board to study and consent to a strategic plan for developing and operating the Chamber. The majority of our members are headquartered in Florida, though there are also member groups in South Carolina, Puerto Rico and Italy.

    How would you summarize your first year in office? 

    Among the most important achievements: reaching a record number of member companies (240) and opening a new prestigious headquarters on Brickell Avenue, the economic and financial heart of Miami. We managed to completely restructure with “Made in Italy” materials, which were provided by many companies that wanted to underscore their ties to the Chamber and its role. We created Italian Lab, an incubator/accelerator for Italian companies in the Southeastern United States, and we now have the ability to give J-1 visas to our associates. Among the challenges: having scarce resources to invest in long-term projects which would allow us to plan for the Chamber of Commerce of the future. It’s not easy for a non-profit like ours.

    And future strategies? 

    We need to concentrate on the needs of our companies. We need to be open to how the market is evolving and identify where the Chamber can really make a unique and original contribution. We definitely have to continue to focus on our role as a catalyst for businesses by providing occasions to present Italian excellence, in particular for sectors where real opportunities exist and where the market is responding. As far as concerns Florida, those include furniture and design, agribusiness, and nautical gear.

    Miami is the eighth largest hub of venture capital investments in the US…

    The city is evolving, and you can tell not only by the changes in the urban makeup, but by a new network of increasingly diverse companies.

    How important is Miami for Italian companies that want to internationalize? 

    Miami has historically been a hub for the Latin-American market, which many Italian companies capitalize on. Then there’s the fact that Miami is a highly important arena for the cruise ship industry, yachting, construction, home furniture, and agribusiness. In general, every superior product ‘Made in Italy’ represents, from cars to fashion, will find a market here that is extremely attentive to marks of quality and luxury. Then there are niche markets, like bio-technology or aeronautics. IACCSE exists to support companies entering the market for the first time. We especially back small and medium-sized businesses. Big businesses almost always operate on their own.

    If I may ask a personal question, are you happy living abroad? What is your relationship to Italy? 

    I’m very happy, even if being far from loved ones isn’t easy. I’d definitely do it again if I had the choice; it has exposed me to a lot of cultures and differences, from which I’ve learned a lot. Even the difficulties of beginning over again twice in two unknown countries, first in Venezuela and then in the United States, has helped me grow as a human and a professional. Sure, I have a very intense relationship with Italy. Every time I go back to Europe for work, I spend one or two days in Italy. And I got back there seven times last year! I’m also a big fan of soccer and often I get to combine my professional obligations with a game at the stadium!

    So it’s no coincidence that in 2006 you founded Inter Club Miami, which you’re still the proud president of. What do you love about Miami, the city where you live and work?  

    If I may steal an old joke, the beauty of Miami is that it’s so close to the United States! Miami is a city that has grown a lot in recent years and continues to grow. It’s a city that has transformed completely since I first arrived. It’s an extremely international city with strong Latin American and European influences, a city that has a lot of faces and diverse areas that grow with diverse spirits, a city that is already developed yet has the potential to grow a lot more. From a professional standpoint, it’s in an internationally adventitious logistical position, a city that has attracted foreign investments from all over. From a personal standpoint, I think that Miami has an excellent quality of life; the cultural scene has grown a lot in recent years, and I also think it’s a good place for families. The climate and location help, obviously. It’s one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world. In short, when we’re not working, we’re always on vacation, without even leaving home!

  • Arte e Cultura

    Leonardo Da Vinci, tra Lombardia e New York

    Ha un rapporto speciale Massimiliano Finazzer Flory con la Grande Mela.  Sono infatti ormai varie, negli anni, le sue presenze come artista qui a New York. Questo mese di Ottobre lo vediamo presentare, in diverse venue, il progetto "Being Leonardo da Vinci" insieme alla  Regione Lombardia, Comune di Milano  e la Fondazione Stelline.

    L’occasione è la celebrazione dei  500 anni dalla scomparsa di quello che è forse il più grande genio artistico della storia.  Massimiliano Finazzer Flory sfila, alla Parata del Columbus Day sulla Quinta Strada, vestendo Leonardo Da Vinci, in una rievocazione storica in costumi rinascimentali dell’associazione Sforzinda di Vigevano e presenta, ad un pubblico selezionato, l’anteprima del film "Being Leonardo da Vinci".


    E’ infatti, presso l’ auditorium The Gilder Lehrman Hall della Morgan Library & Museum- progettato dall'architetto Renzo Piano -  la proiezione del film corto, “Being Leonardo da Vinci” di Massimiliano Finazzer Flory, realizzato in partnership con Rai Cinema ed il patrocinio del Comitato Nazionale per la celebrazione dei cinquecento anni dalla morte di Leonardo.

    La Morgan Library & Museum non è stata scelta a caso, conserva, fra l’altro, una selezione di dipinti del Rinascimento italiano tra cui un raro disegno di Leonardo,  

    I nostri lettori in parte già conoscono il progetto su Leonardo.  i-Italy lo aveva presentato ai suoi albori. Il film, tratto da uno spettacolo teatrale itinerante,  ha il volto e la lingua di Leonardo. E’ scritto, diretto e interpretato da Massimilano Finazzer Flory.

    E’ stato girato a Vinci, Milano, Amboise, Vigevano, Vaprio d’Adda,Clos Lucé e New York. I set scelti sono eccezionali e suggestivi, come per esempio la Sala delle Asse al Castello Sforzesco e la Cripta di San Sepolcro; la sua dimora a Clos Lucé e la casa natale a Vinci; le cascate dell’Acquafraggia a Piuro e il fiume Adda.

    Tra le scene del film più suggestive, quella in cui Leonardo tiene tra le mani il proprio autografo, l’unico originale custodito nell’Archivio di Stato.

    Si tratta di un’occasione unica per il teatro italiano che diventa Cinema nel mondo, ma anche di una vetrina straordinaria per presentare Milano e la Lombardia ed i suoi luoghi leonardeschi.

    Il lungometraggio finale sarà pronto nella primavera del 2019 e non vediamo l’ora di immergerci, con Massimiliano Finazzer Flory, nel mondo di Leonardo


  • Art & Culture

    Leonardo Da Vinci, Between Lombardy and New York

    On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the death of the Renaissance genius, the Morgan Library presents a preview of the film "Being Leonardo da Vinci" by Massimiliano Finazzer Flory (October, 9 2018) Also, don’t miss the historical re-enactment in costumes dedicated to Leonardo during the Columbus Day parade on Fifth Avenue (October, 8 2018)
    Actor, playwright, and director Massimiliano Finazzer Flory has a special relationship with the Big Apple. His artistic presence here in New York has been various over the years.
    This October he will present in different venues the project "Being Leonardo da Vinci" together with the Region of Lombardy, the Municipality of Milan and Stelline Foundation.
    The occasion is the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo Da Vinci—perhaps the greatest artistic genius in history. At the Columbus Day Parade on Fifth Avenue, Massimiliano Finazzer Flory will parade as Leonardo himself, in a historical re-enactment in Renaissance costumes made by the Association Sforzinda of Vigevano. He will also present the preview of the short film "Being Leonardo da Vinci" to a selected audience at the Morgan Library & Museum and the tickets are already sold out. Actor and Director John Turturro and the noted architect Daniel Libeskind, among others, congratulated Finazzer for his job. “They regret they will not be able to attend the screening,” he told us.
    The Morgan Library & Museum was not chosen by chance: it preserves, among other things, a selection of paintings from the Italian Renaissance including a rare drawing by Leonardo. The screening will be held at the auditorium The Gilder Lehrman Hall designed by architect Renzo Piano. The film by Massimiliano Finazzer Flory, co-directed by Filippo Feel Cavalca, was realized in partnership with Rai Cinema and under the patronage of the National Committee for the celebration of the five hundredth anniversary of the death of Leonardo.
    Our readers already know the Leonardo project. i-Italy presented it in its early days. Written and performed by Massimilano Finazzer Flory, the film is taken from an itinerant theatrical show and has the face and language of Leonardo. It was filmed in Vinci, Milan, Amboise, Vigevano, Vaprio d'Adda, Clos Lucé and New York.
    The sets are exceptional and suggestive, including locations such as the Sala delle Asse at the Castello Sforzesco and the Crypt of San Sepolcro; Leonardo’s home in Clos Lucé and his birthplace in Vinci; the Acquafraggia waterfalls in Piuro and the Adda river. Among the most evocative scenes in the film is one in which Leonardo holds his autograph, the only original kept in Italy’s State Archives.
    "Being Leonardo da Vinci" is a unique opportunity for the Italian theater that becomes Cinema and travels the world, but it is also an extraordinary showcase to present Milan and Lombardy and their Leonardesque sites.
    The final feature will be ready in the spring of 2019
  • Events: Reports

    Aldo Tambellini Restages 1968 “Electromedia” Performance in NYC

    “Black Zero” was painstakingly reconstructed by the artist himself and Christoph Draeger who was the curator of the program. The Program featured one original collaborator, painter/activist/anarchist Ben Morea, who was part of Tambellini’s Group Center, and a rare recording of the voice of the legendary black poet, member of the UMBRA Group, Calvin C. Hernton, which had only recently been found among Tambellini’s archives. Hernton’s original poems, recorded by Tambellini in 1966 to be used with “Black Zero”, include the inflammatory “Jitterbugging in the Street” and “I Monster Daemon.” The Performer was Maggie Clapis.  “Black Zero” featured avant-garde music improvised live by William Parker at the double bass who the Allmusic Guide calls Free Jazz's pre-eminent bass player of today and Hill Green on the bass. 

     Aldo Tambellini wrote this synopsis for "Black Zero" in 1965: "At present,  ‘BLACK ZERO’ keeps on changing and growing with each presentation, just like the BLACK balloon which appears in the performance agonizingly grows, expands and disappears.


     In BLACK ZERO, you’ll be inside of the black womb of the Space Era. And in that womb, the Black poet, Calvin C. Hernton, the famous African-American poet will read his poems. The plastic gas-masked figure floats like an astronaut under the expanding simultaneous motion of the stars. The television monitors pulsate in their insane cosmic dance. One day the light and the energy of the sun will become ice cold and the enormous sun disc will become BLACK."

    Black Zero at White Box not only, offered the rare opportunity of a late glimpse into the tumultuous era of the mid-sixties; but, it, truly, was a mind-expanding experience. Black Zero was created as a universal, abstract vision, intercellular and interstellar at the same time, yet symbolically, it was also a highly political account of racial tensions. Tambellini’s philosophical views, recorded in the mid-sixties,
    appeared strikingly contemporary: In the 60’s Tambellini wrote, "The concept of instability, impermanency, and weightlessness will become part of man or man part of it. These Concepts will become instantaneous, not everlasting but ever changing." “It will be an exciting experiment to see how the political aspect of the piece, firmly rooted in the revolutionary culture of the decade when it was first created and performed, will impact on a contemporary audience,” Curator Draeger said before the Performance.

    The original “Black Zero” was a radical precursor to Andy Warhol's Plastic Inevitable and Rock music's psychedelic light shows. Whereas, Warhol used The Velvet Underground, Tambellini collaborated with Free Jazz improvisers Cecil McBee, AlanSilva, Bill Dixon and Archie Shepp and the UMBRA poets Ishmael Reed, NormanPritcher and Calvin Hernton. 
    Tambellini is a painter, sculpture and media-arts pioneer who made his first video in 1965, the classic "Black ". The same year he began to experiment with multia-media performance ("Black Zero"), incorporating film, slides, music, poetry and dance-he called the new art form “Electromedia”. In 1966 he opened the Gate Theatre in the Lower East Side of New York, a forum for experimental film and video. IN 1967, with Otto Piene, he co-founded the Black Gate Theater, New York’s first multi-media and installation space in NYC. In 1968, he collaborated with his friend and artist, Otto Piene in what is regarded as the first Television broadcast created by visual artists ever, "Black Gate Cologne", for the German National TV station WDR.
    In 1969 he won the Grand Prix at Oberhausen Film Festival for "Black TV,”. Described as “an artist’s sensory perception of the violence of the world we live in, projected through the television tube.” He was a Fellow at the Center of Advanced Visual Studies at MIT in Cambridge from 1975-1986. In 2007, Aldo received the key to the City of Cambridge for his contribution to the cultural environment of the City. He lives and works in Cambridge, MA.

  • Roy Paci, gli Aretuska ed i Sun. Musica da non dimenticare a Brooklyn

    Un concerto che non dimenticheranno a Brooklyn. Roy Paci & gli Aretuska ed i Sun, direttamente dalla Sicilia, hanno portato nella scuola High School di Seth Low JHS, il loro messaggio di legalità nell'ambito dell'iniziativa ElliSicily .

    Lo hanno fatto a modo loro e nel modo più convincente.  Grande musica dunque. Due approcci diversi quelli del gruppo di Roy Paci e dei Sun,  con in comune però un forte radicamento in Sicilia. 

    L'iniziativa - inserita in un fitto calendario di eventi sul tema della legalità - è stata il frutto di una importante collaborazione tra ANFE Sicilia, il Consolato Generale d'Italia a New York e la Fiao, nella persona del prof. Jack Spatola,  che da decenni lavora nel promuovere attività comunitarie, sportive, sociali, culturali a favore della collettività italo-americana. 
    Presenti tra il pubblico il Vice Console Maurizio Antonini, il direttore dell'Enit di New York Riccardo Strano, in rappresentanza dell'ANFE,  il presidente Nazionale Learco Saporito, il direttore Dipartimento politiche migratorie in Sicilia, Gaetano Calà e il coordinatore nazionale  sul territorio americano, Tony Tufano.  In platea ad ascoltare anche un musista italiano eccellente, Mauro Pagani, che ha fatto parte della Premiata Forneria Marconi e ha collaborato con molti altri autori e musicisti di calibro, fra cui soprattutto Fabrizio De André. 

    Musica di altissima qualità quella che i gruppi hanno proposto.  Roy e gli Aretuska hanno suonato alcuni dei loro brani più conosciuti. Pezzi come "Viva la Vida", "L'Isola dei Fessi", "Malarazza", "Toda Joia".  Fiati e percussioni di grande impatto, energia in una viva coreografia che ha accompagnato la musica con sapienza. 

    I Sun, (con Dario Sulis, Alessandro Palacino e Diego Spitaleri), hanno sviluppato il loro repertorio passando dal tradizionale al contemporeo. "Flussi pisci",  "Pirati a Palermo" , di Rosa Balistreri,  "Mi votu e mi rivotu" -  fino ad una rivisitazione della Sonata di clavincembalo di Scarlatti liberamente ispirata.

    Intensa la partecipazione del pubblico soprattutto nel corso dell'esecuzione di "Vitti na crozza" e "Navi che partono".  Richieste di bis per entrambi i gruppi che hanno eseguito insieme un divertente brano finale. Il pubblico, spinto dall'energia unica di Roy Paci, si è alzato per confluire sotto il palco e ballare. 

    (Pubblicato su America Oggi)