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Articles by: Joelle Grosso

  • FICO Eataly World introduces their new program in New York City
    Facts & Stories

    FICO 'Eataly World' Revealed in NYC

    In addition to the first ever Prima Settimana della Cucina Italiana nel Mondo (First Week of Italian Cuisine in the World), it seemed to be the perfect occasion for FICO Eataly World to present themselves and their mission at the Eataly NYC Flatiron location. FICO, which stands for Fabbrica Italiana Contadina, describes their organization as “a culinary destination featuring the best of Italian good, wine, and agricultural traditions from across the country slated to open in Bologna, Italy in the second half of 2017.” Their goal is not only to represent Italy and provide the world with optimal products, but to also inform others on the techniques they use and the mentality they have regarding food.  

    Their plan is to house 20-acres of farms in Bologna dedicated to growing typical products of Emilia-Romagna like olives and truffles as well as raising indigenous animal breeds. “The unique space is dedicated to the biodiversity of Italian cuisine, from field to fork, and exemplifies the Eataly philosophy toward food by offering an experience where guests can ‘Eat, Shop, and Learn’ about Italian culture through the country’s beloved cuisine and culinary traditions.” FICO decided Bologna would be the ideal spot to carry out this project because not only is it the capital of the region, but it’s also considered the capital of Italian gastronomy and acts as a bridge that connects Northern and Southern Italy.

    The founder of Eataly, Oscar Farinetti, and the President of the region Emilia-Romagna, Stefano Bonaccini, both spoke at the event at BAITA at La Birreria which is a pop-up restaurant located on the rooftop of the Flatiron Building. They both talked about how excited they were to be presenting this new project and to be joining forces. Together, Farinetti and Bonaccini will work to promote this beautiful region in Italy and the fantastic high quality items they produce. 

    FICO Eataly World will be a theme park for food lovers and they are expecting over six million visitors within the first year. Guests will be able to enjoy fresh pastas and tasty homemade wines, but they will also learn about the process and receive a special behind-the-scenes look at the production. It’s a hands-on experience that will demonstrate the importance of food education and food sustainability in order to have a healthier future for all.

    For those interested in visiting FICO Eataly World, you can sign up on the website www.eatalyworld.it for updated information about the opening, as it’s announced. 

  • Art & Culture

    A Fresh View on Primo Levi

    Primo Levi is considered one of the most talented Italian authors of all time with his most notable work being “Se questo è un uomo” which recounts his experience as a Holocaust survivor. The memoir describes his initial arrest for being part of the anti-fascist resistance group during World War II as well as the experience that followed living in the Auschwitz concentration camp. In this masterpiece, Levi managed to beautifully express humanity during a time of complete inhumanity and barbarism. 

    This week, two of the editors that worked on "The Complete Works of Primo Levi" came to the Italian Academy to have a conversation about Levi’s writing and his astonishing versatility. Ann Goldstein is an editor at The New Yorker as well as a translator for many notable Italian authors including Elena Ferrante. Marco Belpoliti is a professor at the University of Bergamo and also works as a contributor to several newspapers and magazines. 

    The established editors praised Levi not only for being such a prolific writer but for producing so much great work in so many different styles. Belpoliti described his words as precise, humane, intellectual, as well as philosophical. He managed to combine political, scientific, and linguistic aspects into his literature which is not an easy task.

    This allowed his audience to grow and include more people who can appreciate his work. Levi has published not only memoirs but novels, short stories, poems, essays, and commentary all throughout his lifetime as well. Goldstein said that “he was not recognized in all of his many guises until recently but to see all his different writing together, to see him as the witness, as the science fiction writer, as the autobiographical writer, to see all these things together shows the complexity of Levi as a writer.” Belpoliti put it best when he said that Levi is a “360 degrees writer.”

    Levi was known, especially in the United States, mostly as a witness, as a Holocaust survivor which is something he didn’t want. “The Complete Works” enables people to see the parts of Levi that are not well known. These special components include all the sci-fi short stories, essays on current events, and even a story he wrote that was made completely out of palindromes. It is clear that he was a gifted writer and Goldstein adds that what “underlines all of his work is the dedication to the importance of language.” He strived for lucidity and precision in his writing, a quality that he attributed to his training and practice as a chemist. The goal is to be clear, to the point, and understandable by everyone but at the same time, there is nothing cold or detached in this clarity. According to Goldstein, “Levi has the tone of a scientific observer but he is never pedantic or condescending, he often manages to include humor in his words.”

    Even though Levi passed away in 1987, his essence and his legacy lives on through his writing. "The Complete Works of Primo Levi" is on sale for those who are interested in learning more and getting into the mind of this great intellectual.

  • The World Bridge project will come to New York this November

    The World Bridge: Connecting New York and Naples

    “The World Bridge” is a project that aims to create a connection between the cultures of New York and Naples. Even though the two cities are far away from each other, they share similar energies as well as the ability to altruistically accept others. The project hopes to demonstrate the value of dialogue and artistic expression as the basis for coexistence among different people. It also wants to encourage the creation of new opportunities for partnership between the United States and Italy. 

    The program will be hosted by Meridonare della Fondazione Banco di Napoli and will include many events revolved around music, cinema, photography, literature, and the Made in Italy brand. They will be promoted by the non-profit group Spazio Cultura Italia in collaboration with the New York Italians Foundation and the Fordham University Lincoln Center.

    This festival was created by Italian singer-songwriter and lawyer Mimì De Maio with the hopes of not only supporting but stimulating both the Italian and American creative communities. Maurizio De Giovanni, an Italian writer from Naples known for his crime novels, will help kick off the project. Another guest that will be in attendance is the writer Gennaro Matino who believes that during this particular time of divisiveness in the world where walls are being built instead of being knocked down, we must all be able to reach a common ground. He thinks that this exchange of art, culture, and tradition could be the key to finding peace which is why this special initiative concerns everyone. 

    If you would like to support the cause and participate in the crowdfunding campaign of “The World Bridge”, please visit www.meridonare.it to make a donation today!

  • This festival is full of events that will pay tribute to Venetian achievements
    Art & Culture

    La Serenissima in NYC

    From February 3rd to February 21st 2017, Carnegie Hall and other major cultural institutions throughout NYC will be featuring tons of events in honor of La Serenissima’s legacy. However, the presentation of this schedule was held this Friday at the Italian Consulate and included special guests, Armando Varricchio, the Ambassador of Italy to the United States, and Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall's Executive and Artistic Director.

    After offering his thanks, the Italian Consul General in New York, Francesco Genuardi, warmly welcomed Varricchio to say a few words.

    "My role today is to stress the importance of this event, not just of the exclusive musical events, but also the importance of the city. Who doesn’t love the city of Venice? It is a tourist location, a spot for families, and for honeymoons," he said. "However, I would like to draw your attention to that for 1,000 years Venice has been a real cultural capital. Merchants of Venice were not just bringing in their finest garments and textiles, but they were also trading culture and connections," he continued. "With La Serenissima, that Carnegie Hall will host, we will have the opportunity to follow musical events and exchanges of cultural experiences,” he concluded.

    Following the Ambassador, Gillinson introduced the details of the event to be held in February at Carnegie Hall, taking the time to honor the city of Venice.

    “Anyone who has traveled to Venice knows that there is nowhere like it in the world. As beautiful as it is today, it is also a reflection of a bygone era, a remarkable product of its historic geographic connection between East and West, shaped by the many cultural, social, and political influences that have moved through the city over the centuries,” he said.

    La Serenissima’, or ‘the most serene,’ was a title bestowed upon the ancient Republic of Venice as an indicator of their sovereignty. Over time, it has proven to be the perfect term to describe the city given that Venice for the most part has always been a peaceful place. Despite all the turmoil that affected other cities on the peninsula, Venice always managed to avoid conflict on their tiny island located far off the mainland. It flourished in every way possible until the arrival of Napoleon in 1797 which is what ultimately caused the fall of the Republic.

    At their peak, Venice not only reached maritime supremacy, democratic progressiveness, mercantile power, and financial prosperity but it was also a huge center of cultural achievement and innovation. Carnegie Hall wanted to pay tribute to the extraordinary creativity of Venetians by holding a citywide festival honoring their art and music. 

    Their achievements in painting are strongly connected with their organized expeditions to the East, the most famous Venetian explorer being Marco Polo. Thanks to their travels, the explorers were able to bring back certain pigments that were not available in other parts of Europe. This is why much of northern Italian art is characterized by color while the paintings in central Italy focus more on design and lines. Venice also has a rich history of music because it is the birthplace of opera. Antonio Vivaldi is the epitome of Venetian excellence and is still recognized as one of the best Baroque composers of all time. His influence is still felt today, his most famous work being a series of violin concertos called “The Four Seasons.” 

    The amount of artistic masterpieces that Venice has gifted the world is remarkable given the physically constrictive nature of the city. It is important that institutes, such as the Italian Consulate and Carnegie Hall, take the time to celebrate these accomplishments to keep the Venetian tradition alive!

  • Flooding in Piazza San Marco
    Facts & Stories

    A Fresh Proposal for Venice

    The Development Nest, better known as D-Nest, is a new project that was founded just three years ago. According to their website it all began with “the intent of promoting innovation by allowing people to share and search for innovation in a safe environment.”  The International Inventors Exhibition is the largest one in Europe and it serves as a way for the public to attend debates and international workshops as well as a way to hear the innovative ideas of others.

    This year, a very interesting plan was pitched by a Venetian inventor named Roberto Padoan. Given that he has spent the majority of his life working as an underwater technical operator, he believes he has figured out a way to deal with Venice’s ever increasing water levels. Padoan created ecological resins that “are made with polyurethane and, once injected, solidify when in contact (with fresh or salt water).” This means that the foundation of all the structures in Venice can become water resistant and avoid erosion.

    Padoan is no longer worried about the flooding that is expected in the upcoming months because these special resins are now being put to use for the first time ever and he is confident that they will work successfully. Hopefully, this will be the new way that all Venetians preserve their city during the dangerous ‘acqua alta’ season.

  • Sree Sreenivasan and Gianni Riotta
    Facts & Stories

    Digital Challenges Between Tradition and Innovation

    The event entitled “Digital Challenges Between Tradition and Innovation” is the first in the new “New York Loves Italy” series. The series serves as a way to discuss the important roles Italy has in everyday life in New York. The Italian Consul General, Francesco Genuardi, says that this initiative began after his first seven months in the city, when he and his team became aware of the incredible flow of energy, passion, and talent which needed to be shared with the public. They realized that Italians and New Yorkers share the same goals for the future and the team hopes to be the spark that inspires further conversation.

    Given that lately there had been huge investments made in the digital market, the Italian Consulate invited guest speakers Sree Sreenivasan, the Chief Digital Officer of New York City and Gianni Riotta, journalist and professor at Princeton University, to chat.

    All the way back in 1967, famous Italian writer Italo Calvino put forth the idea that computers will soon write novels. Even though some may be offended at this comment, Riotta says he is a firm believer in this concept. “This is great because there’s nothing in writing a novel peculiar to being human. I can teach a computer how to write a novel because the most important person is not the writer, it’s the reader.” Italy has always had this foresight and has always been a catalyst for innovation in the world. Bringing New York into the picture will only make this incentive even more powerful.  

    When asked about how we can maintain humanity in the midst of all the technology, Sreenivasan responds that “the Italian love for design, language, poetry, and philosophy, all of that is more relevant today than ever before.” Given that there is still such a huge interest in humanities, all we need to do is figure out the appropriate way of applying technology so that it enhances these areas and doesn’t overwhelm them. When introducing innovation in established places that may be difficult to change, Sreenivasan believes it is pivotal to work with the people who want to step up and do new things. “Try things and let them fail because it’s not obvious that you can do things and they’ll have success. And if they fail, that’s ok. That’s not normally possible at a big organization because the momentum itself makes them very intolerant to failure of any kind.”

    Overall, Sreenivasan wanted to get the message across that “the pace of change that we’ve seen in the last 10 years, which is dramatic, is nothing compared to what we’re going to see in the next 10 years.” Things will only get faster and even more dramatic which is hard to imagine at the moment. “This means that we all have a responsibility in choosing the right technologies for how we interact with each other, and not getting caught in doing all the new things. Find the things that make sense for you.”

  • The duo have been working together for seven years now

    Ornaghi & Prestinari: the Dynamic Duo

    The exhibition, curated by Vittorio Calabrese, will be hosted by NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò and their new chairman Giorgio Spanu with the help of Magazzino Italian Art and Galleria Continua. Valentina Ornaghi and Claudio Prestinari are talented Italian creatives who have been working together since 2009 and are well-known throughout Italy and Europe. 

    The pair thrives off trying out different materials and taking new approaches to their art and this exhibition proves just that. In New York, they will be introducing some of their new projects to the public which include sculpture-installations, paintings, and works on paper and wood. One of the main themes in this show is their transformation of everyday objects into works of art. The renewel of these seemingly mundane items brings them to a new level and shows them in a completely different light. By combining different techniques and concepts along with their personal experiences, Ornaghi and Prestinari force their viewers to reflect on the importance of originality and craft in a post-artisanal world.

    These two artists will transport you into an intimate and delicate universe that allows you to examine the multifaceted world we live in. If you can not make it to the opening reception on Monday night, Ornaghi & Prestinari will be on display until December 9th. 

  • "Italy on Screen Today" will take place at the end of October

    Italy on Screen Today

    NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò, SoHo’s Loreto Theater - Sheen Center and Long Island’s Stony Brook University are all working together to host the first ever Italy on Screen Today, which will feature screenings of Italian movies and documentaries as well as live conferences with some of the industry’s most popular artists. 

    Loredana Commonara, who created this festival also serves as the Artistic Director and has put together a special tribute to Altiero Spinelli on the 30th anniversary of his passing. He is one of the founding fathers of the European Union and someone who dedicated his life to making sure Italian artists gain proper acknowledgment for their talents. Another interesting highlight will include a visit by the actress Paola Cortellesi who has won awards for her role in the films Nessuno mi può giudicare and Scusate se esisto!

    On October 26th, Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò will be screening the film “Europe Before Europe,” a documentary about the Ventotene Manifesto which marked the beginnings of the European Union as well as the independent film, “My Name is Adil,” which is about a boy and his journey from Morocco to Italy. The next evening on October 27th, they will be screening “Un Mondo Nuovo” a film about a group of kids who dream up a utopia as World War II takes over and destroys Europe. 

    All of these screenings are open to the public so please feel free to join Italy on Screen Today and reserve your tickets as soon as possible!

  • Massimiliano Gatti's new photo exhibition "The Day Memory Dissolved"
    Art & Culture

    The Day Memory Dissolved

    Massimiliano Gatti has always had a passion for photography but he also has always been very dedicated to archaeological activism. In the photo exhibition "The Day Memory Dissolved" curated by Renato Miracco, these two interests come together in the most fascinating way. 

    Gatti's curiosity about historical ancient ruins brought him all the way to the Middle East where he worked on various archaeological missions for six years. He had the opportunity to visit some of the greatest sites in the world including Apamea located in present-day Syria, a place that was officially founded in 300 BC and gained fame by being the settlement of Seleucus, one of Alexander the Great's main generals. He also visited Jerwan in present-day Iraq, which is notable for housing possibly the first aqueduct of all time which was constructed between 703 BC and 690 BC. In the exhibition there was also photographs of Khorsabad, which used to be the capital of the Assyrian empire. 

    On explaining the meaning behind this exhibition, Gatti expresses how it is "a memory of the past that in some ways is endangered now." Everyone looks at these ancient ruins but they may not necessarily see the tie between the temple that was constructed thousands of years ago and life in 2016. Whether you are Italian or American, it must be understood there there is a bond between you and these "foreign" places. He says that the Middle East is the place where everything began. It is where we can find the roots of all of our languages, it is the place where both Jesus and Mohammed walked. Gatti tells the viewers that "the meaning is to reflect on the idea of the past, every trace we can find here in this exhibition should open up your mind and perspective. The past is something we must preserve." Gatti believes that despite how the Middle East is portrayed in the media all over the world, it is crucial to always remind ourselves that this is where we all came from, we cannot detach ourselves from the truth just because we live far away.

    For those interested in seeing this photo exhibition live, it will continue through November 16th at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America on Columbia University campus in NYC. The gallery will only be closed on November 7th and 8th but otherwise is free to enter and open on weekdays from 9:30AM to 4:30PM.

  • Front Page Illustration: A conversation between Stefano Salis and Steven Guarnaccia
    Art & Culture

    Salis and Guarnaccia on Illustration

    Stefano Salis, an expert in the fields of illustration and graphic design, teamed up with Steven Guarnaccia, a Professor of Graphic Design at the Parsons New School, to discuss how book covers have transformed over time, the new challenges illustrators face, and the innovativeness of Italian publishing houses.

    Professor Guarnaccia started off the evening by analyzing how books covers are physically treated and how our relationship with them has drastically changed throughout the years. He explained how we used to have a fairly intimate connection with book covers and that we are quickly losing this special bond with the ever increasing number of readers now turning to e-books instead. He went as far as comparing the removal of the cover before reading to that of undressing a lover. Because of the era of digitalization, Guarnaccia believes that a crucial part of the reading experience is missing because usually when you open up a book on Kindle, the story begins immediately on page one. If you want to take a look at the cover in its entirely, you must go out of your way to find it which takes away from the overall experience. The novel and its cover go hand and hand, so without one the reader is left incomplete.

    Salis, who writes a weekly newspaper column about book covers, added to Guarnaccia's idea by saying that not only has the reader's experience changed but that of the illustrator as well. Given the new demands of the digitalized world, the illustrator must work solely to meet the needs of the consumer. Instead of being inspired by the writing itself and creating a work of art, the illustrator must now take into consideration how the book will look as a thumbnail on Amazon and decide whether it's eye-catching enough as a tiny square on a website. Salis makes this point by noting the difference between the younger illustrators of today like Emiliano Ponzi and Olimpia Zagnoli with those of the older generation. Their works are currently on display at the Italian Cultural Institute so it is quite obvious to see that the illustrations of Ponzi and Zagnoli are extremely bold both in color and subject while those of Guido Scarabottolo for example are much more subtle and subdued. Without a doubt, the book covers of the younger generation stand out more and are therefore more attractive to the audience who will then decide to purchase them. 

    The two also discussed the huge differences between publishing houses in Italy and United States. In the United States, publishing houses are not very well known and they definitely have no influence over the readers. Meanwhile in Italy, certain publishing houses are extremely popular so much so that an audience member on Monday night even told the crowd that he would always look to see the new books Einaudi was releasing. In the last decade, the Italian publishing house Guanda revolutionized the illustration game by standardizing their covers by using just a few illustrators to make all their graphics. In a way, this allows each publisher to brand themselves and compete, it lets them create and maintain a certain image that everyone can immediately recognize. This marketing strategy is not the case in the United States given that publishing houses do not hold much importance here.

    Despite all the differences and changes that are currently taking place in illustration and graphic design especially in regards to book covers and publishing, both Stefano Guarnaccia and Stefano Salis believe that book covers are works of art and should remain that way. They are not only beautiful to look at but they are an essential part of the reading experience and are needed in order to complete the story.