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Articles by: Joelle Grosso

  • Colavita works to sponsor and support female cyclists
    Art & Culture

    Team Colavita for the Win

    Colavita, America's most trusted family brand for fine Italian gourmet products along with Bianchi, the world's oldest bicycle manufacturers and Vittoria S.p.A., an Italian bicycle tire manufacturer are looking forward to sponsoring the new women's cycling team. Colavita and the International Cycling Union is proud of their current women’s roster which is full of diverse backgrounds and disciplines. Their supporters believe that this particular group is more than capable of having an extremely successful 2017 season. 

    The team includes top names Abby Mickey, Amber Pierce, Kendelle Hodges, Jessica Mundy, Ellen Noble, Whitney Allison, and Emma Grant who come from the USA, Canada, and Australia. Returning team director, Mary Zider says that "my goal has always been to give Colavita a program that will last and continue year after year. One that will be nationally recognized, and hopefully, forever impact riders’ careers and personal lives.” Together, the group will compete on the USA Pro Road Tour, UCI road races, as well as a selection of international races.

    Besides their work with this team, Colavita has announced that they will also be partnering up with the Killington Mountain School in 2017 to create a women’s development program for cycling. The school, which is located in Vermont, is known for developing highly competitive junior athletes, while ensuring that each and every one of their students gains an exceptional college education. They offer their student-athletes the best training and competition schedule in the country and even USA Cycling has recognized the Killington Mountain School for their excellence. 

    Colavita appreciates the hardwork and determination of cyclists and hopes to always be a big supporter of the sport. By working closely with the UCI and Killington Mountain School, their goal is to influence the future winners of the world.

  • “The General Assembly of the Italian Language” will be held next week in Florence
    Facts & Stories

    Italian Language in the World

    “The General Assembly of the Italian Language” is an important meeting that will take place next week at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. In attendance there will be various international scholars as well as the Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Paolo Gentiloni, the Minister for Education, Universities and Research, Stefania Giannini, the Mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, the President of the Dante Alighieri Society, Andrea Riccardi and the President of RAI, Monica Maggioni.

    This special event, that will be open to the public, serves to analyze the added value of using the Italian language in marketing strategies and to explore the different ways of promoting the Italian language abroad. Italian is the second most used language in the commercial world so this means that the language itself is very attractive to others and that it is also synonymous with the excellent quality of the products Italy puts forth in the consumer market.

    There are many goals this conference hopes to reach in the future but one of the main objectives is to make Italian courses available for students to study at the High School level all around the world. Even though the number of those studying Italian abroad is already a success, over two million, the Minister of Education wants these numbers to increase drastically. Studies show that foreigners want to study Italian as a way to reconnect with their roots or to get more in touch with all the cultural aspects the language has to offer, ranging from opera to literature. 

    Internally, Italians want the new immigrants coming into the country to be able to learn and use the language as a tool that allows them to immerse themselves in the culture. Given the current situation in Europe and all the new people that are now flooding across the borders, this is a major priority for the upcoming years. 

    Another significant announcement at the conference will be the creation of the Portal of the Italian language which is a comprehensive access channel. It allows for Italian to be taught abroad for those who need to learn the language or for those who simply have the desire to learn. The portal will also include a multimedia section containing videos and interviews with celebrities who speak Italian, in order to promote and enhance the study of the Italian language all over the world.

    One thing is clear: Italian is not only a beautiful language but it is also one that is very crucial for the future. In all matters regarding business, art and globalization, knowing how to speak Italian will definitely be an asset for the young leaders of tomorrow. For those not able to attend the event, it can be seen live in streaming on the website www.esteri.it

  • Antonio Rezza in the play "Pitecus"

    Pitecus Comes to the USA

    Pitecus is a crowd favorite in the underground Italian art scene and is usually shown at the Teatro Vascello in Rome. The experimental theater is known for having the most creative and provocative independent Italian artists and providing a platform for their ideas to take form. It is no surprise why it’s the home of Pitecus and its talented creators Antonio Rezza and Flavia Mastrella, or better known as the powerhouse duo RezzaMastrella who have been working together since 1987. It is only fitting that La MaMa will be hosting the play during its time in New York City, given that it is a space that encourages risk-takers and pure innovation.

    This special event was organized by Umanism and its Artistic Director Valeria Orani who works to promote Italian artists in New York. The play has been shown in theaters across Italy, Europe and Russia but for the first time ever, American audiences will have opportunity to experience the magic that is RezzaMastrella. They have received the Francesca Alinovi Award in 2007 and the Ubu Prize in 2013 for other works but in Pitecus, the pair aims to analyze the relationship between man and his perversions as well as play along the fine line between normality and the absurd. It deals with people of all ages, different personalities and the inner turmoil they struggle with.

    Please go visit La MaMa theater this weekend if you want to appreciate contemporary Italian artistry at its peak. $20 tickets will be available as well as discounted tickets for students and seniors. It sure is a steal for what you’ll be getting in return!

  • Illustrations by Olimpia Zagnoli
    Art & Culture

    The Cover Revolution is Taking Over

    On the opening night of the Cover Revolution illustration exhibition curated by Melania Gazzotti, renowned artists Guido Scarabottolo and Emiliano Ponzi were interviewed by Stefano Imbert, who serves on the Board of Directors of the Society of Illustrators as the International Chair. Together, they talked about their art, their experiences all around the world, and what inspires them. 

    Scarabottolo started out in the field of architecture and urban planning, belonging to Arcoquattro, a group of young architects whose focus was on graphic design. Throughout his successful career, Scarabottolo has worked with the RAI, Italy’s biggest national public broadcasting company, and for Guanda publishing, designing book covers as well as serving as their art director. He has also had his work published internationally in other countries like the United States and Japan.

    While Scarabottolo’s work contains more of a subdued color palette and a minimalistic approach, the illustrations of Emiliano Ponzi are almost the complete opposite. Ponzi’s art is characterized by a bold color scheme and strong graphic compositions. His work has been published in huge American magazines such as The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and The New Yorker. He has also received several honors and awards including the Young Guns Award from the New York Art Directors Club. Ponzi’s work can be found all over Italy, Europe, and the United States.

    Besides these two spectacular illustrators, the Italian Cultural Institute’s Cover Revolution exhibition also hosts the work of Lorenzo Mattotti, Franco Matticchio, Gianluigi Toccafondo, and the extremely popular, Olimpia Zagnoli. These innovative artists are not only changing the face of major Italian publishing houses but transforming the international illustration game in general. If you want to be a part of the Cover Revolution make sure you head to the Italian Cultural Institute on Park Avenue before the exhibition closes on October 26th!

  • The commentary panel at Calandra Institute
    Facts & Stories

    The Importance of Italian American Civil Service

    The day started off with a presentation of the research conducted by scholars Vincenzo Milone, Itala Pelizzoli, and Carmine Pizzirusso regarding the history of employment of Italian Americans in the Civil Service field within the state of New York. The research examined how Italian Americans have progressed over the last forty years, the achievements they have made, as well as the challenges they are still facing. 

    Anthony Tamburri, the Dean of the Calandra Institute, introduced the guest speakers who would participate in the following commentary panel including the former First Lady of New York State, Matilda Cuomo, New York State Senator, Diane Savino, New York State Assemblyman, Thomas Abinanti, President of the National Council for Columbia Associations in Civil Service, Joseph Guagliardo, and the Dean of Arts & Sciences at York College, Donna Chirico. 

    One of the reasons it seems that Italian Americans gravitate towards civil service as Diane Savino puts it is due to political patronage and fraternal organizations, not discriminatory patterns as some might believe. Speaking about the fire, transportation, and sanitation departments, she says that “there is history, tradition, and family tradition that goes back to days long before Teddy Roosevelt ever envisioned the civil service merit system.” The reason for the success of Italian Americans was “that ability to sit down with a pencil and what was in their head and being able to compete against their neighbors is what got them in the door.” The FDNY Deputy Commissioner John Benanti added to this idea of tradition by noting that the past three Fire Commissioners have been Italian American as well as the current Governor and Mayor of New York. In other words, some of the greatest contributions that have been made in this state are thanks to Italian Americans.

    Perhaps the most significant conclusion from the research which Donna Chirico expressed so eloquently is that “Italian Americans are unique because although they lag in educational attainment, they don’t lag in economic achievement.” This is very unusual because normally there is a direct correlation between education and wealth, but strangely for Italian Americans this doesn’t seem to be the case for some reason. The commentators all tried to shed some light on what could possibly be the reason for this phenomenon. One of the common threads seemed to be that Italian immigrants didn’t stress education as much as they did work ethic. From Matilda Cuomo describing her father as well as her husband’s hard work and diligence to Joseph Gugliardo explaining his humble beginnings as a high school drop out, they both made it clear that it wasn’t necessarily education that gave them their success, but the work ethic that was instilled in them from a young age.

    Despite all of the great contributions Italian Americans have made to society, everyone was in agreement that there is still much more to be done. We all must work together to improve the lives of all Italian Americans and as Mrs. Cuomo said, we must “do it as a family, not alone.”

  • The art exhibition “Dynamism and Elasticity: Umberto Boccioni 100” is currently taking place at the United Nations headquarters
    Art & Culture

    Reliving Boccioni at the UN

    On Monday, “Dynamism and Elasticity: Umberto Boccioni 100” commenced with the Italian Ambassador, Sebastiano Cardi, who spoke about the significance of this particular exhibition, given that it features pieces that are considered to be part of a turning point in art history around the world. He also thanked the people of Rappresentanza Italiana who work at the United Nations for hosting the event and making it all possible. Cardi then went on to introduce Culture Councillor, Filippo del Corno, who explained how Umberto Boccioni was one of the most influential artists that helped start the Futurism movement. 

    Futurism was an avant-garde movement that began in the early 20th century and featured themes of modernity and innovation. Boccioni lived from 1882 to 1916 and was one of the pioneers who played a huge role in shaping this radical new movement. Del Corno says that Boccioni is the protagonist of this exhibition because his work embodies the power of innovation as well as the Italian soul. The artist approaches two fundamental themes in his work: dynamism, which represents the spirit and elasticity, which represents energy.

    Federica Olivares, who created this cultural diplomacy project then went on to explain the reasons why Futurism is just so precious. The first being that it represents the main artistic avant-garde style that came out in the 20th century, which is often recognized as the dawn of modernity. The second reason is an economic one because these works of art are insured for over 30 million euro. The last reason is that this movement represents the distinctive identity of Italy, their legacy, the values they contribute to the world as well as the gift of innovation through a change of perspective.

    Olivares also says that this exhibition is “a perfect example of cultural diplomacy.” Being held at the United Nations, it acts as a global icebreaker that can both tear down walls and build bridges. She believes that it is important because it “fosters mutual understanding between different cultures with the language of art, music, science and it also reveals the spirit of the country.” There are still a couple more days left to enjoy this exhibition so if you are in the New York City area, be sure to pay a visit to the United Nations headquarters.

  • Italian superstar Max Gazzè will be performing at Highline Ballroom on October 12th

    Max Gazzè Meets NYC

    Hit Week is the only music festival outside of Italy that promotes Italian music, artistry, and culture worldwide. Within the United States, Italian superstars Max Gazzè and the band Negrita will be making stops in New York as well as Chicago, Boston, Miami, and Los Angeles. But the party doesn’t stop there as they will also be making their way to Canada, UK, Japan, and China. For those interested in catching Max Gazzè while he is in the area, he will be performing in New York for just one night at the Highline Ballroom which is located in Chelsea.

    Gazzè has become a legend being in the industry as a singer-songwriter and musician for over 25 years. He is known throughout Italy for his pop rock style and high-pitched voice. He not only has a successful solo career but is also a part of the popular trio called Fabi Silvestri Gazzè along with Niccolò Fabi and Daniele Silvestri. Gazzè has an interesting history as he was born in Rome but spent much of his childhood in Belgium given that his father was a diplomat at the Italian embassy there. At a young age, he learned how to play both the piano and bass guitar and from that point on, he launched himself into the music world by performing frequently at nightclubs in Brussels. 

    He has nine solo studio albums and his most recent one that came out last year entitled Maximilian topped Italy’s music charts and even went platinum. The single “La Vita Com’è” in particular was a huge hit and the most played song on the radio at the time. Even if you are not familiar with Gazzè, his songs are very upbeat and catchy so the fun rhythms he creates will definitely be stuck in your head by the end of the night. Be sure to catch him live at the Highline Ballroom in Chelsea on Wednesday, October 12th!


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  • Pope Francis visits the devastated Italian town of Amatrice.
    Daily News

    Pope Francis' Surprise Trip to Amatrice

    It is only fitting that the name day of Saint Francis of Assisi, the saint from which the pontiff took his papal title, also happens to be the day that Pope Francis made a visit to the devastated city of Amatrice. At the end of August, the tiny town located in the region of Lazio in central Italy was completely destroyed by a 6.0 level magnitude earthquake. With an extremely small population of just 1,046 people, at least 298 have been reported dead since the earthquake happened. 

    The Pope admitted that he waited so long to visit as to not be a bother, he didn’t want to cause a big fuss in a time of such grief and desperation. He felt his presence would be a burden more than anything else. For this reason, only a few knew about his plan to visit the town in October. He also didn’t release the date of his arrival so that the mass media couldn’t find out ahead of time and be there waiting for him with cameras. Pope Francis, in his typical humble fashion, wanted to be alone with the people of Amatrice and did not want this intimate experience to be broadcasted everywhere by the news. Instead of creating even more problems, he was able to express his warmest sentiments and offer his prayers directly to the victims affected by the earthquake.

    The pontiff went to the local school and met with young children who presented him with handmade gifts. He then walked along the ruins to the center of town which is still closed off to the public. He thanked the firefighters and even asked if he could take a picture with them and all those who helped in the aftermath of the earthquake, telling them that they are the true heroes because they selflessly put their life on the line for others every single day. The Pope’s overall message was one of encouragement and hope. He prayed for those who have passed and urged the survivors to keep fighting and moving forward because there is a greater purpose for them in this world. He also met with those still living in tents and then had lunch with the elderly evacuees before making his way to other nearby towns that were also affected by the earthquake like Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto.

  • Francesco Genuardi, Joseph Sciame, Matilda Cuomo, and the Italian-American community.
    Art & Culture

    Italian Heritage Month Begins!

    The heavy downpour on Friday evening did not stop the commencement of Italian Heritage month in New York City. Joseph Sciame of the Italian Heritage & Culture Committee of New York was joined by the Consul General of Italy Francesco Genuardi, Matilda Cuomo, and Robert Pignatello of Hunter College to talk about the joys of being part of the Italian-American community.

    Speaking of the Mother Italy Statue located in Poses Park on Hunter College campus, Consul Genuardi said that he “can not imagine a better symbol of how strong the ties and the bonds between Italy and the United States are.” However unfortunately due to the rain, the event was relocated to the Italian Consulate on Park Avenue. Pignatello put it best when he said that “instead of a visit to Mother Italy, we had a visit by Mother Nature, but that’s okay because it did not dampen our spirits.” In fact, the crowd was more enthusiastic than ever to kick off October and celebrate it’s profound significance for Italian-Americans everywhere.

    Sciame, the President of IHCC-NY as well as the Vice President for Community Relations at St. John’s University, praised Dr. Angelo Gimondo, who unfortunately could not be present at the event, for being the founder of this esteemed committee. Gimondo is the person responsible for creating a week that celebrated Italian heritage 40 years ago which has now been extended into a month. When asked about what he’s most proud of after all these years, Sciame says it’s the ability to expand the promotion of Italian heritage and culture from just one week into an entire month. He adds that “it’s the collaboration and respect of the Italian-American community when we work together that creates synergy and with synergy you have energy and it makes things connect.” It is thanks to this special relationship that makes the month of October what it is today. Of course the highlight of the month is the Columbus Day Parade on October 10th and Sciame noted that the parade is not only a big deal in the city as it has recently been spreading out to states like Illinois and Texas. He is also proud of the fact that IHCC-NY will be hosting events in every borough this year, so no matter where you live you will have the opportunity to celebrate everything Italian!

    Perhaps the most memorable part of the night was when Matilda Cuomo came up to speak at the podium. Being the wife of Mario Cuomo, a politician who served as the governor of New York for three terms, as well as the mother of Andrew Cuomo, who is following tradition as the current governor of New York, Matilda is no stranger to politics. She has gotten involved in community service herself with the creation of the program Mentoring USA. It is a non-profit organization that was developed with the goal of cutting down the drop-out rates of students in New York. As a woman who has dedicated her whole life to helping children and families, Matilda believes that serving the community should be a priority for all. With her effortless charm, she immediately got the audience laughing by announcing that “Italians are the best, I’m sorry! They have something, I don’t know what it is. You feel something when you are with an Italian.” Everyone was obviously in agreement and the pride of being Italian or of Italian descent could be felt in the room. With the help of the Italian-American community, Matilda believes it is only by working together that we can make sure that the next generation goes to school and becomes educated.

    The ceremony was then followed by a beautiful reception and it is safe to say, everyone enjoyed the evening in good company. There are many exciting events in store for the next few weeks so if you are interested in Italian culture, please check out IHCC-NY’s full schedule for October.

  • Italian Minister of Education, Stefania Giannini, speaks at NYU's Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò.
    Life & People

    Italian Educational Reforms: A Conversation with the Minister of Education

    Monday night at the Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò in New York City, director Stefano Albertini invited the Italian Minister of Education, Stefania Giannini, to talk with the crowd about the current state of Italy following “Brexit” and her plans to reform the education system in her country. Prior to becoming the Minister of Education, Giannini was a professor of linguistics at L’Università per Stranieri di Perugia, and she held the position of chancellor at that same university for nine years. She is also very familiar with the American school system as she did a great deal in promoting the Italian language in high schools across the United States. She even received the America Award from the Italy-USA Foundation in 2015, an organization that aims to encourage partnership between the two countries.

    Proposed Reforms

    The difficulties that arose after the unexpected exit of Great Britain from the European Union and the increased migration to Italy are unprecedented. Giannini believes that Italy must lead by example and that it is time for a significant change in Europe’s approach to growth and job creation. She believes the key to keeping Europe competitive is education. She says, “Education is a fundamental right” and should be the main priority of political agendas everywhere. It is proven to be the most effective way to ensure social mobility, create a more inclusive society, and increase youth employment.

    Most importantly, Giannini strongly believes that the best innovators and the best ideas should drive public investment. This is the concept behind her new initiative, which will launch in the upcoming months. She will initiate an open call for scholars from all over the world and select 500 of them. She will provide them with a place to study and conduct research for three years. The top researchers will be offered competitive packages and grants within the Italian system. “Openness” is her number one priority as the Minister of Education.

    Policies Already Enacted

    Giannini has already put certain reforms into effect. The “Buona Scuola” law, passed on July 13th 2015, contains provisions for improving the scope of students’ educations. Due to the ever- increasing role of technology in the global society, courses improving students’ computer skills will be offered. The Minister realizes that the both humanities and hard sciences are important. Therefore, course offerings of art, music, law, economics, and physical education will be strengthened. Additionally, the law recognizes the schools’ need for teachers and the teachers’ need for stable work. Individual schools can inform the State of their need for teachers or tools. The goal is to increase each school’s autonomy, which will therefore render the school more effective.

    A Reciprocal Learning Experience

    Albertini proposed a concluding question to Giannini: “What is one thing you that believe Italian universities can learn from the American system, and what is one thing you believe American universities can learn from the Italian University system?” Her response, Italians can learn to be more open. She says that Italians should not be afraid to have open debates with scholars from other countries, and they shouldn’t be afraid to encourage their students to try new experiences with other professors, other fields, or other countries. Americans can learn from Italians to continue studying the humanities because studying humanities synthesizes knowledge. In the United States, many people are familiar with the acronym S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). However, in Italy the acronym is broadened to S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math). Giannini closed by reminding us that democracy thrives only with humanities, a point we should remember especially with the impending presidential election.