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Articles by: Kayla Pantano

  • 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.

  • Facts & Stories

    Furla Celebrates 1st Anniversary of 5th Ave Flagship

    To celebrate the one year anniversary of Furla’s Fifth Avenue store, the Italian lifestyle brand, along with Harper’s BAZAAR, hosted an intimate affair at their New York flagship. As part of this exciting jubilee, guests were treated to champagne, passed canapés, floral crowns, live entertainment, and celebrity guest appearances.

    Established in 1927 by Aldo Furlanetto in Bologna, Furla is a true ambassador of Made in Italy, grounded in time-honored craftsmanship and innovation. Thanks to the artisanal expertise, the company has achieved levels of excellence around the world, including here in the US. With their Manhattan location, the first boutique in the country, the brand has further maximized their footprint in the American market.

    To commemorate a successful year with this new endeavor, Furla invited their top clients, several key players from Harper’s BAZAAR Magazine, and other members of the Furla NYC family to their store for a boisterous bash. Ideally located on the famed shopping street, upon entering through the glass doors, guests immediately felt the vivacious energy of the elegant space, coated in neutral and pastel tones and accented with warm light.

    Throughout the evening, attendees enjoyed the sounds of City of the Sun, an instrumental post-rock trio, who continues to sell out major New York venues after gaining popularity through impromptu subway performances.

    Towards the back of the store, Crowns by Christy set up shop and gifted invitees to handmade fresh floral crowns with white and pink roses, while they sipped on champagne and delighted in delectable hors d'oeuvres.

    Star-struck fans took selfies with American actress and blogger, Jamie Chung, who radiated kindness and elegance in her AS by DF blue, midi leather dress and of course, her very own Furla Metropolis bag. Naturally, they also snapped pictures of the Victoria's Secret Angels who joined in on the fun.

    And in all those moment in between, men and women alike marveled at the luxurious, yet accessibly priced leather goods. Entranced by the rainfall of glitter that is the “Sparkles of Joy” holiday collection, many took advantage of the exclusive Semi-Annual Private Sale, receiving up to 40% off of select styles. A perfect way to end night.

  • Facts & Stories

    Consulate General Presents Run with Excellence

    Just two days before the New York Marathon, the Consulate General of Italy in New York presented Run with Excellence. With Italy. Around the World’s 2016 activities followed by a reception showcasing the tastes of the northern Italian region of Liguria. The evening was full of stories, discussing the likes of nutrition, sports education, the NYC Marathon, and the excellences of Liguria. It was a passionate Italian affair and a beautiful send-off for the runners participating in the race.

    Run with Excellence balances three different passions: sports, Italy, and healthy food. The project aims to link sports to cultural institutions and local businesses in order to raise awareness on the importance of a healthy lifestyle, also in terms of nutrition and ecology.

    As part of the initiative, the team takes part in major sporting events and engages Italian athletes as ambassadors of Made in Italy. The program also promotes Italian products, brands, and companies around the world. Furthermore, it organizes conferences and workshops involving national and international associations, like Slow Food and Let's Move. The overarching goal is to promote Italian handicraft, agri-food, and culture at various sporting events, founded by CNA Liguria and Il Chinotto nella Rete and Abaton, and sponsored by the Liguria Region and the Municipality and Chamber of Commerce of Savona.

    The project has been presented at the Turin Marathon, as well as at the Giardini dei Chinotti di Savona inauguration, where the Run with Excellence team announced they would be representing the Ligurian town at the NYC Marathon. The team also had a stand at the Javits Center as part of the TCS New York City Marathon Health and Wellness Expo running from November 3 to November 5. Run With Excellence will also participate in the Firenze Marathon on November 27.

    Ferrero is one of the many companies that has embraced the initiative. Chief Operating Supply Officer Aldo Uva explained, "Sports have a lot to do with our company. Ferrero has always been committed not only to making delicious desserts but also to supporting sports and a healthy lifestyle and diet.”

    Leonardo Cenci, who has been battling with cancer for four years, was also in attendance. As of Sunday, Cenci became the second cancer patient in the world and the first Italian to run in the event—his ninth time participating in the race. In 2012, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and subsequently decided not to run; however, the event ended up being canceled because of Hurricane Sandy. “A sign of destiny, like saying I had to wait, but then I could return.”

    At the Consulate, Cenci gestured to his oncologist and expressed his thanks for her ongoing support. “If I am well, it’s thanks to her. Without this woman I could not be here, ready to race on Sunday.”

    Alex Toselli of Albergo Etico, a hotel and restaurant where people with disabilities work together to offer costumers high quality service, gave a moving speech before bringing to the stage Niccolò Valais, a boy with Down Syndrome who works at the hotel.

    “Albergo Etico creates paths of autonomy and independence for people with intellectual disabilities, but through a road that makes us see what we can do."

    He went on to proudly announce that Vallese will be running with him at the marathon.

    “I do not know if we will arrive at the finish line, but we will be there to participate and to tell this story.”

    Famed marathon runner, Franca Fiacconi, who won the NYC Marathon in 1998 with a time of 2 hours and 25 minutes, closed the evening with her inspiring tale.

    "I had not come to New York that year, in the sense that I already finished second in ‘96, but then they did not accept me into the Olympics, so I was a little angry. In '97, I came in third. Then '98 was a special year for me. I won the Rome Marathon, the championship in Turin, and then 10 days before the European Championship, I had a health problem and only placed in fourth. So I said, ‘I just have to redo'. And that's what happened thanks to the New York Marathon.”

    Guests then experienced the real tastes of Liguria with food and drinks before sending off the team of Italian runners in their 26.2-mile endeavor.

    Of the many runners, Consul Francesco Genuardi was one of them, finishing the marathon with a time of 3 hours and 55 minutes.

    “It was an exciting race, even though I started feeling my injury again. At the 26th mile I began to suffer from cramps and harsh pains because of the inflammation in my leg muscles. However, the atmosphere created by New Yorkers and their encouragement transported me to the finish. A unique and unforgettable experience, it brought me home to Italy, filled with beautiful emotions and the desire to continue to fight against the difficulties of life,” he shared.

    Sara and Nicola of the San Patrignano running team also shared their day’s experiences, finishing together with a time of 3 hours and 44 minutes.

    “A wonderful day, it started well especially because of the favorable weather conditions. A beautiful race, even if it represents one of the most insidious marathons ever for the ups and downs of the bridges, of the streets, of New York. The atmosphere remains the same as always, the children with their mothers, the African Americans with their music and all of the inhabitants of New York that carry you to the finish,” Sara said.

    “An unforgettable experience, the national spirit of the event pulls you and helps you in the distance of the 43,195 kilometers. I carry in my heart this image: the net of differences of the neighborhoods that we passed during the course is canceled thanks to the marathon,” Nicola added.

  • Facts & Stories

    The Future of the Italian Language

    With the support of the Consulate General of Italy in New York, Montclair State University will host a round table discussion to address the current situation of the field of Italian studies. Spearheaded and sponsored by the Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies, a diverse group of experts will identify points of traditional strength to leverage and examine new available directions in order to increase the attractiveness of pursuing Italian as a university degree. The event, "Come sta l’italiano? The Present and Future of Italian Language and Culture Studies,” will take place on Tuesday, November 15, at 6:30pm.

    In an effort to promote this event and subsequently the Italian language, we spoke with Associate Professor and Inserra Chair Dr. Teresa Fiore, who was at the forefront of its planning. She describes one of the presentation’s objectives as “to understand how the numbers behind the study of Italian can really translate into a commitment to the study in the long term.”

    Ranging from professors to representatives of academic organizations and government institutions, the scheduled speakers are all very distinguished and will offer insight stemming from their varied backgrounds.

    Consul General Francesco Genuardi, an Italian diplomat with 23 years of experience in the field of International Relations, will provide the opening remarks.

    In regards to Genuardi, Fiore notes, “His presence is very important because our diplomatic corps has really embraced this mission to promote the country through language, and culture, of course, but this is the first time that language is a central component.”

    She adds, “He will represent the government’s commitment to this type of approach, which is very significant. Language is a distinctive quality and it cannot disappear. Even though our objects, our food, our clothes will circulate, it’s important that they circulate along with the language, that they are presented through our language, that people come to our country to interact with people in our language.”

    Lucia Pasqualini will also be a presenter. She currently serves as the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Rome for the promotion of Italian language abroad, previously working as the Deputy Consul at the Consulate General in New York.

    “Of course, Lucia also represents the government, even more so coming from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome. She has been an advocate of promoting the country through the language in very clear and systemic ways. This is a person who was very dedicated to the project when she was here at the Consulate and has continued to do so in even more obvious ways in Rome, especially through the Stati Generali,” Fiore says.

    “It was an incredibly powerful, diverse, and beautiful way of saying our language is alive. La Lingua Viva was the slogan and she put together an incredible program with professionals, scholars, politicians, the President of the Republic was there, the Prime Minister was there. This is a very powerful gesture towards the value of language,” she continues.

    In addition to expressing her excitement about Genuardi and Pasqualini, Fiore stresses the significance of the other two guests.

    “We’re incredibly honored to have both of them, but in particular to hear from Lucia what is going on in Florence and how we can all benefit from what they discussed there for two days. And the other two guests are equally important. David Ward teaches at Wellesley, where they had a meeting on the same subject. So he will report on that. Then Dennis Looney from the most important association [Association of Departments of Foreign Languages at the Modern Language Association of America] in our field, who happens to be an Italianist as well. So we are very excited.”

    Fiore believes the future of the Italian language is such an important topic “because Italy is a country that is loved.” She continues, “It’s sought after for its art, products, history, literature. And the language constitutes a really central component of it, in order to convey the beauty, the elegance, the playfulness of our culture and its depth.”

    In fact, statistics indicate that Italian is the fourth most studied language in the world. Fiore credits this to Italy’s popularity as a vacation spot and study abroad destination.

    “Italian is studied because Italy is a country that pretty much everyone wants to visit, whether young people or senior people. It has very strong attractiveness for different reasons. It has a very magnetic power. Visiting is often related to being able to communicate with people and as a result we’re seeing an increased interest.”

    She goes on to emphasize that people also strive to understand Italy as a modern economic power, also because of the Made in Italy.

    “Many people want to get to know the country better for what it is today, not just as the cradle of a rich cultural heritage, but as a contemporary economic power in the world. It’s a language of love, it’s language of family, but it’s also a language of economic exchanges.”

    However, less people are pursuing Italian as a degree, which Fiore credits to three reasons.

    “It’s in part to the general reformulation of the meaning of the humanities in our contemporary world. People don’t value them the way they used to. In the case of Italian specifically, compared to other countries, we continue to be a fairly small country. Our language is really just for Italy, compared to other languages that open up entire continents. Third, for contemporary students the question is, ‘What am I going to do with my degree?’”

    Fiore holds that Italian needs to be seen not only as one of culture and of the humanities but also as “necessary in our globalized world.”

    “Historically it’s been la bella lingua and it will continue to be. That’s something that we still need to leverage in fields such as opera, theater, cinema, literature, and so on and so forth. But at the same time it’s important to see its contemporary value. It’s part of a circulation of ideas and people and products in our high-tech world, and Italy is part of that high-tech world as world as well.”

    She adds, “Italian is a very useful language if you choose food studies, design, fashion, or business and Italy is the place you have in mind on the world map. The same accounts for engineers and for astrophysics, for example. There are many areas in which Italy is excelling.”

    Unfortunately, students do not view Italy as a place to work because of its high unemployment rates, yet Fiore remains optimistic.

    “It’s still possible if we work together to make it happen. I say so because the presence of Italy outside of Italy is so big thanks to its diaspora and thanks to the Made in Italy, which is creating entire new markets around the world. Students can find local jobs that are still linked to Italy. This is both with Italian companies that have satellite headquarters here, Ferrero, Colavita, you name it, and also American companies that are in touch with Italy to make their products and to market them.”

    One of the ways to change the stigma around pursuing a degree is to advertise these opportunities.

    “I have thought for a very long time that a marketing campaign coming primarily from our governmental institutions could give us a very powerful tool. But I think we need something that specifically targets high school students and undergraduates in terms of where Italian studies can lead because this is what all disciplines are doing: basically telling their students what they can do in the future,” Fiore shares.

    This brings to light another issue, which begins at the high school level.

    Fiore stresses, “We need to create more synergies between the high school system and the university system, so whatever is done before can be capitalized for a degree.”

    Fiore offers some final thoughts in closing.

    “We need to reform the way in which we teach Italian, and it would be great if we could do it through really large initiatives, such as the creation of a think tank where professors can bring together their ideas, resources, and experience, and then the entire field can use it. And then of course the support of the Italian government is very important to send a strong message to our academic institutions that Italian is not small. Really for me this has become the slogan. We’re not small. I mean we’re small on the map, but we are big despite the fact that we’re small.”

    RVSP required here by Friday, November 11.

  • Art & Culture

    Anna Sammarone’s Butterfly Inspired Fall 2016 Collection

    It was an easy decision for Italian designer Anna Sammarone to pursue fashion, despite earning a law degree. She grew up in a small town called Larino in the Molise region, and since her childhood she has cultivated her own personal style. A master of the craft with a passion that pervades her soul, she treasures the South’s tradition of artfully sewn garments.

    When we met to discuss her latest collection at her friend’s Upper East Side apartment, flanked by panoramic views of Central Park and the East River, Anna radiated grace. Less than 24 hours after landing in New York City from her native Italy, she embodied daywear that can be worn straight through the night, mixing textures for a stylish ensemble that feels more casual.

    Dressed in a ‘70s-esque mustard green velvet blazer balanced with a plain white V-neck tee, she flaunted her legs in earthy high-waited shorts embellished with loose threads and a floral print with subtle pops of blue and purple. For an added level of accentuation and a touch of femininity, she finished the look with dark green suede heeled booties and bold red lipstick.

    Her outfit appeared even more striking when juxtaposed against the thin washed out gold and maroon striped sheet that draped the L-shaped couch we shared, where she would reveal her inspirations and describe her brand’s style. Occasionally rising to sift through the racks of her designs, Anna spoke with such ardent fervor, switching back and forth between English and Italian.

    Farfalle. I started with butterflies and followed them. It’s a collection with embroidered butterflies, very light blouses, and a series of feathers that cause you to think of their wings. These are all parts of a butterfly, and they make you think about following your desires,” she explained.

    As she poeticized, the collection is characterized by chic work wear with fine-spun feathered belts, delicate butterflies, and pom poms, epitomizing wearable and timeless couture, “without compromising one’s personality.” The line is filled with neutral shades and an array of fabrics and materials; however, the highlight is the traditional Italian craftsmanship.

    The blouses range from wool with ruffled collars to those rendered in silk tulle with gathered construction and contrasting butterfly appliqués. Other tops include a plaid t-shirt with a relaxed fit and a short sleeve wool blend with a jewel neckline. The skirts are equally to die for, whether pencil or pleated, but my favorite is the blue knee length velvet piece with sequin embellishment. From cashmere pullovers to Lurex shorts to brocade pants, she utilized texture to create a soft and feminine collection perfect for fall and winter wardrobes—which means layers on layers.

    Anna, for example, likes to finish her look with a cape. Gesturing to one that screams warmth and boasts an ombré of gray to black to brown, she expressed, “I always have a favorite piece that I feel represents me the most. In this collection my favorite is this cape because I always wear capes. I love them because they’re warm and heavy.”

    She admitted that her brand’s style is undoubtedly indicative of her own.

    “I can’t desire something that I wouldn’t wear myself. Therefore, every collection is my own evolution.”

    She continued to disclose her heartfelt desires of her latest line, redefining “splendor.”

     “I hope that this one is modern but at the same time timeless, that’s in style without following the trends, that’s always the same throughout the years, that’s never detached from reality. This is the true meaning of splendor, to not be affected by time. The most beautiful things that are still sensational even after 100 years represent true splendor.”

  • An aerial view of Norcia on Monday (Vigili del Fuoco)
    Facts & Stories

    Another Earthquake Rattles Central Italy. Are There More to Come?

    A 6.6-magnitude earthquake jolted central Italy near Norcia on Sunday morning, the country’s fourth quake in just over two months. The series began in late August, killing nearly 300 people in the town of Amatrice, followed by a string of tremors earlier last week near Visso.

    The most powerful hit since 1980, no deaths have been linked to the latest; however, according to CNN it reportedly injured twenty people. Furthermore, the seismic activity toppled ancient buildings, leveling a historic basilica, and left thousands homeless, with more than 15,000 people being housed in temporary shelters.

    Why did no one die in the last three earthquakes?

    In terms of Wednesday’s tremors, NBC credits three reasons to this remarkable phenomenon. Many houses were restructured after a 1997 earthquake in the affected area; subsequently, fewer buildings collapsed. Of the houses that did, many were uninhibited as a result of widespread damage from two months ago. Third, once the first quake struck, many residents fled their houses, avoiding the stronger hit two hours later.

    Similarly, in regard to Sunday’s devastation, the vicinity was largely empty following last week’s jolts, as many locals had been evacuated to shelters and hotels elsewhere or were sleeping in cars and makeshift tents. Still, the AP reported that close to 8,000 people from the region had sought help from the civilian protection agency.

    Why has Central Italy suffered so many earthquakes?

    Central Italy is situated along an extremely seismically active mountain range known as the Apennine “red belt,” and has a long history of severe earthquakes.

    Prior to recent desolation, the last tremor of such great magnitude was less than a decade ago in 2009 in L’Aquila, which killed over 300 and displaced about 65,000. Another calamitous quake took place in 1915, fatal for an estimated 32,000.

    The region is at a particularly heightened risk of earthquakes due to the number of fault lines that run directly underneath the area. United States Geological Society (USGS) seismologist Gavin Hayes told CNN that earthquakes only occur when energy accumulates along fault lines.

    "These earthquakes don't represent any overall increase in tectonic activity, they're just clustered together because that's how earthquakes work," he said.

    "Just think of it as an energy budget building up slowly over time and then being released fairly rapidly. Then the clock resets and then after a period of time another series of earthquakes will happen to release that energy."​

    For example, in 1783, five major earthquakes over 6.5 in magnitude struck Calabria over the course of two months, leaving more than 50,000 people dead.

    Are there more to come?

    Though earthquake prediction in general is effectively impossible, the recent quakes are indeed anticipated to be part of an ongoing sequence.

    "It's very possible that there will be more, there will certainly be ongoing aftershocks over the comings weeks to possibly months," Hayes said.

    Gianluca Valensise, a noted seismologist with Italy’s National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology, told Reuters, “An earthquake measuring 6 or larger creates stresses that are redistributed across adjacent faults and can cause them to rupture." He continued, “This process can continue indefinitely, with one big quake weakening a sister fault in a domino process that can cover hundreds of kilometers.”

    For information on how to donate, visit the Italian American Relief Fund.

  • "The Bridge" book awards at the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
    Facts & Stories

    The Bridge Book Award in its Second Edition

    On Wednesday evening, the Italian Institute of Culture (IIC) in New York honored accomplished authors, Nadia Terranova, Gli Anni al Contrario, and Marco Belpoliti, Primo Levi di Fronte e di Profilo, for their literary contributions as the Italian winners of the book award called “The Bridge.”

    In its second edition, the accolade is conferred annually to a work of fiction and nonfiction in both Italy and America. Judges from said countries, selected among professors, literary critics, journalists, writers, and translators, carefully decide on four recently published works in an effort to “bridge” two cultures through literature. Created by Casa delle Letterature of the Rome Municipality, the Embassy of the United States in Rome, and the American Initiative for Italian Culture, the idea is to promote awareness and exchange of the most recent cultural trends. The event’s moderator, Maria Ida Gaeta, Director of Casa delle Letterature, explained the initiative as “an example of cultural diplomacy based on literature.”

    On October 24, at the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C., the Italian recipients were bestowed a sum to cover the cost of translation and travel expenses, as well as promised assistance in finding a publisher for each of their books in the US. The American winners—Eli Gottlieb, Best Boy, and Margo Jefferson, Negroland. A Memoir—will be presented their awards at the American Embassy in Rome on November 16.

    Last night at the IIC, Director Giorgio Van Straten, welcomed Stefano Albertini, Director of Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, to host a conversation with Terranova, examining her characters and their correlation to the ancient Sicilian legend of Colapesce. After their discussion, Belpoliti took the stage with Anna Foa, author and professor at the University of Rome, shifting the attention from fiction to nonfiction.

    Gli Anni al Contrario is Terranova’s first novel and has been translated into five languages, winning the prestigious Premio Bagutta. While she made her debut in children’s literature and went on to publish five books for kids, Terranova told Albertini, “I’ve always written for both adults and children. I don’t differentiate between adult and young adult books.”

    The story is based in Terranova’s hometown of Messina, Sicily, from 1977—1989, a time plagued by political terrorism. A captivating tale of love, Albertini described it as beautiful, complicated, difficult, and honest. The female protagonist, Aurora desperately wants to emancipate from her oppressive fascist family and dives into her studies. The male protagonist, daredevil John grows increasingly angry at his father’s communism and is eager to start a revolution. The two meet in college and later give birth to a little girl they name Mara.

    Albertini explained John as “a dramatic antihero” and “a victim of his years and of the ideologies that betrayed his trust, illusions, and hope of the future.” When the possibility of revolution fades away, he becomes fascinated with drugs, trapped once more from the troubles of the times. Through it all, Aurora never gives up on him or herself, only interested in making a better life for their daughter. Albertini blames history’s betrayal for their struggle to maintain their passionate bond, noting, “History does not justify the story, but rather helps us to understand.”

    Albertini clarified the many ways in which the characters are marginalized. Of course, they both suffer from the widespread social conflict, but also from a lack of attention from their families. Furthermore, their daughter is considered a mistake out of passionate love.

    He told the audience, “There is no hierarchy between the protagonists.” He believes there is a great balance in the dialect, with critics praising the novel for flowing like a song. “It is a generous novel because there’s a lot that happens and a lot of turning points. That’s what makes it so great to hear,” Albertini conveyed.

    Following his thorough account on John and Aurora, Albertini asked Terranova how she incorporated the Colapesce legend that dates back to the twelfth century into her novel.

    Terranova prefaced, “The story is connected to Messina but dear to all of Sicily because the idea is that Colapesce supports the whole island.” She continued, “The version I describe in my book is the one my grandma told me.”

    The legend says that Cola, short for Nicola, loved to swim, but did not listen to his mom who tried to call him out of the water, eventually developing a tail. His fame came when the king of Sicily decided to test him by throwing a ring into the sea to retrieve. On that occasion, he realized that Sicily rested on three columns, one in good condition, one unsteady, and one collapsed. He resurfaced and warned the king of danger, but the king did not care. Therefore, Cola chose to return underwater and replaced the broken column with his own body to prevent the island from sinking.

    Terranova then compared the columns and Cola to her characters. Aurora has problems and is shaky but is fundamentally healthy. John is damaged from the start and more so as the story unfolds. Then there is Mara, who is little but offers her support in spite of the fact that the story ended. “The great part is that the child supports them and keeps them standing, like Colapesce who keeps the city standing without the king caring. She finds solace in the story. This is what happens to all of us, we relate to fairytales.”

    “It’s a fairytale, so it connects to your past of writing children’s books," Albertini concluded.

    Belpoliti, writer and essayist, teaches at the University of Bergamo and collaborates with various newspapers and magazines, co-editing the series “Riga” (Marcos y Marcos) and the online magazine Doppiozero.

    He dedicated a great portion of his career to Primo Levi, best known as an Italian Jewish survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, who wrote lucid testimony about wartime. In addition to publishing essays, poetry, commentary, and fiction, Levi was also a chemist.

    Belpoliti has come to be one of the leading scholars on Levi, curating the Einaudi edition of his complete works in 1997. His most recent book, Primo Levi Di Fronte e Di Profilo, is the summation of his two decades of research on the writer.

    The book describes the “universe” of Primo Levi: his troubled life, his story as writer and as an intellectual, and his multifaceted works, featuring complex topics, such as Judaism, the Holocaust, and the concentration camps. The book also contains ten impressive pictures, which Belpoliti found copyright free without the help of his publisher, and exclusive epistolary material from never-before-explored archives that he also found.

    Prompted by Foa, Belpoliti began to explain why he did not begin his work on Levi until later on.

    “At first, he did not seem like an important author. At the time, others took the forefront,” he confessed. “In the 70s, Levi was considered an author of anti-fascism. It was a time of the Red Brigades but also of Neo-fascism. It was only a long time after did literary criticism hold him in wide regard. His first positive review was in 1982.”

    Foa then told Belpoliti that it was not easy as a witness to read Levi’s description of his experience in Auschwitz. She asked why Levi too felt difficulties on his side, as an author and a witness.

    He responded, “Levi was considered a witness, but he could do that because he was a great writer, but that was not clear from the beginning.” He added, “People read literature and politics differently. His ideological approach was not originally understood.”

    He went on to reference a critic, “who sums up in one sentence what we should remember.” Belpoliti said that the reason we should believe Primo Levi is because he was a great writer. “This approach changed everything. This is how we should interpret Levi,” he explained. “His writing shed light to Levi as a witness. And this is when perception radically shifted.”

    Belpoliti continued to explain all of Levi’s many facets and how this added to literary critics' difficult time with understanding him.

    “The important thing is that he is such a multifaceted being and you can never see all of the facets at the same time. Yes, he was a witness and a writer, but what type of writer? He was a chemist, a linguist…he was curious about everything.” He went on, “Literary criticism didn’t understand his many facets. They were underestimated and undervalued at the time.”

    Deviating away from Levi and onto the complexity of the book itself, Belpoliti elucidated his unusual approach to his most recent work. Throughout, he moves deep into contents, imagery, and subjects, creating also short paragraphs, which can be read individually as digressions or as part of a unitary context.

    “This book is structured as if there were strips that go through it. One is chronological, where I look at how he wrote his book and approached his writing, in terms of editing and structuring, changing around characters and sentences with the technique of a chemist working with molecules, assembling and dissembling,” Belpoliti explained. “The second strip is written like an encyclopedia.”

    He progressed, “It is set up in different chapters and some have titles that make it sound like it’s from the 18th century. This book is the result of 20 years of work and I assembled it this way to be full of movement, graphically too.”

    Foa told Belpoliti, "I think you are a chemist in this work," and then asked him to read a page to the crowd.

    Before reading an excerpt, he concluded, “Levi was a man with such intellectual honesty unparalleled in literature and philosophy. What made him so incredible was his ability to tell his stories and those of others. To quote someone else, ‘He has the genius of the common man.’”

    After last night’s discussions, it became evident why these specific works were voted as the winners of “The Bridge.” Gli Anni al Contrario offers further understanding into Italy’s recent pass, describing the violence that inflicted its people and their determined fight to resist and survive. While Primo Levi di Fronte e di Profilo provides greater insight into Levi’s life through his unforgettable and complex works, and it would be a gift to have all of this information gathered together and published in English.

  • Facts & Stories

    Papal Apartments at Castel Gandolfo Open to the Public

    The Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo, located 15 miles southeast of Rome overlooking Lake Albano and the surrounding hills, has historically served as the summer residence and vacation retreat for the leader of the Catholic Church since the 17th century. However, Pope Francis once again bucked tradition and opened the formerly private papal apartments to the public on October 22 as part of a museum.                                                                                                               

    Over the years Pope Francis has increasingly made the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo accessible to visitors. In 2014, he made the Barberini Gardens available to tourists, who are able to sightsee the grounds on a white train. A year later, he opened a portion of the Apostolic Palace as a portrait gallery. His recent decision to relinquish his use of the residence, preferring to spend his summers at the Vatican, offers a larger look into the past 400 years.

    According to Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican, Pope Francis “wanted this place—so rich in history and so significant—to be a gift for the people.”

    While the entire estate is now open as a museum, the main draw is the pope’s reserved quarters, including his bedroom adorned with beige walls and light green curtains, conveying an air of elegance without being ostentatious. Of course, there is also his private study, chapel, and library, which all evoke interest and a sense of imposition. Boasting lakeside views, the Swiss Hall and the Throne Room are just a couple more of the 20 never-before-seen rooms.

    The transformation of the residence used by popes down the centuries into a museum is indicative of the Pope’s frugality and forward thinking. In fact, it is in line with his decision at the very start of his pontificate to abide in the humbler Domus Santa Marta, a glorified Vatican bed and breakfast, rather than the Vatican’s apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter's square.

    However, his latest decision can be reversed if future popes choose to do so.

    The History

    The Vatican has owned the estate since 1596. From then, 15 of 33 pontiffs have summered there, beginning with Urban VIII in the 1600s.

    Pius XII went as far as opening the palace to area residents fleeing battles during World War II. In 1944, at least 12,000 people, including Jews and Italian resistance fighters, took refugee there. His bedroom even served as a makeshift delivery room for about 40 children, many who were named after the Pope’s real name, Eugenio.

    After the war, Pius resumed spending his summers there and died in the same bedroom in 1958. Pope Paul VI also died there in 1978, and Pope John Paul II recovered from an assassination attempt in the same room. However, John Paul II made the most of his time at the residence, spending over 5 years of his 16-year papacy at the estate, even building a swimming pool for his leisure.

  • Events

    The Power of the Veil

    Every October, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation organizes a series of events that promotes Italian as a great language of classical and contemporary culture. The theme of the 16th Week of the Italian Language in the World (Oct. 17—23) is "L'Italiano e la creatività: moda e design” ("Italian and creativity: fashion and design").

    As part of this program, the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C. are hosting a conference and fashion exhibition dedicated to the wedding veil as the primary driver of the bridal dressing experience. The exhibit, Italian Fashion Couture Bridal Tradition and the Power of the Veil, will be on display until October 24. Doors open at 6:00 pm.

    The veil dates back to ancient Rome and has come to best exemplify "bridal" around the globe. Steeped in tradition yet eternally timeless, it represents a wonderful window onto the world of Italian design and couture manufacturing.

    With the participation of Enrica Ponzellini, editor of Vogue Sposa, and Max Botticelli, haute couture fashion photographer, in dialogue with Alison Miller, creative director of Monvieve, the selected panelists will provide their unique perspectives on bridal couture and accessories through the lens of history, culture, tradition, and the industry today.

    They will discuss the true meaning of Made in Italy focused around this singular product, as well as utilize photography and video to illustrate the manner in which the veil has influenced wedding fashion and how it transcends its historic symbolism. The exhibit will provide examples of bespoke heirloom veils that demonstrate what is possible under the tutelage of Italian tradition and design.

    Through these engaging formats, the audience will better understand the veil’s significance and recognize its sublime beauty. Furthermore, they will appreciate the experience and craftsmanship of Italian high fashion.

  • Gala Dinner DGDC Photography via The National Italian American Foundation
    Facts & Stories

    NIAF 41st Anniversary Gala: A Star-Studded Success

    This past weekend the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) hosted its annual Gala Weekend at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. Packed with cultural events featuring an abundance of delicious Italian food and immersive experiences, the highlight was the black-tie gala awards dinner that feted film and television directors Joseph and Anthony Russo (Arrested Development, Captain America), football great Franco Harris (Pittsburgh Steelers), and many others.

    Comedian Joe Piscopo and NIAF President John M. Viola emceed the evening with a mix of humor, charm, and sincerity. Gala Weekend Chairman Frank Giordano welcomed the evening’s guests, followed by Italy’s Ambassador to the United States Armando Varricchio, who expressed, “This is a great celebration of friendship between the United States and Italy.” He continued to thank NIAF and affiliates for raising more than half a million dollars in the wake of the August 24 earthquake that devastated Central Italy. In honor of both countries, the children’s group of Italians in D.C. performed the Italian and American national anthems. 

    NIAF Board member Paolo Catalfamo and General Counsel Arthur J. Furia then introduced this year's Region of Honor, Piemonte, which was celebrated in video that paid homage to the area. Over 1,5000 guests enjoyed Italian specialty fare and Barolo wine from the region as award winning Jazz accordionist Cory Pesaturo took center stage. More exciting entertainment featured music legend Tony Renis, who received a standing ovation after admitting he had not sung in public for 20 years, serenading the crowd with his famous “Quando Quando Quando.” The Russo brothers also caused a buzz when they auctioned off a walk on role in the next Avengers film, and announced a new NIAF program to assist young filmmakers in telling the Italian American experience.

    As recipients of the Jack Valenti Institute Award, they delivered an inspiring speech saying, “We feel blessed to have had a classic Italian American upbringing.” Their story of belonging to a tight-knot, loyal family is familiar one but touching and relatable. “For all the things you can take away from the Italian American experience, this may be the most important – your family will always be there,” said Anthony Russo. “We stand on the shoulders of our parents and their parents.”

    When accepting his NIAF Special Achievement Award, Hall of Famer and Super Bowl Champion Mr. Harris recalled his Italian mother’s cooking during his youth in New Jersey, whose father served in WWII and met his mother during the Allied campaign in Italy. He added, “Going to Italy, did it help me understand and appreciate my Italian heritage? It really did.”

    Other honorees included: Stefano Pessina, CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc.; Dr. Aileen Riotto Sirey, founder of the National Organization of Italian American Women; Giuseppe Lavazza, Vice-Chairman of Luigi Lavazza S.p.A.; and Maria Franca Ferrero of Ferrero Group. Pessina said of his Special Achievement Award in Business, “I feel very pleased to be a very small part of the great contributions Italian Americans have made to this country." Mrs. Ferrero, the widow of Michele Ferrero, accepted her honor via video, stating, “We are proud to support NIAF and its activities and support the Italian culture and heritage in the United States.”

    Between speeches, Italian singer and actress Alma Manera performed moving pop opera renditions of “Magnificat,” an extract from the opera “Maria Di Nazareth” by Mino Reitano. This was followed by an update from Board members Anita Bevacqua McBride and Dr. John Rosa on NIAF’s vigorous scholarship programs that administered 180 scholarships valued at $950,000 in 2016.

    A total star-studded success, celebrities were left and right from the likes of singer Deana Martin, daughter of the late Dean Martin, to actor Sebastian Stan of Captain America and Will Malnati, American restaurateur, entrepreneur, and podcast host. NIAF also welcomed important political figures, including Congressman Tom Marino and former Congresswoman Connie Morella of Maryland.

    At the end of the Gala, NIAF Board Members thanked Board Chairman Joseph Del Raso in a touching speech to commemorate his retirement.