Articles by: Letizia Airos

  • Fatti e Storie

    Friuli Venezia Giulia a New York. Tra passato, futuro e presente


    L’accompagno anch’io ad Ellis Island, in una domenica con la pioggia.
    Il passaggio sul traghetto,  come sempre vigilato dalla Statua della libertà visibile da ogni lato,  è una vero tuffo, nel grigio increspato di un'acqua e di un cielo  con un fascino tutto particolare. 
     
     
     
     
     
     






     





    Alcuni momenti della visita ad Ellis Island
    Altre foto nel nostro album Facebook >>>




     








    Sopra la promozione da Eataly.

     
    Poi Cristiano Shaurli (Assessore regionale Risorse

    agricole e forestali), Debora Serracchiani e 

    Lidia Bastianich nel ristorante Felidia 


    Sotto Nicola Farinetti e Dino Borri da Eataly


    Altre foto nel nostro album Facebook >>> 
     
     


    In Consolato Generale all'incontro 
    Meet the Job Fair
    Altre foto nel nostro album Facebook >>>

     



    La simbolica Statua della Libertà
    così come vista dal battello
    in viaggio verso Ellis Island

     
    Quella che, per me, è una delle tante visite nell’isola alla foce del fiume Hudson non lo è  per Debora Serracchiani, presidente della regione Friuli Venezia Giulia, accompagnata - nel luogo che ospita il più noto museo dell’emigrazione al mondo -  da suoi correginali, rappresentanti di associazioni, il console generale Francesco Genuardi ed i consoli Isabella Periotto e Roberto Frangione.
     
    La seguo con lo sguardo nell’arco di diverse ore,  tra momenti di intensa emozione, serietà ma anche di grande serenità e leggerezza. Ascolta, osserva, pone tante domande.
     
    Con un cappellino comprato sul posto,   affronta così anche lei questa primavera dispettosa,  tra la gente comune, senza  utlizzare passaggi speciali.
     
    Ad accoglierla i ranger Sam Webb e Franco Paolino, un italoamericano che parla anche un po' italiano.  Ci sono infatti diverse persone che lavorano ad Ellis Island con cognomi inconfondibilmente italiani, orgogliosi del Paese di provenienza della loro famiglie. 
     
    Sulla via del ritorno, da questo luogo, che ha rappresentato un porto di approdo per milioni di persone alla ricerca di migliori condizioni di vita,  non posso rinunciare alla curiosità di fermarla in un angolo  e farle raccogliere un po' di pensieri, con il vento in faccia.
     
    Parliamo quindi,  lasciando alle nostre spalle il principale punto d'ingresso per gli immigranti che sbarcavano negli Stati Uniti.
     
    “La prima cosa che mi viene da dire, dopo aver guardato le immagini e letto anche un un po’ anche la storia di questi immigrati, è che in fondo ben poco è cambiato rispetto ad allora; chi arriva oggi in barca, o in treno o a piedi, da un paese in guerra o semplicemente per migliorare le proprie condizioni di vita,  trova realtà molto simili. Simili sono infatti anche le circostanze economiche, perché i più poveri arrivavano qui con tutti i problemi del caso. Va detto subito però che avveniva in un Paese, come gli Stati Uniti,  che si era posto seriamente il problema della gestione dei flussi migratori, cosa che l’Europa ancora non ha imparato a fare.  Ci vogliono delle regole. Occorre strutturarsi per rispondere ad un’emergenza come quella che stiamo affrontando.” 


    Un’emergenza umanitaria che certo non accenna a fermarsi e che racchiude un massaggio legato anche al nostro stile di vita, al futuro delle nuove generazioni, Debora Serracchiani ne conviene con noi.
     
    “Venire qui, accompagnata anche da rappresentanti delle associazioni della mia regione ha aumentato l’emozione. - continua - i friulani e i giuliani, partiti dal Friuli-Venezia Giulia sono tantissimi, così come tanti altri italiani passati da qui. 


    Tra l’altro ho fatto l’esperienza di cercare personalmente nei computer a disposizione un parente e di trovarlo. Questa è una grande emozione che ti fa sentire comunque un legame particolare con questo posto e quello che rappresenta. Ci sono quindi queste storie ancora vive e da raccontare ma anche tanti giovani. Dobbiamo fare in modo che siano loro i depositari di un racconto universale” 
     
    Sul battello che porta a Ellis Island, Eligio Clapcich e Chiara Barbo. Un rappresentante di un’emigrazione storica, scappato nel ‘46 a quattordici anni da Fiume nascosto sotto il sedile di un camion,  ed una giovane che lavora  nel mondo del cinema che ha realizzato, tra l’altro. un documentario sulle giovani triestine emigrate in America nel dopoguerra. Tra i due un filo rosso importante e simbolico che racconta l’orgoglio di un’appartenenza che rivive oltre oceano,  con grande successo, senza retorica. Oggi come ieri.
     
    Parlando appunto di giovani e del museo di Ellis Island la presidente ci dice: “Questo e’ un luogo che fa cultura e storia, soprattutto le nuove generazioni hanno bisogno di avere sia l’una che l’altra, con i piedi ben piantati per terra per spiccare il volo verso il proprio futuro e i propri sogni. E’ un posto che oggettivamente racconta tante storie, diverse ma allo stesso tempo simili, per cui credo che sia uno di quei luoghi dove porterei ogni singola classe di tutte le scuole italiane a vedere e a toccare con mano che cosa significa la paura della diversità e al tempo stesso la sua accoglienza.”


    E di sogni si tratta. Di ieri come di oggi. Di futuro difficile.
    E parliamo quindi con lei di sogno americano. L’ho vista molto concentrata mentre la guida raccontava. Questo mentre intorno a noi ogni angolo del museo viveva e narrava questo sogno. E fuori, dietro una vetrata e a pochi metri di acqua quella peranza di un futuro diverso. 
     
     “Qui in America hai ancora la sensazione di potercela fare, più che in altri luoghi. Hai l’impressione che l’impegno, le competenze e la forza di volontà ti diano l’occasione di migliorare la tua vita per prendere in mano il tuo futuro. E' una cosa che, in questo momento,  i giovani hanno difficilmente  in Italia, c’è molta meno fiducia.”
     
    Ma questo non vuol dire che non esista la voglia di farcela. Di affrontare le difficoltà. Le sue parole vengono subito attraversate da una ventata di ottimismo.  “Credo che finalmente ci siano anche le possibilità per concretizzare i propri sogni.  Rispetto a qualche anno fa abbiamo numeri più positivi, è un Paese che sta uscendo fuori da una crisi lunghissima, che ha ritrovato credibilità internazionale a tutti i livelli. E’ fatto anche di grandissime eccellenze, ma soprattutto siamo di fronte a un Paese che finalmente ha abbandonato quello che è lo sport nazionale: parlare male di se stesso. 
    Finalmente stiamo tirando fuori anche le nostre cose belle, partendo dal grande investimento che stiamo facendo sulla cultura intesa, non soltanto come luoghi della cultura sui quali l’impegno è fortissimo - basti pensare alla Reggia di Caserta, Pompei o al lavoro che stiamo facendo noi in regione su Aquileia - ma c’è anche una sensibilità rinnovata per la cultura, intesa proprio come sfida culturale. 
     
    L’idea per esempio di essere l’unico Paese che ha  investito soldi sulla sicurezza, decidendo però che ciascun euro messo nella sicurezza sarebbe equivalso ad uno messo per la cultura, è oggettivamente un salto di qualità importante.”
     
    La sua è una visita americana ricca di tappe, tra mondi diversi,  imprenditoriali e culturali. Questo a soli sei mesi da un’altra missione oltreoceano. Quali sono i motivi e gli scopi? “La nostra è una regione di confine, di emigrazione e di presenza internazionale molto forte. Abbiamo fatto un investimento importante sulle relazioni internazionali, portando a casa dei risultati gia’ molto importanti. Penso all’accordo che con la Baviera, siamo l’unica regione italiana che ha un accordo bi-laterale con il Länder della Baviera e penso anche all’intesa che abbiamo firmato con l’Iran sia per il porto di Trieste,  per la cultura e anche su altri settori, e poi ci sono ovviamente a tutti i rapporti che ci legano con i paesi Balcani e anche a quelli più vicini. 

     
    New York e, gli Stati Uniti in generale, sono una meta molto importante perché l’export della regione verso gli Stati Uniti è in continua crescita ed è più elevato rispetto alla media italiana. Questo vuol dire che c’è grande interesse e che siamo una Regione che ha delle relazioni già consolidate in settori come la meccanica, la cantieristica navale, l’agro-alimentare. 
     
    Possiamo assolutamente continuare ad espanderci, motivo per cui nella visita abbiamo fatto un lavoro molto specifico proprio sull’agro-alimentare con una partnership con Eataly che ha dato rinnovata visibilità a tanti prodotti, alcuni di questi già conosciuti, come per esempio il prosciutto San Daniele, altri meno.
     
    È una visibilità che diamo a tutta la Regione perché i nostri prodotti sono collegati al territorio, quindi se una persona mangia il prosciutto San Daniele o assaggia per la prima volta il Frico o beve un bicchiere di vino, lo collega anche al posto dal quale il prodotto proviene.  Questo ci permette anche di fare un investimento sullo sviluppo turistico: lo scorso anno tutti i nostri siti maggiori, dalla montagna al mare, hanno avuto dei dati positivi.  Rispetto agli ingressi turistici e devo dire che c’è un’attenzione piuttosto importante anche da parte dei turisti che vengono dagli Stati Uniti.”
     
    Nel corso del suo scorso viaggio in America la sua Regione ha curato molto i rapporti con l’ambiente accademico. L’impegno sta avendo i suoi frutti?
    “Sì la scorsa visita è stata incentrata soprattutto sulla ricerca e la conoscenza delle università americane, ero accompagnata anche dai rettori delle università del Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Quelle reti si sono consolidate e ci sono dei progetti sui quali stiamo lavorando insieme. Stessa cosa faremo a Boston, presso il MIT (Massachussets Institute of Technology), un incontro che sarà sotto il segno della collaborazione ed avrà come oggetto la ricerca. Tutto il settore della ricerca, della conoscenza e dell’università, è uno di quelli che esportiamo con più successo, perché nella zona di Trieste, ma non solo, ci sono istituti di grande prestigio che ci permettono di instaurare collaborazioni importanti con diversi paesi e regioni internazionali.”
     
    C’e’ anche un altra novità. L’apertura  del nuovo circolo dell’Ente regionale Acli per i problemi dei Lavoratori emigrati del FVG in Carmine Street a New York. 
     
    “Si l’inaugurazione di una sede ERAPLE. Di questa visita colgo ancora due aspetti: il primo l’importante iniziativa del Consolato Generale di unire i giovani che sono venuti a New York per lavorare e farli incontrare con le maggiori aziende italiane presenti in città (Meet the Job Fair: evento che si è tenuto presso il Consolato Generale d’Italia lo scorso Sabato 14 Maggio ndr all'interno della serie Meet The New Italians), un sistema molto importante per far incontrare domanda e offerta di lavoro ed anche di dare un punto di riferimento ai giovani; in secondo luogo le nostre associazioni di friulani e di giuliani sono tante e da sempre lavorano nel mantenere i legami sempre ben stretti con la loro regione di provenienza. 



    Adesso si stanno riadattando alla sfida delle nuove generazioni, hanno bisogno però anche di avere strumenti nuovi e forse un’attenzione in più per capire quale potrebbe essere il rapporto di questi ragazzi con il paese di origine dei genitori, e dei nonni.”
     
    E chiudiamo la conversazione parlando di un’amica comune. Lidia Bastianich. Un grande ambasciatore della cultura italiana, originaria di Pola.
     
    “Diciamo che persone come lei sono i nostri ambasciatori più efficaci per certi versi, senza togliere niente alla diplomazia, è però chiaro che il ben mangiare, il buono che c’è dietro ad un piatto curato con la creatività e la passione dei grandi chef come Lidia o Joe Bastianich, sono il biglietto da visita più importante. 
     
    Il legame che loro sono riusciti a creare con la nostra terra, con l’acquisto dell’azienda agricola e la presenza in regione, sta rendendo ancora più forti i legami fra la terra d’origine e il loro lavoro in America.”


    Lidia Bastianich  è una delle persone che hanno voluto fortemente il mese dedicato alla promozione del Friuli Venezia Giulia "Friuli Mouth", in corso a New York (e Chicago) con la presenza di 58 aziende della regione presso Eataly. 

     
    E già si racconta di un mitico “Frico alla Lidia” che siamo tutti curiosi di assaggiare insieme alla sue celebri ‘ofelle triestine’. 
     
     

     

  • Art & Culture

    Synergic Design Thinking

    Geneva. Motor Show. Inside the “salon of salons” of Europe’s automobile industry, the atmosphere is electrifying. The occasion is not to be missed by those employed in the industry as well as car lovers who are happy just to dream in the passenger seat. 
     

    This year the dream of dreams, as far as concerns Italy, is once more linked to Ferrari. The legendary manufacturer’s new design miracle marries innovation and technique. Yet again ushering in this new creature—the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso—is Flavio Manzoni, the Sardinian-born designer and Ferrari’s Senior Vice President of Design.

    We sat down to talk to our “old friend” whom we’ve had occasion to see several times in New York. We couldn’t let him speed off without finding out how the latest Italian design came to be and where it will take us.
     

    Designing a Ferrari is the finish line every car designer dreams of crossing. Why is that? Is it the honor of working with legendary brand, cherished the world over? Or is it the challenge of working on such a sophisticated and efficient “technological body?”
    I think the prestige that comes with designing a Ferrari depends on both. First of all, there’s the very powerful and deep-seated symbolic value that the Ferrari brand represents in the collective imagination, which is reinforced by the leadership role Ferrari has long played in the world of automobiles.

    Second, and just as important, are the technical and performance requirements of these cars, which lead to a series of particularly limiting restrictions. That’s the real challenge for architects and designers. Every new car emerges from an awareness of which technical elements will meld with a design. We are constantly working on highly complex subjects, but that’s key to designing a Ferrari: it originates from the configuration of all the components and technological aspects that come into play.
     

    You direct the Ferrari Style Center, which was created in 2010 as an operating branch within the Maranello factory. What does it do?
    We work on the development, style, and construction of models and prototypes. We’re “in-house” and work closely with the various engineering departments. We also have a “modeling” department and an area dedicated to visualizing virtual models. [Founding the Center] is a significant chapter in Ferrari’s recent history, which has now united the ascribable competencies in the creative- design field with an important operating function that is always growing.

    The goals of the new department include responding to the diversification of production models in series and limited- edition series; fostering tailor made automobiles; contributing to the development of an innovative language and rock solid brand identity that is in step with the importance assigned to aesthetic beauty as one of the determining factors of Ferrari’s DNA.


    You mean synergic design. The designers at the Ferrari Style Center do more than just “stylize”...

    Exactly. Ferrari Design’s proximity to the company’s other departments, in particular the Development Center, facilitates our sharing tasks and constantly exchanging information. That interaction allows my team of designers to step outside their purely stylistic roles, which could be reductive, and have a say in selecting projects, with a common goal being to make an excellent product.
     

    One of the peculiar things about Ferrari Design’s modus operandi is that very synergy established between designers, engineers, and technicians. That dialogue often complements the proposals of specialists in different fields. Therefore the job of the designer is to connect technical requirements with formal requirements, and simultaneously develop a digital 3-D model and “a real” one, in a fruitful commingling of state-of- the-art technology and manual labor. It’s a fascinating model for working, based on an idea you’ve expressed before: that the visual arts and design—taken at their fullest meaning—are closely related and share the same roots. In your professional experience, how have you combined creative invention and technical planning?
    Tackling complicated technical questions and interacting with engineers and aerodynamics specialists is all in a day’s work for the Ferrari Design team. Our Style Center was built to be flexible and foster exchanging roles to our advantage. That flexibility enriches everyone involved, from a professional and human standpoint. A new Ferrari design is sparked by an awareness and understanding of technical restrictions that the designer finds himself faced with. It’s a roundabout path. Not infrequently, technological and regulatory aspects or production needs generate creative solutions that are important not just aesthetically but also on a functional level.
     

    Technology, sportsmanship, innovation, research, aesthetics, beauty, memory, passion: they’re recurring terms, distinct yet complementary categories. What is it that holds them all together? What is the “Ferrari mood” (to use a particularly trendy expression)? What is the mood behind every automobile, enclosed with each new product?
    The elements on your list can’t be divorced from each other. They form part of the path the company has embarked on and continues to advance with new stimuli and goals. Every Ferrari can be seen in three different ways. The first is connected to context, to Maranello and the surrounding area, to the spaces we live and work in, to the people we meet. Some means of still invoking the charismatic personality and presence of its founder, Enzo Ferrari. Then there’s the creative aspect, the kind that turns the blueprint of a car into a truly artistic and technical experience, actual and industrial. Last but not least, there’s its design, which, broadly speaking, consists in a designer’s depth of thinking as well as sensibility and attitude.
     

    So, tradition meets innovation. That typically Italian combo – characteristic of a country with such a long history and a creative bent recognized around the world – lies at the heart of the Ferrari legend. That explains why Ferrari remains at the top of the design world, the leader of the evolution of the automobile in the 21st century, with one eye on the past and one eye aimed at the future.

    Newborn: Ferrari GTC4 Lusso

    The latest creation in the automobile series industry, the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso designed by the Ferrari Style Center under the direction of Flavio Manzoni is currently camped out at the Geneva Motor Show, where it’s a crowd magnet.       

    Ferrari’s new grand touring four-seater with a shooting brake silhouette has redefined the profile of a coupe. Its balanced volume is in keeping with a performance car and comes equipped with a front-engined V-12, four-wheel traction, and plenty of interior room.

    “For a long time,” says Manzoni, “we wondered whether to pursue the idea of an architecture of volumes. In the end we did, for the usability and versatility such a solution consented. By inserting the spoiler and lowering the roof, we were able to achieve the perfect proportions.”
     

    The name alludes to the historic 250 GT Lusso (1962), one of Enzo Ferrari’s most beloved cars, and the 330 GTC (1966), nodded to by the rear fender air vent detail. The allusions are subtle, however, and have been fully absorbed to generate captivating new forms, rather than as a pretext for digging up historic details.

    If you look carefully at the design of the GTC4 Lusso, you’ll be blown away by the harmonious design that creates a trompe l’oeil effect, visually lightening the side of the car and giving a fascinating, fresh impression of more three dimensionality.

    The GTC4 Lusso’s interior is also the result of a totally new design, including an innovative dual cockpit specifically designed to incorporate new technological devices like the 10.25-inch touchscreen as well as a second, multi-functional screen for the passenger, so that s/he can share in the thrill of driving.

    However different, the F12 TDF and the GTC4 Lusso exemplify what Manzoni calls “a linguistic code that is common to and distinguishes the work of Ferrari Design.

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    Pizza! A Woman’s Job Is Never Done

    She’s made the rounds of New York for sometime now, yet other American cities are beginning to recognize the petite, dark-haired young woman whose features show off her deep Italian roots. Giorgia Caporuscio may not be an astronaut, a famous scholar or a soccer player, but her occupation is still fairly uncommon among women.

    The pizzaiola was born in Terracina, a small city between Rome and Naples, and despite its
    apparent simplicity, her story deserves to be told.  

    “Hospitality school led me to the restaurant industry,” says Giorgia, greeting us with flour-caked hands. “Of course, it was also my father’s line of work, and I’d been attracted to this world ever since I was a little girl.” Giorgia’s father, renowned pizza chef Roberto Caporuscio, had been in New York for many years prior to her arrival. His most famous pizzerias are Kestè on Bleeker Street and Don Antonio on West 51st.

    How does a young woman decide to go work in New York before she’s turned twenty? 

    I was 19. At that age, you still don’t know what you want. I sort of came on a whim, hoping to learn English. The first few months were pretty rough. I had no friends. It was just my father and me. But after two years, I told myself, “I’m staying for good.” 
     

    What happened to make you feel that way? Was there a turning point?

    I’m rather shy and my father has always pushed me to break out of my shell. He sent me to Miami to teach people how to make pizza. I knew how to make pizza – I’d learned it from him – but I didn’t know how to teach. I pulled my hair out I was so afraid! But it went really well… I’d thought I was so young, but [my students] treated me as their elder. That was when I realized that I could go further here than in Italy, that I could be appreciated for my know-how despite being a woman.  

    What’s the hardest part of your job? 

    The hardest part is interacting with male pizza chefs. “A woman make pizza?” they say incredulously. Let’s just say it’s unusual. In fact, I used to stay out of sight when I was getting my start. I wanted people to appreciate the product without knowing a woman had made it. It took a long time to assert myself, not only because I was a woman but because I was also the boss’ daughter! It might seem easier, but it’s the exact opposite. 

    What is it you like about making pizza? 

    It seems very simple. All you need are tomatoes, flour, water, salt and yeast. But it’s much more complicated than that. I’m not a cook. I don’t know how to cook. But I’m really good at making pizza. It takes passion and perseverance. 

    Teaching people how to make pizza is now your day job…

    Yes. It’s hard but a lot of fun. You never know who you’re going to work with. I’ve taught an airplane pilot, chefs who have a lot more experience in the kitchen, and I have to adapt accordingly. 

    What is it like being a female teacher? 

    They always regard me skeptically, since I’m twenty-five and a woman. They look at me like I’m a monster. “What is she going to say?” they wonder. I always start out by saying that I will make them do what I did, teach them everything I know, and while they’re learning from me, I’ll be learning from them. I’ll learn how to be a better teacher. My students appreciate that.  

    Have there been students you’ve had greater difficulty teaching?  

    Some men. Partly because to learn how to make pizza you need to feel the dough with your hands, by touch, and that’s a big part of my training…  My father knows how I teach. Sometimes he worries… especially with students from cultures that have narrower views of women. But I did it! I may be a woman, but I’m a lot like my grandfather—stubborn.

     

    Have you taught any women? 

    Sure. It’s still hard for them, and I get it, but meeting me gives them confidence. Do you remember that film with Sophia Loren where she makes fried pizza? Women have always made pizza; they just didn’t leave the house to make it. 

     

    How much time does it take to learn how to make pizza well? 

    My course lasts ten days. The hardest part is using your hands. Once you’ve learned the ‘secrets’, it takes a lot of dedication and persistence to stay in practice and find your own style. The ones who really succeed are very passionate. It’s a bit like playing an instrument. You have to be an artist! 

    You also teach people about the culture surrounding pizza.   

    I cover a whole unit on the culture and tradition. It’s like giving out passports to go to Italy. I teach students about how we think about pizza, the combination of flavors. And I always ask my clients about their backgrounds so I know how I should be teaching them. You mentioned earlier that women have always made pizza, while men were the ones who ran pizzerias. In Italy it’s still widely considered a male occupation. Why?

    It’s a question of mentality. Women stayed at home. That’s still often the case. No one expects them to know how to handle the entrepreneurial side of the job. They themselves don’t expect to. They think that they’ll have to quit as soon as they have a family. 

    And what does your father think? 

    We made a bet as to whether family or work would finally win out. I think I could handle working and having a family. I think that in Italy I would have always been seen as someone who should stay home and cook. Fortunately that idea of women doesn’t exist in New York. Americans don’t look at me like I’m a freak. Three years ago I won the pizza championship here and there were other women who competed. We’re slowly gaining ground. 

    You teach, manage the staff, and make pizza. What do you like best?

    Making pizza is the best. I used to a lot more…

    How do you get along with your dad’s partner, don Antonio Starita, an icon in the Neapolitan pizza industry? 

    We get along spectacularly because, you know, he’s a touchstone in Italian gastronomy. Having him for a teacher was the best. And he had fun teaching me. For me, making pizza is more relaxing than doing yoga or going to the gym. Work is stressful, but making pizza is relaxing. 

    Don Antonio, your father… You work with another “member of the family,” too.

    My boyfriend, Raffaele! Between him, my father, and don Antonio, I’ve been blessed with men! He’s a restaurant manager. I met him in America a year ago. While I was in Atlanta my father hired a guy from Formia, a city close to mine. We had some mutual friends. And then we met again in New York, while I was making pizza and he was waiting tables.  

    And it was “love at first pizza…” 

    Yes, I taught him how to make pizza. He teases me now. He says he’s getting better than me. But it’s not true, even if he’s on the right track…

    What would you say to a girl who wants to get into your line of work? 

    Don’t get discouraged! Be persistent and courageous. It can be hard but it’s very satisfying. I hope a lot of women get into this line of work. Here and in Italy. Even in Japan there are a lot of young female pizza chefs nowadays! 

    And there’s a project in the works to break out on your own…

    I’d like to open my own place, without my dad, though with his guidance. When I first got started, I would never have imagined myself saying that, but it’s true. I don’t want anything big. I want to take it step by step. I would like to open a small place in keeping with the Italian tradition, with an Italian feel, yet which is young and speaks to young people.

    Your Pizza Montanara earned you a major award. But what’s your favorite pizza to make? 

    La Kestè. It has tomato sauce, bufala mozzarella, arugula, and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. It’s a classic, simple but always special. 

    Simple but special. A little like you!   

    Best of luck, Giorgia

    ---

    Kesté Pizza & Vino
    271 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

    Don Antonio
    309 W 50th St, New York, NY 10019

  • Fatti e Storie

    Maria Teresa Sansalone. Quella valigetta del nonno di Palermo ...

    IN ENGLISH >>>

    Ha la sua regione, la Calabria, nei lineamenti. Marcati e dolci al tempo stesso.

    Puo'  avere un look molto glamour, ma incontri una parte saliente della sua personalita' solo quando la vedi lavorare. Parliamo con lei tra un taglio e un colore.

    Tutto comincia con Nonno Salvatore

    Nata a Sidarno, in provincia di Reggio Calabria, Maria Teresa Sansalone ha una storia unica ma al tempo stesso emblematica. Racconta la tenacia di una donna del sud che conquista il suo spazio nel mondo, grazie ad una professionalita' piena di passione.

    Tutto comincia con nonno Salvatore. “Era barbiere a Palermo e d'estate veniva in vacanza da noi. Portava con se quella valigetta con gli attrezzi per tagliare i capelli ....”

    E Maria Teresa, che non raggiugeva ancora il metro di altezza, lo accompagnava imparando i segreti del mestiere, e soprattutto la passione. Prende la strada del nonno molto presto. A soli 12 anni, nonostante le resistenze dei genitori, va a fare apprendistato da un parrucchiere americano. “Se prendi buoni voti a scuola puoi andare!” le dissero i gentitori. “Studiavo la sera. Il pomeriggio imparavo un mestiere che amavo. Dopo sei mesi ho inizato anch'io a fare la parrucchiera. Mi piaceva cambiare il look delle persone che si affidavano a me”.

    A soli 13 anni vince un concorso in Calabria. La seconda vittoria nel nord Otalia a Pistoia. A 16 anni arrivano i primi concorsi internazionali. “E' stata dura. Ma era la mia passione. Ero piccola e mia mamma mi accompagnava e faceva il tifo per me. La mia famiglia non era certo ricca, mio padre era un piastrellista, mia madre una sarta. Mio nonno, super-felice mi spingeva ad andare avanti. Era molto vecchio, parlava poco, ma mi stava vicino. Un giorno mi ha regalato la sua cassettina degli attrezzi. E' diventata il mio portafortuna. La porto sempre con me”. E dal nonno arriva un altro insegnamento silente “Non ho mai corso contro il tempo, piu' corri e piu sbatti contro qualcosa che non riesci a realizzare. Vado con il vento.”

    In giro per l’Europa

    Come per tutti la vita ha suoi imprevisti. Dopo sposata, andava a fare i capelli a domicilio, girava con la sua auto bianca. Poi il matrimonio finisce e Maria Teresa deve cambiare vita. Lascia la Calabria per lavorare con il famoso hair stylist Roberto D'Antonio. “E' stato un grande maestro. A volte uscivo piangendo, mi trattava severamente, ma mi ha tolto la timidezza, mi ha formato, resa piu' forte. Ho imparato a relazionarmi e mi ha dato il coraggio definitivo di cambiare l’aspetto gente. Sono stati 7 anni. Dalle 7 del mattino alle 8 di sera e anche dopo. Ho lavorato con attori e nella moda in giro per l'Europa”.

    Furono proprio i viaggi insieme a Roberto D'Antonio a mettere nella testa di Maria Teresa l'idea di lavorare all'estero. “Era eccitante andare in posti dove non ti conosce nessuno, sentire parlare altre lingue …. ho quindi cominciato a mandare il mio curriculum oltre oceano. Ed eccomi a New York.”

    NYC: Being Italian helps!

    A New York Maria Teresa ha avuto esperienze diverse, sia negative che positive. “E’ una citta'; che ti aiuta a sognare — dice — ma ti puo'; anche distruggere. All’inizio non parlavo la lingua, ma mostravo le foto con il colore da cambiare ed i clienti si fidavano...”

    E  c'era qualcosa della sua italianita'  che l’aiutava... “Certamente nel nostro campo essere

    italiana aiuta. Gli americani amano la nostra cultura, la nostra arte, la moda. Ci ammirano. Si mettono facilmente nelle mani di un'italiana. Si sentono sicuri. E' stato un grande vantaggio.”

    La prima esperienza americana è importante, ma Maria Teresa è inquieta. Torna a Roma dove apre un suo negozio, ma non si trova bene, la sua mente è rimasta in America. E' la sua famiglia questa volta a venirle incontro. Le regala un bigietto di sola andata per New York, e l'appoggia in un nuovo progetto: un suo negozio a Manhattan! “Hanno investito su di me, creduto in me. Mia sorella, mio fratello, i miei genitori.... Ho lavorato tanto, mi sono inventata gli aperitivi italiani la sera per farmi conoscere. Tra un bicchiere di prosecco e tanta musica si facevano i capelli. La mia vita sembrava regolarizzata, avevo un socio, il negozio andava bene. Ma ad un certo punto mi sono accorta di annoiarmi. Non cerco la sicurezza, ma momenti creativi. Cosi ho venduto il negozio!”

    Nel mondo della moda

    Oggi lavora anche in quel negozio, ma solo su appuntamento. Ha sempre i suoi clienti ma è un independent contractor. “Così vado come e dove voglio. E sono anche tornata al mia amore: la moda.” Lavora dunque con persone diverse, persone comuni, ma anche attori, stilisti, modelle. Com’è lavorare da parrucchiera in questi ambienti?

    “Nel mondo della moda le esigenze sono apparentemente superiori, è gente sicura davanti alla telecamera ma tanto insicura nel back stage. E' una grande responsabilita'. A volte l'interazione con lo stilista è difficile, ma è anche una grande sfida. Questo non vuol dire che la sfida non ci sia anche con la gente comune. So cosa vuol dire un nuovo taglio di capelli, per chiunque. Si cambia! Per guadagnarti la loro fiducia devi essere pronta a tanti tipi di capelli. Devi essere umile, frequentare corsi formativi. Devi saper imparare e ricominciare.”

    Chissa' cosa penserebbe il barbiere Salvatore... “Credo che mio mio nonno mi guardarebbe con quel suo sorriso che amavo, silenzioso ma eloquente. E poi tornerebbe a Palermo per parlare di me in piazza con orgoglio ... In comune con lui ho ancora l'istinto dell'artigiano. Anche vivendo a New York non ho voluto lavorare con molti attrezzi. Mi bastano due forbici e una spazzola.”

    E oggi quale è il sogno nel cassetto di Maria Teresa? “Ho venduto il negozio perchè  ho capito che non era quello il mio sogno. Desidero di lavorare sempre di piu' nel mondo della moda. Nelle sfilate. Cosi come agli inizi. Amo l'adrenalina di quei momenti, del backstage. Ho cominciato tanti anni fa, con nomi come Gattinoni, Rocco Barocco, Valentino, Renato Balestra, c'era ancora Lancetti … ma tornare nella moda non vuol dire abbandonare le clienti normali. Sono fondamentali per mantenere il contatto con la realta'. Sono la vita!”

  • Op-Eds

    Mediating Cultures




    “Caspita, chesto è ccafè... È ciucculata! Vedete quanto poco ci vuole per rendere felice un uomo: una tazzina di caffè presa tranquillamente qui fuori.”
    “Damn, that is coffee… It’s almost chocolate! See how little it takes to make a man happy: just a leisurely cup of coffee outside.”
    Rather than with a canonical poem, this issue begins with an excerpt from a comedy by the great Italian dramatist Eduardo De Filippo. What I wouldn’t give to introduce his work and its daily life philosophy to the world!  But let’s cut to the coffee, that very Italian (Neapolitan, in De Filippo’s case) source of joy.
     
    Starbucks or No Starbucks?
    With a spring this unpredictable, coffee is increasingly called for. In the following pages you’ll find a list of places where you can sample Italian coffee. It may not be Naples, but New York still has some great finds. 
    While your cup of Joe is brewing, enjoy our takes on the media controversy surrounding the opening of Starbucks in Italy (Will it work?) … and tell us what you think using the ashtag #iItalyStarbucks on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram! 
     
    Stars, pizza, and much more…
    There are a lot of great stories in this issue. First up is a feature of two Italian women, an astronaut and a pizza chef, who may appear worlds apart yet who bring the same determination to professions typically believed to lie outside the female domain.  Nor could we neglect to commemorate another recently departed Italian legend, Umberto Eco, here remembered by fellow semiotics scholar Anthony J. Tamburri. 
    Also in this THICK spring issue, Lucia Pasqualini profiles Alberto Cribiore in her “My Mentors” series and Joe Bastianich talks about his new trattoria in New York. Professor Jerry Krase and his Palermitan colleague Marcello Sajia also pick up where they left off with their discussion of immigration. 
    The issue also marks the debut of our new columnist, CEO of Cinecittà Giuseppe Basso, who spotlights the rebirth of Hollywood on the Tiber. 
     
    Design Talk
    Our special section about Italian design coincides with Milan’s re-opening of the Triennial Exposition – after a 30-year hiatus – and New York’s Design Week.
    We open with a remembrance of Massimo Vignelli, an icon of Italian design in New York and around the world. Vignelli remains a constant, enduring presence in this city and in our hearts, for his friendship, the generous advice he provided as we were just starting out, and for designing our logo and our Fiat 500. 
    We also sit down with three acquaintances readers will remember from past issues: Ferrari design head Flavio Manzoni, guru of radical design Gaetano Pesce, and an emerging star in the field, Antonio Pio Saracino.  
     
    Our best wishes to New York’s new Consul General 
    So, we continue our work as communicators and cultural mediators by reporting the Italian presence in America. And it is in that spirit,  that we present you our exclusive conversation with Consul General Francesco Genuardi. We wish him well as he sets to work in this diverse, spirited and very Italian city.  
     
    Now, on our next project 
    News. We just wrapped up our first installment of “Grandparents and Grandchildren in Italian America.” Produced by i-Italy TV in collaboration with ANFE and with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the series examines the transitions between generations of Italian Americans as told by five sets of grandparents and their grandchildren: Matilda Raffa Cuomo and Amanda Cole, Joseph Tusiani and Paola Tusiani, Aileen Riotto Sirey and Emma Bankier, Rosaria Liuzzo and Mara Sparacino, John P. Calvelli and John D. Calvelli.
    Catch it this spring every Sunday at 1 pm on Channel 25/NYC Life, or on-demand on our WebTV and YouTube channel. Stay tuned for more info…and maybe a book!  
     
    Thanks, NIAF!
    I’d like to take this opportunity to thank President of NIAF John M. Viola and his splendid team for welcoming us in Washington DC for a cycle of excellent interviews, about which more soon. We particularly appreciate the trust NIAF placed in us by launching a joint program for Journalism and Italian-American Affairs. NIAF is offering two 10-month scholarships for young Americans of Italian descent to intern at i-Italy! The application deadline isJune 30. So, guys—hurry up! 
     
    And Last…
    … but not least, a special thanks to everyone following us on the web (www.i-italy.org), on TV (NYC Life) and in print (hint: you’re just holding it!). Our readership keeps growing by the day and we now have +180,000 followers on Facebook alone. Did I say that i-Italy rocks? 
     

    ([email protected]) 

  • editoriale


     

  • Art & Culture

    Striking a Balance Between Humanism and Technology

    IN ITALIANO >>>

    We met him as soon as he landed, on his second day of serving as Consul General of New York. Seated beside the Italian and European Union flags, Francesco Genuardi fielded our barrage of questions, beginning at the beginning: in Brussels, his birthplace.  “My parents worked there; specifically, my father worked for the European Community. Originally from Palermo, he was a member of the first wave of Italian officials who left Italy to contribute to the European ideal in Brussels.” 

    So you could say Europe is in your blood. Yet Brussels is also a city that has seen record-breaking waves of Italian immigrants. What do you remember about the city?  

    I spent the first eight years of my life there. They were formative years yet of course my age precluded me from being deeply aware of the Belgian or Italian-Belgian situation. However, Brussels has remained very dear to me; it was a landmark in my diplomatic career at NATO from 2002 to 2005. That provided me the occasion to explore the wealth and variety of its social spheres, the Belgian population, and, in particular, the huge historic Italian community that exists in Brussels.   

    Any memories of your diplomatic career you’d care to share?
    I entered diplomacy with the exams of 1993. I was in Rome until 1998; those were my first formative years, a wonderful time, which lasted longer than usual, during which I dealt with economic and multilateral issues, environmental protection in particular. I have very fond memories of that experience, in part because it gave me the chance to get to know New York; I’d come here often for the United Nations conferences on sustainable growth. That was during the famous 1992 summit in Rio on environmental protection. At that time climate change talks were becoming increasingly organized, which is to say, the concept was emerging that diplomacy must be able to prevent international crises with more robust environmental protection. Of the many wonderful memories, I also remember the time I was press secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, handling one of the best aspects – media relations – that I freely admit is a passion of mine.

    Let’s talk about this new assignment, shall we?
    New York… On the one hand, it is familiar. On the other, I don’t, seeing as it has changed so much in recent years. It’s a great privilege to be the Consul General here. It’s one of – if not the – world’s capitals. And it is a deeply Italian city. You can sense the power and presence of Italy on every corner: economically, culturally, socially. So for me it’s an honor and a big responsibility.

    Mayor of New York Bill de Blasio is of Italian descent. Before moving to New York, you actually visited the place his family comes from. How come?
    Yes, I went to Sant’Agata de’ Goti, where the mayor’s grandparents come from. While I was preparing for my new assigment, I felt curious as well as compelled to visit such a beautiful place now connected to New York. I met with the town mayor, various officials, and members of the de Blasio family. It was a wonderful experience; I sensed there was a kinship, a feeling, a kind of direct line between Sant’Agata de’ Goti and New York. I was able to glimpse firsthand the people there and how proud they were that one of their descendants is now stewarding such a major U.S. city. And who can forget the long line of great Italian-American mayors of this city...
    There’s another country that played an important role in the career – and not only the career – of Francesco Genuardi. Tell us about Argentina.
    It was the first place I was stationed abroad, as vice consul, from 1998 to 2002. It was an extraordinary experience that made an impact on me, professionally speaking, since it was there I first encountered the power and presence of the Italian community abroad. 

    The Italians have contributed a lot to the birth and growth of major nations like Argentina and the United States. It was also crucial to me from a personal point of view: I had the good fortune to meet my wife there. She is from Buenos Aires. It’s difficult to describe the Italians in Argentina in just a few words. 

    The history is very intense – passionately Argentinean and passionately Italian. People there manage to combine both cultural heritages in a very natural, very potent way, and I believe there’s a sense of mutual admiration between them. It’s quite fascinating.

    Let’s talk about the Italian community in the United States. What do you think Italy has to offer Italian Americans. And, vice-versa, what can Italian Americans offer Italy?
    The large swath of the American population of Italian descent represents the crux of the relationship between two countries as closely linked as Italy and the United States. I would like to point out the importance of the recent meeting in Washington between President Obama and our new ambassador, Armando Varricchio, during which Mr. Varricchio presented the president with his credentials. What we saw in that occasion is the strength of the bond between Italy and the U.S. and how crucial the Italian-American community is in this regard. Our task, as representatives of Italy’s institutions, at the service of the embassy in Washington, is to constantly strengthen that bond and show Americans what Italy today is all about. The community is the expression of that relationship between Italy and the United States.

    There is also the new wave of immigrants. Can the institutions do more to reach out to those people? I’m thinking of the ‘Meet the New Italians’ initiative recently launched at the consulate, meetings between young people and various Italian professionals in New York.
    That is crucial to how the Italian consulate should operate within the United States. A part of the Italian community is made up of young people who have taken advantage of the enhanced mobility that characterizes the times and chosen to move here. The consulate must be able to interact with these people; ‘Meet the New Italians’ is one way of doing so and I intend to continue and build upon that initiative. I would like to convey to this new generation that they have the support and ear of Italian institutions, and that we understand and will respond to their problems and aspirations.
    We have to get the authorities at the consulate involved as well as, perhaps, other generations from the Italian community who have been rooted here longer. That’s what the Italian consulate general has begun, using the strategies outlined by the embassy, and I think that’s a course of action we want to follow increasingly.  
    It’s also a way of telling Italians of the new migration – let’s call it the new mobility – that we are here and ready to listen to them, to help try to start a conversation between the various Italian entities here. We have to structure all of these entities, try to offer all of our services and take advantage of our wealth. 
    I’m convinced that many immigrants will return to Italy. Italy is our country, the country we feel connected to. But if some don’t return to Italy, we’re not going to consider them “a brain drain” in today’s increasingly globalized world, but an asset to treasure here in New York with the same level of intensity.

    Let’s discuss America’s Italophiles, or Italics, as some people call them. There’s a lot of love for Italy here…
    It’s an extraordinary love that places greater responsibility on those of us who represent the Italian institutions in New York, because we have to be on top of this extraordinary demand for Italy, whether it be human, professional, creative. Not only do we have to seize upon it; we also have to grow it and give it structure. Making a strong, choral presentation of Italy in New York is fundamental. I keep underscoring how during my mandate I want to the Italian institutions in New York to work as a team, under the direction of the Embassy. That way the consulate general, the Italian Cultural Institute, ICE, Banca d’Italia and the Chamber of Commerce are members of an orchestra that must play well together and appreciate and multiply this love for Italy by strengthening even more the economic and cultural relationship between Italy and the United States. I’m thinking of tourism, food, fashion, culture, film…
    This love for Italy has led more and more Americans to want to learn the extraordinary Italian language. It opens a door not only to spread the culture but also to make investments in our country, business, and commerce.
    The Italian language is a lynchpin. It is not only a means to rediscover your origins and identity but also a means to bolster our economic presence and American tourism, which is already thriving in Italy. It’s a means of expanding our presence on the New York food scene even more. I think it’s a major priority which the Minister of Foreign Affairs Paolo Gentiloni, among the myriad problems and myriad priorities facing foreign politics, echoed during a “question time” session in the chamber. Responding to a deputy elected abroad, he said that one of Italy’s priorities is to support and strengthen the teaching of the language.

    There are many different universities, small and large, linked to Italian culture. Then there are structures like the Casa Zerilli-Marimò at NYU, CUNY’s Calandra Institute, the Italian Academy at Columbia, the Centro Primo Levi … All centers that, even if indirectly, play an important role in what we call the “Italian System.” How important is it for you to involve these academic centers in your initiatives?
    That is also a strategic point; our relationship with universities is crucial. We’re talking about how to prepare for the future, the future of coming generations, how to prepare for the world we’ll have to confront in only a few years. I know there’s a large and significant presence of Italian professors in the major universities in New York and its neighboring states. I know there are joint structures between American universities and Italian institutions. I’m thinking of the Italian Academy of Columbia, NYU’s Casa Italiana, the Calandra Institute, and the Centro Primo Levi – which works in the Jewish Italian community – vital and very prestigious structures that serve to maintain and help expand this link between the two academic cultures, the American and Italian. We have to concentrate on that kind of integration even more and also count on the enormous quantity of American students who come to Italy to study. The structures you mentioned are “oil wells” for Italy’s soft power abroad!    
    Let’s talk about consular services. Maybe I ought to have begun by asking you about that; after all, that’s the first job of a consulate. But first I wanted to get to know the Consul General a bit. Consulates have changed a lot over the years. From a technological standpoint, how important is that change?
    Thank you for asking because it gives me the opportunity to reiterate what I said to the staff as soon as I got here. And I’ll take the opportunity to emphasize that I inherited a consulate general that was run by Natalia Quintavalle in a superlative manner, with an excellent staff, at the level of vice consul and other employees. It’s a priority of my consular mandate to bolster and improve consular services in order to achieve an even higher degree of customer satisfaction. We are doing and will do this by augmenting the technological component involved in administering consular services, which is essential. We must upgrade to keep pace with the times; there’s room for improvement still. We are already working on that at this early stage. And we will work on it during this period. At the same time, we have to strike a balance between our technology and humanity. We can’t forget that we are Italians and we Italians not only need to see a computer, a terminal, and a printer but we also, rightly so, want to see a person with whom we can interact to resolve our problems. The consulate will continue and expand its missions – nicknamed “the Consulate Beyond the Walls” – to meet all the citizens in the consul’s domain, from Newark, NJ, for example, where our office was unfortunately closed, to Connecticut.  
     
    You mean Italy isn’t just food and wine, art and fashion, but also technology? It’s a strength our country possesses that is sometimes overlooked. The recent exhibit at the Cultural Institute, “Make in Italy,” made the same point while also recalling the strong human component behind it, technology on a human scale. Such a way of working together enriches a consulate general too.  
    I don’t think it would hurt us to strive every day to strike a better balance between technology and the human component, but I don’t think that we can aim – like other countries, particularly Nordic countries – to hide the human face administering such services. We’re the country that produced Olivetti as well Humanism and the Renaissance, and we have to combine the two.

    Good luck, Consul General, from everyone at i-Italy and our loyal readers!

  • Fatti e Storie

    Un Consolato Generale tra Umanesimo e Tecnologia

    Lo incontriamo appena arrivato. Nella suo secondo giorno presso la sede di New York come Console Generale. Seduto vicino alle bandiere d’Italia e dell'Unione Europea, Francesco Genuardi, si racconta incalzato dalla nostra curiosità.

    E cominciamo proprio dall'inizio, dal luogo dove è nato: Bruxelles.

     “I miei genitori lavoravano lì,in particolare mio padre presso la Comunità Europea. Di origine palermitana, è stato uno degli esponenti della prima ondata di funzionari italiani che hanno lasciato l'Italia per contribuire a costruire l’ideale europeo a Bruxelles.”

    Lei ha l’Europa in famiglia quindi, nel sangue per così dire. Ma Bruxelles è anche una luogo che ha visto storiche ondate migratorie italiane. Cosa ricorda di quella città?

    Ho passato lì i primi otto anni di vita, decisivi per la formazione ma che certo non mi hanno permesso di avere conoscenze approfondite della realtà belga e italo-belga. Però sono rimasto molto legato a Bruxelles che ho servito come tappa, sede della mia carriera diplomatica tra il 2002 e il 2005 alla Nato. Fu in questa occasione che ho potuto approfondire la ricchezza e la varietà delle componenti sociali, della popolazione del Belgio e, in particolare, questa grandissima storica comunità italiana che c’è a Bruxelles.

    Un po' di ricordi del suo percorso da diplomatico...

    Sono entrato in diplomazia con il concorso del 1993. Fino al 1998 sono stato a Roma, anni di formazione iniziale, un bellissimo periodo, anche prolungato rispetto alla media, in cui mi sono occupato di questioni economiche e multilaterali, in particolare di protezione dell’ambiente. Ricordo con grandissimo piacere quell’esperienza, anche perché mi ha permesso di conoscere abbastanza bene New York dove sono andato spesso per partecipare alle riunioni alle Nazioni Unite sullo sviluppo sostenibile. Erano gli anni della famosa conferenza di Rio del 1992 sulla protezione dell’ambiente e si stava strutturando sempre di più il negoziato ambientale, ovvero il concetto che la diplomazia doveva essere capace anche di prevenire le crisi internazionali attraverso la protezione più rafforzata dell’ambiente. Poi, tra i tanti bei ricordi un periodo al servizio stampa del portavoce del ministero degli Esteri, curando uno degli aspetti più belli che è quello mediatico che non nascondo che sia una mia passione.

    Parliamo di questa sua nuova sede ...

    New York… Da un lato la conosco da un lato abbastanza bene, dall’altro no, visto che è cambiata così tanto in questi anni. Essere qui come Console Generale è un grande privilegio. E' una delle capitali del mondo, se non la capitale del mondo. E’ poi una città profondamente italiana, dove a ogni angolo si respira la forza e la presenza italiana sotto tanti aspetti: economici, culturali, sociali. Quindi per me è un onore e una grandissima responsabilità.

    New York ed il suo sindaco di origini italiane. Nell’attesa di venire a New York lei è andato in visita nella terra d’origine di Bill de Blasio, come mai?

    Sì sono stato a Sant’Agata de’ Goti, terra di origine dei nonni del sindaco di New York. In questa rapida fase di preparazione a Roma ho sentito, oltre che il dovere, la curiosità di visitare un paese così bello e oggi così legato a New York. Ho incontrato il sindaco del paese, varie autorità e alcuni cugini della famiglia di De Blasio. È stata un’esperienza bellissima, ho avvertito un legame, un’emozione, una specie di linea diretta tra Sant’Agata de’ Goti e New York. Ho potuto toccare con mano il calore della gente e l’orgoglio di avere un proprio discendente alla guida della città più importante degli Stati Uniti. E tutto questo nel solco di una tradizione di grandi sindaci italo-americani.

    C'è un altro Paese che ha avuto un ruolo importante nella carriera – e non solo nella carriera – di Francesco Genuardi: l'Argentina.

    "È stata la mia prima sede diplomatica all’estero, come vice console tra il 1998 e il 2002. Un’esperienza straordinaria che mi ha segnato dal punto di vista professionale, perché mi ha fatto conoscere la forza e la presenza delle comunità italiane all’estero. Gli italiani hanno dato tanto alla nascita e alla crescita di Stati importanti come l’Argentina e come gli Stati Uniti. È stato anche un luogo cruciale dal punto di vista personale: ho avuto la fortuna di conoscere mia moglie che è di Buenos Aires.
     
    Definire gli italiani in Argentina è molto difficile in poche parole. Hanno una storia intensissima, di grande passione argentina e di grande passione italiana. Ci sono delle persone che combinano dentro di se queste due eredità culturali in maniera molto naturale, molto forte e credo ci sia un sentire comune. E’ molto affascinante."

    Veniamo alla comunità italiana degli Stati Uniti: cosa pensa che possa dare l'Italia agli Italo-Americani e viceversa gli Italo-Americani all'Italia?

    "Questa vastissima fetta di popolazione statunitense, che ha origini italiane, rappresenta una forza e l’asse centrale della relazione tra due Paesi così strettamente alleati come l’Italia e gli Stati Uniti. Vorrei sottolineare anche l’importanza del recente incontro a Washington tra il presidente Obama e il nostro nuovo Ambasciatore Armando Varricchio, in occasione della presentazione delle credenziali.

    Lì si è avuta una forte testimonianza del rapporto bilaterale così stretto tra Italia e Stati Uniti; e la nostra comunità italo-americana, gli americani di origine italiana, sono i veri protagonisti di questo legame tra due Paesi. Il nostro compito, come rappresentanti delle istituzioni italiane, al servizio dell’ambasciata a Washington è di rafforzare ogni giorno di più questo legame e di proiettare l’Italia di oggi nella realtà americana. La comunità è l’espressione del rapporto tra Italia e Stat Uniti."

    E c’è poi un'emigrazione nuova. E’ possibile avvicinare di più le istituzioni a queste persone? Ricordo l'iniziativa, Meet the New Italians appena partita in Consolato. Incontri di giovani con i diversi rappresentanti del mondo del lavoro degli italiani di New York.

    "Questo è uno dei punti cruciali di come deve operare un Consolato d’Italia in una realtà come gli Stati Uniti. Abbiamo una parte della comunità italiana rappresentata da giovani che sfruttando la grandissima mobilità che caratterizza l’era contemporanea hanno deciso di trasferirsi qui. Il Consolato deve essere in grado di avre un rapporto con queste realtà, anche tramite iniziative interessanti e positive come Meet the New Italians, che intendo continuare e rafforzare. Vorrei dare a questa nuova generazione il senso dell’appoggio delle istituzioni italiane, dell’ascolto, anche per capire e intercettare i loro problemi e le loro aspirazioni.

    Occorre mettere a disposizione le competenze del Consolato e magari anche l’apporto delle altre generazioni della comunità italiana che sono radicate qui da più tempo. E’ questo un lavoro che il Consolato Generale d’Italia ha iniziato, secondo il quadro delle strategie delineate dall’Ambasciata, e penso che sia un percorso da seguire sempre di più.

    E' anche una maniera per dire agli italiani di nuova emigrazione - o potremmo chiamarla di “nuova mobilità” - che siamo qui e pronti ad ascoltarli, ad aiutare e a cercare di far dialogare e interagire tutte le parti della presenza italiana. Noi dobbiamo mettere a sistema tutte queste presenze, cercare di offrire tutti i nostri servizi e sfruttarne la ricchezza. Sono convinto che molti di loro torneranno in Italia. L’Italia è il nostro Paese, il Paese al quale siamo legati. Ma se qualcuno non tornerà in Italia noi non lo consideriamo un “cervello in fuga”, ma in un mondo sempre più globale, un asset da valorizzare qui a New York con grande impegno e intensità.

    Parliamo degli americani  "italofili”, degli “italici” come li chiama qualcuno. C’è un grande amore per l’Italia qui...

    E' un amore straordinario che ci riempie di maggiori responsabilità nel nostro lavoro di rappresentanti delle istituzioni italiane qui a New York perché dobbiamo essere all’altezza di questa straordinaria “domanda d’Italia” che avvertiamo: umana, lavorativa, creativa. Non solo di intercettarla ma anche di farla fruttare e metterla a sistema. Una proiezione rafforzata e corale dell’Italia a New York e’ fondamentale. Tengo a sottolineare come durante il mio mandato vorrò sottolineare il gioco di squadra tra le istituzioni italiane presenti a New York, sempre sotto la direzione dell’Ambasciata. Così il Consolato Generale, l’Istituto d’Italiano di Cultura, l’Ice, la Banca d’Italia, la Camera di commercio, sono tutte componenti di un’orchestra che devono saper suonare insieme, saper valorizzare e moltiplicare l’amore per l’Italia rinsaldando ancora di più le relazioni a cascata, economiche e culturali, tra Italia e Stati Uniti. Penso al turismo, al food, alla moda, alla cultura, al cinema…"

    La lingua italiana. L’amore degli americani passa anche attraverso il crescente desiderio di apprendere questa lingua straordinaria. Una porta aperta non solo alla diffusione della nostra cultura ma anche ad investimenti nel nostro Paese, al mondo del commercio, degli affari.

    "La lingua italiana è uno snodo essenziale. Non solo ti permette di riscoprire le tue origini, la tua identità, il tuo orgoglio. E' anche veicolo per rafforzare la nostra presenza economica, il turismo americano che è già elevatissimo in Italia. È il veicolo per avere una presenza nel campo dell’alimentazione ancora più forte a New York. Credo sia una priorità assoluta e l’ha ribadito, pur tra i mille problemi e le mille priorità di politica estera, il ministro degli esteri Paolo Gentiloni in una seduta di question time alla Camera. Rispondendo a un’interrogazione parlamentare, ha detto che una delle priorità dell’Italia è l’insegnamento e il rafforzamento della lingua."

    Ci sono diverse realtà universitarie legate al mondo della cultura italiana, piccole e meno piccole. Poi strutture come la la Zerilli-Marimò della NYU, Calandra Institute delle Cuny, l'Italian Academy della Columbia, il Centro Primo Levi … Tutti centri che, anche se in maniera indiretta, svolgono un ruolo importante per quello che chiamiamo “Sistema Italia”. Quanto è importante coinvolgere anche questi centri di studio nelle iniziative?

    Questo è un altro punto strategico, la relazione con l’università è cruciale. Qui stiamo parlando di come prepariamo il futuro, il futuro delle prossime generazioni, di come prepariamo il mondo che avremo tra non molti anni. So che c’è una presenza elevatissima e significativa di professori italiani nelle grandi università newyorkesi e negli Stati limitrofi. So che ci sono queste realtà di integrazione tra le grandi università americane e istituzioni italiane. Penso all’Italian Academy della Columbia, alla Casa Italiana della NYU, al Calandra Institute, anche al Centro Primo Levi con il suo lavoro legato alla presenza ebraica italiana. Sono realtà vive, vitali e prestigiosissime che servono a mantenere e a far crescere questo legame tra i due mondi culturali universitari americani e italiani. Dovremo puntare ancora di più su questa integrazione e contare anche sull’enorme quantità di studenti americani che vengono in Italia a passare una parte dei loro studi. Le strutture menzionate sono una ricchezza enorme, dei veri e propri “pozzi di petrolio” del soft power italiano.

    Parliamo dei servizi consolari, forse dovevo cominciare a da qui, da quello che è il primo compito di un Consolato ma ho preferito far conoscere prima un po' il nuovo Console Generale. I consolati sono molto cambiati negli anni; quanto è importante questo cambiamento anche dal punto di vista tecnologico?

    La ringrazio per questa domanda perché mi dà l’opportunità di ribadire quello che ho detto qui a tutto lo staff in queste primissime ore. E ne approfitto anche per sottolineare che ho ereditato un consolato generale che è stato gestito da Natalia Quintavalle in maniera superlativa, con uno staff di eccellenza sia a livello di vice consoli che di altri impiegati. La bussola, la priorità del mio mandato consolare sono i servizi consolari, il loro rafforzamento e miglioramento per arrivare a una sempre maggiore soddisfazione dell’utenza del Consolato, che è il nostro obiettivo. Tutto questo lo facciamo e lo faremo cercando di rafforzare la componente tecnologica dell’erogazione dei servizi consolari che è essenziale. Bisogna adeguarsi, stare al passo con i tempi, ci sono ancora dei margini di miglioramento e ci stiamo già lavorando in queste prime ore e ci lavoreremo in questo periodo. Allo stesso tempo, dobbiamo trovare un punto di equilibrio tra la crescita tecnologica e la dimensione umana perché non dobbiamo dimenticarci che siamo italiani, e noi italiani giustamente abbiamo bisogno non solo di vedere un computer, un terminale e una stampante ma vogliamo vedere una persona con cui ci possiamo confrontare per risolvere le nostre problematiche. Il Consolato continuerà ed incrementerà le missioni – soprannominate “Consolato fuori le Mura” – dirette a incontrare tutti i cittadini della circoscrizione consolare, dal New Jersey (ad esempio a Newark, dove purtroppo è stata chiusa la sede) al Connecticut."

    L’Italia dunque non è solo cibo e vino, arte, moda, design, ma anche tecnologia. Punto di forza poco conosciuto a volte del nostro Paese. La recente mostra “Make in Italy” all'Istituto di Cultura ha raccontato anche tutto questo, ricordandone sempre anche la componente fortemente umana. Tecnologia quindi, ma anche vicinanza alle persone, alle loro vicende. Un modo di lavorare insieme che arricchisce un Consolato Generale.

    "Credo che possiamo lavorare serenamente tutti i giorni per cercare un punto di equilibrio sempre migliore tra la componente tecnologica e quella umana, però non penso che possiamo dirigerci, come altri Paesi, in particolare quelli nordici, che esternalizzano di più, a rendere meno visibile il volto umano dell’erogazione dei servizi. Siamo il Paese di Olivetti, ma anche dell’Umanesimo e del Rinascimento e dobbiamo combinare le due cose."

    Buon lavoro Console Generale, da tutto lo Staff di i-Italy e dai lettori che ci seguono.

  • Life & People

    Maria Teresa Sansalone & Grandpa Salvatore’s Tool Kit

    She has her homeland’s (Calabria’s) features. Pronounced yet at the same time soft. She may look glamorous, but you only see the dazzling side of her personality when you watch her work. I chatted with Maria Teresa Sansalone between a cut and color and I discovered a great story. 

    It All Started with Grandpa Salvatore
    Born in Sidarno, in the province of Reggio Calabria, Maria Teresa Sansalone has led a life both
    unique and emblematic.

    Hers is the story of a tenacious woman from the South who made her own way in the world thanks to a passion for her profession. But it all began with Nonno Salvatore. “He was a barber in Palermo and in the summer he’d vacation with us. He’d bring with him his tool kit for cutting hair.” And Maria Teresa, who was hardly three feet tall, followed him around and learned the secrets of his profession—and, most of all, his passion for his work.
     

    It wasn’t long before she’d slip into Grandpa’s shoes. At just twelve, despite her parents’ misgivings, she went to apprentice with an American hairstylist. “As long as your grades are good enough you can go!” her parents told her. “I’d study at night. In the afternoon
    I was learning to do the job I  loved. After six months I began to work as a hairstylist. I liked changing the look of people who trusted me.”

    At just 13 she won a contest in Calabria. A second victory followed in Northern Italy, in Pistoia. At 16 she began entering her rst international competitions. “It was tough. But it was what I loved doing. I was young and my mom accompanied me and cheered me on. My family wasn’t what you’d call rich; my father laid tiles and my mother was a seamstress. My grandfather was super happy and pushed me to keep at it. He was very old and didn’t speak much, but we were close. One day he gave me his famous little barber kit. It became my good luck charm. I take it everywhere with me.” Her grandfather taught her another lesson. “I never tried to beat the clock. The more you rush, the more likely you are to hit a wall you can’t get past. I go with the wind.” 
     

    European Tour 
    As with everybody, life threw her a few curveballs. After getting married, she became a private hairstylist. She used to ride around in a white car. Then her marriage ended and Maria Teresa had to change her life. She left Calabria to work with the famous hairstylist Roberto D’Antonio.

    “He was a wonderful teacher. Sometimes I’d leave crying. He treated me severely. But he made me get over my shyness, trained me and made me stronger. I learned how to relate to people and he gave me the de nitive courage to change people's look. [I worked with him] for 7 years. From 7 in the morning to 8 at night. Sometimes later. I worked with actors and models all over Europe. Traveling with D’Antonio gave Maria Teresa the idea to work abroad. “It was exciting to go places where no one knows you, to hear people speaking other languages... so I began sending my CV across the ocean. And here I am in New York.”

    NYC: Begin Italian Helps!
    In New York, Maria Teresa has had experiences both good and bad. “It’s a city that helps you dream,” she says, “but it can also crush you. At first I didn’t speak the language, but I’d show people photos of the colors I wanted to give them and clients trusted me.” Something about being Italian helped too... “In our line of work being Italian definitely helps. Americans love our culture, our art, our fashion sense. They admire us. They’re very willing to put themselves in the hands of an Italian. They feel safe. It was a huge advantage.” 

    Her first American experience was important, but Maria Teresa felt restless. She went back to Rome where she opened her own shop. But she wasn’t happy. She kept thinking about America. This time, her family came to her aid. They bought her a one-way ticket to New  York and supported her new endeavor to open a shop in the Big Apple.

    “They invested in me. They  believed in me. My sister, my brother, my parents... I  worked hard. I started having Italian ‘aperitivi’ in  the evenings to get the word out. People could have a glass  of prosecco and listen to music while getting their hair done. My life seemed to be normalizing: I had a business partner, the shop was doing well. But at a certain point I realized I was bored. I’m not  looking for stability but creative opportunities. So I sold it!” 

    Inside The Fashion World
    She still works in the shop but by appointment only. She takes on clients as an independent contractor. “That way I can work where and how I want. And I’ve also gone back to my great love: fashion.”

    So she works with different people, regular people, as well as actors, stylists, models. What is it like to work in that kind of an environment? “In the fashion world, the stakes are, to all appearances, higher. You’re working with people con dent in front of the camera but totally insecure backstage. It’s a huge responsibility. Sometimes the interactions with stylists can be diffcult, but there’s also a lot on the line. That doesn’t mean there’s not a lot on the line with regular people too. I know what a new haircut means for anyone. Change! In order to gain their trust you have to be ready for all kinds of hair. You have to be humble and take training courses. You have to be open to learning and starting over.” Wonder what Salvatore the barber would think...

    “I think that my grandfather would look at me with that silent but eloquent smile I loved. And then he’d go back to boast about me in the piazza... Like him, I still have an artisanal instinct. Even in New York I didn’t want to work with other equipment. All I need is a pair of scissors and a brush.”

    Any new dreams in Maria Teresa’s tool kit? “I sold the shop because I realized it wasn’t my dream. More and more, I’d like to work in the fashion world. At runway shows. As I did in the beginning. I love the adrenaline of those moments, of being backstage.”

    Indeed she got her start years ago working with names like Gattinoni, Rocco Barocco, Valentino and Renato Balestra. And she now has several Italian, American and Italian-American celebrities in her portfolio too. She has worked for Sabrina Ferilli, Monica Bellucci, Laura Morante and Lucrezia della Rovere, among others. She was Brooke Shields’ hairstylist for Tom Cruise’s wedding in Rome, Sofia Milos’ at the Academy Awards in 2012 and Alessandra Mastronardi’s when she came to the US for the premier of Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love.

    She has also worked for Jo Champa and Susan Rockefeller, as well as Jill Stuart during a fashion show in New York. “But going back to fashion doesn’t mean abandoning regular clients,” Maria Teresa assures me. “They’re fundamental for staying in touch with reality. They’re life!” 

  • Forget Silicon Valley, Come to New York City!

    Alessandro Piol’s table/desk is inviting. Behind him, windows with views of skyscrapers jutting into the Manhattan skyline. Piol greets me, as does a colleague seated next to his desk, intently working on a MacBook Air. The atmosphere suddenly turns extremely pleasant. While sipping a coffee I converse with the cofounder and partner of Vedanta Capital and AlphaPrime Ventures, dubbed “the smart money behind smart software,” a major player in the scene of East Coast startups.

    Technology is in his DNA. His father, Elserino Piol, was known as the “Italian hi-tech guru” and the founder of venture capitalism in Italy. Some suggest that in the U.S. “Piol would be a cross between Warren Buffett and Steve Jobs.”

    The strategic mastermind at Olivetti for forty years, Piol Sr. attended Harvard and maintained a lifelong connection with the U.S. He used to come here frequently, for example when Olivetti was looking for young companies to invest in, consequently becoming one of the first corporate venture capital groups in the world.

    Having left Olivetti in the ‘90s, Piol Sr. continued to work in venture capitalism as an advisor for 4C Ventures and later became Chairman and Partner of Pino Venture.

    Again, the whole time he kept up relations with the US. Technology, venture capitalism, America: those are the three passions Alessandro inherited from his father, which are ostensibly one thing, given that investing risk capital in tech is a typically American phenomenon. 

    “I have lived in a world that revolves around business and technology since I was little,” he tells me. “Back then, Olivetti was transforming from electro-mechanics to information technology. At home we talked about major changes and about technology.”

    Those discussions would have a decisive influence on him, so that, after he finished high school in the United States, his choice of what to pursue in college came almost naturally: “I liked math, physics and electronics. I immediately chose to enroll in computer engineering at Columbia University.”

    Next came business. As Piol tells it, “I attended college in New York. My father would often meet entrepreneurs and venture capitalists at the Carlyle Hotel (it’s not there anymore), and I would listen to what they said.

    I was developing a passion for it and beginning to understand that that was what I wanted to do. The idea of working with young people on new technology projects excited me. I wanted to facilitate them and follow the evolution.” Piol would go on to earn an MBA from Harvard Business. The young man was now ready to launch.
     

    Or rather, he was ready because deep down he had absorbed his father’s real lesson: work hard and with passion. “My father was always traveling and working on weekends. He set an important example of work ethic combined with great passion for what he was doing. You have to be passionate and take an interest in what you do. Nothing good will come if you don’t immerse yourself in the field in which you operate.”
     

    But, I hazard, ultimately his work consists of making and making others make investments. You have to know how to manage capital. Does passion really count in that kind of work?
    Of course!” he says, smiling. “Because in order to understand what’s happening in the tech world and where you should invest, you have to get inside that world. You have to understand the trends. You have to intuit what will happen in the future. If you don’t love it, it becomes trying and difficult. In a certain sense, you have to have fun.”

    Indeed, his passion for work and deep knowledge of that world shine through in a book that he co-wrote a few years ago with the journalist Maria Teresa Cometto, Tech and the City: The Making of New York’s Startup Community, a small bible of New York’s entrepreneurial ecosystem with a preface by Olivetti’s patron, Carlo De Benedetti. The book is full of useful advice for young businessmen culled from the stories of 50 key figures in the field of technology. 
     

    What is it about a project that piques your interest in financing it?

    That depends on how developed the company is. If we’re talking about startups, the numbers don’t count; often they show you the wrong numbers. What’s more important is figuring out what kind of person is the entrepreneur showing you them. If you’re betting on the right person. People count even more than the idea they submit to you.

    Meaning, it’s one thing to have a good idea and a whole other thing to put it into practice, succeed in growing a company based on that idea, raising it up from nothing and successfully driving it forward. You have to be confident you’re dealing with people who know what they’re doing, who understand what they’re trying to do. In fact, when a financed project fails, 80% of the time the reasons have to do with the people. With management. Of course the problem may be with the market; it may not even be ready. Niche markets in early stages, for example, often aren’t a good idea.
     

    What distinguishes New York as a home for startups from the wildly popular Silicon Valley?

    Silicon Valley lives off of a system that grew up around Stanford, thanks to the governor who focused on technology investments. There was nothing but farmland and fields. It grew from nothing. Then there were the great visionaries; they certainly helped a lot. And finally technology became the main industry. However, because of that history, Silicon Valley is a mono-cultural area; all they talk about is technology. Which is fine. But in my opinion, in the long run it ends up limiting creativity.
     

    Does that mean that to create a successful tech company you need to have a multidisciplinary ambience?

    Yes. And that’s what you find in New York, which guarantees that nexus of different levels of knowledge: in manufacturing, finance, media, advertising, the financial industry, fashion... This city is international. There’s a lot of movement. It’s the center of traffic between Europe and America, open to influences from all over the world. This allows for the circulation of knowledge needed to realize projects that hang in that whitespace between various disciplines.

    An ode to creativity that comes from a high tech businessman...
     

    It’s not enough to just be technological today. You need to be very creative. Remember what Steve Jobs said and did. He aspired to bring technology and art together. He was very attentive to detail. That’s true innovation... Apple in America—like Olivetti in Italy—realized important changes by focusing on design. And that brings us back to New York, since this city gives you the opportunity to bring together ideas from different worlds, with people who understand other disciplines. People who aren’t just into tech, but who look for solutions using technology. New York is a real melting pot of ideas. And the same goes for London and Berlin, I think. Cities with a very strong cultural foundation, international cities where innovative ideas are more easily born.

    And Italy? It’s a country that produces really state of the art technology. Why is that so little known in the world?

    We’re to blame, in large part. We have had a lot of success in fashion because our entrepreneurs had the intelligence to go global before anyone else. They had an international vision. We barely even tried to do the same with technology. It should be said, however, that there’s a lot of competition with different market dynamics and real giants to face. But it should also be said that it may have led to a dangerous attitude among Italians. Ultimately, you need to know how to celebrate certain things. In America, for example, celebrating success works great. It creates a sense of optimism that permeates the whole society, which has, with respect to Europe, a positive way of thinking. It’s a virtuous cycle that helps. If we celebrate someone’s success in Italy, people immediately suspect that it was achieved by sketchy means. And if you say that the success was thieved...

    If you could send a message in a bottle to those in Italy who want to come to New York with a dream in their back pocket, what would you say?

    First of all, to really believe in yourself. That’s not a cliché; it’s important to believe that your project can be realized. Next you have to know what has been achieved in your field. I know it can be difficult to find that out sometimes, but it’s important. Check out the competition and see if there are similar things out there. If you can introduce something that is definitely better into your field, there’s no doubt you’ll be successful.

    Yet there are young people who will come and present you ideas based on things they’ve already seen. That’s not okay! If you want to compete on the global technological market, you really have to be innovative. Then you have to identify important trends. The VCs watch certain macro trends and if you fit into that framework, it’s easier to raise funds. And finally, you need to assess not only if you risk arriving too late but if, paradoxically, your project could come out too soon! 

    To see the episode “Make in Italy with Alessandro Piol and Maria Teresa Cometto >>>

Pages