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Articles by: Tommaso Cartia

  • Massimo and Lella Vignelli. Photo Credit Fred R. Conrad
    Art & Culture

    The Vignelli Legacy on Show in D.C.

    “The idea was born a long time ago from a series of conversations that took place at Rochester Institute of Technology, an important university where the Vignelli Center for Design Studies is.” Told us Emanuele Amendola, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Washington, when we asked him how the idea of the homage to Massimo and Lella Vignelli came about.

    The Vignelli Center for the Design Studies was founded in 2010 after the Vignellis donated their archives to RIT, and it holds their creations. The chair holder of the design department is Professor R. Roger Remington. “With him, we began thinking of an event that we called, The Vignelli Legacy which is a symbolic name because the figures of Massimo and Lella are so important not only to the history of Italian design, but also to global design.” Continued Amendola.

    The Vignellis moved to the United States at the start of the ‘60s, and with the birth of Unimark International and then Vignelli Associates, they worked on a series of projects that redefined the meaning of industrial graphics in the States. “There is so much pleasure to organize an exhibition about something that has such strong ties to the U.S. territory.” Said enthusiastically the Director.  

    “Not everyone knows that the hand behind the iconic New York City and Washington D.C subway maps were the ones of Massimo and Lella Vignelli.  Also, few people know that they created the iconic logos for important American companies, like American Airlines, and Bloomingdales.”

    The Vignellis Poetic

    Director Amendola shares the same aestethical approach to design Massimo and Lella Vignelli had: “Truth be told, the American Airlines logo was recently changed which is something that I don’t agree with.  Vignelli had a conservative approach to graphics and design, and he had done “rebranding” and “restyling.” The same logo was used by American Airlines for 40 years and it was based on the logo before that.  Vignelli thought that an image that is familiar to the public and to the client didn’t need to be distorted: it needed to maintain its identity by simply refreshing it and modernizing it.”

    "This is also probably one of the most interesting aspects of Vignelli because he was a poet of design.  One of the most important texts for understanding Vignelli is the Vignelli Canon written by Massimo in which he provides a manual on what a good designer should do.  With these pointers, fundamentally, it is the respect for graphic identity and concreteness.  Graphic design is above all a creative job, but also very concrete. A designer needs to consider certain questions when designing something. They need to always ask themselves, ‘what is this serving,’ and ‘what does it want to say?’ This gave life to very linear, and cut and dry poetics respective to the companies’ identities that Vignelli worked with.  They didn’t want to add anything more than what was necessary to communicate a specific message.”

    The Opening Event and the Exhibition

    The night, organized in collaboration with the Embassy, will open with the inauguration of a collection of some of the Vignellis’ most celebrated works, from graphic designs for various companies to reproductions of prints of all the biggest logos- starting with American Airlines, Cinzano, Benetton, Ford, Lancia, Ducati.  There will be the original maps for the New York and Washington subways, and the ones from his design project for the National Parks Service.

    To illustrate everything, there will be an inaugural conference by Roger Remington, the chair holder of design at Rochester Institute of Technology.  

    “Together we will recount the Vignellis’ careers from their start in Milan to their transfer to the U.S.,” continued telling us Director Emanuele Amendola, “then, introduced by Professor Renato Miracco, cultural expert from the Embassy in Washington, and Vignelli’s good friend, a video interview from a few years ago with Massimo and Letizia Airos from i-Italy will be projected.  Also from RIT, will be Professor Elisabetta d’Amanda who handles the Italian program and works with the Design Center often integrating language learning with the Vignellis’ designs."

    Lella Vignelli

    Professor d’Amanda will also talk about Lella Vignelli’s role going in depth about her contributions, especially as a woman, and her work.

    Amendola shared his thoughts on the Lella Vignelli profile as a woman and as a designer:  “Lella was always put second respective Massimo, and in a certain respect, she was even less well known. There is a beautiful anecdote that talks about Massimo’s adoration for Lella.  She suffered a bit because of the male dominated work environment and Massimo, with respect and sensibility, tried to hide from her all the magazines and the publications that only gave him credit for their creations. She was instead, the pragmatic mind of the two: she was the one who managed the budget and the accounts for their company.  And she herself, was also an incredible designer: her many creations for Poltrona Frau and Poltronova, not to mention the beautiful jewelry for San Lorenzo. As you know, behind every successful man, there is always a great woman.”

    The Director hopes that this exhibition can become a traveling project and can also extend to other Italian Cultural Institutes in the United States.

    Italian Design Day and Cavallini’s Exhibit in D.C.

    The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has placed design at the very core of its promotional strategy known as "Vivere all’Italiana”. The Italian Design Day 2018 is really in tune with the theme selected for the 22nd Triennale International Exhibition, “Broken Nature - Design Takes on Human Survival”.

    On March 3rd, the Italian Design Day was celebrated in the biggest Italian venues around the world. “Design is one of the focal points that promotes Italian Culture abroad. Because of this, for 2 years, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation organized March 1 as an international day dedicated to this theme.” Told us Amendola.  “Although the exhibit on Vignelli opens a little bit after, but only for logistical reasons, the initiative definitely goes along with the celebration. This inspiring idea is to recognize design as a real cultural tradition that speaks to the world about the excellence of our country in this sector.  Especially in the U.S., Italian design attracts a lot of interest and is seen as synonymous with "well made," elegance, and quality.

    "With our other initiatives dedicated to design, we have a program in May for an exhibition of works from the artist Emilio Cavallini. Emilio is a stylist: he is the owner of Stil Novo, the most important Italian producer of tights.  His creations have been paraded on the catwalk by some of the biggest designers: Dior, Celine, Balenciaga, Gucci, Alexander McQueen. Cavallini is the one who gave Mary Quant, the inventor of the miniskirt, the accessory that made the miniskirt so iconic - the stockings. Emilio is, however, also an artist, and with his yarns he creates abstract and very interesting works inspired by the italian tradition.  They will be on view as an exhibition at IA&A at Hillyer, a gallery in Washington D.C starting May 4, and closing at the end of the month.”

    For more info please visit the Italian Cultural Insitute in Washington website here >>>


  • The very first wood-fired brick pizza oven of the West Coast
    Dining in & out

    Tommaso's - A San Francisco Landmark

    Tommaso’s Ristorante Italiano truly represents a piece of San Francisco’s history. Home to the very first wood-fired brick pizza oven of the West Coast, this classic Italian joint, which opened in 1935, celebrated its incredible 80-year history in 2015.

    80 Years of Culinary History

    The restaurant was opened by the Cantalupo family from Naples who named the place “Lupo” at first.  Then the business was passed down to chef Tommy Chin, who italianized the name of the place. Later on, the Crotti family joined Chin to shape the modern face of this sumptuous Italian restaurant which managed to stay relevant among the Italian dining scene in San Francisco thanks to its authentic, old-fashioned Italian cooking, rooted in the Neapolitan style. 

    Tommaso’s remains successful today due to its family-run concept which makes the dining experience rustic, cozy, and friendly. It’s the perfect environment for an evening with friends or for a date. The warmth of the Crotti family really makes all the difference. In 1973, Agostino was working as a server for Caffe Trieste– the historic Italian coffee house that has been frequented by artists and musicians since 1956–and he stayed true to his artisan way of running a restaurant. To this day, he makes his own pizza dough at Tommaso’s. His sister, Lidia, serves as the executive chef, and his other sister, Carmen, is the perfect host. His wife Anna puts a sweet note on the restaurant's menu with her exquisite desserts. In an interview, Agostino was proud to say that Tommaso’s is North Beach’s oldest Italian restaurant.

    “We’ve been here 77 years, I mean the place...Everything around us has changed. Places opening up, places closing. The neighborhood has changed so much, and we are the only true anchor in this section. A little bit of the red light district ambiance as you can tell.  Everything came after this place,” said Crotti. 

    Pizza, pasta, wine and beyond!

    Pizza at Tommaso’s is legendary. It’s 100% real Italian pizza, with a thin-crust and super fresh ingredients. The best seller is the burrata pizza with cherry tomatoes and basil. On the pasta front, their lasagna is mouth-watering, and the oven-baked specialties, particularly the appetizers, embrace the palate with a warm, savory sensation. Try the veal saltimbocca–prosciutto and fresh mozzarella in a white wine sauce–or the parmigiana with melted cheese. Regarding the rich wine list, Tommaso’s sports an original wine, a Tommaso’s Private Label Table Red, produced in conjunction with Pedroncelli Family Estate. This original wine is an exquisite blend of Zinfandel, Merlot and Syrah that shows fruity flavors of ripe berry, plum, and warm spice. Some of the restaurant’s seasonal specials add magic to the regular menu. The tortellini con burro, salvia e parmigiano, for example, is a tasty delight–homemade tortellini, with browned butter, parmesan and sage. Another special treat is the pizza pesto con pomodori secchi, aglio soffritto e erba cipollina- sundried tomato pesto, roasted garlic, and chives.

    The restaurant is also one of the pit-stops of Avital Tours, a sight seeing tour agency that organizes 4-course fabulous dining experiences. Each course is served in a different restaurant, and, of course, paired with great wines. Tommaso’s is part of the North Beach tour of course. So, check out the agency website (www.avitaltours.com) and come and visit Tommaso’s Ristorante Italiano!

    Tommaso’s Ristorante Italiano

    1042 Kearny Street

    (415) 398-9696

    Cuisine Traditional

    Ambience Rustic

    Price $$ 


  • The protagonists of the first talk, from the left: Gianfranco Sorrentino, Vincenzo Pascale, Carolyn Dimitri, Andrea Fiano, Stefano Cordova, Lisa Sasson, Lorenzo Murino and Massimo Forte
    Dining in & out

    Italian Table Talks: Chapter One

    Gruppo Italiano (GI), the NYC-based nonprofit organization founded in 2017, is the natural evolution of the original Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani (GRI), which had carried out significant work in supporting the Italian food industry in the United States. Throughout the years, the group has become a benchmark for Italian products, importers, distributors, and the Italian restaurant scene with a special focus on hospitality and culinary education.

    The “Italian Table Talks”

    The group has recently kicked off its long-anticipated “Italian Table Talks”, a series of events that highlight GI’s primary mission to be a medium of education about everything regarding Italian Cuisine in the U.S., from food business to nutrition.

    The first talk - Biodiversity and the Role of the Italian Food Industry in the World - held at one of the temples of Italian culture in New York, NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, showcased the two souls of Gruppo Italiano: food education, and the critical role of the culinary business which should deliver that education based on the principles of authenticity and transparency.

    In the packed auditorium of Casa Italiana, its Director, Stefano Albertini, greeted the audience and presented the event inviting Consul General of Italy, Francesco Genuardi, on the stage. His prestigious presence underlined the central role that GI plays in stimulating the Italian dining scene in the city to preserve its unity, integrity and a true sense of identity.

    Chairman and President of the group and owner of Il Gattopardo Group, Gianfranco Sorrentino, then took the stage, welcoming the audience and presenting Gruppo Italiano and the different panelists of the night.


    The first part of the talk focused on the biodiversity theme and it was moderated by Vincenzo Pascale, PhD, NGO representative at the United Nations and Italian Journalist. The distinguished panelists were Prof. Carolyn Dimitri, Associate Professor; Director of the Food Studies PhD Program; and Prof. Lisa Sasson, dietetic internship director and clinical associate professor in the department of Food Studies at NYU.

    Dimitri explained a little bit more in depth about what biodiversity is. The term stands for biological diversity and it is a crucial factor to be considered and preserved for the future of our planet and its food supplies. The professor mentioned the Convention on Biological Diversity signed by 150 government leaders at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit dedicated to promoting sustainable development, which is very important for the food supplies of the future, as well as The Svalbard Global Seed Vault that is a secure seed bank on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen.

    Conservationist Cary Fowler, in association with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), started the vault to preserve a wide variety of plant seeds that are duplicate samples, or "spare" copies, of seeds held in gene banks worldwide.

    The growth of organic agricultural products is also fundamental in the terms that using less synthetic and chemical products to grow foods means that less  biodiversity is killed on the farm.

    Diet and Food Education

    Professor Lisa Sasson then discussed the themes that she treats in her classes on diet and food education. “I use food as a landscape, a way to understand the history, the culture and the identity of Italy,” explained Sasson, “as well as the economics and the health of Italy.”

    “I bring my students to visit farms and artisanal producers to understand the connection that a product has with a land and to teach them how food is identity. It is something that Americans don’t feel. Food defines who you are as an Italian.” Continued the professor.

     “If you are Italian and you come from Tuscany for example, there are certain foods that you eat there that you don’t eat if you come from Sicily. Who you are is what you eat in Italy, and what happens around that table is who you are. That is lost in the American culture, we don’t eat around a table and we don’t identify our identity as based on food. Italy is renown for the simplicity of the cuisine, but what it is unique about it is that you taste every single product in the dish, the different biodiversity of the single products. You can taste different types of tomatoes or olive oils, and every single taste has a story behind it, a story coming from the specific soil and the people who grew the products”.

    Biodiversity and the Food Industry

    The second part of the talk focused more on the food business and the technical and economic difficulties that the industry faces, specifically in the US, to underscore the challenges of bringing organic products from afar to retail markets and ultimately restaurants.

    Andrea Fiano, Editor of Global Finance and Correspondent Milano Finanza and Vice President of Accademia Italiana della Cucina Soho Chapter, was the moderator of the second half of the panel that featured Maurizio Forte, Director Italian Trade Commission in New York, Stefano Cordova, Innovation Chef at Bindi North America, and Lorenzo Zurino, Founder and C.E.O. of The One Company.

    The day ended with a delicious catering of authentic Italian products and delicacies offered by Gruppo Italiano. An insighful talk that promises a series of immersions into the world of the Italian Food Business conducted by GI with a fresh, contemporary and wide range of depth. Looking forward to the next chapter.

    For more info about Gruppo Italiano and future events click here >>

    -- --

    Gruppo Italiano (GI) is dedicated to promote authentic Italian cuisine, wines and products, enhancing its image in the United States through education, member restaurants and promotions; and to provide a constant flow of information between Italian “ taste makers”, member restaurants, US press, culinary schools, importers, distributors and the general consumers with a serious interest in authentic Italian food and wine.


  • Art & Culture

    Rocchi Bilancini’s “Migration” Comes to NYU

    34 photographs line the halls of Casa Italiana.  At first glance, you see the beautiful colors, but a closer look provides a depth of understanding. 

    Loss and Hope

    All of the photos are based around water with various clothing items floating solitarily in the stillness.  There is a story of loss, and a story of hope behind the images.  Migration encompasses the theme of abandoning everything you know to find a better life.  This message is particularly poignant in Italy and the United States presently, but also in the history of both the countries. Memories are all migrants can take with them, and their trek is wiped away quickly without a trace by the waves they crossed.

    Carlo Rocchi Bilancini, the photographer, thinks back to the Italian migrants who were seeking a more promising future leaving their families and everything they knew behind.  This story reflects on the current refugees who are trying to find a safe haven in Europe.  The difficult, tumultuous journey stained with fear and pain is the perseverance for survival.

    Meeting Carlo Rocchi Bilancini

    We had the chance to sit down with the artist and discover more about his aesthetic, his background and the current exhibition at Casa Italiana.

    Tell us more about “Migration”. How did you come up with the concept and what does it mean to you to present it here in New York City?

    “Migration” is made up of clothes floating in water (a pool) that still maintain a human form.  It evokes a human presence that is absent. It references loss which is a concept that we all have to deal with at some point, and a feeling that resonates very deeply within myself. I am very happy to bring it here to New York because I don’t think there’s a more ideal place to talk about the concept of migration, also seeing how it was born from a sense of loss and memory, something that every migrant feels. The capacity of needing to adapt to a new place and a new reality doesn’t only refer to historical migrations, but also to the refugee crisis going on in Europe and elsewhere. I presented this project to Stefano Albertini, Director of Casa Italiana, and he liked it a lot, so he made it happen.”

    "Water is the medium of change, bringing metamorphosis in its wake.  Here there is a vanishing, a transmigration.  Before long, these shapes will be nothing more than ripples in time.” Said acclaimed writer, editor, translator and a lover for al things Italian Jill Foulston, about your work. Can you elaborate on that? What does water symbolize for you.

    "Water is a very strong element that has the possibility to mutate, dissolving and changing form according to the situation, but without changing identity. Also in my other series of photographs “Dissolvenze”, water is the element of transformation and transmutation. “Dissolvenze” is also clothes floating, only they become more abstract.  They change form, and are no longer recognizable. We need to accept change."

    Let’s talk about your origins and background, and how they influenced you as an artist.

    "I’ve always had a predisposition for aestheticism and beauty.  I consider myself self-taught because, in reality, I graduated with a degree in economics and business.  I had the luck of living in Todi, a small city in Umbria that we say is a pole that artists gravitate to, artists like Piero d’Orazio, and the photojournalist of “Life” magazine, Enrico Sarsini. But also directors like Pupi Avati with whom I collaborated for the movies he shot in Umbria, such as Magnificat, The Knights of the Quest and The Mysterious Enchanter."

    A kaleidoscope of artistic encounters inspired Rocchi to create his unique visual style. His "migrations" took him also far away from his hometown in Todi to Milan where he got in touch with photographer Antonia Mulas, wife and assistant of photographer Ugo Mulas. Another crucial encounter was with the iconic actress Anita Ekberg, star of La Dolce Vita, where the photographer had the privilege to capture her in a series of shots in her house in Genzano, Rome. 

    Some of these illustrious meetings are emblazoned in the exhibition, “Pesci fuor d’acqua”(Fish out of Water). Can you tell us about it?

    “I published “Pesci fuor d’acqua” with Skira Editore which I then followed up with an exhibit by the same name in Venice. It consists of 50 portraits in color of people from the art and performance world including, Marina Ripa di Meana, Lindsay Kemp, the son of Alighiero Boetti, Matteo Boetti, who has a gallery in Todi; Jack Sal, and Antonella Zazzera, but there were also regular people featured wearing clothes that represented their professional careers in a swimming pool.”

    Again the theme of water, which is either stagnant like in “Pesci fuor d’Acqua,” or transformative like in “Migration,” seems to identify the dual nature of Bilancini’s spirit as an artist. One is attached and rooted to his land and the other one is fascinated by the necessity of change and contaminations.

    “I am very attached to my hometown in Umbria, which is a wonderful land full of spirituality and art treasures. But at the beginning, I wasn't taken too seriously as an artist. Sometimes Italian provincialism can be counterproductive for an artist, and sometimes you need to be successful abroad before being valued in Italy. I love my roots, but travelling and experiencing the world is fundamental for my profession.”

    Migration is on display at NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò until March 23.  It is open Monday through Friday from 10am to 5pm. For more info click here>>>>


    For more information on Carlo Rocchi Bilancini and his works, visit his website here >>>> 

  • Dining in & out

    Espresso as Art at Zibetto Bar!

    Espresso—one of the things Italians miss the most when they are abroad. It is something about the blend, the grinder, the machine, and the artisanal hand of the barista that makes it a unique treat in the world. In New York, true Italian espresso is really hard to find it’s also very hard to find what Italians commonly call a “bar,” which isn’t a typical place for drinks like here in the US— or at least it is, but to drink coffee! Espresso and a brioche is the standard Italian breakfast, the perfect boost for the day.

    New Yorkers got accustomed to this ritual thanks to Zibetto Espresso Bar, one of the very few spots in the city where you can have a “real” espresso or a “true” cappuccino and many different types of fresh brioches and pastries, plus tasty panini for lunch —all of it strictly Italian style of course.

    Zibetto is a small place, tiny but rich in flavor, and it is intended to be like that, a friendly and familiar bar “sotto casa.” General Manager Mikail Olsson is so very proud of Zibetto’s signature coffee: “We take great pride in making the perfect Italian espresso,” he says. “You can hardly find the same flavor and the same roasting here in the US. These beans come from from Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia and Columbia, and it is our own brand –the ‘Zibetto’ press. It tastes like the coffee from Southern Italy!”

    The machine to make coffee is of course very important, and they work with an Italian machine, La Cimballi, which is commonly found in Italian bars. With its four locations between uptown and midtown and a future plan of expanding throughout the city, Zibetto is the answer to all of the espresso lovers in New York. 


    Zibetto Espresso Bar

    cuisine Traditional/Coffee

    ambience Friendly

    price $$

    1385 6th Avenue Ph. (646) 707-0505 501

    5th Avenue Ph. (646) 383-6364 1221

    6th Avenue Ph. (212) 332-2648

    1 Park Avenue Ph. (929) 431-3787




  • Spaghetti alla Nerano - Tartina's specialty
    Dining in & out

    Tartina: your Canapè of Italian Flavors in NY

    At Tartina, casual rhymes with elegant. From the impeccable presentation of the dishes to the personable service, that is just the cherry on top of an exquisite, authentic Italian cuisine crafted with the finest, seasonal ingredients in the tradition of the Mediterranean Diet. The pristinity of the food selection is guaranteed by the mastery of Chef Federico Terminiello who brings all of the richness of the culinary tradition of Sorrento, Campania in the South of Italy where he was born, to the plate.

    Spaghetti alla Nerano - spaghetti with swirled Grana Padano and sautéed organic zucchini served with a homemade shell of Grana Padano, is one of his masterpieces. Among other delicious dishes, you certainly can’t leave Tartina without experiencing one of the gorgeous steaks served on an eye-catching Lava Stone.

    Savoring the dish while being immersed in the enveloping tones of black, whites, grays, and rich woods will make you feel like you are dining in a typical Sorrento trattoria with the beautiful landscape of the bay graced by the vision of Mount Vesuvius on the horizon.

    Brunch - Italian style - on weekends is the neighborhood’s new trend. It features outstanding cocktails and satisfying selections such as a signature homemade chicken biscuit in a mouthwatering homemade sausage gravy, as well as a traditional creation of Pan d’Oro French toast.

    “Mangia bene e vivi 100 anni (eat well and you will live for a 100 years),” is Chef Terminiello favorite motto and the whole philosophy behind Tartina. “Our personal goal was to get the heart of Italian wine and food and the experience of eating in Italy– simple and traditional – to this refined neighborhood” says Maria Teresa Valestra and Carlo Di Giulio, partners of the restaurant.


    1034 Amsterdam Avenue

    New York, NY 10025

    Tel.  (646) 590-0577

    The restaurant is open Sunday through Thursday from 12 PM to 10 PM, and on Fridays and Saturdays from 12 AM to 11 PM. Guests can enjoy their meal at the bar as well as tableside. Tartina also offers take-away and soon, delivery services.

    Fur further information please visit the restaurant website here >>



  • Life & People

    Gina Lollobrigida Shines on the Walk of Fame

    “When the Hollywood Chambers saw Gina’s curriculum they asked me, but she doesn’t already have a star?” recounted Tiziana Rocca, a leader in the field of public relations with her company Tiziana Rocca Communication, and a friend of Gina Lollobrigida’s for years. It is strange, in fact, to think that the name of one of the few Italian actresses that has been capable of imposing herself on Hollywood as a star of such high magnitude has not already been immortalized on the famous catwalk.

    The idea to honor Lollobrigida came from Tiziana Rocca, for the occasion of the actress’ birthday this past July 4th. “In the many years I have been very close to Gina, I have worked on many initiatives with her and I have also celebrated her beautiful ‘30 plus 30 plus 30,’ as she likes to say. At the beginning of last year she asked me to organize a series of events to celebrate this memorable event: 40 years of her career, 90 years of age. I saw that Gina was missing in the history of the Walk of Fame, and I wanted to surprise her. Through organizing my festival Filming on Italy in Los Angeles for 30 years, I have already collaborated with the Chamber of Commerce,” continued Rocca, “I immediately made a request to all the jurors to put Gina on the their list of candidates. It was then voted unanimously.”

    Gina Lollobrigida: an Immortal Star

    Lollobrigida showed great emotion as she shared with us the joy of rediscovering an America still so affectionate towards her: “I am moved, because I did not imagine that after so many years the American public still regarded me with so much affection. When I arrived in Hollywood for the first time in 1950, at the beginning of my career, I was surprised that they considered me a big star. MGM (the historic film production company), with whom I made my first film with Frank Sinatra, treated me like a queen and fulfilled my every wish.”

    Hollywood has always represented “a mix of emotions and incredible memories,” as the actress revealed to us: “I have always had a soft spot for America and I have always returned here, even after I stopped working in film.” Gina’s career needs no introduction, she worked with the greats, from Humphrey Bogart to Rock Hudson, Frank Sinatra and Sean Connery; she has won awards and recognitions including the Golden Globe for Robert Mulligan’s Come September (Torna a settembre), as well as the Nastro d’Argento both for Pane amore e fantasia alongside Vittorio de Sica, directed by Luigi Comencini, and for Venere imperiale. She has distinguished the name of italian cinema, embodying an iconographic ideal of unattainable beauty and dramatic versatility. But her status as an actress and sex symbol, which has rendered her among the most desired Italian women in the world, is just the tip of the iceberg for this multifaceted artistic talent.     

    "In America they certainly know me as an actress,” replied Lollobrigida when we asked her what and how much of her being Italian she communicated to the American public, “But I hope to come to the USA soon to present a sculpture exhibition. When the public of other countries have seen my sculptures, for example in Moscow at the Pushkin Museum, they tell me: We thought we knew Mrs. Lollobrigida, but now we can tell who she really is, she has moved us with her sculptures, her profound sensibility, her love for precision, the sentiment that comes forth from her works.”

    There is the artist Gina Lollobrigida still to be discovered, and surely events like the laying of her star on the Walk of Fame and the celebration of her career through Filming on Italy are important occasions to remind Hollywood of the fervor of talent that Italy has gifted, and continues to gift, to the worlds of cinema and art in general.

    Filming on Italy: Cinema and Solidarity ​

    This is precisely the mission of the festival, which aims to promote the Italian territory as a cinematographic set and seeks to be a bridge between Italian and American cultures. The event was created thanks to a collaboration between the Agnus Dei of Tiziana Rocca (the General Director of the festival), the Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles and its director Valeria Rumori, with the wishes of the Consul General of Italy in Los Angeles Antonio Verde. The festival was also realized thanks to MiBACT and Anica with the Artistic direction by Claudio Masenza.  

    The program this year is centered on female figures, honoring Gina Lollobrigida with the Filming On Italy Life and Achievement Award and Monica Bellucci with the Filming On Italy Best Career Award; the IIC Los Angeles Creativity Award went to both actresses. The award consists of an original work created for the Institute by artist and stylist Emilio Cavallini, inspired by the ceiling of Pantheon in Rome. A theme of dramatic actuality, violence against women and abuse of power, is an important focus of the festival. Tiziana Rocca, always close to issues of social awareness, invited the American actress Rosario Dawson to present her Studio 189, a social enterprise which she conducts with fashion expert Abrima Erwiah, which gave life to the Fashion Rising Collection, a fashion collection they curated in support of One Billion Rising, the largest movement countering violence against women. The initiative allows women in Africa who have been victims of abuse to work for the fashion line while learning the trade, searching to give them a kind of concrete hope for the future.

    Other important international guests at the festival included Spanish actress Paz Vega, Vincent Spano and actor Danny Huston, son of the director John Huston who directed the “Lollo” in Beat the Devil (Il tesoro d’Africa) in 1953. It was Danny Huston who presented the actress with the Filming On Italy Life and Achievement Award.

    Two films, Emir Kusturica’s On the Milky Road starring Monica Bellucci and Smetto quando voglio - Ad honorem by Sydney Sibilia, made their American debuts at the festival. Also screened were important films from Gina Lollobrigida’s career- Giulio Questi’s “Death Laid an Egg” (1969) and Basil Dearden’s “Woman of Straw” (1964). The festival paid homage to Monica Bellucci with Giuseppe Tornatore’s Malèna, one of the films that transformed Bellucci into an international icon.

    Director of the Italian Cultural Institute Valeria Rumori is enthusiastic about this year’s program: “The Italian Cultural Institute works actively and constantly to promote and disseminate Italian cinema in L.A. and the rest of its wide jurisdiction. There are many initiatives organized or co-presented with institutional and local partners, both Italian and American, which contribute to expand the circulation of Italian films, to strengthen the awareness of the potential of our cinema, and make out talents known. The presence of icons like Gina Lollobrigida and Monica Bellucci, who made cinematic history and contributed to creating an image of Italy still alive today, confirms the importance and appreciation even outside of the work by the Institute, and at the same time helps to shed light on Italian cinema."











  • Fatti e Storie

    La stella di Gina Lollobrigida brilla sul Walk of Fame

    “Quando la Hollywood Chambers ha visto il curriculum di Gina mi hanno chiesto, ma non ce l’ha già la stella?", ci ha raccontato Tiziana Rocca, leader nel settore delle pubbliche relazioni con la sua Tiziana Rocca Communication, e da anni amica di Gina Lollobrigida. Strano infatti pensare che il nome di una delle poche attrici italiane capace di imporsi ad Hollywood come una star di prima grandezza non fosse già stato immortalato sulla celeberrima passarella.

    L’idea è nata proprio da Tiziana Rocca in occasione del compleanno dell’attrice lo scorso 4 Luglio. “Da alcuni anni sono molto amica di Gina, ho fatto tantissime iniziative con lei ed ho anche festeggiato i suoi bellissimi trenta più trenta più trenta come ama dire lei. All’inizio dell’anno scorso mi chiese di organizzare una serie di eventi per festeggiare questo evento memorabile: 40 anni di carriera, 90 anni di età. Ho visto che nella storia della Walk of Fame Gina mancava e le ho voluto fare una sorpresa. Organizzando il mio festival Filming on Italy a Los Angeles da tre anni, avevo già collaborato con la Camera di Commercio”, continua Rocca, “ho subito fatto una richiesta a tutti i giurati per mettere Gina nelle loro liste dei candidati. È stata poi votata all’unanimità.”

    Gina Lollobrigida: una stella immortale

    Grande la commozione della signora Lollobrigida che ha condiviso con noi tutta la gioia nel riscoprire un’America a lei ancora così tanto affezionata: “Sono commossa perché non immaginavo che dopo tanti anni il pubblico americano mi ricordasse ancora con così tanto affetto. Quando sono arrivata ad Hollywood per la prima volta negli anni '50, all’inizio della mia carriera, rimasi sorpresa che mi considerassero una grande star. La MGM (la storica casa di produzione cinematografica, N.d.R.), con la quale ho fatto il mio primo film con Frank Sinatra, mi trattava come una regina ed esaudiva ogni mio desiderio”.

    Hollywood ha sempre rappresentato “un mix di emozioni e ricordi incredibili”, come ci racconta l’attrice: “Ho sempre avuto un debole per l’America e sono sempre ritornata qui anche dopo aver smesso di fare cinema”. La carriera di Gina non ha certo bisogno di presentazioni, ha lavorato con i più grandi, da Humphrey Bogart a Rock Hudson, Frank Sinatra e Sean Connery; ha fatto incetta di premi e riconoscimenti inclusi il Golden Globe per Torna a settembre (Come September) di Robert Mulligan, il Nastro d’Argento per Pane amore e fantasia al fianco di Vittorio de Sica per la regia di Luigi Comencini, e Venere imperiale. Ha portato in alto il nome del cinema italiano incarnando un’ideale iconografico di irraggiungibile bellezza e versatilità drammatica. Ma il suo status di attrice e di sex symbol che l’ha resa una delle donne italiane più desiderate al mondo è solo la punta dell’iceberg di un talento artistico multiforme.

    “In America mi conoscono certamente come attrice”, ci risponde quando le chiediamo cosa e quanto della sua italianità pensa di aver comunicato al pubblico americano, “ma il mio desiderio è quello di venire presto negli USA per una mostra di scultura. Quando il pubblico di altri paesi vede le mie sculture, come è successo a Mosca, al Pushkin Museum, mi dice: credevamo di conoscerla signora Lollobrigida, ma solo ora possiamo dire chi è lei veramente, ci ha commosso vedere le sue sculture, la sua profonda sensibilità, il suo amore per la precisione, il sentimento che viene fuori dalle sue opere”.

    C’è una Gina Lollobrigida artista ancora tutta da scoprire e sicuramente eventi come la posa della stella sulla Walk of Fame e la celebrazione della sua carriera nel contesto di 'Filming on Italy' sono occasioni importanti per ricordare ad Hollywood quale fervore di talenti l’Italia ha regalato e continua a regalare al mondo del cinema e dell’arte in generale.

    Filming on Italy: tra cinema e solidarietà

    È proprio questa la missione del festival che vuole promuovere il territorio italiano come un set cinematografico, e che vuole essere un ponte tra la cultura italiana e quella americana. La manifestazione nasce grazie all’accordo tra Agnus Dei di Tiziana Rocca, Direttore Generale del festival, l’Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Los Angeles e il suo Direttore Valeria Rumori, con gli auspici del Console Generale d’Italia a Los Angeles Antonio Verde. Il festival è stato realizzato anche grazie alla Direzione Cinema del MiBACT ed Anica. Direzione artistica di Claudio Masenza.

    Un programma incentrato sulla figura della donna quest’anno, onorate infatti Gina Lollobrigida con il Filming On Italy Life and Achievement Award e Monica Bellucci con il Filming On Italy Best Career Award; ad entrambe le attrici è andato poi il IIC Los Angeles Creativity Award. Il premio consiste in un’opera originale creata per l’Istituto dall'artista e stilista Emilio Cavallini, ispirata al soffitto del Pantheon di Roma. Focus importante del festival una tematica di drammatica attualità, la violenza sulle donne e l’abuso di potere. Tiziana Rocca, da sempre vicina alle tematiche di sensibilizzazione sociale, ha infatti invitato l’attrice americana Rosario Dawson che ha presentato la sua Studio 189, un’impresa sociale condotta insieme all’esperta di moda Abrima Erwiah, che ha dato vita alla Fashion Rising Collection, una collezione di moda da loro curata in supporto del One Billion Rising, la più grande azione di massa per porre fine alla violenza contro le donne. L’iniziativa permette alle donne africane vittime di abusi di lavorare per la linea di moda imparando un mestiere, cercando di restituire loro una concreta speranza per il futuro.

    Altri importanti ospiti internazionali l'attrice spagnola Paz Vega, Vincent Spano e Danny Huston, l'attore figlio del regista John Huston che diresse la "Lollo" in Il tesoro d'Africa (Beat the Devil) 1953. È stato proprio Danny Huston a presentare il Filming On Italy Life and Achiviement Award dedicato all'attrice.

     Anche due anteprime americane al festival, On the Milky Road di Emir Kusturica con protagonista Monica Bellucci e Smetto quando voglio - Ad honorem di Sydney Sibilia. In proiezione anche importanti film della carriera di Gina Lollobrigida - "Death Laid an Egg" di Giulio Questi (1969) e "Woman of Straw" Basil Dearden (1964). Omaggio anche a Monica Bellucci con Malèna di Giuseppe Tornatore, uno dei film che ha trasforamto la Bellucci in una star internazionale e la ha proiettata nell'immaginario filmico collettivo.

    Entusiasta dell’organizzazione di quest’anno il direttore dell’Istituto Italiano di Cultura Valeria Rumori: “L’Istituto di Cultura lavora attivamente e costantemente per promuovere e diffondere il cinema italiano a L.A. e nel resto della propria ampia giurisdizione. Sono moltissime le iniziative organizzate o co-presentate con partner istituzionali e locali, sia italiani che americani, che contribuiscono ad ampliare la circolazione di pellicole italiane, a rafforzare la consapevolezza delle potenzialità del nostro cinema, e a far conoscere i nostri talenti. La presenza di icone quali Gina Lollobrigida e Monica Bellucci, che hanno fatto la storia del cinema e hanno contribuito a creare un immaginario dell’Italia tuttora vivo, conferma l’importanza e l’apprezzamento anche oltre confine per il lavoro svolto da questo Istituto, e contemporaneamente contribuisce ad accendere i riflettori sul cinema italiano.”


  • Photo Credit. Sara Pettinella
    Art & Culture

    The eMPathia Jazz Duo is Back in the US!

    Mafalda Minozzi is a true ambassador of Italian music. Her universal musical language brought her to combine Italian melodies with rhythms from all over the world. In 2015, after a long solo career, both she and New York guitarist Paul Ricci formed the “eMPathia Jazz Duo.” It’s a successful partnership that brought them to perform on some of the world’s most prestigious stages.

    After a dazzling debut last year on the Birdland's stage, where the duo was able to perform, for the first time in the history of the club, a rich repertoire of classic Italian songs, among others, Minnozzi and Ricci are back in NYC to bring their unique sound to the American audience. They have already repeated last's year success with a sold-out performance at the Birdland on Jan. 21st, and graced the stage of the Luca's Jazz Corner - an exquisite jazz venue on the Upper East Side.

    'When the Band Went By' at Casa Italiana

    The next leg of their tour will see them at NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò with the concert "Quando la Banda Passò" - When the Band Went By, and a special guest, Brasilian percussionist Rogério Boccato. Boccato plays in projects led by some of today’s leading jazz players, among them Maria Schneider, John Patitucci, Fred Hersch, among many others. He has also collaborated with top-ranking Brazilian artists, such as Toninho Horta, Dori Caymmi, Moacir Santos, and Vinicius Cantuária. The percussionist is also featured on Grammy-award winning album “The Thompson Fields“, with the Maria Schneider Orchestra, and also on two Grammy-nominated ones: Kenny Garrett’s “Beyond The Wall” and John Patitucci‘s release “Remembrance“, alongside Joe Lovano and Brian Blade.

    The trio will celebrate 'Fat Thursday' (Giovedì Grasso in Italian), by revisiting the classic songs associated with Brazilian Carnaval that have become a part of Italian culture via the works of Sergio Bardotti, Wilson Simonal, Toquinho, Vinicius De Moraes, Chico Buarque and others. Brazilian music is a musical territory that is very familiar to the eMPathia Jazz duo, and Brazil can be considered Minnozzi's second homeland. For the past twenty years she has been recognized as the official ambassador of Italian music in Brazil. 

    Paul Ricci has collaborated with big names in music like Astrud Gilberto, Bobby Sanabria, and Harry Belafonte. The musician found in Mafalda's voice the perfect instrument to express his passion for jazz, Brazilian, and African music. The duo already produced two significant projects: eMPathia in 2015, which was nominated for the Premio Tenco and Inside, which was produced by Grammy winner Jeff Jones in 2016.

    As we wait to experience the duo's empathy live this winter, we had the chance to interview Mafalda Minnozzi about her life's story and her mission in music.  

    Mafalda’s Origins

    “I was born in Pavia,” Mafalda told us, “But I subsequently moved to Marche, the region where my parents were from. At Pavia’s Istituto delle Canossiane, I began getting involved in music. I used to sing in the chorus. There, I learned the discipline and how to listen. In reality, my mother, with her soprano voice, was the first to pass down a passion for music. Through singing, I tried to talk to my mother with whom I had a difficult relationship. Then I discovered Caterina Valente, an Italian singer who struck me when I was very young. I tried to emulate her. I liked the fact that she performed in so many different languages, as if they were a single language.”

    Around the World

    As she likes to say, she was always "curious and in love with life." So guided by an insatiable hunger for artistic expression, Mafalda then moved from Marche to Rome. There, she studied music and dance. The singer was then ready to dive into great challenges and to present herself to the world. Her first recitals took place in 1986. She wrote them, and her husband, Marco Bisconti, directed them. Today, he is her producer. After this experience Mafada packed her bags with classics from the Italian songbook, and she took them to Paris, Greece, and Germany.

    As a traveling storyteller, Minnozzi then continued her journey around the world until she discovered Brazil. Love at first sight turned into a twenty-year career. Here she would meet Paul Ricci, and the United States would also open its doors to her. “Paul and I met in Rio de Janeiro, and we never left each other. He became the artistic director of my work. I enjoy not only the sense of freedom but also the discipline that he works with. I learned so much from him; he’s a great musician and a great person. Paul was able to bring the great tradition of American jazz to a land that really loves this style of music, Brazil, and to combine it with Brazil’s own rhythms.

    Music as a Life Mission

    Mafalda’s long career was rich with important encounters such as those with Italian singer Lucio Dalla, Milton Nascimento, Guinga, Martinho Da Vila, to name a few. However, she was never greedy for success. For her, music is a mission: to recount the lives of others through her own voice.

    “I lived through the great life of everyday people, as Chico Buarque and Cole Porter told through their music. Artists are tools in the hands of an art that is given to them from birth. You don’t become an artist; you don’t learn to sing or to play. Talent is natural. Then you can improve it and study later on. You’re born with a gift, and you need to thank Mother Nature for it. I am a bit agnostic, but I feel that I’m a very spiritual person. I’m very Franciscan in many ways. I believe in the values of brotherhood, exchange, forgiveness, and sticking together.”

    Mafalda has a wholesome approach to her career as a singer, and she has always wanted to preserve this purity without making any compromises. In a recording industry that continuously tends to limit an artist’s expression, Minnozzi chose to stay away from certain market trends. This is why the singer founded her own record label and manages every single detail of her career, from the clothes she wears on stage to the promotion of her CDs.

    “I was always true even if it hurt me. Being true to myself caused me to lose some professional opportunities. But music is born to make people stick together and to tear down walls. Music was born to be free. It’s a universal language that everyone can speak and understand.”

    Ambassador of Italian Music

    Publicizing Italian music around the world is another important mission on Mafalda’s artistic journey. The singer is impressed by the enthusiastic feedback that the public gives her when she proposes songs by Umberto Bindi, Paolo Conte, Luigi Tenco, Ivano Fossati, and other great Italian singer-songwriters. She was also amazed by how Italy seems to have forgotten about this immense musical heritage. “Bringing Italian music to venues like the Birdland is not simple. I’m bringing a language that the audience doesn’t understand, but this classic Italian repertoire was appreciated. I don’t understand why we Italians don’t believe in our culture and in our past”.


    U.S. Winter Tour 2018








    For more info check out the eMPathia Jazz Duo website here >>

  • Art & Culture

    Keep the Party Going... Carnival of Viareggio is Here!

    From January 15th until February 25th, Eataly’s New York locations, Downtown and Flatiron, as well as Eataly Chicago, will be celebrating the carnival season this year!

    Every year in Viareggio, a seaside city in Tuscany, there are parades and festivities to celebrate the highly anticipated Carnival.  In honor of this 145-year-old event, the New York and Chicago Eatalys are promoting Tuscan products, menus, and specialties to capture the essence of this iconic celebration. Traditionally, the Carnevale di Viareggio is a month-long festival filled with merriment.  Amongst the feasts, and partying, there are parades every Sunday with colorful papier-mâché floats that fill the streets. This year the Carnival is from January 27th to February 17th. 

    Eataly Celebration of the Viareggio Carnival in NY and Chicago

    La Scuola di Eataly at the Flatiron location was packed with people from the press and the media world. There were also travel and food writers, italophiles, and some illustrious personalities who all got together to celebrate the Carnival of Viareggio’s journey to the US.

    Eugenio Magnani of EM Dreams Factory, a Tuscan at heart, was thrilled to present the event and proud to invite Americans to "get lost in Tuscany” because “you will find something that is absolutely beautiful". Other special appearances include, another Tuscan, Giorgio Van Straten, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in New York, and Consul General of Italy Francesco Genuardi. The Consul greeted the delegation of the Region of Tuscany and to praise Tuscany's unique beauty.

    Alberto Peruzzini, the Director General of Tuscan Tourism Promotion then took the stage, and he highlighted the importance of the American market to the Region of Tuscany’s tourism industry:  “The US is one of the most important markets for Tuscany. Americans love Tuscany. We had 3 million American students in 2017 and most of them come from the NYC area, California, Texas, and Chicago. We want to invite Americans to be a stable presence here and to get involved with our Tuscan lifestyle getting to know all the different parts of the region. Carnival is an iconic representation of that lifestyle. We want to give our tourists a transformative experience. We want people to come to Tuscany and to come back home happier."

    Canrnival - a Rock Show!

    Escorted by two of the most iconic masks of the Carnival, the colorful Burlamacco and Ondina, the President of the Foundation of the Carnival of Viareggio Maria Lina Marcucci, gave a passionate speech on the essence, tradition and importance of the Carnival. We also got the chance to interview her, and to understand more in depth the relevance of this new opening to the American audience.

    "The idea of promoting the Carnival to the American market came to us from the growth and spontaneous interest of the American public towards this event," Marcucci told us. "Also, we have been told by the most luxurious hotels in Tuscany, like the Four Seasons, that their clients only plan to come visit Florence, and then maybe Siena thinking they have seen all of Tuscany. We offer a different Tuscany, a Tuscany that has the sea, the small art cities, the Apuan Alps, the marble from Carrara and Viareggio, the enchanting city that works the whole year for the preparation of the Carnival. We want to communicate to the American audience the most intimate part of the Carnival, beyond the entertainment. The show is an historical tradition that embodies the stories and the culture of the Italian renaissance, the18th century in Italy, as well as contemporary storytelling filled with important social messages. Every year we have new masks, and additionally, the craftmanship and the techniques for creating masks and carts evolve. Carnival is a rock show!"

    To bring the complexity of the Carnival storytelling to the American public, the Foundation had no doubt that Eataly should be the designated partner:

    "We didn’t want to make a predictable promotion, like those ones you do in the hotels as a tour operator. We immediately thought, on the other hand, that Eataly was the best partner for us, since it represents the Italian excellence in the US. The people who will pass by Eataly in New York and Chicago in the next two weeks will get the chance to meet our Carnival and get to know its program for 2019 and 2020, so they can plan a trip in advance to come and discover this enchanting phenomenon."

    Thanks to Toscana Promozione, the Italian Tourist Board, and EM Dreams Factory, twenty travel suppliers were brought to Eataly to meet the best of the U.S’s demand.  There were also two B to B (Business to Business) workshops on January 22nd in New York, and on the 24th in Chicago.

    After the presentation, the guests at the event were treated to the best of the Tuscan culinary tradition with a chef cooking live in La Scuola di Eataly’s beautiful kitchen.


    For more info on the Carnival click here>>