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Articles by: Luca Delbello

  • Art & Culture

    Amerigo's Discovery after 500 Years

     

    “La Toscana era l'unico paese al mondo che fosse una «casa»: il resto d'Italia, e Francia, Inghilterra, Spagna, Germania, erano Repubbliche, Monarchie, Imperi, non «case»” (Tuscany was the only country in the world that was a “home”: the rest of Italy, and France, England, Spain, Germany were Republics, Monarchies, Empires, not “homes”), this was Curzio Malaparte's love declaration to Tuscany and it would have been a good slogan for the event at St. John's University on February 22nd.

    The special celebration was organized in order to commemorate the fifth centenary of Amerigo Vespucci's death. Joseph Sciame, Vice President for Community Relations at St. John’s University and Chairman of St. John’s Italian Cultural Center, made the welcome remarks and presented the conference and the exhibition entitled Amerigo's America (1512-2012), Florence and the Merchants of the New World, made possible by the co-sponsorship of the John D. Calandra Italian/American Institute, with the support of the New York group of Toscani Nel Mondo, headed by Joan Marchi Migliori, the Tuscan Association in the World, the Italian Heritage and Culture Committee of New York and the Columbus Citizens Foundation.

    The Fiorentini nel Mondo, Florentines Around the World Association, together with the European School of Economics, in collaboration with the Assembly of Tuscans Around the World and St. John's University, organized this commemorative event on the exact day that marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Amerigo Vespucci.

    “Many of us have a special connection with Florence and Italy in general”, stated Sciame, “we create a synergy by working together as the Italian/American community.”

    Professor Anthony Julian Tamburri, Dean of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, was the moderator of the event and presented the guest speakers for the evening. Stefano Cordero di Montezemolo, Academic Director at European School of Economics, Stefano Rosi Galli, Madrid Delegate of Fiorentini nel Mondo Association and Italian Literature teacher and Andrea Claudio Galluzzo, President of Fiorentini nel Mondo Association and historian.

    Natalia Quintavalle, Consul General of Italy in New York, was presented by professor Tamburri as the guest of honor. She started by reminding the audience of her origins, “I'm not only the Italian Consul General but the Tuscan Consul General too..” said Quintavalle jokingly.

    Andrea Claudio Galluzzo awarded her with a special medal, “made in order to honor Vespucci, the man and not the explorer”. He politely asked the audience to stand up and observe one minute of silence.

    The first of the guest speakers to talk was Stefano Cordero di Montezemolo, who expressed his joy for being part of the panel, “my father lived for 30 years in New York and he would be proud to see me here with you tonight.” Montezemolo lectured about the florentine explorer and about his skills as a merchant.

    “He received a very special education in a firm, the Medici firm, that created the great renaissance mainly for the economic aspect, he wasn't an explorer in the strict sense.” His importance lies in the fact that he was the first one to recognize America as a new continent and not the West Indies, as Columbus thought.

    A shy Stefano Rosi Galli started to speak, the audience could notice a hint of emotion in his voice, probably due to his first time in the United States, he talked about Vespucci's connections with the Medici family, his main interests as a scholar.

    Andrea Claudio Galluzzo's lecture was captivating as he explained the intimate details and curiosities about Amerigo Vespucci, “he was an observer who paid more attention than Columbus, he knew America was a new continent.”

    At the end of the event, before inviting everyone to see the exhibit, five other personalities were awarded with the special medals, Joseph Sciame, Anthony Julian Tamburri, Giuliana Cardillo, press officer at the Italian Cultural Institute of New York, Joan Marchi Migliori, head of the New York group of Toscani nel Mondo and Francesco Bardazzi, Fiorentini Nel Mondo’s delegate to New York City.

    The New York edition of the exhibit will be moved to Tokyo in October 2012.

  • Fatti e Storie

    A lezione di scuola. Giorno del Ricordo tra testimonianze e insegnamenti

     

    Il Consolato Generale d'Italia a New York, durante la commemorazione del Giorno del Ricordo, apre le porte agli allievi del Liceo della Scuola d'Italia Guglielmo Marconi per una lezione speciale, ricordare le vittime delle foibe e l'esodo Giulano-Dalmata nel secondo dopoguerra.

    La cornice è sempre la stessa, la splendida Park Avenue in questo mite inverno newyorkese, il luogo è l'elegante salone del Consolato, preparato per l'occasione con pannelli espositivi raffiguranti le date e le tappe della triste storia di emigrazione dei giuliano-dalmati nel mondo.

    “La legge 92 del 2004 con cui si e' stabilita la data per onorare le vittime delle foibe – ha spiegato il Console aggiunto Laura Aghilarre – è stata un grande passo per il governo Italiano”, che ha voluto onorare e tenere vivo il ricordo di questa tragedia al confine orientale.

    Aghilarre ha fatto le veci del Console Generale Natalia Quintavalle, assente giustificata per l'accoglienza del Presidente del Consiglio Italiano Mario Monti in visita ufficiale a New York, e ha ricordato al pubblico di grandi e piccini l'importanza di questa cerimonia, delineando i punti salienti e introducendo i protagonisti di questo particolare evento, mentre si ricollegava a Roma ringraziando il Presidente Napolitano per le parole spese durante la cerimonia al Quirinale.
     

    E' una strana sensazione, quella di ritrovarsi seduti nell'usuale salotto del Consolato gremito di bambini pronti a imparare e sopratutto, a ricordare. “E' il secondo anno che il Consolato Generale celebra il Giorno del Ricordo”, l'ex Console Generale Francesco Maria Talò ha dato inizio a questa tradizione e Quintavalle l'ha voluta conservare e rafforzare, pensando ad una lezione che potesse permettere ai più giovani di venire a conoscenza di una pagina di storia italiana rimasta per tanto tempo sotto la polvere di un colpevole oblio.

    Presente alla cerimonia anche il Presidente dell'Associazione Giuliani nel Mondo del New Jersey, Eligio Clapcich, che ricorda al pubblico in sala la sua partenza da Fiume nel 1946 e l'esodo della popolazione dell'Istria, di Pola e di Zara. “Il Giorno del Ricordo ha fatto finalmente giustizia, al confine orientale ci furono crimini contro l'umanità, lo sradicamento di italiani che assunse i sinistri contorni della pulizia etnica”.

    “Voglio onorare il ricordo dei 350 mila profughi, delle centomila persone costrette alla fuga all'estero, il secolo delle idee assassine è finalmente alle spalle, spero che il mondo abbia imparato dalla tragedia del nazionalismo aggressivo”

    Nella sua voce possiamo ravvisare un velo di malcelata commozione nel ricordo del suo personale esodo e delle sofferenze e delle morti nel buio di quelle foibe, cavità naturali che hanno ingoiato nel silenzio migliaia di vittime innocenti.

    Il Presidente Clapcich ci racconta di come sia venuto a patti con la modernità e abbia usato una risorsa come internet per mantenere il ricordo di quell'eccidio e dell'orrore e della sua soddisfazione nel vedere apparire, dopo decenni e decenni di silenzio, il racconto di quella terribile pulizia etnica e dei crimini commessi in quel territorio martoriato nei libri di storia.

    Presenti in sala anche alcuni dei testimoni dell'esodo, che con emozione ci hanno traghettato nei loro ricordi, nella loro storia di esuli, spiegando al pubblico in sala i tanti soprusi subiti durante

    I professori della Scuola d'Italia Flora Ghezzo, Alessandra Montalbano e Giannalisa Klein con competenza e passione hanno spiegato agli adulti, ma soprattutto ai bambini increduli, gli eventi e le nefandezze commesse al confine orientale italiano, la politica di Tito e la divisione territoriale della zona dell'Istria, aprendosi al dialogo e al confronto con i testimoni e gli allievi.

    Gabriel García Márquez diceva “la vita non è quella che si è vissuta, ma quella che si ricorda e come la si ricorda per raccontarla”, non possiamo che essere grati allo staff del Consolato e all'Associazione Giuliani nel Mondo per averci reso partecipe del ricordo e per averci donato questa parte di vita.

  • Art & Culture

    Mafia Movies: A Reader

     John D. Calandra Italian American Institute has an impressive reputation for offering its audience conferences and for introducing compelling and fascinating books who put their focus on Italian-American and Italian issues.

    December 5th was no exception, the new book “Mafia Movies: A Reader” was presented by the Dean of the Institute, Anthony J. Tamburri, who briefly introduced the text, highlighting the main key features of this brilliant work, edited by Dana Renga and written by several well-known scholars in the academic community.

    The first and maybe most interesting aspect of the book is the new approach to investigate a delicate topic. The aim of the volume lies in the identifying how Italian-Americans are portrayed over time by exploring the representation of gangsters onscreen. The richness of the diverse essays provides the basis to accomplishing this complex goal.

    While introducing the first panel, “Historicizing the Imagined Mafia,” the event's moderation, Professor Renga, passionately commented on how the colume deals with several different directors who share a main feature: their interest in the mafia and corruption in the Italian or American system. Martin Scorsese, Elio Petri or Francis Ford Coppola are a few directors within its field.
     

    Professor Renga even reminded the audience that men such as Peppino Impastato, Salvatore Giuliano, Paolo Borsellino, together with fictional characters like Tony Soprano, Don Vito and Michael Corleone have contributed in myriad ways to maintaining the myth of Italian and Italian-American mafia, or or off-screen.

    Some of the questions the authors desire to answer are: “Is there a unique American or Italian cinema treating the mafia? How has the Godfather influenced films that come later, both in Italy and in the US? Why are Italian filmmakers more interested in making socially conscious films?”

    Elizabeth Leake, Giancarlo Lombardi and Nelson Moe were the first panelists. Respectively from Columbia University, College of Staten Island and Barnard College

    Professor Giancarlo Lombardi brilliantly analyzed the impact of a TV show like “The Sopranos” in the United States. Its capillarity and massive distribution has re-pictured mafia in the collective imagination, Tony Soprano and his universe have been crucial in changing the way Italian and Italian-American organized crime has been perceived in recent years.

    The artistic quality of the Sopranos is undeniable, said Lombardi sincerely, but it's neglected in Italy, maybe for a poor choice of dubbing and a lacking interest in the public debate.

    Professor Lombardi even noticed differences in the representation of mafia on Italian and American television by comparing “The Sopranos” to “La Piovra.”

    David Chase, the creator of “The Sopranos”, made it clear that he was trying to glamorize the mafia but simultaneaously,  his aim was to portray a slow and inexorable descent to hell, stated Professor Lombardi.

    Professor Elizabeth Leake spoke about Tomasi's representation of Sicilians as “mafiosi” in his masterpiece The Leopard, and how it has been perceived by its audience. Leake briefly explained how the mafia was portrayed by Visconti in the movie adapted from the book.

    “Not all the stereotypes come to do harm,” affirmed Professor Nelson Moe when describing the movie “Il Mafioso” in particular, and when the stereotype is purposely used by Lattuada, he stresses the differences between the “civilized” North and the “criminal” South, but in doing so he challenges and aims to provoke the viewer, claimed Professor Moe.

    The second part of the conference focused on another subject, “Gender and Violence”, featuring Rebecca Bauman, George De Stefano and Jane and Peter Schneider. 

    Accomplished author George De Stefano talked about his essay, focusing on “the films in which sexuality and gender are important to the film itself, to the overall narrative.”

    “What's considered proper female behavior and what is proper male behavior,” were issues that De Stefano addressed in his essay. It is crucial, he added, to stress that Italian-American and Italian criminal organized groups are male supremacists organizations, and that the classic “mafioso” is often depicted as in opposition to women and homosexuals.

    Even in the real life “Cosa Nostra,” the Sicilian mafia is known to be very homophobic.

    The films De Stefano wrote about are The Hundred Steps and Mary Forever. Marco Tullio Giordana, who directed the former, made clear suggestions that the film’s hero is probably a gay man, while in Mary Forever, young gay male prostitute is portrayed as a cross-dresser.

    Rebecca Bauman, from Hofstra University, explained her essay in which she analyzes the sexual politics of loyalty in Prizzi's Honor. In this film the female protagonist is a hit-woman hired by the mafia, and when she is killed, said Bauman, she is considered a transgressor because of her gender and her role, which is uncomfortable for the whole organization. Hence she represents an ethos that doesn't conform to the mafia system.

    Jane and Peter Schneider's contribution to the volume, instead, is not based on film but deals with real life implications and intersections between gender and violence. Jane Schneider is professor of anthropology at CUNY Graduate Center, and her husband teaches sociology at Fordham University. They were writing from a prospective of anthropological field workers, doing research in Sicily in the '60s, living in a rural town.

    “A wonderful experience, actually knowing the mafiosi”, affirmed Jane Schneider.

    One of the first “pentiti”, Vitale, killed at first because he wanted to prove himself to be a man and not a “pederast”, “there is a certain ambiguity”, professor Peter Schneider added.

    The book Mafia Movies: A Reader is being published at a time when the mafia has been receiving international attention.

    Roberto Saviano, writer of the book later turned into film, Gomorrah, arrived in the United States a few months ago; and while his testimony has been of vital importance in order for anyone to fully comprehend the dynamics and the mechanisms behind criminal organizations, it's important to maintain a critical eye in order to understand the wicked subtlety of the mafia when it interacts with people and its environment.

    Perhaps it is best to avoid hasty judgments which often lead to prejudice.

    If cinema really is “truth at twenty-four frames a second,” as Jean-Luc Godard once said, this book represents a way to deepen our knowledge about a stereotype that we see reflected in everyday society, to start asking questions about the creation of a myth through the lens of a camera, and most of all, to open our eyes to a phenomenon so deeply intricate and complex such as the mafia.

  • Facts & Stories

    FULL VIDEO! Saviano at NYU with Roubini. Criminal Economy and Mafia.

    The Paulson Auditorium of New York University is filled with students, professors, journalists and simply curious people who gathered together to attend one of the most expected events of the whole year, the one with the famous journalist and writer Roberto Saviano and the economic international guru, Nouriel Roubini, a prophet of this financial crisis that seems to clamp the world in an iron fist.
     

    The Director of Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimo', Stefano Albertini, is one of the organizers of this lecture that had as moderator professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat, chair of NYU's Department of Italian Studies.

    Saviano, author of Gomorrah, the book that disclosed several secrets surrounding the world of organized crime and mafia in Naples and its suburbs, has been put through a strict protocol of protection and he's been a lecturer at New York University for a semester, for a post-doc seminary on the international organized crime.

    The conference, as he said in a video invitation featured on the Internet for the past days, stands as a way of thanking the University for having allowed him, in these months, to teach and research in the United States.

    The writer made his entrance, together with Roubini and Ben-Ghiat. The audience greeted him with a lively applause, confirming the author's notoriety. He looked a little shy in front of the microphone, while the audience paid much attention and did not lose a single word.

    He was the first to talk, thanking the audience for the patience shown in undergoing all the custom-like procedures, with the metal detector and bag checks.

    His speech analyzed with a sharp and brilliant look the “wicked” management of the criminal capitals from the international economy. Still the implacable narration of the journalist didn't spare anybody. His analysis could have bothered many in Wall Street or even at the White House, when he admitted, without limitations, that “European and American banks launder between 500 and 1000 billions of dollars of dirty money every year.” The writer's targets were especially Citibank and Wachovia, some of the most famed banks in the world.

    “One of the biggest American banks, Citibank, makes a huge percentage of profits from services offered to criminals and from accounts on which they deposit their money,” and he continued “despite of all the denunciations and requests for an improved public control on the banking operations, banks continue with their business, laundered money grows, because the governments and the banks don't have any interest in undermining the high profits that keep this always fragile economy alive,” his words made echoes to hundreds and hundreds of people who occupied Zuccotti Park with the famous motto “Occupy Wall Street”, a manifestation in which Saviano was involved a few days back.

    The two methods of Private Banking and Correspondent Banking are used by the banks to launder criminal money, the first one makes it possible through the utilization of code names for bank accounts and the second one through providing a banking service from a bank to another, “it allows the foreign banks to make business and to provide services for their own clients where they don't have any legal jurisdiction.”

    “In the last twenty years the increasing illegal banking operations have taken away several resources to the legal ones, this is the essential point,” Saviano admitted sadly.

    Wachovia’s case is more peculiar, “it's like an attack.” The famous American bank has recently paid a 50 million dollars fee for not having looked out for the cash used for a shipping of 22 tons of cocaine, the bank was sanctioned for not having applied the anti-laundering restrictions on the transfer of bank accounts for 378 billions of dollars.
     

    The even more surprising element is that Wachovia stocks raised “inexplicably” their value on the market as soon as news of the fee had reached the press.

    The individual is oppressed by these powers. “We are not talking about a problem but about the problem,” the rules of the game are still more subtle than the final outcome, as they allow this mechanism to thrive. The cure for this disease is nowhere to be found.

    Gomorrah's writer didn't avoid talking about organized crime and about the perception of Italians abroad.

    “Italians have the best anti-mafia law in the world but I know that we cannot take it anymore to be associated with the mafia world,” and he talked about characters such as Michael Corleone by Mario Puzo or Al Capone played by De Niro, just as examples. “We can't put the blame on Scorsese or on the Sopranos for the mafia and this perception.”

    The important is to know what happens, he claimed, “The indifference is the worst form of omerta' (a conspiracy of silence)”

    After Saviano's speech, professor Roubini started to talk and thanked his interlocutor for being in New York, risking his life everyday for justice and social equality, and by commenting his words he added that there is another important discipline that should be studied, a better management of criminal money.

    “There's a constant overlap between illegal and legal activities”.

    Roubini's speech focused on the problem of recession, according to the scholar, in fact, the whole economic world system is about to risk a collapse in a few months, if adequate measures are not adopted as soon as possible.

    “A lot of people worry about the Euro zone but they don't take care of how the United States are about to challenge a deep recession next year,” these are the warning words by Roubini, that in the past has shown to understand in advance the movements of the global financial system.

    He talked about democratization of the credit, a system used in Anglo-Saxon countries, famed and much discussed, and explained to the audience the problem related to the “housing bubble.” People borrowed too much and got into severe debt. It was the American dream falling apart.

    Whereas the Continental Europe welfare system has let the public debt of many countries go higher up.

    Professor Ben-Ghiat, helped by Professor Stefano Albertini, selected some of the questions coming from the audience. “What are you looking for in New York, why are you teaching in the universities of the US?” she asked Saviano.

    “I will always be back in my country, New York could give me something different, I want to experiment and observe, moreover I'm attracted to the idea of living a normal life, or at least lighter.”

    We see him leaving the stage together with the lecturer after the last question, with a long look at the whole auditorium, trying to say bye to the people who would like to shake his hand.

    His presence in the United States was made possible by Scholars at Risk, an academic network in defense of the principles of freedom of thought and expression, supporting those intellectuals that have limited liberties in their countries. New York has maybe helped the author of Gomorrah under this aspect and has given him that dimension of "normality" and of "light life", as he called it, and that is what everybody needs.

  • Saviano at NYU with Roubini. Criminal Economy and Mafia

    The Paulson Auditorium of New York University is filled with students, professors, journalists and simply curious people who gathered together to attend one of the most expected events of the whole year, the one with the famous journalist and writer Roberto Saviano and the economic international guru, Nouriel Roubini, a prophet of this financial crisis that seems to clamp the world in an iron fist.
     

    The Director of Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimo', Stefano Albertini, is one of the organizers of this lecture that had as moderator professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat, chair of NYU's Department of Italian Studies.

    Saviano, author of Gomorrah, the book that disclosed several secrets surrounding the world of organized crime and mafia in Naples and its suburbs, has been put through a strict protocol of protection and he's been a lecturer at New York University for a semester, for a post-doc seminary on the international organized crime.

    The conference, as he said in a video invitation featured on the Internet for the past days, stands as a way of thanking the University for having allowed him, in these months, to teach and research in the United States.

    The writer made his entrance, together with Roubini and Ben-Ghiat. The audience greeted him with a lively applause, confirming the author's notoriety. He looked a little shy in front of the microphone, while the audience paid much attention and did not lose a single word.

    He was the first to talk, thanking the audience for the patience shown in undergoing all the custom-like procedures, with the metal detector and bag checks.

    His speech analyzed with a sharp and brilliant look the “wicked” management of the criminal capitals from the international economy. Still the implacable narration of the journalist didn't spare anybody. His analysis could have bothered many in Wall Street or even at the White House, when he admitted, without limitations, that “European and American banks launder between 500 and 1000 billions of dollars of dirty money every year.” The writer's targets were especially Citibank and Wachovia, some of the most famed banks in the world.

    “One of the biggest American banks, Citibank, makes a huge percentage of profits from services offered to criminals and from accounts on which they deposit their money,” and he continued “despite of all the denunciations and requests for an improved public control on the banking operations, banks continue with their business, laundered money grows, because the governments and the banks don't have any interest in undermining the high profits that keep this always fragile economy alive,” his words made echoes to hundreds and hundreds of people who occupied Zuccotti Park with the famous motto “Occupy Wall Street”, a manifestation in which Saviano was involved a few days back.

    The two methods of Private Banking and Correspondent Banking are used by the banks to launder criminal money, the first one makes it possible through the utilization of code names for bank accounts and the second one through providing a banking service from a bank to another, “it allows the foreign banks to make business and to provide services for their own clients where they don't have any legal jurisdiction.”

    “In the last twenty years the increasing illegal banking operations have taken away several resources to the legal ones, this is the essential point,” Saviano admitted sadly.

    Wachovia’s case is more peculiar, “it's like an attack.” The famous American bank has recently paid a 50 million dollars fee for not having looked out for the cash used for a shipping of 22 tons of cocaine, the bank was sanctioned for not having applied the anti-laundering restrictions on the transfer of bank accounts for 378 billions of dollars.
     

    The even more surprising element is that Wachovia stocks raised “inexplicably” their value on the market as soon as news of the fee had reached the press.

    The individual is oppressed by these powers. “We are not talking about a problem but about the problem,” the rules of the game are still more subtle than the final outcome, as they allow this mechanism to thrive. The cure for this disease is nowhere to be found.

    Gomorrah's writer didn't avoid talking about organized crime and about the perception of Italians abroad.

    “Italians have the best anti-mafia law in the world but I know that we cannot take it anymore to be associated with the mafia world,” and he talked about characters such as Michael Corleone by Mario Puzo or Al Capone played by De Niro, just as examples. “We can't put the blame on Scorsese or on the Sopranos for the mafia and this perception.”

    The important is to know what happens, he claimed, “The indifference is the worst form of omerta' (a conspiracy of silence)”

    After Saviano's speech, professor Roubini started to talk and thanked his interlocutor for being in New York, risking his life everyday for justice and social equality, and by commenting his words he added that there is another important discipline that should be studied, a better management of criminal money.

    “There's a constant overlap between illegal and legal activities”.

    Roubini's speech focused on the problem of recession, according to the scholar, in fact, the whole economic world system is about to risk a collapse in a few months, if adequate measures are not adopted as soon as possible.

    “A lot of people worry about the Euro zone but they don't take care of how the United States are about to challenge a deep recession next year,” these are the warning words by Roubini, that in the past has shown to understand in advance the movements of the global financial system.

    He talked about democratization of the credit, a system used in Anglo-Saxon countries, famed and much discussed, and explained to the audience the problem related to the “housing bubble.” People borrowed too much and got into severe debt. It was the American dream falling apart.

    Whereas the Continental Europe welfare system has let the public debt of many countries go higher up.

    Professor Ben-Ghiat, helped by Professor Stefano Albertini, selected some of the questions coming from the audience. “What are you looking for in New York, why are you teaching in the universities of the US?” she asked Saviano.

    “I will always be back in my country, New York could give me something different, I want to experiment and observe, moreover I'm attracted to the idea of living a normal life, or at least lighter.”

    We see him leaving the stage together with the lecturer after the last question, with a long look at the whole auditorium, trying to say bye to the people who would like to shake his hand.

    His presence in the United States was made possible by Scholars at Risk, an academic network in defense of the principles of freedom of thought and expression, supporting those intellectuals that have limited liberties in their countries. New York has maybe helped the author of Gomorrah under this aspect and has given him that dimension of "normality" and of "light life", as he called it, and that is what everybody needs.

  • Arte e Cultura

    Giorgio Radicati ricorda quell'11 settembre a New York

    "Grazie Giorgio non solo per questa testimonianza sugli eventi dell'11 settembre, ma soprattutto per il capitale di credibilità, di affetto, di simpatia, che hai saputo costruire attorno al Consolato in quei giorni, un capitale che ha permesso a tutti i tuoi successori, e sicuramente, a me, di svolgere il nostro ruolo di console generale qui in questa città, sapendo di poter contare sul sostegno della collettività italiana, italo-americana e delle autorità americane. Grazie di cuore da parte di tutti noi".

    Con queste parole l’Ambasciatore Giorgio Radicati e' stato accolto nella gremita platea dal nuovo Console Generale in carica, Natalia Quintavalle, per la presentazione della sua ultima opera, il suo libro, fondamentale per lui per due motivi.
    Per il contenuto, l’11 settembre, e per il luogo, quel consolato dove per anni si e' sentito a casa.

    E' palpabile in sala la commozione e il sincero affetto che circondano il diplomatico, protagonista come console generale a New York di uno dei momenti più difficili della storia del Nuovo Continente. Presente tra il pubblico anche parte dello staff impegnato nei lavori di quei giorni.
     

    Steve Acunto - console onario - gli ha consegnato qualche giorno prima in una serata di gala il premio “Bravo!” dalla Italian Academy Foundation per l’impegno profuso da Radicati nel consolidare i rapporti tra Italia e Stati Uniti. E' lui a presentare il libro dell'Ambasciatore, dieci anni dopo il tragico evento.

    E’ un must-read: “L'approccio di Giorgio Radicati parte da tre punti di vista. Quello di un diplomatico, quello di un cittadino di New York e quello di un artista".
    “Diplomatico perchè nel libro Radicati racconta le implicazioni, il modo in cui il mondo vede l'America dall'esterno. Poi parla di New York e lo attraverso gli occhi dell'artista.”

    Giorgio Radicati infatti è anche un raffinato artista, durante l'attentato delle Torri Gemelle ha infatti dipinto diverse tele.

    Tra gli ospiti prende la parola anche il capo dei vigili del fuoco al tempo degli eventi Daniel Nigro, il quale ha ha assunto la carica di chief del FDNY in seguito alla morte del suo predecessore Peter Ganci disperso sotto le macerie. Nigro ricorda la sensibilità di Radicati, il lavoro per aiutare le famiglie italiane ed italo-americane, il conforto e di come lui si sia sentito a casa nel Consolato italiano.

    Radicati racconta di essersi subito reso conto di essere davanti a qualcosa di epocale e di sapere che avrebbe scritto un libro. Quando ha lasciato New York il libro era pronto nella sua testa e lentamente lo ha messo su carta.
     

    Ha dovuto aspettare, visto soprattutto impegni istituzinali, anni per portarlo al termine.

    “Nel libro – dice - ho tentato di mettere in luce la grande professionalità dello staff che avevo attorno, il senso di responsabilità assunto da ognuno di loro e il coraggio di affrontare la situazione i cui sviluppi non erano del tutto prevedibili”.
    La platea ascolta anche il racconto di alcuni particolari, come il rischio di intossicazione per l’antrace, le maschere antigas mandate da Roma e le provviste di cibo che il Consolato ha ricevuto, sufficienti per sei mesi. “Si era in una situazione di guerra in pratica. Quello che accadeva fuori non era molto chiaro e anche la stampa non dava loro le giuste informazioni, perchè anche loro ignoravano cosa poteva accadere”.
     

    Dalle parole di Radicati: “La sinergia tra entità istituzionali e le rappresentanze di questa città ha permesso di superare molte difficoltà, molti venivano in consolato a raccontare cosa accadeva nella strada. Fondamentali poi sono state le associazioni italo-americane, vere e proprie sentinelle”.
     

    E ancora il senso dei quelle ore di quei giorni: “Ringrazio i medici italiani e italo-americani della città che dopo la tragedia fornivano notizie su coloro che erano stati ricoverati per cercare di individuarli. 4000 telefonate ricevute dal consolato in quei giorni, di persone scomparse, molte senza fondamento, e si ricevevano telefonate del Ministro degli Interni o della Salute. C'era il pericolo anche di dare troppe informazioni o di darle errate, c'era il rischio che l'unità di crisi di Roma potesse dare informazioni diverse da quelle del consolato. Inoltre molte altre cose sono scritte in maniera ordinata nel libro. Il Paese era isolato, nessuno poteva uscire nè entrare dal Paese per una settimana, dunque c'era uno stato di guerra".

    E, parlando delle sue opere, di quelle tele su cui ha voluto fermare i ricordi per giorni e giorni, si sofferma e dice: “Ho smesso solo dopo aver accompagnato Riccardo Muti ed un gruppo di Musicisti a Ground Zero, dove in una commovente cerimonia hanno voluto rendere omaggio alle vittime con le note del Va Pensiero”

  • Art & Culture

    9/11 and the Italian Consulate in NY

    “Thank you Giorgio, not only for your testimony on the events of 9/11 but, most of all, for the capital of credibility, affection and fellowship you have built around the Consulate in those days, a capital that has allowed all your successors, and me, for sure, to play our role of Consul General here in this city, knowing that we can count on the support of the Italian American and Italian collectivity and that of the American authorities. Thank you so much on behalf of all of us.”

    These were the words that Consul General Natalia Quintavalle used to greet Ambassador Giorgio Radicati, who presented his book, a book that is important to him for two reasons: its content, 9/11, and the place where it is presented, that Consulate where he has worked for years.

    The audience felt emotion and warm affection for that diplomat who had to face, as Consul General of Italy in New York, one of the hardest moments of history. Some members of the staff who worked with him in those days were present the auditorium as well.

    Steve Acunto, Honorary Consul who gave him the “Bravo!” award from the Italian Academy Foundation for his commitment in strengthening relations between Italy and United States, introduced the book that has been published ten years after the tragic event.

    It is a must-read: “Giorgio Radicati's approach embraces three points of view. 1) That of the diplomat, 2) That of the New Yorker 3) That of the artist,” Acunto said. “Diplomat because in the book Radicati talks about the implications and the way the world looks at America from the outside. Then he talks about New York and he does it through the eyes of an artist.”

    In fact Giorgio Radicati is a painter too, as he painted several touching canvases in those days.

     
    Among the evening’s guests, there was Daniel Nigro. Chief of the New York City Fire Department at the time, who was then appointed Chief after the tragic death of his predecessor, Peter Ganci, who lost his life in the collapse of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. In his speech, Nigro remembered the sensitivity of Radicati, his job in helping Italian-American and Italian families, their comfort and how he felt at home at the Italian Consulate.

    Radicati stated that he immediately realized he was living through an historic moment and he knew he would have written a book on the events. When he left New York the book was written in his mind and with time it was actually written on paper.

    As he was busy with institutional commitments, completion of the book took a few years.

    “In the book - he said - I've tried to emphasize the great professionalism of the staff I had around me, the sense of responsibility felt by every one of them and their courage in facing the situation, for which the developments were still unforeseeable.” He talked about some details, like the hazard coming from the anthrax poisoning, the anti-gas masks sent from Rome and the food supplies for the six following months. “Basically we were living through a war-type situation. What was happening outside wasn't very clear and even the press didn't give us the right information, because they didn’t even know what was happening either.”

    Radicati’s words were: “Institutional entities and the delegations of this city worked together to overcome the difficulties. Many came to the Consulate to explain what was happening on the streets. Italian-American associations were crucial too, they were true guards.”

    And more words on those days: “I want to thank the Italian-American and Italian doctors of the city that after the tragedy provided information on those who had been hospitalized in order to locate them. The Consulate received 4000 phone calls in those days, calls about missing people, some with no real information, others from the Ministry of the Interior or from the Ministry of Health. There was the danger of giving too much or wrong information, there was the risk that the crisis unit of Rome could provide information that didn’t match with what the Consulate gave. Several other facts are written in an orderly fashion in the book. The Country was isolated, nobody could get outside or inside the Country for a week, so we were basically living in a state of war.”

    And when talking about his art pieces, those canvases onto which he wanted to freeze the memories for days, he stopped for a second and added: “I stopped painting right after having taken Riccardo Muti and a band of musicians to Ground Zero where they paid homage to the victims with the notes of Va Pensiero.”

  • Events: Reports

    In Memory of Philip Cannistraro

    Philip Cannistraro was a prominent figure in Italian American studies, his brilliant research on Fascism and his political implications, both in Italy and in the US, remain well known internationally in the academic field.  
     

    The Dean of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Professor Anthony Julian Tamburri, explained to us the reason behind the conference his Institute is having to honor the memory of Philip Cannistraro and talked about his legacy and importance as an Italian American scholar and historian.

    These are his words…

    The conference that we’re having in honor of Philip Cannistraro is first of all to honor Philip Cannistraro because he died too young at 63.
    He was our distinguished professor of Italian American studies, he’s known mostly for being a scholar of Italian Fascism, but he also studied the relations between Italian Americans and Italy and also the Italian Americans and their relation to Fascist Italy.

    That’s the first thing. The second thing is that Philip Cannistraro, as opposed to many other people especially in Italian American studies, has left a legacy.

    All nine presenters at this conference, all nine professors are basically all students of Philip Cannistraro, or at least the majority.

    So he created a school, “ha fatto scuola”, and he left a wonderful legacy.

    Ernesto Ialongo and William Adams, the people who really put this conference together, the coordinators, they’re going to put a book together, the essays of the presentation, so there will be a publication that will have full-fledged essays of the presentation.

     

    New Directions in Italian and Italian-American History: A Conference in Honor of Philip Cannistraro

    Date:
    Saturday, November 05, 2011 9:00 AM

    Location:
    John D. Calandra Italian-American Institute 25 West 43rd Street, 17th Floor, NYC,
    (212) 642-2094

    Keynote 
      
    Emilio Gentile, University of Rome, La Sapienza 
    “Fabbrica del consenso o fabbrica del potere?  Redefining Fascism and Totalitarianism” 
      
    New Directions in Italian-American History 
     

    Chair:  Gerald Meyer, Hostos Community College, CUNY 

    Charles Killinger, University of Central Florida, “Italian Antifascist Exiles and the Italian-American Community:  Renato Poggioli and Gaetano Salvemini as Case Studies” 
    Marcella Bencivenni, Hostos Community College, CUNY, “Re-examining Italian-American Radical History Through the Lens of Culture” 
    Peter Vellon, Queens College, CUNY,  “‘The humiliation of being treated like Negroes’:  The Italian-American Education in Matters of Race”

      
    New Directions in Italian History, I  

    Chair:  Emily Braun, Hunter College & The Graduate Center, CUNY 

    Paul Corner, University of Siena, “Factories and their Products:  A Comment on Phil Cannistraro's La fabbrica del consenso” 
    Ernest Ialongo, Hostos Community College, CUNY, “The Calculated Compromise:  F.T. Marinetti and Fascism in the Twenties” 
    William Adams, Hunter College, CUNY, “The politica dei ponti in the Republic of Salò”

    New Directions in Italian History, II 


    Chair:  John Davis, University of Connecticut 

    Marta Petrusewicz, University of Calabria, “Fin-de-siècle Rome:  A Republic of Collectors” 
    Stanislao Pugliese, Hofstra University, “Dancing on a Volcano: Attempting a Popular History of Naples” 
    David Aliano, College of Mount Saint Vincent, “Re-imagining the Nation: Italian National Narratives Abroad (1922-1945)”

  • Art & Culture

    Bordighera Press. Italian American Literature in the US

    i-Italy met with the Dean of the John D. Calandra Institute, professor Anthony Julian Tamburri, one of the three founders of Bordighera Press, the Italian/American publishing house that specializes in projects dealing with the culture of Italy and that of the Italians in America.
     

    When was Bordighera Press born?

    Bordighera Press was born in 1989 because we had just finished putting together an anthology that’s entitled “From the Margin, Writings in Italian Americana”, published in 1991 and what we found was that we had over a thousand pages of good literature by Italian Americans, we decided we would in one way, shape or form, create a journal and we did, we created VIA (Voices in Italian Americana), because the Giovanni Agnelli Foundation of the time liked the idea of the journal and they gave us a Sea Grant and we founded the Journal. The journal has been in existence since 1990. In 1993 somebody came to us with a long poem and we had just put a limit on our poetry and the journal, set to only 5 pages. This poem would have been about 15 pages, we really wanted to publish the poem but we didn’t want to offend our big poet and there were people like John Tagliabue, Lewis Turco, so we decided that we would publish this long poem as a chapbook, we wanted to give the series a name, so we called it VIA Folios, in the latin sense of the word.

    From there, our series was born and we’ve done 70 books in the VIA Folios series. Early next year we’re going to publish Pane Amaro by Elena Giannini Belotti and Terroni by Pino Aprile. We have another journal, it appears occasionally and it’s called Italiana and it’s for Italian studies mostly.


    What can you tell us about the prize?

    The Bordighera Poetry Prize is founded very generously by the Sonia Raiziss-Giop Foundation, it’s a charitable trust that is run by Alfredo Giop de Palchi and it was founded and organized by Daniela Gioseffi and she still does it for us. The poetry is originally in English, the winner translates the poems into Italian and the book is published. The winner gets a thousand dollars, the translator gets a thousand dollars and we publish the book. We have fourteen winners so far, thirteen published.
     

    And now a curiosity, why the name Bordighera?

    There were three of us who run the press, Fred Gardaphé, Paolo Giordano and myself. Paolo Giordano was born in Bordighera and he came here when he was 10 years old. When he was in High School, Paolo’s father decided that he had to go to Italy to visit la ‘nonna’. So he did, then I went one summer when he was there and I’ve gone back numerous times, so we wanted something different for our press. The three of us sat down, we each wrote a name secretly and Paolo and I had Bordighera. Some people at the beginning gave us a hard time, they said it wasn’t a serious name, when instead our choice was serious.
    At the time nobody was publishing Italian American studies, we were just doing something different.  

    Bordighera Poetry Prize
    November 3, 2011 - 6.00 p.m.
    Location: John D. Calandra Italian American Institute
    Featuring 2011 winner John Ortenzio Bargowski and 2010 winner Matthew Cariello
    Hosted by Daniela Gioseffi (Founding Coordinator) and Alfredo de Palchi (Trustee, Sonia Raiziss-Giop Foundation). Followed by a wine and refreshments reception. 

  • Life & People

    Italian Newyorkers @ Casa Italiana

    ITALIAN VERSION

    “Italians are unique geniuses who, together, form a politically disorderly population... So surprising a group to create problems when trying to make an overall assessment”. To paraphrase the late Alberto Lattuada seems like a good idea to help understand what's behind the latest book by Maurizio Molinari.

    In his “Gli Italiani di New York” (The Italians of New York), the journalist runs through a number of important Italian names of New York, from the Dean of the John D. Calandra Institute Anthony J. Tamburri to LoCicero, a Korean War veteran of the Air Force, from Nicola Gallotti, general manager of the Geneva Watch Group to Sirio Maccioni, owner of luxury restaurant Le Cirque.

    And last Wednesday, in the auditorium of NYU's Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò many of them were present at the book presentation. Some were visibly proud to have been chosen.

    On stage, together with Molinari, were six of the protagonists of his work, Matilda Cuomo, Italo “Al” Barozzi, Federico Mennella, Antonio Monda, Gaetano Pesce and Cesare Casella.

    Director Stefano Albertini, as usual, welcomed the first guest, Massimo Gaggi, New York correspondent for Il Corriere della Sera, who moderated this evening tinged with green-white-and-red.

    The journalist briefly introduced the book to the public begore giving the stage to Matilda Cuomo, a leading figure of the Italian-American community of New York, president of Mentoring USA, wife of the former Governor of New York, and mother of the present one.

    The ex-First Lady spoke passionately about her Italian-American family, beginning with the many sacrifices her Italian parents had to make when encountering the fist difficulties of a less welcoming America. She also spoke about her husband's political passion, her son's commitment, and her first person work towards the more needy citizens through Mentoring USA.

    Gaetano Pesce is undoubtedly a very famous artist, an architect who “emigrated” to America 35 years ago. The public was able to enjoy his ability as a great narrator, as well, when he talked about the creativity of the Italian people. Among the anecdotes, Pesce gave a few details about his fantastic project for the Messina bridge, “we mustn't imitate the Americans and build a second Golden Gate”, joking about the custom of being competitive about who builds the “longest” bridge.

    His idea refers to an inhabited bridge in the shape of an “S”, as in the word Sicily, held up by pillars that could become homes and hotels, each one built after a typicality of each Italian region.

    There was also room for religion during this all-Italian event. New York priest Italo “Al” Barozzi explained how frequently Italians hurt their own image by creating and consolidating the same stereotypes all the time. He was joined in this by chef Cesare Casella of the Salumeria Rosi, speaker for the culinary excellence of Italy who complained about a gradual decrease in the numbers of Italian restaurants that use actual Italian ingredients, while we witness an increase of French or American restaurants who can boast the best Italian products.

    Frequent guest at Casa Italiana is professor Antonio Monda, who teaches cinema at NYU. He went slightly against the current when explaining, with a bit of sadness, the slow death of Italian cinema, at least the one produced back home. He bitterly explained the slow decline of the industry, speaking about the gradual emigration of good Italian directors to the United States and in the rest of the world. Paolo Sorrentino over all.

    Finance is also present in Molinari's book, and wa represented on stage by Federico Mennella, managing director of Lincoln International, who spoke about how, during the last twenty years, a gradual abandoning of the American scene took place among the great names of Italian business, such as Olivetti, BNL and many others. He confessed to be greatly saddened by the situation among the younger generations, today, since most Italian talents are hired by foreign companies.

    The final words were spoken by the author who thanked all his “protagonists” and concluded the evening stating that, after having collected all these successful Italian experiences in New York, he reached the conclusion that the true Italian characteristic is “always doing your best”.

    With a tinge of unhappiness, answering a question, he said that the book was received coldly in Italy. Molinari thinks that the wound caused by Italians succeeding abroad is deeper than what appears because of the absence of a deep reflection. “If you love your country and your people, you must push towards a reflection about it”, he concluded.

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