Articles by: Francesca Giuliani

  • Events: Reports

    Congratulations Class of 2012! La Scuola d’Italia Celebrates its Graduates

    On June 29, the Consulate General of Italy in New York hosted a graduation ceremony for La Scuola d’Italia’s 12th-graders who just successfully passed their final exam.

    The exam is referred to in Italian as “the maturity exam,” or “maturità,” and it marks a very important milestone in the academic life of Italian students. Through the examination, the students have to prove themselves mature enough to enter the world of college education and adult life.

    The 13 students who took the exam this year at La Scuola d’Italia all scored very high marks, and were complimented for their results by the examining commission (composed of professors both from La Scuola d’Italia and other international Italian schools around the world and presided by Professor Roberto Pennazzato), by Head Mistress Anna Fiore, by Consul General of Italy in New York Natalia Quintavalle and by Vice Chairman of La Scuola’s Board of Trustees Steve Acunto.

    La Scuola d’Italia Guglielmo Marconi was founded in 1977 by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and it is recognized by the Italian Ministry of Education. La Scuola is also accredited by the New York State Association of Independent Schools and chartered by the Regents of the University of the State of New York.

    The only bilingual educational institution in North America, La Scuola offers its students the unique opportunity to study with an English and Italian curriculum, combining the best of American and Italian educational systems from Preschool to High School (Liceo). La Scuola’s education is multicultural and classical at the same time, and it is rooted in the European tradition as well as in American culture.

    “We have challenged you during these years, we know that,” said Head Mistress Fiore to the graduates, “but by becoming truly conversant with two cultures you have achieved a mind that transcends both. You are now citizens of the world and of the planet Earth.”

    At La Scuola’s Liceo Scientifico, where science and technology are cornerstones of the students’ education, the values of bilingualism are just as important a part of the teachings as the connections between humanities and science are. “As Steve Jobs used to say: that connection is magic, and you always have to keep it in mind to be innovative, creative and compassionate for the human beings and the planet,” Fiore added. 

    Consul Quintavalle congratulated the students for their excellent results: “We are all very proud of you, and by ‘we’ I mean all the representatives of the Italian institutions in New York. You are the best ambassadors for Italy.” Quintavalle also mentioned the student’s participation in many official occasions for the Italian and Italian-American community in New York. Most recently, the students were involved in the celebrations for Italy’s National Day on June 2, when they played Plauto’s Amphitryon in three languages, Italian, English and Latin. “Many of the people I meet for business mention that show to me and ask me with amazement ‘how did they do it?’,” Quintavalle said to the students before the handing out of diplomas began.

    Holding her diploma in her hands, Natalia told i-Italy about her experience at La Scuola: “I attended La Scuola since 6th grande and I had no Italian heritage whatsoever. I was transferred from a catholic school which was closing due to lack of funds. Since 8th grade I am bilingual in Italian and English, it was trying at first but then, with the support of new friends, it’s been smooth sailing ever since.”

    Sherize was in the same class as Natalia when she was transferred to La Scuola, and knew no Italian prior to that: “La Scuola is great! It’s not just a school you go to, it’s a family. I’m so sad it’s over!”

    Rebecca’s mom is fully Italian, but her dad only speaks English: “I attended La Scuola since Pre-K, since I was 3 years old.” Half of the 12th graders had gone through the same journey. “I would like to do an internship in Italy, maybe I’ll go study abroad, but I’m so glad I can speak to my family in Italy now,” she told i-Italy.

    Professor Michael Prater, the coordinator of La Scuola’s High School since 2006, first started as an English Professor at La Scuola in 2002: “I was given the opportunity to study Italian thanks to La Scuola and the Consulate General of Italy in New York. If not by blood, I’m Italian by choice.” 

    Prater discussed with i-Italy about the importance of a bilingual and multicultural education in the USA: “In this country you can get in a car and drive nonstop for days and wherever you’ll stop the people will still speak your language. It’s special and unique but it also makes it different to realize that the world is multifaceted.” That’s why bilingual schools in America serve a much larger purpose: “You don’t know your culture until you know another one. You don’t know yourself until you see yourself in a mirror. Bilingualism teaches you tolerance of all cultures and gives you a sense of objectivity.”

    At the end of the ceremony, an Honorary Diploma di Maturità was awarded to Johnny Toksu, a Turkish-American student of Italian descent from the 2012 class who lost his battle against cancer last Spring, passing away at the age of 17. The diploma was symbolically handed out to Johnny’s classmates. “We tried to transform such a terrible event into a message of hope,” Head Mistress Fiore told i-Italy. “They will accomplish what Johnny would have accomplished in his life. He was a very gifted and sweet boy,” she added.

    To Johnny La Scuola dedicated a Science Lab, where a plaque was laid: “It’s our wish that science will be one day able to defeat the terrible disease that took Johnny from his family and friends,” Fiore concluded.

  • Facts & Stories

    The Diplomacy of Parmigiano: 85 Diplomatic Missions Donate to Emilia-Romagna

    On June 26, 200 wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese from Emilia-Romagna will be delivered to the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Part of the cheese will be distributed to the employees of the Ministry who signed a petition in favor of the earthquake-struck cheese manufacturing plants, part of it will be shipped to 70 Italian Diplomatic Missions abroad, which adhered to the charitable initiative.

    The “Parmigiano-Reggiano Diplomatico” project started only two weeks ago and it already raised almost 100,000 Euros for the cheese manufacturers of Emilia-Romagna. The initiative was promoted by SNDMAE, the union of Italian diplomats, as well as by the Parmigiano-Reggiano Consortium.

    SNDMAE’s President Enrico De Agostini told the Italian press that the project is intended “as a sign of solidarity, and as a demonstration of the fact that the international market can have a crucial role in helping Italy overcome the crisis.”

    The images of the fallen Parmigiano wheels have circulated on all media outlets in the world: “It’s time to diffuse images that tell the world that Emilia is getting back on its feet,” De Agostini added.

    An interesting image will be the one of the wheels being delivered to the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that will be received by the Director of the Parmigiano-Reggiano Consortium Riccardo Deserti. Deserti will symbolically cut a wheel that has fallen during the earthquake without breaking.

    Along with the 70 Italian Diplomatic Missions abroad, 15 nations participated in the fundraising initiative through their Embassies in Rome. Those are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Germany, Japan, Jordan, Pakistan, Romania, San Marino, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and The Netherlands.

    The motto of the “Parmigiano-Reggiano Diplomatico” project will also circulate internationally in the thank-you notes by the Parmigiano-Reggiano Consortium that will accompany the cheese. “The longest lasting flavor is the one of solidarity,” the motto goes.

  • Tourism

    Summer in Narni(a) for 20 American Students: IACE Summer Program 2012

    Yesterday afternoon the Consulate General of Italy in New York hosted a very special award ceremony. The honorees were twenty middle and high school students from the Tristate area studying Italian in public schools affiliated with the Italian American Committee on Education (IACE), who have won the opportunity to participate in a Summer trip to Italy next July thanks to IACE Summer Program.

    Made possible by a joint effort between IACE, the Consulate General of Italy in New York and the Italian Tourism Board, IACE Summer Program is now celebrating its 12 edition. This year, the program will take place in Narni, Umbria, a medieval town in the heart of central Italy made famous in C. S. Lewis’ fantasy book “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

    “Umbria is the green heart of Italy,” said the Italian Tourism Board’s Director Eugenio Magnani to i-Italy, “It’s a very spiritual land, and full of flavor. I am sure the students will appreciate their stay in Narni very much,” he added. The participating students will be taking Italian lessons in the morning and go on sightseeing trips in the afternoon. This year, the students will also be actively involved in the Narnia Arts Festival, and will be able to attend concerts, ballets and cultural activities which will take place in Narni in coincident dates with their Italian Summer Program (July 1 to July 13).

    The idea of binding together the IACE Summer Program with the Narnia Arts Festival sprang from the constant contact between Berardo Paradiso, President of IACE, and Cristiana Pegoraro, Artistic Director of the Festival, whom expressed her excitement for the initiative: “It will be amazing to have kids practicing Italian in Italy while being immersed in a musical and artistic environment. They will have the chance to make friends with other kids who play an instrument or dance, and they will find themselves bonded in the universal language of art.”

    In order to qualify for the Summer Program, the students were asked to produce multimedia projects about Narni. Some of these projects were showcased yesterday at the Award Ceremony at the Consulate, such as the presentation by Jordan Avello, 16, student at Columbia High School in New Jersey.

    Born in a Cuban descent family, Jordan decided to start studying Italian when he got bored with learning Spanish in school, which he already could speak. “It’s been pretty fun to study Italian, this is my second year of classes. I am really excited to go to Narni, I have never left the country before,” Jordan told i-Italy.

    “In our school the Italian language program is more popular than any other language program,” said Professor Susanna Fischer from Ocean County, NJ, receiving the award for her 13 year-old Egyptian-American student Olivia Yasser. “Italian is not a language confined to Italy anymore, it is the language of culture, of arts, of architecture, of fashion, of food,” she added.

    Berardo Paradiso, President of IACE, confirmed the fact that Italian is increasingly becoming an attractive subject of study as it is a means to a fuller understanding of the Italian culture: “UNESCO estimates that Italy holds 67% of the world’s culture. Italian is no longer an ethnic language, it’s the language of culture. IACE has over 42,000 students in the Tristate area, and kids now say that Italian is cool, because it helps them understanding art, Opera, food, fashion and so on.”

    Consul General Natalia Quintavalle, who awarded the students with their diplomas, was pleased with how Italian has become an appealing subject for so many students who have no family ties with Italy: “They must have become passionate about Italy through other channels, and it’s something very impressive. It is really great to know that there is such a deep interest for the Italian language and culture, and the IACE courses are having an extraordinary success.” About the Summer Program, Consul Quintavalle told i-Italy: “I am sure these students will cherish this experience in their memory for a very long time, and I hope they will come back to the US even more motivated to continue studying Italian.”

    The importance of studying Italian for students of Italian descent is still very much felt. Scott Trivella and Joseph Sansone, classmates at Westlake High School in Westchester County, NY, were both born in Italian-American families and learned more about their heritage through their 5 years of Italian classes.

    “My whole family is Italian and I just wanted to learn more about Italy,” Joseph told i-Italy. “I have never been to Italy but I always wanted to go since I was young,” he added.
    His friend Scott has visited Sicily, the homeland of his grandfather, and he is very excited to go back to Italy: “This will be an experience of a lifetime and I can’t wait for it,” he told i-Italy.  
    The students agreed on the fact that Italian is “kinda tough,” but according to Joseph it is “a lot easier to learn it when you have friendly teachers, creating a great learning environment.” Scott said he enjoys reading Italian the most: “I like to see it on paper, I like to be able to pronounce words.”

    Professor Alfred Valentini has worked with IACE since 1999 and has been the chaperon of the Summer Program students for many years. “They usually behave very well,” he told i-Italy, “they are very interested in Italian with practical purposes and personal ones.”

    As far as the practical purposes are concerned, Cathy Vignale, President of the Italian Teachers Association of New Jersey, told i-Italy about the significant impact of the Advanced Placement Program in motivating more and more students to choose Italian as a subject of study. “All of the kids who have been on these Summer trips to Italy go back to Italy sooner or later in their academic life,” she added.

    The importance of teaching Italian to the younger generations is deeply felt by the Italian institutions in Italy as well. Silvana Mangione, Deputy Secretary General at the General Council of Italians Abroad and Board Member of IACE, told i-Italy about how this goal is at the core of the General Council of Italians Abroad’s activity, and anticipated the fact that in November 2012 an international convention on the subject will be held in Rome, 7 years after the historical convention of Montecatini where the strategy for the teaching of Italian language was established.

  • Facts & Stories

    “You Speak About Freedom but You Don’t Respect Ours”: A Parish Reprimands Beppe Grillo

    Beppe Grillo’s most recent political rally was held two days ago in Alghero, Sardinia, and was subject to an unpredicted interruption. The parish of the local church, Don Tonino Manca, went on stage to reprimand Grillo about the noise from the square, “so loud we can’t officiate the mass.”

    Grillo, Italian comedian who converted to political muckraking and blogging, is the ideological leader of the Five Star Movement, a grass-roots political phenomenon born in 2009 that is quickly gaining unprecedented levels of popularity among the Italian electorate, increasingly fed up with traditional parties and a fractured political arena.

    Grillo’s rally in Alghero was held to support the Five Star Movement’s candidates to the municipal elections, which will take place on June 10 and 11.

    Committed to the promotion of participative democracy through the use of internet-based tools and through constant feedback, Five Star Movement had four of its candidates elected mayor in the last administrative elections held in May – the average age of the FSM mayors is 31, about half the average age of Italy’s MPs.

    According to a recent Demos survey, Five Star Movement is the third political party in Italy, with a rating of 16.5% against People of Liberty’s 17.4% and Democratic Party’s 27.5%.

    Sometimes, however, advocating for democracy in the squares of Italy might turn out into anti-democratic behaviors towards those who work in the close surroundings. It was the case with Don Manca, from the nearby Church of the Mercede in Alghero.

    Wearing his cassock, Don Manca appeared on stage next to Grillo, complaining about the disturbance the rally was causing to the worshippers attending the mass: “You speak about freedom but you don’t respect ours. You have bothered us for half an hour!”

    Interviewed by Italian news outlet TgCom24, Don Manca explained that he was extremely pacified when he went onstage, “but Grillo was very nervous, as a primadonna he is good at conducting his show, not at having a dialogue. Except that politics are not a show.” 

    When Don Manca mentioned to Grillo that they had previously met at the “Rock Café,” Grillo made a joke and said Manca was "the local pusher there".

    “I used to work in rehabs, that was a serious offense. Grillo can’t see beyond his nose and he should open his mind and his heart,” the parish commented.

  • Events: Reports

    Viva La Mamma! An Italian-American Homage to Mother Italy.

    On May 11, the Italian Heritage and Culture Committee celebrated the annual Mother’s Day ceremony at the Mother Italy Statue at Hunter College

    This year’s ceremony was a very special one, as it marked the day in which the moral responsibility of the statue was passed from Supreme Court Justice Dominic Massaro to the Italian Heritage and Culture Committee. 

    Joseph Sciame, President and Chair of IHCC-NY, told i-Italy that “It is wonderful to promise that annually we will come here on Mother’s Day weekend and on Columbus Day weekend to have these ceremonies which bring attention to our Italian and Italian-American heritage.”

    Sciame added: “I think it is a wonderful opportunity for us and I’m proud for our board that such a decision was made to have us take on what we call the ‘moral responsibility’ of this artwork.”

    The Mother Italy Statue, completed in 1953 by Italian sculptor Giuseppe Massari, expresses the struggles of the Italian youth as immigrants, and perpetuates the past with the figures of Columbus and Dante, located at the two sides of the bronze artwork.

    A remarkable cultural piece, the statue has passed over the years through the hands of sculptor Massari to a noted resident of the Bronx, Nicola Brunori, then it was shepherded by Justice Dominic Massaro, and restored in 1990 with the help of the Italian Historical Society of America. The statue finally found a permanent collocation in Hunter College’s Poses Park, where it was placed on June 26, 2000.

    Justice Massaro attended the ceremony, and elaborated with i-Italy on the symbolic importance of the Mother Italy Statue for the Italian-American community: “Each of the figures of the monument expresses the making of the American Dream. Mother Italy represents all of the mothers who sent their children here to make our country such a great one. America’s greatest strength lies in the fact that we have enjoyed all of these people, who came here to give their contribution through their hard work.”

    The ceremony was also the occasion to honor a proud Italian mother and a woman whose active role in representing contemporary Italy had her quickly earning the respect and the affection of the Italian and Italian-American community in New York, Consul General of Italy to New York Natalia Quintavalle.

    Calling Quintavalle at the podium, Sciame defined her as “a woman of achievement and a happy person,” and Quintavalle confirmed about her happiness in her speech: “I am happy to live in this city where I always wanted to live, and to receive this honor in the name of the Italian mothers, a group of which I am very proud to be part.”

    Quintavalle told i-Italy that if on the one hand “it is true that the situation for mothers in Italy is not as good as we all wish it would be,” on the other hand “Italian women are extremely strong, creative and persistent, and that’s probably why they have to bear so much of the weight of our society on their shoulders. However, a lot is being done to bridge that gap in the protection of mothers, especially as far as work life is concerned, that Italy still has compared to other European nations. It is time for Italian women to conquer more social guarantees.”

  • Facts & Stories

    When Turkey and Italy Do Business in New York: A Conversation with Ali Babacan, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey

    On May 18, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic and Financial Affairs of Turkey Ali Babacan met Italian and Italian-American businessmen and press at the Italian Trade Commission’s office in New York.

    Organized by the Confederation of Italian Entrepreneurs Worldwide (CIIM) -- specifically by CIIM’s Eur-Asia-Med division -- the meeting took place two weeks after the Italy-Turkey Economy Forum in Istanbul, an important international platform for the strengthening of links between Italian and Turkish firms, and shortly after Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Italy, on May 8, when Erdogan met Italian Premier Mario Monti and President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano.

    “I am sure that this meeting will be another important step to enlarge and strengthen the cooperation between Italy and Turkey, also thanks to the Italian-American business community in New York,” stated Italian Trade Commissioner Aniello Musella in his introductory remarks.

    Ali Babacan described the situation of the Turkish economy and underlined the development goals Turkey has accomplished over the last five years. Turkey is growing at an annual rate of 8.5% in 2011. The country is already the world’s 16th economy and aims to become 8th over the next 10 years. The pro capita GDP of Turkey will grow from $ 10,000 to over $ 20,000 by 2023. 

    Turkey performed very well in 2008 and 2009, the toughest years of the most recent global financial crisis. Babacan explained that it is because of the ameliorated public system and the restructuring of financial laws, in particular those regulating the activities of banks: “Turkey made giant steps in the last few years, we have a stronger democracy, a stronger respect for civil rights, a better healthcare, but especially a very stable economy. Our banking rules are more severe than the ones of Europe and the US,” he stated in his speech.

    Babacan was introduced by CIIM Eur-Asia-Med’s President Aldo Kaslowski, former President of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Istanbul and member of Tüsiad, Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen Association, who described him as “the artifex of the economic goals achieved by Turkey, including the establishment of important synergies with the nearby countries and Italy especially.”

    Italian investment in Turkey began over 50 years ago with groups such as FIAT, Unicredit and Pirelli paving the way. More than 900 Italian enterprises are currently operating in Turkey, Italy’s 4th commercial partner, with trade amounting to 21.3 billion dollars in 2011, with an 18% increment from 2010.

    The privileged position of Turkey in the international scenario was a very important point of Babacan’s presentation of Turkey, and a very enticing one for the attending businessmen, who were curious to learn more about it. Turkey is in fact the gateway between Europe and the Middle East, and is strengthening its relationships with African countries as well. The Turkish Embassies in Africa will be 33 by the end of 2012, and Turkish Airlines, now the third largest airline company of Europe, now has regular flights from Istanbul to Addis Ababa, Dakar, Johannesburg, Nairobi and Lagos, seeking to turn Istanbul into a major hub for African travelers. 

    The strategic position of  Turkey is the reason why the World Bank’s IFC opened a regional office in Istanbul, and Coca Cola Company is managing 93 countries from their Istanbul office, including India.

    As far as the EU accession of Turkey is concerned, answering to a question by Deputy Consul Dino Sorrentino about the state of the process initiated in 2004, Babacan stated: “We will of course bring our views into the Union, but we believe they will contribute to its richness.”

    On the future of the bilateral relations between Turkey and Italy, Babacan commented: “Our relationship is excellent, we are friends and we are perfect strategic partners.”

  • Life & People

    Princess Giulia Ghirardi Borghese Appointed Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic

    On May 15, Italian Ambassador to the United States Claudio Bisogniero conferred the honor of “Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic” to Princess Giulia Ghirardi Borghese, Ambassador of San Marino to the Bahamas.

    The Princess is awarded the rank of Knight by decree of President Giorgio Napolitano for her life-long commitment to the promotion of Italian culture and arts in the world.

    Borghese has always been an active supporter of Italian cultural institutions around the world, particularly in Mexico and in the United States, and now in the Bahamas, given her current diplomatic mission to the country.

    Borghese received the appointment as Knight after organizing a one year-long exhibition, titled “Paintings from the Accademia Carrara,” which took place in the Embassy of Italy to the United States in the year of the 150th Anniversary of the Unity of Italy.

    The investiture of Princess Borghese took place in the Consulate General of Italy to New York, in the presence of close friends and family. Deputy Consul General Laura Aghilarre greeted the guests on behalf of Consul General Natalia Quintavalle, on an official visit to Connecticut with Italian Minister of Justice Paola Severino.

    Honoring Borghese, Ambassador Bisogniero commented on how intense her dedication to the promotion of Italian culture and arts has always been, and noted how her contribution to the promotion of the Italian artistic heritage was never limited to the ancient glories, but always focused on making contemporary Italian artists such as Guttuso and De Chirico known worldwide.

    “Princess Borghese did so many important things for Italy, and even for this very building: she in fact contributed to the restoration of the Italian Cultural Institute, where one of the exhibition spaces, the one that normally hosts photographic exhibitions, is dedicated to her name,” the Ambassador commented.

    In his remarks, Bisogniero auspicated that the Princess will be actively involved in the works for 2013, the Year of Italian Culture in the United States.

    “I am very happy and honored to receive this decoration, especially since I haven’t been in Italy in a very long time,” Princess Borghese told i-Italy.

    “I truly believe that culture is the most efficient means to promote integration and peace in the world,” she added.

  • Facts & Stories

    Italian Minister of Justice Paola Severino's Visit to the US: A Recap.

    Italian Minister of Justice Paola Severino’s visit to the United States was an occasion for the Monti government to update the American institutions and stakeholders with the first positive results of the improvement measures adopted so far in Italy.

    Severino’s trip to the US followed the blueprint of Prime Minister Mario Monti’s first official visit to the country, last November, when he presented President Obama, the Wall Street investors and the Italian-American community with his government’s plan for a new and improved Italy.

    In a meeting with the representatives of the Italian press and the Italian-American community held Tuesday afternoon at the Consulate General of Italy to New York, where she was introduced by Consul General Natalia Quintavalle to the notables of the community, Severino stressed the fruitfulness of the austerity measures adopted by the Monti Government, which are being paired with a rationalization of the justice system in Italy, as “Economy and Justice thrive together,” and stated that “After asking the Italian people great sacrifices to contribute to the rebirth of their country, now Italy is in a second phase, the one of growth.”

    According to Severino, “Italy’s economy is more resistant than other economies because it relies on a characteristic of Italians: they are healthy investors, they save their money and invest in tangible things, such as their homes, while they produce tangible goods that are globally appreciated.” 

    The NYSE investors, Severino told the Italian press, have shown great interest in the particular features of Italy’s economic structure, and needed to be reassured on the certainty of law, as well as on the efficiency of justice. “I did not come to New York just to ask investors to come back to Italy with promises, I discussed with them about laws we already approved.” 

    Severino referred to the new Business Courts’ model that is being implemented in Italy, together with a rationalization of the geography of courts throughout the country, allowing a better allocation of human and financial resources and an improved responsiveness of justice for businesses. “Today you can invest in Italy because it is an improved country,” the Minister stated.

    Severino’s visit also represented an important chance for Italy to learn from the US justice system.

    Her tour of the Garner Correctional Institute in Connecticut -- after which the Minister also found the time to meet with the Italian-American women of NOIAW -- was an occasion to discuss successful strategies to tackle the issue of overcrowding in penitentiaries, and her meetings at the Family Court in Manhattan provided Severino with useful information on such institution, which might inspire the future plans of the government as far as family jurisdiction is concerned. 

    Italy, however, is also ready to share its knowledge and experience in fighting organized crime, a battle that has to be taken to an international level with even stronger commitments
    on the part of the world’s governments.

    Severino’s participation in the UN General Assembly’s Thematic Debate on Security in Latin America has been a very important occasion to draw attention on this subject, that once again highlights the deep interconnection between justice and economy. 

    “The eradication of mafia is based on the sequestration and confiscation of the organization’s patrimonies,” Severino stated, remembering Magistrate Giovanni Falcone, killed by the mafia in 1992, whom had the intuition of how important a means to defeat organized crime was the tackling of their economic resources.

    “In my speech at the United Nations I will explicitly mention Falcone,” Severino told the Italian press at the Consulate General of Italy.

    At the UN, Severino was accompanied by Anti-Mafia Procurator Piero Grasso, whom also mentioned Falcone in his speech: "Next week we will honor the twentieth anniversary of Falcone's heroic death, and I can only imagine how pleased he would be with today's renewed attention to the issues outlined in the Palermo Convention against organized crime he so strongly pushed for."

    “The Italian war against mafia is something we must be proud of, and that we must be credited for,” she added in her speech to the Italian-American community, while elaborating on the importance of Italian-Americans as testimonies of this and of the values that characterize Italy as a nation.

    “Italian-Americans are people who have found in the culture of merit their realization,” the Minister told the representatives of the Italian-American community at the Italian Consulate.

    “Your ties with Italy are unbreakable but they never kept you from deeply rooting yourselves into the American society. This way of being in two worlds makes you privileged testimonies of Italy’s belief in meritocracy: your parents believed in meritocracy when they decided to come to this country, which offers great opportunities to those who deserve them. For all this you are the most important testimonials of the efforts of the Italian government, which is thankful for your action and your contribution to the growth of Italy,” Severino added.

  • Facts & Stories

    Italian Minister of Justice Paola Severino To Visit the US Next Week

    Italian Minister of Justice Paola Severino will visit the United States from May 13 to May 16. 

    During her stay, Severino will first tour the Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown, Connecticut, accompanied by Department of Correction Commissioner Leo Arnone. Severino will also meet Governor of Connecticut Daniel Malloy and will encounter representatives from the National Organization of Italian American Women in Hartford. 

    Upon her return to New York City in the late afternoon of May 14, Minister Severino will be at the Metropolitan Museum for the inauguration of the exhibition: “Bellini, Titian and Lotto: North Italian Paintings from Accademia Carrara.”

    On May 15, Severino will visit the Family Court of Manhattan and meet the Administrative Judge Edwina Richardson. In the afternoon she will be meeting the press at the Consulate General of Italy to New York

    The following day, Minister Severino will participate in the United Nations General Assembly thematic debate on security in Central America as a regional and global challenge, together with the Justice and Foreign Affairs Ministers of Central American states.

    Severino, 63 years old, from Naples, is the first woman in the history of the Italian Republic to be appointed Minister of Justice. 

    A graduate in Law from La Sapienza University of Rome, class of 1971, she was a researcher at the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (National Council of Research) from 1972 to 1975, and an Assistant Professor at La Sapienza from 1975 to 1987. She then transferred to Perugia University where she taught Penal Commercial Law in the faculty of Economics. From 1997 to 2001 she was the first woman Vice President of the Superior Council of Military Magistracy. She also worked in the staff of Giovanni Maria Flick, former President of the Italian Constitutional Court.

    Before her appointment as Minister, Severino was a Professor of Penal Law at the School for Carabinieri Officers, Pro-Rector Vicar at LUISS Guido Carli University in Rome, and one of Italy’s top criminal lawyers. 

    Severino defended former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi in the Cirio-Bertolli-De Rica case, financier Cesare Geronzi in the Cirio bankruptcy case, Fininvest’s lawyer Giovanni Acampora in the Imi-Sir case, financier Francesco Gaetano Caltagirone in the Enimont case and the Union of the Jewish Communities against former SS officer Erich Priebke.  

    Considered one of Italy’s wealthiest public sector managers since the years of her appointment as Vice President of the Superior Council of Military Magistracy, Severino recently topped the list of the Monti Government’s members as far as wealth is concerned. In the voluntarily divulged information on the ministers’ assets and earnings, Severino scored first with an income of 7 million Euros in 2011. 

    Severino’s efforts as Minister are currently focused on the restructuring of the Italian courts’ system by merging or closing branches, which upon completion should save Italy over 80 million Euros. In February, Severino’s reform of the Italian prison system was approved by the Parliament: the decree will ease the pressure on the country’s overcrowded penitentiary institutions by releasing 30,000 low risk convicts, and allowing some to serve the final 18-months of their sentence at home.

  • Facts & Stories

    Goodbye Rai Corporation: Laid-Off Workers Protest and File Suit Against Company

    This morning, the laid-off workers of Rai Corporation are protesting in front of the Italian Consulate on Park Avenue, giving out flyers to the passers-by that describe their situation: they have been left without a job, health insurance and unemployment compensation. 

    They are 38 in total. Some of them had been working for the company from its early years of activity. 

    Rai Corporation was founded on January 20, 1960, and has been a witness of the American life for the Italian audience ever since. While the company’s assets will be auctioned online from May 2 to May 3, there is no final decision on the destiny of Rai Corporation’s video archive.
    Heritage Global Partners, the company managing the auction, warns on its website that the facility, located on the 25th floor of the AT&T Building in Tribeca, must be cleared by May 14. 

    Many of the workers have also lost their legal immigration status, as they were hired with work visas sponsored by Rai Corporation, which officially closed on April 12. 

    The protesters are wearing the red t-shirts from the Nabet CWA union, whose lawyers have filed against Rai at the National Labor Relations Board, for anti-union behavior.

    The protest will continue with a bigger demonstration planned for May 1st, a date that in Italy marks the National Workers Day, celebrated with public events and concerts throughout the country. 

    “It will all end up in a long court battle which will be entirely paid for by Italian tax-payers,” says Lorenzo Piccolo, former video-editor at Rai Corporation, to the Corriere della Sera New York correspondent Alessandra Farkas. Rai is in fact a state owned public service broadcaster, funded with public money and only partially with advertising revenues. 

    The decision to dismiss the foreign bureaus of Rai is motivated with the need for budgetary cuts by the Administration Board, which also closed offices in Montevideo, Los Angeles and Canada. However, a corporate statement the Rai Corporation workers received last January reassured them of Rai’s intention to strengthen its network in North America, by opening another bureau in Washington, DC.

    The only individuals exempted from the restructuring are the newscast correspondents Dino Cerri, Gerardo Greco, Giovanna Botteri and Olga Cortese, who were transferred to Associated Press. “They are working through an expensive subcontract with the service provider ‘Media Kite,’ owned by Francesco Malatesta, former Rai Corporation employee and husband of a Rai journalist,” the laid-off workers told the Italian press, alluding to a conflict of interest.

    The former employees crafted their own rescue package for Rai Corporation which proposed a plan that avoided closing the New York office. Cameraman Tony Cerullo told America Oggi that the plan would have saved to the company even more than what they are spending now through AP.

    “Rai’s lawyer left that meeting saying that the company didn’t want to discuss with us. They raised a wall. Rai Corporation is a product of Rai, but they are treating us like Martians.”

    “This is Rai’s way to thank us for our professionalism,” say the protesters to La Stampa’s reporter Glauco Maggi. “During the Gulf War they asked us to sleep in the office to give the news earlier than Mediaset. Now Rai is leaving the US while Mediaset wants to open offices in New York City and Washington DC.”