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Articles by: Francesca Giuliani

  • Facts & Stories

    Is the EU Technocracy-Ailed? A Conversation with Federico Rampini

    The history and mission of the European Union might not be a comfortable subject for the average American, and understanding the current hurdles the EU is facing is complicated even for those who are in-the-know about overseas political matters.

    Born in the aftermath of World World II as an economical and political platform to help secure peace and ensure growth in the continent, the European Union grew from 6 founding members to 27, homogenizing the markets and deeply reshaping the structure of power on the national level, although it never completely transitioned to a fully federal institution, which would imply greater sovereignty cessions from the national level to the legislative bodies of the EU.

    Institutions such as the European Parliament are still not powerful enough when compared to the Union’s centers of economic power, and technical matters seem to be preponderant over representativeness related issues. In other words, as of now the EU seems to be more of a super-national technocracy than an actual higher-level democracy in the continent, and the current internal divisions between virtuous states (Germany) and ailed ones (Greece) confirm this.  

    Italian journalist Federico Rampini, New York bureau chief of La Repubblica, discussed the topic in a public lecture at Columbia Law School on February 16.

    “Is Democracy On The Retreat?” is the question that Rampini posed to his audience on the occasion, elaborating on the stringent call on all the member states to austerity measures by technocratic institutions such as the European Central Bank and the European Commission, but especially by Germany, a nation whose cradle-to-the-grave social system is significant and strong, therefore expensive.
    Why is Germany asking its EU partners to be less and less like Germany?

    In Rampini’s opinion it is because the German tax payers “feel like others are cheating.” In fact, under Schroeder’s guidance, they had to sacrifice by trimming inefficiencies and have a leaner welfare state, encouraging a better cooperation between government, unions and businesses. State capitalism with a high role for governments is not as successful in the Mediterranean countries, where bureaucracies are huge, the social capital is low and tax fraud is extremely common: “Blue collar workers in Germany don’t think it’s fair to spend money on lazy Greeks. The trust among member states is weakened,” Rampini says.  

    The way to reestablish mutual trust in the Union, and especially in the Eurozone, seems to be the one of enforcing a system of financial firewalls. The so called European Financial Stability Facility is a 500 billion euro permanent rescue funding program “perceived as a weapon to insulate big countries from Greece,” Rampini comments. 

    The solution proposed to rescue the Union from the crisis is once again an economic maneuver instead of a reshaped political agenda, but since “taxation without representation just doesn’t work,” the now euro-skeptical Germans are fine with delegating to a super-national technocracy, saving money and trying to isolate the Mediterranean debt contagion. 

    The European institutional framework, Rampini explains, presented a lot of “unfinished business” before the crisis began. The missed chance of creating a federalist union is the reason why unaccountable technocratic institutions such as the ECB are now in charge of dealing with parliaments and dictating the conditions of their European membership.

    According to the Italian journalist: “The problem with Greece is Germany, who is dealing with it as if it were the European Parliament. The European Parliament should be empowered prior to fiscal integration, that will lead to a real fiscal solidarity and to a new fiscal compact.”

    Too concerned with sanitizing its markets and tallying each members’ requested efforts for the salvage of the common boat, Europe is missing out on its role as a global player: “The Arab Spring needs a univocal voice from the EU,” Rampini argues. 

    Seen under this light, the newly ameliorated Italian situation seems paradoxical. The antidote of technocracy, represented by Mario Monti’s government, was inoculated at the national level for quicker and more effective results. The technocratic executive tidying up Italy’s public finances suits the Union’s needs for a politically-hygienic situation, ensuring the enforcement of austerity measures that would be hard to apply for any democratically elected government.

    “The Italian situation is paradoxical as a technocratic government represents a stretch of democracy, although it has parliamentary legitimacy, it has a precise time lapse and a specific mission, and it has been dictated by an extraordinary situation just as it happened in Greece. It might convert into a political government, as there are rumors about Monti running as a candidate in the next elections, but it surely represents an anomalous, unhealthy situation as of now,” Rampini tells i-Italy.

    Technocracy, the journalist adds, “is a shortcut to hide for a moment the nature of certain problems, such as the social distribution of sacrifices. Those were necessary in Italy, as they have been in France and Germany and are in Greece, but the solutions adopted by a technocratic government seem inevitable, as if its decisions were socially neutral. Deciding which social group should bear the weight of the austerity measures more than others is an exquisitely political matter, which should not be delegated to a technocrat, not even the most honest and competent.”

    Rampini tells i-Italy he is impatient to finally see the Italian democracy working again. “I believe that there is an ongoing debate between left-wing forces and right-wing forces, and that it will lead to a different balancing of the social weight of the sacrifices that are needed in the future.”

    After following Mario Monti during his recent visit to the United States, Rampini has witnessed the American acknowledgement of Monti’s new role in Europe. “Obama has surely seen the rise of the Monti government as a step forward against the risk of an Italian default, which would have terrible repercussions on the American economy and on the global markets. Italy’s reputation on the market has drastically changed over the last two months, many investors are now willing to purchase Italian Government Bonds without expecting the same skyrocketing returns they were requesting before.”

    But Obama is also cognizant of the recession risks that the European technocrats are exposing the Union to: “He is criticizing the EU policies from a left-wing point of view. For months he’s been suggesting, and I believe the figures are proving him right, that austerity policies can’t solve the job market’s crisis and fix public finances if GDPs keep plunging. It is a well-grounded criticism to the policies inspired by Angela Merkel and adopted by technocratic institutions such as the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission. These policies seem socially neutral, but they are not.” 

  • Art & Culture

    Amerigo's America: The New World Honors Vespucci's Ingenuity

    America owes its name to Italian explorer and adventurer Amerigo Vespucci. Vespucci arrived here in 1497, five years after Christopher Columbus did, but he was the first to realize this was not a part of Asia, rather a “New World.”

    Five hundred years after Vespucci’s death, his ingenuity and entrepreneurial talent are being celebrated with a bilingual exhibition titled “Amerigo’s America (1512-2012), Florence and the Merchants of the New World.”

    Organized by Fiorentini Nel Mondo -- the association of Florentines in the world -- and by the European School of Economics in Florence, “Amerigo’s America” will open at St. John’s University on February 22, the exact date that marks the 500th anniversary of the death of the Florentine navigator.

    The New York edition of the exhibit (which will be moved to Florence on March 25 and to Tokyo in October 2012) has an extremely symbolic meaning.

    Joseph Sciame, Vice President for Community Relations at St. John’s and Chairman of St. John’s Italian Culture Center, defines it “a once in a lifetime exhibit,” and he looks forward for it to be visited “by the Italian-American community, that through it will be able to understand the contribution of the Florentine world to the greater world in which we live today.” Sciame, who is also the President and Chairman of the Italian Heritage and Culture Committee, says he’s “doubly involved in the exhibition,” as this year “the Committee will honor the achievements of Vespucci in a special way.”

    Francesco Bardazzi, Fiorentini Nel Mondo’s delegate to New York City, told i-Italy about the importance of a historical figure such as Vespucci, who was not only an explorer, but especially a businessman: “Vespucci was a representative of great economic interests of important families such as the Medici of Florence, but he was also in touch with the Spanish court of Seville and with the French kingdom.”

    The discovery of America has itself been an entrepreneurial activity, Bardazzi argues, and Florence “was the New York of that time, the financial capital of the world.”

    The culture of the Florentine merchants throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries is a central theme of the exhibit, and it is further analyzed in an essay by Andrea Galluzzo, President of Fiorentini Nel Mondo, which provides useful elements to analyze the history of geographical explorations through the lens of economic history.

    The exhibit was also made possible by the co-sponsorship of CUNY's John D. Calandra Italian/American Institute and by the support of the New York group of Toscani Nel Mondo, headed by Joan Marchi Migliori. “Although we are a smaller group here than in California, where Tuscans would emigrate to most frequently, we are hoping to enlarge our group to a younger membership, which will be open to ‘friends’ of Tuscany as well.”

    Tuscany’s appeal to Americans goes far beyond family heritage and history, Migliori and Bardazzi explain. “More than 30,000 American students every year choose to spend a semester in Florence, a city of 400,000 people. They represent 10% of it, and they prefer it to other destinations in Italy such as Rome.”

    The opening of the exhibition will be anticipated by a conference, which will be held at St. John’s University’s Manhattan Campus at 6 pm on February 22.

    The conference will feature guest speakers such as President of Fiorentini Nel Mondo Andrea Galluzzo, Academic Director of European School of Economics Stefano Cordero di Montezemolo, Madrid delegate of Fiorentini Nel Mondo Stefano Rosi Galli and New York delegate Francesco Bardazzi. The conference will be moderated by Dean of Calandra Italian/American Institute Anthony Julian Tamburri and the presence of Consul General of Italy Natalia Quintavalle and of St. John’s Joseph Sciame is also expected.

    Registration to the conference and opening of the exhibit is required.
    To register, call Calandra Institute at 212 642 2094 or email Joan Migliori at [email protected].

    The exhibition will be open to the public from February 28 to March 2.

    Download all the info below.

  • Facts & Stories

    Mario Monti Meets the Italian and Italian-American Community in New York

    President Monti’s first visit to the United States ended yesterday night at Park Avenue, where he met with representatives of the Italian and Italian-American community at the Consulate General of Italy.

    With him were Foreign Affairs Minister and former Ambassador of Italy to the US Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, and the newly appointed Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero, at his first official meeting with the community.

    The day before, Monti had addressed the Italians and Italian-Americans at the White House during a press conference held after the bilateral meeting with President of the United States Barack Obama.

    On that occasion, Monti said in Italian to be aware of the primary role of the Italian and Italian-American community in the history of America, and he declared: “I hope that the progress we are making in Italy will make every Italian and Italian-American citizen more proud of his Italian heritage.”

    The increased international credibility of Italy and the revamped pride of being Italian are the main reasons why the representatives of the Italian and Italian-American community are grateful to the President.

    To greet him at the Consulate, together with the whole staff and the representatives of the institutions of "Sistema Italia", were prominent exponents of the Italian and Italian-American communities.

    “For the first time a representative of the Italian government is seen as a testimonial of Europe as a whole,” said Claudio Angelini, President of the Dante Alighieri Society in New York and former RAI news correspondent. “Italy was considered the ailing body of Europe, but thanks to Monti this is not true anymore, to the point that America attributes to Italy today a representational role in the European Union.” 

    Anthony Julian Tamburri, Dean of John D. Calandra Italian/American Institute at CUNY, agrees: “Monti restored the image of Italy. The presence of Foreign Affairs Minister Giulio Terzi is also a sign that the role of Italians abroad will be more recognized too.”

    “What was desperately needed was a new Italian Premier,” said former New York State’s governor Mario Cuomo.
    “Monti is a very distinguished man, he speaks the language here but understands more than just the language. People in the United States have not yet come to understand how important Italy is to us. We’re so proud of the US that we think we don’t need anybody else, but we need all of Europe to be well in order to be great ourselves. Monti is going to be responsible in very large ways for Europe. We’re delighted to see him.”

    Many other guests expressed similar opinions during short video-interviews with i-Italy that will be published shortly.

    Monti was introduced by Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero, who underlined the role of the Italian and Italian-American community as a “multiplier of influence for Italy in the United States” and as “the primary channel to project a different and up-to-date image of our national identity, combining the heritage of the past with the contemporary excellences.”

    Beginning his speech, the Prime Minister defined the meeting as a “significant and intense moment.” He then joked about bringing Minister Terzi back to the United States, saying to have felt “a little guilty subtracting such a personality from the community.”

    Monti remembered the year he spent studying in New Haven, Connecticut, and said that since then he still feels “a part of the Italian presence in the United States.”

    “The great and affectionate participation of this community to the Italian destiny is something moving, gratifying and prideful,” he declared, adding that the achievements of the Italians living in America and of the Italian-Americans are a significant stimulus for Italy, which “with a very atypical government is facing very relevant challenges as far as financial stability, growth and social equality are concerned, but also with regards to an increased, serene but strong presence of Italy in the European and international affairs.”

    Through the modernization of the country and the reestablishment of a more tranquil political dialogue, Italy will not only “have more room for, but a greater duty of giving its contribution to international affairs,” beginning with the European ones, “whose positive and negative repercussions affect it the most.”

    According to Monti, it is pointless to blame Europe for not considering the needs of Italy or for imposing too harsh sacrifices on its population: “We are Europe,” he states, “We are a great component of it, as we are – you are – a great component of the United States.”

    The President’s message to the Italian and Italian-American community is one of gratefulness and encouragement to keep pursuing their goals, valorizing Italian culture and image.

    In the “city of the stock market”, as he describes New York, “we are all part of the same enterprise,” the activities of which “have a common effect,” the one of determining “the quotation of the adjective ‘Italian’ in the world.”

  • Fatti e Storie

    Mario Monti incontra la comunità italiana a New York


    La prima visita del Presidente Monti negli Stati Uniti si è conclusa ieri sera a Park Avenue, dove al Consolato Generale d’Italia il premier ha incontrato gli esponenti delle comunità italiana ed italo-americana. 

    Lo accompagnavano il Ministro degli Esteri Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, già Ambasciatore d’Italia presso gli Stati Uniti prima della nomina ministeriale, e l’Ambasciatore Claudio Bisogniero, alla sua prima apparizione ufficiale presso la comunità.

    Agli italiani e agli italo-americani Monti aveva rivolto un primo importante saluto durante la conferenza stampa tenutasi alla Casa Bianca dopo l’incontro bilaterale con il Presidente degli Stati Uniti Barack Obama.

    In quell’occasione, il Primo Ministro si era espresso in italiano dicendosi consapevole del ruolo fondamentale che la comunità italo-americana ha ricoperto nella storia degli Stati Uniti e dichiarando: “Spero che i progressi che potremo fare nel paese avranno l’effetto di rendere ogni cittadino italiano ed italo-americano più orgoglioso di questa sua componente di italianità”.

    L’accresciuta credibilità internazionale dell’Italia e il risveglio dell’orgoglio di essere italiani sono i principali motivi per cui gli esponenti della comunità italiana ed italo-americana sono grati al Presidente.

    In Consolato ad accoglierlo, insieme al personale della Rappesentanza e gli esponenti del Sistema Italia  erano presenti importanti esponenti della comunità italiana ed italo-americana.

    “Per la prima volta un rappresentante del governo italiano è visto come testimonial non solo del suo paese, ma dell’Europa intera”, ha detto Claudio Angelini me, presidente della Società Dante Alighieri a New York ed ex corrispondente RAI. “L’Italia era considerata il corpo malato d’Europa e grazie a Monti si è riscattata, al punto che l’America le riconosce la titolarità di questo ruolo di rappresentanza dell’Unione Europea”.

    Il Preside del John D. Calandra Institute per gli Studi Italo-americani Anthony Julian Tamburri ha espresso la stessa opinione: “Monti ha restaurato l’immagine dell’Italia. La presenza del Ministro degli Esteri Giulio Terzi è anche indice del fatto che si stia riconoscendo una maggiore importanza al ruolo degli italiani all’estero”.

    “C’era un disperato bisogno di un nuovo leader per l’Italia”, ha affermato l’ex governatore dello stato di New York Mario Cuomo. “Monti è un uomo molto distinto, che parla la nostra lingua ma che capisce l’America molto al di là della conoscenza dell’inglese. Lui sa benissimo quanto un’Italia in buona salute sia importante per gli Stati Uniti. È un concetto che gli americani non hanno ancora compreso del tutto, ma lui ne è ben consapevole. È un piacere incontrarlo”.  

    Moltissimi altri ospiti hanno espresso opinioni simili ai microfoni di i-Italy che presto pubblicherà le interviste in video.

    Il tema del riscatto dell’orgoglio italiano è stato centrale nell’intervento di Monti durante l’incontro al Consolato.

    Il Console generale Natalia Quintavalle ha presentato l'Ambasciatore a Washington ed il Ministro Degli Esteri, che aveva accolto sulla porta del Consolato ed accompagnato fino alla sala riceviementi, non dimenticando di sostare davanti alla mostra sull'Emigrazione dei giuliano-dalmati nel Giorno del Ricordo.

    Introdotto dall’Ambasciatore Bisogniero, il quale ha sottolineato il ruolo della comunità come “moltiplicatore di presenza e d’influenza per l’intero sistema Italia” e come “canale prioritario per proiettare immagine diversa e aggiornata dell’Italia, che leghi il patrimonio del passato con eccellenze del presente”, Monti ha preso la parola per un breve discorso, definendo la serata un momento “significativo e intenso”.

    Dopo una battuta sull’aver riportato il Ministro Terzi in America, dicendo di essersi sentito “un po’ colpevole” nel sottrarlo al suo ruolo di Ambasciatore d’Italia, Monti ha ricordato di aver fatto anche lui parte della comunità italiana negli USA, avendo studiato per un anno a New Haven nel Connecticut. “Mi sento ancora parte della presenza italiana negli Stati Uniti”, ha dichiarato.

    “È motivo di emozione, soddisfazione e orgoglio vedere la grande e affettuosa partecipazione che lega questa comunità ai destini dell’Italia”, Monti ha affermato, aggiungendo che i risultati raggiunti dagli italo-americani e dagli italiani residenti in America sono uno stimolo significativo per un’Italia che “si trova con governo molto atipico ad affrontare sfide molto rilevanti sul piano del risanamento economico e finanziario, della crescita, di una maggiore equità sociale e di una maggiore, serena, ma forte presenza negli affari europei e internazionali”.

    Attraverso la modernizzazione del paese e con una ritrovata serenità nel dialogo politico, l’Italia non solo avrà più spazio, ma “più dovere di dare il proprio contributo” a livello internazionale, a cominciare dal terreno europeo, quello le cui ripercussioni positive e negative sulla vita del paese sono preponderanti.

    Secondo Monti non ha senso accusare l’Europa di avere scarsa considerazione dei bisogni italiani, o di imporre alla nazione sacrifici troppo gravosi. “L’Europa siamo noi”, il premier afferma, “Ne siamo una grande componente, ma siamo – siete – anche una grande componente dell’America, e questo è bellissimo”.

    Il messaggio del Presidente alla comunità è di gratitudine e di invito a proseguire nelle proprie attività per la valorizzazione della cultura e dell’immagine italiana.

    Nella “città della borsa”, come Monti la descrive, gli italiani e gli italo-americani sono tutti “parte di un’impresa comune”, le cui attività hanno “un effetto comune”, quello di determinare “la quotazione nel mondo dell’aggettivo ‘italiano’”.

  • Facts & Stories

    Monti's Visit to the US: A Recap

    The short visit of Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti to the United States has been extremely intense so far and is revamping the dialogue on crucial economic and stability issues across the two shores of the Atlantic Ocean, with a special focus on the joint measures the United States and Europe should pursue in order to overcome the financial crisis and grow stronger together.

    Monti’s first appointment has been at the Peterson Institute, economics think-tank based in DC, where he stressed the importance of the International Monetary Fund’s insistence that Europe erects a strong firewall to prevent the spread of the debt contagion, while inviting it to a more flexible approach towards lending requirements.

    “If there is a minimum of compliance with the requirements set out, this is the moment to turn the page and extinguish this potential big explosion,” he said. He then urged the IMF to release a new aid package to help avoiding the worsening of Greece’s debt crisis.

    The increase of the EU’s emergency funds is seen by Monti as fundamental for restoring confidence in the markets of the Euro zone’s ability to tackle its internal crisis. Countries like Italy, if such precautionary measures were enforced, wouldn’t need any financial help.

    Economic growth and restoring confidence in the markets have been core subjects of Monti’s meeting with President Barack Obama.

    Obama and Monti share the opinion that a strong system of economic firewalls in Europe is to be realized, and Obama declared to be willing to do “whatever we can do to help stabilize the situation in the Euro zone,” with a particular emphasis on the need of long-term growth strategies, both in the US and in Europe.

    Obama expressed appreciation over Monti’s “strong start” and “effective measures,” which boosted confidence in Italy, in Europe and in the markets that “Italy has a plan,” is serious about its financial responsibilities and is investing in structural reforms.

    The sacrifices that Italians were asked to do, Monti added, “however painful in the short run, are widely understood by the Italian public opinion.”

    Highlighting the “deep and special connection” the US have with the Italian people, Obama said that the relationship between the two nations “has never been stronger.” When discussing security-related topics, Obama said that the US could not have been successful in Libya without Italy’s support. On the same note, Monti stressed that the alliance between Italy and the US is one of “common values we defend.”

    After leaving DC for New York, Monti’s commitments for today include a visit to New York Stock Exchange, where he’ll be meeting stock markets operators; a visit to The New York Times; a meeting with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and with the UN General Assembly’s President Al Nasser; and finally a meeting with members of the Italian and Italian-American communities at the Consulate General of Italy.

    Yesterday, the Italian and Italian-American communities were addressed by Monti at the White House, where speaking in Italian he stressed the importance of the relationship between them and Italy, and wished that his government’s efforts will make Italians and Italian-Americans prouder of their heritage.

  • Facts & Stories

    Fiat's "Seduction" Super Bowl Ad: the Same Old Postcard from Italy?

    In the province of the blogosphere and online media that’s inhabited by Mad Men and Ad junkies, Fiat’s advertising choices for the American market have been a hot topic since the Super Bowl this past Sunday.

    The Super Bowl Ad for the Fiat 500 Abarth, entitled “Seduction,” which aired during the game, features Romanian swimsuit model Catrinel Menghia as a sexy, feisty Italian girl. During the clip, a nerdy guy holding a latte is caught gazing a little too long at her as she adjusts a strap on her shoe, leading to a swift slap as she berates him in Italian.

    The girl then changes her tone to a more gentle and flirtatious one, whispering in the guy’s ear and dipping a finger in the foam of his latte, smearing some on his lips and dropping some on her chest.

    Just as the guy leans in to  kiss her, with the Abarth scorpio-shaped logo tattooed on the back of her neck, she disappears and metamorphoses into the sports version of Fiat’s super-compact car, set to hit the US market later this year.

    Ray Wert on Jalopnik is the first to provide a translation for the dialogue in the ad, which is:

    “What are you looking at? Uh!? What are you looking at?! (slap) Are you undressing me with your eyes? Poor guy…you can't help it? Is your heart beating? Is your head spinning? Do you feel lost thinking that I could be yours forever?”

    Wert then adds a quick and pretty self explanatory comment at the bottom: “So hot.”

    Fox Sports’ Brian Lowry believes that the ad is “Perhaps the best illustration of the relationship between buying a car and testosterone I’ve seen in a while,” and his appreciation of the ad seems to be representing the views of many.

    The automotive website Edmunds.com tracked the jumps in research traffic to the model’s page on their site, which leapt 3,354 percent in the moments after the ad ran. Measuring the traffic in 7 different moments during the game, Edmunds registered a 138% increase in activity at the end of the show. AutoTrader.com traffic data confirmed that after the end of the show, searches for the Fiat 500 Abarth continued at a high level.

    But if the European-style sex-sells ad appears to be working well (it got over 6 million views on YouTube so far), the sheer objectification of women doesn’t seem to be very much appreciated by the ladies on the web, who tweeted their disappointment @Fiat  and at other sexism-guilty brands who advertised during the Super Bowl (Teleflora and GoDaddy were close runner-ups).

    The #NotBuyingIt campaign, as it is referred to on feminist portals such as Missrepresentation.org, has reached over 1 million people through user activity on Twitter during the game, and it quickly spread to other websites and blogs.

    On Ihollaback.org, the Fiat Ad is also accused of reinforcing not only gender, but race stereotypes, as the skin tone of the Romanian model acting the “classically hyper-sexualized woman of color” is more tanned than the one of the geeky guy she slaps and almost kisses. “She is seen as provocative, voiceless and tattooed,” the article states, and adds about the ad that “we just plain don’t like it.”

    AOL Autos poses the question of the acceptability of Fiat’s ad on US TV networks, and David Kiley, editor in chief of the website, is interviewed as former editor and columnist at Adweek magazine “Networks in the U.S. have much stricter standards, which makes the ads we see in the U.S. routinely less interesting than what you see in Europe and South America,” he said.

    “The other issue you have in the U.S. is that religious-based 'family' organizations will start issuing press releases and organizing boycotts if they think an ad is corrupting on some level, or has too much sexual innuendo,” he added.

    In the article, Fiat’s global marketing manager Olivier Francois is also quoted. He created the ad, which was “intended to be viral,” and told the website that Fiat is considering running it on TV too, although “it may be too much.”

    The sister-company of Fiat is Chrysler, and the two-minute Super Bowl Ad “It’s Halftime in America,” featuring Clint Eastwood and an intensely idealistic speech on Detroit as a model for American recovery, has a completely different feel than the Fiat campaign for the US market, but it does follow the same inspiration as the 90-second TV ad for Fiat Panda that is currently being broadcast in Italy.

    Filmed in Naples, in the Pomigliano establishment of Fiat, the ad sends a strongly socially motivating message to Italians in a particular moment of their national history. “We can choose which Italy we want to be. Now it’s the time to decide whether to be ourselves or to accept the views imposed on us,” the voice-over says.

    Fiat invites Italy to be “The Italy we like” without accepting any imposed views of itself, just as Chrysler invites America to find the strength to play the other two-quarts of the game to recover from a very harsh economic crisis. At the same time, Fiat shows America the same old postcard from Italy, where seductive cover girls and flashy cars are the same thing, and nothing more.

    A contradictory policy to say the least.

  • Fatti e Storie

    FFANY: Le Scarpe Italiane Seducono La Grande Mela

    È una cosa insolita, ma i newyorkesi amano comprare scarpe nelle camere da letto dell’Hotel Hilton. È quello che succede durante il FFANY, la più importante fiera professionale per gli operatori del settore calzaturiero organizzata dalla Fashion Footwear Association of New York ogni anno, tre volte l’anno.

    Il primo evento FFANY del 2012 ha aperto ieri proprio all’Hilton di Manhattan, dove oltre trecento espositori hanno svelato le loro più recenti creazioni per i buyers della Grande Mela. FFANY è la più importante mostra mercato del settore organizzata sulla East Coast, e la presenza italiana all’evento è sempre particolarmente significativa.

    Durante questa edizione del trade show, che durerà fino al prossimo 3 febbraio, l’attenzione è tutta puntata sulle scarpe Made in Italy, i cui ventitré espositori, grazie ad una collaborazione tra l’Associazione Nazionale Calzaturifici Italiani e l’Istituto per il Commercio Estero, sono tutti collocati in un corridoio dedicato.

    Secondo le stime degli organizzatori, oltre 3.500 operatori del settore visiteranno FFANY in questi giorni. Ieri anche il Console Generale d’Italia a New York Natalia Quintavalle ha partecipato all’evento incontrando personalmente gli espositori italiani, accompagnata dal Vice-Console Dino Sorrentino, dal Direttore dell’ICE di New York Aniello Musella, e da Cleto Sagripanti e Diego Rossetti, Presidente e Vice-Presidente di ANCI nonché espositori essi stessi delle collezioni delle loro case di moda: Manas e Fratelli Rossetti.

    Le elaborazioni dei dati dello US Department of Commerce a cura dell’Istituto per il Commercio Estero attestano l’Italia in terza posizione tra i fornitori mondiali di calzature per gli Stati Uniti nel 2011.  I profitti del settore, che ammontano a 1.021,38 milioni di dollari, registrano un incremento del 25% rispetto al dato del 2010.

    Aniello Musella ritiene che la forza dei prodotti italiani risieda ancora nella competitività del rapporto qualità-prezzo che li contraddistingue. “Il prodotto Made in Italy combina tradizione, artigianalità, creatività e innovazione, un mix che non può che stimolare l’interesse del consumatore americano”, dice ad i-Italy. “Il 2011 si è dimostrato un anno di forte recupero per il settore calzaturiero italiano sul mercato statunitense”, aggiunge.

    Diego Rossetti conferma l’avvenuta rinascita del Made in Italy in America: “Dopo una crisi economica così severa il consumatore statunitense è disposto anche a spendere qualcosa in più, purché sia rassicurato rispetto alla qualità del prodotto che acquista. Per Fratelli Rossetti, ad esempio, il mercato USA è il terzo più importante, dopo quello francese e quello tedesco”.

    Dopo aver visitato gli showroom degli espositori italiani, il Console Quintavalle riassume per i-Italy le impressioni dei partecipanti circa l’utilità di iniziative come quella organizzata da ANCI ed ICE: “Mi sembrano tutti molto soddisfatti di come le cose stiano procedendo qui al FFANY. Per molte imprese questo è un ritorno sulla piazza americana dopo essersi concentrati su altri mercati. C’è un rinnovato interesse ad investire sull’America, e com’è ovvio New York è la porta d’accesso privilegiata al mercato USA. C’è anche maggiore consapevolezza sull’importanza del ‘fare sistema’, e di quanto sia benefico il lavoro di squadra tra istituzioni e produttori per la promozione del Made in Italy”.

    Quando chiediamo al Console la sua opinione sulle collezioni presentate dagli espositori italiani al FFANY, ci risponde: “Ho visto delle creazioni estremamente originali e creative. È stato molto divertente”.

    I ventitré espositori italiani presenti al trade show provengono da tutti i distretti produttivi del settore calzaturiero nazionale.
    Le scarpe da uomo di fattura classica sono rappresentate dai marchigiani come Luciano Ilari, Romit e Dario Ciotti. I sandali toscani sono classici come quelli di Nuovo Nicar, che ne produce per Tom Ford e D&G, mentre quelli campani di Vitulli Moda Eddy Daniele sono coloratissimi e glitterati. Venezia è rappresentata da Accademia e Mitica, quest’ultima produce per Maserati scarpe casual dai colori della bandiera italiana.

    Il marchigiano Corvari ha avuto motivo di gioire fin dall’apertura della fiera, quando ha firmato il primo ordine con il colosso dell’abbigliamento americano Anthropologie. La catena di negozi è tra le più in voga del momento, specialmente a New York, dove ha punti vendita nei quartieri più prestigiosi come SoHo e Meatpacking District.

  • Facts & Stories

    FFANY: The Big Apple Loves Italian Shoes

    It might sound strange, but New Yorkers love to buy shoes in the bedrooms of the Hilton Hotel. It’s what happens at FFANY, the most important professional trade show event produced for footwear retailers and press by the Fashion Footwear Association of New York.

    The first of the three annual expos organized by FFANY opened yesterday morning at the Hilton Hotel, where over 300 exhibitors unveiled their newest collections for the New York City buyers. FFANY is the most established show event produced on the East Coast, and the Italian presence at the expo is always extremely significant.

    This edition of FFANY, which will last until February 3, features a special spotlight on Italian shoes, with 23 exhibitors representing 31 brands of Made in Italy footwear and handbags grouped in a Made in Italy-dedicated section of the show. The initiative was made possible by a collaboration between ANCI (Italy’s National Footwear Manufacturers Association) and the Italian Trade Commission’s New York bureau.

    Over 3,500 visitors are expected to attend the show, which was visited yesterday by Consul General of Italy Natalia Quintavalle, accompanied by Vice-Consul Dino Sorrentino, Italian Trade Commissioner Aniello Musella and the President and Vice-President of ANCI, Cleto Sagripanti and Diego Rossetti, also exhibiting the latest collections of their companies: Manas and Fratelli Rossetti.

    According to the Italian Trade Commission’s studies of the US Department of Commerce’s statistics, in 2011 Italy ranked 3rd among the footwear suppliers of the United States, for a total cash flow of $1,021.38 million. The sector registered a +25% increment from 2010.

    Aniello Musella believes that the strength of the Italian products still lies in their competitiveness as far as the price-quality relation is concerned. “The combination of traditional craftsmanship, creativity and innovation increase the appeal of Made in Italy products on American customers,” he tells i-Italy. “2011 has definitely been a year of recovery for Italian footwear in the United States,” he adds.

    ANCI’s Vicepresident Diego Rossetti from Fratelli Rossetti tells i-Italy about the revived appreciation of Made in Italy footwear on the American market: “After such a harsh economic crisis, American customers want to be reassured about the quality of the products they purchase, and are willing to spend a little more to obtain the best. For Fratelli Rossetti, the US are the third most important market, after France and Germany.”

    After visiting the Italian exhibitors and gathering their opinions on the importance of initiatives such as the one encouraged by ANCI and the Italian Trade Commission, Quintavalle says: “All the Italian companies are extremely satisfied with how things are going here at FFANY. Many of them are coming back to the show after focusing on other markets: they know it’s a very important moment to reinforce their presence in the United States, and New York is the main entrance to it. Italian manufacturers are also more aware of the importance working in synergy with each other and the institutions, which is beneficial for all of the parties and for ‘Made in Italy’ itself.”

    When we ask Quintavalle her opinion of the products presented by Italian exhibitors, she says: “I have seen some very original collections and a lot of creativity in each of the exhibits. It’s been very entertaining.”

    The Italian exhibitors at FFANY come from a variety of productive districts in Italy, presenting a diverse offer. The classic footwear for men is represented by manufacturers from Le Marche such as Luciano Ilari, Romit and Dario Ciotti. Sandals come from Tuscany, where Nuovo Nicar produces them for brands such as Tom Ford and D&G, or from Campania, where Vitulli Moda Eddy Daniele gave them a sequined and glittered twist. Venetian manufacturers are also present, like Accademia and Mitica, the latter producing Maserati licensed sneakers.

    Exhibitor Corvari, from Le Marche, is thrilled from the very beginning, as the first deal he got this morning was with retail colossus Anthropologie, one of the best selling clothing and accessories store-chains, with locations all over the US and in the most prestigious neighborhoods of New York City. 

  • Stella Levi
    Fatti e Storie

    Il Giorno della Memoria: Park Avenue ricorda

    Il 27 gennaio di ogni anno, al Consolato Italiano a New York, la Giornata Internazionale della Memoria viene celebrata con una commemorazione molto intensa. Le porte dell’edificio si aprono sulla trafficatissima Park Avenue, una fila di microfoni viene predisposta sul marciapiede e centinaia di persone si alternano al leggio per onorare il ricordo delle vittime italiane dell’Olocausto uccise ad Auschwitz. I nomi dei caduti vengono letti ad alta voce, dal primo all’ultimo. Un appello dell’infamia che dura oltre sei ore.

    Stella Levi, sopravvissuta alla prigionia nel campo di sterminio per antonomasia, ritiene fondamentale che ogni anno si legga ogni nome presente sulla lunga lista degli innocenti uccisi dalla follia nazista, molti dei quali suonano proprio come il suo: “Senza un nome non esisti”, dichiara ad i-Italy.

    Stella aveva 19 anni quando fu deportata ad Auschwitz, un’esperienza che ha lasciato un segno indelebile nella sua esistenza, così come sul suo braccio tatuato. Stella racconta però che a quel tempo lei aveva già subito un insulto ancora più grave. Successe quattro anni prima della deportazione, quando fu obbligata a smettere di frequentare le lezioni nel suo liceo in Italia: “E stata l’offesa più orribile che abbia mai ricevuto”, afferma, e per questo si rallegra della presenza degli studenti della Scuola d’Italia Guglielmo Marconi alla cerimonia, che ogni anno partecipano alla lettura dei nomi. In questo modo, lei è certa, la sua testimonianza non si perderà nel tempo.

    Il Console Generale d’Italia a New York, Natalia Quintavalle, sottolinea l’importanza della natura di questa commemorazione come impegno comune di tutte le istituzioni italiane sul territorio. Il ruolo propulsore del Sistema Italia è testimoniato proprio dal luogo scelto per ospitare la cerimonia, di fronte al Consolato.

    Riccardo Viale, Direttore dell’Istituto di Cultura Italiana di New York, ritiene che la stessa New York sia il luogo ideale dove tenere una simile commemorazione, dato che “al di fuori di Israele, New York è la città in cui la cultura e la tradizione ebraica sono sentite in maniera più forte. È importante onorare il ruolo del popolo ebraico nel mondo e ricordare le vittime della Shoah proprio da qui”.

    Le istituzioni newyorkesi ne sono anch’esse consapevoli, e la loro presenza all’evento ne è testimonianza. “Bisogna congratularsi con il Consolato italiano per l’organizzazione di questo evento tutti gli anni”, afferma Vincent J. Gentile, rappresentante del New York City Council alla cerimonia. “Noi usiamo sempre la frase ‘Never forget’ riguardo agli eventi dell’Undici Settembre. La stessa frase va usata riguardo alle vittime dell’Olocausto. Commemorazioni come questa sono importantissime, restituire alle vittime i propri nomi è estremamente significativo”.

    Quest’anno, per la prima volta, la lettura dei nomi ha beneficiato di un contrappunto musicale. “Avere dei musicisti che accompagnino la lettura aggiunge qualcosa di molto profondo alla celebrazione”, dice Alessandro Cassin, Vicedirettore del Centro Primo Levi, “ognuno di loro partecipa con grande generosità e grande sensibilità”.

    Tra gli artisti, Lawrence “Butch” Morris crede che “La musica è la forza curatrice dell’universo”, e afferma che gli artisti hanno una precisa responsabilità nel supportare eventi come questo: “Specialmente questo evento. È una situazione estremamente spirituale e positiva nella quale essere coinvolti, e con la quale fare musica. Non facciamo musica ‘per’ l’evento, ma con esso”.

    Mauro Pagani dice ad i-Italy che da quando è entrato al Consolato ha un nodo alla gola che non lo abbandona. “Non riesco nemmeno  a pensare che ogni nome che noi ascoltiamo ha dietro la storia di una vita così tragicamente spezzata. Questo mi atterrisce. Mentre suonavo ho cercato di non pensare e di attenermi alla logica della musica, altrimenti non sarei nemmeno riuscito ad esibirmi”.

    Il New York City Fire Department è rappresentato da Chief Nigro, un italo-americano che è stato testimone di un’altra terribile tragedia dei nostri giorni, l’attacco terroristico alle Torri Gemelle che sconvolse il mondo e la città di New York poco più di dieci anni fa. Parlando della Seconda Guerra Mondiale, Nigro pensa che “forse qui in America non abbiamo realizzato cosa stesse succedendo in Italia come le persone che ci vivevano all’epoca. Non è un periodo di cui andiamo fieri, ma non ci sottraiamo dalla sua memoria: ricordiamo, e non succederà più”. Quando gli chiediamo se sia riuscito ad individuare una qualche connessione tra l’Olocausto e 9/11, Nigro dice: “Una connessione la vedo, ed è una connessione che non capisco. È il profondo odio che la gente nutre verso coloro che sono diversi da lei, un odio che può estendersi fino al punto di giustificare il massacro di persone innocenti”.

    “La memoria dell’Olocausto è una lezione universale che rafforza l’importanza della tolleranza e del dialogo interreligioso come pilastro fondamentale della convivenza civile”, afferma Natalia Quintavalle, che si rallegra di come l’evento, dalla sua prima edizione nel 2008, sia diventato sempre più sentito e partecipato, specialmente tra gli americani e i rappresentanti diplomatici internazionali. 

    Molti infatti sono i consoli presenti alla commemorazione, dall’angolano Adão Pinto che ricorda le guerre fratricide che hanno devastato il suo paese, costituenti un terreno comune per la condivisione del valore della memoria, all’ucraino Serhiy Pohorel'tsev, che menziona le oltre 100.000 vittime del massacro di Babi Yar, 34.000 dei quali di fede ebraica, al console jamaicano Geneive Brown Metzger, che sottolinea l’attualità di commemorazioni come questa in un momento storico ancora segnato da guerre e conflitti sanabili solamente attraverso il dialogo e la consapevolezza delle atrocità del passato.

    Andrea Barbaria, Console d’Italia a Newark (New Jersey), crede che una simile cerimonia sia anche utile a sottolineare il ruolo primario che molti cittadini italiani hanno avuto nel salvare la vita di tantissimi ebrei, a loro rischio e pericolo, durante quegli anni di terrore.

    Joseph Sciame, Vicepresidente per le Community Relations alla St. John’s University, è fiero di affermare lo stesso concetto: “L’Italia ha così tanti motivi di orgoglio, e ogni anno io partecipo a questo evento da italo-americano. È una commemorazione che personalmente sento molto”.

    Natalia Indrimi, Direttore esecutivo del Centro Primo Levi, spiega ad i-Italy l’importanza di combinare simili manifestazioni con programmi di ricerca e studio che approfondiscano tematiche controverse, quali il terrore fascista e la sua silenziosa accettazione da parte degli italiani, un’accettazione che ha avuto conseguenze gravissime e vergognose, di cui persone come Stella Levi e pochi altri oggi sanno ancora trasmettere la crudeltà e l’insensatezza.
    “Il Centro in questi giorni sta ospitando una mostra dal titolo ‘Il Genio Italiano’, sul tema della creatività italiana nelle scienze. La mostra analizza anche il contributo degli scienziati italiani alla diffusione di idee antisemite definendo concetti come quello di ‘razza’, di ‘superiorità’, di ‘normalità’, che hanno costituito la base ideologica delle persecuzioni”, Indrimi afferma.

    I due volti dell’Italia durante la Seconda Guerra Mondiale sono un aspetto degno di approfondimento, in particolare per gli appartenenti alla comunità italo-americana, che da una migliore comprensione della storia italiana trae una migliore consapevolezza della sua identità e origine. È ciò che dichiara Anthony Julian Tamburri, Dean del Calandra Italian/American Institute del CUNY Queens College, che durante la commemorazione dice ad i-Italy che: “Nell’imparare la nostra storia come italo-americani dobbiamo conoscere anche la storia d’Italia, anche nelle sue pagine più nere. La Chiesa non è stata certo la forza più amichevole nei confronti degli ebrei durante quegli anni terribili, non è una critica ma un dato di fatto. Così com’è un dato di fatto che ci siano moltissimi ebrei tra gli italo-americani. Sono cose che non vanno mai dimenticate”.

  •  Stella Levi
    Facts & Stories

    International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Italy Never Forgets, and Neither Does America

    Every year on January 27, the Italian Consulate in New York is the place where the International Holocaust Remembrance Day is celebrated in the most emotional way. The doors of the Consulate are opened on busy Park Avenue, a line of microphones is set up and hundreds of people gather to honor the fallen Italian victims of Auschwitz. Their names are read out loud, from the first to the last, for a six-hour long roll-call.

    Auschwitz survivor Stella Levi stresses the importance of calling each and every name on the list, many of which sound exactly like hers. “Without a name you don’t exist,” she tells i-Italy.

    Stella was 19 years old when she was deported to Auschwitz, an experience that left an indelible mark on her existence, as well as on her tattooed arm. Stella tells i-Italy that by that time she had already suffered the worst insult of her life. That happened four years before being deported, when she was forced to stop attending classes in her Italian high school: “That was the most horrible thing I have ever experienced,” she states, and she sees the presence at the ceremony of the Scuola D’Italia Guglielmo Marconi students, partaking in the reading, as a very important sign that her message won’t be lost in time.

    Consul General of New York, Natalia Quintavalle, highlights the importance of the ceremony as a joint effort of all the Italian institutions in New York. The presence of the “Italian System” (or as referred to in Italian, the “sistema Italia”)  as the propelling force of such an event is testified by the fact that the event itself is hosted in front of the Consulate of Italy in New York City.

    Riccardo Viale, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute, believes that New York City is the best location for such a commemoration, as “outside of Israel, New York City is the city where the Jewish culture and heritage are most felt, so it’s important to honor the role of the Jewish people in the world and to commemorate the victims of the Shoah from here.”

    New York City’s institutions are aware of this, and their presence at the event is significant. “The italian consulate is to be congratulated and commended for doing this each and every year,” says Vincent J. Gentile, representing New York City Council at the ceremony. “Just as we say about 9/11, ‘Never Forget’, we need to say the same about the Holocaust. That’s why commemorations like this are so important, putting names to the victims is very significant,” he adds.

    For the first time, the names of the victims are accompanied by a musical counterpoint. “Having musicians accompanying our reading adds something very important to it,” says Alessandro Cassin, Deputy Director and Director of Publishing at Primo Levi Center. “Each of them participates with extreme generosity and sensibility,” he adds.

    Among the musicians is Lawrence “Butch” Morris, who believes that “Music is the healing force of the universe,” and that performers are responsible for supporting events like this: “especially this event. It is a very positive and spiritual situation for us to be in and to make music with – not necessarily for, but with.”

    Italian artist Mauro Pagani tells i-Italy that he has a lump in his throat since he entered the Consulate. “I can’t even think that each name we are hearing tells the story of a life so tragically interrupted, this terrifies me. I tried to play and to stick to the logic of music, at least for the time I performed, otherwise I couldn’t even manage to play.”

    The New York City Fire Department was represented by Chief Nigro, an Italian-American who witnessed another striking tragedy of our times, and a more recent one: the 9/11 terroristic attacks that took the lives of 3000 people. Speaking of World War II, Nigro thinks that “maybe here in America we didn’t realize what was going on in Italy as the people there did at the time. It’s not a period we are proud of but we’re not shying away from it – we remember and it will never happen again.” When we ask him whether he sees a connection between the Holocaust and the 9/11 events, Nigro says: “The connection I see is a connection that I don’t understand, and it’s the deep hatred that people have for people that aren’t like them, a hatred they can extend to the degree that it includes murdering innocent people.”

    “The memory of the Holocaust is a universal lesson,” Quintavalle says, “it reinforces the importance of tolerance and interreligious dialogue as the most important pillar of civil coexistence.”

    Quintavalle is also glad that since its first edition, back in 2008, the attendance to the event has significantly grown, especially among Americans and international guests, such as the UN personnel and international consuls.

    Among the many consuls attending the commemoration were Consul General of Angola Adão Pinto, who told i-Italy about the fratricidal wars his country has experienced,  which represent a common ground to better understand the importance of such remembrance occasions; Consul General of Ukraine Serhiy Pohorel'tsev, who remembered the Ukrainian victims of the Babi Yar massacre, when the lives of over 100,000 people were taken, 34,000 of which were Jews; and Consul General of Jamaica Geneive Brown Metzger, who highlighted the actuality of such commemorations in a time that is still identified by wars and conflicts the resolution of which requires dialogue, tolerance and awareness of the past and its atrocities.

    Andrea Barbaria, Consul of Italy in Newark, NJ, believes that this commemoration is also extremely important to highlight the primary role that many Italian citizens had in saving Jewish lives during World War II. Joseph Sciame, Vice-President for Community Relations at St. John’s University, proudly states the same: “Italy has so much to be proud about, and each year I have attended this commemoration as an Italian-American. It is a true commemoration for me.”

    Natalia Indrimi, Executive Director at Centro Primo Levi, tells i-Italy about the importance to combine events such as this with research programs that aim to shed a light on topics so hard to approach, such as the Fascist terror and its silent acceptance in the Italian society, which led to the dramatic consequences that Stella Levi talked to us about, and that many others didn’t have a chance to tell. “Remembrance day always offers opportunities for productive dialogue. This year the Italian Cultural Institute hosts the exhibition 'Il Genio Italiano', which is dedicated to 150 years of Italian creativity in science and technology. The program of Centro Primo Levi opens a window on certain aspects of scientific research and the mechanisms through which it became subjected to the regime's ideology. In 1924 only 6 Italian scientists refused to take the loyalty oath to Mussolini and it was a group of prominent scientists who produced and underwrote one of the main ideological instruments of racial persecution: The Manifesto of the Racist Scientists. This happened within a fertile scientific world, which, not unlike the rest of the country, accepted a compromise on fundamental civil liberties. The intersection between the exhibition and the program offers significant elements to reflect on our past,” Indrimi states.

    The two faces that Italy had during those years are something to further analyze, especially for the Italian-American community, as to understand its own complex history it has to gain an always more in-depth knowledge of the history of its original homeland.
    It’s what Anthony Julian Tamburri, Dean of the John D. Calandra Italian-American Institute at CUNY Queens College, tells i-Italy during the ceremony: “In learning our history as Italian-Americans, we must know Italian history too, even its shameful pages. It is a fact that the Church has not been the most friendly power towards Jews during those terrible years, as it is a fact that there are many Jews among the Italian-Americans. These are things we must never forget.”