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Articles by: Joelle Grosso

  • Epiphany celebrations at Piazza Navona in Rome
    Life & People

    La Befana vien di notte!!!

    Have you been good this year? If so, the Befana will deliver presents and goodies to your house. But if you have been naughty, beware because all you will find on the morning of January 6th is a lump of coal!

    According to Italian folklore, the biblical Magi stopped at an elderly woman’s house during their long journey in search of the son of God. They found her to be so hospitable that they invited her to come along but she declined the offer, saying that she had too many chores to finish. Later on in the night, the "Befana" regretted that she didn’t join the Magi and decided to go look for the baby Jesus herself on her broom. Since she was not able to find him, she gave all the gifts she planned on giving Christ to the children in Italy instead. She continues her search every year, leaving toys and sweets for all the good children and coal for the bad ones.  

    There is a popular children's rhyme which describes the arrival of the Befana, a kind witch who arrives on the night before the Epiphany as legend has it. The song goes: 

    “La Befana vien di notte con le scarpe tutte rotte col vestito da romana viva viva la Befana!” meaning "the Befana comes out at night with worn out shoes dressed like a Roman, long live the Befana!"

    Today in Italy, the tale of the Befana lives on and young children are given gifts in stockings while some are given “carbone” which is really just a piece of black rock candy that actually resembles coal. In some places in Italy, people even take to the streets to dress up as the Befana or to perform reenactments of this popular story. The best spot to celebrate is at Piazza Navona in Rome because the huge Christmas market turns into a gathering of befane where children can play and fun can be had by the whole family. There is a beautiful antique carousel as well as theatrical performances, animation, puppet shows, and a live presepe that can be enjoyed by all. The tradition has been around since the unification of Italy and is held from December 23rd until January 8th every year. 

    In biblical terms, the Epiphany indicates the twelfth day after the birth of Jesus Christ when it was revealed to all that God had manifested Himself in the body of Christ. The word “epiphany” is defined as a moment of sudden revelation or an illuminating discovery. Not only does this holiday celebrate the miraculous announcement but it also commemorates the arrival of the Magi, or the Three Wise Men. 

    The Magi consisted of three Kings who came from the East to visit and worship the baby Jesus as the new king of the Jews. The kings followed the star of Bethlehem as their guide and they each offered the baby a symbolic gift upon their arrival. The first was gold which represents Christ’s nobility, the second was frankincense an essential oil which depicts his holy birth, and finally the gift of myrrh, a natural resin, which signifies his mortality. 

    It’s not too late to take part in this classic Italian tradition so be sure to leave your stockings out for the Befana on Thursday night! As the Italians say, "l'Epifania tutte le feste si porta via" signifying the end of the holiday season and the return to the normal routine. 

  • Antonio Canova's sculpture of George Washington comes to the USA
    Art & Culture

    George Washington Like We’ve Never Seen Him Before

    Next year, a special exhibition dedicated to Antonio Canova and George Washington will open at the Frick Collection which will not only bring Italian art rarities to the United States for the first time ever but expose the American public to a little known story that is full of intrigue. 

    Watch History Unfold

    Back in 1816, as the United States were establishing their role as an independent nation after winning the war against the British, Thomas Jefferson commissioned Antonio Canova to create a monument of George Washington dressed as an ancient Roman leader. Even though the sculptor never met or seen the first American President, Washington had already passed away by the time work on this piece began, Canova happily accepted and relied solely on a bust owned by an American diplomat who shipped it to his studio in Rome.

    The state of North Carolina spent almost half of their annual budget on the funding of the sculpture and it finally arrived in its new home five years later. Unfortunately, the stunning piece was completely ruined a decade later after the tragic spread of a fire within the state’s House.

    Salvaging the Past

    Even though Canova’s original sculpture of Washington was destroyed, the artist still had a full-size plaster model of the monument in his studio which is what will be making its debut in New York next year. He had also made a 30-inch preliminary nude model for this project which no one ever knew about and obviously Washington wasn’t the one who posed for it. 

    Xavier F. Salomon, the Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator at the Frick says, “It is one of the four preliminary models, part of the preparatory work. Canova always did a nude model of his sculptures so he could understand how the body worked under the drapery. It was absolutely a standard practice starting with rough drawings and then moving onto three-dimensional plaster models.”

    Besides the full-size plaster copy of the original sculpture and the smaller nude model, the exhibition will also include Canova’s draft sketches and related engravings and drawings borrowed by the Museo Canova in Possagno, the town in which the artist was born. 

    Step back into the past and view the remarkable intertwining of Italian and American history right before your very own eyes. For those who are interested, Canova’s George Washington will be on display at the Frick Collection from May 22nd, 2018 to September 23rd, 2018. More information can be found at >>>.

  • Francesco Totti plays his final game at Stadio Olimpico after 25 years with A.S. Roma
    Life & People

    Francesco Totti: Bidding Farewell to the Iconic A.S. Roma Captain

    In an emotional farewell on Sunday, Italian soccer player Francesco Totti ended his 25 year long career in style, contributing to a 3-2 win over Genoa which secured the Giallorossi a place in the upcoming UEFA Champions League. In a touching post-match speech, Totti read out a letter he wrote to the packed Stadio Olimpico, which was filled with almost 60,000 die-hard fans. From the center of the pitch where an enormous number 10 jersey was unveiled, he said, “you are - and will always be - my life and I will no longer entertain you with my feet, but my heart will always be there with you.”

    Hometown Hero

    As the crowd weeped and listened to Totti’s words in silence, it was truly a moment of reflection on the life of their hometown hero. Born in Porta Metronia, a neighborhood which lies between the ancient gates that lead into the Eternal City, Totti would grow up to become one of the most talented soccer players in the world. With his on-field dominance, versatility as both a forward and an attacking midfielder, leadership as a captain, and off-the-field fame, it is easy to see why Totti will be terribly missed. 

    The Highlights

    Given that his departure marks the end of an era, it’s only right to look back at the defining moments in his career. At the tender age of 16, Totti makes his debut for A.S. Roma, starting off strong with a 2-0 win over Brescia. Just five year laters, he gets named as club captain, the youngest player to ever become the leader of a Serie A team. In 2001, he wins his first and only Serie A title, scoring in the 3-1 win over Parma in the final game, clinching the championship. Demonstrating his love and devotion to his team, Totti has even said in the past that, “winning just one league title at Roma to me is worth winning ten at Juventus or Real Madrid.” The captain would go on to become Roma’s all-time top scorer in 2004, breaking Roberto Pruzzo’s old record of 138 goals and scoring 169 more from that point on. He was a huge contributor in the World Cup which Italy won in 2006 in an exhilarating tournament, scoring once and providing assists for three more goals. The following year, he was awarded the European Golden Boot, a prestigious trophy given each season to the top goalscorer of the league, Totti had 26. 

    Off-Field Favorite

    Not only was Totti popular on field but he was also a press favorite, with his self-effacing humor and positive attitude. He never distanced himself from the media and his personal life was often the subject of attention, frequently making headlines in Italian magazines and tabloids. The public continues to closely follow his marriage with former showgirl, Ilary Blasi, who has been a co-host of Italia 1’s hit show Le Iene since 2007. Their marriage was aired on television from the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, with all proceeds having been donated to charity. As a fundraiser for a children's charity, Totti has also published two best-selling, self-deprecating books containing jokes the locals often made about him and his teammates.

    What’s Next?

    There are many rumors in the air about what may come next for the Roman legend, some believe he will remain as a director for Roma while others think he might play for a team in the States. He concluded his final speech by expressing his gratitude for the city of Rome and admitting that he “would stay here another 25 years.” There are plenty of extraordinarily gifted soccer players out there but it is safe to say that there will never be another Francesco Totti.

  • In front of the Mother Italy sculpture in Poses Park on Hunter College Campus
    Art & Culture

    Celebrating Mother’s Day with the Italian American Community

    To acknowledge and praise the great work that the Italian American community does, the Italian Heritage and Culture Committee of New York honored the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute at CUNY for their extensive academic research, the Columbus Citizens Foundation for their preservation of Italian culture, America Oggi for their outstanding public relations services, and Dr. Anne Prisco, President of Felician University.

    Celebrating Mother’s Day

    To kick off Mother’s Day weekend, the schedule of events for Friday evening began at Poses Park on Hunter College Campus in front of the stunning Mother Italy bronze sculpture created by artist Giuseppe Massari. This year, the annual tribute for Mother’s Day recognized the inspirational work of Dr. Anne Prisco, the President of Felician University in New Jersey.

    As the daughter of immigrants who did not attend high school, Dr. Prisco has not only earned a bachelor’s degree with highest distinction from the University of Arizona but a M.B.A in Finance from Fordham University as well as a Ph.D. in Economics and Education from Columbia University. With over 30 years of experience, she has elevated and improved higher education and serves as a role model for all. After receiving her award, Dr. Prisco said she was “honored to represent all Italian and Italian American mothers with a very rich heritage and we have the obligation to carry it on to the future generations.” Joseph Sciame, the Vice-President for Community Relations at St. John’s University and the President of Italian Heritage and Culture Committee of New York, added, “in Italian families, women are dynamic forces that exemplify the strength and spirit of our people.”

    Next Stop: Consulate General

    After strolling over to the Consulate General of Italy in New York just a few blocks away, the 2017 Leonardo da Vinci Award Ceremony commenced. Joseph Sciame presented awards to the “distinguished honorees who represent the pride of the Italian American community and impressive levels of personal and professional accomplishments.” 

    The Consul General, Francesco Genuardi, added to that sentiment: “our pride is to serve Italy as well as this amazing city that has the best Italian American community in the world and I take this as an important opportunity to assess together who we are, where we are, and where we’re going.”

    The Special Recipients 

    IHCC-NY gave Special Recogniton Awards to Roberto Frangione, the Deputy Consul General, and Andrea Mantineo, one of the founding members and director of America Oggi, for their significant contributions to the Italian American community. 

    The first prestigious Leonardo da Vinci accolade was handed to Angelo Vivolo, President of the Columbus Citizens Foundation. The foundation is devoted to maintaining Italian culture, traditions, and values through a program of philanthropic and cultural activities, including scholarships, grants, and the annual New York City Columbus Day Parade. Vivolo humbly accepted the award and felt “privileged and honored to represent the Columbus Citizens Foundations that has almost 600 members of Italian men and women who are dedicated to preserving our culture and heritage.”

    The second award went to Anthony J. Tamburri, the Dean of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute and Distinguished Professor of European Languages and Literatures. Calandra is the most renowned academic institution that is dedicated to the study of the Italian diaspora and engages in extensive academic research, counseling services, and demographic studies. Tamburri thanked his team and expressed how it’s an honor for him to lead the Calandra Institute for almost 11 years. He added that he’s glad “to be part of an international and national discussion of who we are as Americans of Italian descent and what that means and what the future generations hold and how we can communicate with them.” 

    After all the awards were given out, there was the presentation of an earthquake relief fund donation of $10,000 to the Montessori Primary School in Macerata, a town in central Italy that was devastated by an earthquake last year. Award winning singer and composer, Simona De Rosa, and musician, Gennaro Esposito, concluded the beautiful evening with traditional Italian songs. It was truly a marvelous day to celebrate and honor those who do so much for the Italian American community in New York City.

  • “Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer" opens in November at the Met
    Art & Culture

    Michelangelo: The Met Pays Tribute to the Italian Master

    One of the biggested ar museum in the United States will soon pay tribute to perhaps the most talented and influential artist of all time, Michelangelo Buonarroti. In this special exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer will show the mastery of this Italian icon in all mediums including drawing, design, sculpture, painting, and architecture. In other words, this show is definitely a must-see for all art lovers in New York City.

    Michelangelo: Il Divino 

    Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564) was a prolific creative genius who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. Often called "Il Divino", or the divine one, by his contemporaries, Michelangelo proved himself to be a prodigy in every field of interest. Some of his most famous works include the Pietà, David, The Last Judgment, and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. The Met puts it best when they say that “his powerful imagery and dazzling technical virtuosity transported viewers and imbued all of his works with a staggering force that continues to enthrall us today.”

    Inside the Exhibition 

    This exhibition will exhibit a remarkable range and number of works by the versatile artist that examine his rich legacy as a supreme draftsman and designer. The pieces that will be displayed have been selected from 54 public and private collections in the United States and Europe and a substantial body of complementary works by other artists will be presented as well for comparison and context. With 150 of Michelangelo’s virtuous sketches, three stunning marble sculptures, a wood architectural model for a chapel vault, the complete series of masterpiece drawings he created for his close friend Tommaso de’ Cavalieri, a monumental cartoon for his last fresco in the Vatican Palace and even his earliest painting, you cannot miss this rare opportunity at the Met. 

    While eagerly awaiting the opening of Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer on November 13th at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, please visit www.metmuseum.org for more information.

  • Facts & Stories

    Gruppo Italiano (GI) Welcomes Pastry Chef Pietro Macellaro

    At the International Culinary Center, New York’s top-tier culinary school, Gianfranco Sorrentino welcomed the renowned pastry chef, Pietro Macellaro, to teach the tricks of the trade to the public. Gianfranco along with his wife Paula Bolla Sorrentino and Executive Chef Vito Gnazzo own Il Gattopardo and The Leopard at des Artistes, two acclaimed authentic southern Italian fine dining restaurants. Macellaro demonstrated how to create his special summer dessert, Lemon and White Sesame Agricultural Cake, which can soon be found on the spring/summer menus at Sorrentino’s restaurants. Macellaro explains how this recipe was “created with fantastic ingredients from the farm, complete with beautiful, detailed decoration, but also very easy and convenient to carry!”

    Farm to Fork

    The focus of this special dessert is the simplicity of its ingredients, everything is natural and was originally produced using only what Macellaro grew from his farm in the south of Italy. Sorrentino sings his pastry chefs prasies to i-Italy: “Pietro Macellaro is a very unique baker. He only uses products that he himself cultivates in his town Piaggine, which is in the center of Cilento. There was this interest from the students and the people that came regarding the products and the quality of these products, which is extremely important. This rediscovering of ancient grains. When these flours were used, there were no intolerances, gluten free, etc. We say that it’s a return to the roots, using uncontaminated ingredients. This is what makes Italian products strong–the quality of the products.”

    Macellaro describes himself as a baker but “a bit different kind of baker.” He likes to cultivate and produce ingredients that are then transformed in the bakery. “This is where innovative products are born that are not only different but healthier,” he adds. At this special event, he also presented chocolates mixed with wild oregano and lemon in addition to fusing wild apples with fresh basil. 

    The Tradition Behind the Products

    With over 30 years of experience in restaurant management at properties including Quisisana Hotel in Capri, Dorchester Hotel in London, Four Seasons Hotel in Tokyo, and Sette MoMA Restaurant at the Museum of Modern Art here in NYC, Sorrentino is excited to teach and promote authentic Italian cuisine. When discussing the students enrolled at the International Culinary Center, he says, “these guys are the chefs of the future so it is important to educate them on the quality of Italian products, how to use them, and explain that behind them there’s a story, a culture, and a tradition of how to use them.”

    Chef Macellaro and Chef Vito never met each other despite the fact that they grew up just twelve miles apart in the province of Salerno, they now find themselves incubating a passion for their respective culinary arts that have lead them to the top of their fields. They are currently working closely to complete the upcoming dessert menus at both Il Gattopardo and The Leopard at des Artistes where you can expect to see impeccably-designed and meticulously-crafted sweets in a variety of forms. “We respect each other, because we have the same approach to food – the same respect and pride in what we do,” says the chef, referring to their traditional Italian approach to creating cuisine.

    Please visit Il Gattopardo on West 54th Street or The Leopard at des Artistes on West 67th Street to try out the new artisanal dessert menu for yourself!

     

    ABOUT GRUPPO ITALIANO (GI)

    GI’s mission is to popularize authentic Italian cuisine, Italian wines and Italian products, and enhance their image in the United States through education, member restaurants and promotions. The organization provides a constant flow of information about Italian cuisine to member restaurants, US press, culinary schools, importers, distributors and general consumers with a serious interest in authentic Italian food. 

    For more information on Gruppo Italiano and for membership information, please visit the website at www.gruppo-italiano.com, or contact Gianfranco Sorrentino at 212-246-0412.

  • Art & Culture

    Florence in New York: Awaiting the Trade Show

    The Italian Trade Agency is a government organization based in New York City that promotes the internationalization of Italian companies. The other day, they welcomed Florentine chef Gabriele Corcos to talk about the Florence in New York Trade Show which will occur later on in the month. Corcos is the star of the Cooking Channel’s Extra Virgin, a show he co-hosts with his wife, actress Debi Mazar, where the two share their passion for Tuscan food and teach viewers how easy it is to blend the simple traditions of Italy with modern life in America. 

    Tuscan Brands Come to the USA

    Corcos will not only be the guest of honor on the opening night of the Florence in New York Trade Show but he is also very excited to represent and promote the region he was born in. The show is “dedicated to high-end products exclusively Made in Tuscany and it features prestigious Florentine and Tuscan brands interested in opening up to foreign markets while showcasing their unique products and services.” The exhibiting companies during the three-day affair range from jewelry designs, leather goods, and food that show only the best Tuscany has to offer.

    Italian Trade Commissioner, Executive Director for the U.S.A., Maurizio Forte, spoke about the larger idea behind Made in Italy and says that, "the first things that come to your mind other than wine, food, fashion, luxury cars, and design, is the concept of handmade and the strong desire Italian companies have to produce goods with craftsmanship, like the products that will be shown in New York in a few days."

    Opening night will include a special performance by the flag bearers of the traditional Florentine parade for the first time ever in the States and will be followed by a typical Tuscan dinner where local products will be paired with Chianti wine tastings. Afterwards, guests can enjoy music by baritone Devid Cecconi and soprano Georgina Stalbow accompanied on the piano by maestro Massimo Barsotti while taking part in a charity auction of artisan goods. A portion of all proceeds will go to the Food Bank For New York City, one of the biggest organizations constantly working to end hunger throughout the five boroughs for over 30 years. The consecutive days will be comprised of seminars, meet-and-greets, and business connection workshops that provide opportunities for North American professionals to create a bridge with Italy. 

     

    More about Corcos

    Besides his popular cooking show, Corcos is also a New York Times best selling author as well as a James Beard Award recipient from the James Beard Foundation, an organization which celebrates excellence in cuisine, culinary writing, and culinary education. At the press conference, Corcos tells the audience, “I’m very proud to represent the Tuscan lifestyle in all its forms from artisanal crafts to food and beverage but it’s also an honor for me to be selected as the guest of honor in an event like this because it makes me feel at home.” He adds, “it was only when I came to Los Angeles that I discovered how valuable an asset it was the knowledge I had about food and lifestyle being that I grew up in Florence.”

     

     

    About the Event:

    Opening Night: Monday 15th 

    180 Maiden Lane - 29th Floor - Financial District NYC

    For more information on the Florence in New York Trade Show and to register for tickets, please visit: florenceinnewyork.com

  • Former US President Barack Obama was the keynote speaker at the Seeds&Chips Global Food Innovation Summit in Milan
    Facts & Stories

    Milan Food Innovation Summit Hosts Barack Obama

    Barack Obama touched down in Milan this week as the keynote speaker at the Seeds&Chips Global Food Innovation Summit, one of the biggest events worldwide that is dedicated to food innovation from farm to fork, where food and technology meet. Besides showcasing national and international talent, the four-day long affair also introduces cutting-edge solutions from all around the globe that will positively change humans’ relationship with food. 

    Thoughts on Paris Agreement

    In front of more than 3,000 people, the former US President delivered his keynote speech that focused on food security but he also made a point of stressing the importance of the Paris Agreement which aims to combat climate change. Signed in 2016, the agreement was made within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and deals with greenhouse gases emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance starting in the year of 2020. It was adopted by the United States plus more than 190 other countries and sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming.

    Although Obama enthusiastically supported the agreement during the last year of his presidency, the Trump administration has pledged to cancel it. However, in regard to climate change, Obama remains “confident that the United States will continue to move in the right direction.” He adds that, “the good news is, in part because of what we did over the last eight years, the private sector has already made a determination that the future is in clean energy. Investments are moving into clean energy.”

    Other Appearances in Milan

    Following the speech, he engaged in an hour-long conversation with his former White House chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy, Sam Kass, where Obama shed some light on his daily life after his eight year presidency. He also met privately with the former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to discuss how to effectively set up “an efficient network of global activists.” Afterwards, he ventured out to explore the beautiful fashion and finance capital of Italy, including typical tourist stops at the Duomo Cathedral which lies in the heart of the city as well as a visit to see Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper” where he was accompanied by the country’s culture minister, Dario Franceschini. He then attended a dinner hosted by the Institute for International Political Studies that was attended by friends and business leaders.

    Overall, Obama says that his work after leaving the White House is to "train the next generation of leaders" in the world. He will stay in Milan for the remainder of the Seeds&Chips Global Food Innovation Summit.

  • Art & Culture

    NYCxDESIGN 2017: A Global Celebration

    May marks the arrival of Design Week in New York City which aims to unite all the disciplines of design while creating a collaborative global platform for cultural and commercial opportunities. Being the longest NYCxDESIGN schedule to date, the festivities will last much longer than a week with events being held from May 3rd until the 24th. This is the fourth year of celebration featuring over 500 events throughout the five boroughs but as always, the goal is to elevate established and emerging design practices as well as increase the awareness of and appreciation for design by all audiences.

    The Italian presence at NYCxDESIGN 2017 is overwhelming but it’s not surprising as Italians have always been known as being innovative pioneers in the fields of design, architecture, and artistry. 

    From May 17th to the 23rd in Industry City in Brooklyn – WantedDesign is a brand of New York creativity that has been invited by Green Island to form part of an international network designed to rethink all that concerns the world of beekeeping. After the first Honey Bar, a new concept emerges from objects used to serve honey, designed by the studio Design Group Italia as well as a Bee Hive Park which includes installations of hives created by the designers Capoco + Crozier Design. Architecture inspired by hives through the stylistic details caught in the shots of the photographer Paul Clemence will also be featured along with bio-tastings of various kinds of low food-mile nectar, produced on the rooftops of New York and in local farms, such as Bee Raw Honey, Brooklyn Queen, and Hubbell Farms. Finally, informational workshops will be held dedicated to families, created by the City Growers association, an organization that deals with creating dialogue between local communities on themes such as urban agriculture and biodiversity. 

    From May 18th to the 22nd, the Design Pavilion in Times Square will present “Magis Through Herman Miller.” New York City’s vibrant epicenter as you know it will transform into a playground of design with the Spun Chair, created by Thomas Heatherwick for Magis, an Italian furniture company. For Magis, “design isn’t so much the conception of a chair, a table, a lamp, or a car as the thought process and business culture that guides a company through its own journey, earning it the distinctions that give it its strength.” See for yourself how public space comes alive with these ergonomic forms that function as comfortable seating, whichever way they are rotated.

    On May 22nd, join Gaspare Asaro-Italian Modern, one of New York’s most curated and refined collections of Mid-Century Modern and contemporary Limited Edition Italian furniture and lighting, for an authentic Italian aperitivo to celebrate NYCxDESIGN. Sip some prosecco while enjoying gorgeous pieces which range from vintage mid-century designers to Gaspare Asaro Studio’s own custom collection. 

    Not only are all of the events listed above are free and open to the public but there are hundreds of other NYCxDESIGN occasions all over the city that you can attend as well. Also, make sure to keep an eye out for the Italian design and furniture showrooms in SoHo including Cappellini, Poltrona Frau, Boffi Soho, Alessi, Cassina, and Scavolini. For more information on the full schedule, please visit: https://www.nycxdesign.com/

  • Art & Culture

    What to Expect at the 70th Cannes Film Festival

    The organizers of the 70th Cannes Film Festival, one of the most exclusive and glamorous events that celebrates achievements in cinema, are currently getting ready for yet another successful year. For twelve days, the gorgeous beach town in the south of France will be hosting only the biggest movie stars and directors who will make their way down the red carpet of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès. Just a few celebrities who will be in attendance include Vanessa Redgrave, Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Julianne Moore, Pedro Almodóvar, Nicole Kidman, Dustin Hoffman and Colin Farrell.

    Mistress of Ceremonies and Jury

    Talented Italian actress Monica Bellucci has been chosen to be this year’s Mistress of Ceremonies and will be introducing all of speakers and performers in the opening and closing events. The actress has a long history at Cannes and has made multiple appearances there for her roles in Gaspar Noè’s Irreversible, Marco Tullio Giordana’s Sanguepazzo, and Alice Rohrwacher’s Le meraviglie which won the Jury Prize in 2014. Additionally, Italian director and screenwriter Paolo Sorrentino will serve on this year's jury who decides which films receive awards. In the past, seven out of eight Sorrentino films have competed at the festival including La Grande Bellezza, La Giovinezzaand Il Divo which won the Prix du Jury award in 2008. 

    Italian Presence at the Festival

    Unfortunately this year no Italian films are in the running for the Palme d'Or, the highest prize awarded at the festival, but Italians will without a doubt make their presence known. Two films that have been selected to run in the “Un Certain Regard” section include Fortunata, a film by actor-director Sergio Castellitto with Jasmine Trinca and Stefano Accorsi and Après la Guerre starring Giuseppe Battiston. This category presents unique films with various types of visions and styles which tell their stories in nontraditional ways. The first tells the story young divorced woman who fights every day to make her dream of opening her own hair salon come true. The second is a French drama film about  that was directed by Annarita Zambrano who was born in Rome but has been working in Paris for the last 15 years. 

    Exploring Cannes

    Apart from the flashy film festival, there is so much more for visitors to see in Cannes. The luxurious city is surrounded by the warm Mediterranean sea and is full of things to do like a trip the Castre Museum on Suquet hill. After climbing just 109 steps to the top of the castle’s tower, you will find spectacular panoramic views of the Côte d’Azur. You can also take a 15 minute trip to Ile Sainte-Marguerite which is the largest of the Lérins Islands about a half a mile off the shore from Cannes. The island offers stunning beaches with crystal clear waters as well as fascinating historic sights that date back to the Roman times. 

    There are so many things to be do in this beautiful French town so whether you are visiting to take part in the star-studded film festival or just to sunbathe on the coast, Cannes is the place for you!

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