Articles by: Samantha Janazzo

  • The world was his canvas
    Art & Culture

    Haring's Work Comes to Milan's Piazza Reale

    Milan’s Piazza Reale has developed a strong reputation for continuously keeping up with the ebb and flow of contemporary culture. Year after year they carefully select modern and contemporary artwork from the most influential museums and cultural institutions around the world. They do not fail, once again, with a 110 piece exhibition of the American artist Keith Haring’s work entitled “Keith Haring: About Art.”

    Keith Haring: About Art

    Curated by Gianni Mercurio, Haring will debut in Milan for the first time ever. The work will be available for viewing from February to June with pieces from Madinart, The Keith Haring Foundation, and many other public and private collections.

    Known for his street art style with cartoonlike caricatures that speak volumes to the pressing universal inequalities and stigmas, Piazza Reale focuses on the other forms of cultural influence Haring incorporated into his work. His sophistication and freshness of turning “graffiti” into high quality art, despite his outside activism, has created a new concept of visual art while giving the paintbrush a voice like never before.  

    Haring's Career

    Haring’s artistic career took off primarily in late 80’s during his twenties, fueled by his outside activism in this transitional time for the United States. However, his pieces are influenced by Classical archaeology, Pre-Colombian art, Native American art, as well as 20th century artists including Jackson Pollock, Jean Dubuffet, Paul Klee and so much more. What is signature to his work is the juxtaposition of his messages; such as life, death, sexuality, and war within different time periods and cultures. He then conveys his ideas with a distinctive style to highlight the issues of the past and to physically “voice” them in the present.

    Sculpting a career around public art began on the matte black sections of unused advertising panels on the walls of the New York City subway platforms. He used this as his technique to carry out social messages to the public. His animations gained speed when people began wearing t-shirts and carrying bags with his designs on them, knowing that their apparel was more than just art, but a cry for social justice through the power of creativity. Madonna, Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, and many other front running artists and activists at the time collaborated with Haring.

    From New York to Milan

    The 110 pieces at Piazza Reale come from Europe, America, and Asia. Some are larger than life and have never been exhibited before while others are smaller but pack the same bold punch. Regardless of size, the pieces reconstruct a link between different cultures to create an unlikely universal philosophy consolidated in Haring’s own timeless artistic greatness. He covers a range of social inequalities and connects them seamlessly through visual art and stylish political incorrectness.

    “Keith Haring: About Art” creates a bridge between Milan and New York and allows these two crucial cities with strong influences to come together through his art. Isn’t this the powerful message of what Haring’s art advocates after all? AIDs tragicaly took Haring’s life at the young age of 31, but his message of equality and extraodinary style that fired up the 80’s still lives on today. 

  • Facts & Stories

    Mardi Gras or Martedì Grasso?

    Mardi Gras, Martedì Grasso, or “Fat Tuesday” is a pre-Lenten celebration that falls the day before the Catholic Holy Day of Obligation, Ash Wednesday. The celebration originated from the religious practice of foregoing meat during the season of Lent in reverence of Christ’s fast for forty days and nights before the Resurrection on Easter Day. The tradition of "Fat Tuesday" stands for consuming the rest of the meat and fatty foods to avoid wasting it, this has transformed into the famous celebrations we know and love today.

    In the United States, New Orleans hosts parades packed with marchers, revelers, and lavish floats based off traditions that can be traced back to the earliest French settlers in the southern United States. In Italy, Venice is transformed into the Carnival, a world famous festival complete with elaborate masks, theatric performances, and parades through Piazza San Marco


    In Venice the very first Mardi Gras, or Martedì Grasso, began in 1162 on the very same day the Serenissima Repubblica, modern day Veneto, conquered the Patriarch of Aquileia for independence. The celebration was an annual affair that was centered on the Catholic tradition of the final tolerance of meat before the 40 days of Lenten fasting. Thus, the title "Carnevale" was conceived; which translates in Latin to "Farewell Meat."

    Masks are widely popular in the Venetian tradition of Carnivale, the first mention dates back to 1268. Year after year partakers created intricate masks worn with long capes, causing ignorance of social order to fellow carousers. Back then and even today, the most popular mask was symbolic of what Plague doctors wore. It covers the upper face and is unique with a long beaklike apparatus whose origional design was to hold herbs that detered and filtered the pestilence, protecting those who wore it from breathing in the rampent illness.

    Patrons and visitors alike munch on soft fried dough rounds smothered in powdered sugar called frittelle,but the most anticipated affair is the parade in Piazza San Marco. Many continue to wear masks and capes to maintain the tradition, Carnivale last two weeks in its entirety and hosts about three million people. 

    New Orleans

    The French origin of the Mardi Gras celebration is traced back to a French Canadian explorer named Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville who settled outside modern day New Orleans in the early 1700s the day before Ash Wednesday. The Catholic voyagers celebrated the feast day, and since then merrymaking grew larger and larger.

    In the 1800s the first procession took place complete with illuminated torches, carriages, and horseback riders. The popular tradition of throwing purple, gold, and green beads began when the Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia, visited for the famous carnival. The bead colors were selected in representation of the Romanoff family crest; purple signifies justice, gold for power, and green for faith. Following the arrival of the Duke, paper-mache floats and animal costumes processed down the streets for decrative and political reasons. In today’s Mardi Gras festivities, attendees of the New Orleans carnival dawn themselves in the same colored beads, costumes, and create massive floats in the day long extravaganza which 1.5 million attend annually.

    To go along with the aspect of giving up indulgences, the origination of “Fat Tuesday,” a French dessert called “King Cake” is consumed each year. It is made with brioche dough and sprinkled with purple, green, and gold sugar. Some party hosts hide a plastic baby inside, whoever is served with the slice with the figurine inside is responsible for hosting the celebration the following year. 

    In both New Orleans and Venice massive crowds gather to preserve an age old tradition, both complete costumes, processions, and delishious foods; however, the two world famous events are quite different. Which would you prefer?

  • Art & Culture

    Lino Tagliapietra, Master of a Glass Renaissance

    The highly anticipated Lino Tagliapietra exhibition called, “Lino Tagliapietra: Maestro of a Glass Renaissance,” is arriving at the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey.  Renowned for his master craftsmanship of the generational Venetian artistry, the Murano native glassblowing expert will be celebrated Saturday, March 11 with an elegant opening reception in the museum’s historic galleries.  The display will showcase electrifying glass vessels, signature two-dimensional panels, and graceful aerial pieces that radiate bright colors and fluidity so unique to his personal style, he has gained international recognition. The pieces will be open to the public until June 18, 2017.

    The Morris Museum

    The Morris Museum is the second largest museum in New Jersey, and the only one that also houses an active theatre. It is a non-profit centered in creating a friendly atmosphere that exudes hands on education while embracing a rich history.  The building’s original brick mansion was property to the Frelinghuysen Estate; which has been transformed into the museum the past decades.

    The History of the Master

    The Maestro (master glassblower), Lino Tagliapietra, is a fitting candidate for popular the Northern New Jersey museum. Tagliapietra’s work has been exhibited around the world in museums and galleries such as the Metropolitan Museum of New York, The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery in Washington DC, the Victoria and Albert Museum of London, and the De Young Museum of San Francisco, to name a few. The exhibition at the Morris Museum is curated by Alexandra Willis and co-curated by Jim Schantz.

    A true story of hard work, dedication, and success, Tagliapeitra began glassblowing at the young age of 11 in Venice on the island Murano, under the apprenticeship of the influential glass bowing artist, Archimede Seguso. Creating glass art is a process that very few master. It begins with an inflated sphere of molten glass with a consistency similar to molasses. The orb is then manipulated through small rolling or swinging movements, puffs of air passed through a pipe, and steal tools that can add other stylistic elements that must be perfectly times before the substance hardens. Just the smallest drop of water or piece of dust can create imperfections. Though most of Tagliapietra’s life has been dedicated to both refining his technique and creating an international stamp on studio glassblowing, his work is eminent of the centuries of previous perfection of the craft that was passed onto him. 

    Bringing the Exhibition to the Morris Museum

    The Morris Museum will exhibit the pieces from Tagliapietra’s past fifteen years, encompassing the classic blown glass vessels and two-dimensional fused glass panels.  "Tagliapietra’s interests in art, style, design, and culture are all evident in his forms. These figurative pieces require careful planning, thorough preparation, and thoughtful design" states Alexandra Willis, curator of the Morris Museum. During his most recent years, the Maestro began a completely independent glassblowing career, a monumental change for those in factory glassblowing as a career. The Morris Museum exhibition sheds light on Tagliapietra as an independent artist and his experimental tasks that continue to push the limits of the strenuous art. For this reason, even the highest skilled glass craftsmen look to prominent artist as their instructor and inspiration.

    The exhibition illuminates a tradition that has been traced back thousands of years on the small island of Murano. What makes this display so special is the way Tagliapietra has introduced the ancient art as contemporary through stylistic changes, pioneering a new conon of modern glassblowing. The Main Gallery of the Morris Museum, where his work will be exhibited, is an expansive space that allows natural light to flood in through the vast floor to ceiling windows. The sun with catch the small details of Lino’s intricate glass pieces and cast sparkling designs on yellow, purple, reds, and blue on the sprawling crisp white walls.

    You're Invited!

    Pay tribute to the incredible skill displayed at the Morris Museum, as stated by the Maestro himself: “Glass is a wonderful material. Why? Because the glass is alive. Even when it is cool, it is still moving. It is connected with fire, it is connected with water, it is so natural. Glass is my life.” Each piece is born from a heated furnace up to 4500 degrees and laboriously molded with patience and gentle movements giving each one a uniquely specific personality, mobility, and radiance of color.

    For those interested in witnessing this piece of Italian culture, tickets to the opening reception here available here

  • 812 Superfast by Ferrari
    Life & People

    Ferrari 812 Superfast: Most Powerful Car in the World

    It doesn’t take a car expert to recognize the signature style and roar of a Ferrari. Renowned for their power, speed, and innovation, Ferrari continues to push the limits with the new Ferrari 812 Superfast. The world premiere of the new, extreme performance V12 Berlinetta occured in Geneva on February 16, 2017.

    The 812 Superfast signifies a new era for Ferrari 12-cylinder's history, doing so by building upon the invaluable legacies left by previous designs–the F12 Berlinetta and the F12 tdf. With a comfortable interior and fine mechanical tuning, the car is great both on and off the track.

    Souped up with the most powerful engine on the market, the front-engined vehicle sports a 6.5-litre V12 engine that unleashes a groundbreaking 800 cv with its maximum power output at 8,500 rpm. These figures have significantly overtaken any other high performance vehicle of its class. The maximum torque is 718 Nm @ 7,000 rpm, a significant 80% of which is already available at 3,500 rpm, improving driveability and acceleration at low revs. The 812 Superfast’s dual-clutch transmission has specific gear ratios, which, combined with shorter up and down-shifting times between gears, sharpen throttle response even more.  

    But what truly sets the Superfast ahead of its competitors is the addition of the Electric Power Steering. Ferrari boasts about both the system's design and the limited availablity of a similar system amongst Ferrari's competitors. Aside from providing top-notch handling and control, the EPS offers complete integration with all the electronic vehicle dynamic controls, comprising the latest version of Ferrari’s patented creation. The Virtual Short Wheelbase 2.0 rear-steering package reduces the car's response time and provides for more nimble handling.

    With a sleek body that is reminiscent of the glorious 365 GTB4 of 1969, an interior that points to a luxury automobile, and the most technological innovation in a Ferrari to date, the Superfast is sure to be the most exciting Ferrari yet.

  • Stanley Tucci, director of the Final Portrait
    Art & Culture

    Stanley Tucci Captures Giacometti's Final Portrait

    Stanley Tucci directs the 2017 film “The Final Portrait.” It is a whitty and encouraging chamber piece based on a true story that covers a brief period of time from when the American writer James Lord sat for a portrait by the world famous artist, Alberto Giacometti while he created the "Portrait of James Lord.” Between the artist’s profane outbursts, chaotic workspace, and countless demands for the young sitter, a connection was established between the two, grounded in a mutual understanding and respect for the process of artistic creation.

    Alberto Giacometti is a highly acclaimed contemporary artist from Swizerland, much of his work is displayed around the world and held at the same status as Pablo Picasso and other headlining modern successors. He is known for his rough, eroded, thin sculptural style that focuses on the male and female body. Most of his art exudes realism and nostalgia of the Classical depiction of the human body.

    The Cast

    In "The Final Portrait," Geoffrey Rush plays Giacometti with great empathy and without a filter, complete with gray wirey hair, glasses, and a lot of cigerettes. Arnie Hammer acts as the young charming writer, James Lord.  Despite Giacometti's demands and requests, for whom Lord cancelled many unforgivingly expensive return flights to New York under the impression the portrait would have only taken a few hours, he never once dared to express ingratitude for the opportunity. Sylvie Testud plays Anette, Giacometti’s wife, who seeks vengeance for her husband’s passion for his mistress Caroline, played by the beautiful Clémence Poésy. The final member of the small cast is the multi-talented actor and close friend of Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, who plays the brother and studio assistant, Luigi Giacometti.

    How Tucci Portrayed Characters of Such Complexity 

    The plotline is developed around the relationship that develops between the artist and his subject. During most of the movie Giacometti creates, destroys, covers up, and scraps nearly completed works right before the sitter’s eyes. A companionship procures from Lord’s assurance that art can be finished, against the painter’s proceedings of outbursts about failure. It seems as though Giacometti needed to create a relationship to project and incorporate Lord's unspoken charactaristics onto the easel, this could be why the portrait lasted 18 agonizing sits. The final portrait stands for a realization that there was nothing more Giacometti could have added or removed, a tangible evidence of overcoming self-doubt.

    Lord's Novel: Tucci's Inspiration 

    Lord’s novel came 20 years before his biography of Giacometti, which superceded the portrait by a year. When Tucci approached Lord with the movie idea over 10 years ago, the American author did not hand over the rights, he was steadfast in the belief that a movie on the portait was an impossible task. When Tucci explained his exact vision, Lord agreed and the long process of “The Final Portrait” began.

    Tucci centers his film in Giacometti’s studio primarily, and to the viewer, the experience of the duration of time passed between the two feels extremely realistic. With that, however, the viewer also develops an understanding of the art process, the painstaking hours that are physically and mentally exhausting; experienced both by the artist and the subject. When Giacometti nurtures a liking for Lord, deep memories, hardened truths, and opinions create an uncensored friendship. Lord finally coaxes the frustrated artist into accepting the portrait as a finished piece, after times where the project seemed doomed.

    The Portrait, The Novel, The Film

    The result of the notorious exchange is a portrait created by Giacometti in 1964 titled the “Portrait of James Lord” and is currently being showed in the National Portrait Gallery in London. The image is created with deep shades of black and charcoal gray. A seated James Lord takes the focal point and the eyes are drawn to the folded hands on his lap. His body language emanates power and strength, his shoulders are thrown back and his chin high while an aura of silvery gray paint surrounds and illuminates him, as if a deity or a Pharaoh.  

    The film is a snapshot of a mastermind from Lord’s, and then Tucci’s superb composition, and it is not just for art enthusiasts. The film caters to anyone who seeks an encouraging amount of character development. One can pay tribute to Giacometti's ability to break cultural barriers and define contemporary art in his active days. The script is witty, the characters are casted to perfection, and the rendition reminisces an artistic bond that changed history. Tucci admits he was inspired by Lord's novel about his experience sitting with the artist, and has always wanted to direct this film. 

    Three works of art came from this encounter; the portrait itself, Lord’s 1965 writing account, and in 2017 Stanley Tucci’s dedicational film “The Final Portrait.” A paradigm of the arts transpires; hard work of an artist creating the portrait, Lord’s writing career, and the years of Tucci’s dedication to make the film screen ready, against popular beliefs. All three began with an idea, followed by trials where the vision seemed impossible and needed to be restarted again and again, and a finished product that is perfect in the artist’s eyes. The striking combination of portraiture, writing, and film directing each as a specific field of art come together in this 2017 masterpiece. 

  • Art & Culture

    Botticelli Visits United States with Rare Venus Painting

    For the first time in history a Venus painting by the renowned Early Renaissance painter Sandro Botticceli will exhibit in the United States, along with sixteen other of his works. Beginning at the Muscarelle Museum of Art in Virginia then traveling to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the masterpiece titled "Venus" is only one of two images of the goddess where Botticceli painted her completely isolated. The exhibition is called “Botticelli and the Search for the Divine: Florentine Painting between the Medici and the Bonfires of the Vanities.” The exhibition covers the different stages of his development as an artist, his transitions in skill, and the consequence of his time period.

    Bringing Botticcelli to the United States

    Director of the College of William and Mary’s Muscarelle Museum of Art Dr. Aaron De Groft comments his pride and excitement, stating the honor to have such a display of culture and talent in the United States for the first time. The collaborative efforts of both hosting museums, Italy’s Associazione Culturale Metamorfosi, as well as the Italian Embassy have successfully brought some of Bottecceli's most desired images from around the world, to two great American cities.

    “I am touched by the magnificence of these paintings, some of which are exhibited for the first time in this prestigious museum which I wish to thank for its excellent collaboration with the Embassy of Italy” states the Ambassador of Italy to the United States, Armando Varricchio, pertaining to the Muscarelle Museum of Art in Williamsburg.

    The History of a Legond

    Born Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipei in the Republic of Florence in 1445, Betticelli’s name, meaning little bottles, came from his brother. His artistic career took off before his 18th birthday, growing in popularity for both his religious symbolism and classical idology. Significant credit is granted to his teacher and distinguished Renaissance painter, Fra Filippo Lippi. Six magnificant images by Lippi will also be touring alongside his student’s work in the United States.

    “Botticelli and the Search for the Divine” is highly anticipated for one of the most rare paintings in existence by the artist, an image of Venus standing in complete solidarity, stripped of space and time, originally from the Galleria Sabauda museum in Turin. Botticelli has produced masterpieces with Venus as the main focal point e.g. Primavera and The Birth of Venus (currently displayed on adjacent walls in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence), and they have both procured a reputation for their infamous promiscuity. Subsequently, he has only created two paintings with Venus standing without any company whatsoever. 

    Botticelli's New Vantage Point

    The Medici family was one of Botticelli’s largest clients. This offers an explanation for why his work covered diverse ideologies, between pagan and religious figures. Another explanation is that the Renaissance era was a time for Classical revival while upholding respect towards the Catholic Church. In fact, Botticelli depicted the Madonna and Child far more than any other pagan symbols, Venus included. 

    The full title of the exhibiton, “Botticelli and the Search for the Divine: Florentine Painting between the Medici and the Bonfires of the Vanities” signifies the time period of the displayed Botticelli works, beginning with his main clients, the Medici Family, and ending with the iconoclasm of Girolamo Savonarola. The paintings commissioned by the Medici often displayed religious images with the Madonna, depicted with the same facial features as Lorenzo de' Medici’s mother while she holds an infant.  Of course some figures are ambiguous, while others have direct physical correlations to the Medici family, causing strife in the religious community.

    At the end of the Medici reign, Girolamo Savonarola rose in power with the objective of destroying their legacy and restoring the Republic of Florence as a religious powerhouse. He created the “Bonfire of the Vanities,” a collective burning of all secular motifs including art, mirrors, cosmetics, and anything that was rendered "vein."  Some transcriptions show that Botticelli destroyed some of his own pagan paintings.  Evidently, on display in the United States tour will also include depictions of the Medici sworn enemy, Dominican Priest Savonarola.

    The Legacy on Desplay

    Botticelli’s art has been compared to Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and many other artistic maestros. Even today, Botticelli is so highly recognized, The Madonna and Child, with a Pomegranate, in an Alcove with Roses Behind sold for $7.5 million in less than three minutes during a Christie’s auction in 2006. He painted sections of the Sistine Chapel, and resides in museums around the world. This will be the largest Botticceli display to ever take place in the United States. Pieces are on loan from The Uffizi Gallery, The Pitti Palace, The Accademia Gallery, The Bargello National Museum, The Museum of San Marco of Florence, The Cini Foundation of Venice, and The Cathedral museum of Prato and the Civic museum of San Gimignano, gracing Americans with their presence in two headlining museums. 

  • Since 2015 Cipriani 42nd Street hosts the NIAF NYC Gala
    Facts & Stories

    NIAF New York City Gala: A Starstudded Affair

    The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) excitedly anticipates its New York Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street, March 22, 2017. It is a night to honor NIAF’s mission of paying tribute to the Italian American community, demonstrating the success that derives from generations of hard work. In attendance included athletes, politicians, businessman and other Italian American dignitaries that adhere to their vision.

    NIAF is a non-profit foundation based in Washington, D.C. aimed toward the preservation of the Italian American heritage. On behalf of the 25 million Italo-Americans that make up this country, they thrived on the conservation of culture through the support of Italian Americans of all ages and careers through scholarships, fellowships, and other philanthropic contributions.

    Each year the New York City gala boasts the finest Italian food, wine, and entertainment as a message of gratitude for the each contribution bestowed by the Italian-American community. The event stands for recognizing the values and dedication of the Italian community in our great nation.

    This years honorees include Shirley and Vernon E. Hill, the founders of InterArch and Metro Bank, Vincent A. Cino Chariman of Jackson Lewis P.C. and former National Director of Litigation, and finally Cooking with Nonna host Rossella Rago.  A true depiction of the diverse impact of Italian Americans that shape our nation, anchored in the message that came with their ancestors through Ellis Island.

    Governor Andrew M. Cuomo will bestow the annual Mario M. Cuomo Award in Public Serice to Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services, Maria T. Vullo, who was appointed by Governor Cuomo himself. This award, named after Andrew Cuomo’s father, has been created by NIAF's president John M. Viola “to recognize Italian American public servants who are known for their passion, their conviction, and their dedication to serving the Italian American community.”

    Previous honorees and attendees include Martin Scorsese, Sophia Loren, Al Pacino, Jack Valenti, Luciano Pavarotti, Giorgio Armani, Danny DeVito, Maria Bartiromo, Mike Piazza, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Joe Piscopo and other pioneers in business, sports, entertainment, and politics.

    Entertainment by singer, songwriter, and composer ALFIO will charm the 500 guests with his Dean Martin style performance. Each year the New York City Gala sells out completely. Arrivals for the Gala begin at 6:30 pm.  Attendees will move into the principal hall at 7:30pm for the reception and the Awards Ceremony. The event is cocktail attire and tickets begin at $500. Tickets available here.

    NIAF’s New York Gala is chaired by Gerard S. LaRocca, a member of NIAF’s Board of Directors. Proceeds from NIAF’s New York Gala will benefit the Foundation’s philanthropic and educational programs.

    The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., dedicated to preserving the heritage of Italian Americans. Visit

  • A model of the new German design
    Art & Culture

    Preserving the Past: New Efforts to Support the Verona Amphitheater

    A group of German firms have taken on a three-year project to better preserve Verona’s Ancient Roman arena in an effort to slow natural structural deterioration. Calzedonia, a famous clothing brand founded in Verona, financed a competition seeking the best functional design to protect the arena from atmospheric damage.

    The Verona Arena is comprised of white and pink limestone, standing since the first century AD. The landmark's original use was for the Ancient Roman Ludi (olympic-style games). During the Renaissance, the amphitheater developed a reputation for its outstanding acoustics and become home to a high volume of operatic performances. Today, it continues to function as a large-scale opera house, and is one of the largest ancient amphitheaters that remains, after suviving earthquakes and severe weather conditions. 

    Despite its antiquity, the structure is well preserved; however, the years of rainfall, tourists, and spectators have left their mark. Calzedonia opened the compeition last year to create a cover that blends well with the ancient structure, while simultaneously providing protection when the theater is in use. 

    The German companies Schlaich Bergermann & Partner and Gerkan Marg & Partners were selected out of 90 applicants from around the world to complete the project. They were chosen for their design plan to build a retractable covering that will be used only when protection from the elements is necessary.  When it is not needed, it folds into itself and is left unseen behind the arena. This design not only keeps rain off the monument, the number one priority, but also allows the arena to be used all year despite weather conditions, covering the aforementioned criteria.

    Recently, a Pompeian monument collapsed outside Naples. Calzedonia is attempting, at all costs, to avoid this same fate for The Verona Arena. Therefore, protecting the architectural structure from irreversible weather related damage is key. This project will cost 13.5 million euros. Although some people believe that the amphitheater should be left alone and that this covering could put the amphitheater at risk of collapsing, their fears are outweighed by the importance of preserving ancient culture for the benefit of the arts.

  • FIAT 500
    Art & Culture

    Celebrating 60 Years of an Iconic Vehicle: The FIAT 500

    It’s no secret that Italians embrace compact vehicles far more than Americans. Due to Europe's high gas prices and narrow cobblestone streets, they prove to be more practical. In 1957, the world of compact cars was transformed when Dante Giacosa launched the FIAT Nuova 500. It gained popularity not only for its unforgettable body shape, fuel efficiency, and nimble handling, but also for becoming the first true city car made specifically with the public's demands in mind.

    The History of the Novel Vehicle

    It was July of 1957 when the FIAT Nuova 500 was released. Gasoline and steel were expensive in Italy at the time, and Italian automobile designer and engineer Dante Giacosa was determined to create a car that would be as minimalistic as possible. The interior was, in fact, so minimalistic that car was devoid of a turn signal lever on the steering column, and the headlights were operated via the position of the ignition key. The two-seater Nuova 500 was barely 10 feet long and 5 feet wide; however, it had room for two passengers and two suitcases. Although it is quite rare on modern automobiles, the car featured suicide doors (opening in reverse), which were relatively common during the early 20th century. The Nuova 500 was only available in one body style: a soft-top convertible. The original vehicle was powered by a 479 cc two-cylinder engine coupled to a four-speed manual gearbox. Total power output was rated at a measly 13 horsepower. For comparison, a modern lawn tractor has approximately the same power output.

    By November, due to a lack of sales, the model lineup had already begun to change in order to better align itself with the demands of Italian consumers. Two new variations of the car were released: the 500 Economico and the 500 N NormaleThe Economico received a 15 horsepower motor and was able to reach a top speed 55 miles per hour. The N Normale also received the same powerplant upgrade, but was given new metallic trim pieces, a rear seat, and controls for both the headlights and the turn signals on the steering column. Sales of the FIAT 500 began booming, and it became one of the most popular vehicles in Italy. New models were released throughout the 60s and 70s, during which time FIAT experimented designs that included stronger engines, soft-tops and hardtops, and other interior & exterior improvements, all while maintaining Giacosa’s original styling.

    Today, the 1957 FIAT 500 is a vintage piece, rising in price among collectors. It's celebrating its 60th birthday this year in July. No other automobile can truly boast popularity so long-lived as the FIAT 500.

    The Car 60 Years Later...

    In 2007, FIAT reinvented their iconic car and created the modern FIAT 500 that we see on the road today. Externally, the body has taken on a sleeker and more aerodynamic form. On the inside, the dashboard resembles a 1960s radio, and its form and pastel color scheme are modeled after a retro moped. The new 500 is also equipped with modern safety features. A wide variety of powertrains and gearboxes are available and vary depending on the market of purchase (European, North American, etc...)

    In 2014, FIAT decided to pay tribute to its 1957 FIAT 500 Nuova. Thus was born the "FIAT 500 1957 Edition." The exterior of the car is adorned with 1957-style FIAT badges, classic-styled wheels, and your choice of one of four different retro colors. The interior of the 1957 Edition includes a Beats Audio Premium Audio System™ and subtle earth toned leather-trimmed seats.

    As of 2017, the FIAT 500 comes in three models, each with varying trims: the 2017 FIAT 500X, a stylish crossover; the 2017 FIAT 500L, which is similar to a minivan; and the original FIAT 500.

    FIAT Today

    As of 2014, FIAT completed its acquisition of United States automaker Chrysler, following Chrysler's Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009. FIAT's ownership of Chrysler gave the Italian vehicles an easy access point to the American market. Prior to 2010, FIAT cars had not been sold in the United States for 26 years. Their headquarters remains in Turin, Italy, and their factories are located around the world. FIAT additionally manages the Dodge, Jeep, Maserati, and Alfa Romeo brands. 

    FIAT created an automotive revolution simply by complying to popular demand and conceiving a high quality vehicle at a low price. It’s no surprise over 300,000 original 1957 FIAT 500s still remain. From 1957 cobblestone streets to 2017 big cities, the FIAT 500 continues to be the perfect city car, made for the people. 

  • Directors of two Captain America films, Russo Bothers
    Facts & Stories

    Russo Brothers Offer Young Filmmakers an Unforgettable Opportunity

    Known for their work directing the Hollywood blockbusters Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War along with the TV sensation Arrested Development, the Russo Brothers, Anthony and Joe, are offering young filmmakers an incredible opportunity.

    $7,500 will be awarded to ambitious filmmakers to create a documentary based on the Italian American experience. The new program is known as The Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum and is working in conjunction with the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) and the Italian Sons and Daughters of America (ISDA). Together they are granting filmmakers of all nationalities the freedom to provide what they believe captures the essence of the Italian-American experience. The initiative is a campaign for the Italian American film industry through different perspectives. Applicants must send their material in February, the Russo brothers will next narrow those down and select the finalists who will receive the grant to create the documentary. Winners will be announced at NIAF's 2017 Gala. 

    In a press conference at NIAF’s 2016 Gala, Anthony and Joe Russo spoke about how their first documentary was completed on a budget less than $10,000. Owing a lot of their success to the consistant encouragemnet of their parents and their Italian heritage, the two have developed an opportunity that promotes an Italo-Americano premise while giving free creative range to aspiring filmmakers. 

    Both ISDA and NIAF share identical ideology as the Russo brothers: empowering the creative arts to enrich the Italian American community while embracing the ambition of the young creative mind. This provides special educational opportunities while spreading a culture that is deeply rooted in family. The brothers speak volumes to the support of the parents and friends in achieving their dream, they have created The Russo Brothers Italian American Film Forum to spread the power of community, an innate aspect to being Italian-American.

    John Viola, the president of NIAF, speaks highly about the collaboration with ISDA and the honor of working with the Russo brothers. He states the integral mission of NIAF to educate young Italian Americans while embracing the arts. Basil M. Russo, president and founder of ISDA and the father of Anthony and Joe, has commented his highest regards for allowing this unique opportunity to preserve heritage while honoring the mark of the Italian community on this great nation. 

    The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., dedicated to preserving the heritage of Italian Americans. Visit