Articles by: Giulia Madron

  • Events: Reports

    It comes from Alba, De Blasio's Delicious Gift to Manhattan's Food & Finance High School

    On Tuesday, November 19th, the Food & Finance High School, New York’s premiere culinary arts high school, hosted a special event. 

    The protagonist was an 11-ounce white truffle that was sold for $ 8,000 at the annual World White Truffle Auction in the city of Alba, in the Piedmont region, and gifted to the recent elected mayor of New York Bill De Blasio, who donated it to the school.

    Every autumn, which is the period in which truffles are picked up, the city of Alba holds this historic truffle auction sale, whose funds are donated to the Piedmont Foundation for Cancer research. Since World War II, the largest “Truffle of The Year” was sent to important public figures and celebrities all over the world. Past lucky recipients of such a prestigious product include President Reagan, John Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Alfred Hitchcock, Rita Hayworth and Sofia Loren.

    The event at the school started at 2pm and lasted until 3pm. The students, who were from grades 9th through 12th, assisted some of the New York’s top chefs and some members of the faculty in preparing tasty recipes using the special, and expensive, white truffle, hand-delivered by the acclaimed food historian Francine Segan. Segan, who was asked to bring the prestigious product by the Tourism Board of Tu Langhe Roero and the Mayor of Alba, opened the event with a visual presentation on the history and other special remarks on truffles.

    To feed the 500 people who attended the event, Colavita USA donated high-quality pasta and extra virgin olive oil. Thanks to them, everyone was able to enjoy and have a taste of the extremely fragrant white truffle. Before the truffle was served, Jonathan Benno, Chef executive at Lincoln Ristorante who came for this special occasion, cleaned the precious truffle, cut it into pieces and then shaved it over pasta that students had prepared earlier.

    “I am delighted to offer our students a once-in-a-lifetime culinary experience,” said Roger Turgeon, Principal, Food & Finance High School. “Our comprehensive culinary arts program and full academic curriculum is truly preparing the next generation of top chefs. We sincerely thank mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and the Tourism Board of Tu Langhe Roero for gifting us with this exceptional white truffle. We look forward to bringing our school community together to celebrate the renowned locality of Alba and one of the earth’s treasures.”

    Before leaving the school, all the students and guests left their special “thanks” to Bill De Blasio on two posters that were attached at the entrance of the building.

  • Facts & Stories

    La Notte 2013: A Gala Benefit in the Name of Italian Culture

    Another great success for the second annual edition of the Gala Benefit organized by La Fondazione NY. The event, La Notte 2013, took place on November 4, 2013, at The Morgan Library & Museum of New York. This exquisit initiative and fundraising event was aimed to promote La Fondazione’s mission of supporting young Italian and American talents through several projects with the objective of creating a cultural bridge between Italy and the US.

    Throughout the year, which was also dedicated to the celebration of the Italian culture in the US, La Fondazione was able to finance and promote many initiatives which gave the possibility to young talents of both countries to advance in their career by taking it abroad and integrating within a different culture. Among the initiatives: The Gotham Prize 2013, the Top Young Industrial Designers Prize, the Young Italian Filmmakers Prize 2013 and the ISNAFF Award for the Humanities.

    On the occasion of this edition of the Gala Benefit, La Fondazione NY invited two prominent personalities: John Elkann, Chairman of FIAT and the famous architect Richard Meier. Furthermore, La Fondazione assigned the Excellence in Business Award to Claudio Del Vecchio, Chairman of Brooks Brothers Group and the 2013 Award for Excellence in Finance to Alberto Cribiore, Vice Chairman ICG Citigroup.

    Among the guests, present was also Piero Fassino, Mayor of Turin, and a delightful speach was given by Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York, whom unfortunately was too busy to hobnob for the whole evening.

    Before the gala, The Morgan Library & Museum hosted a press conference, introducing to the media the goals and the future objectives of La Fondazione NY. The conference was attended by the President of La Fondazione, Mr. Massimo Vignelli, the Director of the Italian Cultural Institute and Founder of La Fondazione, Riccardo Viale, the Honoree and President of FIAT John Elkann and the two award winners Claudio Del Vecchio, CEO of Brooks Brothers, and Alberto Cribiore, Vice Chairman of ICG Citigroup.

    “La Fondazione was born from the desire to present to the world young Italian and American talents, guaranteeing them an incredible experience that goes beyond their academic knowledge. In particular the exhibition of the young Italian designers confirmed what these initiatives mean. And we just begun. In the future we will be promoting more projects and we will widen our horizons in terms of cultural exchange between Italy and the United States,” said Massimo Vignelli, renown designer and President of La Fondazione.

    “With this event we want to highlight the importance of La Fondazione’s mission of becoming an instrument to build relationships between the US and Italy on a cultural basis,” commented Riccardo Viale, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute and Founder of La Fondazione NY.

    “This year we focused on cinema, design and human sciences. Next year we want to promote literature and graphic design,” he added.

    The objective of La Fondazione is to strengthen the relationships between Italy and the US. Supporting young talents abroad is also very important  for the Chairman of FIAT and Honoree of the Gala Benefit John Elkann.

    “FIAT- Chrysler is an example of the good relation there is between Italy and the US. Tonight, FIAT invited twelve young Italian talents in different fields, from journalism to business and finance,” said Elkann.

    Both of the awarded guests Claudio Del Vecchio and Alberto Cribiore said they were very proud to represent Italy at the Gala Benefit organized by La Fondazione. “Being part of every effort aimed to maintain the image of Italy in this delicate moment is something extremely important,” concluded Cribiore.

    After the press conference, the Gala Benefit began. Everyone could leave their work behind and just enjoy the pleasant atmosphere of La Notte 2013. More than 300 guests attended the event at The Morgan Library & Museum, all exhibiting stunning outfits, especially the ladies.

    The Gala Benefit 2013 offered a very special occasion for people to come together and enjoy a wonderful evening. Indeed, the program of La Notte 2013 had a lot of surprises for its attendants. All the guests had private access to the wonderful exhibition of Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings from the Biblioteca Reale di Torino. Moreover, before the Gala dinner, hosted in the Gilbert Court, the museum’s wing recently designed by the famous architect Renzo Piano, the worldwide renowned violinist Robert McDuffie delighted the audience with an outstanding performance of Vivaldi, Philip Glass and other musical pieces. During the Gala dinner, the two Honorees and the two 2013 awarded winners were presented to the audience through a short video produced by i-Italy TV, in which they briefly talked about their stories and their love for Italy and for Italian culture. Then, La Fondazione proceeded handing out the awards.

    Last but not least, when the guests were ready to leave a special gift was waiting for them near the door. A bag by Bvlgari, which included one of their newest fragrances for women. There was a special surprise for one of the Honorees as well. When John Elkann walked out of The Morgan Library, a FIAT 500 car was parked outside the door. Not an ordinary one. The new i-Italy FIAT 500 car, sponsored by Colavita and Baci Perugina and designed by the master of the house of La Fondazione Mr. Massimo Vignelli. A couple of pictures with this little Italian jewel were taken and everyone headed back home looking forward to the next wonderful Notte of La Fondazione NY, that couldn’t have ended better this year dedicated to Italy and its beautiful culture.

  • Art & Culture

    Leonardo: A Genius in New York

    This morning, the Morgan Library & Museum opened its doors to a unique exhibition featuring some of the most famous works of Leonardo da Vinci, one of the geniuses of Italian Renaissance. For the first time in New York, this exclusive exhibition includes a wonderful selection of Leonardo da Vinci’s works from the Biblioteca Reale of Turin.

    Among the pieces there is one of his most celebrated manuscripts, the Codex on the Flight of Birds, and his wonderful Head of a Young Woman.

    These two masterpieces are surrounded by many others drawings by Leonardo, confirming his excellency in both science and art. In addition, the exhibition includes works from Leonardo’s followers and the Morgan’s Codex Huygens, a manuscript collecting lost notes of this great Renaissance master.

    The initiative to have such amazing exhibition in New York is the result of a wonderful collaboration between the American and the Italian Cultural Institutions: the Morgan Library & Museum and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Italian Cultural Heritage and Activities, the Embassy of Italy in Washington D.C., and the Biblioteca Reale in Turin in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute of New York and La Fondazione New York.

    “Leonardo is one of the famous artists who ever lived. He had been an inspiration to generations of scientists, artists and thinkers, and to have these drawings here at the Morgan it’s exciting and it’s a wonderful selection of drawings that show every aspect of his work,” says William M. Griswold, director of the Morgan Library & Museum.

    And, talking about how this collaboration between Italy and US started, he concluded: “this is a work of a team of individuals and institutions of both sides of the Atlantic. We had tremendous help from our Italian colleagues, in the Government, at the Biblioteca Reale, we had wonderful assistance from the Italian Cultural Institute in New York and from La Fondazione in New York.”

    At the event there were also present important representatives of Italian Cultural Institutions, who actively participated to the realization of this great initiative.

    “Having the possibility to show here in New York this extraordinary Italian genius represents an important moment and the proximity between Italy and United States, especially for Turin that, like Detroit, is an automotive city that went through a crisis but that now, thanks to culture, has find a new youth,” affirms Mario Turetta, Regional Director for the Cultural Heritage and Landscapes of Piedmont.

    “Who better than Leonardo can present and introduce Italian culture in the US,” says Riccardo Viale, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute, who, since last year, committed to bring this exhibition to the US to celebrate the year of the Italian culture. “Leonardo da Vinci is always contemporary for what it’s the change in knowledge, science and art. Leonardo was a precursor of all this and to have such amazing drawings like the study of the angel for La Vergine delle Rocce or the Codex of Flight is something that makes this event the best for the year of the Italian culture in the US.”

    This fantastic exhibition will open a series of events organized by the Morgan Library and entirely dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci’s genius. On November 1, 2013 there will be a Gallery Talk about “Leonardo da Vinci: Treasures from the Biblioteca Reale, Turin,” with an informal tour with curator Per Rumberg.

    The next day, there will be an interactive talk in which a museum educator will lead participants in an hour-long discussion on a selection of works by Leonardo. Last but not least, on December 19, 2013, a special lecture, “Leonardo the Artist-Scientist and His Notebooks,” together with Carmen C. Bambach, Curator of the Department of Drawings and Prints of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For further information, visit >>>

    This unique opportunity to enjoy such exclusive exhibition will last until February 2, 2014.

  • Life & People

    Fred Plotkin. Story of an Endless Love

    He is American but we could say he is more Italian than Italians themselves. Fred Plotkin, an expert in Italian culture, especially food, wine and opera, in occasion of the celebration of the month dedicated to the Marche region in New York, made our mind travel back to this wonderful Italian territory and experience Marche’s history, tradition, culture, food, architecture and music. On Thursday evening, at La Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò he delighted us with a speech about Marche revealing the best kept secrets about this region and its people, from the past until today.

    From food to wine, from Rossini to Pavarotti, Plotkin seduced the participants with details, stories and personal experiences in such a wonderful region. The event, entitled Marche, Food and Opera: A Love Story with Fred Plotkin, ended with a special tasting of food and wine typical of the Marche region. After serving ourselves from the attractive buffet, we asked Mr. Plotkin to answer a couple of questions about what is special for him about Marche and in general about one of the loves of his life: Italy.   
    “The fact that this is a small region, with only about a million people, and inaccessible to many people, means that it has preserved many of the best qualities of what everyone loves about Italy,” said Plotkin. “It’s modern, but it also feels like once upon a time. You go out for the passeggiata, the cafes are beautiful, the food is not troubled by fancy alta cucina but is just delicious genuine food that comes from three kilometers away. So, the freshness of the food is unlike anything you find in other places.” While showing us his book about Italy, its regions with their own traditions and many other curiosities, you could feel his passion in the words used to talk about Italy. “I love almost everything Italian,” says Plotkin.

    “There is a logic about Italy that is thousands of years old. And Italians, some of them, know the logic, but they don’t analyze it. I understand the logic and that’s what drove me to Italy.” According to such an amazing Italian expert, everything in Italy “is built on top of something else.” “Via Salaria is an explanation about how commerce happened, about how people moved from one place to another, how food customs developed, and throughout the entire country there is this logic, that is different from place to place but the foundation is the same.” However, says Plotkin, “I think Italy has been corrupted by Europeanization and Americanization. When they try to emulate things from outside the country, they corrupt the logic.” But, concludes, “I think even now we have more to learn from Italy than Italy has to learn from us. We need to better understand Italian logic to do things better.”

  • Facts & Stories

    Bloody Mediterranean

    The journey of hope turned out to be the journey of death. At sunrise this morning, off the seashore of Lampedusa, a boat with almost 500 migrants from Libia stood up in flames and in turn tipped over,  bringing death and spreading desperation in the area.

    94 is the disquieting number of deaths reported so far, among which are  4 children and a pregnant woman. This dramatic event was apparently originated on board, when some immigrants set fire to a blanket in order to be seen by a fishing boat near by.

    According to the police authorities, the fire spread throughout the boat, burning it, dueto an existing fuel leak. The alarm was sent by two boats that were passing by. The rescuers came right away and are still working hard to help people who are still afloat. So far, out of the 500 immigrants who left Libia 12 hours ago, only 151 were rescued and brought to safety of the Lampedusa harbor. However, more that 250 are still missing.

    Reactions from the political world  after this tragic event came right away. The Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta met with the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs Angelino Alfano, who immediately went to the island of Lampedusa to see the develping tragedy. “This is not only an Italian problem, but we have to understand it is a European problem as well,” declared Alfano, whom this afternoon will speak on the phone with José Barroso, President of the European Commission.

    Pope Francis, who in July visited the Island and spoke out against the ‘globalization of indifference’ towards the immigrants, faced with such tragedy could only declare: “The only word that comes up is shame, it’s a shame!”

    This inauspicious event occured just one day after the the European Union's disaprobation of Italy’s immigration policies. The EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn commented on the current calamity:  “The EU institutions express all their suffering for what happened in Lampedusa. This tragedy saw the death of children. "The EU has to figure out how it can help.” affirmed Hahn. The European Counsil, according to the ANSA agency, assured that Europe has to show more solidarity towards Italy, and mostly in regards to the illegal immigrantion.

    What took place today adds to all the dramatic accidents that the Mediterranean sea witnessed in the past 10 years. So far, more that 6200 people died crossing the canal of Sicily.

  • Tourism

    Marche Is Good: One Month Journey through Marche's Goodness

    “Marche is Good.” This is the official name of the integrated project created by the Marche Region and Confindustria Marche to promote and bring to the United States this wonderful Italian territory with its best kept secrets. A whole month to discover the food, art and design of such amazing region.

    On Tuesday, October 1, 2013, Eataly opened its door for the inauguration of the event attended by many guests, journalists and bloggers specialized in food and wine but also lifestyle and tourism. “We are very proud of introducing our Region in the United States,” said the Councillor of Culture Pietro Marcolini, greeting the guests who came at the event. “Our land,” he continued, “ is the land of Raffaello, Rossini and Dante Ferretti. All of them are included in the celebration of our territory here in New York.” Indeed, at the MoMa, there is a special exhibition dedicated to the famous designer Dante Ferretti. During the event, the guests were been spoiled with delicious dishes and wines typicals of the Marche Region. “A lot of work but we are having great satisfactions,” said Orietta Maria Varnelli, coordinator of the Marche is Good project. “We are very happy of having for one whole month the products of the Marche, which are unique especially here in New York where they never came until today,” said Dino Borri of Eataly.

    At the School of Eataly, where the event was hosted, was also introduced the main divulgation tool of this project: a web portal showcasing not only the 36 wine and food products but also those people from the Marche who hit the United States being very “good” in several fields: food, fashion, design, politics and academics.

    The same day, at the Italian Cultural Institute was exposed the statue of “Santa Caterina D’Alessandria,” a precious piece made by young Raffaello, that will remain at the Institute until October 28.

    Afterwards, the launch of the Marche is Good project continued with a special event at the wonderful showroom of Scavolini in Soho. For the occasion, Scavolini, the leader Italian firm specialized in the design of kitchens and bathrooms, housed a special photo show realized by the photographer Francesco Tonelli, who, inspired by the recipes of the chef Fabio Trabocchi, decided to dedicate a special artistic creation, “Marchattan,” in which the food products were originally arranged to recreate the silouhette of the Manhattan Skyline. With so many Scavolini’s kitchens, food was something that could not miss.

    An exquisite buffet of Marche’s specialties was offered to the guests who could not resist the smell of what was coming out from the kitchen. From Marche with love arrived also two authentic costumes from the Rossini Opera Festival, giving to the location a very striking atmosphere. Furthermore, the young singers of the Mannes School of Music, livened up the evening for, the joy of the numerous guests, interpreting the traditional music operas of Rossini and Pergolesi, also with a special homage to Verdi, in occasion of the bicentennial anniversary. Moreover, the French singer Nicole Renauld, equipped with a luminescent concertina, combined with high heels as much luminescent as the instrument, interpreted several pieces written by Italian authors, including those from the Marche Region.

    This special music show took place under the careful attention of the Sferisterio’s Director Francesco Micheli, who will bring the opera also to the Guglielmo Marconi School, the New York University and in the prestigious Italian House Zerilli-Marimo’, which keeps alive the opera tradition in the US. 

    A very full calendar of appointments throughout the whole month of October. There are a lot of events on this dense agenda aimed to value the culture, the traditions, the food and also the brands that made the Marche Region the special place it is today.
    "Marche is good" website >>>

  • Life & People

    Anna Sammarone & her Retrò Suggestions

    Grit and determination are what distinguish this Italian fashion designer: Anna Sammarone.

    Born in Larino, a town in Molise, Italy, to a wealthy family, after high school Anna decided to study law to become an incorruptible judge.

    But the court was not her place...and the toga, probably was not her favourite outfit! She decided to follow the dream of her childhood: making clothes, at the same time bringing joy to her father, who always recognized the artist in her.

    She went back to her beloved Larino and started her new business opening her first shop. And it was immediately a success.

    In 2006 she created the prete-a-porter fashion line Anna Sammarone.

    The beauty, the simplicity, the colors and the elegance of her designs seduced women from all over the world.

    Since 2009 she has been presenting her creations in the United States starting to gain recognition from the most demanding clients of New York.

    Now, Anna Sammarone, who is definitely not new in New York City, is coming back with the 2013 Winter Trunk Show.

    The event will run from Tuesday October 15 to Friday October 18 at Le Parker Meridien - suite 3923 on 119 west 56th street.

    ANNA SAMMARONE Retrò Suggestion

    A deep journey back to the past.

    A collection that evokes past times by emphasizing the sense of elegance and sophistication.

    A desire to find and repropose tailored bon ton dresses and unique pieces.

    The research for vintage fabric shines with brocade, sequins and colored svarowsky.

    Soft micro pull, skirts just below the knee, colored dresses: a nostalgic glamor where seduction becomes subtle.

    Capes and coats combine feminine forms to a more formal men's tailoring craftmanship.

    The fabrics are alternated: the simplicity of wool and cotton combines refined silk and pure cashmere.

    The colors are transversal. Anna offers the entire range of powdery pastels in a continuous alternation of bright tones or simply whispered nuances.

    Delicate shapes, pure fabrics and colors, versatile mixing and matching. The simplicity of wool, linen and cotton paired with fine silk and warm cashmere. She loves to play down

    A deep reflection on the importance of tailoring along with a continuous research of fabrics accomplished thanks to a synergistic teamwork between Anna and her semestresses.

    Sophisticated, refined and exquisitely elegant.

  • Facts & Stories

    Bonino Doesn’t Mince Words

    The Italian Consul General Natalia Quintavalle introduced briefly the Italian-American community in New York to Minister Bonino, sharing a few words about the Italian Institutions and organizations that represent the “successful integration of the Italians in this country, while preserving the Italian heritage and culture,” and that they are “the pillars of the Italian presence in New York.”  

    Then, Ms. Quintavalle passed the ball to the permanent representative of Italy in the UnitedStates, Ambassador Claudio Bisognero, who introduced Minister Bonino: “It is a great honor and privilege to present our Minister of Foreign Affairs Emma Bonino to the Italian-American community here in New York,” said Amb. Bisognero. “Emma Bonino has a strong attachment to the United States and a very strong supporter of the Italian community abroad,” said the Ambassador. “She specifically asked me and the Consulate General to organize this event tonight with you,” he affirmed. “Actually your presence here is very important. I want to mention the great contribution that Italians gave for the development of this country, as well as the great contribution you give to the Italian system, that is the action that Italy is doing in the United States within every field: political, economical, commercial, cultural and also in the promotion of the Italian language,” said the Ambassador.

    Mr. Bisognero then introduced Minister Bonino, who was welcomed with a big applause. The Minister opened her speech describing to the Italian-American community the special affection and attachment she has with the United States and in particular with New York. In fact, Minister Bonino is not new to this country. She came here at the age of 16 with a scholarship, and with a special recommendation from her dad: “Do not take the subway.”

    After sharing this memory about her childhood, Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs began her talk confronting immediately the shutdown of the Consulate in Newark. “I know I caused for many of you a great displeasure,” said Ms. Bonino, “ so I want to explain this decision to you.” The Minister illustrated  briefly the situation Italy is currently going through. “Since 2006, the number of diplomats in Italy has been reduced by 10% and the number of diplomatic officials by 20%. Italy has half of the diplomats of Germany, France, and England.” Ms. Bonino  underscored that Italy is going through a really hard time and that “we need to rationalize our resources and for this reason we were forced to make this decision,” she affirmed. However, said Bonino, “ I guarantee that the services for the people will not fail. We will strengthen the New York Consulate developing several strategies.” Moreover, she continued: “We will have to ask you to be patient because there will be some inconveniences in order to offer services in other parts of the world, like China, which we do not cover now [?] and where there are many Italians like you.”    

    Then Minister Bonino explained how important this week will be at the United Nations General Assembly. “The latest news about the 70 Christians killed in Pakistan, the massacre in Kenya, the situation in Sahal, makes us think there is a terrorist organization that might have changed its form, its initials, its location but certainly has not disappeared,” affirms Ms. Bonino. “This week we will also talk about Libia: we can’t allow such an instable nation to exist in front of us,” concluded the Minister.

    Shifting the argument from foreign policy, Bonino said that during the series of meetings at the United Nations, she also intends to talk about Italy’s development and future projects. First, she mentioned the Expo of Milan 2015, saying that “for Italy, it is a great opportunity for an economic relaunch,” and hoping the US will decide to participate. “I know the decision will be made the first of October, and I really want to thank the Italian community in the US that really helped us in reaching this goal,” said Bonino. Second, Bonino talked about another important project called “Destinazione Italia (Destination Italy),” a project with the specific goal of making Italy become a more attractive country for both Italian and foreign investors. And this is possible by “simplifying the bureaucracy, operating on fiscal regimes, duration of action and procedures,” said Bonino.

    The Minister concluded her speech restating the commitments and the efforts which Italy’s government is doing for the country, asking the Italian community in New York for all the support and the trust this administration needs. “We are at a very delicate moment,” affirmed Ms. Bonino, “ but we keep going forward with our program and our main purposes: to restore the economy and modernize the institutions.” And, she continued, “I hope that your love for Italy will produce those essential synergies needed for the development of our country. I also hope you will help us to value our assets, and the best asset Italy has are the human resources.”

    A speech, the one made by Emma Bonino, which discesses the problems of a country going through a difficult situation also underscores the hopes of its citizens, like her, who believe in its rebirth. 

    More pics on our facebook page >>>

  • Facts & Stories

    Italy's Prime Minister Enrico Letta Plays the International Card

    September 24,2013 - Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta disembarks today in New York with a full time agenda of three days at the United Nations General Assembly.

    Mr. Letta intervened this morning  at the “Council on Foreign Relations” where he talked about Italian Foreign Politics and the position of his country in regards to the Middle East issue. After that, he will attend Obama’s speech at the United Nations and will participate at the “High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development,” at the UN as well.

    The second appointment of Italy’s Prime Minister is scheduled for tomorrow and it will be dedicated to the Made in Italy and to the program developed by the government in office called “Destination Italy,” a plan whose purpose is to eliminate bureaucratic obstacles and foster the arrival of foreign investors. At the New York Stock Exchange in Wall Street, he will meet the investors community before his next appointment at the Opening Bell followed by a visit at the trading floor. Mr. Letta will then conclude his “tour” at the United Nations General Assembly where Italy’s Prime Minister is expected to deliver a speech about other International issues.

    On Thursday, the 26, the last day of this “tour de force” in the City, Italy’s Prime Minister Letta will be part of the the UN summit about the Sahel crisis. He will then participate at the “Columbia University World Leaders Forum" before flying back to Rome. However, this is not a goodbye. In fact, on October 16, 2013, Italy’s Prime Minister Enrico Letta will return to the US. This time in Washington, where he will meet President Barack Obama.  

    All these appointments are aimed to reinforce Italy’s image abroad hoping also to placate all the pressures from the government opposition in Italy, which pushes for having anticipated elections.  

  • Art & Culture

    Searching for Treasure

    People have great stories to tell… and other people treasure these stories. This is what young filmmaker Valerio Ciriaci has done in his most recent short documentary film entitled, in fact, Treasure – The Story of Marcus Hook. The premiere screening will take place on September 20 at the FirstGlance Film Festival in Philadelphia, at 7:15pm at the Franklin Institute.

    Produced by Awen Films, an independent documentary film production company based in New York City, Treasure - The Story of Marcus Hook examines the efforts of a town that is determined to survive the shutdown of the local oil refinery. In doing so, it presents a tale that will be familiar to many who live in the towns and cities of the Rust Belt and who, in the wake of the departure of heavy industry from their communities, have been struggling with economic depression for years.

    Marcus Hook is a small refinery town near Philadelphia. For decades the oil business was the community's bread and butter, but in December 2011 the local Sunoco refinery suddenly shut down, leaving the town on the brick of an unprecedented economic crisis. In the middle of this daunting situation, ex-refinery worker Michael Manerchia found the remains of a plank house dating back to the 1700s. According to local lore it belonged to the mistress of the famous pirate Blackbeard, who may not have hidden a secret chest of gold but certainly helped Manerchia find a treasure of a different sort. In fact this unexpected discovery gave Michael the inspiration to create an annual pirate festival in order to bring business back to the town and people back on the streets. Treasure -The Story of Marcus Hook is a story of rebirth, of communal help and of courage, reflecting the greater the issues of a nation.

    Valerio Ciriaci is a Brooklyn based documentary filmmaker. Born in Rome in 1988, he graduated with a major in Communication Sciences from La Sapienza University in Rome. He moved to New York in 2011 where he continued his filmmaking career. Treasure -The Story of Marcus Hook is his second short documentary film. In 2012 he directed Melodico, featuring Tony Maiorino, barber and singer from the Bronx's Little Italy. We met Valerio because we were curious about this adventure.

    How did you come up with this story?

    It was a bit of a lucky coincidence, to be honest. I was interested in making a film about historical re-enactors, an activity that here in the US is very popular, and that’s how I cam across the Marcus Hook Pirate Festival. However, as soon as I visited Marcus Hook to meet Michael, I realized that I had found a story bigger than the one I had initially envisioned. Michael explained to me how heavily the shutdown of the refinery had affected the town’s economy, and he also told me about the efforts that were being made to revive Marcus Hook’s historic past and the community’s struggle to find an identity for a town that is no longer an oil town. I was struck by the love he had for his town, and that is when I realized that making a documentary about the upcoming Marcus Hook Pirate Festival could have been a small way of helping the town.

    What were the difficulties in creating the film?

    The biggest challenge probably was to cover the production costs. As you know, when it comes to independent film projects this is always a large obstacle. At first, our budget allowed us to film for four days in Marcus Hook, but we knew we would have to figure out a way to fund a second trip to film the festival and continue with interviews. So my co-producer, Isaak Liptzin, and I had the idea of starting a Kickstarter campaign. It was the first time we had tried our hand at crowdfunding, Therefore, after less than two weeks we reached and exceeded our funding goal. We were then surprised and excited by the outcome. The people of Marcus Hook helped us a great deal during this campaign, spreading the word and making the project their own. The money we raised allowed us to spend five more days in Marcus Hook, documenting the festival in its entirety.

    How has this experience impacted you or others?

    I don’t know how it will affect the town — perhaps it is still to early to tell. The reaction to the film in Marcus Hook was very good and we can’t wait for the premiere in Philly. Personally, it was a very important project. It was a fantastic experience from a human perspective, a way to get to know this country and its people in a way I hadn't been able to do previously.

    To see the trailer and get more information about the film, visit