Articles by: Chiara Morucci

  • Art & Culture

    Narrating The Italian Contemporary Theater in New York

    The passion can really be all in one room, and fill it completely. As Diana Del Monte, Curator

    of the series of theatrical events Narrating Scene. Readings from Italian Storytelling Theatre at the Italian Cultural Institute of New York, said during her introduction yesterday night, “The Passion in a Room is a very appropriate title for the lecture” (by prof. Roberta Carpani, ndr) that follow through Olivetti: Toward the Origins of a Dream by Laura Curino.

    i-Italy had the pleasure to interview Diana Del Monte, Curator of this important theatrical  project part of the year of the Italian Culture in the US. An interesting selection of theatrical works by Maricla Boggio, Laura Sicignano and Laura Curino were hosted at the Italian Cultural Institute for three consecutive Thursdays, starting from September 12th to September 26th.

    Diana’s background demonstrates her inner capacities and interest in performing arts. Diana has been working for 7 years as a researcher and dance/theater critic and in the meantime she gained a Bachelor Degree in History of Theater and a Master in Performing Arts, with a published thesis on the anthropology of dance; she is also currently finishing her Phd on communication, media and performing arts at the prestigious Catholic University of Sacred Heart in Milan.

    Diana, Tell me about the project you curated at the Italian Cultural Institute of NY.

    The Italian Cultural Institute in New York has hosted in these years events of great quality. However, the theater had been, until last year, in the shade compared to other sectors. Therefore, in February, I decided with the precious help of Fabio Troisi, Attache for Cultural Affairs - Cinema, Art, Music, Dance and Theatre of the Italian Institute, to create this theater project, that can be considered innovative and different.

    Why do you consider this project innovative and different?

    First of all, because it is not a single event but it is a series of events, it is structured thinking about an American audience, however, it is in Italian. Then we decided the theme, the theater of contemporary Italian narrative, and the presence of subtitles. It was an experiment.

    The basic idea of Narrating Scene was to inform and divulgate to an International audience the knowledge of one of the most interesting and vibrant Italian contemporary theater genres and at the same time to support the divulgation of the Italian language, as directed by the Farnesina, in the year of the Italian culture in the US.

    Did it work?

    The Italian language with its musicality and the amazing interpretation of the artists was capable to hypnotize and make flow the imaginations of both the Italian and the American guests.

    The public response to the events had been very satisfactory; even those who were not Italian speakers enjoyed the performances very much and they congratulated with me and the rest of the staff. Therefore, I believe that this project that was born as an experiment can be considered a great success, especially considering the limited budget we had. 

    How did you come up with this idea?

    Some personal events and the support of the Italian Institute that believed in my ideas. The project had three strengths. First the renowned artist present at the events. We had the honor to collaborate with three excellences of the Italian Theatre, Maricla Boggio playwright and theatre Critic, Laura Sicignano playwright and Director of Cargo’s Theater of Genova and Laura Curino theater actress and playwright, considered the mother of the Italian contemporary theater. Three women and amazing artists, with different backgrounds and approaches to the theater.

    In addition, it is a theatrical genre strong and close to people who have been able to innovate, to find new audiences and new spaces… in the centuries. Its roots are from “Cunto Siciliano”…the Italian traditions. Curino was invited to perform in front of President Napolitano and Scignano in front of Minister Kyenge. It is a theater genre that had found its own space also in the Mass Media, RAI has transmitted several times in fact pieces of Theatre Storytelling, with very strong audience response.

    Which are the other “strengths”?

    The second is the educational aspect. We can consider Narrating Scene as a project directed for the education of the public. In my researches I had always approached art from the socio-anthropologic point of view. For this reason I strongly believe in the relation with the audience. Education is fundamental. Education means learning. Learning means understanding, Understanding means you can love it… Maybe…Sometimes…(Diana smiled)

    In New York you can find lots of Italian theater festivals and performances. Narrating scene was thought as an educational project not as a Festival. Therefore, It does not replace or opposes Festival and programming of the Italian theater but is born as an idea to rather support them, through the education of the American public.

    Tell me about the last “strength”.

    The last strength is the most important for me, the multicultural dialogue. It is important to educate our international audience in the historical and social aspect of the Italian theatre to make them learn about it, about us, about our Country. As an artistic point of view this theatre is characterized by social commitment and these theatrical performances have the power to create a sense of belonging and group identity.

    The three performances we hosted were capable to connect Italian, Italian-American and American that love Italy and want to know more about it.

    La sentenza talks about people who live in a condition of war, many could identify with it.

    Scintille, narrates from the point of view of Italian victims, the stake of T.W.C. in New York in 1911. Olivetti, tells the story of an Italian entrepreneur and the realization of his dream.

    Would you like to add any comments?

    I would like to thank all the people that helped me in the realization of this project, it is also thanks to them that we had a wonderful audience response.

    During the interview I was impressed by Diana’s passion for the project she personally curate it since last February with a deep commitment and dedication and I honestly believe that the key element to make “The Narrating Scene” project bright so much has been based on her extraordinary talent combined with her brilliant personality and the magnificent support of the rest of the staff .

  • Facts & Stories

    The UNICEF’s “Pigotta Project” (Rag Doll Project)


    Since its creation by the United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 1946,UNICEF has been working to provide  long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers  in developing countries, bringing emergency food, educational and healthcare services.

    UNICEF operates through its National Committees located in 36 [industrialized] countries worldwide, each established as an independent local  non-governmental organization

    In Italy, the headquarters of the Italian UNICEF Commitee is in Rome, however it operates in the National territory through its Regional Committees (20) and Provincial Committees (104), the Commitee of UNICEF Perugia is one of them. 

    i-italy had the occasion to interview Maria Luisa Blasi, “Pigotta” project manager of the Provincial Committee of UNICEF Perugia, Italy. Blasi explained to us the aim of the project she is supervising in Perugia:  “Progetto Pigotta” (Pigotta Project).

    The word “Pigotta” comes from the Lombardy region  dialect and it means “a rag doll,”otherwise called in the Italian language as “bambola di pezza.” Blasi explained to i-Italy: “Every Region of Italy calls rag dolls by a different nickname, in Lombardy as I mentioned before it is called “pigotta,” in  Perugia  the “buccia,” in Rome the “pupazza.” Every name comes from a local tradition. ” 

    The  Pigotta Project was created by Jo Garceau. Garceau is an American painter from Massachussets, she has been a volunteer for UNICEF since 1986, and resides in Cinisello Balsamo, Province of Milan, since 1961. After years of collaboration with the UNICEF Regional Committee Lombardy, in 1988 she decided to start a project in Italy, that connected her to her childhood, and it is the project “Rag Doll.” Garceau named the doll using the Lombardian dialect nickname of “Pigotta” and called the project “Progetto Pigotta”(Pigotta Project).

    “The Pigotta Project’s objective is to create rag dolls in schools with the collaboration of grandparents, mothers and dads with the intent to do a research on old local traditions of Italian  regions and of other countries in the world. However, at our Committee in Perugia the “Pigotta Project” is open not only to schools of any level, but also to University students, foreign visitors, courses for continuing education (Università della terza età), socio-cultural centers and private citizens who want to support the project.

    The rag doll created is going to be exposed in a UNICEF stand with many other dolls and anyone can “adopt” one for a minimum of 20 euro choosing the one he/she likes most. I talk about “adoption” because any doll represents a child in an underdeveloped country and with the money  we receive from the adoption of a doll we can offer a child vaccinations for the 6 most dangerous childhood diseases  such as polio, tetanus, tuberculosis, measles, diphtheria, pertussis and where needed also a malaria’s kit. Every doll has an ID card with her name, weight, heights, nationality, color of eyes and the name and address of the creator attached to her neck, so those who adopt the rag doll can contact the creator,” Blasi explained.

    Blasi has been in charge and deeply devoted to the “Pigotta Project” since 1998. It has been extraordinary how her deep commitment to the initiative has made the project to expand also in foreign countries and mostly in the US. She has created a strong collaboration with the local schools in Perugia of Umbria Institute and the University for Foreigners of Perugia to let American and other international students participate in the “Pigotta Project.”

    The rag doll classes for foreign students started 5 years ago. The American students involved are mostly coming from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, California and Connecticut.

    Blasi said “I was very happy of our results inside the Italian schools and institutions, but at the same time I was feeling something was missing. In our global world , it is beautiful to open up to other cultures and that is why I decided to open the doors of this important project to foreign students that are in Perugia for a semester. I created, thanks to the collaboration with Umbria Institute and The University for Foreigners,  rag doll classes called “Laboratorio Pigotte,” where we create dolls and at the same time we share stories, cultures and traditions. In these months of work together we become a family and we learned a lot from each other's traditions and cultures. I have been an elementary teacher for many years and I know of the importance of teaching our tradition and culture and at the same time learning from the others. Therefore, I decided that our classes must include a cultural aspect that the students would bring back to the US. I took out the geographic map of Italy and explained the different traditions of the Italian Regions. I also showed them videos of the UNICEF work in underdeveloped countries and explained to them the importance of the work they do while creating a pigotta. We exchanged so many experiences, ideas and customs. It is a wonderful cultural exchange. The beauty of these meetings is the atmosphere of friendliness and cordiality that makes the aim of saving lives even more beautiful.”

    Many are the nice stories Blasi told i-Italy about the process of creation of the rag dolls and of their adoption. “An American tourist adopted for her Italian-American boyfriend a rag doll representing a Milan soccer player made by the children from middle school. Once in America she decided to write back to the children that made the doll. You cannot believe the joy of the children to know that somebody in America had adopted their doll and they had saved a life of a child. It is extremely beautiful to know that your work is giving hope and saving many children and families.”

    Blasi added: “I still remember a sweet student from Vermont. Last year she created an adorable doll wearing a red winter sweater. At the end of the project she decided to adopt her doll and give it as a gift to her family. She told me she would have put the doll as Christmas decoration outside of the house door within a Christmas wreath. This Christmas I thought of her and I was imagining the little dolly in the beautiful snowy Vermont, and I felt so good as a volunteer for this important project, we save lives of many children and at the same time we have the chance to enrich ourselves and enrich others exchanging our cultures.”  

    “I will never forget the beautiful experience with three California students from Chapman University: Gianna, Haleee and Kady. We created the doll rag classes upon their request. The result was amazing, they did a great job and two of their dolls were adopted by American Tourists  vacationing in Perugia. Their University has also sent to our Committee a generous donation,” Blasi concluded.

    Blasi’s “Pigotta Project” in Perugia with the support of the committee of UNICEF Perugia has created a wonderful atmosphere enriching a humanitarian activity with a wonderful cultural exchange that creates a wonderful unified humanitarian and cultural bridge between the US and Italy.        

  • Fatti e Storie

    Adotta una pigotta e salva un bambino


    A tutti è noto il grandissimo impegno umanitario portato avanti dall’UNICEF a livello mondiale in paesi del terzo mondo, sin dalla sua creazione grazie alla Assemblea Generale delle Nazioni Unite nel Dicembre 1946.

    UNICEF ha iniziato il suo lavoro nel 1946, in Italia ed in Polonia, paesi devastati dalla seconda guerra mondiale, ad oggi opera a livello mondiale, in 156 paesi attraverso i suoi 36 Comitati Nazionali situati in paesi industrializzati.

    In Italia, la sede principale UNICEF è a Roma, tuttavia a livello nazionale esiste una diramazione capillare di Comitati UNICEF Regionali (40) e Provinciali (140) che operano localmente per il compimento di importanti progetti. Uno di questi Comitati UNICEF è quello di Perugia.  

    i-Italy ha intervistato Maria Luisa Blasi responsabile  del “Progetto Pigotta” presso il Comitato Provinciale UNICEF di Perugia,

    La dr.ssa Blasi ci ha innanzitutto raccontato la storia del “Progetto Pigotta” e spiegato le sue importanti finalità umanitarie.  Il progetto si sta sviluppando cosi tanto da coinvolgere anche studenti stranieri, principalmente di origine statunitense, creando un bellissimo scambio culturale ed umanitario.  

    L’ideatrice del “Progetto Pigotta” è la  pittrice americana del Massachussets, Jo Garceau, volontaria presso il Comitato Regionale Lombardia dell’ UNICEF dal 1986.

    La Sig.ra Garceau, ricordando la propria infanzia quando le zie confezionavano per le festività bambole di pezza,  ha deciso di creare per l’UNICEF un programma in cui nelle scuole, con la collaborazione di nonne, nonni, mamme  e papà si sarebbero create delle bambole di stoffa.

    Ogni bambola realizzata ha una sua propria storia, ed una propria carta d’identità con scritto il nome, cognome, peso, altezza, colore degli occhi e capelli e nazionalità.

    Il fine del progetto è quello di abbinare ad ogni bambola un vero bambino nel mondo.

    Con il ricavato dell’ “adozione” della bambola , l’UNICEF ha la possibilità di fornire le vaccinazioni contro le sei malattie infettive più pericolose per i bambini quali, tetano, poliomelite, tubercolosi, morbillo, difterite e pertosse; vaccini per le mamme contro il tetano,  fiale per la disidratazione, vitamina A  e nei paesi ad alto rischio malaria viene anche fornito un kit anti malaria.

    Il progetto prese il nome di “Progetto Pigotta” . La parola “Pigotta” proviene dal dialetto lombardo e significa bambola di pezza,  Ogni regione ha comunque il suo personale appellativo locale, a Perugia è la “Buccia”, a Foligno e Roma la “Pupazza” etc…

    Blasi spiega ad i-Italy “E’ dal 1998 che lavoro a questo meraviglioso progetto nella sede del Comitato UNICEF Perugia. Tante sono state le mie soddisfazioni. Con il ricavato delle adozioni delle pigotte abbiamo salvato tantissimi bambini e hanno collaborato con noi numerose scuole di ogni ordine e grado, l’Università della terza età, centri socio-culturali e privati cittadini.

    Tuttavia sentivo dentro di me una piccola insoddisfazione, sentivo che non era sufficiente quello che stavo facendo, dovevo coinvolgere ancora più persone. Vivendo i un mondo globalizzato dove lo scambio culturale è all’ordine del giorno, ho deciso cinque anni fa di creare grazie alla collaborazione con Umbra Institute e l’Università degli Stranieri di Perugia, il “Laboratorio Pigotte”. A questo progetto partecipano studenti americani e altri studenti internazionali.

    Il “Laboratorio Pigotte” non si limita alla sola preparazione delle bambole di pezza, ma è un continuo scambio di tradizioni, culture, idee; si instaura un clima familiare di simpatia e cordialità. Generalmente il corso dura un semestre, sono dai 4 ai 5 incontri e mi avvalgo dell’aiuto di bravissime volontarie. L’ultima lezione è sempre tristissima. Gli studenti americani che maggiormente partecipano al progetto provengono dal Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, California e Connecticut.

    Essendo stata di professione una maestra di scuola elementare conosco l’importanza di insegnare la nostra storia e cultura; così attraverso l’utilizzo della carta geografica ho spiegato ai ragazzi americani le varie tradizioni regionali italiane, la nostra storia e la geografia del nostro territorio.  Allo stesso tempo i ragazzi mi parlano della cultura e tradizioni americane. E’ uno scambio unico e bellissimo, mi ritengo  veramente molto fortunata. Nei nostri incontri mostro anche ai ragazzi libri e video riguardanti l’importantissimo operato dell’UNICEF a livello mondiale”.

    Tante sono le storie raccontate dalla Sig.ra Blasi ad i-Italy riguardanti il processo di creazione delle pigotte e della loro adozione. Tra le più rilevanti c’ è quella di tre studentesse californiane, Halee Dams, Gianna McLaughlin,e Kady Schwarts , che venute a studiare a Perugia attraverso il programma dell’Umbra Institute, hanno richiesto attraverso la loro Università un “Laboratorio Pigotte”.  “Il risultato ottenuta dalle tre ragazze californiane nelle ore di volontariato presso la nostra sede UNICEF è stato strepitoso. Le ragazze hanno creato le loro pigotte e hanno anche richiesto di fare un mercatino che abbiamo tenuto in Piazza Matteotti per l’adozione delle loro stesse bambole e di quelle realizzate in precedenza da altri gruppi di studenti americani. Due delle bambole delle tre studentesse sopra menzionate sono state adottate da turisti Americani… potete immaginare la felicità delle ragazze. Le tre studentesse sono state così soddisfatte del progetto che la loro Università (University of Chapman) ha deciso di inviare una generosa donazione al nostro Comitato di Perugia” racconta ad i-Italy la Sig.ra Blasi.

    “Una turista americana ha adottato una bambola fatta da una scuola media locale che rappresentava un giocatore del Milan, e ci ha raccontato che l’avrebbe regalata al fidanzato Italo-Americano che è un gran tifoso della squadra rosso-nera.  Una volta in America, i due ragazzi grazie alla carta d’identità della bambola  dove è presente anche il nome e l’indirizzo dei creatori  della stessa , hanno scritto ai bambini della scuola informandoli che la loro pigotta era  stata adottata. Non potete immaginare la gioia di questi bambini nel sapere che la loro bambola aveva passato l’oceano ed era addirittura in America e che avevano salvato una vita umana”.

    Un’altra storia è quella di una ragazza del Vermont. “Ricordo ancora quella dolce studentessa del Vermont, che ha partecipato al mio Laboratorio circa un anno fa. La ragazza aveva creato una bellissima pigotta in tenuta invernale, con un delizioso golfino rosso  ricoperto di stelline. Una volta finita non ha avuto il coraggio di darla in adozione e l’ha adottata lei stessa, dicendo che l’avrebbe messa a natale con la ghirlanda natalizia, che mi spiegava è presente fuori da tutte le porte di casa in America in quel periodo dell’anno. Così questo natale ho pensato a quella bambolina, ho chiuso gli occhi e me la sono immaginata fuori da quella porta, in una calda atmosfera natalizia nel bellissimo nevoso Vermont. Mi sono sentita così soddisfatta di essere responsabile di questo meraviglioso progetto!!  Salviamo le vite di tanti bambini e allo stesso tempo abbiamo la possibilità di crescere tanto, umanamente e culturalmente. Questo lavoro è davvero bellissimo”.

    “La più grande soddisfazione è sentire dire dai ragazzi che una volta tornati a casa, in America, cercheranno di fare qualche attività che possa dare sollievo ai bambini meno fortunati;  è in quel preciso istante che capisco di avere fatto bene il mio lavoro di volontaria UNICEF” conclude la responsabile del “Laboratorio Pigotte”.

    Il “Laboratorio Pigotte” portato avanti dalla responsabile Blasi a nome del Comitato UNICEF Perugia ha una straordinaria valenza umanitaria e culturale. La passione e l’amore con cui il progetto è portato avanti è straordinario e coinvolgente, ne conosco la magia perché ne ho fatto parte anche io da piccolina quando andavo a scuola e da più grande come volontaria, e credo che oggi il suo eco sia ancora più grande, tanto da avere creato un vero e proprio ponte di solidarietà tra Stati Uniti ed Italia.


  • Facts & Stories

    Goodbye Margherita Hack, “The Lady of the Stars.”

    On June 29th, after being hospitalized for a week due to heart problems, the famous Italian scientist and astrophysicist, Margherita Hack died, at the age of 91.

    Margherita was born in Florence and in 1945 she graduated from the University of Florence in physics. Margherita’s passion for stars and astrophysics brought her to write her thesis on the Cepheid variables. 
    Afterwards, she decided to follow her passion for astronomy and in 1964 she became a full time astronomy professor at the University of Trieste, which se remained until she retired in 1998. During her liftime she wrote academic science books as well as articles for prestigious international astronomy magazines.
    In 1978 she founded the bimonthly magazine “L’Astronomia” (The Astronomy) and later on, together with Corrado Lamberti she directed the scientific magazine “Le Stelle” (The Stars).

    She was the first Italian woman to hold the position of Director of the Observatory of Trieste, from 1964 to 1987. This prestigious position brought her to international recognition. She was a member of prestigious European and American scientific observatories such as  ESA and NASA.

    Margherita was internationally renowned for her scientific studies on stars and asteroids which is why she was called “The lady of the stars.” Her research was fundamental for the spectral classification of many stars and the asteroid 8558 Hack is named after her.  She was blessed to be endowed with the ability of explaining complicated astronomic and scientific concepts in a way that everybody could understand it.

    Some time ago, in an interview Margherita declared: “I’m an atheist in the sense that I do not believe in God, I do not believe in the afterlife. I believe that the soul is our brain. It’s impossible to scientifically prove either that God exists, or that God does not exist. The idea of God does not convince me. I prefer to believe that there is matter and that matter has the properties we observe.” “When I pass away, if I meet God, I will tell him I was wrong” she added.

    Margherita was not only a great physicist but also a liberal activist. She waged battles to legalize abortion and divorce in Italy. She had been an important voice for gay rights.  Italian President Giorgio Naplitano said: “Ms. Hack had been a high-level personality in the world of scientific culture and at the same time, she represented a strong example of civil passion, leaving a noble fingerprint in public debate and in the dialogue with citizens, she is an example to be followed.”

    Emma Bonino, the current Italian Foreign Minister gave the last goodbye to Margherita with these words:  “With Margherita, vanishes not only a great scientist, but a free spirit, deeply and intellectually honest.” 

    Goodbye “Lady of the stars,” hope you are finally among your beloved stars now,  and that you are enjoying this new journey while you are certainly very missed down here on earth.


  • Facts & Stories

    Confederation Cup 2013: Italy in Semi-final “Go Azzurri!!”

    The 2013 Confederations Cup has opened its doors the 15th of June and will conclude with the final on June 30th. The nation hosting this renowned international association football tournament in 2013 is Brazil, also the defending champion. This event is a prelude to the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

    The teams qualified to participate to the Cup have been, Italy UEFA Euro 2012 runners up because was the second positioned in the European Cup 2012, Brazil hosted country, Spain the 2010 FIFA World Cup winner, Japan 2011 AFC Asian Cup winner, Mexico 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup winner, Uruguay 2011 Copa America winner, Tahiti 2012 OFC Nations Cup winner, and Nigeria 2013 African Cup of Nations winner.

    In the Tournament, the 8 soccer teams had been divided into two groups: Group A and B. The Group A was composed of Italy, Brazil, Mexico and Japan. The Group B included Spain, Uruguay, Nigeria and Tahiti. From each group has come out two semi-finalists. Italy and Brazil were the finalists of Group A and Spain and Uruguay from group B.

    Italy is going to play its semi-final on June 27th at 15.00 (New York Time) against its recurrent “rival” Spain.  The two teams will face again this Thursday just a year after the harsh Italian defeat in the Final of Euro 2012 for 4-0.The semifinal match between Italy and Spain is awaited with excitement by both teams. Italy hopes to win to erase the bad memory of the past tough defeat. On the other hand, Spain is willing to confirm its great talent and hopes to add another international title to its extraordinary soccer history of the last years. 

    The Azzurri are feared by the Spanish coach Vicente Del Bosque, that in an interview declared “Italy will arrive at the field with revenge in their mind for their earlier defeat at the European Cup, the Azzurri has become a completely new team since the last game a year ago in Ukraine. They will be a very difficult opponents, it is going to be a re-match for them. We want to get to the final though.”  

    The Italian coach Cesare Prandelli, also shares some of his fears and hopes for the semi-final. “Spain is the best team in the world and they have proved it over the last years. They are almost impossible to beat. Spain is in much better condition than us, it is evident in the easy way they qualified for the semi-final” Prandelli stated.  “Spain is very good in keeping the ball and attacking, we have to try to make them run as much as possible. I am convinced we can make it difficult. We have great motivations and we will do our best to win.” Prandelli added.

    Unfortunately, the Azzurri will face Spain without the star Mario Balottelli, who has become in these years the leader of the team. He suffered a very bad injury, a thigh strain, and had to go back to Italy for treatments. Balotelli’s talent and his charisma are very missed. Balotelli to feel closer to his teammates wrote few hours ago in twitter to them “Forza Ragazzi!Forza Italia!Dai!!” (Go Azzurri!Go Italy!Come on Italy!)

    In Brazil, the Italian team is followed by a very special guest/fan: Kobe Bryant the star of the NBA the Lakers. Bryant lived in Italy with his family when he was a kid and his love for Italy has made him a fan of the Italian National Soccer team since his childhood.

  • Art & Culture

    “UMBRIA: The Green Heart of Italy”

    On June 4, the Italian Government Tourist Board (ENIT) hosted an interesting presentation on the Italian Region of Umbria. The event was presented by the Director of ENIT, Eugenio Magnani who welcomed the guests, Fabio Paparelli Regional Umbria Councilor, Valentino Valentini the Former Mayor of Montefalco and Chiara Dall’Aglio, Head of Umbria Territorial Marketing.

    The Region is known as “the green heart of Italy,” because of its location in the centre of Italy and also because of the intense green color of its hills. Umbria is a region where all is art, from the natural beautiful landscapes to the handmade ceramics and the art of “slow-living” and “slow-food.

    “Umbria is a bridge between the past and the future; it is a perfect combination of tradition and innovation. The landscape has remained unaltered by the centuries however the right innovations of a modern age have been taking place,” explained Paparelli.“Umbria is a wonderful region where you can try different experiences,” he continued. 

    There are at least seven reasons to visit this territory. First, the art and the culture. The main town of Perugia and other towns such as Assisi, Deruta, Todi, Spoleto, Spello, Gubbio, Foligno, Orvieto and Terni, just to mention a few, are filled with architectural splendors and masterpieces of art, and often host international cultural events.

    Second, nature and parks. Lake Trasimeno and its three famous Islands: Isola Maggiore, Minore and Polvese; the leaping falls of the “Cascata delle Marmore” that have inspired poets and painters; the Monti Sibillini National Park where one can go rafting and Colfiorito and Monte Subasio Regional Park.

    Third, to find the mystical Umbria. Be part of a pilgrimage to the spiritual places such as Assisi, the hometown of Saint Francis and Saint Claire, or to Cascia the land of Saint Rita. Fourth reason is Umbria's archeology. In Umbria it is quite possible to still find buried treasures of ancient Etruscans and Romans.

    Fifth reason is of course the food and wine. Homemade pasta umbricelli and strangozzi, chick pea and chestnut soup of the Orvieto Area. Pork is a traditional Umbrian cuisine, known there as “porchetta,” it is cooked in a wood fired oven and  flavored with herbs and garlic. The land of Umbria also abounds of white and black truffles. Umbria produces excellent olive oil and DOC wines,  for example the “Sagrantino di Montefalco” and “Grechetto.”

    Sixth, artisan craft. Umbria offers a wide variety of traditional crafts, products and artisan jewelry. The seventh reason is Umbria's pure waters. It has the best water in all of Italy. The two renowned mineral waters Sangemini and Fabia, both bottled, come from the springs of Acque di San Gemini. The waters take also a plunge into wellness; two of the most famous Spas are the Terme di Fontecchio at Città di Castello and the Terme Francescane at Spello.    

    In the last years Umbria has experienced a higher percentage of international visitors, mostly American. In the era of technology, the region has decided to promote an online application that makes it possible to discover Umbria via the web. “Umbria is the first Italian Region that adopted an App-system for i-phones, i-pads and androids called “Umbria App.” Through the web it is now possible to discover all the natural and artistic attractions of our marvelous region” said Dall’Aglio.

  • Life & People

    “Italia, I Was Born Here. In Italy"

    The Italian Cultural Institute of New York and the Calandra Italian American Institute hosted a very special guest, the talented Italian-Ghanaian writer-director Fred Kuwornu. Fred arrived at the presentations all dressed in blue, the same color of the Italian soccer team “gli azzurri.” On the sweatshirt there is motto, it says “Italia, I was born here.”

    Fred, being the child of a mixed race marriage, believes that it is very important to narrate the issues of many young adults that even if born and raised in Italy are not considered legally Italian because their parents are not Italian citizens. Therefore, he decided to shoot the documentary “18 IUS SOLI” with the intent to spread the news, in Italy and abroad, of the existence of this sad problematic and to try to push for a change in the Italian immigration law. “A country that does not recognize these young adults of foreign origins as Italian citizens, is a country that does not want to go forward in the future” Fred stated. “In Italy almost everything is public, therefore, you need to have the Italian citizenship to have access to many jobs or services, therefore our government should push for some changes in the current immigration law” Fred added.

    “18 IUS SOLI” features interviews to common young adults, children of immigrants who were
    born or even just raised in Italy since a young age, who speak not just Italian but even the dialect of the region they grew up in. They feel fully Italian because in many cases they have never even visited their family's country of origin. Unfortunately the Italian law does not recognize them as Italian citizens and does not give them the same rights of an Italian.

    In Italy, in order to get the country's citizenship you must have at least an Italian parent or, if you are born or raised in Italy and have foreign parents you must wait to be 18 to apply for citizenship. The bureaucratic process to obtain it is very complicated and it does not always end with a positive outcome. “The path of no legal recognition is a rough one, it determines these kids' social and economic exclusion and that generates identity confusion... they feel Italian but they are not legally recognized as Italian” Fred said.

    The documentary is very interesting and really captured the attention of the audience: some parts give you chills, others make you laugh, and others cry.

    “The film is not enough to make a real change but it is an attempt to raise awareness on the topic and help the cause. Now the issue is on the agenda of discussions at the Parliament. Nothing has really happened yet but still something is happening and affecting Italians on a cultural level. The story of Balotelli, the Italian champion, can be seen as an example. It shows that people who are born and raised in Italy and who have foreign parents are indeed fully Italian.”

    The presentations of the documentary both at the Italian Cultural Institute and at the Calandra Institute were followed by interesting panels. At the Cultural Institute the guests were the law professor Marina Santilli and the Italian boxer Floriano Pagliara. The discussion was very interesting and centered on the hopes and dreams of all these young people coming from different parts of world who live in Italy and want to become legally Italian. It also tackled the general issue of citizenship and the difficulty to become legal citizens in other countries, such as here in the US.

    At the Calandra Institute the panelists were Robin Harper, professor of Political Science at York College, Peter Vellon, professor of history at Queens College and Anahi' Viladrich, Director of the upcoming Center on Immigration Studies. The discussion was based mostly on the problematic of these children of immigrants who are suffering because they are not legally accepted in a country they consider their own.

    The issue of where a person was born or raised should not be problematic especially now, an age where people move from country to country. As the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano stated “It is an absurdity that Italian citizenship is negated to children born to foreign immigrants in Italy or to those raised in the Italian country since a young age.”

  • Life & People

    Trinàcria by Anthony Di Renzo

    The Italian Cultural Foundation of Casa Belvedere is known for promoting the renown Italian and Italian-American heritage by sponsoring and spreading Italian literature, history and arts through exhibits, events and educational programs.

    The novel “ Trinàcria: A Tale of Bourbon Sicily” written by Anthony Di Renzo, is one of such project sponsored by Casa Belvedere.

    Di Renzo’s novel is a historical work. Its title derives from the ancient Greek name for Sicily. Trinàcria refers to the island’s triangular shape and the three-legged gorgon on its regional flag. It is also the nickname of the novel’s narrator and protagonist, Zita Valanguerra Spinelli (1794-1882), Marchesa of Scalea, whose turbulent life mirrors Sicily’s rocky transition from feudalism to capitalism.

    The story begins when a Hollywood film crew invades Palermo to shoot an epic about the Italian Revolution. Researching the past, the director visits the city’s Capuchin catacombs. Preserved in the catacombs among over eight thousand mummies is Marchesa Spinelli. Dead for eighty years, she remains haunted with memories, and her spirit recalls her complicated relationships with her scientist father; a British wine merchant, whom the Marchesa failed to marry; her patriotic and rebellious granddaughter; and Giacomo Leopardi, the doomed Romantic poet.

    “Trinàcria seeks to open debate about Italian identity on both sides of the Atlantic. The novel asks Italians to reconsider the meaning of the Risorgimento, to question the established myths of unification and to recognize how Sicily was sacrificed, exploited, and ultimately decimated to achieve nationhood. This political and economic catastrophe caused the great diaspora at the turn of the twentieth century, in which the island lost a quarter of its population and from which it has never fully recovered” - Di Renzo explains to i-italy.

    The author also underlines that the book encourages the descendants of these immigrants to rethink how and why their ancestors washed up on these shores. “The traumatic failures of the Risorgimento continue to affect Southern Italian Americans, especially within the Sicilian American community, even in subtle ways among their more assimilated children and grandchildren. Betrayal and disillusionment explain why many of us can be so insular, continue to suspect all political and educational institutions, and are reluctant to form social and cultural networks, even when they would benefit us. But the novel is as much a commentary on the present as an exploration of the past. Sicily’s current financial meltdown, caused equally by internal corruption and outside influence, America’s quixotic attempts at nation-building and democratization in the developing world, and the grotesque contradictions of globalization are all reflected in a Sicilian funhouse mirror, much like Villa Palagonia’s Sala degli Specchi. As Karl Marx observed (plagiarizing Vico) history always repeats itself: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce” - told the author.

    For the occasion of the promotion of  the release of this novel, there has been  created an online fund-raising campaign by Roberto Ragone , a means by which he plans to raise the necessary funds to cover the book’s editing, design, printing, promotion, and distribution. The goal is to raise at least $5,000 by December 13. Please consider visiting the page and becoming a part in this wonderful initiative. 



  • Life & People

    Cycling with Colavita. “Healthy Eating and Healthy Lifestyle”

    Back in 1978, the famous Italian food brand Colavita has brought the Italian way of eating genuine and healthy food to the United States by introducing the American consumers to the authentic Colavita products such as: Colavita pasta and Colavita extra olive oil, products that in Italy were already widely known for their numerous health benefits.

    Consecutively, in 2000, continuing on the path of promoting a healthy life style, Colavita USA got involved in cycling, creating “Team Colavita”. The cycling team was founded in New Jersey by John Profaci, Vice President of Marketing for Colavita and together with Enrico Colavita the General Manager of Team Colavita.

    New Jersey was chosen as the location to start the cycling project because it is home to both Colavita USA as well as Profaci's family's. “The Colavita team was created as a small marketing project together with the local bike shop in my neighborhood" -Profaci told I-italy, -“As a cyclist, I thought it would be fun for me to produce some Colavita branded cycling clothes and equip the local racing club for visibility in my own neighborhood”. In 2002, Team Colavita clothing started being sold in bicycle shops all over the world.

    The main goal of Colavita's initiative is to spread the concept of healthy living. “Our project is the result of a good combination of people who are interested in healthy living, exercising and eating right” Profaci continued. He also added that the intent to promote cycling is connected to the Italian cycling traditions that combined with a good Mediterranean diet are the basis for a healthy living. "Cycling, like cooking, is part of the Italian way of life," said Giovanni Colavita, CEO of Colavita USA. "We are proud to support programs like this that showcase our Italian heritage and contribute to healthy lifestyles here in the U.S."

    Nobody expected that in 12 years such a small initiative would so quickly grow into a very successful sport and marketing project extending to men and women in both amateur club and professional teams. “Colavita sponsorship and involvement to the professional level was positively welcomed by cycling fans and international media” Profaci said with pride. In 2010 and 2011, for example, the Colavita Professional Women team has been classified as the most prestigious team in the United States (before then, in 2007, it was invited to participate in the most famous Italian race “the Giro d'Italia”) and it includes great talents such as Giorgia Bronzini, the two time World Champion.

    Numerous Colavita teams are appearing all over the country: in the East Coast, West Coast, Mid-West and in the South. “You can find amateur and recreational Colavita cycling groups in Boston, Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, Orlando, Napa Valley and recently also in Idaho and in Miami” Profaci explained. Team Colavita cherishes its deep connections to Italy and its traditions. An exchange program between the US Colavita cycle teams and the Italian clubs has been created with the purpose to encourage international sport and cultural exchanges. An American team goes to ride in Italy while an Italian one comes to the US, making this exchange a one of a kind experience.

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  • Facts & Stories

    USA the Most Talented Nation at the London Olympics 2012. Italy Proud of its Athletes.

    Last Sunday the closing acts for the 2012 London Olympics took place.

    Team USA’s amazing performances in numerous sports will surely be remembered, including the gold medal won by the US basketball team over Spain on the last day of the competition which had USA overcoming China, the closest competitor for the title of winning nation.  

    USA won 104 medals, of which 46 golds, 29 silvers and 29 bronzes. China ranked second and won 84 medals: 38 golds, 27 silvers and 22 bronzes. 

    Italy ranked 8th, as it did in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Italy won 28 medals: 8 golds, 9 silvers and 11 bronzes.  The first Italian athlete to be on the podium was silver medalist Luca Tesconi in Archery and the last were the “Settebello” team members,  or the Italian polo team who won the silver medal in the final match against Croatia.

    The first Italian athlete to win a gold medal was fencer Elisa di Francisca on July 28th. On August 1st, Daniele Molmenti won Team Italy’s second gold medal in Slalom Canoes. On August 2nd the Italian women’s fencing team won another gold medal, and so did the men’s on the 5th. Jessica Rossi and Niccolò Campriani won two gold medals in Shooting respectively on the 4th and on the 6th of August. The last Golden medal was won on August the 11th by Carlo Molfetta in Taekwondo.

    The Italian Silver medals were won in Shooting by Luca Tesconi on July 28th, by Niccolò Campriani on July 30th and by Massimo Fabbrizi on August 6th. Two silver medals were won by Italian fencers Arianna Errigo and Diego Occhiuzzi on July 28th and 29th. Italian canoeists Sartori and Battisti won another silver medal on August 11. Also on August 11, boxer Clemente Russo won a silver medal, whereas boxer Roberto Cammarelle won another silver on the following day. The Italian Polo team was the last to win a silver medal.

    Bronze medals were awarded to Valentina Vezzali in Fencing, to Rosalba Forciniti in Judo, and to the Italian fencing team on August 3. Other bronze medal winners have been gymnast Matteo Morandi, swimmer Martina Grimaldi, athlete Fabrizio Donato, boxer Vincenzo Mangiacapre, Taekwondoist Mario Sarmiento, the Italian men’s Volleyball team, Mountain biker Marco Aurelio Fontana and the Italian calisthenics team.

    Team Italy faired extremely well during the London Olympics 2012 and prided the nation with their remarkable results. A moment that will remain in the hearts of those who love sports and believe in their importance was when the bronze medal winning Italian men’s Volleyball team brought to the podium a jersey which belonged to Vigor Bovolenta, former team member killed by a heart attack a few months ago during a match.

    A symbol and an example for all his fellow team members, Bovolenta was dedicated the bronze medal by the Italian men’s Volleyball team. “This is for you Vigor, we miss you,” they stated upon receiving their award.