National holidays are an important time for every country’s diplomatic and consular activities. In New York we try not to limit ourselves to festive occasions characterized by fine Italian food and drinks. We would like, in fact, to present to a discerning public a few examples of Italian excellence highlighting the quality of our culture, products, and tourist offerings.
For the fifth year, Italian institutions in New York have jointly extended an invitation to the event on June 2nd. Along with the Consulate, which coordinated the event, other participating organizations include the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Istituto per il Commercio con l’Estero (ICE), and Ente Nazionale del Turismo (ENIT). On this occasion we were aware of the increasing necessity to present ourselves as part of a “national system.” We are truly dedicated to being team players because we have a common interest: to promote each aspect of Italy, making it known and loved not only to fellow Italians and Italian-Americans, but also to an increasingly larger public. The issue of knowledge is fundamental. We are aware of the exceptional inimitability of what Italy has to offer. Besides its many problems that we cannot deny, we have many more opportunities that come from our singular cultural heritage. What matters is not only sharing the richness of the culture that has amassed over the centuries but all of its modern vibrancy as well. We are committed to updating Italy’s image. We would prefer that an instinctive affection for our country be grounded in an informed appreciation of Italy as a major player in today’s global culture and economy.
From a collaborative point of view and with the ongoing objective of updating our image, this year we have decided for the first time to highlight two regions in Italy during our celebration on June 2nd. Sicily and Tuscany, along with their local institutions, and public and private organizations, have worked with us to showcase some examples of Italian excellence through the past, present, and future which embodies the theme of the June 2nd celebration this year in New York. We took our cue from two upcoming milestones in Italian and universal culture that have a special connection to these two regions: the 50th anniversary of the publication of the novel The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and the 150th anniversary of Giacomo Puccini’s birth. These anniversaries will not only ensure that the June 2nd event is interesting and enjoyable, but General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera Peter Gelb, will also receive an international award honoring Puccini. We will host a series of events spotlighting Sicily and Tuscany which will take place over an entire week thanks to a collaborative effort with our partner institutions in New York such as the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò at New York University.
The goal, therefore, will be to offer a complete and up-to-date image of these two regions. With that in mind, I would like to announce a seminar that we will host at the Consulate on June 6th in collaboration with Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa. The event will present innovations in surgical technology. We will also share the results of Italian medical research which has created exciting opportunities for investors in the technology sector. The seminar will be the first in a series entitled “Colloqui newyorkesi di cultura scientifica italiana – Lynx 21” which will promote our continuous excellence in scientific discoveries and their fascinating implications from an economic point of view.
To understand, update, and share our culture. As “System Italy,” these are the features that we want associated with our national holiday that will take place over several days. These are the same goals that inspire our daily work and, as I never tire of almost obsessively repeating, the primary tool we have to achieve those goals is our language. Understanding the Italian language is the most direct way to access our culture and develop an updated image of Italy that is free of stereotypes. This tool, language, becomes a crucial objective for our culture. It is an objective but it is also an opportunity that is available to all – not only to the new generations of Italian-Americans who want to reclaim the fundamental richness of their own identity, but for all Americans in general. In fact, in a globalized economy and society, as well as in America, the knowledge of a second language represents a valuable commodity in the competitive job market. If learning a new language is a great gift, then why not choose the language of the country with the largest cultural heritage in the world and that today represents a large, modern, and industrialized economy?
*Italian Consul General in New York