Articles by: Iwona Adamczyk

  • Art & Culture

    EXPO 2015-MEDHELAN International Cover Contest

    MICC is the international contest aimed at the design of the official cover of the graphic novel MEDHELAN - The fabulous story of a land.
    The contest opens on 07/21/2014. Deadline for applications is 11/30/2014.

    Among all entries, the Jury will shortlist five applicants. After the short list is issued, the Jury will elect the winning cover of MICC unanimously, no later than 03/31/2015. The award ceremony will be held on the same day of the official world premiere of the graphic novel within the palimpsest of "Expo in the City" in the month of June 2015.

    MILAN - "Medhelan" was Milan's original Celtic name and it meant "sacred city." Its story began 2.500 years ago and few people know it well, but it will live again with compelling and immediate style in a 208 page graphic novel titled MEDHELAN - The fabulous story of a land.

    From the foundation by the Celts to the Roman conquest; from the Barbarian invasions to the struggle for the Duchy; from the flagellum of the plague to the industrial age; from the two World Wars to the post-industrial age, when, at the end of the 60's of the last century, the ambitious and revolutionary project to create an urban park was launched, intended as an action to recover the biodiversity that the land had always possessed and lost over the millennia.

    In addition to the human characters of factual history (past and present), the events are narrated by animals and plants of the region, which find their natural habitat in the forest. A story told from several points of view: that of man, who creates and destroys, and that of nature, a witness to the historical changes which occurred at various times in history and guardian of a mysterious power that extends well beyond the boundaries of our ordinary perceptions.

    The narrative perspective is therefore that of the Great Forest of the Po Valley, the natural environment which has characterized Milan and its inhabitants for 2.500 years and of which Parco Nord Milano, (producer of the work) is now the renewed fragment and a shining example of how to "feed the planet" (one of the two themes of Expo 2015).

    Medhelan is an editorial work of great scope, created and written by Silvio Da Rù and illustrated by Beniamino Delvecchio, to be published in June 2015 by Star Comics Publishing and translated into 5 languages (English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese) in an e-book format. The project includes an initiative of great interest: the MEDHELAN International Cover Contest (MICC), which is an international competition open to artists from all over the world aimed at the design of the official work's cover.

    We spoke with Silvio Da Rù, author of the graphic novel's script and executive producer of the editorial project.

    How did the idea of creating a graphic novel about the history of Milan from the nature's point of view come about, as the Lombard metropolis is certainly not famous for its green areas and its livability?
    SD: There were three major factors that led to the conception of this project: my personal passion for comics, the discovery of the unique and fascinating history of Parco Nord Milano, and finally the Expo, with particular reference to its theme "feeding the planet." I thought it would be interesting to tell, through such an immediate art form, the history of the city that will host the Universal Exhibition, from the point of view of one of its two themes.

    What do you mean exactly by saying the narrative point of view is "feeding the planet"?
    SD: Few people know that behind the concept of Parco Nord Milano there is something different from the "simple" realization of an urban park. And it is this "something different" that in my opinion was important to make known, because it is not just about the story of a place or a local community, it is about bringing to light the universal value behind this periurban masterpiece, and popularize it.

    Isn't it ambitious to recount 2.500 years of history in 208 pages?
    SD: This is the reason why it was essential to find a narrative cut that would have made the whole operation possible. Through a philological cut, hundred books of a hundred pages each would have never been enough to tell the story of the Lombard city. However the historical truth suggested the solution: putting the Great Forest that characterized Milan and the surroundings for more than two millennia at the core of the tale, and from there, looking at the events and civilizations in the same way a viewer would watch a movie.

    What kind of research have you done to collect such a vast and heterogeneous material? How did you develop the story?
    SD: Alongside classical historical research, the collaboration with Parco Nord Milano was very important, especially Dr. Tomaso Colombo, who contributed to the draft of the subject, and the supervision of the Director, Dr. Riccardo Gini. The intent was to create a fantasy work without changing the historical and scientific keystones that the topic requires.

    What was the reason for choosing Beniamino Delvecchio as illustrator?
    SD: I've known Beniamino for a few years now and I truly believe he possesses the utmost professional and human qualities to start a long and complex collaboration such as a graphic novel. Beniamino is a great illustrator, skilled in all the comics' working processes, and he's endowed with two extremely rare qualities: the ability to materialize visions, centering the poetics and the atmosphere required, and the flexibility and willingness to change his creations for the purpose of the work.

    The prestigious Star Comics publishing house for the Italian print edition, the e-book version translated into five languages, the distribution in bookstores, comics shops and online platforms. The newspaper Il Giorno as media partner for the distribution in the newsstands. Publication is scheduled for June 2015 with a world premiere presentation within the palimpsest of the Expo 2015. Would you please talk about this aspect of the operation?
    SD: I can't for the moment, but I confirm all this data as part of the media and production design. Many details are being defined and will be perfected in the coming months. I can only add that the translation of the e-book version in five languages has been possible thanks to the agreement between Parco Nord Milano and Fondazione Milano Lingue: a golden opportunity of disclosure for graphic novel's lovers who will not be able to visit the Expo.

    The international flavor is certainly a distinctive character of the project, and starts already this year with the opening of the MEDHELAN International Cover Contest (MICC), to award the most significant cover that will become the official graphic novel's cover. How was this idea born?
    SD: The MICC was created to give a real chance of visibility to those who have talent as designers, offering a rare opportunity to be evaluated for their ability and nothing else. Medhelan is an universal journey that travels through a particular story, narrated in the powerful language of the graphic novel. The uniqueness of the context offered by Expo in Milan did the rest, therefore the most challenging question has become: how would people belonging to different cultures see and interpret Milan and its history through the force of an illustration? MICC is the answer.

    For those who are interested in participating in the MICC, where do they find more information?
    SD: The official website is The website is in Italian and English. The Notice and the Entry Form can be downloaded in the languages of the graphic novel: Italian, English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese. The Notice contains all the information to participate in the Contest, which opens on July 21st. Deadline for applications is November 30th 2014. Participation is open to all artists, painters and graphic designers, professionals and non-professionals of both genders, residing in any part of the world. The winner will be the cover proposal able to interpret in the most original, compelling and ingenious way the themes proposed in the Notice. I wish good luck to all those who will decide to take part in this "fabulous" opportunity to tell the amazing story of a land!

    Info, Notice and Entry Form available on the official website >>>
    and facebook page >>>

  • Style: Articles

    Manzoni Gives Back to his “Madreterra” on BORN

    Back in May we have met Flavio Manzoni, Ferrari’s design director and a renown artist in New York when he first brought the project Madreterra to New York. He has captured our hearts with the dedication and passion with which he has devoted himself to raising funds to his beloved motherland of Sardinia and its people whom have experienced nature’s fury when a cyclone hit the area back in November of 2013.

    In the catastrophic floods that followed the vicious storm, at least 19 people died and thousands were left homeless. Manzoni's Madreterra (“Mother Earth”) project aims not only to reflect upon the destruction that Sardinia and his people have suffered, but also to serve as a celebration and a reminder of the potent forces of renewal and rebirth, which can overcome such devastation and which can illuminate the way into the future.

    The main focus of Manzoni’s project is to raise funds to rebuild a school severely damaged by a flood in his native land. Back in May in an interview with i-Italy Flavio Manzoni told us about the project, which he carried out in conjunction with Leucos. Turning his design talents into a fruitful fundraising campaign, he dedicated a large part of his free time to the decoration of lamps. These of course are not just any lamps. They are three meter tall, white swing-arm “Great JJs” (a giant version of a classic light originating in the 1930’s).

    Each of the lamps is hand-painted by the man himself. Each of them is a masterpiece of design. An intertwining meanders of reds and blacks, a juxtaposition of images and quotes, each reflecting both the fragility and strength of mankind.

    There are two ways he aims for us to interpret the objects: "Abstractly, as a sort of cosmogram, in which each figure has its own meaning, and allegorically, as a figurative work in which each figure evokes [his] personal bond with [his] land." The funds generating from the sales will go towards the reconstruction of the Maria Rocca School in Olbia, the town most affected by the floods.

    Sales of the lamps will raise and approximate €117,000. Yet not all of us poor mortals can afford to purchase a Manzoni designed 3 meter tall lamp… So, with this new project within a project, Flavio aims to raise a further €15,000 in the next 2 months with Madreterra designs which are to be printed on 200 limited edition mugs, 160 limited edition T-shirts, and 100 limited edition signed prints on canvas. These will be given as gifts to people who pledge to make a donation to the cause via the crowdfunding site BORN.

    Flavio is only gifting 463 items in total. In short: in return for a donation, supporters will receive a gift. So consider donating while obtaining a one of a kind item designed by Ferrari’s most talented designers and feel good doing it as you will serve a good cause at the same time – now’s your chance to give and receive in return.

    For more information on Flavio Manzoni’s project and to donate click here >>>

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    Happy Birthday Marcella!!!

    The fifteenth of April is no longer simply tax day. This year the International Culinary Center in New York has made it widely known as the day Marcella Hazan was born.

    Hazan has done to Italian cuisine in America, what Julia Child has done for French cuisine. Not only did she teach at the ICC, but has inspired lives of many American housewives, while introducing them to the magic behind the simplicity of taste and flavors of Italian home cooking.

    A graduate of natural sciences and biology from Northern Italian Universities, Hazan found herself on the other side of the Atlantic, when she followed her husband Victor, who was summoned to New York to work for his family fur business. Alone and surrounded by an all new world, Marcella, partly missing her motherland and its flavors, and partly bored as she awaited her husband's return from work, began spending her days in the local markets and her own kitchen, experimenting with ingredients, teaching herself how to create dishes she recalled from back home.

    Victor Hazan spoke fondly of his late wife during the event held in her honor by the International Culinary Center this past Tuesday: "Marcella had science degrees, and no knowledge of cooking, but somehow she knew exactly what to mix together to create the most tasty dishes, she knew exactly what to put in that pot… and most importantly she knew what to leave out of it, which is equally if not more important."

    The celebration of what would have been the ninetieth birthday of Hazan, who sadly passed away last September, was also a launch and a nationwide fundraised for The Marcella Hazan Scholarship at the ICC, which will provide funding to students at he ICC's Italian Chef Course in the name of the legendary cook. For that is who she was a cook.

    Giuliano Hazan, her son who demonstrated his cooking skills to the audience during the event emphasized: "She never wanted to be known as a Chef, she didn't lead a restaurant, and that's what Chefs do, she wanted to be called a cook, because that's what she was." When asked what this celebration means to him he proudly responded: "It's a testament to the effect and the influence that my mother had on how people eat, how people cook and how they live."

    The International Culinary Center will remain the only place that Marcella taught in the U.S. She strongly believed, and made cooks understand that "recipes in books are just blueprints and that they are the real architects, and it is the cook's choice, based on mood, taste and product availability to alter what is being prepared accordingly."

    The ICC wishes to keep Marcella Hazan's name and legacy alive for years to come with the establishment of this scholarship which will send promising cooks on a seven month Italian Culinary Experience beginning in either NYC or California and continuing in Marcella's home province of Emilia-Romagna in Italy.

    During the fundraising week, which kicked off on what would have been her birthday, leading chefs and restaurants all over the United States are to feature a dish inspired by Hazan's Busara-Style Pasta Sauce, from her cookbook Marcella Cucina. Busara in Italian stands for "a mess," therefore expect to taste exactly what she was teaching, the personal touch of each of the participating chefs. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of the dish in the participating restaurants will go toward the scholarship.

    New York City's Mayor, Bill de Blasio sent an acknowledgment for this occasion to be read during the celebration. "Passing on the flavors and traditional cooking techniques, Hazan introduced America to the warmth and hospitality of home cooked Italian food and in the process helped bring friends and family together at the dining table," it read.

    New York's famous restauranteur Tony May spoke warmly of the beloved cook: "I knew Marcella very well. She may very well be the only Italian that taught Italian cuisine according to the authentic tastes and flavors of our cuisine. And she was not one to compromise, just like I do compromise in my restaurant, therefore I could not be but in tune with what she did. When she passed away, I must admit that I cried, and she is truly missed and we are here to make sure that she will not be forgotten, because she was the mother of Italian cuisine in the homes of American women."

    He went on: "In the end Italian cookbooks in America are written by Americans, we do not have cookbooks written by Italians, the only one that wrote in Italian was Marcella, and she certainly was the toughest, most persistent and most natural of all. She was an incredible woman, and she always had mad fun living, she is a woman worth remembering, especially within the ambience of Italian cuisine."

    John Profaci, Chairman Emeritus of Colavita, one of the sponsors of the event stated: "I never had the pleasure of meeting Hazan, but our two lives parallel each other, when I started 35 years ago nobody knew what extra virgin olive oil was, and now…. look at the industry we created. Colavita proudly sponsors events such as this one. We stand behind the simplicity and authenticity of our products, just like Marcella stood behind the simplicity and authenticity of Italian cuisine. It is important for our company to be present and support these initiatives, it lets us share not only the success of our products but the centuries of cultivation of a culture that stands behind it and allows us today to still share its simple innovation, riches and health benefits. We are happy to see young talent in the culinary arts longing to follow in the food steps of true Italian cuisine, in the footsteps of cooks like Marcella Hazan."

    The event was also attended by the Italian Trade Commissioner Pier Paolo Celeste, who clearly announced the importance of the presence of the Italain Trade Agency at the event: "One of main direction of the ITA(ITC) is to push forward everything that is Italian, and one of the mainstream from italy is our food and our wine. That's what defines our culture, and anything on a serious level that involves food and wine has ITC on its side. And we are also extremely happy to support the new chefs, many of which have a natural inkling towards the Italian lifestyle and Italian cuisine."

    The event was a grand success and it is far from over. It goes until next Tuesday and does not end with just this week's celebrations. There are numerous ways to donate to the Marcella Hazan Scholarship, such as through the purchasing of Marcella's Favorites Basket, a wood crate filled with foods from the cook's pantry. So consider buying it for yourself or as a gift for a friend, or if you are not into cooking then have a night out and make sure to have Marcella inspired dinner at one of the participating restaurants in town. Contribution by eating surely must be the most rewarding kind…

  • Events: Reports

    2014, Anadromous Selves on Escalators. An Introspective Invitation

    The start of the 2014 event season at NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò demonstrates the institution’s continued dedication to its mission of giving opportunity to young and emerging talent as well as giving particular attention to university students.

    We are only into March and Casa’s wonderful gallery space has already introduced two young and talented Italian artists to its visitors. In January, David Alexander Del Boca Flinn presented his works in an exhibit titled: IL QUIETO NELLO SPECCHIO - The Quiet in the Mirror, and currently the thought provoking, surreal works of Tao Kulczycki are on display in a curiously named exposition: 2014, Anadromous selves on escalators.

    The jam-packed gallery space on the evening of the opening of the exhibit, which took place on March 27th, is just a preview of the sure to become successful career of this intriguing artist.

    Kulczycki, was born in 1987, and grew up between Italy and Switzerland, coming to the United States only a few years ago to pursue an MFA at Pratt Institute. He currently lives and creates in Brooklyn.

    Pratt’s Graduate Fine Arts department Professor, Robert C. Morgan describes Kulczycki’s works: “While many sculptors focus on their materials in a literal way, Tao Kulczycki chooses to transform his materials into metaphors of the human condition. At the same time, he is exacting and precise in the manner he constructs these metaphors using various assortments of found objects.”

    The 2014, Anadromous selves on escalators consists of eleven pieces: seven sculptures bronze, aluminum, concrete and fiberglass), two screen prints on aluminum and two C-photographs.

    The artist proudly describes his work as “modification of object and their concepts and their assembly or re-assembly in such a way that they can be seen as ready-made and addressing the current state of mind, human condition in general and often, current events.”

    “His use of the term “anadromous” refers to fish, like salmon” which fight the current in order to return to their birthplace. For Kulczycki, this suggests an alternative to the existential fate of human beings who, contrary to salmon, eagerly follow the current,” states Prof. Morgan.

    Kulczycki adds: “Us, humans by following the mainstream, are often not able to reach our origin and find our true selves. The concept of unity and division of the human race is fascinating, especially when we think of how much depends on our minds, and this is what this show is about.”

    His profound examination of the human condition and the application of his findings to his creativity, demonstrates itself in the careful deliberation upon and choice of titles given to the produced works.

    A 2013 bronze sculpture of a gold leaf plated cow’s tongue with a fishing hook attached to it and titled Artist Lure is one example. Through this piece the artist conveys the relationship of contemporary artists with the selling of their works. The association of the title with the sculpture creates a path into the artist’s mind and his way of thinking for the viewer.

    This is a one-of-a-kind show that each one of us must experience up-close and let our own state of minds and life experiences take us on an introspective journey Kulczycki invites us on.

    Kulczycki challenges the viewer to look not only within themselves, but to ask themselves if following the current is in fact the direction they want their lives to go. He forces the audience to look around them and pay attention to current events, and how they affect them as an individual, and moreover as part of humanity (see Wind Powered Nuclear Weapon – Fukushima).

    His two aluminum screen prints, Society I, which represents an arecibo message (containing human DNA, atomic numbers, population and average height info) beamed into space in 1974, and Society II, a space pioneer plaque, both are meant to represent our society to the extraterrestrial beeings.

    Clearly Kulczycki’s focus is on both: the understanding of humanity as a whole as well as the nutrition of the individual and his or her chosen life path, being with or against the current…


    On display at Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò (NYU)  daily from 9am-5pm until the 8th of April
    The exhibition will feature sculptures, screen prints and photos.
    This includes bronze, aluminum, concrete and fiberglass sculptures.

  • Life & People

    Armani & the “The Great Beauty” State of Mind

    What better way to create publicity and get the most out of an advertising campaign than to use it not only to promote the product itself, but also to share the spotlight with young, emerging talent?

    Fashion designer Giorgio Armani teams up with Rai Cinema creating Films of City Frames, a project, which is both promotional and philanthropic, which is aimed to revive the 2010 Frames of Life campaign. In 2013, the campaign involved four short clips, set around a busy café in a city square with people hurrying to and fro, and unveiling the stories of five diverse characters (all wearing Armani’s eyewear of course!)

    This year the initiative extends a helping hand to emerging film school talents, as the project plans to finance shorts by six selected students or young graduates at international films schools. The selected films schools are USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles; the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome; the National Film and Television School in London; the Ecole Superieure de Realisation in Paris; the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, and New York’s NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

    Each of the schools is to select a young director who will then shoot a short with the goal to depict fragments of life “that describe a city’s perspectives; that seize emotions and situations by using Frames of Life collection glasses as a perceptual filter,” states Armani’s website. The spot announcing the project is represented by a short executed by Piero Messina, a young director chosen by non other than the recent Oscar winner Paolo Sorrentino, who not only joined the initiative but stars in the pilot film by Messina. Messina certainly lived up to Sorrentino’s expectations and delivered a solid and well carried out short using cut frames of ‘La Grande Bellezza’ and Journey to the End of the Night, a book by Louis Ferdinand Céline as inspiration.

    Having a recent Oscar winning director backing up the project was quite a clever move for Armani’s campaign and will certainly aid in the publicity around the project. “I felt that Paolo would be the best person to share this project with. He has a clear and inspiring view of reality; he captures the most exciting and poetic aspects of everyday life with a neat, contemporary style. Above all, I think that Paolo embodies the real magic of cinema, which is barrier-free language: he speaks to everyone, but with an undeniably Italian eye. And this is precisely what we wanted students to grasp: the importance of having a personal perspective,” states Armani on the project’s website.

    From mid-April, the different production stages of the short films will be described online in a dedicated area at and shared on the Armani social media networks.

    What’s there to add? It’s a great project, a clever add campaign and everyone involved wins… Including us: the future recipients and viewers. We are all looking forward to the completed shorts…

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    Italian Kitchen in the Heart of Harlem

    Getting off the number 1 train on 125 Street, I proceed down Broadway passing random old fashion bodegas, barbershops, a Chinese restaurant and a New York style pizza joint. Once I enter through the doors of Bettolona the outside seizes to exist.

     It almost feels surreal as I hear the loud Italian conversation lead by a group of friends sitting at the bar to the right. Approached by one of the employees I kindly ask to be seated at the bar as the dining room to the left seems to be filled to its capacity, and I order a glass of wine while I look through the menu.

    I strike a conversation with my neighbor who quickly suggests I should try the fried calamari and I shouldn’t miss the imported buffalo mozzarella. So I go with his recommendation ad order both. Soon I become part of the crowd seated at the bar and learn that they are not friends but have met here at the restaurant today.

    The barman chimes in stating that everyone is family at Bettolona! I ask him where he’s from and he says: “I’m from Turin, it’s up north.” The barman is Sandro Giusiano, and he is one of the owners of Bettolona. Together with chef Sebastiano Cappitta they have ventured into the heart of Harlem in order to create a piece of Italy in this rapidly developing neighborhood.

    “We decided to invest in this area because of its constant evolution. We are ahead of time, as Columbia University plans to expand its campus. A true Italian pizzeria and restaurant is a great meeting place for the young student crowd. Here they can experience what is truly Italian: food and culture. It’s not by chance that most of the staff is Italian, I want Italian to be spoken here, yelled out loud and heard,” states Giusiano.

    The chef has created a menu based on classic Italian recipes, revisited in a modern way. The lasagna verde di spinachi (spinach lasagna in a béchamel and ragu’ sauce) is prepared fresh every day, as are various daily specials. So stop in and experience Sandro’s Piedmontese hospitality, his knowledge of wine and Sebastiano’s culinary creations.

    Bettolona 3143 Broadway New York, NY ‎ (212) 749-1125 ‎

  • Facts & Stories

    March 8. Honoring Ten Women from Ten Different Countries

    On the eve of International Women's Day, the Polish Consulate filled up with a very international crowd, as the Society of Foreign Consuls in New York held a celebratory reception honoring ten women from ten different countries.

    What unifies all of the ten honorees is their dedication and commitment to their immigrant communities. Each of the ten award recipients has excelled in her field, which range from medicine to journalism to fashion design, but most of all of them shared their success with their community.

    Society of Foreign Consuls in NY, founded in 1925, has since become the world's largest consular corps, comprising 110 Consulates, Consulates General and Honorary Consulates based in New York CIty.

    This was certainly represented during last night's event in the presence of dignitaries from more than ten countries and a widely international audience which gathered to celebrate the achievements of the honorees.

    This year's award recipients were: Croatian born, Milka Zepina for her achievements in promoting the Croatian language in the United States as well as for her involvement in the organizetion of anti-war demonstrations and pleading the recognition of Croatia as an independent state.

    The Republic of Cyprus has nominated Effie Lekas, the Assistant Director at Queens College Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies who actively participates in the promotion and recognition of Greek culture in the US. Similarly,

    The Republic of Kazakhstan nominated Azhara Mestler for her efforts in promoting Kazakhstan culture in New York and her devotion to the immigrant community of her country.

    The Federal Republic of Nigeria presented a candidate who is an innovative makeup artist, Khuraira Musa. Not only is she a pioneer airbrush makeup artist and a successful business woman, but also a vast supporter of breast cancer survivors, sickle cell anemia sufferers and lends a helping hand with African youth educational programs.

    Menchu Sanchez was the award recipient hailing from The Republic of Philippines. Ms. Sanchez, a registered nurse is responsible for saving the lives of over 60 high risk pediatric patients by leading the evacuation of NYU Langone Medical Center during the Sandy Storm Emergency.

    The hosting country, Poland, nominated Karolina Zmarlak, a young fashion designer whose concentration lies in modernist tailoring, refined, architectural construction ad innovative fabrics while communicating the aesthetic through Easter European minimalism. The Honorable Consul General of the Republic of Poland, Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka proudly wore one of her creations that evening.

    The Russian Federation awarded Marina Adamovitch, the first female Editor-in-Chief of The New Review (Novyj Zhurnal), the oldest Russian immigrant publication. She is also the organizer and curator of the Russian Documentary Film Festival in NY.

    Katarina Novakova, a Director of Relations at Blue Horizon International, a health care consulting company received the award after the nomination by her native Republic of Slovakia for her work in the non-profit organization as well for demonstrating to be a great leader in the Slovak community and a role model for young women.

    The Republic of Turkey nominated Pinar E. Atakent, M.D. Clinical Professor and Chairman of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn she focuses on building bridges between her native Turkey and the USA.

    Italy named Valentina Castellani as this year's recipient. Born in Boston to Italian parents, Valentina grew up in Turin where she graduated magna cum laude in Greek Archeology and History of Art before moving to New York twelve years ago and becoming the director of the famous Gagosian Gallery.

    Valentina Castellani proudly spoke of her work and her achievements: "I have four Picasso exhibits under my belt, but what I am most proud of is the light I was able to shed onto the work of Piero Manzoni on this side of the Atlantic. The Manzoni exhibit, a first show of the artist's works in America was extremely well received by both the public and the critics." " Our exhibits are free to the public and it feels great to be able to offer that," she added.

    Lucia Pasqualini, the Italian Vice Consul presented the award to Valentina. "New York is an extremely demanding city wether you are a man or a woman. One has to work and work very hard. And when you think about it, women are the ones that have to make everything work, create an equilibrium between family life and a career, and we all know it is the woman that coordinates a household. Yet here, women have excelled in every sector, being that of finance, science or art" she stated.

    i-Italy was able to interview a guest of honor Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney who told us: "I did not realize that it was a celebration for every country, it's really beautiful what happened here, to recognize leaders, especially women leaders on International Women's Day and to celebrate the culture of so many different countries. It was a lovely event, I met so many outstanding women who won the awards, so many important dignitaries, leaders in their countries. It's a very beautiful thing to bring together so many different countries to celebrate the contributions of women, we are half the population, we hold up half the sky, and to recognize that it was a lovely way to celebrate the International Women's Day."

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    Reuniting Families Through Food and Wine

    Sunday is when the Italian families get together for their traditional Sunday lunch. The old fashioned image of a large Italian family, in the conventional sense, is becoming a thing of the past, both in the U.S. and in Italy. The structure of the traditional Italian family has dramatically changed over the past years and transformed to a less traditional and more unconventional one.

    One of these unconventional stories is the Italian family of Pizzetteria Brunetti, which was established as a result of a family reunion. After eitghteen years apart from each other following a divorce, Michael Brunetti (aka Pop) and his son and Chief Pizzaiolo, Jason Brunetti (aka Sonny) reunited through their love and a shared passion for food and wine. They decided to go into business after realizing their passion and perfectionism to the task of making an ideal Neapolitan pizza. Sonny moved from Florida and together they created their proprietary dough. They opened a first pizza place in Westhampton Beach in 2009 and more recently, a new spot in the West Village.

    Ingredients are either home-made or imported from Italy, such as mozzarella di Bufala, San Marzano tomatoes, prosciutto crudo di Parma or imported Soppressata. “The quest for authentic ingredients is a way to reconnect to our roots” – says Michael Brunetti. “We reunited our family with a project of being loyal to our roots and origins, not to cut corners.”

    Pop and Sonny applied the same commitment to authenticity with their wine list. The wines surprisingly reunited the Brunetti's with an additional Brunetti, as Pop and Sonny met another Brunetti. Bruno Brunetti has been helping them picking the wines for their wine list.

    Michael likes to tell the story of how he got to know Bruno. “ Dear Michael Brunetti, this is Bruno Brunetti! I have read about your pizza. Let's meet!” – Michael recalls of an email he received from Bruno back in 2010. Bruno moved from Italy over 10 years ago. Born and raised in Apulia, where his family still grows grapes and olive oil trees, Bruno is an example of the new Italian realities: a young generation that left the land and the farm to pursue a career in the financial industry.

    Bruno is now a successful market analyst in the energy industry, having spent over 15 years working for international consulting firms, but he connected again with his family living in Italy through his passion for wine and olive oil, which brings him back to his childhood memories in Italy. Along with the help of his partner Gal Keren, this fascination became a reality. Bruno and Gal have put together a project which makes the lesser known wine varietals available in New York. “We have been long looked for authentic wines on the shelves, but with little success" – Bruno said.

    Three years later after the first reunion, back in 2010, the Brunetti’s are all together sharing delicious pizza and wines in the West Village in a Sunday night. We are having Santiquaranta wines, from the Benevento area in Campania. Moscato Sannio DOC is made from Moscato del Baselice, from the family of the moscato grape, but the Moscato del Baselice is a grape that is now almost entirely extinct. Santiquaranta’s Moscato del Baselice is soft, sweet at first followed by hints of fruit, which goes very well with the Soppressata pizza. Soppressata is a dried Italian sausage, which is put on top of creamy Burrata cheese, roasted red peppers and red pepper oil.

    There is a welcoming atmosphere oin the air and one big happy family at the tables of Pizzetteria Brunetti, a family that is happy to have finally reunited.

  • Art & Culture

    Italian Ideal Cities in New York

    Humanism, stands for devotion to the literature of ancient Greece and Rome. Intellectual Greek and Roman teachings undertaken by scholars, writers, and civic leaders, today known as Renaissance humanists, began initially in Italy, and then spread across most of Europe.

    This month, Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò brings to their gallery space an exquisite photographic exhibition titled Renaissance Ideal Cities. On view until October 3rd are photographs of two UNESCO World Heritage Centre towns: the Sienese city of Pienza and the Mantuan city of Sabbioneta.

    The historic centre of Pienza is a true and a first application of the Renaissance humanist concept of urban design. The town played a pivotal role in the development of the concept of the planned 'ideal city' in subsequent urban development in ltaly as well as beyond its borders.

    In 1459, Pope Pius II decided to transform the look of his birthplace. He chose the architect Bernardo Rossellino, whom applying the principles of his mentor, Leon Battista Alberti, first implemented Renaissance town-planning concepts resulting in the ideal square known as Piazza Pio II and the buildings around it: the Piccolomini and the Borgia Palaces.

    Similarly, Sabbioneta is the creation of one man, the ruler of the little state Vespasiano Gonzaga Colonna, who studied the writings and theories of ideal city planning and aimed  to build an impregnable fortress and a functional capital of the state.

    Sabbioneta, created in the second half of the 16th century, can be described as a single-period city and is known for the right angle grid layout. It's defensive walls, grid pattern of streets, role of public spaces and monuments, make Sabbioneta one of the finest examples of ideal cities built in Europe. The ideals of the Renaissance, and the humanism concept are heavily present in the towns’ architecture.

    Present (virtually at least) at the opening of the exhibit was Marco Aroldi, the mayor of the city of Sabbioneta who expressed gratitude to the director of Casa Italiana for giving voice to the his city across the ocean.

    "It is a great honor for me to represent my city on this occasion of the exhibit arriving in NY," stated Aroldi via a Skype video call. Albertini called the exhibition "virtuous on many levels, as it imports quality products without creating a major expense for the state or public administrations."

    The audience also had an opportunity to meet Casa Italiana director's mother, who being a Mantuan herself, was also present at the Teatro all’Antica for the Skype conversation despite the late hour caused by the time difference.

    Finally, an enticing presentation was given by Prof. Nicola Gardini of Oxford University (NYU Alumn) who described the two cities as ones that "bracket the Renaissance." "Pienza is the begging of antiquity and rationalism based on ancient values, and Sabbioneta is the swan song of the thought of reproducing antiquity as a form of modernity," eloquently stated Gardini.

    "These are twin cities, yet they they mark the beginning and the end of this architectural and moral culture… In Sabbionetta we walk in the dream, contemplating moral perfection. Sabbioneta is still talking a lot… in its paintings, the theater … everything echoes everything, and it is like moving around a beautifully constructed poem, a Ciceronian oration … this is where politics and arts become one," he continued. "We are lucky to have such cities… we are in the Renaissance there…" concluded Prof. Gardini.

    Next Monday, October 23rd, at 6PM Casa Italiana twill hold a screening of two films La Strategia del Ragno by Bernardo Bertolucci and Le Piacevoli Notti by Armando Crispino e Luciano Lucignani. Bertolucci's film is entirely shot in Sabbioneta, and the last part of the second film is shot in Pienza. Come and let Casa Italiana transport you to an ideal Renaissance city…. even if only for a short while…


  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    From Gioia Tauro to Hell’s Kitchen: Authenticity and Invention

    Step off the beaten path the next time you are in the theater district and go to Hell’s Kitchen heavenly Ristorante il Punto. This Ninth Avenue locale may just become your new favorite Italian restaurant. Walking in you will find yourself surrounded by stucco walls and elegantly set tables. It almost feels as you have walked onto a movie set, but this is just the beginning. An extraordinary culinary experience awaits you. Open the menu and prepare your taste buds for a southern Italian journey with an inventive twist, and the talented and passionate young chef, Antonio Mermolia, as your guide.

    Hailing from Gioia Tauro, located in Calabria, he owes his interest in the culinary arts to his family’s restaurant located within Hotel Villa Calliope, a four star establishment. His traditional southern Italian cooking knows the importance of utilizing simple, quality products. Following his desire for improvement he went on to perfect his craft under Chef Pietro D’Agostino at La Capinera in Taormina, Sicily. That’s where he truly came to understand the importance of respecting the product and how to enhance natural ingredients without compromising.

    What distinguishes Antonio’s cuisine from the many Italian restaurants in the city is his imaginative and youthful spin on old-fashioned Italian cooking, which in no way compromises the authenticity of the dishes he creates. His inventive methods result in beautifully plated dishes, which can easily be considered pieces of art. The raw sea bass marinated in oil, lemon and pepper and served with finely shaved parmesan cheese, shallots and lemon mousse is a true winner and a must try even for those who are not fans of crudo dishes. Another surprise comes in the form of a romaine lettuce salad, with warm shrimp and blackberries topped with a scoop of onion gelato, which becomes the dressing as it slowly melts and ties in all the ingredients, creating a playful sensation on the pallet. Antonio does not forget his roots and offers his clients a dish that is very typical if not exclusive to his area of origin, Stroncapaccheri di Gioitana. It’s an old pasta from the Plains of Gioai Tauro, made only of flour and water, a very hearty dish. It is served with cream of anchovy, tomato confit, dehydrated olives and toasted bread.

    Young chef Antonio is a huge fan of desserts, so don’t forget your sweet tooth. Try the 100% carrot dessert, a carrot cake served with a reduction of carrot cake sorbet and a shot of heavenly liquefied carrot, which, in Antonio’s hands, becomes miracle juice.