"Research, discovery, and innovation are keys to understanding the spirit of the Year of Italian Culture in the United States. This project, organized under the auspices of the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, aims at showcasing Italian creativity and culture both in our artistic heritage and in our "Made in Italy" (brand), pointing up how contemporary excellence rests on cultural foundations spanning the Classical age and the Renaissance up to present times. The Year also highlights Italy's most advanced achievements in science and technology, bearing witness to the growing role that these fields of cooperation play in the development of Italy-U.S. relations."
With these words, Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata launched "2013 Year of Italian Culture in the United States."
San Francisco, always in the forefront, got a jump on other American cities, when the Honorable Mauro Battocchi, Consul General of Italy in San Francisco, and the Honorable Edwin Lee, Mayor of San Francisco, held a joint press conference at City Hall.
The gathering, covered by numerous media outlets and attended by the leaders of the San Francisco Italian business and community organizations, was held on Wednesday, December 12th on the Mayor's Balcony in City Hall. The press conference was followed by a Gala reception at the Italian Cultural Institute in North Beach.
The press conference began with the singing of the Italian and American national anthems as SFPD Officer Steve Landi presented the American flag, and Carabiniere Alessandro Bocchio bore the Italian flag. Maria Fassio Pignati, State President of the Order Sons of Italy in America sang the Inno di Mameli, and Sharon Bernstein Spagnolo sang the Star Spangled Banner.
Among the dignitaries and community leaders who attended the press conference were former Supervisor, civil rights attorney, and mayoral daughter Angela Alioto; State Senator Mark Leno; Assemblyman Tom Ammiano; Board of Supervisors President David Chiu; North Beach Ambassador-at-Large Alessandro Baccari; Dean of North Beach Photographers Charles Farruggia; L'Italo-Americano columnist Nickolas Marinelli; Apostolato Radio Cristiana Founder Father Efrem Trettel; Il Cenacolo Italian Culture Club Vice-President Chuck Stagliano; Italian Cemetery President Steve Leveroni; Com.It.Es. President Romana Bracco; Museo Italo Americano Managing Director Paola Bagnatori; La Madonna del Lume Director Frank Lavin; San Francisco Italian Athletic Club President Alberto Cipollina;
Italian Heritage Foundation of San Jose President Ken Borelli; Boys Town of Italy Director Larry Nibbi; National Sicilian American Foundation Director David Pellerito, Leonardo Da Vinci Society Professor Mario Fusco; Fratellanza Club President John Barassi; International Vice-President of Piemontesi of Northern California Maria De Venezia; Tuscany Club President Rino Bertini, Ligure Club Director Joseph Brignole, Liguri nel Mondo Governor Richard Cuneo, M.D.; Colombo Club President Anthony Tedeschi; Peninsula Italian American Social Club President Daniel J. Ferlizza; Lucchesi nel Mondo President Romano Della Santina; La Scuola Italiana Executive Director Valentina Imbeni; Circolo Trentino di San Francisco Vice-President Lino Rizzi and La Società Italiana di Mutua Beneficenza President Lindo Paul De Martini.
Also among the many Italian community leaders present were ItalFoods Sales Director Richard Armanino, San Francisco Police Inspector Gianrico Claudio Pierucci; San Francisco Director of Earthquake Safety Patrick Otellini; Mind the Bridge Foundation Director Massimo Arrigoni; M31 Director Aldo Cocchiglia; Stella International President Guido Perego; Bank of the West Vice-Presidents Marco Mavilla and Thierry Gabadou; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Directors Ken Garcia and Maureen Keefe and Richard Benefield; The Gores Group Senior Strategic Advisor Richard Belluzzo; Santa Clara University Professor of Italian Studies Valerio Ferme; San Francisco Giants Senior Vice President Mario Alioto; and CreAgri Vice-President Paolo Pontoniere.
The assembly of prominenti also included the Consul General's partner, Asher Berry, NASA Ames Research Center Telecom Systems Engineer David Mauro; Bosch Sensors Senior Marketing Manager Marcellino Gemelli; Guala Closures Group General Manager Alessandro Bocchio; Frosch International Travel President Silvia Gardin. Consulate General of San Francisco Commercial Attaché Stefano Mancini; Assistant to the Consul General of Italy in San Francisco Anna Maselli; Communications Director to the Consul General Brett Garling; Consulate General of San Francisco staff members Alessio Cei, Paola Lari and Aldo Mura; former Italian Cultural Institute Director Amelia Antonucci; Freelance Artist Roberto Dal Bosco; and Cav. Liana Figone.
Following a presentation by Mayor Lee to the Consul General proclaiming "Italian Culture Day in San Francisco," Consul General Battocchi, spoke about the huge heritage of Italian personalities in the history of the city, and presented the most important events in program for the year 2013.
Among the greatest pioneers of San Francisco's Italian-American community, Consul General Battocchi called attention to A.P. Giannini, third President of the Banca D'Italia in North Beach, Gaetano Merola, San Francisco Opera's first General Director, George Moscone and Joseph Alioto, former and beloved Mayors of the city, and Lawerence Ferlinghetti, publisher and living legend of the beat generation.
Consul General Mauro Battocchi said: "We will celebrate Italy's culture in all of its nuances. When I say culture, I speak not only of fine arts and music. Italy has tremendous impact on global modern culture through its inspirational lifestyle, which people all over the world have come to appreciate thanks to fashion, design, cuisine, and technology products like Ferrari. Our new frontier lies in green technologies and sustainability."
The Consul General highlighted the importance of looking at Italy as cultural superpower, with particular attention focused on the future. He also introduced a series of events focused on "Art and Beauty".
Consul General Battocchi proudly announced that throughout the year, not only would Italian art be presented to the people of San Francisco, but also innovation, sustainability and architecture.
"First of all, the remarkable exposition of a Caravaggio's painting will be on display for several weeks at the Legion of Honor Museum. To be mentioned is also the collaboration between San Carlo Theater of Naples with Opera San Josè and the San Francisco Opera, which will bring lyric representations of Il Trovatore, Falstaff and Requiem, on the occasion of the bicentennial of Maestro Giuseppe Verdi's birth."
Other events will be represented by the Bulgari's jewelry exhibition, a work-in-progress; a meeting with renowned architect Renzo Piano, designer of the Academy of Sciences of San Francisco; a series of events based on the ideas of Maria Montessori; a symposium on the "Italian contribution to Silicon Valley" in collaboration with the Museum of Computer History; and finally, an event focusing on the concept of "smart cities," with the support of all Italian and Italian-American associations in the Bay Area.
A few hours earlier on the same day as the San Francisco press conference, at the National Gallery in Washington D.C., Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero and Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata presided over a similar event inaugurating the year-long journey of adventure and discovery that will showcase today's Italy to Americans.
Throughout 2013, cultural and promotional events celebrating contributions by Italians to the world's quality of life will be presented in numerous cities throughout the United States, and San Francisco will be the leader for these programs. The aim is to present the best of Italian talent, culture, and enterprise, and to encourage the American public's encounters with all levels of current Italian society, economy, and institutions.
Following the press conference, a "Best of Italy" gala reception was held at the newly-remodeled Italian Cultural Institute at 814 Montgomery Street in North Beach. An art exhibit currently showing featured San Francisco artist Karen Wilberding Diefenbach's recent bronze sculptures from Italy entitled "The Pecore," life-size and miniature bronze sculptures and mixed-media works on paper.
The reception featured Slow Food delicacies, wines, live music by composer and pianist Luciano Chessa, and opera arias sung by J. Rosalynn Smith-Clark, Artistic Director of Opera Noir.
If the extremely impressive press conference and gala reception that followed are any indication of what is in store for 2013, the "Year of Italian Culture" will undoubtedly be remembered not only in the Italian Community, but in the City of San Francisco—and the entire nation—for many years to come.
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