The bond that unites Tuscany with the United States is extraordinary in many ways. Tuscany is not only the Italian region most loved by Americans, it is also the one that hosts the most American students. In 2019 the 200th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States, then a young democracy, and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany was celebrated under the sponsorship of the American Consulate in Florence.
In Florence there is an Association that celebrates these wonderful relations: the Tuscan American Association. The President is a dear friend, excellent professional, and Ambassador of We the Italians for Tuscany. I am very happy to end 2023 by hosting Maurizio Mancianti, to whom I cannot say “welcome on We the Italians” only because he is at home here, he is one of us.
Dear Maurizio, to begin with, please tell our readers about your story and experience as a person involved in the relationship between Italy and the United States
I have a relationship with the US that goes way back. In the 1970s, as a young councilor of the City of Florence, I was invited on a study trip to the U.S. together with other young politicians. It was an exciting trip lasting about a month where I was able to experience firsthand the political and administrative reality of the U.S. by visiting different cities and different States. For this reason I am also a member of the Amerigo Association.
Since then the feeling has continued also because my daughter has had various study experiences in the U.S., became a lawyer by passing the BAR in New York and married an American lawyer who does business throughout the U.S. in real estate.
You are the president of the Tuscan American Association. Tell us about the history and activities of this wonderful institution
To strengthen the relationship with the U.S. in 2018 I was elected President of TAA Tuscan American Association, which was established in the 1990s to promote and develop economic and cultural relations between Tuscany and the United States. The uniqueness of the Association is that next to an Italian President there is an American Co-President, now lawyer Andrea Davis, while Honorary President on the Italian side is the President pro tempore of the Tuscan Regional Council and the President on the American side is the US Consul General in Florence.
The Association in recent years has grown both in membership and in the consideration of institutions, so much so that each of our events is well attended. Among the various annual activities are: participation in Memorial Day at the Florence American Cemetery and Memorial to remember those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom; Independence Day on the Fourth of July; Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November; and the Election Night to follow the American elections. In addition to these anniversaries, the Association is very active in promoting and sponsoring cultural initiatives and economic conferences on the possibilities of interchange between Tuscany and the United States.
Among the things that have impressed me is undoubtedly the "Tuscany U.S.A. Award..."
The Association every year in the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio organizes the TAA Award to give recognition to Tuscan personalities who have made their mark in the U.S. and to American personalities who have done or are doing as much in Tuscany. The list of awardees over the years counts illustrious people whom I am not listing so as not to forget anyone.
This year, for the Italian side, the Prize was awarded to Chiara Tilesi film director and producer, founder of "We Do It Together," a nonprofit film production company that set out from Florence to conquer the U.S. and pioneered with its achievements, the latest the all-female film "Tell it like a woman." For the U.S. side, the award was given to the soldiers of Camp Darby (a military base of the Italian Army, where U.S. military units are stationed and operate, located in the province of Pisa) for their reaffirmation of the values of freedom and integration with the Tuscan population.
Another very important event you organize is the "Welcome Day." Florence is Italy's top destination for incoming American students, and recently Italy went from second to first country in the world where American kids come to study abroad...
Welcome Day is the welcoming party, again in the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio, for the many American students who come each year to study in Florence and Tuscany. The success of the initiative has been such great that now Welcome Day is promoted directly by the city administration with the support of of AACUPI (the Association that brings together American universities in the territory) and our Association.
Also in Palazzo Vecchio in the Salone dei Cinquecento from this year, our Association in collaboration with the University of Florence has established a Photographic Award for American students to represent their vision of the city and the way they live it. Given the success of the first edition, we have decided to confirm the Prize in 2024 as well.
The exhibition of the photos is inside the Rector's Office, and the award ceremony, after selection by a jury of qualified photographers, takes place in the University's Aula Magna.
I recently had the pleasure and honor of representing We the Italians at another very interesting event of yours, "The Italian Mind - A One Off." I understand you would like to make this a format to be replicated as well?
The event you refer to is an initiative carried out as professionals, by myself and lawyer Marco Gianni, who has a great deal of international experience. The idea was to organize a conference on Made in Italy and in particular on the luxury segment. I obviously contacted the entities that work with the U.S. and therefore both the Tuscany USA Association and We the Italians.
The initiative was held in the Auditorium of the Florence Chamber of Commerce under the auspices of the Association of Enterpreneurs. We involved international figures such as Daniel Langer, one of the five top opinion leaders in the world, economist Fabio Verna, Amerigo's President as well as Minister Urso's Advisor at the Ministry for Made in Italy Andrea Gumina and the Italian Banking Association’s Director of Credit and Development Angelo Peppetti, with an exceptional ambassador of the event such as Anna Fendi, and with your participation as President of We the Italians.
The event went so well that Marco Gianni and I, as organizers of the event, made it a real format that we will promote annually not only in Florence but also in the rest of Italy and abroad: we have already been asked to organize the event in China and the United Arab Emirates as well.
Please tell me something about the future of the Tuscan American Association, and what can We the Italians do to increasingly integrate our common interests?
The New Year's plans are to grow the Association even more, not so much locally as just in the USA. In fact, the time has come for the Association to promote initiatives overseas as well, and in this perspective, the synergy with We the Italians represents a fundamental reference point given your extended organization through the figure of Ambassadors not only on Italian territory but also on American territory.
Our two institutions together can certainly contribute to strengthening that bond of solidarity and friendship that has always united the Italian people with the American people.
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