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Beppe Severgnini Speaks at Georgetown University

Posted on: 11/28/2011 9:36:50 AM under Personal 

The fun and brilliant journalist and author, Beppe Severgnini, entertained a large crowd on Monday, November 7th, at Georgetown University. A mix of students, professors, writers and admirers sat and listened to him speak about his latest book, Mamma Mia! Berlusconi’s Italy Explained for Posterity and Friends Abroad.


Beppe recounted working in Washington, D.C. and living near Georgetown University. His anecdotes then lead the crowd into the story about his latest book. Beppe described writing the book for those, “born in the 90s and for friends abroad.” The author explained  the success of Italy’s former Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.  He joked that his first book, La Bella Figura was a 101 Course, but Mamma Mia! is a Ph.D. course of the Italian mind.” After the talk, Beppe kindly signed books for his fans.


For more information about Beppe Severgnini and his books, go to http://www.beppesevergnini.com. Be sure to read his daily column for Corriere Della Sera, entitled “Italians.”















Italy by the Pint

Posted on: 11/21/2011 10:12:00 AM under Personal 

Throughout the past twenty years Milan, Rome, and Turin have become the new reputable beer hubs of Europe that have gained popularity through high-end beer trips, and the establishment of more than 300 microbreweries and brewpubs throughout the area. Mike Saxton, owner of beertrips.com whose company programs the beer trips across the world proclaims “Italy is the next emerging beer empire.” Traditionally Italy fostered a reputation for being the mecca of wines, but most recently has become Private Clubs must-see beer destination because of the new unique brews being made from territory ingredients such as basil, chestnuts, peaches, and even pine needles that work together to achieve sensational tastes. The Private Clubs website has found six different must visit spots for your next beer vacation. 


For more information on the most popular pubs see http://www.privateclubs.com/article.php?name=italybythepint







Italian Cities: Best for Food & Wine

Posted on: 11/14/2011 10:58:00 AM under Personal 

What do Florence, Rome, Siena, Bologna, and Sorrento have in common? TripAdvisor named them in the top ten European cities for food and wine. Their company included Barcelona, Paris, York, Edinburgh and San Sebastian.


Italian cities have a little bit for anyone’s taste buds. Coming in at number one on the list is Florence. Known for their locally grown food and Tuscan wines, Florence has beautiful vineyards and some excellent restaurants where Pecorino Romano cheese and wild game are often found on the menu. If you are looking for a heartier meal such as fried cod or pasta carbonara, you may want to travel to Rome and check out the cuisine there. For the seafood lovers, Sorrento is one town you won’t want to miss! Not only is the Amalfi Coast home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but the food is delicious. Try some gnocchi alla Sorrentino with freshly caught seafood and don’t forget about the limoncello! Bologna’s tortellini al brodo and Siena’s Chianti put these cities on the list. Both cities are great for a day trip so be sure to add them to your itinerary!


Check out TripAdvisor for a list of restaurants in each city and TripAdvisor’s “Best of 2011” list at http://www.tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice-Food-cTop10-g4.


Buon appetito!



America’s Young People Discover Italy Through Italy4Kids

Posted on: 11/7/2011 10:27:30 AM under Personal 

American children and students can now learn the Italian language and culture through Italy4Kids, the online interactive portal created by the Embassy of Italy in Washington. Young people ages 5-18 can access all sorts of information about Italy through videos, quizzes, games, Twitter and Facebook.


Available at www.ambwashingtondc.esteri.it, even the youngest internet navigators can play games that will allow them to explore Italy’s regions, design an “Italian itinerary” in Washington DC’s museums and public spaces and discover the bonds between Italy and the United States. For example, a 6-7 year old can learn to count to ten in Italian while an older child can get information on the AP in Italian.









Online Twitter Contest Winner Speaks about NIAF Gala Experience

Posted on: 11/1/2011 12:33:42 PM under Personal 

Before the Gala, NIAF ran a special contest on Twitter asking followers, “What values has your heritage taught you?” Mike D. Nieto responded saying, “My ancestors gave up so much so the rest of us could have better lives. Family is what they valued and what I now value.” NIAF was pleased to award him two tickets to the Gala for winning the contest and after the Gala he wrote the following:


“As I was sitting there during all the speeches and listening to all the honorees and presenters I kept thinking of my Great Grandmother and all that she sacrificed for my family.  When the President spoke, I realized just how lucky I was to be there that night, and how lucky I am to be here at all.


My Great Grandmother, Giulia De Stefano, came over on the ship “Olympic” on Dec. 22, 1920. She left her town of Serra Pedace (in Calabria) after her first husband, Ernesto Venerdi was killed in WWI, her brother also, and another brother lost a leg. She came here to make a better life for her and her son (Peter). She knew if she stayed in Italy she was going to be a scorned woman, raising a child of her own with no husband.  Her other brother, Gabriel DeStefano, sponsored her on the ship and introduced her to a friend when she arrived. She married tha friend shortly after her arrival and my grandmother was born in 1922.


And then this weekend, I was sitting in a room dining with thousands of others Italians, including the Speaker of the House and the President of the United States of America.  It truly is amazing.”



Mike Nieto and Frankie Avalon

Nancy Pelosi and Mike Nieto




Fighting Ovarian Cancer, Italian American Cowgirl Style

Posted on: 10/24/2011 9:48:51 AM under Personal 

Gina DePalma, award-winning pastry chef at Mario Batali’s Babbo Ristorante and Enoteca in New York City, is inspired by her Italian background to create deserts such as Ricotta Pound Cake and Honey and Pine Nut Tarts. She has written cookbooks, was named Outstanding Pastry Chef by the James Beard Foundation in 2009, and was named 2008’s Best Pastry Chef by Bon Appetit Magazine. However, while DePalma was busy making her name for herself in the culinary world, she developed stage-4 ovarian cancer. This is when she combined her Italian American heritage with her can-do cowgirl attitude and founded the Cowgirl Cure Foundation for ovarian cancer awareness. You may wonder where cowgirl comes from, but DePalma’s best friend gave her a cowgirl inscribed ring as a reminder to fight.

After three years, multiple surgeries, and one recurrence DePalma was recently declared cancer free, but she still fights for others affected by the disease.  Her goal is wider attention and increased funding for research toward a reliable screening test and cure for ovarian cancer. DePalma draws strength from her inner cowgirl and her Italian American Heritage, not only in her fight against ovarian cancer, but to succeed as a pastry chef. To read more about DePalma and her story check out the fall issue of NIAF’s magazine, Ambassador by visiting niaf.org.

For more information on the Cowgirl Cure Foundation please visit,                                       www.Ginadepalma.net/The_Cowgirl_Cure_Foundation.html.


Italian Language in Trouble?

Posted on: 10/18/2011 9:35:59 AM under Personal 

With the current state of the economy in countries all over the world, governments are doing their best to decrease spending. In the case of Italy, however, these cuts might come at a high cost for the Italian language.  The Italian government has been working to cut from state-funded research organizations that employ fewer than 70 people, such as the Accademia della Crusca. This institute has been the “custodian” of the Italian language since 1612, the year in which it published Italy’s first dictionary.


Employees of the Accademia are especially concerned for the state of the Italian language in today’s increasingly globalizing world. English words have already begun to make their way into Italian conversations, particularly corporate buzzwords. Because Italian has not thrived in Italy as a spoken language for very long (only 10% of the population spoke Italian when Italy was unified in the 19th century), experts at the Accademia della Crusca consider it to be very “fragile.” It is especially fragile because Italians do not have the same pride in their language as the French have in theirs, explained Nicoletta Maraschio, President of the Accademia della Crusca.

The culture minister, Giancarlo Galan, stated that he would try to change the budget decree, which would cut all of the academy’s €190,000 annual funding, as it makes its way through parliament. But, Maraschio worries that this would not be enough, explaining that the academy’s only hope is that the Prime Minister himself will champion their cause and intervene directly to keep the institute alive. According to Maraschio, "cutting funds to institutes like us may appeal to some, but the Italian language is crucial to something which has huge economic value – this country's cultural patrimony." Read more here. http://bit.ly/o1mXTu












Hamilton Celebrates Italian American Heritage with Annual Italian Flag Raising Ceremony

Posted on: 10/14/2011 9:19:49 AM under General 

Throughout the year, Hamilton Township, New Jersey displays the flags of several nations at the request of local ethnic organizations to honor the many ethnic groups that have so greatly contributed to the community. Last week, the town held an Italian flag raising ceremony to continue this longstanding tradition.  


Prior to the Italian Flag Raising, a brief ceremony was held at the steps of the Township Municipal Building and included the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner and Italian National Anthem by Nottingham High School student, Joanna Caruso. Several members of the Mercer County Italian American Festival Association, local dignitaries and elected officials were in attendance, along with students from both Professor Frank A. Campione’s Nottingham High School class and students from Greenwood Elementary School. Campione was the recipient of the 2010 NIAF Teacher of the Year Award which was presented during the 35th Anniversary Awards Gala Weekend.



Photo Caption: Nottingham High School Italian teacher, Professor Frank A. Campione, (front left, grey suit), joins (from left to right) Mercer County Freeholder and 2011 Columbus Day Parade Co-Grand Marshal, Pasquale “Pat” Colavita, Hamilton Township Mayor John Bencivengo, Mercer County Italian American Festival Association President, John Scarpati, and Bank of Princeton Senior Vice President and 2011 Columbus Day Parade Co-Grand-Marshal, Nina DeBiase Melker, and is surrounded by Professor Campione’s Nottingham High School Italian Class following Hamilton Township’s annual Italian Flag raising ceremony.









Superga:The Converse of Italy

Posted on: 10/12/2011 3:37:49 PM under General 

Congratulations Superga! 

 Superga, an Italian shoe company, celebrated its 100th birthday on October 7, 2011. The company started in 1911 in Turin under the stewardship of Walter Martiny, and produced shoes with vulcanized rubber soles. Their first creation was the Classic Superga 2750 Heritage Style. It has grown to become an iconic style staple in wardrobes all across Italy and the world.

To celebrate its birthday, Superga brought Alexa Chung, British television presenter, model and contributing editor of British Vogue on board for its 2011 campaign. Celebrities all over the world have fallen in love with Superga’s sneakers and they come in all colors and styles to fit everyone’s fashion needs!







Vandals in Italy Face Prison

Posted on: 10/7/2011 3:43:05 PM under General 

After three incidents of defacement to Rome’s most famous moments, Italy’s culture minister, Giancarlo Galan has declared “no more leniency” towards these criminals. The Italian cabinet approved legislation that would enforce jail sentences for those who damage or steal public art and monuments.


Giancarlo Galan was moved to action after a man chipped off pieces of a fountain in Piazza Navona. Similar events included a vandal throwing stones at the Trevi Fountain as well as an American student climbing the walls of the Coliseum in an attempt to chip away stonework as a souvenir. However, Rome has not been the only Italian city hit with vandalism. It is a country-wide problem that will be stopped with the new legislation.


Under the new law, vandals may be sentenced up to six years in prison and face a fine between 5,000 to 10,000 euros. The new law also targets unauthorized archaeological digs or illegally appropriating artifacts. Offenders caught in the latter acts will also face up to six years in jail, but their fines could be up to 30,000 euros.




Meetup.com for Italian Groups

Posted on: 9/30/2011 2:47:35 PM under General 




Meetup.com for Italian Groups


Want to meet more Italophiles in your area? Meetup is the world’s largest network for local groups. More than 2,000 groups get together in local communities each day, and there are many Italian groups all over America! Using keywords such as “Italy” and “Italian,” NIAF found over 700 groups that promote the Italian language, culture, traveling and community ties. Cities with large Italian groups include Washington, DC, New York, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and San Francisco, but there are many more all over the United States.


For the expatriate overseas, don’t fret, Meetup also offers many groups in cities such as London, Paris, Madrid, Rome and Florence. These international groups are also open to travelers and students studying abroad.


Whether you’re in the United States or abroad, Meetup offers great opportunities to meet Italophiles in your community. These groups host local events and truly get the Italian community involved. Check out www.meetup.com and search for a local Italian group today!




Paul David Pope to Speak at This Year's Gala

Posted on: 9/21/2011 3:10:25 PM under General 

Paul David Pope, a third generation Italian American businessman and philanthropist, will bring his family story as a special guest at NIAF’s 36th Anniversary Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. on October 29.  Pope will address the audience during the gala and will draw upon his family’s heritage and own unique personal experiences


Generoso Pope Sr., Pope’s grandfather, left Italy at 15.  He worked his way up from the sand pits of Long Island to become a construction magnate and New York City kingmaker.  He left his youngest son, Gene, to lead the family business—a decision that would rend the family to pieces and ultimately force Gene out on his own.  But in the end, Gene would later found the National Enquirer.


Pope has forged his own identity, like his father and grandfather…an identity that has to do with his Italian American heritage.  As head of Pope Entertainment Group, he was chief sponsor of the New York Historical Society’s exhibit, “The Italians of New York: Five Centuries of Struggle and Achievement.”  He’s also received awards from the Consul General of Italy in New York, the Italian Apostolate of the Archdiocese of New York and the Order Sons of Italy in America.


Guests at NIAF’s gala will receive a copy of his book, “The Deeds of My Father,” along with other items related to his family.  Visit www.niaf.org/galafor the weekend’s schedule of events.



Padlocks on Italy's Bridges

Posted on: 9/15/2011 9:41:09 AM under General 

Padlocks have taken over Italy’s bridges! Inspired by the novel I Want You by Federico Moccia, couples have begun writing their names on padlocks, promising eternal love, and throwing the keys into the water. What seems as a harmless display of love and affection has been the cause of outcry for some Italians.

Italian police officers are cracking down on those who wish to place locks on bridges, especially along Venice’s Rialto, a particularly sensitive target. The rust from the love padlocks can damage the stone of the bridges. For this reason, it’s illegal to attach locks to bridges, and police have been doing their best to clean up Italy’s bridges using bolt cutters.

The trend of affixing padlocks to bridges began in Rome, but has since spread to other parts of Italy, Europe and even Asia. Despite the uproar, including a front page editorial denouncing the practice in La Repubblica, author Moccia defends the phenomenon, explaining that it’s better that teenagers use locks instead of graffiti. Maybe if the phenomenon spreads to the U.S., “lucchetto” (padlock) will become a part of the English language, just like “graffiti.”

Read more.



Valentino Coming to Broadway

Posted on: 9/9/2011 3:38:17 PM under General 

A new smash hit may be gracing Broadway—the story of Valentino’s life.  With the success of “Valentino – The Last Emperor,” production may soon start for a musical.  Four decades of couture will be displayed across the stage with costumes and sets.


“We’re looking at the possibility of taking my story to Broadway as a musical,” Valentino told La Repubblica.


But in 2008 when his movie premiered at the Venice Film Festival, Valentino was nervous about how the film would portray his tantrums with his partner Giancarlo Giammetti.


“I came across as a despot.  The director had surprised Giammetti and me when we were arguing, which we always do in French.  But then (at the end of the screening) the applause never stopped and I realize that people liked me as I am.  The film was even more successful in Toronto (film festival),” he told the newspaper.


We will keep you posted on the upcoming production.

Read the full article here.




New Tax In La Serenissima

Posted on: 9/1/2011 10:53:19 AM under General 

A new hospitality tax recently went into effect in La Serenissima.  Overnight visitors are now coughing up money that “contributes to maintaining the beauty of Venice” and will go towards restoration of the city.  An estimated €8 million will be made in the remainder of 2011 and €23 million in the next two years.


The City Council says that the taxation is a way to make guests pay their way into a city where tourists can outnumber residents nearly three to one.  Based on the rating of lodging, the fee covers one room per night for up to five nights.  Campgrounds outside of the city will charge an additional three cents and five-star hotels in the city will charge an additional €5.  However, hostels are not included in the taxation.  Read more from ANSA.




Ghostbusters In Naples, Italy

Posted on: 8/31/2011 10:47:07 AM under General 

Do you believe in ghosts?  Whether you do or not, ghosts are said to be causing a ruckus at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, Italy.  With restoration being conducted, mysterious things have been happening.  Oreste Albarano, a Rome-based architect, didn’t believe it was true…until one day when he was transferring photos from his phone onto his computer.  Albarano noticed a figure in one of the pictures—a white figure that resembled a young girl.


At first he thought it was one of the workers daughters until he quickly realized none of the workers brought their children into the building site work areas.  To help ease his mind, he has named the little girl Caterina, and says she is about eight or nine years old with 1920s-style ringlets.


Albarano has recently announced that a team of ghostbusters will be arriving in early September to bring “instruments to measure magnetic fields.” 


In addition to the young girl, tools have been moved and two Pompeian vases were smashed into pieces.  Do you think the museum is haunted?  Read the full article from Corriere della Sera.


Phony Online Doctor In Italy

Posted on: 8/26/2011 9:23:19 AM under General 

Police accused a Rome woman of posing as a doctor and giving wrong medical advice to people online.  The imposter was using Yahoo! Answers to “diagnose” and suggest remedies to people seeking help.


“[She] has a passion for medicine,” police added, “yet she never passed the admissions test for medical school.”


Do you believe the advice people give online?  Is she at fault for her actions?  Read the full article from ANSA.


Italian Women Are The Unhappiest In Europe

Posted on: 8/24/2011 10:14:57 AM under General 

Believe it or not, a new study shows that Italian women are the unhappiest in Europe.  A survey by a think tank called Women and Quality of Life questioned 4,000 women in the continent's five largest countries and found that 76 percent of Italian housewives were dissatisfied with their lives.

With worry of the economic crisis, re-entering the work force and child care centers, Italian women also said they regretted marrying while two-thirds regretted having children.  Through additional research, Italian women also have to do more housekeeping and childrearing than their other half-more than 70 percent of Italian men have never used an oven.

Do you think women have it tougher in Italy than other European countries?  Read the full article here.

 Photo by AP.


New Aluminum Bridge For Venice?

Posted on: 8/19/2011 12:08:06 PM under General 

Visited Venice lately?  Well if plans go accordingly, that might’ve been the last time you’ll walk across the Ponte dell’Accademia, one of four bridges that cross the waterway.  The bridge was supposed to be a temporary structure when it was built in 1933.


With the 20 million tourists who venture to Venice every year, authorities are saying the bridge can no longer support the visitors.  And with restorations totaling 250,000, some want to knock it down and replace it with a 5 million aluminum and steel bridge.


What do you think will happen?  Some residents and critics are saying the new bridge will be too modern for the 17th century palazzo, churches and museums.  Yet are they spending too much money on repairs?


Photo by: ALAMY


Italian Couples Travel to End their Marriages

Posted on: 8/16/2011 3:44:10 PM under General 

If you are old enough, you may remember the 1961 film, “Divorce, Italian Style” with the legendary Marcello Mastroianni, well…. times have changed. Today Italian couples head to another European Union state to divorce.


In Italy, a couple wishing to divorce must first go through a three-year separation period. Because the legal process takes some time as well, a divorce in Italy usually takes about four years. But, it could take more depending on whether or not the split is consensual.


To avoid all of this, Italian couples wishing to divorce can fly to other European Union (EU) member states and obtain a divorce there. To do this, they must first apply for residency in their destination state and then file for divorce. Gian Ettore Gassani, president of the Italian Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers describes this trend as “a defeat of the Italian justice system.” In effect, these couples are sidestepping the Italian law by taking advantage of the more lax divorce laws in other EU member states. Although the Italian government does not grant divorces quickly, it will recognize a divorce granted by any member state of the EU.


There are even agencies that offer divorce packages, including airfare. Romania, Spain, France, and the United Kingdom are common divorce destinations, but Romania has the reputation of being the most affordable and the easiest. One group in particular, the Italian League for Quick Divorce, has been lobbying for the Italian Parliament to get rid of the trial separation period for those wishing to divorce, which was already reduced from five years to three. On the other hand stands the Vatican, a significant influence on Italy, which does not recognize divorce.


It will be interesting to see if this divorcing tourists phenomenon will have some effect on legislation regarding divorce in Italy. To read more about this phenomenon, check out this article from the New York TimesThere is always YouTube for a clip of that classic film.






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