NIAF Friends Gather for Holiday Celebration Aboard Msc Opera **Holiday Reception and Luncheon in Fort Lauderdale, FLA. **


Contact:   Elissa Ruffino (NIAF) 202/939-3106 or

(PORT EVERGLADES, FL – December 20, 2004) Holiday cheer was in the air as new and familiar faces gathered last week for the National Italian American Foundation’s (NIAF) ‘Council of 2000 and Friends of NIAF Holiday Reception and Luncheon” aboard the newly inaugurated Italian cruise ship, the MSC Opera. NIAF sponsored the reception in recognition of its Council of 2000 members who support the mission of the Foundation which represents the 35 million Italian-Americans in the U.S., the nation’s fifth largest ethnic group.

Committed to continuing the funding of grants and scholarships for worthy students in need who are residents of Florida, Arthur J. Furia Esq., NIAF regional vice-president in the Southeast and law partner at Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart, opened the afternoon by thanking members for their continuing contributions while briefly highlighting NIAF initiatives.

Also welcoming guests to the reception during the inaugural season of the MSC Opera was Sergio Fedelini, vice-president and chief financial officer for MSC Cruises USA Inc., who spoke of the new Italian cruise line to guests – who were among the first to enjoy the spectacular new flagship vessel following its inaugural event by its “godmother,” Sophia Loren.

Among the Italian-Americans and dignitaries from South Florida’s community in attendance were: Gianfranco Colognato, consul general of Italy in Miami and his wife Luciana; Giovanni Turturiello, deputy Italian consul general; veteran Florida Senator Gwen Margolis; Judge Cynthia G. Imperato, Circuit Court judge in Broward County; Frank Ferola, chairman of the Stephan Company and his wife Vera; Admiral Jay Carmichael, retired admiral of the US Coast Guard and his wife Lea; Nick Miletti of Palm Beach, Fla., author and former owner of multiple major league sport franchises; Gustavo Novoa, acclaimed Chilean artist; Robert Judd, Esq., prominent Broward estate/probate attorney and member of the Broward Performing Arts Foundation; and Nuccia McCormick, chairman of Sister Cities International-Ft. Lauderdale.

Guests participated in a silent auction, which included items donated by: Dr. Julio Gallo, M.D., NIAF area coordinator and principal of the The Miami Institute for Age Management & Intervention; American Airlines; the Fontainebleau Hilton; Lynx Travel; the Shore Club and Claridge hotels, Cartier and Cosabella, whose proceeds will benefit the NIAF educational programs in Florida.

Following the reception, guests were escorted to the Ristorante d’Approdo where they enjoyed a five-course “Cucina Italiana” luncheon featuring fine Italian wines.

The MSC Opera, the fifth addition to the MSC fleet, is a gleaming reflection of the finest Italian hospitality afloat, with a high standard of service, comfort and design, world-famous authentic Italian cuisine and the personal attention and friendliness of an Italian crew.

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC and dedicated to preserving the heritage of Italian Americans. Learn more about our programs by visiting .

MSC Opera will sail alternating seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries as well as 10- and 11- night holiday cruises. She will be joined in January by MSC Lirica, which will offer 10-and 11- night Deep Caribbean and Panama Canal itineraries. Visit: