header i-Italy

Articles by: Letizia Airos soria

  • Opinioni

    Perché non riesco a sbandierare il mio tesserino di giornalista

    C’è una guerra nascosta in Italia che nessuno racconta. Non la raccontano i partiti. Non la racconta l’ordine dei giornalisti. Non la raccontano i protagonisti.

    E’ la guerra quotidiana di tanti che credono in un’informazione corretta.

    E’ una guerra nascosta,  ma sempre in trincea. Condotta spesso tra passione e rabbia. A volte con la certezza di perdere.

    La combatte il giovane che, dopo aver studiato giornalismo, cerca di entrare in una redazione. Fa lo stagista sperando in un futuro. Viene lasciato andar via presto, anche se bravo. La sua posizione non viene regolarizzata.  Davanti a lui: colleghi insediati da tempo, poco motivati e spesso con stipendi esagerati.

    La combatte il giornalista, questa volta meno giovane, che vorrebbe svolgere il suo lavoro pagato onestamente, ma che deve cercare strade diverse per vivere. Scrivere? Non hanno nessun valore più oggi le sue parole. Non si contano più. Tutti scrivono articoli in rete. Ci sono tanti bloggers, influencer vari poi…

    Dunque, se scrive, il giornalista in questione lo fa spesso gratis. Lo fa per non perdere la passione. Nel frattempo vende la sua competenza a uffici stampa o si occupa di pubbliche relazioni.

    La combatte quel redattore quando, una volta entrato in un giornale, si vede negata la possibilità di scrivere la verità. Quella verità che non fa notizia secondo il Gruppo Editoriale. Non porta click. Lui vuole però fare il suo mestiere. Raccontare verità sulla gente. Verità sul mondo imprenditoriale. Verità sulla politica. Verità sui giovani, sul mondo del lavoro. Verità sul giornalismo stesso.

    La combatte il giornalista quando non si lascia asservire, quando a denti stretti fa da contraltare al potere, ovunque e a chiunque appartenga.

    La combatte il giornalista che non sceglie la strada del protagonismo, del successo personale ma continua, giorno dopo giorno, il suo lavoro al servizio dei lettori.

    ‘Pennivedoli puttane’, sono stati definiti così da Di Battista - del movimento 5 Stelle -  i giornalisti che avrebbero “perseguitato” il sindaco di Roma.

    Deploro la volgarità, i toni, i modi di queste parole, perfette per la propaganda e raggiungere un certo tipo di elettori, demonizzando la categoria dei giornalisti. Ma va detto,  ci sono delle verità che Di Maio ha denunciato e su cui dobbiamo riflettere.

    "La libertà di informazione si garantisce prima di tutto migliorando le condizioni di lavoro dei giornalisti. Soprattutto i giornalisti sottopagati, al limite dello sfruttamento" dichiara Luigi Di Maio.  Potete dire che ha torto?

    Ci sono verità che non possono essere celate dicendo solo che si tratta di un attacco alla libertà di stampa. Non è proprio così’. Il sistema del giornalismo italiano va raccontato, ripensato e in parte ricostruito.

    Anche il mondo del giornalismo italiano è malato in quest’Italia stanca. Il vecchio non cede il posto al nuovo e la paura del cambiamento vince.  L’editoria vive tempi di faticosa, ma anche di appassionante trasformazione che si può fare solo valorizzando risorse giovani.

    Nel frattempo, c’è un altro possibile attacco alla democrazia e alla libertà dell’informazione sancita dall’articolo 21 della Costituzione: l’intenzione di tagliare e poi abolire i fondo dell’editoria. Lo ha annunciato Vito Crimi, sottosegretario alla presidenza del Consiglio con delega all'editoria, basandosi sul fatto che questi finanziamenti sono stati destinati male e usati male.

    Penso che un supporto economico ben destinato, sia una garanzia importante per la libertà di stampa in una democrazia. Altrimenti i fondi andrebbero solo a privati, non certo disinteressati, e i giornali si trasformerebbero definitivamente in organi pubblicitari.  Alla base del finanziamento pubblico c’è la libertà di stampa. Il finanziamento però dovrebbe essere assegnato in modo equo, regolato e soprattutto controllato. E dovrebbe consentire prima di tutto stipendi adeguati a giornalisti liberi.
    Ma non vi siete accorti che molti sono diventati addirittura ‘brand ambassador’ di vari marchi commerciali per continuare a scrivere? Qui all’estero si vede bene!  

    Mi sono quindi certo indignata come donna, dopo le dichiarazioni di Di Battista. Il termine ‘puttana’ appartiene ad un linguaggio maschilista e poco rispettoso di un mondo molto fragile. (In un mio post su Facebook ho scritto che solo De André può permettersi di usarlo rispettando le donne).

    Mi sono poi indignata come giornalista, categoria di cui faccio parte. Il suo suona troppo pericolosamente simile ad un attacco alla libertà di stampa. Il punto però è:  a quale libertà di stampa?

    Sono indignata quindi anche per il fatto che siano stati Di Maio e Di Battista a mettere il dito sulla piaga di un’informazione che, in Italia, è tristemente malata da tempo. Non sono certo gli unici a non volere giornalisti indipendenti. Politici di tutti i partiti hanno accanto da anni 'corti' di giornalisti [ben accomodati nella loro non-indipendenza] e nessuno sembra meravigliarsi più di tanto.

    Credo che prima di parlare di libertà di stampa e manifestare, anche noi giornalisti dovremmo fare le nostre riflessioni.  Non è tutto oro ciò che luccica. Ci vuole onestà per farlo. Certo: onestà intellettuale.

    Cerchiamo di non regalare, nei prossimi mesi, ai populisti nostrani, un nuovo cavallo di battaglia, un altro strumento per le loro conquiste elettorali.  Il giornalismo italiano è malato e si deve curare. Ma il medico deve avere il coraggio di sceglierselo da solo.

    Per questo ho deciso di non sbandierare il mio tesserino di giornalista sui social per difendere una categoria, come hanno fatto molti colleghi.

  • Arte e Cultura

    Fotografia e Neorealismo. Tra la Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò ed il Campus della NYU

    “Da settembre a dicembre, una mostra che occupa tutto l’intero semestre!” mi dice subito il Professor Stefano Albertini. Comincia a parlarmim con l’entusiasmo che lo ha sempre contraddistinto, a raccontarmi alcune delle novità  su cui, insieme a tutto la staff della Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò di cui è il direttore, sta lavorando.

    “Non c’è mai stata prima da noi, una mostra per così tanto tempo. Il motivo per cui abbiamo deciso così  quest’anno è che fa parte di una più grande esposizione che si svolge alla Grey Art Gallery (museo della NYU) dedicata al neorealismo fotografico.”

    Un lavoro di squadra dunque, ed in questa scelta ancora una volta l’acume di un direttore come Albertini, che sa quanto sia importante lavorare insieme. Aprirsi alla città dove vive. Non rimanere chiusi nel proprio circolo di interessi.

    “Abbiamo deciso di far parte di questa iniziativa, che già si svolge in altre sedi della città, soprattutto per allargarla, perché in questo modo la mostra farà da contenitore ad una serie di eventi che riguardano il neorealismo.”

    Ma come mai la New York University ha deciso per il Neorealismo?

    “La mostra era già stata vista in diverse parti d’Europa: Londra, Madrid, Slovenia, ma non era mai arrivata negli Stati Uniti. Una cosa strana, se si considera il successo che il cinema del neorealismo ha avuto in America.  E’ stato uno dei primi paesi a riconoscerlo, sia a livello di pubblico che di critica, come un importante momento di svolta nella storia del cinema.”

    Anche se il  neorealismo cinematografico ha avuto negli Stati Uniti una delle sue culle più feconde, influenzando cineasti come Scorsese, le foto di questa mostra non sono mai state viste qui.

    “Il neorealismo al cinema è il primo caso che abbiamo nella storia della cultura mondiale in cui un movimento cinematografico trascina le altre arti.  Seguono infatti il neorealismo letterario (per es. Pavese), pittorico (come Guttuso), e soprattutto, quello fotografico, con cui ovviamente c’è il rapporto più stretto.”

    Dunque in questo periodo chi va alla  Casa Italiana della NYU può ammirare una straordinaria selezione di fotografie. Una piccola, ma significativa, parte della mostra grande che si svolge altrove.

     

    “Abbiamo deciso di concentrarci su foto di scena e poster di film appartenenti alla corrente neorealista. Sono fotografie di scena che sembrano prese dalla realtà.”

     

    “Tutta la mostra prova in maniera inconfutabile quanto ho detto. In  primis perché alcuni registi sono anche fotografi, poi perché ci furono una serie di riviste che proponevano i fotoreportage, un nuovo modo di raccontare le notizie con le immagini anziché con le parole. Si proponevano anche di fornire al cinema e ai filmmakers idee, concetti, immagini sulle quali basare i film.

    È in questo periodo che si costruisce un nuovo rapporto tra cinema e fotografia, e questo è secondo noi il motivo per cui la Grey Art Gallery ha deciso di fare questa mostra.  Gli Stati Uniti sono pronti dal momento che conoscono bene il neorealismo cinematografico, gli mancava questo aspetto per conoscerlo meglio.”

    “La mostra alla Casa Italiana è  accompagnata da una serie di eventi, proiezioni, tavole rotonde, presentazioni di professori del Dipartimento di italiano della NYU. Ma come ho detto le iniziative si allargano in tante altre sedi della NYU. In altri dipartimenti, non di italiano, che presenteranno delle proiezioni di film della loro cinematografia, dalla iraniana alla spagnola, influenzata dal neorealismo.”

    Il vero fil rouge di questa stagione  dunque è legato alle iniziative sul neorealismo.  Ma naturalmente, circondata da questa atmosfera la Casa Italiana, fondata dalla baronessa Mariuccia Zerilli-Marimò, continua con ospitare e organizzare altri eccellenti eventi.  

    Potrete partecipare per esempio alla  presentazione di nuove traduzioni di classici italiani e libri contemporanei, ad altre di tipo più accademico su tematiche stimolate da professori del dipartimento di italiano. Nuovi eventi poi di teatro, legati alla cucina, ma anche altri invece collaudati e di gran successo come  Adventures in Italian Opera” con Fred Plotkin  e “AdDRESSing Style” con Grazia d’Annunzio e Eugenia Paulicelli,  "Italian Table Talks"...

    Voglio aggiungere una mia nota a questa intervista. Sembra storica ma che non è solo storica. E’ legata al passato ma anche al  presente/futuro di questo straordinario e unico luogo che è la Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò.

    Mariuccia Zerilli-Marimò fondo’ la Casa Italiana alla NYU nel 1990 per onorare la memoria del marito imprenditore Guido conosciuto perché nel dopoguerra, aveva riaperto in collaborazione con un gruppo americano,  le distrutte fabbriche farmaceutiche della Lepetit.

    La baronessa, coìi la chiamavamo tutti,  ha voluto, fondato e poi curato la Casa Italiana fino al giorno della sua scomparsa nel 2015.  Lo ha fatto con amore materno per raggiungere un obiettivo: utilizzare il patrimonio che le era stato lasciato per promuovere la cultura italiana negli Stati Uniti, soprattutto tra, con e per i giovani.

    Il suo è stato un raro esempio di impegno filantropico. Mariuccia Zerilli Marimò ha poi avuto la fortuna di trovare, con Stefano Albertini, un direttore speciale per la sua casa. Grazie a lui e al lavoro della suo team giovanissimo, l’obiettivo che si era proposta la baronessa continua ad essere raggiunto, giorno dopo giorno.

    Persone come me, che hanno conosciuto la baronessa, si accorgono tutte le volte che entrano alla Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò;  di quanto lei continui ad essere presente,

    ----

    NeoRealismo: The New Image in Italy, 1932-1960

    On view September 6 - December 8, 2018

    Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò (24 West 12th Street)
    Mon-Fri 10-6

    Grey Art Gallery (100 Washington Square East)
    Tue/Thu/Fri 11-6; Wed 11-8; Sat 11-5

    Per approfondire >>

     
  • Op-Eds

    Editorial. Our ‘Red Salad’ or... How To Tell Women’s Stories Differently

    While he taught her how to make love, she taught him how to love. Thus sang Fabrizio De André, the legendary Italian singer-songwriter who left us almost twenty years ago to the day. 
     
    Packed into these few words is, I think, the potential in that half of the world that is still rarely listened to and continues to struggle to participate in the important decisions concerning society, politics, and economics—including in so-called developed countries. “Teaching how to love” means taking time to reflect, contend with one another, and ask ourselves if our actions will lead us to fulfill a goal that will benefit the community. 
     
    I admit I’m biased (how could I be otherwise?) when it comes to this editor’s note and this particular issue of i-Italy Magazine, which is primarily dedicated to telling women’s stories. To be clear: what you’ll find here are just a few of the many stories about women out there, and they weren’t chosen with any specific criterion in mind. They were put together intuitively, as they came to my attention. They’re not representative nor are they meant to be. 
     
    Leafing through the magazine, I realize I’ve placed a wide variety of stories side by side, making a heterogenous world, a real salad—and that’s our main reason for choosing an image of a red-haired girl in a salad for the cover. It’s also a playful way (long live irony and self-awareness!) to talk about the world of women while poking a little fun of Chiara Ferragni, the best-known Italian fashion blogger who became a major entrepreneur of her own image (see page 39). Getting her start in 2009, long before Instagram, with a blog called “The Blonde Salad,” Chiara was named the number one fashion influencer in the world by Forbes last year. Her marriage to the rapper Fedez was followed as if she were a princess. Celebrating it on social media, the genius marketing couple decided to give no network exclusive rights to air it: they wanted everyone to be able to share in their ceremony. The result: a wedding with 20 million followers. 
     
    Our salad is certainly a bit different, and not just because the model, Alessandra Salerno (see page 24), a great friend and a rising star in the Italian music world, has red hair. But most of all because it contains stories of many women that cannot be boiled down to one marketing stereotype. In our salad, you’ll find women of all sorts. Mariangela Zappia, the first woman Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations and a staunch advocate of multilateralism and gender equality. Dr. Aileen Riotto Sirey, President Emeritus of NOIAW, the largest association of Italian-American women. Barbara Jatta, the first woman director of the Vatican Museums. The internationally famous virologist Ilaria Capua. The entrepreneur from Puglia Maria Teresa Sassano. And a group of women breathing life into the world of music, including the living legend of the Italian canzone Fiorella Mannoia and many other voices who, though in different musical genres, all navigate a tough world. Read their stories and then go find them on the net. Give them a listen. And listen to contemporary Italian music. Beautiful stuff.  
     
    I hope that my dedicating the introduction of this issue to the world of women will lead people to reflect on the various contributions women have made, even if it’s still not without a struggle. Women who rarely put their egos before their goals. Who know how to lead but also negotiate compromises when necessary. Some career women, some women whose daily lives, with their families, are an asset to society. And they’re not the only ones out there every day—there are also our mothers, wives, daughters. 
     
    It was our choice not to directly take up the subject of the #MeToo movement in vogue today. There is a grave risk, in my opinion, of a boomerang effect. I fear it’s become a slogan more than a condemnation. And the condemnation needs to be made every day by all women who, to various degrees, suffer injustice and violence, who simply have to be ten times as good as a man to occupy the same positions of power. 
     
    Forgive me. I realize I haven’t mentioned the rest of the magazine’s contents. But you can discover it on your own as you have a look through. I’ll just say a word about why Molise is the focus of our Travel section. We chose it because it’s a small and stupendous region that has everything, the seaside and the mountains, art and culture, but still remains little known and off the map for tourists. It is a region with a lot of vulnerabilities yet amazing strengths as well. We’re convinced that the experience Molise has to offer visitors is extraordinary and unforgettable. 
     
    Happy reading and let us know what you think! 
    letizia.airos@i-Italy.org.    
  • Life & People

    Taking Molise to the World

     Born in ’45, Enrico Colavita is a Cavaliere del Lavoro (Knight of Labor) of the Italian Republic and founder and President of Colavita S.p.A. The company was founded by his father Giovanni and his uncle Felice in 1938 in Sant’Elia a Pianisi, in the province of Campobasso, and can now be found throughout the world, in particular the US, where it is a leading brand of Italian extra virgin olive oil and an icon of “Made in Italy.”
     
    As if that weren’t enough, Enrico has been president of the Confederation of Molisean Industry three times, President of the Chamber of Commerce from 1990 to 2003, and the architect of a benchmark import-export and distribution network. A pioneer, in short, of what now goes by a hard-to-say word, “internationalization,” a strategy for promoting the best Italian brands internationally and, along with them, the entire Italian culture and lifestyle. 
     
    Promoting the country as a tourist destination is part of the picture. No wonder the Italian government recently merged the mission of its agricultural and tourism policies. In fact, Italy’s soft power and worldwide reputation is staked not only on its natural beauty, artistic heritage, and old towns, but on the quality of food and wine it produces following traditional methods in industrial plants that are at the vanguard of technological innovation. 
    So who better than Enrico Colavita to showcase to the world this small region nestled between the Apennines and the Adriatic, with just over 300,000 inhabitants, still little known abroad yet teeming with potential?
     
    You have always used your international expertise not only in the service of your company but of your region and country. Would it be going too far to call you an ambassador of the Italian brand?
     
    I’d say that when it comes to promoting Italy’s brand, I know what that entails and I know how to navigate it. I did it for decades and I can really help out. A few decades ago I founded the Molise food export consortium, the first single-sector consortium in the South. A lot has happened since then. Today our worldwide network has grown, as has our potential to access markets. We’ve been able to launch distribution on several markets. There’s a lot of work to be done, and I’m ready to do it.
     
    You have a strong connection to Molise and that comes across powerfully when you talk about promoting the region. 
     
    You need a serious regional marketing policy, the kind they have in other Italian regions, like Venice and Tuscany, for instance. Our region may be small and our infrastructure not new, yet we have the railway and highway along the flat coastal part of the region, and it’s close to major seaports. New hospitality facilities are popping up in the villages. And the food is delicious. Agriculture is Molise’s main industry, and its viticulture has really come a long way. There’s still work to be done, but there’s no cause for despair.
     
    As a region, it’s unparalleled…
     
    It is. Molise can offer an authentic tourism experience. We have 140 towns, almost all of which are quaint villages. So many of them are charming, have a noteworthy history, and are rather unexpensive: Bagnoli del Trigno, Fossalto, Castellino del Biferno, Oratino, Castelpetroso, Vastogirardi, Riccia, Pescopennataro— there are so many. During Christmas, many organize living nativities that are absolutely spellbinding.
     
    These villages are also entering the world of circuit tourism.
    Yes, our hospitality industry is evolving. We’re relaunching vacation rental projects in the villages; you can stay in private homes where you can get the full Molise experience. The bed & breakfast and agritourism scenes are also growing. They’re the perfect way to show off the typical features of the region. You shouldn’t come expecting any grand hotels, but you’ll still be treated to an unforgettable reception. Not to mention the chance to taste products you won’t find anywhere else. If you come during white truffle season—from October to December—it’s fantastic!
     
    So, Molise is ready to hit the tourist market, just like Basilicata, the other small region in the South, now that the city of Matera is set to be the cultural capital in 2019?
     
    Molise and Basilicata are a lot alike. We have the chance to follow a similar path and establish our reputation throughout the world.
     
    Can you give us any travel tips?
     
    The summer is all about the beach, the Adriatic coast. There are small, clean, practically empty beaches that are totally unexplored. I promise you that you won’t find their equal elsewhere. Traveling inland from the coast—full of wines, gourmet fish, and trabucchi (old wooden fishing piers)—you’ll be blown away by historic villages dating back to the Romans and Samnites, like Pietra Abbondante, Aquilonia, where the war between the Romans and Samnites took place. You’ll find incredible archaeological ruins there. Then make your way up toward Capracotta and stop in Agnone, where they continue to manufacture bells that you can see in the church bell-towers. They are still cast by Marinelli, the second oldest company of its kind in the world, which is open to visitors.
     
    You love fine dining. What are your favorite Molisean dishes? 
     
    Now you’re talking! I’ll tell you about three. One is a classic: cavatelli with turnip greens. One is in the cucina povera tradition: Pizza e Minestra. It’s made with vegetable greens, and the “pizza” is made with cornmeal or polenta, olive oil, and chili pepper. And the last is a real family dish: Polpette Cacio e Uova (cheese and egg balls). Made with sheep’s-milk cheese, eggs, and white bread. Served with or without sauce. Then there’s a wide variety of cheeses, all one-of-a-kind. Varieties of Caciocavallo, for example… And that out-of-sight white truffle…
  • Life & People

    L’Italia: The Country Big on Small Business

    Proudly Apulian, originally from Apricena, Maria Teresa Sassano was the first woman elected Regional President of the Small Industry Committee of Confindustria Puglia two years ago. Today she is the Vice President of Confindustria Puglia and National Vice President of Small Industry dedicated to tourism and the internationalism of agribusinesses. “For me it’s a privilege to be called upon to represent small business in Puglia,” said Maria Teresa. “Puglia is doing excellent work and distinguishing itself, especially in the tourist and agri-food industries, of which small businesses make up about 90%. I was very happy to be elected, as well as aware of the great responsibility it entails.”     
     
    How many successful businesswomen are there in Puglia, and what might they represent for the future? 
     
    I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I can say that, with respect to the past, the number is growing. The number of women who have taken charge of their family businesses has also grown, something that happened infrequently in the past, since control of the business was passed on to the male offspring. Which means that, even if it’s slow-going, a change of attitude is afoot. As for first-generation entrepreneurs like me, surely there are more of us, thanks especially to increased opportunities for women to study and travel. Many of us have come back from abroad to start up our own businesses. In my view, this will lead to a ‘de-provincialization’ of the region and increased potential for internationalizing companies.
     
    What can women add to this field? 
     
    I don’t like to draw distinctions between men and women, and there’s definitely less sexism in our field. As a woman, I think I can make a greater contribution to aggregating projects and integrating different regions. Women tend to unite rather than segregate.
     
    How did you get your start at Confindustria?
     
    I joined Confindustria in 2004. It was a bit of a lark, but I fell in love with it right away. I was part of the Youth Group for almost 8 years, and that was unforgettable; that was where I received my education and came into contact with colleagues from all over Italy. If I’m today’s woman, it’s thanks to that experience.
     
    In 2004, as a first-generation entrepreneur, you founded Sicurtect Italia, a commercial security services company. Then two years ago you started a gluten-free pasta company, La Pasta del Maestro. Why the change? 
     
    The former is my original enterprise and now firmly established, and I’m particularly fond of that job. But the latter is what I’m most excited about and is filling me with new emotions, since it puts me in the position of confronting the entire world.
     
    In a word, can you tell us what small industry in Italy is? 
     
    In a word? It’s the backbone of the country. Without small industry, the country couldn’t modernize.
     
    What are the specific challenges for small industry, especially in the South, in particular for agribusiness and tourism? What projects in that field are you working on with Confindustria? 
     
    It all comes down to two fundamental ideas, in my opinion. First, we need to invest in training young businesspeople to overcome the absence of an entrepreneurial culture. Second, we definitely need to boost infrastructure, which is key to facilitating small businesses. With Confindustria, we are working on ‘Nursery,’ a very complex project that relies in part on support from the Luiss Business School (Confindustria’s own university). ‘Nursery’ is aimed at microenterprises in the tourism and agri-food industries so that they can become international and go from microenterprises to small enterprises. 
     
    How important is it for small and medium-sized businesses to internationalize, especially in the South?
     
    It’s vital, in my opinion. It’s no coincidence that it’s the goal of my mandate as National Vice President. In the South, as I was saying earlier, we need to intervene structurally to help companies get established. Furthermore—also crucial—we need to improve conditions for accessing credit. Small business owners need funding. We also need to streamline and speed up bureaucracy. A slow country doesn’t stand a chance of being competitive on the global market. It’s a miracle that, starting from such a disadvantage, our small businesses manage to compete and have a presence in the world. 
     
    What’s your impression of the Fancy Food Show? Many Italian businesses count on it to reach the American market. 
     
    It’s certainly a very prestigious fair. I’ve met many businesspeople and colleagues here. That said, even if I appreciate the work done by those who operate them, I believe that Italian stands have to improve the way they present their products. The ‘Made in Italy’ image is really important. The participation of Italian companies at the event should find greater support and that should be preceded by development meetings. Furthermore, communication—which is fundamental—could be strengthened. 
     
    Finally, Puglia. What are the region’s strengths and weaknesses?
     
    I can’t find any weaknesses! All I can think to say is that our strong suit is the people themselves, who, despite all odds, manage to make this marvelous region stand out.”
  • Patrizia Di Carrobio, signing books at Banner in Milano
    Art & Culture

    The Sentiments of Precious Stones

    Patrizia Di Carrobio  isn’t just a friend of those who have had the fortune to get to know her in person. Those who know her through her books also consider her a friend. Her friendship is the first rare gem that you’ll find in her writing. It permeates every paragraph. Her words take you by the hand, look you in the eye, answer your questions, smile and reflect with you. This sense of companionship is particularly true of the very first pages of her latest book, a delicious personal journey through the world of jewels, edited by Francesca Joppolo and illustrated by Marco Milanesi.

    Born in Canada, Patrizia Di Carrobio has lived in Brussels, Rome, Milan, London, and New York. But you don’t know Patrizia if you don’t know about her strong connection to her Sicilian roots. Pantelleria and Palermo have always been a part of her life. Even when she’s in New York or traveling around the world. They’re present in the music she listens to and plays for others, in her cooking, in her affection for her daughters, in her dress, and in her attitudes toward art and work. Her story would make a great film. It all began when she was a kid, with her grandmother’s love for jewels and her discovery of a jewel that her parents had lost. She was only six-years-old at the time. She earned a degree in Political Science, but diplomacy was never her real passion. She would soon become one of the first female auctioneers at Christie’s and later Head of the Jewelry Department. For over thirty years, Patrizia has led a successful career dealing jewels and precious stones around the world. 

    We can’t help but feel like her friend in Be Jeweled! Her stories are morsels to be savored, touching on jewels as well as letting us eavesdrop on her comments and feelings about lifestyles, fashion and her personal anecdotes. 

    The book invites you to read it a little at a time. It’s a book to pick up, put down, pick up again, and carry to a corner of your house where you can enjoy it, like a warm cup of tea in friendly company.  

    “I published two previous books,” says Patrizia, “both in Italian. I began them during my second divorce. I realized that it was up to me whether things were going to take a turn for the worse or the better after that dramatic separation. Divorce doesn’t have to be the end of the world; it can be the start of many other things.” 

    So she decided to write—but certainly not about divorce. “I spoke to my sister,” she says, “who told me to write about jewels instead. Months later, I went to Palermo to visit a friend. She introduced me to an editor at Feltrinelli who loved my book. I wrote the second one after that. It’s what led me to rediscover Italy—the sights, the language—after being away from it for years.”

    Patrizia’s first two books were big hits and immediately went into a second printing. The books piqued many readers’ curiosity. “But I swore that I wouldn’t do another book if it didn’t come out in English too. And I wanted to collaborate with someone on it. One editor appeared and said I absolutely had to do it and that he’d publish it in two languages… My hands were tied.” 

     

    What is the structure of Be Jeweled?  

     

    “Each chapter opens with a jewel or a stone and then moves on to talk about life. That’s what my readers had asked for: to open up about myself. It’s not a book exclusively about jewels, but life, my life. A necklace strung with pearls and chapters to form a book.” 

    Be Jeweled! was masterfully edited by Francesca Joppolo and thoughtfully illustrated by Marco Milanesi, who drew several vignettes featuring Patrizia as a dark-haired, graceful, sweet figure who at times possesses a veiled irony. We seem to follow Patrizia as she goes about her life in these drawings. 

    “They’re brief stories in images, pills that go with written pills,” comments Patrizia. “I think it works wonderfully.”   

     

    When we talk about “jewels,” we often think of something frivolous or superfluous. But your book could hardly be described as frivolous. How come? 

    ‘“Because when I say ‘jewel’ I don’t say ‘frivolous.’ Jewelry makes us feel beautiful and if we feel beautiful, we feel good. If we feel good, we smile and are open to life. A jewel—and maybe this is where frivolity comes in—can be worth 5 Euro or a million Euro, but you still achieve the same jewelry effect. 

    “It’s not a matter of how much it costs. I can be equally happy putting on an earring made of tin or one made with more precious material. Each of them can be fun in its own way. Each has its own place. But it’s not as though I like one more than the other.”

    According to Patrizia, we should definitely wear precious jewels and diamonds. But we should also wear contemporary jewels made with paper, plastic, and other playful, alternative materials. It’s easy to picture her wearing the latter with more traditional jewels, totally at ease, challenging onlookers to let their own personality, creativity and seductiveness shine.  

     

    Tell us about your line of work. 

     

    “I’m a jewelry dealer. I buy and sell, though I never buy with one particular client in mind. I buy something when I think it’s worth it, then I sell it. Sometimes it takes a month, sometimes a year, and sometimes as many as ten years.”

     

    What is a jewel today? 

     

    “It’s an adornment. An ornament. An important complement to one’s wardrobe. But it’s more than that. It has a ‘value’ above and beyond its ‘value.’ How many things in this world give you pleasure to buy, make you feel good, and don’t lose their value once bought?”

     

    Are there rules for wearing jewels?

     

    “No rules! It depends on how you wear them, how you feel… A valuable necklace can also be worn over a sweater. The opposite is also true: paper earrings can go perfectly with an evening gown.”

     

    So jewelry doesn’t just mean jewels. It’s almost a feeling… 

     

    “That’s true. Jewelry can also remind you of people and past moments. For example,  all women have a deeply symbolic and sentimental relationship with their jewels. It’s linked to the rituals of our loves…” 

    Patrizia’s secret lies in her naturalness, her timeless elegance, the way she is unmistakably herself. So go on, open Be Jeweled as if it were a jewelry box, and let each page sweep you off your feet as you take a trip back in time and beyond time.

  • Facts & Stories

    A Woman at the Helm

    IN ITALIANO >>

    I recently sat down with Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, the new Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations in New York. She very cordially welcomed me into her office on the 49th floor a few days after presenting her credentials to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. It’s the third time she has undertaken a diplomatic post in New York. She served as Vice Consul at the Consulate General in New York from 1990-1993 and First Counsellor to the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations in New York from 2000-2003. And this is the first time that a woman leads the Italian mission at the United Nations.  “Multilateralism” would be the watchword of our conversation, and, over the course of speaking with her, I felt confirmed in my belief about how important and promising it is that  it’s a woman who believes in it, talks about it, wants to put it into action. Multilateralism is an approach that nurtures dialogue and mutual understanding to achieve reasonable, long-lasting solutions—something deeply connected to the female experience.

    Ambassador Zappia, would you describe some of the main features of our recent diplomatic efforts in the world?

    We’ve introduced various changes concerning issues that we’ve shone a light on, issues that make a difference. We’ve made a very special name for ourselves in the world. We are the ones who advanced the idea of protecting cultural and environmental patrimonies during peacekeeping operations. Indeed, it’s important to minimize our impact on the environment on UN missions on the ground. That issue sets us apart and is linked to other qualities for which we’re known in the world, like creativity, intuition, an awareness of how issues are interlinked and should be tackled, including in the context of a peacekeeping operation.

    Italian traits…

    Sure. We’re a big country with a distinct identity, even if we’re not a superpower. We’re relevant and have a voice, and that’s reflected in thousands of ways. We’re among the major contributors to maintaining the balance of the UN and peacekeeping operations, and, among Western countries, the first source of troops during peacekeeping operations. But we’re also known for the way in which we go about keeping the peace. We’re beloved by people; an Italian peacekeeper is recognized and isn’t scared to be among people.  

    That’s how Italy is seen in the world?

    Absolutely. As a representative of NATO, I visited many of our troops abroad. In Afghanistan, for example. Wherever they go, Italians make friends and are beloved by civilians. That is also characteristic of us…

    We strongly believe in multilateralism. It comes from our Constitution. We’re attentive to individuals, and this is a key feature of our multilateral foreign policy. We’ve led the way in campaigns for human rights, against the death penalty, against female genital mutilation, and in combatting violence against women—all issues that distinguish us.  

    We also need to remember that there are many UN bodies in Italy. We have the agri-food hub in Rome, which is comprised of three agencies (FAO, IFAD, WFP). We have the UNICEF Children’s Center in Florence. In Turin, the UN is represented by the International Training Center of the ILO, the International Labor Organization, the Staff College of the UN (UNSSC) and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI). And in Brindisi we have an important hub for peace operations.

    Italy is indeed a very stimulating place for a young person who wants to enter an international career. You were born in Viadana, a small city in the province of Mantua, Lombardy, but as the child of a military officer, you crisscrossed Italy, from North to South. You earned a degree in political science from the University of Florence. When did you decide to get involved in diplomacy?

    It wasn’t an epiphany. I studied at the Università Cesare Alfieri in Florence during a very special period. It was a hotbed of great minds: Spadolini, Sartori, Tarantelli and Cassese were among our teachers… I became interested in international subjects, became passionate about them, even if I hadn’t homed in on diplomacy. Then I passed a very competitive exam at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and began my career immediately. Almost without realizing it…

    There were very few women involved in diplomacy back then.

    I was the only one in my group! It’s a career that didn’t open up to women until late (in 1967) and has had a distinctly male stamp for a long time. There are still very few of us, despite some progress. In Italy, there are four of us who hold major ranking ambassadorships. For the first time we have a female Secretary-General, Elisabetta Belloni; a Diplomatic Advisor to the President of the Italian Republic, Emanuela d’Alessandro; and an Ambassador in Paris, Teresa Castaldo.  

    But is a diplomatic career still difficult for a woman?

    First and foremost, it’s difficult from a personal standpoint. We live in a society that isn’t totally equal; it’s difficult to square family and career. But I have to say, women’s social progress has placed men in the same situation. There are many female colleagues with husbands who go with them abroad, and in that case it’s the men who have to follow their wives and find jobs.

    During your own busy career, there was a moment when you decided to stop and have a family...  

    It was very hard. I was in New York. My husband had a big job opportunity. I wanted him to take it. But at the same time I realized that it would be very hard to do my job and raise a family without it affecting my children, Claire and Christian, who were then 11 and 7. It was hard to decide, but I remember when I sent the fax requesting leave. I immediately felt relieved. I had done the right thing. Of course, it wasn’t easy to return to work. Asking for family leave puts you off the radar. But you can do it. My administration was forward-thinking.   

    This is the third time you’re working in New York. The first was as Vice Consul in 1990.

    I was young. It was my second post! I wasn’t supposed to go to New York. I was in Africa getting ready to go to Paris, which was my dream. But I met my husband and that changed my life. Despite being French, he couldn’t work in France. The solution was New York, where he found a position with UNICEF. My experience at the Consulate General was wonderful. I was in charge of the Italian community. A delicate, extremely interesting job. And there you get the best of the economy and culture in the City. I still have many friends that I’m catching up with just now.

    You came back to New York in 2000, this time to work at the UN. So 18 years have passed, years that have borne witness to major international transformations that were almost unthinkable then.

    There was a global shift. The world became more complicated. Before, it was easier to understand who went where, who believed what. It was easier to know what someone was thinking. Now there are neither precedents nor certainties. These are very complicated, chaotic times. We’re constantly debating issues that you have to tackle. But that’s where my belief in multilateralism comes into play.   

    There’s a rise in nationalism and “sovereignism,” and therefore multilateralism is fundamental for avoiding dangerous escalations. I think the UN is even more important now. Certain trends are better understood here than elsewhere. You can make predictions and respond accordingly.

    During your speech on the day you presented your credentials, you listed some priority issues for Italy: peace, security, and human rights, as well as sustainable development and migration. It would seem diplomacy has new aims. What does this new appointment mean for you as a woman?

    I only just arrived. I’ll have a better sense in a few months. But I think that a woman in diplomacy, as in life, brings with her greater sensitivity—she has more antennae.

    I also think women are results-oriented. We don’t have a lot of time to lose. We want to come out of a meeting with concrete results.

    The UN is a place where it takes time to achieve results, but to get there you also need to be able to enter into dialogue. That means you need to make a special effort to set aside your ego. In 15 years, I’ve seen plenty of egos, not just here but at NATO, in the European Union—this ‘let me have the last word’ attitude. I think in many cases women more than men are able to seek results and put the need to make things work first.”

    That point is connected to your strong support for Secretary-General Guterres’s call for gender equality in every area of the UN.

    The current Secretary-General is making the difference. I intend to focus on this issue a lot too, reaching the famous quota of 50 percent women, which we were talking about 18 years ago but never achieved. Guterres has shown it can be done, that we can systematically choose women, so that women don’t always have to be ‘the best’ to establish themselves while many men ‘just’ have to be good.    

    Gender equality is important. As long as we haven’t figured that out, the problem will never be solved. In the past, I didn’t favor gender quotas. But I’m starting to think that, for a certain period of time, quotas will serve to establish a foundation of equality.”

    And there’s the general issue defined by the term “women’s empowerment.”

    Empowering women, giving women the ability to be part of the process. Peacekeeping and peace-building are fundamental areas where we can apply this principle. There’s been a push, but it’s not enough yet. Women must be made a part of the peace process. Firstly, because they are part of (half of) society; secondly, because of their role in the family; thirdly, because of their ability to think of the greater good.

    I believe our current Secretary-General has taken on this issue not only as a slogan, but as a policy. If I have to choose between a man and a woman who are equally competent, I’m going to choose the woman. That’s how you affect change.”

    The United Nations is perceived as being a sealed-off fortress within the City. Do you think that New York and the UN could benefit from having a more symbiotic relationship?

    It’s not just a perception. It’s reality. If you work at the UN, you live in a bubble. If you don’t make an effort to get out, you can spend years in this one neighborhood and only meet people from the United Nations.  I told my team that they’re free to go out there and talk. I know the risks of remaining inside here. Tons of work. And you’re absorbed into the bubble. It takes a toll. Even if I think that at the same time the City must meet the UN halfway. There are issues both can tackle together.”

    Such as?

    There have been important, comprehensive migration talks to define the Global Compact for Migration. I wonder how we can talk about this in New York, a city with a long history of immigrants. I’m thinking of possible initiatives about the issue aimed at the City.

    On a personal level, what is your connection to the City. What place do you like most?

    I have a lot of fond memories of New York. My first daughter was born here. The area I like most is Carnegie Hill, where I live and where my kids went to school. After an intense week, Central Park always makes the weekend special. And pushing my stroller through the Guggenheim Museum, then crossing the park to the West Side to go to the Museum of Natural History…

    Our conversation ended on that lovely image of Manhattan. But before saying goodbye Mariangela Zappia returned to the positivity with which she imbued our conversation: “Defending multilateralism is essential,” she said, seeing me off. “We should never overlook our ability to talk, our willingness to insist on figuring out where our points of interest intersect. It’s important to have places where we talk, negotiate, decide. I believe that.” “It’s also an important message for life itself,” I commented. “And it’s connected to the way we women manage our day to day lives…”.  “Exactly!”

     
  • Fatti e Storie

    La risposta è: Multilateralismo. Parola di Mariangela Zappia

    ENGLISH VERSION >>

    Incontro l’Ambasciatrice Mariangela Zappia, nuova Rappresentante Permanente dell’Italia presso le Nazioni Unite a New York. Mi accoglie con grande cordialità, nel suo ufficio al 49mo piano, pochi giorni dopo la presentazione delle sue credenziali al Segretario Generale Antonio Guterres.

     

    E’ la terza volta che viene a New York con un incarico diplomatico. Ha ricoperto infatti il ruolo di Vice Console presso il Consolato Generale a New York nel 1990-1993 e di Primo Consigliere alla Rappresentanza Permanente presso l’Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite a New York nel 2000-2003. Ed è la prima volta che una donna assume l’incarico di guidare la missione italiana all’ONU.

     

    ‘Multilateralismo’ sarà la parola chiave intorno a cui girerà la nostra conversazione e, parlando con lei, avrò la conferma di quanto sia importante e promettente il fatto che sia una donna a crederci, parlarne, volerlo mettere in atto.

     

    E’ un metodo che esalta le ragioni del dialogo e della comprensione reciproca, per soluzioni eque e che durino nel tempo, è qualcosa di profondamente congeniale e legato all’esperienza femminile.

     

    Ambasciatrice Zappia, ci descrive alcune delle principali caratteristiche della nostra diplomazia recente nel mondo?

    “Abbiamo introdotto diverse novità, con temi che abbiamo portato noi all’attenzione e che fanno la differenza. Ci siamo fatti conoscere nel mondo in un modo molto particolare. Abbiamo anticipato noi il concetto di protezione del patrimonio culturale e dell’ambiente nelle operazioni di peacekeeping. E’ importante infatti ridurre il più possibile l’impatto ambientale delle missioni ONU sul terreno. E’ un tema nuovo che ci distingue, legato ad altri aspetti che ci rendono noti nel mondo come la creatività, l’intuizione, la consapevolezza di come i temi si leghino e vadano affrontati, anche  nel contesto di un’operazione di peacekeeping.”

    Tratti di italianità...

    “Certo. Siamo un grande Paese, con una specificità tutta nostra, anche senza essere una super potenza.  Siamo rilevanti, ascoltati e questo si riflette in mille modi. Siamo tra i maggiori contributori al bilancio regolare dell’ONU e a quello delle operazioni di pace e il primo fornitore di truppe tra i Paesi occidentali alle operazioni di peacekeeping,  ma siamo anche conosciuti  per il modo in cui facciamo peacekeeping.  Siamo amati dalla popolazione, un peacekeeper italiano viene riconosciuto, non ha paura di stare in mezzo alla gente.”

    L’immagine dell’Italia fa così il giro del mondo ...

    “Assolutamente sì. Come rappresentante alla NATO ho visitato tanti nostri contingenti per esempio in Afghanistan.  Dove arrivano gli italiani creano amicizia, si fanno amare dai civili. Abbiamo anche questa specificità…

    Noi crediamo fermamente nel multilateralismo. Viene dalla nostra Costituzione.

    Siamo attenti all’individuo, è un tratto della nostra politica estera multilaterale.  Abbiamo portato avanti la bandiera di tante battaglie per i diritti umani, contro la pena di morte, per contrastare mutilazioni genitali femminili, la violenza contro le donne, tutti temi che ci contraddistinguono.

    Poi abbiamo tanti organi delle Nazioni Unite in Italia. Va ricordato. Abbiamo il polo agricolo a Roma, costituito da tre Agenzie (FAO, IFAD, WFP). Abbiamo l’UNICEF con il centro di Firenze, per i fanciulli. A Torino, l’ONU è presente attraverso il Centro Internazionale di Formazione dell’ILO, l’Organizzazione Internazionale del Lavoro, lo Staff College del Sistema delle Nazioni Unite (UNSSC) e l’Istituto Interregionale di Ricerca delle Nazioni Unite sul Crimine e la Giustizia (UNICRI). E a Brindisi abbiamo un importante hub per l’approvvigionamento dedicato alle operazioni di pace.”
     

    Mariangela Zappia, è nata a Viadana una cittadina in provincia di Mantova, ma come figlia di un militare ha girato l’Italia da nord a Sud. Si laurea in Scienze Politiche  all’Università di Firenze. Ma quando decide di entrare in diplomazia?

    “Non è stata un’illuminazione. Ho frequentato l’Università Cesare Alfieri di Firenze in anni molto speciali. Era una fucina di cervelli, pensatori, ci insegnavano Spadolini, Sartori, Tarantelli, Cassese …. Mi sono avvicinata a tematiche internazionali, mi sono appassionata, anche se non avevo focalizzato sulla diplomazia. Poi ho fatto il concorso,  l’ho vinto subito e sono entrata in carriera. Quasi senza accorgermene…”

    Erano tempi in cui le donne in diplomazia erano pochissime...

    "Ero l’unica del mio concorso!  E’ una carriera che è stata aperta tardi alle donne (nel ‘67) e che ha conservato un marchio maschile per molto tempo.

    Tuttora siamo ancora poche, nonostante alcuni progressi. In Italia siamo quattro donne Ambasciatrici di grado, con incarichi molto rilevanti.  Abbiamo per la prima volta una Segretario Generale del MInistero degli Esteri donna, Elisabetta Belloni, una Consigliera Diplomatica del Presidente della Repubblica ( Emanuela d’Alessandro) e l’Ambasciatrice a Parigi (Ambasciatrice Teresa Castaldo)."

    Ma è ancora difficile la carriera diplomatica per una donna?

    "E’ difficile prima di tutto dal punto di vista personale. Siamo in una società che di fatto non è totalmente paritaria, è difficile conciliare famiglia e carriera. Ma devo dire che l’avanzamento sociale della donna ha messo anche gli uomini nella stessa situazione. Ci sono tante colleghe sposate con mariti che le seguono all’estero, e allora sono gli uomini che devono seguire la moglie e trovare un lavoro…”

    E nella sua carriera piena di incarichi importanti c’è stato un momento in cui ha deciso di fermarsi per la famiglia.

    “E’ stato molto difficile. Ero a New York. C’era un’occasione di lavoro per mio marito, una grande occasione. Volevo che avesse la possibilità di prenderla. Ma al tempo stesso mi rendevo conto che sarebbe stato molto difficile fare il mio lavoro e organizzare la famiglia senza avere delle ripercussioni sui i miei figli, Claire e Christian, che avevano 11 e 7 anni. E’ stato difficile decidere, ma mi ricordo quando mandai il fax con la richiesta di aspettativa. Mi sentii subito meglio. Avevo fatto la cosa giusta.

    Certo poi tornare non è stato facile. Chiedere un’aspettativa per motivi familiari ti fa uscire dal radar.  Ma si può fare. La mia Amministrazione è stata lungimirante. "

    E’ la terza volta che viene a lavorare a New York.  La prima fu nel 1990 come Vice Console...

    “Ero giovane, la mia seconda sede! Non dovevo venire a New York. Ero in Africa, in partenza per Parigi, che era il mio sogno. Ma incontrai mio marito e questo cambiò la mia vita.  Nonostante fosse francese non poteva lavorare in Francia. La soluzione fu New York, dove lui poteva avere un incarico all’Unicef.

    Quella nel Consolato Generale fu un’esperienza bellissima. Mi occupavo della comunità italiana. Un lavoro delicato, molto interessante. E poi lì passa tutto il meglio dell’economia e della cultura presente in città.  Ho ancora tante amicizie che sto ritrovando in questi giorni.”

    Nel 2000 è di nuovo a  New York, questa volta va alle Nazioni Unite. E’ questo quindi un ritorno dopo 18 anni.  Anni che hanno visto trasformazioni profondissime, quasi inimmaginabili nello scenario internazionale del ‘900.

    “C’è stato un cambiamento globale. Il mondo si è complicato. Allora era più semplice capire chi stava dove, chi credeva in che cosa. Era più facile intuire cosa pensava l’altro. Ora non ci sono punti di riferimento. Non ci sono certezze. E’ una fase molto complicata. E’ un momento caotico, c’è un confronto costante su tutti i temi di cui ti devi occupare. Ma qui entra in gioco il mio credo multilateralista.

    C’è un risorgere di nazionalismi, sovranismi e quindi il sistema multilaterale è fondamentale per evitare derive pericolose. Penso che oggi le Nazioni Unite siano ancora più importanti. Qui alcuni trend si capiscono meglio che altrove. Si possono fare delle previsioni e agire di conseguenza.”

    Nel suo discorso, il giorno della consegna delle credenziali,  ha indicato come temi prioritari per l'Italia pace, sicurezza, diritti umani e anche sviluppo sostenibile, migrazioni.  Rispetto al passato la diplomazia ha quindi nuove finalità, nuove sensibilità. Cosa vuol dire, come donna, per lei questo nuovo incarico?

    “Sono appena arrivata. Lo saprò meglio tra qualche mese, ma credo che una donna in diplomazia porti prima di tutto una maggiore sensibilità, ha più antenne, come nella vita.

    E poi penso che porti una ‘cultura del risultato’.  Non abbiamo molto tempo da perdere, se facciamo una riunione vogliamo che si concluda con un risultato concreto.

    Ora le Nazioni Unite sono un posto dove per vedere un risultato ci vuole del tempo, certo, ma per arrivarci ci vuole anche capacità di dialogo. Per questo occorre sforzarsi di più,  mettere da parte l’ego. In quindici anni di ego ne ho visto molto anche altrove, alla Nato, all’Unione Europea … Questo atteggiamento per cui devo essere sempre io a dire l’ultima parola. Credo che in molti casi siano le donne più degli uomini ad avere la capacità di mirare al risultato e privilegiare la necessità di far funzionare le cose.”

    Un ragionamento legato al suo convinto sostegno all’azione del Segretario Generale Guterres a favore della parità di genere in ogni ambito del sistema ONU…

    “Questo Segretario Generale sta facendo la differenza. Mi concentrerò anche io parecchio su questo tema. La famosa ‘quota’ del cinquanta per cento di donne, di cui si parlava già diciotto anni fa, e non si raggiungeva mai. Guterres ha dimostrato che si può fare, scegliere sistematicamente le donne. Fino a quando le donne non dovranno essere sempre ‘le più brave’ per affermarsi, mentre tantissimi uomini “solo” bravi…

    La parità di genere è importante di per sé.  Finché non lo capiremo non si risolverà mai questo problema. In passato non sono stata favorevole alle quote di genere, ma comincio a pensare che,  per un certo periodo, le quote servano per stabilire una parità di base.”

    E c’è il tema generale definito con il termine empowerment delle donne.

    Empowerment delle donne,  dare alle donne la possibilità di entrare nei processi.  Il peacekeeping ed il peacebuilding sono ambiti fondamentali in cui applicare questo principio.  Si è fatto uno sforzo, ma non basta. Nei processi di pace devono intervenire le donne. Prima di tutto perché sono una parte della società (la metà), secondo per il ruolo che hanno nella famiglia, e terzo per la capacità di pensare al bene comune.

    E credo che questo Segretario Generale abbia individuato questo tema non solo come uno slogan, ma come una policy. Se devo scegliere tra un uomo ed una donna a parità di competenze, scelgo una donna. E così si cambia."

    Le Nazioni Unite. Sono percepite come una cittadella nella città chiusa in se stessa. Non pensa che entrambe, New York e UN, si potrebbero avvantaggiare con un rapporto più continuo?

    “Non è una percezione. E’ una realtà. Chi lavora alle Nazioni Unite vive in una specie di bolla. Se uno non fa lo sforzo di reagire, può passare anni sempre in questo quartiere e frequentare solo gente delle Nazioni Unite.

    Ho detto al mio team che sono disponibile ad andare a parlare fuori.  So quale sia il rischio di rimanere qui dentro. Tanto lavoro ... e poi si è assorbiti dalla bolla. Ci fa male. Anche se credo che al tempo stesso anche la Città debba venire incontro alle Nazioni Unite. Ci sono temi su cui si può lavorare insieme."

    Per esempio?

    “C’è stato un negoziato importante per la definizione del Global Compact for Migration che affronta la migrazione a trecentosessanta gradi. Mi sto chiedendo come si possa parlare di questo a New York, città di migranti con tutta la nostra migrazione storica.  Sto riflettendo a possibili iniziative sul tema rivolte alla città…”

    E a livello personale… cosa la lega a questa città. Quale è il posto a cui è più affezionata?

    “Dico solo una cosa.  La mia prima figlia è nata qui. Ho tanti ricordi. La zona a cui sono più legata,  Carnegie Hill, dove abitavo.  Dove i bambini andavano a scuola, con il Central Park che quando sei stanco, dopo una settimana intensa, ti regala weekend speciali. E poi andare al Guggenheim Museum con la carrozzina, e attraversare il verde da est a ovest per andare al Museo di Storia Naturale…”

    Chiudiamo la nostra conversazione con questa bella immagine di Manhattan e di nuovo con tutta la convinta positività che Mariangela Zappia ha voluto imprimere la nostra conversazione.

    “Difendere il multilateralismo è essenziale oggi,” mi dice salutandomi. “Non bisogna mai perdere la capacità  di dialogo, la volontà di continuare ad insistere per capire in quale punto il tuo ed il mio interesse si incontrano. E’ importante avere dei luoghi dove si parla si negozia si decide … Io ci credo.”

    E’ una messaggio anche per la vita di tutti i giorni. Legato anche al modo con cui noi donne gestiamo il quotidiano.

    “Esatto!”

  • Facts & Stories

    Silence is What Keeps the Mafia Alive

    Antimafia prosecutor, Pietro Grasso, accompanied the delegation of ANFE Sicilia that during the celebrations in honor of Petrosino promoted a constant and daily committment  against the Mafia in Sicily. 

    Along with him, Don Ciotti (see interview) and Francesco Bertolino, the former president of Addio Pizzo (see interview) were in New York. 
     
    Grasso was seen speaking at two official appointments in New York: the presentation of his book held at the Italian Cultural Institute and the conference at the John Jay College for Criminal Justice (see article).
     
    For the editors of i-Italy and the Calandra Institute, particularly Anthony Julian Tamburri, it was also an honor to welcome Pietro Grasso, Don Ciotti, and Francesco Bertolino in our offices: it was a unique opportunity to reflect on the reality and complexity of the phenomenon of the Mafia in Italy and throughout the world. 
     
    Some of Pietro Grasso's remarks can be found in the audio slide show above in Itailan.   
     
    Below are some points recalled from the interview in New York with Pietro Grasso
    about his book.  
     
    "As long as the Mafia exists we need to talk about it, discuss it.  We must react.  Silence is the oxygen by which the criminal system organizes itself, and how the dangerous symbols of the Mafia, economy and power, strengten themselves.  Tomorrow we will be talking of the silences of today, and pay for them.  I silenzi di oggi siamo destinati a pagarli duramente domain.  We will have a stronger Mafia, and our citizens will be less free." 

    This is what is written on the back cover of Grasso's most recent book, "Per non morire di Mafia" (As to not be killed by the Mafia), a work based on an interview with Alberto La Volpe (Sperling & Kupfer 2009). 

     
    An interview of nearly 300 pages that talk, that don't want to keep things quiet, and that recollect the life of the Animafia prosecutor.  After "Pizzini, veleni e cicoria. La mafia prima e dopo Provenzano" (Pizzini, poisons and chicory.  The Mafia before and after Provenzano)written with journalist Francesco Licata, we have another four-hand work. This time his partner is an excellent testimony,  Alberto La Volpe, the last journalist to have had contact with judge Falcone.
     

    Pietro Grasso was appointed Antimafia prosecutor in 2005 after an important experience as prosecutor, judge, and adviser to the maxi trail against 474 Mafia defendents.  The maxi trail was set up by Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1986 and became a milestone for the reactions against the Mafia.   

    Today the Public Prosecutor's Office led by Grasso controls 26 local anti-mafia prosecutors scattered throughout Italy, and is the only structure that has created a judicial database useful to all investigative apparatuses. 

    As the same prosecutor confirmed to the Sicilian journalist Umberto Lucentini who interviewed him with knowledgable questions during the presentation at the Italian Cultural Institute, his commitment against organized crime began in the 1980's when the President of Sicily Piersanti Mattarella was killed by Mafia. He was a strong proponent of a policy of renewal within its current that would ensure a better moral behavior, free from corruption in the public sphere.

     

    "I come to know more about the Mafia world during the maxi trail of 1986 established by Falcone and Borsellino, the two judges murdered along with their escorts. I was one of the judges called, a huge responsibility:  it depended on me whether people who committed heinous crimes (including rape) were set free. The trial lasted two years, and at the time of deliberation we spent 35 days with no contacts with the outside world.

    Falcone, however, is a fundamental turning-point in the Antimafia investigative activity, especially when collaborating with the FBI.   In fact, it's from the FBI that Falcone "borrows" the figure of the witness or collaborator of justice.  Thanks to their contribution he could ascertain the truth on several crimes.

    His example was fundamental to  realize the importance of the continuing if not daily collaboration between  Italian and American investigative services.  "Collaboration," states a resolute Pietro Grasso, "is what we want especially now, given the presence of organized crime throughout the world." 

    At the Italian Cultural Institute Prosecutor Grasso also recounted private episodes. He recalled an incident that happened to his son.  "My wife and I were faced with terrible dilemmas.   How could a kid his age be escorted?  How could he go out to a pizzeria or by himself on his motorscooter?"  In these words the anguish of two parents who face the daily, "normal" life, but also the strenght of a man that had to rationalize the feeling of danger for who knows how many times. 

    "We live and have lived a life under constant control, to the smallest detail...despite this my wife and I decided to go ahead and not listen to the threats.  This also when my work was destroyed from another sentence: the only  importantthing for me was and is to do at my best what needs to be done, regardless of external factors.  Not only conscience and duty, but also enthusiasm and passon give me the strength to go on."

    The book "Per non morire di Mafia" also gives voice to delicate but fundamental aspects regarding the relationship between the Mafia, the economy, politics, and business.  "I am the crucial knot to break this bond. To do it, however, we need the press and judiciary to be free and independent." 

    And if you try to make him explain the dynamics of the relationships among these elements, he respond: "The one needs the other.  The Mafia needs politics, politics needs the Mafia.  This is why, as it is explained in the book, in the pre-election periods the Mafia looks for consent.  And it is actually already predisposed.   In a town everyone knows who the Mafia likes.  I ask a Mafia boss for a favor that I need, and he becomes the intermediary with someone else.  As long as certain needs aren't considered human rights, this system will continue to work endlessy."

    And it is in the name of these "connections" that Grasso states that Mafia is a structural phenomenon.  It should be fought with continuous and daily law enforcement efforts: "Va combattuta  con una continua e quotidiana azione di contrasto: "We should always talk about it to not die by the Mafia. Silence is what keeps the Mafia alive."

  • Life & People

    Discover Sicily. Tourism Does not End in Winter

    We met with the Sicily Tourism Minister Nino Strano during his visit to New York for the Columbus Day celebrations. We took the opportunity to discuss his region and the work he is doing there. He responds candidly, without disguising the difficulties that his region still faces while focusing on the successes of recent years.  

    Let’s begin by talking about the island’s natural resources, a rich asset that can be enhanced and promoted further.

    Article 10 which was passed in 2005 addresses this. It encompasses three areas: the Nebrodi,Madonie, and Etna national parks. It is an important law that intervenes where human hands were destroying what God had created. This law has began a new trend that protects the natural beauty of the parks, archipelagoes, the Aeolian Islands, as well as the islands of Ustica, Pantelleria, Lampedusa, and Favigliana.  

    I’m also working on promoting locations that few people have discovered until now. There are beautiful lakes in Sicily that can be tourist destinations at different times of the year.
     

    So there isn’t just the sea in Sicily, but there’s also tourism in winter?

    Yes, and not only because the climate

    in Sicily is pleasant throughout the year. For winter sports, for example, Etna has very modern facilities.  My goal is to ensure that tourism does not end and that there could be a kind of seasonal transition instead. 

    We are also creating various “mythic tours” around the island. The region is now a place for important events, festivals, opera music in cathedrals and museums, performances in royal theaters and archaeological sites, both indoors and outdoors. In December we will also present several holiday events. 
     
    So the Christmas holidays in Sicily….  

    Yes, we are planning several very important events. As for concerts, Riccaro Muti will be with performing for us.  
     
    Allow me to touch on a somewhat difficult topic. Let’s talk about cities, urban spaces....
    They are still suffering. For example, there is still little health education even though we’ve been working very hard on it. Still, not everyone complies with certain rules of civil coexistence. But it must be said that the sense of warm hospitality in Sicilian cities is tremendous. You feel like you belong and you are embraced as if you were a fellow citizen. This is the strength of our land. We have different cities with different histories, and a strong legacy despite some difficulties.
     

    Yet there are still some problems with hotels for the average American tourist seeking comfort, the internet. 

    It’s true. Today an Internet connection can be found practically everywhere, but certainly the quality is not always the best. Even some of our 4 star properties are poor, but we have embarked on a path of change. Large international companies are investing a lot there and we are starting to see an increase in 5 star properties. Minister Brambilla has promised a casino in Taormina and we will build more casinos in several 5 star hotels.  
     

    What can you tell me about transportation? 
    Beginning January 1, 2010 I will also be the commissioner of transportation. I will begin by saying that the railways will come under Sicilian management. We will improve the quality overall; the locomotives are in good shape but we must refurbish the rest of the trains. We must then concentrate on domestic routes which suffer from serious delays. In terms of the airports, we continue to develop a project on aircraft landing surfaces. This is for the affluent tourist who is looking for private airports.

     Obviously there are still the large airports in Palermo and Catania. We are also working on direct flight from the U.S. to Catania since we already have direct flights to Palermo.  As for maritime shipping, we are trying to acquire Tirrenia. 

    Let’s get back to culture. As you mentioned before, cultural events remain valuable means of attracting tourism.  
    It is very important, although it must be said that on the scale of values, the islands and the sea come first. From this point of view I know that there is still much to do. And I say this on the eve of an extraordinary event, the return of the Venus of Morgantina in May 2011. 

    We are working very hard. Our museums are finally beginning to operate on a human scale as do our festivals do, as well as the ancient theaters at Taorminina, Pachino, and Salina.  

    There has been talk of an American tour with several stops before the Venus of Morgantina is returned to Sicily. Is this feasible?  
      Yes, we have talked about it and it depends on security. Even Quirinale (Presient of Italian Repubblic) has requested it but we first have to verify the conditions.  

    Sicily has also become very well-known through literature. How can a writer help to promote this land? Take Montalbano for example. 
     Yes, great writers like Pirandello and many others have helped. We are fortunate to have an important literary tradition. The only thing I have to say is that I don’t like it when writers make a social commentary. I don’t like people who spit on Sicily, and it does happen. I hope that our writers have a critical sense and that they refrain from describing Sicily only in negative terms. Every region in the world has negative aspects, not just Sicily. 

    Two types of tourists: young and old. What are you doing for them?  
     We are working very closely to create specific travel packages for them. I must say that it’s not easy. We need to force the hand of hotel owners. But we are organizing very interesting travel promotions even during the winter months. We also have agreements with universities for exchange student and study abroad programs.
     

    Final question: Over the past few days here in New York ANFE has presented a large-scale program to promote lawfulness and anti-mafia activities. Would you like to say something as a Sicilian?  

    It’s very important. The presence of anti-mafia prosecutor Grasso was significant. Whoever travels to Sicily must feel safe and secure that they are in a land where there is lawfulness above all. We’re all working on it, the government and the opposition together. And we are doing it in different ways. For example, Ivan Lo Bello, President of Confindustria Sicilia and the entrepreneur Antonello Montante are working against racketeering. They are persons of undoubted merit and integrity and with them another chapter begins.

    Find more photos like this on i-Italy
    Presenting the Eolian Islands in NYC with the Italian Tourism Board

    Translated by Giulia Prestia

Pages