“Together To Never Forget” – International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorated at the Embassy of Italy in Washington D.C. and in the Italian Consular Offices and Cultural Institutes

Washington D.C., January 29, 2018 – The Embassy of Italy in Washington D.C. and the Italian Consular Offices and Cultural Institutes in the United States  commemorated “International Holocaust Remembrance Day” with a series of events in Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington D.C.

“International Holocaust Remembrance Day is a solemn occasion to reflect on a dramatic period of the history of humankind and it aims at preserving the tragic memory of the extermination of the Jewish people and at conveying this memory to the younger generations to prevent it from ever happening again,” said the Ambassador of Italy to the United States, Armando Varricchio. “For our Country,” Ambassador Varricchio continued, ”being on the forefront against hatred, discrimination, and intolerance is a priority. This priority is reflected in all that Italy does to save human lives in the Mediterranean Sea and also in the program of the Italian OSCE Chairmanship 2018 that started with, among other events, a conference on antisemitism in Rome.”

The Embassy of Italy and the Institute of Culture, in collaboration with the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.,  organized an evening dedicated to the “Lost Music of the Holocaust”. For nearly 30 years, Italian pianist and musicologist Francesco Lotoro, with the support of Last Musik, has been on the quest for music, melodies and songs written in the concentration camps during World War II. Lotoro collected over 4,000 pieces which were left unknown for more than 70 years and at the event he will play a few pieces from this collection. Dr. Bret Werb, Music Collection Curator of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., and Kenneth Stow, Professor Emeritus of Jewish History at the University of Haifa, will participate at the event revealing the stories behind the pieces and presenting a video on music written in Second World War concentration camps.

The Boston Consulate General, in collaboration with the American Jewish Committee of New England, the Consulate General of Israel and Boston University organized a symposium “The Meaning of Rescue: Then and Now.” Details of the actions of some “Righteous among Nations,” such as Mother Superior Maria Tribbioli who helped to save the lives of many Jews, were described. Special guest Roger Brooks, President of “Facing History and Ourselves” a nonprofit organization, emphasized the importance of studying the historical development of the Holocaust and other examples of genocide.

In Chicago, Davide Casali, clarinetist, conductor and artistic director of the Viktor Ullmann Festival and Elisa Frausin, pianist and first cello of the stable orchestra of the Ullmann Festival performed a Holocaust Remembrance Day Concert “Musica Degenerata”. The Viktor Ullmann Festival in Trieste, Italy, is the first of its kind dedicated to “degenerate” music, music prohibited in Nazi Germany and in Fascist Italy because it was considered decadent, damaging and contrary to the racists canons imposed by these two regimes. This solemn musical event was the result of a collaborative effort between the Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago, the Consulate General of Italy in Chicago, the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, The American Jewish Committee, and the PianoForte Foundation.

The “Musica Degenerata” concert was also presented a few days earlier by the Consulate of Italy in Detroit at the suggestive Temple of Beth El, in collaboration with the Dante Alighieri Society of Michigan and with the support of the Cohn Haddow Center for Judaic Studies. The clarinetist Davide Casali and the pianist Elisa Frausin performed music by composers including Leone Sinigaglia, Aldo Finzi and Renzo Massarani – Italian composers who were victims of persecution in the Nazi concentration camps and who found in music a source of comfort and hope within tragedy and pain. University of Michigan Professor Gabriele Boccaccini, one of the leading experts of Judaic Studies, introduced the event with a presentation on Italian Hebraism.

The Consulate General of Italy in Houston, in cooperation with the University of Houston and Rice University, presented screenings of three historical movies portraying the life in Italy under Nazi control namely Hotel Meina by Carlo Lizzani, A Special Day by Ettore Scola and Il Generale della Rovere by Roberto Rossellini.

In Los Angeles, the names of the thousands of Jews deported from Italy were read out loud. The Consulate General, the American Jewish Committee, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust the Museum of Tolerance, the Milken Community Schools and Loyola Marymount University all collaborated in the event. Thereafter, at the Museum of Tolerance, Drew Principe, a young student, was recognized for his work with this year’s “Mi ricordo…I remember” prize. Through a documentary, he raised funds which allowed a Holocaust survivor to travel to Israel to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah which he had been denied to celebrate because of the war.

The Miami Consulate General in collaboration with the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee the Consulate staged an event at the First United Methodist Church of Sarasota honoring Italian men and women who helped save Jewish lives during the war. Participants shared their personal experiences and stories of acts of courage performed by Italians. Barbara Aiello the first woman rabbi in Italy and founder and director of the Italian Hebrew Cultural Center of Calabria closed the evening with her remarks. In another event the Consulate will present select excerpts of movies depicting the Holocaust to a group of students of Italian. Closing the occasion will be the personal testimony of survivor Mel Mermelstein – the sole survivor of his family at Auschwitz.

In New York Consulate General organized the proclamation of the names of the thousands of Jews deported from Italy. This event wase followed by lectures and symposiums to study past tragedies of concentration camps and present refugee efforts.

In Philadelphia, the Consulate General proposed the documentary My Italian Secret by Oren Jacoby, narrated by Isabella Rossellini which recounts the untold saga of Italians who rescued Jews and other refugees fleeing the Nazis. It features Gino Bartali, the charismatic Italian cycling hero who used his fame and risked his life to carry messages to the Italian Resistance and to smuggle refugees through the Swiss Alps.

The San Francisco Consulate General together with the Italian Cultural Institute  screened the documentary I Only Wanted to Live (Volevo solo vivere) which follows nine Italian citizens who survived deportation and internment in Auschwitz. The film includes an interview with survivor Liliana Segre, who was recently appointed a Senator for Life by the Italian Government.

In 2000, the Italian parliament passed a law proclaiming January 27, the day the gates of Auschwitz were knocked down, “Holocaust Remembrance Day.” The aim is to remember the Shoah, the racial laws, the oppression of Jewish citizens, those who were deported, imprisoned, or killed, and those who fought against the extermination project, who saved other people’s lives, and who protected the persecuted, risking their own life.

The Italian decision was then followed by other countries and in 2005 the United Nations proclaimed January 27 “International Holocaust Remembrance Day.”

Making violins

Listen closely enough as you walk through one fabled Italian forest, and you might just imagine you’re hearing music. Seth Doane has sent us a Postcard from the Dolomites:

The stunning beauty of the Dolomites is apparent to anyone who visits Italy’s Alps. But Fabio Ognibene sees much more in this forest: He selects wood that’s just right for making musical instruments.

Source: Making violins

The Making of America; and Italians Need Apply! Just Ask Carnegie Hall

Given the history of Italian music and the contributions to the development of twentieth- and twenty-first-century United States music by Italians and Italian Americans, to leave any and all of them out of an initial discussion, as did Carnegie Hall, suggests ignorance, disregard, and/or blatant prejudice with regard to the value such contributions have truly made to U.S. music in particular and to U.S. music in general.

Source: The Making of America; and Italians Need Apply! Just Ask Carnegie Hall

It’s got ancient Greek ruins, spicy food and an active volcano. It’s extreme Italy.

While part of Italy, Sicily really is a world apart. Midway between Africa and Europe in the middle of the Mediterranean, over the last 2,500 years it’s been ruled by Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, and Spaniards. Its complicated past makes it distinct — with spicier food, a more festive lifestyle, and people who are Sicilian first, Italian second. Italian Americans have a special bond with the island — almost one-third of all Italians who arrived in the U.S. between 1880 and 1930 were from Sicily..

Source: It’s got ancient Greek ruins, spicy food and an active volcano. It’s extreme Italy.

Frank Stella on Six Decades of Experimentation and Change


The New York–based Stella, now 81, burst onto the scene barely out of college with his “Black Paintings,” sober geometric studies composed of wide black stripes separated by chalky white lines. These won him inclusion in “16 Americans,” the famed 1959–60 group show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. He stayed in the forefront of art, working with famed gallerist Leo Castelli, relentlessly pursuing geometric form and never repeating himself. By the 1990s, he had moved from sober grids on canvas to ebullient three-dimensional sculptures, a path he continues to follow.


Source: Frank Stella on Six Decades of Experimentation and Change

Italy’s PM on Trump: We get ‘America First’ policy but don’t expect us to agree

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni told CNBC on Wednesday that he respected U.S. President Donald Trump, but didn’t agree with his ideas on migration and climate change nor his protectionist stance on trade. Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Gentiloni discussed Trump’s much-criticized “America First” rhetoric. “I totally respect the fact that he was elected with the idea of putting America first, and he is trying to deliver in this direction,” Gentiloni said.

Source: Italy’s PM on Trump: We get ‘America First’ policy but don’t expect us to agree

Group Calls For Firing Over Eataly’s ‘Bring Home an Italian’ Advertisement – NBC Chicago

Why is this controversy involving Eataly in Chicago continuing?

The advertisement placed in the window of the River North marketplace reportedly reads “BRING HOME AN ITALIAN, WORTH THE SMELL” in large print, followed by an image of white truffles.The sign, which some believe to be an offensive message about Italians, continues with smaller print, “Fresh white truffles are hunted in the wild forests of central Italy only a few months out of the year. Once you taste the aromatic tuber, you will want to bring this well-shaven Italian with you everywhere.”

Source: Group Calls For Firing Over Eataly’s ‘Bring Home an Italian’ Advertisement – NBC Chicago 

Here’s a link to more details about additional offensive ads used by Eataly Chicago, including: “BRING HOME AN ITALIAN, GREAT LEGS, BETTER BODY,” a sign displaying wine, and “BRING HOME AN ITALIAN, THE NEW HUNK IN TOWN,”  advertising salami.


Photo credit Lou Foglia, Chicago Tribune

San Francisco Replaces Columbus Day With Indigenous Peoples’ Day

“To take our day away is an insult to our culture,” said Guido Perego, president of the Italian Athletic Club in the city’s traditionally Italian-American North Beach neighborhood. “The city is basically pitting one culture against another.”The board voted 10-1 to make the change on Tuesday.San Francisco is not alone. Four states and 55 other cities, including Seattle and Phoenix, have rebranded the federal holiday as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Berkeley, California, was the first U.S. city to make the mov

Source: San Francisco Replaces Columbus Day With Indigenous Peoples’ Day

‘Bribezoni’ is an attack on Italian-Americans, not Cuomo, says Castorina | SILive.com

Assemblyman Ron Castorina said GOP leaders have attacked Italian-Americans in an attempt to bad mouth Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former aide Joseph Percoco outside the Manhattan Federal Courthouse Monday, where jury selection was underway for Percoco’s trial…….

Castorina (R-South Shore/Staten Island) said the imagery fails to attack the “alleged pay-to-play culture” and points the finger at Italian-Americans.

“The chairs, in attacking the Governor, acted in an insensitive and outrageous manner, misappropriating certain cultural markers and using them against an Italian-American Governor. “The hashtag ‘#CultureOfCorruption’ begs the question what culture? Italian-American culture?” Castorina said in statement.


Source: ‘Bribezoni’ is an attack on Italian-Americans, not Cuomo, says Castorina | SILive.com

‘Tears of Salt’ is a deeply moving, first-hand response to Italy’s refugee crisis 

As a doctor working on Lampedusa, Italy’s southernmost island, he has been on the front line of the refugee crisis for more than 20 years. He has seen boats of refugees arriving from Africa, sometimes on a daily basis, crammed with people who are starving, dehydrated, and terrified. And these, he points out, are the fortunate ones – they are still alive.He has seen desperate children separated from their parents and dying parents frantic to entrust their children to anyone who can help. He has seen young

Source: ‘Tears of Salt’ is a deeply moving, first-hand response to Italy’s refugee crisis – CSMonitor.com

A Three-Day Trek Along Prosecco Road Is Italy’s Bubbliest, Best-Kept Secret | VinePair

“This area is akin to Sonoma twenty years ago,” travel writer Mark Ellwood declared in Conde Nast Traveler. Almost every inch of the narrow, meandering stretch, called La Strada del Prosecco in Italian, is surrounded by vines. Pedestrians and cyclists share passage with cars and Vespas as the road winds between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, passing some 175 wineries along the way. Everyone is heading to a winery to drink Prosecco or a local restaurant to relax over a three-hour dinner.

Source: A Three-Day Trek Along Prosecco Road Is Italy’s Bubbliest, Best-Kept Secret | VinePair  


Photo credit:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/viaggioroutard/