The Consul General with previous San Francisco Mayor, Willie Brown, and Daly City Mayor, David Canepa, during Festa della Repubblica, Italy’s Republic Day, 2 June 2014

2014 has been a long and full year for the Italian community in the Bay Area. As moments and people marked the last twelve months, the end of the year is the time when people look back to find what is worthy to bring with them in the new one.
We talked about this and more with Mauro Battocchi, who started his mandate as Italian Consul in San Francisco two years ago. While he considers “a privilege to serve in a gorgeous city with Italian roots, especially at the present time in which Silicon Valley is the hub of the global digital revolution”, he can’t wait for 2015 to begin, in order to put in action more exciting projects.
 Consul Mauro Battocchi with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi during his visit in the Silicon Valley
First of all, which thing you are most proud of and what can be done more for the Italian community?
So far it has all gone beyond my expectations. I have found people, among Italians, Italian-Americans, and Italophiles, eager to work with enthusiasm. We hosted the Italian Prime Minister, many Mayors of Italy’s largest cities, we raised more than $300,000 for Italian projects, we relaunched the teaching and learning of Italian with the “We Love Italian” campaign. I feel the pride and the cohesiveness in our community, which encourage me for the future.
Why did you choose a blog to interact with the community? is a communication channel to help bring Italians together and make the general public aware of our message about Italy. A sort of Wikipedia of anything Italian in Northern California. Also the website is an amazing resource for those interested in our language.

Last time an Italian Prime Minister came here was in 1982. Did we miss any opportunity in the last two decades? Or Mr Renzi’s visit was just timely right? 
I believe the visit came at the right moment. It allowed him to convey his message of change to the Silicon Valley leaders. It also enabled our Italian community to showcase their achievements to the Italian general public. It had a positive impact both here and in Italy. Italians living here can be role models for our country that is now “reinventing itself” after a long crisis.
A thought on Mr Renzi’s quote: “We have to renovate ourselves, being jealous of our past but in love with what future can bring”.
The Prime Minister is prompting Italians to imagine a future that can be better of our glorious past. This is a tough call, but indeed we as a nation have all the material and intellectual assets to come out of the long recession stronger than we were before.
Italians abroad are now engineers, scientists, educators, and entrepreneurs. Is the stereotype of Italy as spaghetti, pizza, and mandolin country still dominant? 
This stereotype was probably in vogue in the ‘60s or ‘70s. The new cliché is about the best cuisine in the world, fashion, luxury and design: Italy is among the five manufacturing nations of the world, there are niches of excellence in high-tech. We Italians have to be fully aware of this and tell a different story of ourselves. The “Made in Italy” brand is a synonym of high-quality products.
In 2014, Silicon Valley has brought the best of Italian business, culture, and language in the US. What should we expect from 2015?
There’s the plenty in the making. We’ll start the year with a promotion of Tuscany and the City of Pisa. In April, the Italian Innovation Day will evolve into a European-wide event, with Mind the Bridge Foundation taking the lead in bringing together the different European startup communities in the Valley.
In June, San Francisco Opera will launch a new Opera by the Italian composer Marco Tutino, “La Ciociara”. I have no doubts that our superstar at SF Opera, Musical Director Nicola Luisotti, will make of this world premiere a triumph.
One thing to keep from 2014 and one thing to look forward to in 2015.
In 2014, we conveyed the message that Italian does matter in Northern California: the potential of business and cultural exchanges is enormous. In 2015, we’ll have new projects to teach and learn the Bella Lingua. I expect to see this phenomenon snowballing into a broader trend, whereby the Italian community at large feels more empowered and bold in promoting our beautiful language in the world. The Italian Business community has also launched the non-stop flight San Francisco-Italy petition. The flight will definitely happen – the question is when. If Italians and Italophiles care for this bridge to become even stronger, they can sign the petition on So far 1630 people signed up and I really believe there could be many more.
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