The year 2017 has begun con gusto and the San Francisco Bay Area’s Italian community, and fellow Italophiles, look forward to a year filled with the charm and culture that represents our native Italy.
On that note, Italian Consul General, Lorenzo Ortona is in his fifth month as Italy’s representative to the San Francisco Bay Area. In his statement of September 2016, Consul General Ortona expressed recognition of his important task and appreciation of the Bay Area Italian community by saying, “It has made a decisive contribution to the creation and growth of this marvelous city known and loved around the world.”
The Consul General emphasized the importance of the US-Italy relationship during this critical time in European and Italian history, and expressed his “constant Consulate commitment under the guidance of the Italian Embassy in Washington to create opportunities for our companies and start-ups, to attract investments.”
Recently, L’Italo-Americano interviewed the Consul General to explore his plans for the first quarter of the new year. From this meeting, it was clear the Consulate is organizing and supporting numerous events involving the many various aspects and sectors of Italian life, culture and community, including textiles, food, books film, music automobiles, energy, and technology, as highlighted below.
Textiles – From January 19 to February 24, 2017, San Francisco’s Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Italian Cultural Institute (ICI), hosts “Sardinian Textiles-An Exhibit of Contemporary & Antique Handwoven Art.” The exhibit features contemporary weavings from the few remaining tessitori artigianali, Sardinia’s traditional hand weavers.
Food – January 22 to 24, 2017 the Winter Fancy Food Show came to the Moscone Center with approximately 40 companies participating from Italy. In an impressive display space, these Italian companies offered a successful networking dinner highlighting the importance and popularity of Italian cuisine and food products, sectors that are very important to the US-Italy relationship.
Books – On February 1, the Consulate and the ICI hosted a presentation and reception with Elisa and Eleonora Tallone, who spoke about their exclusive fine books, typeset by hand and letter-press-printed. Tallone Fine Print Books, established by their grandfather, Alberto Tallone, offers Italy’s best modern reading experience. Elisa and Eleonora are participating in the 2017 CODEX Biennial International Book Fair in Richmond, California, and the Tallone Book Exhibition is also part of the Frank V. de Bellis Collection held at the J. Paul Leonard Library of San Francisco State University. L’Italo-Americano will feature the story of Tallone Fine Print Books in an upcoming article.
Film – On February 3, the ICI presented a screening of Luca Vullo’s film “Influx,” a documentary that reveals the pulse of Italy and Italians through the perspective of both well-established and newly arrived immigrants in London.
Music – Italy is recognized world-wide as a center for fine music. This aspect of Italian culture will be well represented when music director of the San Francisco Opera, Maestro Nicola Luisotti, will conduct Rigoletto, opening May 31, and Don Giovanni, opening June 4.
Contemporary Italian music comes to the Bay Area on March 29 when Zucchero Fornaciari, an Italian blues/rock singer and songwriter takes to the stage in the Black Cat Live tour at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater. The ICI is supporting the concert facilitating ticket sales.
Automobiles – The automotive sector is represented by impressive Italian automobiles as they roar into San Francisco April 23 for the opening day of the 27th anniversary of the California Mille Miglia at the Fairmont Hotel. Over 70 cars will be on display prior to the start of the race which takes place over four days and on 1,000 miles of California’s best back roads. Consul General Ortona will be at the opening ceremonies and L’Italo-Americano will join him.
Start-ups – In April, the Consulate will receive the visit of the vice president of the region of Lombardia while he is in the San Francisco Bay Area for a technology tour. In December 2016, the vice mayor of the City of Torino, responsible for innovation for the city, visited as part of a project with the municipality of San Francisco to facilitate an agreement promoting the exchange of start-ups between the two cities.
Energy – In the energy sector, Enel, the Italian multinational energy provider which provides Italy with most of its energy, is opening an innovation hub in Berkeley, California, in order to work with the City in developing new energy technologies. The official opening of this project occurs in March when Enel’s CEO arrives from Italy. Having an Italian energy company present here, in the San Francisco Bay Area focusing on clean, renewable energy advancements, is an important achievement.
Consul General Ortona describes the efforts highlighted above in this way. “As we can see, the Consulate and the ICI are working hard to continue to create exciting programs in many sectors reflecting our Italian culture, either by hosting the events in the Consulate, hosting them through the ICI, or supporting them in many different ways.
“I was appointed 4 1/2 months ago as Italy’s Consul General in San Francisco and I have been really struck by the energy, passion and dedication of the Italian-American community here in the Bay Area. I’ve learned a lot from them. I have been able to travel, learning more and more about the vibrant Italian community in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, South San Francisco and the East Bay.
“I am very touched by the many fundraisers that have been organized all around California, many of which I was able to participate in for the terrible earthquake that struck Central Italy. The efforts are ongoing and Italy is very grateful for all that has been done.”