Trip to Italy 2011
Click on the titles to view the photo galleries.
The trip program commenced with a short seminar to review and discuss the program. Held in the Veneto Room of Hotel Savoy, this seminar served as an excellent opportunity for members to learn about the program, ask questions and introduce themselves.
One of the trip’s most interesting activities was a visit to Palazzo Koch, the headquarters of the Banca d’Italia. Dr. Anna Maria Tarantola, the Bank’s Deputy Director General, gave a warm welcome to the delegation and went over the current economic situation in Italy. The delegation was also welcomed by Dr. Giannandrea Falchi before participating in an insightful tour led by Dr. Giorgio di Gennaro. During this tour, members learned about the impressive art collections, maps and marbles that adorned Palazzo Koch. Afterwards, the Bank of Italy hosted a pleasant buffet luncheon for the delegation.
The ASILM Reception took place in the ballroom of the Hotel Savoy during the first night of the trip program. This elegant reception rose a lot of expectations in the Roman circle and resulted in a huge success, with many dignitaries coming from all over the city to attend. Those in attendance included distinguished ambassadors, diplomats, parliament members and television personalities. Throughout the evening, guests mingled as they tasted sparkling wines and wine provided by Ferrari and Fazi Battaglia, as well as a variety of hors d’oeuvres.
The delegation participated in a private coach tour of Ancient Rome. An English-speaking guide illuminated facts about the many historical sites, such as the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, the Roman forum and the Circus Maximus. A particularly exciting part of the tour was when the delegation walked through the massive Coliseum, which is considered the most emblematic structure in Rome.
The delegation attended a meeting with President of the Chamber of Deputies, Hon. Gianfranco Fini, at Palazzo Montecitorio. Hon. Fini warmly welcomed the delegation and remembered his last trip to New York, where he was honored at a special dinner. Dr. Lucio Caputo thanked him for his hospitality and presented him with a plaque marking the date of the meeting. Then Hon. Fini asked for each member of the delegation to sign a special document celebrating the unification of Italy. Members were also given a medal and treated to an “aperitivo.”
The U.S. Ambassador, Hon. David Thorne, welcomed the delegation at the American Embassy and thanked them for their visit. With great enthusiasm, Hon. Thorne delved into the relations between the United States and Italy, emphasizing the excellent friendship between the two countries, and proceeded to answer questions. A photo-shoot with the delegation and Hon. Thorne concluded the meeting.
A unique experience was the meeting with the President of the Italian Republic, Hon. Giorgio Napolitano. President Napolitano shook hands with each ASILM member, and then spoke of the importance of the Society and thanked each member for making the long journey to Rome. Dr. Lucio Caputo presented the President with a dedicatory plaque, and thanked him, on behalf of the delegation, for meeting with them during the busy political period in Italy.
The delegation attended an audience with Pope Benedict XVI in Vatican City. The Pope blessed the delegation, who sat only feet from his stage. Cav. di Gr. Cr. Hon. Dominic Massaro and Cav. di Gr. Cr. Hon. Frank Guarini had the rare opportunity to sit in the front row of this audience, and had the opportunity to shake hands with the Pope.
The President of the Senate, Hon. Renato Schifani, greeted the delegation at Palazzo Giustiniani, as well as a large group of Italian television reporters and cameramen eager to record this exciting meeting. First, Dr. Caputo presented Hon. Schifani with the ASILM Gold Medal and gave a speech. Then Hon. Schifani awarded Dr. Lucio Caputo with a plate, thanking him and ASILM for their efforts to improve relations between Italy and the United States. The delegation was treated to an “aperitivo” and a tour of the former office of Benito Mussolini.
The delegation ventured outside of Rome to the neighboring town of Tivoli in order to see the famous Villa d’Este. Listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, the villa is a renowned example of Renaissance architecture and the Italian Renaissance garden, and is filled with exquisite fountains. Indeed, the delegation found much enjoyment and relaxation in the Villa d’Este, and appreciated its aesthetic beauty.
After visiting the Villa d’Este, the delegation walked through the heart of Tivoli to reach their destination, La Sibilla Restaurant. Members ate local Roman cuisine and drank fine wine at this prestigious restaurant while simultaneously admiring the scenic view of an ancient temple and waterfalls.
Members participated in a guided tour of the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. The English-speaking guide discussed very interesting facts about Michelangelo’s paintings within the Sistine Chapel, the tapestries and sculptures in the museum, and much more. The tour ended in Saint Peter’s Basilica, the largest Roman Catholic Church in the world.
The last official meeting scheduled on the trip program took place at Palazzo Cighi, the official residence and headquarters of Prime Minister of Italy. The delegation sat in the Cabinet Room as they shook hands and met with Undersecretary Gianni Letta. Following the meeting with Letta, the delegation had the very rare opportunity to tour Burlesconi’s office, which contained such treasures as one of the only first constitutions of Italy in existence.
In coordination with the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, a private farewell dinner was held for the delegation at Ristorante L’ Archeologia, located on the famous Via Appia Antica. Former Consul General of Italy to New York, Minister Francesco Maria Talo’, his wife, Ornella, and the former Consul General of Italy and Ambassador to Prague, Giorgio Radicati, attended the dinner to bid farewell to the delegation. It was a bittersweet occasion as everyone said their goodbyes before returning to the United States.