Consul General Giuseppe Pastorelli handed out the achievement awards, which had been introduced for the first time in 2011, during the opening ceremony at the Massachusetts State House for the 150th anniversary of Italy’s Unification.The award for “Art, Culture and Entertainment” went to internationally known soprano Maria Spacagna.
“I am very proud of my heritage,” she said. “I remember crying when I put my foot on Italian soil for the first time.”
Spacagna has performed in the most prestigious opera theaters and concert halls in the world and is currently voice lecturer at Boston University.
The “Business” achievement award was given to Paul and Peter Picknelly, third generation Italian Americans who continue in their grandfather’s entrepreneurial footsteps.In fact, Peter Carmine Picknelly founded the Peter Pan Bus company in 1933. Paul Picknelly is current president of Monarch Enterprises, while his brother Peter runs the bus company, which is still family-owned. During his acceptance speech, Paul Picknelly pledged to improve the relationship between his hometown Springfield, Massachusetts, with Italian sister city Viterbo. “I want to do all that’s possible to build the relationship between the two cities,” he said. Antonio Nunziante received the “Public Service” award for his long career working for the city of Boston. Born in the Italian city of Fondi, Nunziante moved to Boston in 1962.
He has been instrumental in promoting numerous cultural and entertainment-related events throughout the city, including celebrations for the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America and the city’s successful bid to host part of the 1994 Soccer World Cup.The “Science and Technology” award was given to MIT Professor Emilio Bizzi. After earning his M.D. from the University of Rome in 1958 and his Ph.D. from the University of Pisa in 1968, Bizzi moved to the United States to continue his scientific career. He chaired the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences from 1986 to 1997, and is a past president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is currently an investigator at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research.
Bruna Petrarca Boyle received the achievement award in “Education” for her outstanding efforts to promote the teaching of Italian language in schools. A lecturer at the University of Rhode Island and president of the Rhode Island Teachers of Italian Association, Petrarca Boyle is also the author of the “AP Italian Language and Culture Teacher’s Guide.”The “Solidarity” award was given to Guido Vittiglio, co-founder of Casa Monte Cassino.
Founded in 1987, the Casa provides a refuge for people of all nationalities who need a temporary place to stay.
“Guido embodies what Italians do best,” said Consul Pastorelli, “working hard, giving back to the community and looking out for others.”Finally, the “Giovane Promessa” — Young Promise — award was given to Giovanni Abbadessa. The 35-year-old vice-president of Clinical Development at ArQule was awarded for his remarkable career advancements since moving to the United States in 2005, as well as for his efforts in promoting collaborations among Italian professionals in the Boston area. Abbadessa is co-founder of Professionisti Italiani a Boston, a group with over 700 members whose successful model of networking and event planning has been replicated with dozens of similar groups around the world.