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Tanti Auguri Italia – Massachusetts Celebrates Italy’s 150th

An impressive lineup of politicians and community leaders gathered on Friday, March 18 to wish Italy a Happy Birthday.

The top brass of Massachusetts politics came out in full force for the 150th anniversary of Italy’s Unification, sporting their Italian American heritage – and last names – like a badge of honor.

House speaker Robert De Leo, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and US Congressman Michael Capuano, all spoke about their origins, how both their Italian DNA and upbringing made them who they are today and about how their ancestors’ homeland contributed to the thriving of their country and most importantly of their State.

“We all should remember where we came from and our background and teach our young people what it really means to be Italian,” said Mayor Menino, who was recently named Commendatore and whose granparents came, like many Boston Italians, from the Avellino area, specifically Grottaminarda.

“I grew up next door to my grandfather, for whom being Italian always meant welcoming everybody with an open heart, understanding and accepting everyone for who they were and enjoying who they were, without worrying about who was better than who,” said Congressman Capuano, whose family was from Atripalda, also near Avellino.

Consul General Giuseppe Pastorelli then proceeded to recognize and honor first, second and third generation immigrant men and women of Italian and Italian American descent who have excelled in seven different fields, making a name for themselves and indirectly for their country of origin.

“Italians who came here did a great job,” reflected Consul Pastorelli. “We are now reaping the fruits of their seeds. We should all be very grateful to all who came at the beginning of the last century and after World War II. A Bridge between the different generations of Italians is absolutely possible,” he added, “I have been working on it for the past five months and I will keep doing it for the next four years.” The Consul also said he would like to make the award ceremony a yearly Boston tradition.

Traditional and very appropriate was also the location of the ceremony: The Grand Staircase of the State House, where a group of Italian language students from the Eliot School sat during the event, waving tricolor flags. The same location is in fact a place dear to Massachusetts’ Italians. Every year since its first proclamation in 2000, Italian Heritage Month kicks off there — with a similar ceremony every October first. The ceremony is usually similar; the crowd and the lineup, unfortunately, a little smaller.

But this time was special and nobody, understandably so, wanted to miss it.
Achievement Award recipients:

  • Art, Culture & Entertainment – Mary Ann Esposito, Television personality and author.
  • Business – Joseph Crugnale – Entrepreneur, Bertucci’s and Naked Fish Restaurants
  • Civil Service – Joseph DeNucci – former Massachusetts State Auditor
  • Education – Maria Gioconda Motta – Educator, Founder and Past President of C.A.S.IT
  • Science & Technology – Bruno Coppi – Professor of Physics at MIT
  • Solidarity – Filippo & Donato Frattaroli – Restaurateurs and Philanthropists
  • “Giovane Promessa” – Riccardo Signorelli, Founder and CEO of FastCAP SYSTEMS

About Stefano Salimbeni

Stefano is a Boston-based freelance reporter, correspondent and producer for Italy’s national TV network RAI. Over the past 15 years he has produced more than 800 “Italian-angled” news stories and features from New England and from around the United States for RAI’s international channel, RAI Italia, broadcast to over 60 million viewers of Italian origins or of Italian descent living outside of Italy. He also assisted, and occasionally still does, RAI’s main correspondents in producing news stories and special reports during major news events. For the past three years, Stefano has also been the US correspondent for Famiglia Cristiana, one of Italy’s most widely circulated national magazines. He came to Boston in 1996 to earn a master’s degree and fulfill a lifelong dream of being a journalist. Stefano’s work can be viewed on his personal website, www.stefanosalimbeni.com.