|Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to welcome you to Villa Firenze to a gathering which brings together so many important friends of both our Countries. Let me start by welcoming President Amato and Mr. Turner.
I have often said that Villa Firenze is an ideal venue for Italian and American cultures to come together and tonight this is truer than ever. Indeed, we are honored to be in the company of personalities who have given an exceptional contribution to the friendship between our Countries: one in particular is not only a very distinguished American jurist, but is a man of immense culture with a profound knowledge of Italy - allow me to extend a special greeting to Justice Antonin Scalia. Why this very day Chief Justice Roberts paid a tribute to Justice Scalia as the longest-serving justice on the bench. A full 25 years, although his youthful appearance belies this! As Roberts noted “the place hasn’t been the same since”, and I sincerely hope that Justice Scalia will continue to make a difference on the bench for may other equal terms – my warmest congratulations!
Madam Leader, on the occasion of President Amato’s visit to Washington D.C., in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee for the Celebrations of the 150th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy, I cannot emphasize enough how much Italians in America, and at home, have admired the support, and passion, you have personally put into these celebrations. I was a very privileged witness as to how much you contributed to President Obama’s Proclamation for March 17th.
Tonight, as I said, both are countries are very well represented. Let me start by welcoming Senator Samuel Nunn and the Director of the National Museum of American History, Mr. Marc Pachter. I would also like to greet the Italian Honorary Consul in Atlanta, Mrs. Angela Della Costanza Turner; Prof. Bruce Cole; NIAF President Joe Del Raso, and, of course, the co-founder and Vice President of the Castleton Festival, Dietlinde Maazel and Mr. Orson Maazel.
On the Italian side, I would like to recognize Alessandro Nicosia and his excellent team, Giancarlo Bravi, and Marco Pizzo. Without them, the exhibition on Italy’s different regions “Regioni e Testimonianze d’Italia”, which opens at the Embassy tomorrow, would not have been possible.
The 150th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy is greatly enriched by it. And this gives me the perfect opportunity to express my appreciation to both President Amato and Mr. Turner for being with us.
Prof. Amato is in Washington, as I mentioned, for celebrations of Italy’s important milestone: indeed, this very afternoon he delivered an outstanding lecture at Georgetown University - “Celebrating Italy: The lessons of an Anniversary”.
As an accomplished statesman and distinguished scholar of constitutional law in both Italy and the United States, his talent has shone in many areas. In politics, as Prime Minister of Italy. As a strong supporter of the European Union, he was Vice President of the Convention on the Future of Europe, launching the process which led to the Lisbon Treaty. As a true and powerful voice of our transatlantic values he Chairs the Center for American Studies.
Prof. Amato has a keen interest in the Risorgimento: his lectures and writings have masterfully brought to light pivotal aspects of political thought and of the national movements which resulted in the Italian unification.
But let me say how pleased I am that Ted Turner has accepted tonight’s invitation. He embodies, in the eyes of my people, the ideals of the modern man of the Renaissance.
Aside from being one of the most visionary entrepreneurs of our times, a renowned expert on classics, on economics and on the most challenging issues facing our times, Ted Turner is fully recognized as a true humanist of the 21st Century. And this is why, in just last week the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation announced that Mr. Turner will be the recipient of the “Renaissance Man of the Year”. I would like to recall that in 2009, the Embassy of Italy in Washington was privileged to host the Refugees International’s McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award in his honor.
Having served for so many years at the United Nations, I cannot but express my greatest esteem and respect for his sense of humanitas, that quintessential Renaissance value, which he impressed on the whole United Nations. I do not believe that any other initiative at the UN embraces so fully the sense embodied in the act of giving, as much as Mr. Turner’s gesture did in 1997. The moral strength that was infused into that powerful act will remain forever with the 193 members of the international community.
Today his activities continue to focus on the responses which must be given to the challenges mankind faces: environment, nuclear threat, clean energy and sustainable development. For his sincere commitment he has been defined a “Global ambassador” - a title of which I am very envious!
Let me thus thank Ted Turner and Professor Giuliano Amato once again for being part of this rich program of events held under the Auspices of the President of the Italian Republic, The Honorable Giorgio Napolitano.
Once again, thank you, and Buon appetito!