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  • 1 Aug 2019 7:37 PM | Alison Mehrman (Administrator)

    Angela Bononi, Ph.D., an award-winning postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, will be discussing her groundbreaking research on the link between genetic and environmental factors and cancer on August 29 at Da Shop.  

    Her lecture is part of the “From Italy to Hawaii” series presented by Friends of Italy Society of Hawaii and Da Shop. This series features experts from all over Italy who discuss topics that affect both Italy and Italy.  

    Bononi graduated from the University of Ferrara and for the past six years has been working at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center. She will explain how her research in Italy and Hawaii helped her in making a pioneering discovery in the field of cancer prevention, after studying cancer patients in Turkey and the USA who shared a very unique DNA story. In 2017 the Italian Scientists and Scholars of North America Foundation conferred her the Hogan Lovells Award, recognizing her as the best among early stage investigators working in North America in the field of Medicine, Biosciences and Cognitive Science, whose commitment to their discipline of study is innovative, impactful and honors their country of origin. This summer the magazine “Fortune Italia” featured her among the “40 under 40” Italian talents that we should keep an eye on.

    Join us on August 29 to hear more and ask questions!

    Register here:

  • 9 Jul 2019 9:33 PM | Alison Mehrman (Administrator)

    Have you heard the exciting news? Italian citizens living in Hawaii no longer need to fly to San Francisco in order to renew passports or obtain new passports for their children. Instead, fingerprinting may be done here in Hawaii by the Honorary Consul. Please see below for more details, and click here for instructions. 


    The Honorary Consulate of Italy in Honolulu is pleased to announce that Italian citizens registered in A.I.R.E. as living in Hawaii can now obtain their passport biometric information in Honolulu. This means that Italian citizens renewing their passports or obtaining new passports for their children can be fingerprinted by the Honorary Consul. 

    This new process means that Italian citizens living in the Hawaii Consular district no longer need to fly to San Francisco in order to obtain passports.  However, all of their paperwork must still be sent to the Consulate General of Italy in San Francisco for processing, and the new passports will be sent to them by US Postal Mail after all paperwork has been duly processed.

    Note:  This service is offered IN ADDITION to standard processing of passports in San Francisco, that can still be used as needed. If you still need a rush service to obtain a new passport, you will need to set up an appointment through the Passport office at the Consulate General of Italy in San Francisco.

    IMPORTANT: The first step for this process is that you must create an account in Fast It, and then make sure your address is up-to-date.  If it is not up-to-date, submit an A.I.R.E. registration request and wait until the status of the request is listed as “Trasmessa al Comune.”

  • 8 Jun 2019 5:30 PM | Ashley Bailey (Administrator)

    benedetta pitscheider / maserati /

    A Very Impressive Finish of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Caribbean 600

    The Maserati Multi 70 Crosses the Finish Line First on Tuesday, Jan 19, 2019

    The yacht set a new world record with a total race time of 1 day, 6 hours, 49 minutes and 0 seconds as well as winning line honors, in the RORC Caribbean 600. The race starts and finishes in Antiqua after circumnavigating around the 11 island Caribbean course. If you aren’t familiar with sailboats, these multihull yachts are some of the fastest in the world. With consistent foiling enhancements, adjustments and new designs to the rudder systems, the Maserati literally and figuratively flies over the ocean, reaching speeds up to 50 nautical miles per hour. With that being said, an extreme amount of focus, stamina, and attention is needed when sailing these nautical machines. Strategy, navigation, and weather are huge factors in flying the multihulls and overall racing them at top speed. It takes a very specific type of person to dedicate their lives to racing around on the ocean. But, for those who do, what a life it is!

    Let me introduce you to the “brains” of this Italian operation: Skipper Giovanni Soldini & Captain Guido Broggi. Both born in Milano, reside in the countryside of Liguria, and have sailed all over the globe. They have been lifelong friends and sailing professionally on Maserati yacht and other yachts for over 24+ years. They have broken, and currently hold, multiple world records.Together, they are a dynamic duo expressing qualities of leadership, pure dedication, concentration, zeal, and utmost sportsmanship. They are fierce contenders, funny, love to cook and of course, eat pasta… and please, don’t forget the vino! They both are full of life and have huge hearts. When not sailing, the crew is constantly working in the shipyard to refit and maintain this beautiful racing vessel. In 2017, the Maserati Yacht was hauled out of the water and dry docked on the land next door to the Waikiki Prince Hotel. All the necessary work was completed on that parcel of state land and the “Aloha Dock” of the Hawaii Yacht Club. The crew got the yacht ready to depart to Hong Kong, where they set the world record: a 13,000 mile long, non-stop, Hong Kong to London Tea route finishing in late Feb 2018. 36 days, 2 hours, 37 minutes, and 2 seconds at sea. That’s a whole other story…

    Land area in Waikiki where Maserati was hauled out and worked on in Fall of 2017. Located at the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor next door to the Prince Hotel. Photo: I took this from one of my favorite steak houses: The Signature Prime on the top of Ala Moana Hotel – great happy hour!

    The Ala Wai Canal in Waikiki and Maserati going back into the water

    benedetta pitscheider / maserati

    There are not many “do it all” racing teams that are so devoted to the program, the team, and boat. Usually, pro sailors fly into the race location and skip the shipyard work or deliveries. Not this crew. They spend countless hours in the yard making sure the proper work is done to maintain the boat and most importantly, maintain safety. They are so passionate about what they do, they work hard until the moment they arrive at the starting line. Then when the boat is ready, they go into “race mode” and push as hard as possible to win. Giovanni and Guido have great support from the other members of the crew, and all work efficiently together to get the jobs completed.

    A few days before the Caribbean 600 race started, the competition Argo, a Mod 70 capsized after the wind came up unexpectedly during a training. Argo is an American yacht skippered by Jason Carroll and crossed the finish line only 7 minutes after Maserati in the Caribbean 600. Maserati yacht immediately turned on the engine, dropped the sails and assisted the Argo crew to ensure everyone was safe after seeing the boat go over, not far behind them. In 1999 Giovanni saved Isabelle Autissier, a famous French solo yacht racer off the coast of Cape Horn, South America in high seas and gail force winds during the USA based “Around Alone” race, that they were both competing in. Making these types of sportsmanship calls, are what sets Giovanni and Guido apart, and is a big reason why they are so respected worldwide and throughout the yachting community. Maserati agreed to start later on the race day at 2 pm instead of the original scheduled 11 am start time, in order to allow the crew of Argo to finish up the repair work that needed to be done. After a neck and neck race, Maserati crossed the finished first and Argo directly after.

    benedetta pitscheider / maserati /

    Earlier today, after an all day delivery back to Guadeloupe Island from Antiqua, Guido said, “We did a good job, the boat was ready, we had a good wind between 17 and 21 knots. It was a great stable wind and the sea state was very good because we didn’t get any high wave conditions, so we, and also the other boats, could sail in a very good condition for the whole race. The RORC 600 is one of the toughest races out of all the classic races around the world. You maneuver every single second. Imagine, in 30 hours and a half, we slept more or less, 2 hours each. And, we ate a lot of crackers.” I’m hoping they eat something delicious tonight, and get some sleep. They all deserve it!

    Exciting News for Honolulu, HI

    Maserati on the Aloha Dock at Hawaii Yacht Club

    Maserati, Argo, and Powerplay an English Mod 70 skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield, have all entered the Transpac Race starting on July 10th 2019. There are already 102 yachts registered for this Pacific ocean crossing, more than Hawaii has ever seen since 1906. This will be the 50th annual Transpac race which starts in Los Angeles and ends in Honolulu, at the Hawaii Yacht Club. It’s going to be a very exciting event with some of the most beautiful and fastest sailing vessels from around the world. With limited space in the harbor (see my other blog — Yacht Life on Oahu: Where to Keep Your Boat?) HYC and WYC will be moving boats around and getting ready for the arrivals that can happen at any time of day or night.

    Some examples of the volunteer work the yacht club community needs help with:

    1. Being part of the Team for mooring arriving boats (harbor ops)
    2. Communication/coordination with the Team(s) for organizing the mooring of arriving boats (harbor ops)
    3. Boat Hosting -meeting the boats after they have arrived or putting together a Team to host a boat (hosting committee)
    4. Doing shifts at the DH lighthouse finish line for finishing boats (lighthouse committee)

    If you are interested in volunteering or visiting/joining the Hawaii Yacht Club, please reach out to me. I would love to hear from you, meet you and make new friends. There’s a ton to do, and we would love to have some extra hands and Aloha welcoming these yachts and tired crews into our home port in Honolulu this summer, 2019. Did I mention the Transpac parties are pretty fun too?

    Me at the helm with the Maserati Crew on a light wind Friday Night Beer Can Race: Hawaii Yacht Club

    Ciao & Aloha Ragazzi! Congratulazioni Maserati!

    To learn more about the #Transpac2019 and registered boats, visit For more information on the Hawaii Yacht Club, visit

    Connect with Maserati:

    Facebook: Giovanni Soldini Pagina Ufficiale 
    Instagram: @giovanni_soldini

    p. 808.673.8947 // e. // instagram: @livethehawaiilife

  • 1 Jun 2018 8:07 AM | Mark Ethridge

    Our Visit of Rome’s Landmarks (Continued)

    By Tommaso Gambino

    Piazza Navona

    Today we find ourselves in the very spacious Piazza Navona, built in the 15th century above the Stadio di Domiziano (80 AD). Its original use was dedicated to athletic events and was a gift to the Roman people from their emperor. It’s now surrounded by Renaissance buildings and distinguished by its famous centerpiece, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi. (Fountain of the Four Rivers). Legend has it that the sculptor, Bernini, designed a look of terror on the face of one of the fountain’s figures – that figure faces an adjacent church that was designed by his rival, Borromini. Thus, from the figure’s expression, it would appear that the church is about to collapse on the fountain.  Was this an act inspired by professional jealously?

    Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi

    The atmosphere is always carnival-like with street hawkers selling many objects of amusement along with artists, singers and musicians rounding out the cast of characters. There are many choices of restaurants, bars, and pastry shops with one of the most famous gelateria, the Tre Scalini being my favorite.  This would be a perfect time to enjoy a delicious gelato and take in the on-going spectacle. We now must choose from so many of the landmarks that comprise this area of the Centro Storico.  One of the most famous is the Fontana di Trevi and it is not that far away.  

    Let us quickstep past the imposing Pantheon completed by Emperor Hadrian in 126 AD that now serves as a church. We can briefly take a look at this imposing structure, pay our respects and move on.  

    The Pantheon

    Next come the Via del Corso, a shopper’s paradise, and then Via Sabini, which lead finally to the famous fountain, a baroque masterpiece, designed by Nicola Salvi in 1762.  It is the largest in the city of its type and size. The original site was as suspected, an ancient Roman water source dating back to 19 BC. The building material, white travertine, is like that used for the Colosseum. The magnificent structure stands at 87 feet tall and approximately 70 feet wide with a spill rate of close to 3,000,000 cubic feet of water daily. As the famous song, Three Coins in a Fountain, recalls, tossing a coin over the shoulder into the fountain’s large pool guarantees your return to Rome. The money collected is donated to Caritas, an aid agency, assisting the homeless.

    Fontana di Trevi

    Continuing with the theme of goodwill toward others; we shall next visit La Stelletta, a non-profit that assists mentally-challenged students.

    La Stelletta

    Their laboratory is nestled into another ancient piazza of the Centro Storico not far from the Fontana. Here was organized a place for the children as an after-school activity center. All involved pooled their resources, energy and talents in 1985. The children produce ceramic pieces of a high quality and beauty, all by hand. The items are identified by the artisan. Producing these crafts gives the children a feeling of accomplishment and personal self-worth. My favorite among the many is Francesca.  Her prodigious artistic production of ceramic pieces keeps me coming back and buying yet another few more to add to my already large collection.

    Francesca’s Ceramics

    As summer is upon us, I will take this opportunity to wish you all a pleasant summer vacation. I will be back with you in September to continue our odyssey.


    Arrivederci, Tommaso

  • 15 May 2018 1:26 PM | Mark Ethridge

    Rome's Famous Landmarks

    by Tommaso Gambino

     Becoming familiar with Rome’s famous landmarks is a rite of passage. Unlike most major world cities, many of Rome’s points of interest date back several thousand years, and some are still in use today. An example of this is enjoying opera in the Baths of Caracalla, built in 212 AD.

    Opera performance at the Baths of Caracalla

    Andiamo! Let us begin our tour at the Colosseum, originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre.  It is arguably the most identifiable structure of the world capital. Construction began in 72 AD by Emperor Vespasian and was terminated in 80 AD by his son, the Emperor Titus. Enormous amounts of travertine slabs, tufa blocks and brick made up the building material. The capacity accommodated approximately 50,000-70,000 spectators. Admission was gratis along with food for the events. This was offered as a gift from the emperor to the people of Rome (the famous “panem et circenses” bread and games).

    The Colosseum

    We now leave the Colosseum and cross over to the Arch of Constantine, (315 AD) built to celebrate the famous victory of Ponte Milvio that ushered in Christianity.  A few more steps and we cross under the Arch of Titus commemorating the Roman conquest of Jerusalem (70 AD).  Once through the arch, we find ourselves entering venerated land, the Roman Forum, the center of the known world.  Gazing down over the myriad historic structures along the Via Sacra, one can easily feel a sense of awe.  It was here that the Romans met to carry on commercial, religious, political and social activities. It was from this site the Romans conquered the then known world and developed our western civilization. To the left is the House of the Vestal Virgins, the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Temple of Julius Caesar and to the right the Temple of Romulus, the Basilica of Constantine, and the Temple of Antonius and Faustina. Finally, there is the Curia and the famous rostrum from which one can imagine Mark Antony delivering his famous oration in Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar:

    “Friends, Romans and Countryman lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar not to praise him.”

    The Roman Forum

    It’s all very impressive and moving to relive one’s history in the places where it took place...


    To be continued -- see you in 2 weeks at Piazza Navona

    Ciao, Tommaso

  • 1 May 2018 10:17 AM | Mark Ethridge


    by Tommaso Gambino


    In order to better appreciate the full impact of ancient Rome on our civilization of today, we need to visit a few of those Romans who changed the world completely and forever by their participation in critical historical battles.  There were innumerable emperors, consuls, generals and other actors for us to choose from who had a significant impact on the course of Western civilization.


    Scipio Africanus

    Our first great Roman is General Publius Cornelius Scipio (236-184BC) the victor of the seminal battle of Zama (202BC) It was here that the fate of the Mediterranean world was decided. Known as the Second Punic war, the armies of the fearsome Carthaginian General Hannibal (247-182BC) charged the Roman line with 80 war elephants in the lead. The clever Romans maneuvered the beasts into human alleyways and confused them by making loud noise. The battle raged  all day until the Roman cavalry attacked to the rear of the Carthaginians.

    By nightfall, the Roman Eagle was triumphant and Scipio, in honor of his victory, was named Scipio Africanus. At this point in time, our history would become Roman and not Carthaginian. 

    Julius Caesar

    No story of Rome can be imagined without the imposing personality of Julius Caesar (100-44BC). His soldiers considered the great general and politico a god. They would often shout out while going into battle “Caesar leads: we fear nothing”.   Likewise, the masses adored him. Among his myriad accomplishments one stands supreme. That was the crucial battle of Alesia that took place in Gaul near modern day Dijon, France, (52BC). The heavily outnumbered Roman legions (60,000) fought the barbarian hoard (300,000) led by King Vercingetorix (75-46BC). The decisive Roman victory marked the end of primitive Gaul and the beginning of the Romanization of what is now the France of today.


    Another exceptional game changer was the Emperor Constantine (272-337AD). After the Apostles, he was arguably the most historic mortal responsible for the success of Christianity. Until his appearance on the world stage, Christianity was considered nothing more than a minor exotic eastern sect. What Constantine did, by the edict of Milan 313AD, was to elevate the religion by giving it state status.

    “In hoc signo vinces” (in this sign you will be victorious) Legend has it that Constantine saw a cross in the sky above the battle he was about to enter against his rival for the throne. (Ponte Milvio 312AD).  He believed that it was God that gave him the victory and hence Constantine’s grateful elevation of Christianity to an official state religion. The net result is that we have now in the world approximately 2 billion Christians, 1 billion of which are Roman Catholics – a truly remarkable outcome. 

    We have visited the exploits of only three of the great Roman history makers. It is astonishing, considering that there were hundreds of emperors, orators, philosophers, poets, architects, historians, physicians, astronomers, engineers, and religious and military leaders of the first order that impacted our world. The Italians sprang from this extraordinary civilization, forged by these outstanding individuals. Bravi!

    We will see you in two weeks for some sightseeing in Rome.  Be sure to wear some comfortable shoes!

    Ciao, Tommaso

  • 15 Apr 2018 12:56 PM | Mark Ethridge

    Trastevere-Beyond the Tiber

    By Tommaso Gambino


    The 13th district of Rome is named Trastevere for a reason. It is literally located beyond the Tiber River from what was once the center of ancient Rome. Its bohemian personality points to the unconventional life style of many of its residents.  Mixed in with the working-class locals are artists, writers, musicians, students, educators, professionals, politicians, and aristocrats. There is an “embarrassment of choice,” when it comes to nightclubs, trendy bars, restaurants and trattorias.  This extensive variety satisfies the taste of most pleasure seekers the world over.


    Mangiamo a Trastevere! (let us eat in Trastevere!) Notwithstanding the nightlife, it is really all about the food, especially the Roman cuisine. As promised, a favorite local-place of mine awaits us. 

    Street leading to Trattoria Da Enzo


    Da Enzo, is an appealing trattoria with a wide experience of traditional Roman cuisine. The popular locale was opened in 1950 and is still going strong. Much effort is put into creating dishes with quality ingredients.  One of the best guanciale, a meat product prepared from pork cheeks and used in cooking pastas, comes from Central Italy. The Ricotta hails from near Rome’s vicinity in the province of Lazio. The olives chosen for the olive oil used in the cooking are grown without the use of pesticides.  The results show. Delizioso! 

    My favorite dishes are the Burrata (Buffalo milk cheese, Stracciatella and cream) and the Coda alla Vaccinara. 


    Coda alla Vaccinara

    The choices and selections are genuine and served up by a youthful, happy and friendly staff  with great flair.  It’s as if friends had invited you to their home. The tables are closely arranged in the limited space adding to the camaraderie.  Often you are able to taste the dishes of the accompanying table, as the locals are often happy to share their choices. It is a blast and great fun.

    Waiter at Da Enzo

    Caveat, Da Enzo is very popular and hence rarely takes reservations. So, a bit of patience is needed. A hint is to get to the trattoria at 7:30 pm as first seating commences at 8:00 pm.

    Waiting in line at Da Enzo

    Address: Via Dei Vascellari, 29, Trastevere, Rome 

    Buon Appetito!

    The next posting is in 2 weeks, and we shall visit with 3 ancient Romans that changed the course of the known world. 


    Ciao, Tommaso Gambino

  • 1 Apr 2018 3:15 PM | Mark Ethridge

    SPQR-The Legacy of Ancient Rome

    by Tommaso Gambino

    The overwhelming achievement of the Romans was their development of the foundation of our western civilization. The Pax Romana (Roman Peace) allowed for the elevation of the human spirit. Refinement, love of letters, law, art, science, religion, principles of life were established and enjoyed. How to live and behave with the ability to travel and conduct commerce in a lawful manner was spread throughout the vast empire.  Many of these characteristics are still with us.

    For example, the Roman twelve tablets written in 450 BC codified specific crimes and punishments. There were diverse Roman courts that dealt with different statutory offences that is common in the contemporary  west of today. Rome applied the system of checks and balances over 2,500 years ago in their political structure. The American government was founded on this principle.  Furthermore, the US Senate is modeled on the ancient Roman version.

    The inscription SPQR (Senatus Populusque Quiritium Romanus - Senate and the People of Rome)


    The Mediterranean Sea, known then as Mare Nostrum (our sea), became a safe conduit for transporting products and sharing ideas over a vast area. It took only seven days to sail east from Rome to Egypt and likewise seven days to sail west from Rome, caput mundi  (world capital) to the straights of Gibraltar. Myriad coastal cities dotted the shoreline with storied names such as Alexandria, Constantinople (now Istanbul), Carthage, Ephesus, Ostia, etc.; many of which are still active today.

    Carving of a trireme – an ancient Roman warship

    “All roads lead to Rome,” and many are still in use. Via Appia, Via Flaminina and Via Aurelia are but a few of the 53,000 miles of famous roads that carried the life-blood of the Empire. It took six bumpy days to travel from Rome to Naples as compared with a leisurely  2 1/2 hour drive today on the modern Autostrada del Sole. The roads fortunately had rest places called missiones that were standard and spaced every 15 miles. Here the ancients could rest their weary bones after a long day of traveling.

    A Roman road


    Latin, was spoken on the shores of the river Tiber as well as on the shores of the river Thames.  Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian are merely modern versions of vulgar Latin and are spoken all over the world. Over 60% of English is derived from Latin roots. The same poetry was read and the same rhetoric heard. A single coin was in use, and a common set of laws governed all. The current European Union is an example today of a political and economic union that in some ways reflects the Roman empire with its principles of many peoples united under one common market and set of laws.  The Romans also adopted much of the Greek school of philosophy,  art and sculpture, thereby ensuring that it’s been handed down to us rather than being lost and forgotten in the dustbin of  history.


    Thus, mighty Rome was the mother of us all, having given birth to our western civilization.  The majesty and glory that is Rome shall last an eternity.  


    Our next posting, Trastevere-Beyond the Tiber, will appear in a few weeks. Bring along a good appetite as we shall visit a favorite trattoria.

  • 14 Mar 2018 5:46 PM | Mark Ethridge

    A Morning in Rome

     by Tommaso Gambino

    Rome is located in a physically beautiful  setting, situated on its seven famous hills. It enjoys  a mild climate, allowing for an uplifting feel to everyday living. The light is very special, being bright, crystal clear and stimulating. It makes one feel younger, more vital and in contact with life itself.  One senses a feeling of wellbeing, leading to a joie de vivre. There is a spell produced that appeals to the human spirit and enhances every thing one does. It is magic! This grand setting encourages an innate psychology and distinguished character that is essentially Roman. This feeling is self-evident in the early morning, as the Mediterranean sun splashes ever-changing hues of pink and rose colors on to historic buildings, cupolas, towers, arches and fountains. It is a call to the human spirit. It is akin to a mother’s embrace, affectionate and long lasting.


    Our morning starts in Trastevere, a bohemian part of Rome with a smart salute from a carabiniere.   Emerging onto the ancient Via della Lungara, one must weave past the inevitable Vespa scooters as they wiz by before entering Café Settimiana.  This bar was partially built along the ancient Aurelian walls constructed in the early 3rd century AD.  “Caffe!” shouts Ferruccio, the proprietor and within minutes the best espresso imaginable is  served with great fanfare. The locals mix often with the many notables arguing about the latest scandal adding to the chaos.  Energized, one is swiftly out the door onto cobblestoned alleyways to Piazza Sonino and bus number 56. Crossing the storied Tiber River, the route continues past renaissance palaces, baroque buildings and innumerable fountains en route to Piazza Barbarini. Myriad Romans hurry off to work while conversing loudly with their companions.

    Shop owners are opening their gated stores and the food market is in full swing filled with lively people buying fresh condiments for their evening repast. “Prova! E` dolce! E` fresco!” (Try, Its sweet! Its fresh!). Copious fruits and vegetables are colorfully on display, such as tomatoes, zucchini, parsley, eggplants, grapes, cherries, lemons, melons, etc. One must observes the swirl taking place, absorbing the energy and becoming part of the scene.   Church bells chime out and signal the time to leave and continue on for another delicious espresso.

    I hope that you enjoyed taking some quick steps together over the cobblestones of the Eternal city.    We shall continue our odyssey on  April 1, with SPQR-Rome’s Legacy.

    Ciao e Buona Pasqua a tutti!


  • 28 Feb 2018 5:49 PM | Mark Ethridge

    Post by Tommaso Gambino

    Welcome! Benvenuti! 

     In 2018, the Friends of Italy Society of Hawai`i, will happily invite you all on a bi-weekly blog odyssey to Italy. Together we will endeavor to discover, share and enjoy our common heritage and interest in Italia. Our postings will begin with a visit to Rome. We’ll be in the company of some of the great actors that shaped our western civilization. We will visit Rome’s history, culture, architecture and local points of interest.  We will also look forward to experiencing the spirit and life that is contemporary Rome today.

     Like many of you, I was raised in a typical Italian American family.  As most of us do in our younger years, I soaked up my surroundings and imagined that the rest of the world was like my neighborhood; filled with Italian-Americans sharing space with the occasional Anglo-Americans and some other hyphenated groups. As I grew older, I wondered how and why my Italian culture was different from the others. I asked myself: “What does it mean to be Italian?” It was an enigma! 

     The beginning of solving this personal puzzle was to gain exposure to Italian culture, history and to discover my long-lost heritage. I began my pilgrimage to find my hidden persona by studying at the University of Perugia in Italy where I became fluent in Italian.  With the language as key, I started to discover.

     As a student, I hitchhiked, months on end, up and down the peninsula surrounded by the divine Mediterranean Sea. I became familiar with a spectacular country and its people whose history covered over three millennia. The extraordinary snow-capped Italian Alps that defined the top of the famous boot, along with the rolling Tuscan countryside and sun-drenched south was my playground. Through my exploration of the country and as a direct consequence of acquiring knowledge of my heritage; I began to feel an attachment to my newly found brethren. I had a sense that I had arrived home. My personal puzzle had been solved.

     I welcome all of you to come along with me on our odyssey.  Bring your walking shoes; as in two weeks’ time, we will enjoy–A Morning in Rome.”



    Tommaso Gambino

    Friends of Italy Society of Hawai`i

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