After stating that the evening’s traditional festivities would be somewhat curtailed in light of the earthquake, Bisogniero affirmed, “We will celebrate, because the Republic must confirm its vitality, its strong democracy...and the resolve with which it meets its challenges.” This call to celebrate, bolstered by the Embassy’s sweeping architecture, display of Renaissance artwork, and crowd of some 1,500 jovial faces, was certainly answered. Vinitaly, an international wine and spirits exhibition based in Verona, offered guests samples from several regions. Gatherings of very accomplished people chatted over pesto, lasagna, and crostini, or over a dessert of the much-loved Lavazza coffee and Ferrero-Rocher chocolates.
Perhaps most significantly, the event offered a space for diplomats and other leaders in cross-cultural exchange to reunite and demonstrate, in real time, Bisogniero’s nod to international friendships. During a conversation with Dr. Camilla Bozzoli, instructor in the Professional Development Program of Georgetown University, I saw her embrace and chat in Italian with several passersby, friends she assured me she had not seen in years.
Professor Bozzoli, a native Italian who speaks six languages and has served as main translator for National Geographic magazine, now focuses primarily on interpreting and teaching. She told me she saw no need to choose between her Italian and American identities. Instead, she enjoys “the best of both worlds”—visiting family in Italy at least once a year and, in the meantime, appreciating the “special atmosphere” of America. She admits this atmosphere is hard to define but can best be characterized by an “optimistic outlook.” Given Bisogniero’s emphasis on overcoming strife and underlining cultural similarities, Bozzoli’s attitude toward both her home country and her adopted one particularly suited the evening.