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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2017 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS W e'll bring the year to a close with two s t o r i e s . The first is that of sisters Fifì and Dedé from Canicattì, 25 km from Agrigento, a popular tourist spot in the South of Italy, cer- tainly worth a visit: it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List thanks to the exceptional state of preservation of its Valle dei Templi, the largest archaeo- logical site in the world. Filippa has just celebrated her 106th birthday: to keep her com- pany while slicing the cake, her sister Diega, who turned 112 last October. They tell us of an Italy that has sailed through the past one hundred years and beyond, carrying along a century-long wealth of history on her shoul- ders. They didn't simply lived through both wars, but also experienced all those great, profound social and cultural changes that ferried the country from the beginning of the 20th century to modern days, from the years of great migrations (both inside and outside the country), to those of the economic boom and the Dolce Vita, from workers' rights movements to important social achievements, from the creation of TV to the age of internet, smartphones and globalization. They embody a hidden, yet quite numerous Italy, if it's true there are 17.000 centenarians in the country today. And they are sign the quality of life must have improved, if less than a century ago, in 1922, there were just 50 centenarians on the peninsula. In the 1980s, their numbers rose to about 1000 and it's believed they should reach 150.000 in 2050. Sicily alone counts today over 100 centenarians. Fifì and Dedé's wrinkles are not only sign of a long life, but of a past that, if still visible on the skin of so many centenarians, it's not distant enough to be forgot- ten as if it were the Middle Ages. It's in our DNA, it's part of what we are today. It's reassuring and familiar like an old trunk, maybe unfashionable, but still in our closet. A past that represents our roots and genealogy, the books we read and the tales we listened to, the songs telling of our lives. A past that belongs to us. The second story is that of Paolo Nespoli, who turned 60 last April, the oldest European astronaut and holder of the record of permanence in space for an Italian, with 313 days and three missions. His last trip coin- cided with the 25th anniversary of Franco Malerba's trip around the Earth, 278 men after Yuri Gagarin. Malerba calls himself "the Italian astronaut's prototy- pe," a tricolored conquest's pio- neer. When, a few days ago, Nespo- li came back on Earth and was taken out from the minuscule Soyuz, he breathed in the step- pe's icy - at minus 17 degree Celsius - air, rose his thumbs and smiled: everything was fine, after 5 months and a half spent super- vising 211 experiments at 28.800 km per hour, on the International Space Station for the Missione Vita supported by the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana. Missione Vita, "mission life:" what a beautiful name. Especially because it doe- sn't look for new life in the uni- verse, but rather it studies our life, out there and down here. Vita, acronym of Vitality- Innovation-Technology-Ability, is worth 1.6 billion euro and 6000 jobs. For each euro invested in this research, aimed at creating materials and technologies to make us live a better life, eight are profited. A national excellen- ce that allows our Sistema Paese to keep up with USA, Russia, Japan, China and India in the race to the future. In this edition that closes 2017, these two stories sum up what Italy is today. The past on one side, the future on the other and to join them, halfway in between, a present deeply rooted in history, but also intensely projected towards what is to come. There's progress, and a path where the future is not only and exclusively in the hands of the younger generations. In an aging world, it is important to trust a veteran, even when it comes to conquering the outer space. Being born in 1908, our very own L'Italo Americano is an ultra centenarian and next year we will celebrate together the praiseworthy goal of 110 years of life. In every number, L'Italo Americano offers the experience, strengthened by having descri- bed the history, the protagonists, the changes of our community on the West Coast, and the con- temporaneity of social media, of real time knowledge that sup- ports a direct contact and a conti- nuous exchange of opinions. In between there's you, our dear readers, who keep on choo- sing and support us, because you know well how important it is not to forget that very Italian essence that characterizes us, and that our newspaper has been transmitting with passion and perseverance for all these deca- des: l'italo-americanità. It is while keeping all this in mind that L'Italo Americano team wishes you a fantastic new year: may awareness of our past give to us all the strength to reach, in 2018, goals considered impossible even 20 or 25 years ago, just like Fifì and Dedé did, without ever leaving Earth, along with Franco and Paolo who, from space, helped us touch the sky with our fingertips. Ultra-centenarians and space missions: our past and our future BARBARA MINAFRA

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