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THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2021 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 C an we change the face of an icon? Can we renew, regenerate, change the look of it, revolutionize, even, the image of it we are accustomed to? Is it right, respectful, necessary, or is it better to preserve it the way it is, the way time left it? Should we accept the fact an icon can age, just like we should accept we are getting wrinlkles, and that we are no longer young things full of energy? Try to apply the same line of reaso- ning not to the funny icons we have on our smartphones, or to those we use to launch programs on our laptops, but to an absolute symbol of history and culture: the Colosseum, or Flavian amphitheater, inaugurated for the glory of Rome by Emperor Titus in 80 AD. It is one of the wonders of the ancient world, the most majestic of all monuments in the Eternal City, but also a quintessential emblem of Italy in the world; it has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1980 and it is about to undergo an impressive redevelopment. We are not talking about a conservation project, nor about a strenghte- ning intervention, but rather about an innovative reconver- sion, about an operation which, as spectacular and rich in C ovid took the life of Antonio Verde, former Consul General of Italy in Los Angeles between 2014 and 2018 and great friend and supporter of L'Italo-Americano. E v e r y w e e k , h e w o u l d c a l l o u r d i r e c t o r S i m o n e Schiavinato because, when it came to the Sistema Italia, he believed in team work and he considered our paper, a voice of Italian-American society, an important instrument in strengthening an active and direct connection with the Italian community on the West Coast. In 2016, he had promoted a meeting with Ambassador Armando Varricchio, while he was in Los Angeles as part of his diplomatic tour. He supported the events of the Consulate with the same vigor: identity, heritage, but also the promotion of Made in Italy and of constructive commer- cial relations, in collaboration with all relevant Italian part- ners: the Italian Institute of Culture IIC, the Agenzia del Commercio Estero ICE, the Ente del Turismo Italiano ENIT, the Italy-American Chamber of Commerce West IACCW. The role of culture was fundamental to him. Thanks to his work, the first century BC's statuette Zeus Enthroned, held at the Getty Museum in LA since 1992, returned to Naples. At the end of his diplomatic mission in Los Angeles, Verde transferred to Cairo. In Egypt, he was deputy chief of the Italian diplomatic mission. Neapolitan, he had entered diplomacy in 1990; through his career, he held posts in Tokyo, Moscow, Strasbourg and Sydney, where he was appointed Consul for the first time. "Los Angeles – he had said to L'Italo-Americano at the end of his mission, when assessing his work in the city and saying goodbye to the community – we'll always be in my heart. It's been a very important moment in life, both per- sonally and professionally. The time of saying goodbye has come and, just like all goodbyes, it brings sorrow, too. I leave Los Angeles with great sadness, but with a wealth of wonder- ful memories and the many friends I met in this extraordi- nary metropolis." Our condolences to the family. The Colosseum, Italian icon par excellence, is getting a makeover: are you ready to see it? Farewell to Consul Antonio Verde, friend and supporter of L'Italo-Americano From the Editor potential as it is, remains most definitely invasive. The Ministry of Culture's challenge is to give back to the largest amphitheater in the world – built in only 10 years, with a capacity of 50,000 or more people – its arena. The aim is to return it to its former look – one it still had in the 19th cen- tury, when it was a sine qua non stop in the European élite's Grand Tour – but with a modern twist. An enormous platform will cover the Colosseum's central space, allowing people to walk on the masonry structures of its underground area, which is currently in plain air. Visually speaking, it's going to be jaw-dropping, revolutionary, absolu- tely breathtaking. But can we change the face of an icon? The idea, proposed in 2014 by archaeologist Daniele Manacorda, was seen as a provocation by some, but also as a promising and regenerative idea by the Ministry of Culture, which immediately embraced the ambitious project of recrea- ting the Colosseum's internal spaces. Manacorda says that "having the arena back in the Colosseum is a matter of aesthe- tics, but of aesthetics that can produce knowledge. It's reinte- gration." In other words, the project supplies creativity and imagination where neither is usually found. No one, when experiencing this amazing monument just a stone's throw from the Roman Forum, can really imagine how marvelous it was, which feelings and emotions it gave to people gathered there, audience to the many events taking place. This whole operation, this whole idea of filling up an empty space, is understandable. In the end, when we visit the nearby forum, the vast majority of us sees absolutely nothing of that monu- mental square that lied at the heart of the city. We have a bland, decadent, romantized image of it: as much as its beauty is undeniable, we don't feel its sense, its grandeur, its magnifi- cence. Surrounded by remains of columns and traces of artistic floors, we quite simply lack the means or ability to imagine basilicas, temples, altars, streets and statues, porticos and monumental entrances. Few captions and drawings showing us where a church or a market were, giving us an impression of how big a building was, are not enough. How many times did we close our eyes and made an effort to recreate the scenes of a sword-and-sandals movies among those relics? How many times did we wonder why we can't get 3D viewers instead of audio guides, so that we could live and walk in a realistic reconstruction of that world, today dissolved in time? The Ministry of Culture's project wants to do just that: applying the latest technologies to what we inherited from the past. Carbon fiber panels and accoya wood will be used to cover the hypogea and create a walkable, retractable floor, that lies on the structures underneath. In other words, the project wants to show to everyone how the Colosseum proba- bly was, and embrace that "tourism of emotions" so popular nowadays. It is a tourism made of sensations, where tourists can walk into the experience and become part of the show, getting at the heart of the arena itself, and imagining the sound of people who, just like during a soccer game today, c l a p t h e i r h a n d s , s u p p o r t a n d encourage, get excited, carried away, even. It will be like feel- ing tiny in the middle of the most important stage of antiquity but, at the same time, also like becoming grandiose heroes, actors at the heart of action. Of course, the intervention does not require anything mechanical nor potentially dangerous. Nothing will be destroyed; on the other hand, everything will be better pre- served archaeologically, without hiding what exists. There is more: the Colosseum's foundations will be protected by dan- gerous atmospheric agents. At the same time, cultural events and plays will take place inside the building, taking advantage of the charm of one of the most unique locations in the world. But the point remains the same: are we ready to look at one of the most visited monuments in the world with a new pair of eyes? To change its classical image with a completely new one? Are we ready to see it young again, without the wrinkles left on its face by 2000 years on this Earth? Simone Schiavinato, Editor NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS Member of FUSIE (Federazione Unitaria Stampa Italiana all'Estero), COGITO L'Italo-Americano 610 West Foothill Blvd. Unit D, Monrovia, CA 91016 - Tel.: (626) 359-7715 PLEASE SEND CORRESPONDENCE TO P.O. BOX 6528, ALTADENA, CA 91003 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano Newspaper (a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization), www.italoamericano.org, is the largest and longest-running Italian newspaper in America, not to mention the cultural and news resource for all things Italian in the US. A bilingual newspaper which represents an historical landmark for the Italian American Communities in the West Coast and throughout the US. L'Italo-Americano benefits from subsidies by the Italian Government, Memberships and Donations intended to support and not interrupt a mission that began in 1908 to preserve and promote the Italian language and culture in the USA Periodicals postage paid at Monrovia, California 91016, and additional mailing offices. PUBLISHER Robert Barbera Grande Ufficiale EDITOR IN CHIEF Simone Schiavinato ADMINISTRATIVE MANAGER Patrick Abbate EDITORIAL COORDINATOR Barbara Minafra COPY EDITOR Francesca Bezzone LOS ANGELES CONTRIBUTOR Silvia Giudici SAN FRANCISCO CONTRIBUTORS Catherine Accardi Serena Perfetto SEATTLE CONTRIBUTOR Rita Cipalla CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Mariella Radaelli, Francesca Bezzone, Luca Ferrari, Stefano Carnevali, Chiara D'Alessio, Paula Reynolds, Nicoletta Curradi, GenerosoD'Agnese, Fabrizio Del Bimbo, Maria Gloria, Alfonso Guerriero Jr., Anthony Di Renzo Serena Perfetto, Kenneth Scambray, Chiara D'Alessio © 2020 L'Italo-Americano Membership: One year $59 - Single copy $2.25 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to L'Italo Americano PO Box 6528 Altadena, CA 91003

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