Text and pictures by John Dunkelgrün
June 2nd is the National Day of the Italian Republic. H.E. Mr. Giorgio Novello decided to mark this day in a very special manner. The reception was held in the Louwman Museum, amidst one of the finest collections of antique and special automobiles anywhere.
Following drinks surrounded by stands with Italian specialties, the guests were led into the auditorium, where the Ambassador, flanked by his wife Bianca, gave the opening speech. In – as far as your correspondent knows – a first for such receptions, he invited the entire staff of the Embassy and the Consular Offices, some 30 people, to come forward and make a line in front of the podium. The line stretched the entire width of the podium! He then proceeded to introduce every one of them to the public with a sentence or two for each person. He ended with a smiling warning that they’d better be at their best as an official review team from the ministry was about to arrive.
The reception was sponsored by several companies and the ambassador not only thanked them, as is usual, but invited their representatives to give a brief introduction of their companies. The last speaker was the Dutch parliamentarian Mr. Ulysse Ellian who is a close friend of the ambassador and his wife. He told about the efforts Mr. Novello had made to coordinate the fight against organized crime between Italy and The Netherlands.
The formal part was followed by a wonderful concert, by opera singer Carla Regina and her group, a musical trip from the founding of the Italian Republic to the present.
In the main hall of the museum, there were wine and prosecco bars as well as half a dozen stands with Italian specialties.
One especially caught my attention. Most of the Southern Europe countryside suffers from desertion by the youth. Big cities offer better-paid jobs. North of Rome many olive orchards were deserted, the owners too old or passed away and their children unwilling to take over. Thousands of olive trees were unkept, and their bounty perished.
Mr. Pierluigi Presciuttini of Frantoio Presciutini has bought or leased many of these deserted olive orchards to save the old trees and to make his olive oil in a very special way. It is called ‘olio di notte’, and of course, it is pure ‘EVO’ (extra virgin olive oil). It is called di notte, because it is harvested at night, allowing the pressing process to start early in the morning.
This minimizes the time between harvesting and processing, resulting in a sweeter, less acidic oil.
In this way, the National Day of the Italian Republic was not only a feast for all senses but also a little learning experience.