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2013: Italy's Genius Will Shine Bright Across America, Once Again!

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Looking ahead and going forward: A new horizon of confidence and prosperity is what governments are asked to provide their citizens. In times of economic turmoil we refer to such a goal as a commitment to growth. I am ready to subscribe to this definition, but only if we all agree that no growth is possible without culture, and that prosperity is possible only if deeply rooted in a common ground of values and history.

Culture is indeed the most effective path to a shared and sustainable growth. It is even more so when it comes to relations between the U.S. and Italy, which are strengthened by the energy and dedication of generations of Italians who came to America, bringing their heritage, their values, and their history, and thus contributing to the building of a great nation.

This vision inspired us to give breath to "2013 -- The Year of Italian Culture in the United States," which starts today in Washington, D.C. and throughout the United States as a direct gateway to the best of Italy. From science to art, from music to high-tech, from literature to industrial design, Italy will be gazing toward the future while celebrating its glorious and magnificent past. Our best achievements will be showcased to strengthen lasting partnerships, and create new ones, between American and Italian institutions, universities, research centers, museums, schools, theaters, and businesses.

The unveiling of Michelangelo's David-Apollo at the National Gallery of Art carries a clear message of what the yearlong celebration will mean for both of our countries. Displayed for the first time in the Capital City in 1949 as a sign of Italy's gratitude to the United States for the assistance it provided in the post-war period, the statue literally embodies the strongest historical ties between the United States and Italy. Sixty-three years later, the David-Apollo is back to the NGA to be admired by new generations of visitors.

At the same time, David-Apollo is a symbol of the Italian Renaissance. Rather than as a period with a precise beginning and end, we should think of the Renaissance as a movement of ideas to which people might respond in different times and places. We should think of it as of a permanent network of creativity and adventurous spirits able to describe both ancient and contemporary Italy in all its different facets. A new Renaissance is exactly what we need, and are relentlessly trying to start, in Italy and in Europe, together with our American ally, to boost shared and sustainable growth and prosperity.

Research, discovery and innovation are the main guidelines of "Italy in the U.S. 2013." Science and technology will play a central role, from Galileo to the celebration of fifty years of cooperation in space between Italy and the United States. Special events will be dedicated to Italian Nobel Prize winners and to Italian excellence in design. Dozens of public and private actors, as well as some of the most important cultural and scientific institutions of both countries -- with approximately 70 U.S. institutions actively involved.

The intimate value of the Renaissance combines research and innovation with humanism. From ancient masterpieces to contemporary art, from Michelangelo and Leonardo to Morandi and de Chirico, from Calvino to Pasolini, the genius of Italy will shine bright once again across America, as it happened in 2011, during the celebrations of the 150th Anniversary of Italian Unification. Some of the best Italian orchestras and musicians will honor the two-hundredth anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi's birth, while some of the most prominent Academic institutions will commemorate the 700th anniversary of Boccaccio's birth as well as the 500th of Machiavelli's The Prince. Theater, cinema, photography, style, manufacture will be pivotal in this journey of discovery not only of the past, but also of Italy's most modern and dynamic features. All this will be accompanied by the notes composed by Academy-Award winner Nicola Piovani, who authored the soundtrack for the year. Italy in the U.S. 2013 will also provide impulse for further promotion of the Italian language in the United States, a priority for our government. We will build on the reinstatement of Italian in the Advanced Placement Program, and on the growing interest for our language in U.S. schools.

I am proud that such an effort will be made possible in large part by the support of private partners and the incredibly generous Italian American community: Their contribution is synonymous with the quality, the viability and the sustainability of our cultural policies -- a model the Italian government is strongly committed to developing further in order to project onto the world stage the image of a thriving and captivating Italy together with the brilliance and the industriousness of its People. Nothing less than what the great Renaissance Patrons did when they made the golden age of Genio Italiano possible.

Culture -- as in its original Latin meaning -- is a way to cultivate our future. And, as it happened in the Renaissance, the main beneficiaries of Italy in the U.S. 2013 will be our two countries' younger generations to whom in particular I wish an inspiring and entertaining Year of Italian Culture.