Italian Ambassador Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata spoke at an Italian unification celebration Friday.
Italian Ambassador Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata spoke at an Italian unification celebration Friday.

Opening the university’s celebration of the 150th anniversary of the unification of the Italy, Italian Ambassador Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata stressed the importance of the ties between Italian and American culture Friday.

The day’s events in Lorhfink Auditorium, which focused on Italian politics, culture and identity, were organized by the Italian Department, the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute in D.C. The conference, which opened to a crowd of around 50 students, was frequented by classes of Georgetown Italian students through the day.

Terzi stressed that the idea of Italian unity had been a cultural theme for several centuries before the country achieved political unification. While the country faces some regional tensions, Terzi said a sense of camaraderie remains highly valued on a societal level.

“This is a strong encouragement for all Italians in the country and worldwide to unify in their culture, if not necessarily politically,” Terzi said.

The ambassador attributed the unifying strength of the Italian culture to the fact that the vernacular has been maintained since the days of Dante.

“The language spoken seven centuries ago can still be understood by most Italians, which is an idea that few cultures can lay claim to,” he said.

American interest in learning Italian has increased by 60 percent in less than a decade, according toTerzi. Effects of this growth can be witnessed in the creation of the Observatory of the Italian Language, the implementation of an Advanced Placement Italian program by the College Board, effective in fall 2011, and other programs that have been spearheaded by the Italian government.

“There is no doubt that learning Italian is increasingly popular in the United States,” he said.

“All of these programs are part of a large initiative which includes many inter-university programs,” Terzisaid.

Learning about the social differences of the European country attracted some students.

“I most enjoyed the presentations by Professors Cicali and DelConno on theater and music during the unification of Italy,” John Collins (COL ’14) said. “Recognizing the importance of entertainment outlets such as theater and music in educating the Italian public about the Risorgimento [Italian unification] wasenriching.”

Emphasizing that the Italian government stays committed to strengthening its relationship with the United States on both a federal and a public level, Terzi credited the development of American interest in Italian society and fusion of the two cultures to Italian-American organizations.

“This gives the impression [that] Italy is on solid ground,” Terzi said.

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