Italian Language Blog

A Positive Message For The New Year Posted by on Jan 4, 2019 in News

Having celebrated Christmas with a bit of seasonal humour let’s begin the new year with some positive news.

2018 has certainly been an incredibly turbulent and troubling year, especially in terms of international politics. It can often seem that we’ve learnt nothing from the past, and are doomed to repeat our errors ad infinitum. But, despite this, I believe that 2019 will bring many good things. So, let’s start the new year by looking at just a few of the courageous deeds and acts of human kindness that took place in Italy during 2018, events that have not gone unnoticed by our President, Sergio Mattarella.

In an act of wisdom, Sergio Mattarella, il Presidente della Repubblica Italiana (President of the Italian Republic) has used the Onoreficenza al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (New Year’s Honours List) to pay tribute to some of the people who have made positive contributions to society in 2018. In a clear message to the current far right populist politicians who rose to power last year, Mattarella has praised citizens who have acted out against racism and xenophobia, helped the disadvantaged, and brought criminals to justice.

Amongst the 33 citizens who have received la Onoreficenza al Merito della Repubblica Italiana per il 2018 are:

Maria Rosaria Coppola from Napoli, who has been named Ufficiale dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic).
Last November, as she was travelling home from work on the underground, 62 year old Maria Rosaria courageously confronted a racist bully who was insulting a young man from Sri Lanka. Another passenger videoed the episode and posted it on FaceBook where it immediately went viral, turning Maria Rosaria Coppola into an internet hero (see below).

Roberto Crippa and Luisa Fricchione, a husband and wife from the Trento region, have been named Ufficiali dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.
Over the years, the couple have adopted and raised eight Ethiopian orphans, survivors of the Ethiopian civil war. Mattarella praised their ‘extraordinary example of generosity and solidarity’. One of the boys, Yeman, has become a police officer and award winning athlete.

Ilaria Galbusera, 27, from Bergamo who is Capitano della Nazionale Femminile Volley Sorde (Captain of the Italian Deaf Female Volleyball Team), has been named Cavaliere dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic).
Ilaria has been honoured for the ‘dedication and passion with which she uses sport as a tool to promote awareness and inclusion for people of all abilities’. During the Deaflympics event she posted a video of the Italian team ‘singing’ the national anthem in the sign language (see below).

Iacopo Melio, a wheelchair bound 26 year old from Pisa, has been named Cavaliere dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.
Iacopo has made a passionate contribution to the cause of overcoming the physical barriers that prohibit the disabled from having equal access, and challenging cultural stereotypes. With this objective in mind, he founded the association vorreiprendereiltreno (I’d like to catch the train). Here below he features in a music video by Lorenzo Baglioni which deals with the subject of equal access.

Marco Ranieri, 38, from Bari, has been named Cavaliere dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.
Marco Ranieri is the creator of a Food Sharing association named Avanzi popolo 2.0. His aim is to collect food that would be otherwise wasted (e.g. because it has reached its sell-by-date or has been untouched at an event due to excess quantity) and redistribute it to those who don’t have enough to eat.

Marco Omizzolo, a 43 year old social worker from Sabaudia near Latina, has been named Cavaliere dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.
Marco has been fighting caporalato, the criminal exploitation of illegal immigrants as agriculture labourers. In dossiers given to the police, he has described the caporalato system, and the poor living conditions and state of  health of these illegal workers. He has been the subject of several death threats.

Amongst those who helped bringing criminals to justice are also two Italian residents from ethnic minority groups:

Moroccan citizen Mustapha El Aoudi, who has lived in Crotone for nearly 30 years, has been named Cavaliere dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.
On the 4th of December 2018, Mustapha intervened when a man began stabbing Dottoressa Nuccia Calindro with a screwdriver outside the Hospital where she worked in Crotone. The man accused Calindro of having killed his mother. Risking his own life, Mustapha El Aoudi fought off the assailant, saving the wounded Dottoressa.

Roxana Roman of Romanian origin has been named Cavaliere dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.
34 year old Roxana owns a bar in the Romanina zone of Rome which is dominated by the Casamonica and Di Silvio mafia clans. On Easter day 2018 one member of the Casamonica clan and two members of the Di Silvio clan devastated the now famous Roxy Bar, attacking her husband and a disabled female client who tried to defend him. Despite repeated threats from the Mafia, Roxana reported them to the authorities and eventually succeeded in having the criminals arrested.

You can read about all 33 of those honoured by the President HERE.

Grazie Presidente per il suo messaggio!

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  1. Julie Taylor:

    Grazie per le notizie buone e auguri alla signora coraggiosa!

  2. Mark Arrington:

    I enjoy your blog and learn a lot from it! But you should stick with sharing your experiences and helping people learn italian, and avoid politics. It’s not your area of expertise, and your making comments that alienate your audience.
    Looking forward to reading about what’s happening with you in 2019!

    • Geoff:

      @Mark Arrington Ciao Mark, firstly, our blog is, and always has been about Italian language and culture. The two are inseparable. Politics is obviously part and parcel of culture, yet we write very little about it.
      If you know your history, you will aware of Italy’s painful, and to many shameful past ventures into fascism. The fact that the right wing populism which has sprung up in many western governments over the last few years has now infected the Italian peninsula is a cause of great concern to many, including our president Sergio Mattarella.
      The goal of this article is encapsulated in its title: A Positive Message For The New Year.
      We saw Mattarella’s act as a good opportunity to focus on the good in humanity.
      The only individuals who we can see being offended by our comments are those who support the negative xenophobic doctrines that have become so fashionable. And, to be completely honest, we have absolutely no qualms about offending such individuals.
      Besides, what would xenophobes be doing reading a blog which deals with a foreign culture? 😉

      A presto, Geoff e Serena

      • Christina:

        @Geoff Gosh, you are swell. Grazie!

  3. Lella:

    Ben detto Geoff!! Se restiamo tutti zitti per paura o per paura di offendere chi non ha nessuna paura di offendere, anzi, vuole ferire e fare del male, allora condoniamo il razzismo e tutte le brutture che stanno succedendo in Italia. Ci siamo dimenticati che milioni di italiani sono emigrati in America, Germania, Francia…ecc…
    Che negli anni 50 a Milano c’erano cartelli ” non si affitta a meridionali’? e adesso? certo è vero che l’immigrazione in massa ha creato grandi problemi ma questi dovrebbero essere risolti con umanità e compassione non con l’odio per chi appare ‘diverso’… La signora Coppola veramente merita di essere onorata, mostrando coraggio e civiltà!

    • Geoff:

      @Lella Bellissmo commento Lella, siamo pienamente d’accordo! A presto 🙂

  4. Susanna Weiss:

    Grazie molto. An excellent lesson from many aspects. Listening to native Italian speakers, singers, reading along in Italian and with subtitles. A triple reinforcement. And, a beautiful message. Auguri a voi!

  5. Rosalind:

    Articolo molto interessante, grazie.
    Vi auguro un buon anno 2019, saluta e felicità e molti articoli utili e divertenti.

  6. Colleen:

    Grazie mille, Geoff e Serena! Che belle storie di coraggio e eroismo! Non scrive bene ancora in italiano, ma provare imparando. Mi piaccionno tutti tuoi blogs.

    • Geoff:

      @Colleen Grazie Colleen, hai fatto benissimo a scrivere in italiano, brava! 🙂

  7. Deborah:

    Bravo, Geoff. Ha colpito nel segno.

  8. Heather Sinclair:

    You sure “hit the nail on the head” in your reply to Mark Arrington! (Is there an equivalent Italian colloquial expression?)

    • Geoff:

      @Heather Sinclair Grazie Heather! “You sure hit the nail on the head” would be ‘l’hai centrato’. 🙂

  9. Joan Engelhaupt:

    It’s hard for me to understand why Mark Arrington would be alienated by stories of people fighting maltreatment of aliens, be it in the fields or on public transportation, adopting orphans, promoting equal access for the disabled, sharing food with the hungry, helping stabbing victims, and reporting crimes. Bravi, bravi, bravi! Far from feeling alienated, I am uplifted by these wonderful stories. Thank you for publishing them.

    • Geoff:

      @Joan Engelhaupt I’m really glad that you found the blog uplifting Joan. There’s far too much negativity in the world these days, and the only way that we, as individuals, can fight it is by focusing on, and sharing what is good and positive.
      A presto! 🙂

  10. Jane:

    Grazie mille per la tua risposta intelligente, giusto e impenitente ai commenti di Mark Arrington. “Tutto ciò che è necessario per il trionfo del diavolo è che gli uomini buoni non facciano nulla.” (Edmund Burke)

    • Geoff:

      @Jane Grazie a te Jane. Mi piace moltissimo la citazione di Edmund Burke. 🙂

  11. Colleen Watson:

    Very uplifting. Thank you for posting this. It’s ridiculous that someone should think you’re alienating people by doing so. What nonsense. Keep up the good work. Your blogs are interesting and educational.

  12. Christina Vani:

    Thank you ever so much for starting the year on such a positive note! It has been causing many people, myself included, much desperation upon reading the news, and it is helpful to know that there are Italians in high, powerful places that are recognizing civilians with humanity. Thank you for sharing this news. I’m certainly going to share with my students. Cheers and thanks—e buon anno a voi (e buona befana!)!

    • Geoff:

      @Christina Vani Ciao Christina, please do share, people get overwhelmed with negative news and it’s important to redress the balance. A presto!

  13. Richard Palumbo:

    When I read about the kind acts that these courageous Italians did in 2018 it brings joyful tears to my elderly eyes here in NYC and it makes me hopeful for 2019.
    Grazie mille signor Geoff

    • Geoff:

      @Richard Palumbo I too am hopeful for 2019 … (and following developments in the US with great interest!)
      Stammi bene signor Richard. 🙂

  14. Karlena Roberto:

    Mille grazie Serena e Geoff per il vostro messaggio positivo di 2019. Ne abbiamo bisogno. When so much of the news is focused on people whose actions are based on avarice and greed, it is good for the soul to learn about people who have compassion and work to make this world a better place. It is right and just that Italy recognizes these wonderful people, Complimenti !

    • Serena:

      @Karlena Roberto Grazie a te Roberto!

    • Geoff:

      @Karlena Roberto Ciao Karlena, sono pienamente d’accordo! Questa ossessione per i soldi e gli acquista mi sembra una forma di malattia.
      For me, focusing on kindness and compassion is a kind of antidote to that illness.

      A presto, Geoff 🙂

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