For those who enjoy Philadelphia history, there are distinguished names associated with the America-Italy Society from its founding onward. While consul general Dr. Giovanni Luciolli and first violinist Frank Costanzo were putting together the Amerita Chamber Players, Luciolli was also at work forming a society to enjoy and promote Italian arts. He persuaded Henry Clifford, who owned a villa in Florence and was a curator of painting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, to become the first president. On the original Board were Mrs. Walter Annenberg, Mr. and Mrs. George Roberts, Mr. and Mrs. Emlen Etting, Henry P. McIlhenny, and Stuart F. Louchheim, all well known to Philadelphia society.

Mr. Clifford also brought in other distinguished Philadelphia residents, including Judge Eugene V. Alessandroni, music critic for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, Max de Schauensee, and Jerre G. Mangione, professor at the University of Pennsylvania and author of books on the Italian-American experience.

Cultural exchanges between Philadelphia and Italy have also been important to the America-Italy Society, which works closely with the Italian consulate here. Back in 1960, the Piccolo Teatro di Milano performed The Servant of Two Masters by Goldoni to a capacity audience at the Academy of Music. In 1963, the Amerita Chamber Players took their music to Italy, Hungary, France, and Switzerland. And when torrential rains of 1966 caused the Arno River in Florence and the canals in Venice to overflow, the America-Italy Society was there to help.

05 Vivaldi-G minor with 2 celli_l Al-1 by the Amerita Chamber Players

It was John S. Price, who had returned to his native Philadelphia from Oxford University Press in New York City to be the Society’s first administrator and later its president, who led the Society and Philadelphia in the effort to save priceless works of art. Mr. Price was area chairman of the American Committee to Rescue Italian Art and the Florentine Relief Fund; under his leadership, by early 1967, Philadelphians had contributed over $60,000 for art restoration and relief.

In a continuing effort, guided by Mr. Price as a member of the International Committee for the Safeguarding of Venice, the America-Italy Society supports Venetian restoration projects in collaboration with UNESCO. Among the funded restorations are the Crosato ceiling fresco in the Rezzonico Palace, Titian’s Assumption of the Virgin in the Friar’s Church, three 16th century wooden statues at San Michele in Isola, and the Guarana frescoes in the Mocenigo Palace. In cooperation with other groups, the Society has funded the restoration of the 12th century mosaics in the basilica of Santa Maria Assunta on Torcello Island, the Sala della Musica at the Ospedaletto, and the restoration of a 15th century altar carved by master sculptor Tullio Lombardo in the church of San Martino.

The Society also financed and built a center for the elderly residents of the mountain village of Laviano, east of Naples, after an earthquake destroyed their homes. Responding to a great need, funds were raised by the Society and its members to support restoration of the Casa Serena di Foglino, a center for retirees in Italy.

In 1996, the Italian government, in recognition of the Society’s contributions, presented its Grande Ufficiale dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana to John S. Price.

 

The America-Italy Society of Philadelphia is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization under Sections 501 (c)(3) and 509 (a) (2) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to the Society are deductible for federal income tax purposes.

The America-Italy Society of Philadelphia is registered as a charitable organization in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll free, within Pennsylvania, 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement. Questions for the Society should be addressed to (215) 735-3250 or emailed to info@aisphila.org.