Italy’s ambassador to the United States, Giovanni Castellaneta, said he can foresee a day when his country will have a full consulate in Atlanta. Meanwhile, Italy on April 22 reopened and upgraded its honorary consulate here, naming Angela Della Costanza Turner as honorary consul general.
“For the moment, we have an honorary consul general and that is very important because it is in direct contact with me at the embassy in Washington and to the consul general in Miami,” Mr. Castellaneta told GlobalAtlanta at a ceremony honoring Ms. Turner.
With time, a full diplomatic mission in Atlanta is possible, said the ambassador. “This great state of Georgia is developing very fast,” he said at a luncheon in Buckhead at the home of Monica and Paul Hagedorn, who also own a home in Italy. “The Italian community here is growing very fast.”
For now, however, it is a simple question of numbers, the ambassador said. “In New York, we have 100,000 Italians,” he said. “In Miami we have 20,000. Here in Atlanta, we have 2,000 for the moment.”
Ms. Turner, daughter-in-law of media mogul Ted Turner, will be working out of an office in downtown Atlanta at 133 Luckie St. This is her second stint as the local representative of the Italian government. Formerly she was the honorary consul.
An Italian citizen who ran unsuccessfully for Parliament in 2006, she will represent Italy at public events in Georgia. As an honorary consul general, she will have to refer passport and other paperwork matters to the Miami consulate. “The fact that they picked me means a lot of responsibility and a big honor,” Ms. Turner told GlobalAtlanta. “I feel honored. It is a privilege.”
Marco Rocca, Italian consul general in Miami, said Atlanta and Georgia are the most important places to Italy in the Southeast U.S. other than Miami and Florida.
He pointed out that there are 60 Italian companies in Georgia including Pirelli Tire North America LLC, headquartered in the north Georgia city of Rome. Atlanta has two daily flights to Italy, one to Milan , the other to Rome, Mr. Rocca added. “Miami only has one daily flight,” he said.
But finances make it unlikely in the short term that Italy will open a full consulate in Atlanta, said Mr. Rocca. “In my opinion, Atlanta, for the importance we attach to Georgia, should have a career consulate,” he said. “But at this time, we are experiencing budget cuts as any other government is these days.”
Mr. Rocca stressed the importance of developing not only stronger business links between Georgia and Italy but also cultural ones. He mentioned the Italian Film Festival April 28 through May 1 at the Rialto Center of the Arts in downtown Atlanta.
Ms. Turner, Mr. Castellaneta , Mr. Rocca and others met with Michael Shapiro , director of the High Museum of Art , to discuss the upcoming exhibition “ Leonardo Da Vinci : Hand of the Genius.” The exhibit will run Oct. 6 through Feb. 21 and will feature works by Da Vinci that will be on display in the U.S. for the first time.
“It is a big event,” said Ms. Turner, who is helping to organize the exhibition. “We’re very excited. As an architect, I’m very excited.”
To learn more about the Italian film festival, click here.