Editor’s note: Global Atlanta will introduce Honorary Consul Filiberto Calascibetta during a virtual Consular Conversation with Italian Consul General Cristiano Musillo next Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 11 a.m. Sign up here.
Italy’s new honorary consul for the state of Georgia was sworn in this week in Miami, officially taking up duties he has been preparing to assume for more than a year.
Filiberto Calascibetta leads the Italian practice for the Atlanta office of Rödl & Partner, a tax and advisory firm that helps European companies break into the Southeast U.S.
A self-proclaimed “beginner” in diplomacy, Mr. Calascibetta spent Thursday in Miami completing an orientation preparing to operate an emergency hotline, maintain a registry of Italian nationals and handle document requests. He even returned to Atlanta with a portable fingerprint reader in tow, giving him a passport renewal function the honorary consulate didn’t have before.
Born and educated in Palermo before earning a master’s in taxation in Milan, Mr. Calascibetta came to Atlanta nearly 18 years ago and has spent all of them with Rödl. He didn’t plan to to pursue a side gig in diplomacy.
The opportunity first arose in June 2019 when former Honorary Consul Ryan Kurtz, an attorney with Miller & Martin PLLC, expressed interest in passing the torch. The men worked together often on their “common niche”: Italian investment projects; Mr. Calascibetta seemed a natural fit.
The prestige and the visibility for his practice were not to be discounted, but a major motivating factor was the momentum that had begun to build within the Italian business community in Georgia, largely spurred by Consul General Cristiano Musillo in Miami.
“The momentum, the timing and the meeting with Cristiano in mid-2019 was really a very good meeting,” Mr. Calascibetta said in a phone call from the Miami airport.
He had watched over the years as Italian Trade Commission in Atlanta — just down the hall from Rödl’s downtown office — shrank and eventually closed. Even with a strong manufacturing presence, Italy’s visibility in Georgia paled in comparison to other European countries, even those with much less consequential economies and fewer cultural connections.
Mr. Musillo, the consul general, wanted to change that, and he reached out to Mr. Calascibetta at the same time he was pushing the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce Southeast in Miami to open a Georgia chapter.
“There are so many pieces of this picture,” Mr. Calascibetta told Global Atlanta.
While business is his strong suit — his practice focuses on manufacturing, logistics, luxury goods, retail and other sectors — the new honorary consul said he also looks forward to supporting the Italian expatriate community, using hard-earned empathy gained from his own journey as an immigrant.“This is my second life, if you will,” he said of his time in Atlanta.
He also hopes to enhance educational and health care connections with Georgia as the world aims to recuperate from a pandemic. Italy is among the state’s top study-abroad destinations, with the University of Georgia and Kennesaw State University operating campuses in Cortona and Montepulciano, respectively.
Mr. Calascibetta was on hand for the signing last week of an agreement between the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and the Italy-America Chamber’s Georgia chapter, an appropriate confluence of his various roles.
Even before the honorary consul position became a possibility, he traveled with the chamber in 2017 on a trade mission to Italy aimed at deepening relationships with existing and prospective Italian investors in Gwinnett, the epicenter for Italian investment in the state.
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