Saluti a Tutti!
I welcome you as we unveil the 2021-22 SICE season. Having overcome the scourge of Covid-19, we are finally ready to move forward and embrace the challenges facing us as we restart after sixteen months in virtual hibernation. Much has changed since our last full slate of offerings, and your Executive Board has undergone a major facelift. Gary Ware, a worthy successor to Phil Salamone, has retired as Treasurer, only to be replaced by our immediate Past President, Rosanne Martorella. She, in turn, has passed the mantle to yours truly, Joe Morra, who rises to the Presidency from the First VP slot. To fill his vacancy, his much better half, Brenda, assumes the responsibility of his previous office. Feel free to marvel at all our interchangeable parts. The SICE mantra exclaims, “CONTINUITY! CHALLENGE! CHANGE.”
With all that in mind, let me express my debt of gratitude to Rosanne for her leadership, vision and energy over the past two years. Her Venetian Celebration proved to be very successful until abruptly cut short by the accursed pandemic. Her plan to celebrate Rome was similarly put on the back burner until now, although in a somewhat abbreviated version. Nevertheless, rather than closing up shop in 2020, she managed to keep SICE afloat through virtual meetings and the magic of modern technology. So, thank you, Dr. Rosanne Martorella, for all you have done and continue to do for us, having followed in the footsteps of Susanna Wriston. Now, the next SICE chapter is poised to unfold.
And so . . . “Benvenuto, Giuseppe!” It was the quality and diversity of our EVENTS that first attracted me to SICE some years ago, and that perception has not wavered. We are not simply an “Italian Club,” as has been so clearly pointed out, but an organization committed to celebrating all aspects of Italian CULTURE. What a far cry from the Italian groups that I so nostalgically and reverentially recall from my childhood in Brooklyn. There, the immigrant men would gather every night to play pinochle, fill the air with the distinctive aroma of their little De Nobili cigars and drink their rugged homemade wine from gallon jugs, the taste of which even the finest Brunellos of today cannot replicate. All the while the women busied themselves in the kitchen, and the kids played stickball in the streets. These are the endearing images of a long ago time and place.
As we now turn our attention to SICE’s upcoming events, let’s recall the formula that has worked for us over the years: “Information, Entertainment and Collegiality.” We have provided all of this through our Lecture/Power-Point Presentations, Book Talks, Wine Tastings, Opera Events, Bus Trips, Dinners and Film Studies. All of us have had the opportunity to learn in an engaging way and to share our thoughts with each other while dining. By the way . . . please realize that 2022 will mark SICE’s 20th Anniversary. Now, there’s a call for celebration!
With the emphasis firmly centered on celebration, it pleases me to announce seven diverse offerings for 2021-22. This season will give us the opportunity to welcome back “old friends” who have regaled us in the past with their expertise. In November, Dr. Chrystine Keener from Ringling College will return to Selby Library for a presentation on Caravaggio and Artemisia’s Rome. In December, Dr. Rosanne Martorella will lecture on Roman Sculpture and Architecture: Bernini and Barromini. Our annual January Opera Event will continue to be a crowd pleaser as the artists preview Sarasota’s Winter Season. February and March will find us at Lakewood Ranch Cinema to view Giulietta Masina and Anna Magnani, two female faces of Roman film. Then, Susanna Wriston, a SICE Past-President, returns from her extended stay in Treviso, Italy to host one of her signature Wine Tastings at the Landings Racquet Club on February 24. Our season will close in April with “SICE at TWENTY,” a photographic journey highlighting our twenty years in the greater Sarasota community. Elections will also take place at this celebratory luncheon. For detailed descriptions of these events, see the Calendar of Events page on this website.
I can think of no more appropriate way to end my initial message than to implore all of you to renew your membership in our organization as you register for these exciting events. The Membership Form is on our website. SICE relies on membership dues to help defray expenses for all its programs and to help fund donations to worthy organizations that accentuate Italian culture and heritage. Members always receive preferential treatment over non-members when registrations are limited by the size of the venues hosting our events. Lastly, I look forward to welcoming you when we meet in November at Selby Library.
Joe Morra, SICE President