(S. Nicola di Crissa, VV, Italy – April 7, 2020): Heritage and historical background, enhancement of borough through specific initiatives aim to contribute the growth of Calabria and in particular the Valle dell’Angitola: this is the goal shared by Filitalia International Chapter of Vibo Valentia and Club Vallelonga – Monserrato of Toronto, ON, Canada, officially presented in Toronto on March 6, 2020. The project was financed by Region Calabria through allocated funds from the former L.R. 8/2008. Filitalia Chapter of Vibo Valentia helped the Italian-Canadian organization by supplying all the knowledge and information about the emigration topic, and their President Nicola Pirone, Secretary Bruno Congiusti’ and Board Member Davide Mangano traveled in the Americas, to promote this project. The anthropologist Pino Cinquegrana could not be available because of family issues, and joined the promotional event through video-conference.

The project involved three nations besides Italy: Canada, United States of America and Cuba. In addition to these conferences hosted in schools, Filitalia Chapter of Vibo Valentia and Club Vallelonga – Monserrato organized a series of meetings with foreign entrepreneurs and tour operators, in order to raise awareness of the beauty of Region Calabria and increase tourism opportunities. Informational material and DVD were delivered to all attendees, and several B2B meetings with all organizations in the three nations, but also they signed the agreements with the aim of promoting the new museum in San Nicola da Crissa and increase the number of visitors in the Region of Calabria. A book of 200 pages has been published in three languages (Italian, English and Spanish).

After the event in Toronto, the delegation moved to Philadelphia, PA and was greeted by the Filitalia International mother organization. Even in the USA the promotion of Calabria and historical storytelling about emigration received a great response in terms of public interest, in particular the historical boroughs, which is a priceless treasure that should be preserved. Amid the COVID-19 outbreak emergency, the project went through despite the travel restriction issued by the local governments. The event organized in the University has been canceled, but another event was held at the History of Italian Immigration Museum of Philadelphia, and a limited number of officials attended because of the recommendation provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The event was followed by a meeting with young people, tour operators and entrepreneurs, and patronized by the Consulate General of Italy in Philadelphia that envisioned the idea to plan several activities in the future. During the event, all our speakers presented the project and promoted the region of Calabria, starting from the immigration until the beauty of their historical boroughs and the importance of movies as a way to promote the touristic area.

Dr. Nestico, founder of Filitalia International, and Paula De Sanctis Bonavitacola introduced the event, and favored the idea of a new movie project involving the Valle dell’Angitola and Isca sullo Ionio as well. Several requests came from the audience, with interesting ideas for the next calendar of activities, and from the month of October it will be a first group of visitors coming in our area to visit the historical boroughs and taste the regional cuisine and wine.

We had to interrupt the travel, without returning back to Canada early because the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak were more and more imposed. Even in Cuba all the planned activities went through with good attendance, despite the emergency situation, especially the meetings organized with the general director of Melia, Mr. Luis Basterra Urcelay, in good relationship with the president Antonio Pileggi, and several entrepreneurs, tour operators and Italian language students, fascinated by the historical boroughs of Calabria and similarities with the Spanish and Cuban heritage. Also, we decided to leave our book realized through this project and distributed to all teachers, students, hoping to leave a great memory of the Calabrese community all around the world, including the island of Cuba.

To conclude, a brief message of reflection about this project. The immediate future seems uncertain but our risky travel was crucial, to meet several people and promote our area, projecting our hopes to a brighter future. Also, in Cuba the Filitalia Chapter of Vibo Valentia and Club Vallelonga – Monserrato assisted a group of Italians and Italian-Canadians willing to return to their respective countries. This help was beyond the importance of our project, just because solidarity is an essential part of our people’s lives and in these sad times world history becomes a great testimony.

(By Nicola Pirone – Translated by Marco Circelli)

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