It’s a thing for those of us lucky enough to live in or near DC—the ability to say things like, “Oh, yes, I’m going to the Italian Embassy tonight for a reception.” Well, I DID go to the Italian Embassy last night for a really cool reception, which was kicking off the Washington leg of 2013—the year of Italian Culture in the USA.
I arrived in the middle of a sun shower, which produced a rainbow just as I was walking in—a wonderful harbinger of what I would see inside:
The embassy was opening an exhibit—which lasts only through Friday!—called “Barrique: The Third Life of Wood.” Barrique is a reference to Italy’s wooden wine barrels, which have been transformed into dramatic pieces of furniture by renowned designers in conjunction with residents of San Patrignano, Europe’s largest drug treatment center.
No wonder, with partners such as Poltrona Frau and designers such as
And Angela Missoni:
What was most incredible, though, is learning about San Patrignano, which admits residents for THREE YEARS, completely free of charge. It is funded through the products it sells (furniture, crafts, wine, cheese, how utterly Italian!), and through donations—no taxpayer dollars are used or even requested.
More than 20,000 people have stayed there over 30 years, including Americans who couldn’t find help in our own fractured system. “They’re not afraid of dying. They’re afraid of living; they really need to be empowered again,” said Letizia Moratti, Italy’s former minister of education, and the former Mayor of Milan, who was at last night’s reception.
Guests marveled at the furniture that filled the embassy’s giant atrium, and anyone can go see it for free this week.
Here are some closeups of some more of my favorites:
The exhibit leaves after tomorrow to continue its U.S. tour through Charleston, Miami, Houston, New York, Chicago and Atlanta before returning to Italy in the fall. If you miss it, but just HAVE to have one of the pieces for yourself, don’t worry! It’s all on eBay.