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Wednesday, March, 2, 2016

Long before the emergence of the United States and Italy as nations, close connections between our two peoples influenced political philosophy, architecture, culture, and more. Over time, these links grew in depth and breadth, friendships emerged, cultures intertwined, and many of these elements touched the nation’s capital, the White House, and the lives of American presidents.

To chronicle this extraordinary story and share newly discovered historical insights about these exceptional connections, the White House Historical Association, together with the Embassy of Italy and the National Italian American Foundation, is organizing a full-day symposium, culinary experience, and cultural event that celebrates a symbiotic relationship that has lasted for well over two centuries.

The symposium will be held on March 2, 2016 at the Association’s historic property adjacent to the White House in Lafayette Square. Italy in the White House: A Conversation on Historical Perspectives,the first of a series of internationally themed symposia planned through 2018, will feature remarks by the Ambassador of Italy to the United States, followed by morning and afternoon presentations by experts in the field of U.S.-Italy history. Panelists will trace U.S. origins to classical antiquity and Italian philosophical thought; explore the Italian roots of White House architecture; and illustrate the impact of Italy and Italian culture on life in the Executive Mansion and Washington, D.C. A luncheon will feature culinary offerings inspired by menus from past state dinners for visiting Italian leaders. In addition, there will be an offering of arias and songs previously performed throughout White House history.
Zonin Sponsor

Gianni Zonin, born to a family active in viticulture since 1821, grew up in Vicenza, the center of Andrea Palladio’s immortal architectural legacy. To select a site for winegrowing in America, he consulted with his friend Mario di Valmarana, then professor of architecture at University of Virginia and proprietor of the Palladian estate, Villa Capra “La Rotonda” (1560). Dr. Valmarana introduced him to the historic plantation of James Barbour, Virginia’s Governor during the War of 1812, where Thomas Jefferson designed the mansion in the Palladian style established at Monticello. For Gianni Zonin, therefore, the site was a natural choice—appealing for viticulture, historically notable, and architecturally Palladian. Adopting the elegant profile of Jefferson’s Barboursville mansion as the logotype for his Virginia wine’s label, Gianni Zonin has placed Palladian architectural values on millions of dinner tables in America, and has drawn countless tourists to visit that historic landmark he preserves at Barboursville.