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Sons of Italy® Meets with Prime Minister of Italy

For Immediate Release:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20, 2003 An historic moment in U.S.-Italy relations took place recently in Rome, when Italy's prime minister and president of the Council of Ministers, Silvio Berlusconi, met with the executive director of the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the oldest and largest national organization for Italian Americans in the United States.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (L.) meets with OSIA National Executive Director Philip Piccigallo, Feb. 14 in Rome.

OSIA National Executive Director Philip R. Piccigallo, Ph.D., and Prime Minister Berlusconi met at the Palazzo Chigi, the seat of the Italian government, on Feb. 14 to discuss future OSIA projects in Italy.

"OSIA believes the strengthening of U.S.-Italy ties is vitally important to its continued growth and as a force for good in the world, particularly at this juncture in world events," said Piccigallo, after the meeting. "Italy is one of America's most stalwart allies, and, as Prime Minister Berlusconi prepares to assume the European Union presidency this coming July, OSIA has placed widening Italy-America ties paramount on its organizational agenda."

Piccigallo was in Italy on official business, which included meetings with members of Italy's Council of Ministers and Cabinet, including Valentino Valentini of the President's office; Carlo Giovanardi, minister for parliamentary relations; Pier Ferdinando Casini, president of the Chamber of Deputies; Sen. Renato Schifani, leader of Berlusconi's Forza Italia party; Paolo Bonaiuti, spokesman for Council of Ministers and Sen. Vittorio Pessina of Bergamo.

Piccigallo also met with the regional leaders of Lombardy and Tuscany and with municipal and business leaders from Venice, Perugia, Pescara and Arezzo, among others. Accompanying him on the trip was international businessman Vincenzo Marra, OSIA's ambassador to Italy.

Established in 1905, OSIA has more than 600,000 members and supporters and a network of 745 chapters coast to coast. It works at the community, national and international levels to promote the heritage and culture of an estimated 26 million Italian Americans, the nation's fifth largest ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.