Il Battitore Libero
Mario Calvo-Platero was born in Tripoli in Libya, went back to Italy in the late Sixties to finish middle school in Milan. He did his high school and university in Torino where he got a degree in Economics. He was awarded a Fulbright, came to America to get a Masters in International Affairs at Columbia University, worked briefly in banking. In the early 80’s he launched a startup in Journalism which he managed until 2017. He is now a columnist both in print and digital for Italian daily La Repubblica and contributes to US media . He has been the North America Editor for financial daily il Sole 24 Ore for over 30 years and in his capacity he has interviewed US Presidents at the White House starting with President Reagan and covered all major multilateral summits. He was the host for 7 year of a national radio program on Radio 24 called America 24. He does advisory work with the private equity firm Investindustrial, where he is Chairman of the US Operations. He is dedicated to philanthropy, he chairs the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation USA (PSFUS) which promotes Florence, Palazzo Strozzi and the Renaissance in America by running an essay competition on the Renaissance in public high schools in New York, Los Angeles and Detroit. Palazzo Strozzi sends 18 11th graders winners to study the Renaissance in Florence and Italy for one month in the summer, a life changing experience. PSFUS also runs the Renaissance Man or Woman of the year awarded in Florence. He chairs the GEI Group, Gruppo Esponenti Italiani, another nonprofit aimed to improve the transatlantic dialogue in economics, politics and finance and to improve the image of Italian business in the US. GEI organizes round tables and in non Covid normal times a monthly lunch with a prominent speaker.
I am now a columnist both in print and digital and broadcasting both for Italian – La Repubblica – and US media. I do some advisory, I work a lot in philanthropy, I chair the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation USA. We promote Florence, Palazzo Strozzi and the Renaissance in America. We run an essay competition on the Renaissance in public high schools in New York, Los Angeles and Detroit and we send the 18 11th graders winners to study the Renaissance in Florence and Italy for one month in the summer, a life changing experience. I also chair the GEI Group, Gruppo Esponenti Italiani, another nonprofit promoting the image of Italian business in the US. We organize round tables and in non Covid normal times a monthly lunch with a prominent speaker. Fun? Dinners, playing the guitar, tennis in the countryside, reading.
I was always fascinated with the US and always desired to come to New York specifically. I was also determined to take acting classes in the city. When I got news that I was awarded a Fulbright to come and study in America I had no doubt. I chose New York and Columbia University where I got a Masters in International Affairs. I did also manage to fulfill my dream and I took evening classes at the Lee Strasberg Institute and at HB Studios (Herbert Berghof and Uta Hagen were still teaching back then in the very early Eighties). I never went back, mine was a one way ticket.
Too little space, too many memories. The best is always the current moment someone is experiencing in this city, always new, always dynamic, always surprising. And yes, the best moment is now with the city galloping back to life after Covid.
This is the way I normally dress every day. I am becoming more and more of an isolated case though, as I love wearing ties, it is a distinct, colorful, creative male accessory and I will keep wearing it even when I’ll be the only person in the room with a tie. Location? It is the best in New York. I have the privilege of working inside the Seagram Building, the most iconic tower in the city, designed by Mies Van der Rohe and inaugurated in 1958. It is also right in front of my favorite club, one of the oldest clubs in NY, the Racquet and Tennis Club, founded in 1876. And to add pleasure to tradition, the clubhouse, built in 1918, is very closely inspired by Palazzo Strozzi! On the other corner, always opposite the Seagram is the Lever House, another iconic skyscraper in the City built between 1950 and 1952 and designed by the firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, only the second building in the City built in glass, with the newest structural technology, after the United Nations HQ.
I love it. And I strongly identify with the idea. For the seven years I hosted my radio broadcast I had a section in my program called “Solo Andata” which means “One Way”.
I would interview people that bought a one way ticket to America and I was trying to cover every profession possible. It was always incredibly interesting and I was doing with voices and music what here is done with pictures. As I mentioned before I am a member of the “Solo Andata” club.
Easy, pleasant and wonderful task as people never seem to have enough of hearing about Italy and Italian culture, architecture, art, lifestyle. But let’s never forget that we have only one Ambassador of the Italian Republic in the United States and he is in Washington. The last one, Armando Varricchio, did an amazing job and the new one, Mariangela Zappia, the first woman Ambassador of Italy first at the UN and now in Washington will be an amazing and inspirational point of reference for all of us.