“Celebrating 10 Years of Casa Belvedere”
President’s Letter, September 2020
Dear Members and Friends,
Being part of Casa Belvedere is like being part of one big Italian family, a way of life that many of us treasure. Even during the quarantine, we’ve managed to stay connected via virtual classes and programs, including live “coffee chats”, “My Dad Can Cook” series, virtual language classes, “Nonno’s Garden”, outdoor film screenings, Bocce tournament, Opera Presentation Dinners and more. And please view our Fall 2020 calendar, offering many virtual and in-person classes and programs.
Together as a family, we celebrate all things Italian and strive to keep our beautiful traditions growing among future generations. Together we’ve built a monument that memorializes the hard work and sacrifices of our ancestors, a legacy that will honor them in perpetuity. Together we keep American history alive by showcasing and restoring this National Historic Landmark, recently honored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. And most importantly, together we proudly commemorate 10 years of establishing Casa Belvedere as the anchor in the community that it is today!
As the visionary who started it all, seeing so many of you enjoy Casa Belvedere feels like a mission accomplished, a dream come true! When I watch people viewing an Italian film on our sprawling front lawn; taking a language or cooking class; playing bocce; participating in a lecture, virtual class or program; visiting an exhibit; listening to a lovely musical performance; dining al fresco; or just savoring the majestic views, I get a warm feeling inside and a sense of accomplishment.
But a dream is only as good as those who believe in your dream, and those who help carry your dream forward to its fruition. For that, I am very grateful to our Founding & Current Members, Board of Directors, Major Benefactors, Capital Improvement In-kind Donors, Volunteers, Ambassadors, and Sponsors. I offer a heartfelt thank you to each of you who believed in me from the beginning, as well as those who are new to the organization. “One is silver, the other is gold.”
To bring even more people to our special Casa, we need to change the perception that we are just a dining club for the wealthy. That said, we’ve introduced Renaissance Circle and Bacco Circle membership opportunities. The Renaissance Circle is an affordable cultural membership with access & discounts to many of our classes and programs. Bacco Circle is a “40 Under 40” young professional membership (max # 40). And our Belvedere Circle members will also max out at 350 members. We are now at 315 active members. Initiation fees will increase in January 2021, so if you – or anyone you know – is interested in joining the Belvedere Circle, now is the time.
Regarding capital improvements, it’s truly amazing how the mansion and grounds have been brought back to their original stately and regal glory. See before/after photos here. In the past year alone, the exterior painting was completed, the ADA-compliant elevator/stair tower is almost done, and the grounds further enhanced. Please follow our “Restoration in Progress” link for more info on remaining work, as we really need your help!
At this time Vice-Chairman Michael Pucciarelli is chairing a capital campaign to raise the funds, and/or in-kind donations, to complete the building’s restoration. To jumpstart this initiative, Mike and his lovely wife, Joyce, have generously made a five-to-one challenge pledge. I ask that you please give Mike’s “call to action” some serious consideration. Additionally, Anthony and Carlo Seneca of C & A Seneca Construction will be our general contractors, overseeing the project, and soliciting in-kind donations.
Members and friends, the mansion’s restoration and transformation over the past decade have proved to be a herculean effort, and “it takes a village” to accomplish our goals. But I’m confident that with the help of our Casa Belvedere family, we can bring the mansion’s restoration to completion in 2021!
In closing, Grazie Mille to each and every one of you who have supported this noble cause. I hope you will continue to do so in the future. And I remain optimistic for a time when we can be together, mask-free, at our beautiful Casa, able to greet each other again with a warm embrace as so many of us love to do!
With a grateful heart,
Gina Biancardi, President (2009)
Founder & President, Casa Belvedere, The Italian Cultural Foundation
John Profaci, Sr., Chairman (2009)
Founder/Chairman Emeritus, Colavita USA
Michael Pucciarelli, Vice-Chairman (2010)
Retired Coffee Executive
Salvatore F. Calcagno, Esq., Vice President (2014)
Associate Attorney, Menicucci, Villa, Cilmi PLLC
Luciano Rammairone, Secretary (2009)
Chairman and President, The CollegeBound Network
Tanya Dalmazio, Treasurer (2009)
CFO, DAL Realty & DAL Management
Advisory Board Members
Robert Cutrona, Sr. (2017)
Owner, Project One Management
Nicholas J. D’Amato (2017)
Owner, JBL Construction & D’Amato Brothers
Mark D’Andrea (2014)
Developer & Owner, Iron Horse Mgmt & RoadHouse Restaurant
Frank Naso (2013)
President, The Naso Organization
Linda Lombardi-Romeo (2017)
Retail Store Design Consultant
Rosemarie Stazzone (2017)
Director of Nursing & Operations, Richmond University Medical Center
Colleen Kelleher-Sorrentino (2014)
Managing Director, Wall Street Access