Philly friends of Italy, on a big boat

Boarding call for CEOs at Ciao Philadelphia kickoff party for a month of Philelphia Italian-theme cultural events, Sunday at Penn's Landing. The "superyacht" is Philadelphia Energy Solutions' Philip Rinaldi's 116-foot Vivere. (Photo: Joseph N DiStefano)

Andrea Canepari, Italy's vastly energetic and partly Penn-educated Consul-General in Philadelphia, held a kick-off party Sunday for the city's prominenti i patroni in honor of Ciao! Philadelphia, the month-long abbondanza of Italian cultural events -- schedule here. 

It was a gray windy day for a boat ride -- but the glassed-in superyacht, Philadelphia Energy Solutions CEO and Philadeplphia energy hub advocate Philip Rinaldi's 116-foot, multi-level Vivere, has been around the world and can handle weather and much else (for just $57,000, you can charter the 2008-edition Azimut Grande-model boat, which sleeps 10 and comes with a full crew, here). Vivere = Italian, To Live.

For all the bold mid-Atlantic weather, "it's a beautiful day to be Italian," said Canepari, as the Philly Pops played and sporano Priscilla Coblenz Cohen sang Puccini for 100 business and political leaders and guests: former Pa. Gov. Ed Rendell; Bill Sasso, chairman of Stradley Ronon; Joe Del Raso, partner at Pepper Hamilton and chair of the Italian American National Foundation; suburban developer and state-agencies landlord Mark Nicoletti; surgeon and Ferrari collector Dr. Fred Simeone; ex-Wharton dean and Philly Fed President Anthony Santomero, now a Citigroup director: among others munching fruit, olives, roasted peppers, mini-cannolis and other Italianate snacks, washed down with wines at Penns Landing before boarding.  

Others invited (I didn't go aboard or see them all there): Pat Deon, Bucks County beer baron and kingmaker on the Septa and Pennsylvania Turnpike boards; Luca Mignini of Campbell International; Giuseppe Fedegari, the autoclave king; Joe Jacovini, Dilworth Paxton; Frank Mattei, KPMG; Christine Jack Toretti, of Palladio, Pennsylvania's largest energy driller, and the Republican National Committee; Sen. Steve Sweeney, Ironworkers leader and likely next Governor of New Jersey; real estate investor Walt D'Alessio; and Leo Holt of the port family.

As the only European diplomat currently stationed in the nation's long-ago capital, Canepari spends a lot of time promoting U.S.-Italian trade and European trade agreements, like the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), claiming these aren't job threatening but rather mutually beneficial to workers and investors on both sides of the Atlantic, to the extent increased trade and investment leads to more euros, dollars, and jobs. It's Canepari's job to push that message, with style, and a flash of la dolce vita. 

Why a megayacht? As Rinaldi told a reporter for the Khaleej Times in the United Arab Emirates when he rode Vivere to the Persian Gulf nation a few years back: “A Megayacht not only represents your tastes, but is also, and most of all, a way to express yourself…to show who you have become over the course of your life,”

Workers told me Vivere, after this gig, is headed South to Florida for the winter.