EMMANUELE F. M. EMANUELE OF VILLABIANCA: PIONEER OF OUR DAY
Culture alone is not enough, it takes a vision. The Chairman of the Fondazione Terzo Pilastro – Internazionale (Third Pillar Foundation - International), Prof. Avv. Emmanuele F.M. Emanuele, knows this statement well. He is a harbinger of our times in politics, economics and in strategic areas of civil development such as art, culture, health, scientific research and those in need.
Baron Emmanuele Francesco Maria Emanuele di Villabianca descends from one of the most ancient and illustrious families of the medieval age in Spain and southern Italy (1263). He is a university professor, a Supreme Court lawyer, economist, expert in financial tax and insurance issues, essayist and writer. During his long life, he has demonstrated an exceptional capacity for predicting events, so much so that he is often called a “prophet”. He always has brilliant insights, which initially criticized by many, over time, proved to be accurate ... “prophetic”, in fact. By way of example, we recall that in 1962, his strong criticism of the C.I.R. (Italian Committee for Reconstruction), and their policies of massive industrialization on the coasts of the South and the islands. This criticism was subsequently validated -Priolo, Termini Imerese and Gioia Tauro are devastated paradises with now abandoned industrial plants- as he predicted. Another was Prof. Emanuele’s open clash (always with good reason) with the Public Administration’s proposals to radically reform the distortions and sluggishness of our country’s bureaucracy, especially, when there were initiatives relating to public institutions. This was the topic of his book “The State and Citizens. A Necessary Revolution “(1996). He has an ability to predict, before anyone else, other crises in the Italian banking system (well before the Lehman Brothers crisis). He has a commitment to a true “Big Society”, a concept of “active citizenship” pursuant to art. 118 of the Constitution, a topic that is dealt with in his book “The Third Pillar. Non-profit Organizations Drive The New Welfare System ”(2008). He believes in the conviction of the geopolitical and economic centrality of the Mediterranean, as we will see further on. Finally, in 1978, he was the first Italian to make critical assessments on a united Europe and the Euro. He has consistently maintained the need for deep reform, even suggesting the reintroduction of a national currency in addition to the Euro, i.e. “dual circulation”. In recent decades, after forty creative and varied years in the aforementioned professional fields, Prof. Emanuele decided to devote himself to philanthropy, often under the radar of the media. Much of his activity as Chairman of the Fondazione Roma and of the Fondazione Terzo Pilastro - Italia e Mediterraneo and finally, today, of the Fondazione Terzo Pilastro - Internazionale, has been inspired by the historical lessons of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. A leading character in the history of mankind who lived in his homeland, Sicily, Frederick’s patronage and interchange with representatives of other cultures and religions changed the face of Italy of that time. Under the influence of such a prominent figure, Prof. Emanuele outlined the profile of what he called “third pillar”, that a non-profit world is a unique resource for the well-being of the community.
Chairman, there is abundant talk about Europe in recent weeks. Even though you have always been a loyal European, you have never shared the policies put in place to create Europe nor the introduction of the single currency. Would you share your reasoning?
A united Europe, in which I have firmly believed in since I was young and influenced by Altiero Spinelli and his Manifesto di Ventotene, was, in my opinion, badly launched and strayed far from the original concept. The single currency represents an immense political and economic anomaly. For this reason, during less suspicious times, in 1978 precisely, I proposed the overall reshaping of Europe, both economically and politically, with Italy as the leading voice for the need to revise the agreements that sanctioned the birth of the euro. In the last few years, faced with the inability to redefine the European structure, my vision contemplates a reform of the monetary union that allows the member countries that request it, to circulate their own national currency in their internal market and to use the common currency in external exchanges, as is currently happening in many European countries. Based on the euro’s durability, and having determined the devastating impact that a tout court exit would have, a soft landing would include a gradual reintroduction of a new national currency alongside the euro. Certainly, like all economic policy actions, even a choice in this sense would have costs and benefits. Such an operation is very complex, but it must finally be admitted, with wisdom and farsightedness, that the euro is not the only possible solution and that Europe as it is will not emerge from the crisis in which it finds itself. It’s better for our country to at least begin to examine the possibility of introducing a double currency, rather than continue to hope for miraculous solutions that are unlikely to happen.
You have been a tenacious opponent of the interpretation of the Amato law from where almost all of the former banking foundations originated. The cornerstone of my thoughts in respect to the spirit of the Amato Law consists of the duty to separate the bank participation and render the management of foundations open to civil society, and not to the representatives of political parties. The Fondazione Roma, under my guidance, is the only Italian foundation that in 2005 was already fully incorporating the spirit of the Amato - Ciampi law, and has practically separated its participation in bank capital, providentially operating and dedicating itself exclusively to philanthropic activity and contributing to the growth of civil welfare. It also strongly defended its autonomy with an appeal against a reckless law that claimed to introduce politics into a private system as the legislators had envisaged. It has firmly resisted all proposals or obligations that the regulator wanted to impose, such as entering the Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (Deposit and Consignment Office). This is a mistake that the other foundations have made and are still paying for, convinced as they were to become shareholders while they were not, and consequently paying a forfeit to become shareholders afterwards, but not after having lost a significant part of their holdings. And finally, the Atlante Fund, which was supposed to save the banks instead is sinking the foundations. The Fondazione Roma has, on the other hand, kept itself consistently away from politics. This principle, is in the Statute since 2001, and is clearly stated: the presence in the Assembly of Members and in the governing bodies of politicians or local representatives is naught, only civil society is represented. These were the reasons why the Fondazione Roma left ACRI in 2010. ACRI is an association totally based on principles different from those envisaged by the legislators and, in essence, is in crisis in all its workings, such as their balance sheets, even the major ones, which are seen publicly. I have dealt with this conflict in my book “Evolution and Vicissitudes of Banking Foundations”, now in its third edition.
Speaking of crises, our current era threatens us with major ones. In addition to the many meritorious activities carried out through the Foundation, you are involved in a think tank aimed at encouraging the private sector to contribute in the face such emergencies...
On my impetus and suggestion, since 2006, the Fondazione Roma pays constant attention to the areas of health, scientific research (especially the biomedical field), aid to the underprivileged, training and education, art and culture, all of which we spoke of a few moments ago. The foundation acts like a “think tank”, which analyzes, deepens, and develops ideas. Ideas are for comparison and are medium-long term suggestions to the institutional decision makers; particularly on issues such as welfare reform, the impact of corruption on the economic system, the crisis of the European project and monetary union. These are all topics on which I was prophetic, predicting its advent years ahead of their actual occurrence. During the important conference called “The need for a” Big Society “in Italy”, held in Rome on November 25th, 2010, after having outlined the scenario of a global crisis then underway, I affirmed the need for this new model of civil society. This was already suggested by me in Italy well before it was achieved in England under Cameron, whose advisor Nat-wei stated so at this convention. I argued in fact, that the only hope of not being overwhelmed was to be acknowledged in the non-profit world represented by associations, foundations, and social cooperatives.
Prof. Avv. Emmanuele F.M. Emanuele outlined the profile of what he called “third pillar”, that a non-profit world is a unique resource for the well-being of the community.
These are institutions of active citizenship, comprised of the generous and the capable, who are responsible and conscientious of the common good, a constituent that is the glue of civil society, which is mentioned in 2008 in a book on the subject, called the “Third Pillar”. All of this is because the political class has always opposed this type of contribution to collective welfare. Article 118 of the Italian Constitution, introduced the principle of subsidiarity (which postulates that, where the State is not able to meet the needs of the community, the autonomous initiative of the citizens, both individuals and associations, should perform the activities in the common interest). Again, in this framework of my concern for the least of our citizens, I have always felt a strong duty to contribute to the preservation of the collective memory of persecutions that some have suffered in the course of history. With this objective, the Fondazione Roma has promoted a series of initiatives through the years, projects and events in theaters and schools aimed at preserving the memory of tragic events that happened in history, relating to those people and ethnic groups who have suffered persecution. In this regard some events included the Rome Symphony Orchestra concert on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, educational trips to Auschwitz for Roman students, the theatrical performance “Pietre Urlanti” on the anniversary of the genocide of the Armenian people, the exhibition “Le Foibe. From the tragedy to the exodus “, the show about Native Americans called “Listen to the song of the wind”. And now we come to another cornerstone of your beliefs, which inspired action. The Fondazione Mediterraneo, founded by you and subsequently became the Fondazione Terzo Pilastro - Italia Mediterraneo and lastly the Fondazione Terzo Pilastro - Internazionale, having expanded its territorial space, stem from the conviction of the fundamental role of the Mediterranean, yesterday like today, and above all, tomorrow ...
I have always considered the Mediterranean area my main center of interest, a place where I can focus attention, sensitivity and energy. The Mediterranean enjoys the primacy in building Western civilization, and the potential to revitalize civilization, in the face of the crises of the West and the nefarious westernization of the Far East. And can bring back to center the interest of humanity, the values of culture, the love for spirituality and return to those principles. Principles that in the past centuries have allowed the Mediterranean to prosper and bring together people, ideals and different concepts in a unitary identity that has made the difference. Everything that surrounds us was born from the Mediterranean: poetry, literature, art, education, monotheistic religions, philosophy and democracy. A heritage enshrined over the centuries has now become an integral part of world civilization, so much so, that it leads me to recommend and firmly support the role of Sicily as the “Brussels” of the Mediterranean states. Also, for this reason, in May 2018, I became the promoter for the twentieth anniversary
of Multaqa, the international conference of the Mediterranean, in Agrigento (in which I’ve participated in since 2002 as a representative of UNESCO). The topic was “Mediterranean of Civility and Peace”; three days focusing on the concept of peace and dialogue between Mediterranean cultures and religions. With the active participation of the highest representatives of the monotheistic religions, Islam, Judaism and Christianity. The concept of peace, in my opinion, can keep the hope of good will among men alive. Recently the Mayor of Palermo Orlando has recognized my indefatigable commitment in this direction, awarding me the honorary position of “Ambassador of Palermo Culture nel Mondo, 2019”.
Having said that, through the Fondazione Terzo Pilastro, I have actively intervened in the Mediterranean area with both social and cultural initiatives. I mention only partially: We have contributed to the restoration of the Cathedral of St. Augustine of Hippo to Annaba in Algeria. We participated at the prestigious El Jem Symphonic Music Festival in Tunisia with our orchestra. In Jaramana, Syria, we constructed a soccer field for the local community and for the Iraqi refugees housed in the same locality. We intervened in Syria with the “Open Hospitals” initiative supporting hospital facilities in Aleppo and Damascus; We started the Aqaba-eilat project, “One more step towards Peace”, with the aim of promoting a series of exchange programs for Arab and Jewish students from the schools of the Aqaba community and the Eilat community.
Chairman, your intuitions, your activity and commitment - in Italy, in the Mediterranean and today also in the Far East - have earned you the title of “the last philanthropist”. You managed to turn a small foundation, subsidiary of an equally small savings bank, into a large charity. What has been achieved?
Over the years we primarily dealt with the most tragic problem of the now irreversible crisis in our country, healthcare. And then we focused on scientific research, aid to the underprivileged, education and training, arts and culture. The last two, I love to define as the country’s only true “clean energy”. They are a fundamental resource on which to base the competitiveness and economic progress of Italy, and have been a large part of the activities of the Fondazione Roma and, subsequently, of the Fondazione Terzo Pilastro – Internazionale and the youngest organization Fondazione Cultura e Arte. The most important manifestation of our desire to make our presence felt in the field, is undoubtedly the Museo del Corso, created in 1999 in the Palazzo Cipolla. The Palazzo is the original headquarters of the Cassa Di Risparmio di Roma, afterwards of Capitalia, and lastly of Unicredit, from which we acquired the Palazzo. In almost twenty years the exhibition space of Palazzo Cipolla has created and hosted 53 exhibitions in Rome, and worked in partnership with another 28 off-site, for a total of 81. An outcome that has not been achieved in our country by any other public or private institution. Consistent with my well known connection to the Church, I then promoted and encouraged the restoration of important churches. The first restoration was the
Basilica of San Giuseppe Artigiano (formerly S. Biagio in Amiternum) in L’aquila after the devastating earthquake that struck the city and the surrounding area in 2009. And then we restored the Cathedral of Sutri, and then the Chapel of the Pontifical Lateran University, the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the Church of the Holy Spirit of the Neapolitans, and the Church of St. Mary of the Priory of the SMOM, the one Piranesi restored in the 1700s. Also, our endeavors in the music field are noteworthy: We created the Rome Symphony Orchestra in November of 2002. We worked on the “Résonnance” project (musicians led by pianist, Elizabeth Sombart who bring music to places of desolation and suffering such as prisons, homes for the elderly and hospitals). And today, we back the Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio. This orchestra is a group of artists from all over the world, who found in music a way to give life to a fruitful exchange of stories, experiences, cultures, all of which results in very original compositions. Another important expression of my commitment in the artistic and cultural field, is the “Ritratti di Poesia” an event devoted to poetry. Founded in 2007 it is my personal initiative, one of a kind in Italy. And now in its thirteenth year.
Your objective was also to bring the foundations closer to civil society and the needs of people. A solicitude towards the most fragile and disadvantaged groups... From the beginning, the foundations work in the health field is distinguished by its strong commitment to patients in an advanced or terminal phase of life. As much as 60% of the proceeds gained from the foundation’s profits are directed to this area, which has been dramatically neglected by the state today. First, a hospice was created for terminally ill patients and frail elderly people. Today it also offers services patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Alzheimer’s. It is a permanent program that is dearest to me, because right from the start I was personally involved. In order to further develop the project and broaden it to other pathologies that have a devastating impact on families, the Emanuele Village was created as an alternative answer to hospitalization for the crises of diseases like Alzheimer’s. It took more than a little willpower to overcome the countless bureaucratic and administrative obstacles. And today, the facility, first of its kind in Italy, is finally complete and ready to host about 80 resident patients. It’s completely free of charge, a calm, safe and stimulating setting that evokes the family environment and will benefit residents with needed attention in a discreet but effective way. Related to the previous project, the one in favor of hospitals being in the area where the Foundation operates, is the aim of guaranteeing the population a quality health care system able to meet the demands of the users and reduce waiting lists.
Scientific research has for many years been the other sector to which I have given priority, particularly the biomedical field. I’ve always considered scientific research strategic and essential for an advanced country to maintain competitiveness and harmonious civil and social growth, beyond just economic growth. We started with the Bietti Foundation for research in the field of ophthalmology, signed an agreement with the Biogem of Ariano Irpino and created a foundation for cancer research that bears my name in Malta. Furthermore, we are involved in MEBIC, a collaborative project
between the Tor Vergata and San Raffaele Universities of Rome, which intends to study the shape of cells magnified millions of times, the toxic effects of drugs and the interaction between molecules. In the future the aim is to analyze the effects of rehabilitation at the molecular and cellular level. Lastly, I would like to add the commitment of the Fondazione Roma - and nowadays also the Fondazione Terzo Pilastro – Internazionale - in the field of education with regard to post-graduate high specialization training. This has been achieved through the support of specific Postgraduate Masters which have successfully initiated at universities such as LUISS, LUMSA, IULM, Link Campus University, the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, and the Rumundu Academy of Alghero. The aim is to have these graduates lead the formation of the future Mediterranean area, with particular regard to the strategic sectors of the eastern languages, new technologies, and international diplomacy.
Professore, you’re also responsible for the restoration of the two magnificent headquarters Palazzo Sciarra and Palazzo Cipolla, as well as the expansion of the Permanent Art Collection of the Fondazione Roma ...
From the beginning of my tenure, one of my objectives was to recover the historical real estate assets of the Cassa di Risparmio di Roma and to show a tangible and visible symbol of the continuity between that and the Fondazione Roma. Going back even further, there was the historical connection between the Monte di Pietà di Roma, founded in 1539, and the Cassa di Risparmio, which acquired it in 1937. After a difficult dispute with the lessee bank, the possession of Palazzo Sciarra was won in 2008 thanks to my determination. The purchase of the Palazzo Cipolla from Unicredit was accomplished in the same manner in 2010. Once both properties were reacquired, I quickly started their complete restoration. It was necessary to bring them up to safety codes, then, the restoration of frescoes and furnishings followed. Amongst other things, the remains of part of the Aqua Vergine aqueduct are in the foundations of Palazzo Sciarra. It’s an important structure created in 19 BC and a water supply for the Campo Marzio Quarter. Along with the restoration of the Palaces, I also promoted the restoration of these ruins, to appropriately enhance the Roman vestiges. In this case I also ran into endless restrictions and bureaucratic obstacles. At the same time, I became a determined advocate for the expansion of the Fondazione Roma’s art collection. On my suggestion, in fact, and following my basic guidelines, the permanent collection is constantly added to and is one of the most important private collections in the capital, with works ranging from 1400 up to contemporary times. More recently, to make greater use of the collection, I have had installed a top of the line multimedia system, which allows the visitor to know from which artist each single work was created, when it was created, and what the artist wanted to communicate with it, as it has been interpreted by critics over time. In so many words, a multidisciplinary informational series was created through new digital technologies, accessible through smartphones or tablets. In conclusion, I truly believe I have been able, through the grace of God, to give back, considering all that has been granted to me in life, with effective foresight and results that regardless of the deafening silence of the press, except for you, for which I sincerely thank you - have been achieved brilliantly.