TORONTO – Some people just naturally shy away from the limelight. It is not because of disinterest in matters of collective importance or feigned modesty. Rather, it reflects a values system that prizes the inherent value in deeds that serve others and one self without pretension or expectation of “other rewards” or accolades.
The early Americans incorporated an organization called the Order of Cincinnati, so called after a selfless hero of the ancient Roman Republic, to keep those ideals alive. The Region (Province, in Canadian terms) of Lucania, modern day Basilicata, enacted, decided by Legislative decree in 2005, a similar concept to celebrate individuals native to the region who would exemplify the stellar qualities by which Lucani would prefer to be recognized around the world.
Basilicata is a Region of Italy whose Ancient civilizations pre-date Greco-Roman history. As recently as the 12th century A.D. it was the intellectual and industrial heartland of Europe. Its leaders (among whose number Frederick II was particularly active in the innovative sciences, establishment of universities and legal systems to govern the growing commercial relationships among nations in the Mediterranean basin) were “world figures” who inspired respect and emulation.
The Region is not short of historical and contemporary figures who are capable of the same. It is this select, elite group of individuals that the Nominating Committee is entrusted to seek out and designate. They are to be known as the Insigni Lucani. This special designation which is the Lucano equivalent of the Order of Canada, It is conferred to individuals who have distinguished themselves is the Arts, Sciences, Socio-Community Affairs, Business and other activities where innovation or unstinting commitment to the community interest (philanthropy) have characterized their activity. This year, one of Toronto’s own citizens was so honoured. Yet, Sam Primucci, President of the Pizza Nova Corporation, is almost apologetic for having been celebrated. We had to “squeeze” an interview from him.
Sam, all modesty aside, this was a big deal: a ceremony held in one of the Region’s oldest, most impressive churches, converted into a public theatre for the occasion and filled with people from all walks of life, to pay tribute …
Yes, it was a moving experience to be so honored alongside, internationally known playwrights, scientists and other emigrants from Basilicata who have distinguished themselves in other countries around the world. I did not expect such a reception.
But the crowd seemed “to take to you” …
Well, I responded with a frankness that reflected my sincerity at having been celebrated alongside people who looked upon me with the same deference I showed them. Never in my wildest dreams did I dream that a young boy like me who emigrated in 1952 would ever be the subject of such honours conferred by the premier representatives of the citizenry of Basilicata.
Any one in particular?
There were many: The Governor (Pittella), the president of the Lucani nel Mondo (Mollica), the Mayor of Palazzo San Gervasio, Michele Mastro and three former mayors before him as well as a number of assessori from the Region, the Province and the town, and one of my sons, Domenic. I was not expecting the number of attendees nor the warmth of their reception. I finally understood what is meant by “terra chiama padrone”.
I noted that, despite the large number of Media and Press, you were singled out for a one on one interview by the Rai network. Did you feel uncomfortable on being asked to divulge the secret of the popularity behind your Pizza Nova product to the entire world?
I am not media savvy, so my answers reflected the spontaneity that comes with that. Besides, as creators of a agri-food product for wide-scale distribution, we always strive to be one step ahead on any competition. We constantly seek the purest, most genuine inputs and replicate the artisanal nature of the food we put on the table.
I was honestly surprised at the applause when I started by saying “passion” is our biggest ingredient. We provide it in generous amount with every meal we serve. Jus as Lucani provide in all of their endeavours.
Amen and much more.