PALM BEACH, FL (March 12, 2016) – Nearly 300 guests gathered on Sunday, March 6, 2016 at The Breakers, Palm Beach, for Il Circolo ‘s  annual gala. The Italian Cultural Society commemorated its 40th anniversary.  It was founded in Palm Beach in 1976 by Father Nicholas Maestrini.

il circolo gala 2016

From left: Joseph Del Raso and John M. Viola of the National Italian American Foundation, Antoinette Vigilante, chairwoman of the 2016 Il Circolo gala and honoree Pamela Fiori.

Prior to the dinner, guests mingled alongside the fountain in the Mediterranean Courtyard while enjoying cocktails and a vast array of Italian antipasti.  Inside, the Mediterranean Ballroom tables were beautifully appointed with lush lemon-filled centerpieces highlighting the “An Evening in Capri” theme alternating with tables that featured modern glass-and-candle centerpieces.  Throughout the evening guests were entertained by the musical styling of Gino De Marco and his band.

Pamela Fiori was honored as Woman of the Year for her dedication to, and knowledge of, Italian culture, including the contributions she has made as the author of books, such as In the Spirit of Capri and An Evening at Le Cirque, which she co-authored with restaurant legend Sirio Maccioni.  She is a recognized authority on luxury travel and lifestyle, as well as the former editor-in-chief of Town & Country and Travel & Leisure. Her award was presented by honorary gala co-chairs Roberto Faraone Mennella and Amedeo Scognamiglio, of the famous jewelry company that originated in Capri, Faraone Mennella.

2016 il circolo galaJohn M. Viola was recognized with the Distinguished Leadership Award for his outstanding vision as President and Chief Operating Officer of the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF), the largest nonprofit organization in the country dedicated to the promotion of Italian and Italian American culture throughout the United States.

Sally Valenti, Il Circolo’s executive vice president, remarked, “This was one of the most beautiful events Il Circolo has ever had and the turnout served as a testimony to the strength and growth of our organization, both within Palm Beach and beyond.”  Mrs. Valenti was recognized during the gala for over 30 years of dedicated volunteer service to Il Circolo by President Paul Finizio who also recognized the organization’s longest serving board member, Virginia Longo, one of the original founding members assisting  Father Maestrini in starting the Il Circolo organization.

The gala was organized by 2016 chairwoman Antoinette Vigilante, a Palm Beach-based philanthropist, Il Circolo’s Director of Development Debi Rodi, marketing consultant Jenifer Mangione Vogt, nonprofit consultant Marie Silvani, and Joy Miltenberger, silent auction chairwoman, along with Il Circolo’s board of directors and members and students from Florida Atlantic University.

Ms. Vigilante said, “We are grateful to Mrs. Fiori and Faraone Mennella for their contributions in terms of both style and enthusiasm as well as to Mr. Viola and NIAF.  Their participation helped us to make this one of Il Circolo’s most well-attended galas in the organization’s forty-year history.  Our organization’s greatest strength is in the passion we all share for our Italian heritage.  I know we will continue to build on this year’s success and that the best is yet to come.”
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Photo credit: Joan Nova

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Il Circolo, the Italian Cultural Society of Florida, is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit and was created in 1976 with the mission to preserve and promote Italian Culture in South Florida through educational outreach and special events.   To fulfill this mission, the organization each year produces a robust schedule of special events that focus on Italian art, music, culture and Italian food and wine.  In addition, Il Circolo gives support to college students to study in Italy and provides funding to local school organizations that promote Italian culture, including Florida Atlantic University, Palm Beach Opera, Palm Beach Atlantic University, Pope John Paul II High School and St. Andrew’s School.  For more information, please visit: