As we ride down Spring Garden Street towards the Public Ledger Building, Pat Ciarrocchi tells me about her familial roots in Abruzzo, Italy. As she recounts her experiences navigating the narrow streets of Asolo and riding on the water taxis in Venice, it is obvious that Pat is somebody who knows Italy inside and out.
I am amazed by Pat’s composure. She’s en route to receive the highest badge of honor in Italy, and her calm is unflappable.
When we arrive at the Office of Italian Consulate, Pat’s presence immediately ignites excitement. Italian, English, and Itanglish buzz all around.
The 10th floor looks out over the quintessential American landmark of Independence Mall, yet the room is brimming with the spirit of Italy.
Joseph Jacovini and Consul General of Italy Andrea Canepari have nothing but praise for Pat as she is bestowed with the title of Knight Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Ufficiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana). Pat’s commitment to promoting Italian culture in Philadelphia makes the decision to present her with this honor an easy one.
Pat spoke to the attendees about being a ‘Ciarrocchi.’ Having an ethnically Italian name, she worried that she would be asked to change it for her television career. Fighting back tears, she explains how proud her grandparents were to see their Italian name pronounced correctly on-air.
Councilman Mark Squilla and Judge Paul Panepinto were among the attendees who had words of admiration for Pat. “This means so much to Italians and Italian-Americans,” said Squilla. “They couldn’t have picked a better representative.”
“Pat is such a terrific friend of Italy,” said Consul General of Italy in Philadelphia Andrea Canepari. “She is one of the most accomplished journalists in America.”
The celebration for Pat was part of Ciao Philadelphia, an initiative of the Consulate General of Italy in Philadelphia. During the month of October, Ciao Philadelphia will hold a myriad of events around Philadelphia celebrating the arts, culture, and industry of Italy. It will highlight contributions Italians and Italian-Americans have made to both our region and around the world. For a full list of events happening in October, click here.
–Lia Rosalsky, CW Philly