Tuesday, October 27, 2009

September 10, 2009 (Sicily)

Well, I am happy to report that I am still living and breathing right now, although it is a much different air than before. Right now, I sit in a four star hotel room with a view that overlooks the entire city of Palermo and the Sicilian coastline. Looking out my window, I see mountains and cliffs to the left and the right, and to the front is the bustling Sicilian capitol of Palermo emerging from between the mountains and terminating at water’s edge. You might ask why I am sitting in a four-star hotel room when I am supposed to be saving money. The answer is that my hotel room is being partly furnished through Atlantic Foods, a distributor that works with Casa Imports in Utica, NY. Casa Imports is an Italian food distributor owned by Phil Casamento and John Fornino, two men I was fortunate enough to meet while in my time at Hamilton. The contact that Casa Imports set up for me is Mario Stancampiano, who deals with Casa Import’s Italian distributors and Atlantic foods. Mario is an extremely gracious and jovial Sicilian (who has lived in Sicily his entire life) who used to be a chiropractor. Thirteen years ago, he dropped the chiropractic job to join his (second) cousin, Phil Casamento, in importing Italian foods to America. Phil Casamento and John Fornino started the company about 28 years ago after having run a successful pizza business in Utica. Casa Imports now has about 8000 products from all over Italy. Mario travels all around Italy every week to visit their manufacturers…it sounds like one of the sweetest jobs that I could ever imagine.