The President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, has awarded one of St. Louis’ own, Rio Vitale, with one of the highest honors the Italian Republic can bestow on an individual: a honorary knighthood, with the title of Cavaliere dell’ Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana (Knight of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity). Mr. Vitale received the award from the Italian General Consul of Chicago, Giuseppe Finocchario, in a ceremony at the Italian Cultural Institute in Chicago on October 18, 2016. His wife Marianna and his son Andrew attended the ceremony.
After World War II the Italian government created the Ordine della stella della solidarietà italiana (Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity). This award was originally created to recognize those who made an outstanding contribution to the reconstruction of Italy after World War II. Currently it is awarded to those who preserve and promote Italian national prestige abroad, promote friendly relations and cooperation with other countries and ties with Italy.
There are many individuals who work tirelessly to improve the Italian community of St. Louis and Mr. Vitale has been doing this for years. He has served as the President of the Italian American Heritage Corporation and in the process completely restructured the St. Louis Columbus DayParade and convinced Italian restaurants to participate at the Festival. He served as President of the Italia America Bocce Club. Mr. Vitale is also a member of the Italian Club of St. Louis, the Fratellanza Society, and a founding member of the Sicilian Cultural Association of St. Louis.
Mr. Vitale wrote the book, St. Louis’s The Hill (Images of America) on the Italian neighborhood “The Hill” in St. Louis and all the proceeds are dedicated to the Italian American Heritage Corporation. This book includes two hundred historical pictures and provides the reader with a good introduction of what life was like living on The Hill from 1890’s through the 1970’s.
In order to receive this award nomination was presented before the Head of the Diplomatic Ceremony for the Republic (Il Capo del Cerimoniale Diplomatico della Repubblica) for their recommendation. Then their recommendation is sent to the Foreign Minister who presents the nominees to the President of the Italian Republic.
The nomination process involves an advisory committee called Il Consiglio dell’Ordine, whose members include il Capo del Cerimoniale Diplomatico della Repubblica (the head of Diplomatic Ceremony for the Republic). They make recommendations to the Ministro degli Esteri (Foreign Minister), who presents the final nominees to Il Presidente della Repubblica.
This is the second honor that Mr. Vitale has received in October 2016. Earlier in the month, Mr. Vitale was the Grand Marshall of the St. Louis Columbus DayParade. The Italian Community of St. Louis is proud that one of its most active members has been recognized for his service to the Italian community by the Italian Republic.