Even 5,000 miles from home, Fabrizio Nava found a bit of his beloved Italy in Oklahoma.
Nava, the consul general of Italy based in Houston, is his country's cultural and economic voice in the four-state region of Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.
The Oklahoma City Museum of Art opened the “Of Heaven and Earth: 500 Years of Italian Painting from Glasgow Museums” last month, and Nava said he was eager to get a look at the display during his visit to the state Sept. 11.
Walking through the exhibit, reading the names of Italian art giants like Titian and Botticelli, Nava felt at home.
“This is a unique opportunity for the public to see up close paintings that rarely travel this far,” Nava said.
Nava can relate to displacement. He has lived life as a foreign diplomat since 1995, with stops in India and Canada before his current posting in Houston.
When he was a child, both of Nava's parents worked for the Italian board of tourism. They constantly were being posted abroad, Nava said. Foreign affairs are in his blood.
Leaving home for long periods of time means making homes elsewhere. Nava said this portion of the country has been a gracious host.
“Living in this region of the USA certainly helped me in developing a more nuanced view of this great country,” he said.
Though he loves his country's culture, Nava also has grown fond of the American Southwest, including the rich style of art originating in the area. Nava admits he is no expert on Southwestern art, but he has a desire to learn more and to share it with his people.
“It (Southwestern art) is quite unique, it is genuine to the land. It stretches back into the centuries, of course. I think also it would be interesting to promote in Italy. I think it's an aspect of American culture that is not well publicized.”
Outside of sharing culture, Nava also is responsible for developing economic links between his region and Italy.
“Of course, my mission is that of promoting ties between Italy and my four states,” Nava said. “So I try to scout for opportunities. If an Italian company asks for help or contacts, I try to give it to them. Likewise, if an American company or a chamber of commerce thinks about Italy as a destination, then I try to help them.
“You might say I am an antenna of Italy in these four states, and my ambition is that everything Italian will one way or another pass through my office.”
In addition to the opening of the “Of Heaven and Earth” exhibit, Nava was in town for a promotional and celebratory event for Enel Green Power, an energy company based in Rome. As of today, Enel has made a nearly $600 million investment in Oklahoma's Rocky Ridge and Chisholm View wind farms.
Nava is excited about Enel's investment in the state and is hopeful that this is just one of many business partnerships between Italy and Oklahoma.
“As of today, 2013, this state is a great place to do business,” he said.