By Pete Kennedy
When Pier Forlano says he enjoys the vibrant atmosphere of Philadelphia, he’s speaking as someone who has extensive experience living in great cities.
A career diplomat, Forlano, 56, has traveled the world in the service of the Italian government for more than three decades, serving at embassies in Bulgaria, Malta, South Africa and Australia. His current post is Consul General of Italy in Philadelphia, which makes him a cultural and economic liaison between his homeland and the
Forlano came to Philadelphia in August of 2017 and works out of a 10th-floor office overlooking Independence Mall.
The services of the consulate include issuing passports and visas, helping Italian nationals vote in political elections, promoting international business partnerships and even providing assistance to passing naval vessels.
A highlight of Forlano’s work in Philadelphia has been continuing the work of Ciao Philadelphia, a partnership between the consulate and Philadelphia cultural institutions like the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the University of Pennsylvania.
“We are keeping alive the tradition of an Italian cultural festival every fall,” Forlano said, noting that details are available at ciaophiladelphia.com.
The ties between the region and Italy are strong, Forlano said, with more than $2.9 billion in bilateral trade between Italy and Pennsylvania in 2018 alone. Major Italian companies have a presence in the region, such as aerospace giant Leonardo, firearms manufacturer Beretta, cement-maker Buzzi and communications firm Telecom Italia.
Though Forlano is based in Philadelphia, the consulate’s territory includes all of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, southern New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. To help cover such a wide swath of the country, Forlano relies on support from four honorary consuls in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Charlotte and Norfolk, plus consular correspondents.
He encourages Italian Americans in the area to follow the consulate’s activities on the website, consfiladelfia.esteri.it, its social media channels, and the consular web portal app called Fast-It.
Forlano earned a degree in political science from Facoltà Cesare Alfieri in Florence in 1985, and two years later went to work in Italy’s General Administration for Emigration and Social Affairs as Deputy Chief of the Asia and Africa Office.
In 1990, he moved to the Italian Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he served as Chief Officer of the Consular and Commercial Sector. He transferred in 1994 to the Republic of Malta.
He returned to Rome in 1999, where he moved through a series of positions including Chief Officer of Cultural Agreements and Protocols and Scientific Promotion. From 2004 to 2008, he served in the Italian embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, including a long time as chargé d’affaires.
In 2008, Forlano began a four-year stint heading up consular affairs at the embassy in Canberra, Australia. In 2012, was appointed chief officer for the 27 Sahel countries in North-Central Africa, which eventually led him to be responsible for issues related to all of Sub-Saharan Africa.
As one might expect, Forlano recommends Italy as his No. 1 place to visit. But he offers an unexpected perspective on recreational travel in general.
“Throughout my career I went to captivating, exotic places like New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, South Africa and Norway. All are worth mentioning, although I think that in modern life travels and tourism are overrated, and sound more and more like an escape,” he said. “I’d rather praise other endeavors like social enterprises, volunteering, and art creativity.” IAH