Commander Francesco de Pinedo (1890-1933)
The first pilot to fly a foreign aircraft to the United States
New Orleans - March 29, 1927

75th Anniversary Commemoration in the United States of America
under the auspices of Consul General Enrico Granara
Italian Consulate General in Chicago

Il Ministro per gli Italiani nel Mondo
Al Console Generale Enrico GRANARA ~ CHICAGO ~
Signor Console,
Un caloroso ringraziamento per l'evento che ha voluto organizzare assieme all'Istituto Italiano di Cultura a Chicago.  E' opera altamente meritoria onorare, come fate Voi, le storiche imprese della Regia Aeronautica che ha nel generale Francesco De Pinedo l'eroico pioniere, sicuramente riconoscibile come il Lindbergh italiano, con la sua trasvolata di 75 anni fa.  Tra gli eroi da ricordare, giustamente avete considerato anche S.E. Italo Balbo, un'altra gloria della nostra Aviazione. Con queste iniziative riscopriamo la nostra storia, la storia di un popolo di grandi tradizioni, di grande cultura, di un popolo rimasto unito anche se ad ogni italiano in Patria corrisponde uno lontano dalla terra natia. Spesso proprio da quelli lontani giungono le spinte piu' forti per la valorizzazione della nostra italianita' onorata da grandi geni, da grandi eroi, da grandi pionieri, come fu Francesco De Pinedo. Per tutte queste considerazioni, le rinnovo, Signor Console, e ai suoi collaboratori, le mie felicitazioni per l'iniziativa, pregandola di ringraziare a nome mio il professor Gregory Alegi per il suo intervento.  Un augurio di buon lavoro e un caro saluto,
On. Mirko Tremaglia 

rooted and,  once again,  we honor the man who, 75 years ago, was met by  squadrons of  American  military planes from Chanute and the Great Lakes Naval Center, lined up in  honor guard  formation to  escort his Santa Maria  directly to Chicago's lakefront.   A din of horns, bells, sirens, and whistles from the  surrounding  boats  rose  up  with  the cheers of thousands  of  Chicagoans  as   a  Coast Guard tender  pulled  the  plane  in  for mooring  at the Chicago Yatch Club.   The  aviators  stepped on shore  and  were  literally mobbed by the  city's Italians,  who surged forward to greet  them with embraces, kisses, and hearty slaps on the back. That  afternoon,   Pinedo  heard  Mass  at  Holy Name cathedral,   and  afterwards paid a visit to  Cardinal Mundelein, who  eloquently praised the flyer for his achievements. During a banquet that evening at the Palmer  House,  he concluded his speech by  humorously  noting that the absence  of alcohol obliged him to postpone the  pleasure of  properly  toasting  Chicago.    Within  a  very short time he would be back in Italy,  and there,  he pledged, he would lift a glass to the city.

The Savoia Marchetti S55 Santa Maria on Lake Michigan upon her arrival in Chicago

celebrations.   Experts  claim  that the  DePinedo's feat  was  Lindbergh's final  inspiration to  make his  historic  trip two months after DePinedo's landing in the United States and less than a week after his scheduled touchdown in St. Louis which had to be aborted and changed to a fly over due to inclement weather.  Constant rains had flooded the Midwest throughout the spring of 1927, and the Santa Maria had departed from New Orleans against yet another heavy thunderstorm, beginning its northward run over the swollen Mississippi on May 14th.  Headwinds severely taxed the plane's fuel supply, and the Italians had to make an unscheduled stop at Memphis, passing the night there to wait out the storm and canceling the stop at St. Louis. The disappointed citizens of that city, who had lined the Mississippi banks under umbrellas in anticipation of the S-55's arrival, were given only a quick glimpse of the flying boat as it sped across the gray skies overhead.

The Lord of Distances
Canadian Site
Related Projects
Ambassador Salleo
"Fra noi" Press Release
Agenda - Chicago
Agenda - St. Louis

Participating Cities & 
Principal Contacts:

Chicago, IL - May 15
Cav. Robert Allegrini

St. Louis, MO - May 16
Franco Giannotti

New Orleans, LA
Console Generale d'Italia a Houston, Massimo Rustico

Other Contacts:
Massimo Cirulli
CG Enrico Granara
Don Fiore
Walter Santi
Dominic Tassone
Giovanni Bucci
St. Louis
VC Joseph Colagiovanni
Franco Giannotti

The  Honorable  Ferdinando Salleo,  Italian  Ambassador to  the  United  States of America, will partecipate in both Chicago and St. Louis festivities. The Italian American communities of both cities are thrilled about the Ambassador's endorsement and presence in the anniversary celebration of this heroic Italian aviator.

H.E. Ferdinando Salleo, one of the five longest serving Italian diplomats, was appointed Ambassador of Italy to the United States on November 9, 1995. 
He was born in Messina (Sicily) in 1936, and entered the Italian Foreign Service in 1960, soon after getting his Laurea (M.A. degree) from the Law School of the University of Rome. He first served in Paris, then in New York as Consul, then in Prague. In 1972 he came back to the States as counselor at the Embassy in Washington D.C. He later served in the Political Department of his Ministry, from where he moved to Bonn as Minister Counselor. In 1979 he was first appointed deputy Director General of the Department for Economic Cooperation and Development Aid of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Rome. In 1985, he was appointed Director General of the same Department. His experience in Economic and Financial Affairs brought him to accept the post of Head of the Italian Permanent Mission to the OECD (the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) in 1986. He then returned to Rome at the head of the Economic Affairs Department. From 1989 to 1993 he served as Ambassador of Italy in Moscow, during the Gorbatchev era and the downfall of the Soviet Union. The top post of Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was his last assignment in Rome, before being appointed to Washington D.C. 
 Ambassador Salleo has been a visiting professor at the University of Florence and a professor at Rome University. Over the last five years, he has had several opportunities to meet groups of scholars and students as key-note speakers in different parts of the Country.
 He is the author of a diplomatic history study on the genesis of the State of Albania (1913), which was published by Sellerio (Palermo) in the year 2000. 
 While the Ambassador and Mrs. Anne Marie Salleo live in Washington, their son Alberto is a researcher and Ph.D. candidate of Materials Science an Engineering at Livermore (CA).

World leaders have bestowed honors on Commander DePinedo, including the presentation of the British Royal Air Force Cross in 1927.  An article from the 23 June, 1927 issue of the British Magazine "Flight" in which the following reference is made:

"Although establishing no recognized world's records, the flight just completed by the Marquis of Pinedo is in many ways one of the most remarkable in the history of aviation.  While recently several land aeroplanes have covered great distances over the sea, Pinedo has covered greater over land in a seaplane...In every way, the Marquis of Pinedo is to be congratulated on his splendid achievement, and the honour bestowed upon him by His Majesty King George by awarding him the Air Force Cross will be heartily welcomed by British aviation in general, which sees in it a fitting expression of the admiration and esteem with which the gallant Marquis is held in this country."

The life and deeds of Francesco De Pinedo, a trailblazing Italian aviator and one-time international hero whose fame was rivaled only by Charles Lindbergh’s, will be the focus of a day-long commemoration in Chicago on Wednesday, May 15th, 2002. The date, which has been officially designated "De Pinedo Day" by Mayor Richard M. Daley, marks the 75th anniversary of the intrepid transatlantic flyer’s visit to the city, a call he made as part of his sensational aerial tour of the Western Hemisphere in 1927.

The event has been organized by Italian Consul General Enrico Granara with the participation and support of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, the Italian Trade Commission, the Italian Government Tourist Board, and numerous local, national, and international Italian and Italian American organizations, institutes, and private businesses. Notable guests will include Italian Ambassador Ferdinando Salleo, Mayor Daley, and Countess Maria Fede Caproni, daughter of Italian aircraft builder Gianni Caproni and founder of the famous Caproni Aviation Museum in Trento.

"After arriving in Chicago in 1999", Granara stated, " several of the more historically-minded members of the Italian American community recalled my attention to De Pinedo and his role in one of early aviation’s most extraordinary episodes of valor, courage and initiative. The first European aviator to fly to the United States, he landed here after having flown across the Atlantic from Africa to Brazil in a Savoia Marchetti seaplane which had been christened, quite symbolically, the Santa Maria."

The day’s events will begin with the opening of an exhibit of Italian aviation memorabilia at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, after which Dr. Gregory Alegi, one of the leading European authorities on early aviation history, will lecture on the details of De Pinedo’s achievements. Alegi’s presentation will be followed later that afternoon by the official opening at the Richard J. Daley Center of an exhibit entitled "Wings of Italy", featuring 44 original, Futurist-style Italian aviation posters from the years 1910 through 1943. Currently on display at the Estorick Gallery of London, this rare collection is part of the Massimo & Sonia Cirulli Archive of New York, and will be available for viewing by the general public from May 16th to June 15th, 2002 at the Daley Center. 

"The exhibit offers a thematic overview of three decades of Italian aviation activity that coincided with three, critical and decisive epochs of Italy’s history, specifically World War I, the rise of Fascism, and the subsequent events that led to the Second World War", noted Granara. "The exhibit and the other events of the day constitute an invitation from the Italian and Italian American communities to all Chicagoans to call to mind a seldom remembered but glorious page from the history of this great city, written by a small crew of intrepid, Italian aviators under the command of Colonel De Pinedo."

The May 15th commemoration will conclude with an outdoor concert in tribute to De Pinedo featuring Italian patriotic and thematic music performed by Caliendo’s Banda Napoletana under the sponsorship of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans. The 45 minute concert will begin at 6:30 PM at the Daley Plaza and will be open to attendance by the general public.

Subsequent to the Chicago celebrations, De Pinedo will again be the focus of commemorative activities in St. Louis, New Orleans, Milwaukee, and Madison, Wisconsin. The St. Louis events, sponsored by the "Italy at St. Louis" electronic news magazine ( and the Federation of Italian American Organizations, will include a lecture by Dr. Alegi and an exhibit of fifty-one photographs from the Italian Air Force Historical Office chronicling De Pinedo’s American tour. Detailed information on De Pinedo and all of the upcoming commemorative events can be found at

Italic Institute of America representatives and Fra Noi correspondents Don Fiore and Robert Allegrini, both long-time admirers of De Pinedo and members of the commemoration’s planning committee, credited Granara with what they view as the crucial first steps toward restoring the forgotten aviator’s place in history. "About 20 years ago, I came across an old recording of a 1927 song entitled "’l Volo di De Pinedo’ which recounted the exploits of some great Italian aviator of whom I had previously never heard a word", said Fiore. "I started to suspect some artistic exaggeration, since there was utterly no mention of him in any of the English language aviation histories that I subsequently consulted. But when I checked newspapers from 1927, there he was all over the front page.

"Like Garibaldi, De Pinedo can be viewed as an almost ‘perfect hero’ and one who should serve as a powerful, inspirational icon to all Italian Americans, especially in our struggle against the ongoing brutalization of the Italian and Italian American image by the entertainment and pop culture media. The Consul General has launched the first, visible initiative in over seventy years to return this hero to the Italian American community. Hopefully, the community will respond with all due appreciation and support."


The Agenda for May 15, 2002:
12:00 Noon- Istituto Italiano di Cultura, by invitation
Lecture and Exhibition Opening
"Francesco de Pinedo: an Italian Lindbergh?"
Lecture by Professor Gregory Alegi
6:30 PM - Richard J. Daley Civic Center
Official Presentation
Concert by the Caliendo Neapolitan Band - Program

Roster of Sponsors:
The Consulate General of Italy and the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Chicago are grateful to the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Public Buildings Commission, City of Chicago as well as to the following organizations, companies and individuals for their support in making this project possible: <>Aerea Spa.
American Airlines
Assolombarda, Milano
CNH Global
Bucci Studio International
CIB Bank
Colletti Antique Poster Gallery
Columbian Club Chicago
Cozzini Inc.
ENIT - Italian Government Tourist Office
Gullo International
Hilton Chicago&Towers
IME ~ Italy Midwest Exchange
Italian American Chamber of Commerce
Italian American Human Relations Foundation
Italian American Medical Association
Italian American Police Association
Italian American War Veterans
Italic Institute of America
Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans
Lord Bissell Brooks, LLP
Arturo Filippo Lorioli
Milan Committee - Chicago Sister Cities Intl. program
National Italian American Foundation
Order Sons of Italy - Illinois
Phil Stefani's Riva Restaurant, Navy Pier
Romano Bros. Beverages
Rose Importing & Distributing
SACA - Sicilian American Cultural Association
Studio Cirulli, Bologna
Turano Bakeries, Inc.
Dr. Michele Carbone M.D.
Dr. Joseph Amato M.D.
Mr. Lucien Battiato
Mr. Dominic DiFrisco
Mr. Franco Giannotti
Mr. Don Fiore

Mr. D*R*M*
Mr. G*V*H
Confirmed sponsors and events:
  • Contessa Maria Fede Caproni di Taliedo, fondatrice del Museo Aeronautico Caproni a Trento
  • Dott. Gregory Alegi, Italy's foremost expert in historical aircrafts will be in Chicago and his conference will begin at 12:00 noon, May 15 at the IIC (Istituto Italiano di Cultura/Italian Cultural Institute)
  • A miniature replica of the dePinedo's aircraft will be displayed at the IIC
  • "Wing of Italy" (Curator Massimo Cirulli) A 36 historical lithographs exhibit will be displayed at the Richard J. Daley Center (Rose Farina) from May 15 to June 15.  An additional 8 lithographs will be exhibited at the IIC
  • Chicago Historical Society has given a reproduction of its press clips of the times
  • Gene Farina (NIAF/Chicago) gave $1,000 and pledged to pay for the exhibit insurance, printing of invitations (Buddy Romano) and, through the NIAF member restaurateur Suparossa, the buffet at the ICC following the conference
  • OSIA/Illinois gave $1,500
  • The I.M.E.(Italian Professionals in Chicago) donated $2,500
  • Michele Carbone, MD and Joseph Amato, MD each donated $500.
  • CNH Global of Lake Forest donate $5,000.
  • The Milano-Chicago Sister City Committee donated $2,500
  • American Airlines, through Robert Allegrini, will provide the air fare for Dr. Gregory Alegi
  • Hilton & Towers (Robert Allegrini)  hospitality for Countess Caproni and Gregory Alegi 
  • Consul General Granara contributed $5,000

  • ENIT (Dr. Lucchesi) has contributed $2,700 and helped in organizing the cocktail reception at the Daley 
  • Arturo Filippo Lorioli donated the commemorative lapel pins
  • Exhibit panels which will be constructed by Giovanni Bucci, one of Chicago's renowned designers and artists.

  • Recap:
    Funds made available as of February 15, 2002

    CG Granara

    NIAF (1) 




    Dr Amato 

    Dr Carbone 

    Funds made available as of February 28, 2002

    CNH Global 
     (through Italidea)
    Milan Committee 

    CIB Bank 

    Lou Rago (H.R.F.) 


    Funds made available as of April 30, 2002:


    Aerea Spa. 

    Gullo International 




    Comm. D DiFrisco 

    Lord Bissel & Brook 

    Dr. Bruno Contis, MD

    Mr. Battiato 

    Other funds/resources:

    ENIT  (Panels) 

     (to the Caliendo Band)

    AMERICAN AIRLINES       ticket for Dr. Alegi
    NIAF (2)        insurance for posters (period May 15/June 15)
    NIAF (3)        printing of invitations (Buddy Romano)
    NIAF (4)        catering for IIC lecture/press conf. May 15 (Cirrincione)
    Phil Stefani (around 70 persons including VIP guests)

    [other pledges - estimated]
    Turano Bakeries             [not specified]
    Ivo Cozzini                     [not specified]
    Total so far                           $38,700

    May 16, 2002 - Reception with H.E. Ferdinando Salleo, Italian Ambassador to the USA at St. Louis University, Carlo Auditorium in Tegeler Hall; 
    June 5, 2002 - "De Pinedo: il Lindbergh italiano?" at Italiano per piacere;
    July 1 - July 14, 2002 - Historical Photographic Exhibit from the  Italian Air Force Archives at the Museum of Transportation (Invitation);
    July 17, 2002 - "De Pinedo and the wings of Italy" at the Italian Club of St. Louis.

    Confirmed sponsors and events:
  • The St. Louis celebration will begin Thursday, May 16
  • is the Official Web Site, hosted by Venmar Systems, Inc.
  • FIAO (Federation of Italian-American Organizations)
  • Franco Giannotti to develop and maintain this official web site
  • FIAO and leading It-Am organizations will sponsor the St. Louis celebration
  • Stato Maggiore Aeronautica/Ministero Difesa, Roma has supplied 52 photographs to be exhibited in St. Louis and subsequently Springfield (Illinois), Madison e Milwaukee (Wisconsin), Kansas City e Omaha, Denver e Grand Junction (Colorado) and New Orleans (Louisiana). 
  • AEREA S.p.a. of Italy has contributed $1500 toward the mounting and framing of the 52 DePinedo photographs.
  • St. Louis University providing the logistics for the Ambassador Reception
  • Working on:
  • Potential location and donors to transfer "Wings of Italy" exhibit to St. Louis after Chicago.
  • Pledges to cover expenses and selection of venues

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    Updated on 4/27/2002