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Amico Mio Mt. Etna

Not everyone can say a volcano did them a favor, but I’m remembering a big one, a giant one, Mt. Etna did for me forty years ago, still vivid in my mind as if it were yesterday. 

It erupted in my memory as my PR firm TransMedia Group just formed a partnership with Nunzio Panzarella and his outstanding PR team in Palermo, Sicily.  It reminded me it’s been a while since I thanked amico mio Mt. Etna there.

Nunzio will now represent us in Italy from Palermo, Sicily, where he lives, to Rome where he often travels, as well as throughout Italy, while we will represent him and his team in the U.S. and occasionally their client referrals to us.    

Nunzio leads a distinguished team of professionals in PR and public affairs in Italy who’ll be collaborating with our team here using our respective contacts with media, think tanks, institutions, and corporations with the objective of generating business and assisting clients in our respective countries.

Now back to amico mio.

This partnership got me thinking that it’s about time I say once again grazie amico mio to majestic Mt. Etna who once saved me a mountain of lira it would have cost me, not to mention the embarrassment of having dented and scratched up the luxury car I had rented there. 

Me and my Italian-born wife at the time, Angela, who now God rest her soul is in heaven, went on a sublime and surreal vacation in Taormina, Sicily.  Driving there in the big car I had ostentatiously rented, it kept sustaining bumps and scrapes along the way, also while there touring such a majestic place.  I’m the ultimate distracted person driving through beauty.

Mesmerized by Volcanic Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea compounded by those winding narrow streets and roads and not knowing which way to get to where I was going caused me to have to turn around in tight spaces, bump into things like signposts, making dents and scratches in the poor Mercedes-Benz, for which I knew I was going to have to pay through the nose when we returned the car, which will look like it’s been on a battlefield, however scenic and blissful. 

But ahh Taormina, Sicily’s legendary resort town with its cinema-worthy backdrop which inspired the writings of D.H. Lawrence and Truman Capote.  How it would take my mind off driving and cause those dents before we parked to walk its twisting medieval streets to a second-century Greek theater, take a cable car to the beach, or walk uphill behind the Church of St. Joseph for breathtaking panoramic views.

Then a breathtaking miracle happened. 

On the day before we were to leave, Mt. Etna mercifully erupted on us as we were touring nearby.  We had parked our beleaguered rental under a cloud of ash.

No one was hurt, but the ash, which had miraculously descended all over, had completely covered our showoff rental car with a thick layer of ash that beautifully hid all the dents, scratches and bumps.  It was a natural coverup.

On departure day when I turned in the Mercedes-Benz, no one at the car rental agency could see any damage beneath that divine alchemical ash, so we made it out of Sicily safely with no fines for my inattentive, plain sloppy driving.

It was a fast and friendly return, thanks to Mt. Etna, to whom I’ll always be grateful and ash-fully indebted. 

Should I have disclosed there were a few knicks and scrapes under the ash?  Mt. Etna told me NO JUST GO as they could easily be removed, but looking for them now might cause us to miss our flight .  .  . and they had my credit card.

Grazie amico mio . . . di nuovo!

A tad about Nunzio whom I don’t want to see disappear under Mt. Etna’s ash.

A Public Affairs and Communication professional, Panzarella graduated in law from LUMSA Catholic University in Rome and specialized in Sales Management, Marketing & Digital Communication at the Publitalia ’90 Business School in Milan. 

Nunzio has worked with important regional bodies such as the Sicilian government and the Regional Assembly of Sicily, and also worked for leading companies as an advisor, for which he has handled important corporate clients.

He is a columnist and contributor to several Italian newspapers, and author of several pamphlets and scholarly articles. He has also been a university lecturer, in the field of open innovation at the University of Palermo, at the faculty of management engineering. He has also lived for long periods outside Italy, particularly in France and Scotland. He speaks English, French and Italian.  Passionate about politics and history, in his spare time he plays tennis and reads books.

TransMedia Group CEO Tom Madden is an author whose latest book WORDSHINE MAN just came out and he writes a weekly blog at

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