Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, home of the Department of Italian Studies at New York University, was born thanks to a generous and handsome donation from the Baroness Mariuccia Zerilli-Marimò.
The donation consisted of the purchase and complete restoration of the 19th century household--whose architecture is very characteristic of Greenwich Village--situated at 24 West 12th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, a few blocks from Washington Square.
During the press conference at which the project was announced (May 9, 1988), Doctor Brademas, then-President of New York University, declared that the farseeing generosity of Baroness Zerilli-Marimò would enable the University to develop a true program of cultural relations and reinforce ties with the civilization of Dante Alighieri, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
The Baroness, who passed away in 2015, stated on that day that the project would be a permanent and constructive homage to the memory of her husband, Guido Zerilli-Marimò, a man of great culture and an important figure in the world of industry. It would allow the deepening of knowledge of Italian culture and civilization in the United States, a country for which she and Guido Zerilli-Marimò had always had great affection.
L. Jay Oliva, then Chancellor, later President of NYU, declared that Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò would be the new academic and cultural resource to the University. Accordingly, it would also become a source of pride for the Italian-American community, offering to its children a prestigious place for study and encounter.
The Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò was inaugurated on November 13, 1990, after two years of fervent construction and restoration work. From that point on, it has never ceased to be at the height of expectations and the hopes that were expressed at the moment of its founding, above all, providing an autonomous and appropriate seat for the Department of Italian, which was previously joined with the Department of French. This has allowed a profound development in Italian Studies. The teaching staff was enlarged and diversified, progressively including experts in all periods of Italian literature, along with other related disciplines: from political theory to cinema to the history of science to the figurative arts.
Moreover, Casa Italiana develops a rich and qualified program of extra-curricular cultural events. Begun by the first Director of the Casa, Professor Luigi Ballerini, who started with literary events of great interest, the program was furthered and intensified by James Ziskin, under whose direction (from 1993 to 1998) the calendar of events grew substantially and came to also host musical and artistic initiatives.
Under the direction of James Ziskin, the program of collaboration with other Italian cultural institutions in New York was consolidated, and cooperation with the various departments at New York University was strengthened.
In 1998, the direction of the Casa was passed to Professor Stefano Albertini. Thanks to his commitment and his profound interest in Italian and other international cultures, the Casa has become a privileged center for cultural discussion and promotion for the entire city of New York.
Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò also actively works with the other analogous institutions within the University through programs of study at a high academic level and of great popular impact, making New York University one of the most important centers of European and international studies in the world.