“Porto Venere Donna” Award 2017

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Premio Porto Venere Donna is an award that is given once a year to an illustrious woman that has left an indelible mark in the fields of literature, science, art, sports and social work.

The XXII Edition will take place on 9 August 2017 at 9:30pm in the magical setting of St. Peter Square in Portovenere.

This year’s winner is Amalia Ercoli Finzi, one of the leading international experts on space and “mother” of the famous Rosetta Mission. In fact, she was Principal Investigator of the SD2 drill mounted on the Philae lander in charge of perforating the surface of Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

Amelia Ercoli Finzi, “mother” of the famous Rosetta Mission

Amalia is admirable for a variety of reasons. Not only she was the first Italian woman to graduate in Aerospace Engineering, she also became a successful scientific consultant for NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and ASI (Italian Space Agency). She became Teacher and Director of the Aerospace Engineering Department at the prestigious Politecnico di Milano and wrote more than 150 scientific publications and communications. Not enough? She is also a mother of five, and grandmother to many more. She is a woman who could successfully reconcile a truly demanding career in a challenging, male-dominated sector, with her family role as a caring wife and mother.

At the age of 80, Amalia does not stop for a much-deserved break: her curiosity keeps her active and she is always ready to help students and researchers around the world, because it is never too late to “explore the future”. Interviewed by Politecnico di Milano at the end of the Rosetta Mission, when asked if she was thinking of taking a break, the Comet Lady replied:

Certainly not! We are already working on many projects: a very complex mission whose objective is the Lunar base, a mission to Mars with the far-in-the future aim of setting up a human colony, a series of missions dedicated to asteroids and small bodies which may be very interesting both because of their composition and as test beds, i.e. as instruments for testing maneuvers which we can then use in missions to large bodies. There is still a great deal to do and I am ready!

Premio Porto Venere Donna is organized by the Provincial Council of Women (Consulta Provinciale Femminile della Spezia), who also selects the annual winner. The award consists of a sculpture of local artist Francesco Vaccarone, who is painter and sculptor from La Spezia.

Portovenere Awards Illustrious Women
Created by local artist Francesco Vaccarone, the marble award represents a figurehead, symbol of a woman who is a pioneer, messenger and a creator of great feats. Photo from cittadellaspezia.com

Among the remarkable women who have been awarded in the past 22 years are Nobel-prize winner Rita Levi Montalcini (neurologist), Margherita Hack (astrophysicist), Dacia Maraini (writer), Carmen Lasorella (journalist) and Olympic-gold winner Fiona May.

If you happen to be in Portovenere or in the Gulf of Poets on 9 August 2017, make sure not to miss the award ceremony under the stars and the beautiful backdrop of St. Peter’s Church. Free ferryboat rides will be available to reach Portovenere from La Spezia, and a free shuttle will also be available from Sarzana, passing through Lerici and San Terenzo.

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