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Exchanges with our Sister Program in Italy:
San Patrignano
Conrad Laran and Alberto Colla
Alberto Colla
San Patrignano Exchange Resident

It was a very exciting time when we met the members of the San Patrignano community in Italy and discovered the wonderful activities they were involved in that were so like our Delancey Street model. The community of substance abusers and others with problems live and work together growing grapes for wine, curing meats, making cheese, breading horses, doing graphic arts and hand craft products. But it was their philosophy and spirit that most resonated with us. Their belief that … “among the problems that affect the drug addict, drug use is the least relevant. The core of the problem is not drugs, nor the inability to abstain: it is the human being with his fears and the black holes that threaten to suck him in. That is why I do not like to say nor hear that ours is a community for drug addicts. Ours is a community of life.” (Vincenzo Muccioli, Founder) Of course, San Patrignano instantly became our sister program. We wanted to find ways to do things together, and one of the most fun projects was an exchange program we set up between our two locations. Meet here, Alberto, who came as an exchange student from San Patrignano in 1999 and shown here with then Delancey resident Conrad Laran. At Delancey, Alberto worked in our Café and in our Restaurant where he developed an antipasti plate of fresh grilled vegetables brushed with balsamic vinegar and mixed with roasted garlic and many kinds of olives. To this day, Alberto’s antipasti remains on our menu. Just as Conrad has now graduated, married another Delancey graduate Angela, and is a successful sales trainer with a beautiful home here in San Francisco, Alberto has gone on to exciting ventures in Italy. His most recent letter is as follows:

Dear Mimi,
How are things going? I am doing really well. Life if incredible! After six years of hard work being responsible for a warehouse that moves millions of pieces of clothing each year, I’ve been approached to become a partner in a company that consists of a small hotel rooming house with ten floors, a pizzeria, 150 rooms, and a swimming pool all encompassed on one estate.

I accepted, with the following conditions: I will start as a pizza maker and after 8 months, if all is good, I will join with the other three partners to start the full company. I am really happy and the first important thing is now to start a pizzeria that is all mine with the main objective of creating a place where folks from Delancey Street and San Patrignano could find work. It’s in Parma and it’s called Caruso Café like the celebrated tenor. The specialties are Pizza and grilled meats. It will be open in the beginning of November but we still have to decide on the exact day (there’s still work to be finished on the inside of the place).

I often think how wonderful it was to spend a year in your house and it fills my heart with joy.

It would be fantastic to have you taste and admire my pizza.

I don’t need to tell you that my house is your house and that I give a big strong hug to all my Delancey Street family. I love you a lot. Alberto

Click here to read Alberto’s letter in Italian.

Related Media
"Wine Therapy," The Atlantic September 2006