Issue #80

Giovanni Cappelli

Il Rinato

Born in La Spezia Italy after WW2, I breezed thru adolescence in the town of Milano, where I graduated ‘summa cum laude’. In the ‘70s I was a well known criminal lawyer, active in the defense of leftists and revolutionary. Dario Fo and Franca Rame, as well as notorious revolutionaries in Italy and Europe, were the most high profile clients of mine. In May 1980 I left Italy to join a spiritual commune in Pune, India. When the Master moved to the USA to start a new commune in Oregon, I joined the thousands and I lived there with my young daughter till the end of that experiment in 1985. In 1986, with my daughter and my enlarged family, I moved to Hawaii, where we opened an Italian Restaurant and night club. I am now the only one left running the Restaurant, and a second one which I opened in 2009. I live in abundance with my American wife in a beautiful villa on the slopes of Haleakala National Park in the island of Maui.

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What do you do in your life (work and fun)?

I run two restaurants with 60 employees, play tennis, dine with friends, enjoy hiking Maui’s forest and waterfalls. And, yes, sometime I even go to the beach, snorkeling and swimming with the whales. My American wife is a large part of my life. She owns her own business (art galleries) and we love to spend quite evenings together, far form the crowd of customers and employees we share our days with.

What made you leave Italy and chose Maui?

My life as a criminal lawyer in Milano hit the bottom. I had committed my professional career to the defense of people engaged in a political struggle, which had turned violent and desperate. Myself, I had been briefly imprisoned and accused of complicity with the violent activities of my clients. The meeting with a spiritual Master in India was the rebirthing experience which saved me. I did not choose Maui. I did not even know it existed, when I left Milano. I surfed the wave of life enjoying the panorama. In fact I love white water rafting. My favorite metaphor of life.

Please share your best memory in Maui.

The cool breeze at night, when I sit on my balcony enjoying the starred sky. In silence.

What made you choose this specific location and outfit?

Life chose it for me. I just said yes to what was coming to me. And poured all my positive energy into it. Always total, as a lawyer, as a disciple, as a father, as a lover, as a husband, as a businessman. When I do something, I do it totally.

Your thought about this project, ITALIANY.US

Intriguing and ambitious. Such a low percentage of success, I love it.

How would you describe being an ambassador of the italian style/culture abroad?

Everyday I deal with the stereotypes of Italians abroad. I let them in and slowly my unique persona appears, at least to the eyes of an aware witness. It does not happen all the times. When it does, people’s hearts open to a different dimension of being Italian. My dimension. It may start with spaghetti and meatballs. It always end with real Italian food. My way, the way I like it.

  • Shots


  • Time

    150 mins

  • City


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A visual celebration of Italians working, living and loving in NY and in the US