International Women’s Day – A Hidden Treasure of Italy – March 8th

Closeup of ball shaped Mimosa flowers

By: Joanne Natale Spigonardo

If you have ever been to Italy on International Women’s Day, you know that it is an extra special day in many ways.  Most regions celebrate women by honoring them with sweets and mostly with mimosa flowers, which are some of the first to bloom in Italy in the spring.  Landscapes are ablaze with them and create a golden aura on the countryside. Not only are the mimosa flowers beautiful, but they are also generously abundant, fragrant, and are often used to describe the nature of Italian women. Given that the flowers flourish after harsh winters, pandemics, economic issues, and social strife, they also can offer happiness and hope for everyone, just like women.

               The origin of International Women’s Day is in the early 20th century globally when women were fighting for equal rights.  In Italy it became particularly popular in post-World War II, when the country was faced with a break-down of government, poverty, and uncertainty.  Women were at the forefront to fight for fairness to all, then and now.  The strength of women to organize, educate, nurture and to generally get the job done is a credit to the world.  Women are often able to do this without violence or hostility, with a focused leadership quality.

               A special memory that I have of International Women’s day was when I visited Florence on March 8th many years ago.  Even though I had heard of the massive mimosa giving tradition, I was not prepared for what transpired.  Just imagine walking along the beautiful Ponte Vecchio and taking in the early spring sunshine on the flowing Arno and being greeted by mimosa bearing strangers.  These strangers became friends in that moment of giving, it was such a random act of kindness that still brings joy to my heart.  I had an armful of the flowers given to me in minutes, by children, adults, the old and the young.  As I walked, I shared these flowers with those that I met, saying a friendly word.  The act of giving was infectious, on that day we were all on the same path, in the city of the Renaissance, on a day of rebirth and enlightenment. 

               While there is so much that separates us, there is so much more that can unite us. I hope that you can honor women today by sharing something special with others.  If you can find the mimosa flowers that would be the most traditional, but anything will do, the point is that giving of yourself is a liberating and rewarding experience. Others need us and women have so much to give.  Happy International Women’s Day!

About the Author: Joanne Natale Spigonardo

Joanne has many years of experience in travel to Italy, Italian art, literature, film, history, wine, and cuisine. She is a lover of nature and beauty.  She is an advocate for Italian immigrant women, and the author of White Widow, which is available on Amazon.  For more information about Joanne please visit her LinkedIn page:

Published by spigonaj

Joanne Spigonardo Business Development Consultant Specializing in Sustainability, Higher Education, Career Management, and Public Relations In her former roles, Joanne served as Senior Associate Director at the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) at Wharton. Joanne was also part of the Communications Office. She held positions as business manager of the Wharton Seminars for Business Journalists and for the Wharton Alumni Magazine. Joanne also served as the media relations coordinator. When with Alitalia Airlines, Joanne worked as a sales representative. Joanne graduated from The University of Pennsylvania with a BA and later graduated from the Wharton Aresty Institute of Executive Education. She has a strong background in development, management, marketing, and Italian language and culture. As a Wharton Mentor, she coached new employees on professional development, and is active in Penn’s Grievance panels. Joanne was on the board of governors for the University Club. Joanne is chair of the Delaware County Penn Alumni Interview Program and oversees alumni volunteers. As an alum of Penn and Wharton, and also a parent of two Penn graduates, she is a strong advocate in promoting Penn. At Wharton IGEL, Joanne had been in partnership with GreenBiz, Sustainable Brands, the Ethical Corporation, Pira Packaging International, Public Relations Society of America, the Green Sports Alliance, World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, the Italian Consulate, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Sonoma County Winegrowers Association, and the Nature Conservancy, as well as, many other NGO and government offices. She has brokered hundreds of corporate relationships for Wharton. Joanne is the author of her book, White Widow, published on Kindle and Amazon. The book is a fictional novel about 19th-20th Century Italian immigrants.

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