As in all great Italian operas, there were tears and laughter on June 6 at the Italian Consulate in Pacific Heights where friends and fans bade ciao to Italian Consul General Lorenzo Ortona and his wife, Sheila Ortona.
Though the Ortonas will be dearly missed, they leave behind a legacy at the consulate — a grand 1920 neoclassical bricktrimmed mansion — where they revitalized a historic courtyard with an outdoor kitchen, woodburning oven and a traditional Italian edible garden designed by Planet Horticulture landscaper David McCrory.
To celebrate, McCrory and his husband, Andy Chen, hosted a rinascita soiree in the garden with numerous top City doctors who dressed in operatic costume to cheer the couple and welcome new Consul General Sergio Strozzi along with a return to our post-COVID social life.
Guests delighted in live perfor mances by choristers of the San Francisco Opera, Symphony and Conservatory of Music. And A16 restaurateur Shelley Lindgren — knighted by Ortona in 2019 as a cultural ambassador, a Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia — proudly served Italian wines and ale.
The Ortonas are en route to Rome, Lorenzo’s hometown, where he will next serve in the Diplomatic Advisors Office of the Prime Minister. International diplomats typically are posted to four-year missions, which, depending on the diplomat, can feel overly long.
But Ortona’s tenure was too brief: His skill connecting San Franciscans and Italians, joyfully sharing the music, cuisine and culture of his native land, forever defines him as one of the City’s finest consuls general.