Italian Americans have left their mark on the Truckee Meadows, literally and figuratively. They were among the first to settle here. Their ranches have long since been suburbanized, but the families are remembered on street names. State Senator Bill Raggio is often honored, with his name appearing on buildings at the university and the airport.
Businessman turned philanthropist Link Piazzo's name can also be seen at various locations, but, "there are a hundred schools in Washoe County, says local real estate man Clyde Biglieri. "None is named for an Italian."
Wait a minute, there is the Marvin Picollo School in southwest Reno.
"They named it for him because he was a school superintendent, not because he was Italian."
Biglieri is a former Reno City Councilman, and by now you know, he's Italian American, the proud son of immigrants. He's also a member of the Italian Benevolent Society and he's a man on a mission: to have a school named for someone like Galileo, Da Vinci, or Columbus
Biglieri has done his homework and discovered another inequity. "You know how many schools in the US are named for Columbus? 400. How many for Amerigo Vespucci? Zero."
As any student should be able to tell you, Amerigo Vespucci was a contemporary of Christopher Columbus, the first to make landfall in South America. Perhaps the first to recognize the explorers had discovered new continents, not a new route to Asia, and of course, the man who gave his first name to those continents and our country. Biglieri says anyone of those accomplishments should have a school named for him somewhere. Why not Reno?
Besides he says, the kids who go to Vespucci Junior High would have some great mascot names to choose from, the Navigators, or perhaps the Explorers. He's also suggesting Galileo or Da Vinci for a technical school that's up for naming. Either would do a lot of local residents of Italian descent proud.