Meet Alumnus Ascanio Balbo di Vinadio

Alumnus Ascanio Balbo di Vinadio graduated from JCU in 2011 with a B.A. in Communications. He recently curated the book Longo. Dall’industria alle opere di Marco Angelini (De Luca Editori D’Arte, 2023), which chronicles the history of the Italian stationery brand Longo that belonged to his grandfather. Ascanio is an actor, art collector, and the manager of the Buonanotte Garibaldi Bed & Breakfast in Rome.

Ascanio Balbo di Vinadio, picture by Fabio Lovino
Ascanio Balbo di Vinadio, picture by Fabio Lovino

Tell us about your background.
I was born and raised in Bologna, my mother’s hometown. After high school, I moved to Rome to study Economics at a well-known university but soon after that, I realized that numbers were not my calling, so why waste more time doing something I had no passion for? That led me to Sydney, Australia, where I lived for one year studying English, working part-time, and attending my first acting course at The National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA). When I returned to Rome, I still wanted to earn a degree, and that’s when I learned about John Cabot University’s Communications program.

What made you decide to earn a B.A. in Communications at JCU?
Things always happen at the right time. When I first heard about the B.A. in Communications, I was very surprised by how unique and interesting the program was. The program features courses in all sorts of media, and how they are used and misused in our society, as well as other topics such as art and modern history.

You recently curated the book Longo. Dall’industria alle opere di Marco Angelini. Tell us about it. What inspired you to work on this book?
If you are over 50 years old and are Italian, you might remember the LONGO brand, the Italian leader in the stationery business, which belonged to my grandfather Giorgio Longo. I wanted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his death by commissioning an art show at the Museum of Industrial Heritage in Bologna to artist Marco Angelini. Among the artworks of Angelini, made entirely with LONGO objects, the show presented a number of documents from that time. If you are interested and want to learn more, the Frohring Library owns two copies of my book, where I explain the project in detail.

You’re also an actor. How have your studies at JCU helped you in your career?
JCU’s Communications program offered a number of cinema classes that allowed me to watch and analyze many great classics. These classes provided knowledge and technical skills that every filmmaker, actor, and film lover should have. People who have no interest in film should also take cinema classes, as they might help them develop their sensitivity and ability to analyze human behavior, which is very useful in everyday life, no matter who you are or what you do. 

What JCU class and/or professor impacted you the most and why?
I had experience with Professors Peter Sarram, Antonio Lopez, Andrea Lanzone, Tijana Mamula, to name a few. With them, I was able to better express my artistic side, enthusiasm, passions, and curiosity, which perhaps would have been less appreciated in a more conventional environment. Also, they were great at their jobs: it was very easy to understand and grasp their teachings.

What are your plans for the future?
Besides managing Buonanotte Garibaldi, I recently shot a movie with director Sergio Rubini and organized an art show on artist Luisa Longo’s fiber creations in a beautiful space in Trastevere named Triplef. As a “possibilist,” as a friend once referred to me, I trust that from my instinct and inspirations, many more projects will come to life.