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Federica Bertocchini is the Prima Donna 2017

Federica Bertocchini scopritrice del bruco della plastica

Federica Bertocchini is the Prima Donna 2017

The Casato Prime Donne Award 2017 goes to the biologist Federica Bertocchini and to the journalists  Pietro Di Lazzaro, Stefano Pancera and Vannina Patanè

Federica Bertocchini winner of the Casato Prime Donne award 2017

Federica Bertocchini winner of the Casato Prime Donne award 2017

Federica Bertocchini 49 years old, a molecular biologist from  Piombino has discovered the worm that eats plastic. A discovery that might resolve great environmental problems, especially in the sea where there is a floating isle of garbage the size of  Texas. Regardless the discovery, because of a shortage of funds for research Federica, for the past few months has been unemployeed.

To  Federica Bertocchini and the world of science , generous and attentive so the environment that she represents, goes the Casato Prime Donne Award 2017 by unanimous decision of the jury, made up of Donatella Cinelli Colombini President, and Rosy Bindi, Anselma Dell’Olio, Anna Pesenti, Stefania Rossini, Anna Scafuri and Daniela Viglione.

Together with her, in the journalistic and photography sections, reserved to those who have best divulged Montalcino and its wines, the awards go to

Pietro-di-Lazzaro-TG3--Casato-Prime-Donne-Award -2017

Pietro-di-Lazzaro-TG3–Casato-Prime-Donne-Award -2017

Pietro di Lazzaro for his TV program on the  50th  anniversary of the  Consorzio del Brunello shown on TG3 RAI, Stefano Pancera for the program titled Il futuro del vino italiano nelle mani dei giovani  shown on Mattino 5 Mediaset and Vannina Patanè for the article Montalcino acqua e vino published in “In Viaggio” in April 2017. To these will be added the photographer of the best photo of the Brunello and Orcia territories that shall be chosen during the month of August among 5 finalists by a popular jury online.


Federica Bertocchini discovered worm that eats plastic

Federica Bertocchini discovered worm that eats plastic

The 2017 Prima Donna 2017 Federica  Bertocchini is an example of the difficulties research scientists go through, those who do not produce patents or industrial applications. It is also a demonstration that discoveries can still occur outside of laboratories as has happened in the past  to  Galileo and to Newton.

Federica Bartocchini studies vertebrate embryo cells ; the 20 scientific publications, all in English on important scientific magazines, regard birds, and reptiles in the first phases of life. Twenty years spent in laboratories in  New York,  London and Santander in Spain  until in 2010 in clearing a bee hive in Santander where she is living at the moment, she  encounters the wax worm –Galleria mellonella- and she realizes that is eats plastic, it breaks down the chemicals in polyethylene.

Casato Prime Donne Award

Casato Prime Donne Award

The discovery travels the world over and  Federica Bartocchini together with her colleagues Paolo Bombelli and Chris Howe from the University of  Cambridge publish it on “Current Biology” even before understanding if the molecule of plastic is broken by the worm or by  bacteria in his intestines. What is most important is that the polyethylene is broken down into much smaller pieces. Obviously the biggest challenge is   << to reproduce the molecule in laboratory and certainly not to hoard worms to fight pollution>> .  But to reach this result there is a problem: from April 18th 2017 Federica Bartocchini is unemployed. Her research contract with the  Spanish CNR has run out and she lives with an unemployment cheque while waiting to find, someone, who believes in her talent and in the discovery she has made, and who will give her the possibility to return to the laboratory. The Casato Prime Donne Award 2017 wants to launch an appeal in favour of her and all of the  “poorer research” that do not produce immediate income but maybe quite for this reason, cannot be left without finances.


The ceremony of the 19th edition of the Casato Prime Donne Award will take place on Sunday September 17th at 10,30 at the  Teatro degli Astrusi in Montalcino.

The award emphasizes those who write about, divulge and photograph in a particularly effective way the territory and the wines from Montalcino. It also emphasizes the new female profiles and the women who are of example to all others.

Vannina Patanè Casato Prime Donne award 2017

Vannina Patanè Casato Prime Donne award 2017

Each of them leaves a quotation that will be exhibited forever at Casato Prime Donne, the first all female staffed winery in Italy that in fact sponsors the award.


Past winners:

2000 – Francesca San Vitale – writer

2001 – Paola Capriolo – writer

2002 – Marta Morazzoni – writer

2003 – Carla Fracci – leading ballerina

2004 – Kerry Kennedy – human rights activist

2005 – Cabrinian Missionary sisters

Stefano Pancera Casato Prime Donne Award 2017

Stefano Pancera Casato Prime Donne Award 2017

2006 – Volunteer workers of the Telefono Rosa Association

2007 – Frances Mayes- writer

2008 – Josefa Idem – athlete

2009 – Ilaria Capua – virologist

2010 – Samantha Cristoforetti – astronaut

2011 – Carla Fendi – Stylist and cultural patron

2012 – Maria Carmela Lanzetta – Mayor of Monasterace

2013 – Linda Laura Sabbadini Director of the ISTAT Department of Social and Environmental Statistics

2014 – Sandra Savaglio – astrophysicist

2015 – Giuseppina Maria Nicolini – Mayor of Lampedusa and Linosa

2016 – Chaimaa Fatihi – Peace Activist






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