This morning I had the joy of interviewing a very dear friend of my childhood, author and professor Stephen Spignesi. We were talking about his latest book, “The Titanic for Dummies”. Whenever I run into Stephen, I am always confident that I will see the same person that I used to know in my pre-adolescent years. Still present like an eternal flame, was the humble and smiling personality of the Italian -American boy I grew up with in the old neighborhood of Fair Haven ,where we attended St. Rose School. As we talked I felt a profound sense of pride for what my friend has accomplished, and for the articulate way in which he shares what he knows with the world. Yes, I am proud to know him for that, but as all Italians know, “chi trova un amico trova un tesoro” –when you find a friend you find a treasure. Stephen is definitely one of my lifelong treasures, along with the other gems of my life from that era. We have shaped each other in our most formative years, and for that we will always live in each others hearts. This is what friendship is to every person who has even a drop of Italian blood in them.In a recent survey on happiness, Italians pointed to the quality of their friendships as one of the top indicators of how satisfied they felt in their lives. I a gree. In my book “Dolce Vita” I emphasize the importance of continuing to make new friends as we move forward on our journey but also to hold our old friends close to our hearts–for they are truly a part of who we are, and how we came to be where we are today. If you haven’t made time for your friends lately, drop everything now and go grab a 30-minute cup of coffee with someone you want to reconnect with. Before you know it, your friendship garden will be back in bloom before the end of spring.