header i-Italy

Articles by: Letizia Airos soria

  • Facts & Stories

    American Consumers Expect High Quality Products from Italy

    In addition to being a leading brand in the field of Italian gastronomy products, Colavita is also an importer and distributor of many Italian brands, large and small. How do you work with the companies you introduce on the US market? What are the criteria by which they are chosen and what services and support do you offer?

    Twelve years ago we decided to open our US distribution organization to other top Italian brands looking to approach the US market, and today we represent many leading Italian brands and niche producers of unique products. We promote product lines of small manufacturers via e-commerce and larger brands in brick and mortar retail, so we have a differentiated offering in the two channels. E-commerce is a powerful tool for giving niche producers an opportunity get their products in front of a broad audience, while brick and mortar retail is better suited for large scale manufacturers who have the resources available for the investments in slotting and advertising that are required to compete in that channel.

    In your experience, what do Americans expect from Italian products? How would you assess the situation of  the ‘Made in Italy’ brand  in the US food and beverages market today?

    The American consumer is expecting high quality products and long standing family tradition behind Italian food products. Our most difficult challenge on the market is not the Italian sounding brands, but those Italian companies that do not deliver on the quality and standards demanded by American consumers. The market has changed dramatically in the 40 years that Colavita has been distributing Italian products. Today, the consumer values quality and experience before considering a product's country of origin.

    Italy’s success depends largely on the creativity and entrepreneurship of small and medium businesses. How can they be helped to enter the American market and successfully manage their presence here?

    The American market has become more and more competitive over the last 12 years that I have been living here. For a new company approaching the US market, the first and most important step is the selection of the right partner to ensure a shared vision between both companies. Typically, the first measurable success will come via e-commerce and the food service channel, followed by traditional retail. An essential resource, which can be shared between the two companies, is to have a brand ambassador living in the US to support the sales force of the importer, to promote the product, to educate the sales team and the buyers on the brand's history and message.

    As one of the co-founders of Italian Hub Corporation, what’s your take on how the country and its products are communicated in the US? What are some the most common mistakes that companies can make in this regard?

    We decided to create the Your Italian Hub partnership between Colavita and i-Italy because we recognized the need for this in the US market. We saw that the Italian agencies working on strategy and communications for the Italian brands we represent in the US market lack a real knowledge of the US market and consumers. At the same time we also observed a lack of understanding by American agencies of the culture, traditions, and values of Italy and their brands and products.

     

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    Attendance to the "Italian Export Forum" is free-of-charge 

    January 27th  2020
    from 4.00 pm to 6.15 pm

    Please RSVP  [email protected]

    NEW YORK
    SVA - School of Visual Art - SVA  - Theatre
    333 W 23rd St
    New York, New York

     

  • Fatti e Storie

    Italian Export Forum. Una 'casa' per il Made In Italy nel mondo

    Lei ha fondato l'Italian Export Forum. Quale è lo scopo di questa organizzazione e quanto è importante per il business italiano?

    L’Italian export forum nasce con l’obiettivo di offrire una ‘casa’, un luogo di incontro e confronto, agli attori dell’export  per valorizzare il Made in Italy nel mondo, partendo da una strategia definita in grado di promuovere un salto di qualità verso un’esportazione strutturata dei prodotti italiani all’estero. Lo Ief ha intercettato l’esigenza di un’organizzazione trasversale di  imprese ed istituzioni e il Forum si pone come strumento efficace a sostegno delle aziende intenzionate a migliorare e ad avvicinarsi per la prima volta ad una internazionalizzazione di contenuti e non di slogan.

    Il successo italiano dipende largamente dalla creatività e imprenditorialità delle piccole e medie imprese. Come possono essere aiutate ad entrare nel mercato americano e come si può gestire con successo la loro presenza qui?

    In questa fase storica, il nostro Paese ha il dovere di essere al fianco delle proprie realtà produttive che esprimono non solo eccellenza, ma storia e tradizione, racchiudendo un valore che all’estero oggi è già ampiamente riconosciuto. Questo però non basta, perché se da un lato le istituzioni sono chiamate a fare la propria parte, dall’altro bisogna strutturarsi e il Forum è in grado di accompagnare le aziende ad una più duratura e sostenibile presenza sul mercato internazionale. Per essere all’altezza c’è bisogno di preparazione e acquisizione di competenze ed è per rispondere a questa esigenza che il Forum ha promosso il primo master, creato con la John Cabot University, in “Export, Made in Italy e mercati internazionali”. Oggi non c’è più spazio per attività superficiali e destrutturate e noi supportiamo le aziende a penetrare nel mercato grazie ad un progetto consolidato che sta già dando ottimi risultati

    Secondo la sua esperienza quali sono i più comuni errori che possono essere fatti dalle aziende che entrano nel mercato americano?

    Gli errori comuni che ho riscontrato nella mia esperienza sono riconducibili ad un approccio approssimativo al mondo dell’export. Improvvisazioni o facili arricchimenti non aiutano a crescere, mentre bisogna costruire percorsi graduali ma solidi per affacciarsi stabilmente sul mercato estero. Un altro errore è quello che commettono soprattutto le piccole imprese che, non riuscendo a superare un approccio individualista, non si mettono insieme,  attraverso realtà consortili ad esempio, e perdono così opportunità importanti sui mercati esteri.

    Cosa ha rappresentato la prima edizione del Forum tenuta la scorso anno a Sorrento?

    La prima tappa dello Ief è stata l’occasione per analizzare i problemi legati all’export, insieme agli attori imprenditoriali e istituzionali. Alla presenza di circa 300 aziende e numerosi esponenti del mondo economico e istituzionale italiano, si è avuta l’opportunità di un interessante focus sulle difficoltà e le opportunità da cogliere. Ne è uscito un quadro di criticità che rappresentano di certo un primo input per il lavoro del Forum e di quanti vi aderiscono. Si è compresa la necessità di favorire un attento utilizzo delle risorse per la promozione e l’internazionalizzazione evitando duplicazioni e dispersioni. Ciò che è emerso con forza è come il tema dell’export debba essere elemento unificante tra pubblico e privato e non terreno di scontro legato a questioni di deleghe o competenze tra ministeri o enti.

    Per quale motivo ha aperto questa 'finestra sull'America? Quale è l'obiettivo?

    Aprire una finestra sul mercato statunitense significa rivolgersi ad una fascia di consumatori che adorano i prodotti italiani. C’è una notevole domanda che al momento è soddisfatta solo in modo marginale e  non evadere la domanda non solo favorisce il mercato delle imitazioni delle nostre eccellenze, un fenomeno che attualmente non riusciamo a contrastare in modo efficace, ma si traduce nella rinuncia a  straordinarie opportunità di crescita per il mercato del Made in Italy. L’obiettivo è affermarsi sul mercato statunitense con la qualità del Made in Italy al giusto prezzo.  E’ una sfida importante che, anche grazie al ruolo del Forum, potrà essere colta con successo.

     

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    Attendance to the "Italian Export Forum" is free-of-charge 

    January 27th  2020
    from 4.00 pm to 6.15 pm

    Please RSVP  [email protected]

    NEW YORK
    SVA - School of Visual Art - SVA  - Theatre
    333 W 23rd St
    New York, New York

     

  • Facts & Stories

    Being Successful in the U.S. Market: A Few Crucial Issues and 10 Quick Tips

    Mr. Totino, in your experience as a business consultant, what  are the major Issues faced by Italian businesses who come to the U.S.? How do you help them confront these issues?

    When first  entering the U.S. market, Italian companies must face the fundamental cultural issues of the local market: "How  do things work?" and “What's the regulatory structure?” This applies not only at the Federal level, but also state and local. There are 50 states with their own rules and then cities and, overseeing it all is the Federal government. Understanding the complexity of the regulatory and legal environment the company will be operating in is critically important. 

    Once they educate themselves  on these fundamentals, they can then concentrate on a few crucial issues:

    Location: What they sell and the services they provide  will determine what location they should to be in. They need to consider their  market and their distribution strategy.

    Budget: They need to structure a realistic budget and devote the resources/investment necessary to be successful. This means preparing to experience  some tough financial results, sometimes over a few years

    Personnel: Who do they need to hire and what's the availability for their  target employees

    Training: What's  the plan to train personnel to fit their needs

    Benefit Costs: In addition to salary expenses, new employers  need to consider the cost of employee benefits like medical plans, retirement benefits, and other  benefits, some mandated bylaw.

    Tax Code Compliance: Not only Federal but states and local.

    Consultants: Selecting the appropriate consultants to assist, guide and explain all of the issues and potential opportunities mentioned above. The consultants you choose should have the requisite experience, talent, breadth and depth to provide  cogent advice at each stage of the process. You want advisors who can help you navigate and who have the capacity to grow with your long-term needs.

    It has been my experience  that businesses that prepare themselves by performing the requisite  market research and align with experienced consultants have been the most successful.

    Italy's success depends largely on creativity and entrepreneurship of small and medium businesses. How can they be helped to enter the American market and successfully manage their presence here?

    Getting help and being prepared before they enter the U.S. is, in my opinion, the key to success in a new market like the U.S. Here are my 10 quick tips:

    1) Do the market research to identify opportunities for the products you want to produce and sell or the services you want to offer: “What is their competition like?”  “Where is the market?” “What differentiates your offering from others already in the U.S. market?”

    2) Determining where to locate is also critical because it impacts costs and can position your company close to the markets you want to serve. 

    3) Investigate incentives. There are many states and localities that offer various incentives for a company to set up in their state/city.

    4) Have sufficient financial resources available to sustain your venture for a few potentially  lean years.

    5) Connect with the "right" advisors; those who can provide analysis and appropriate  advice before the venture begins. This is very important. Your advisors need to be practical and realistic. lfthe plan to enter the U.S. is not supportable, they should so advise.

    6) Have the right leadership and personnel.

    7) Do not enter the US market at a scale you cannot sustain; start small if that is what it takes.

    8) Be realistic and do not expect great results immediately. Patience is important. Expect to experience some short term failures which can prepare your business for long term success.

    9) Do your homework  at home in Italy before you go to school in the U.S.

    10) Hire and retain the best advisors for your business at the start.

    Speaking from your own experience, what are some of the most common mistakes that companies can make in this regard?

    I have nearly 46 years of experience in this area and I have experienced failures and 1  have had the pleasure of seeing enormous successes. Over confidence and a "know it all" mentality are the most dangerous mistakes. My comments above are the result of this experience.

     

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    Attendance to the "Italian Export Forum" is free-of-charge 

    January 27th  2020
    from 4.00 pm to 6.15 pm

    Please RSVP  [email protected]

    NEW YORK
    SVA - School of Visual Art - SVA  - Theatre
    333 W 23rd St
    New York, New York

     

  • Facts & Stories

    “We Need to Educate the Trade and the General Public”

    You are the President of ‘Gruppo Italiano’. Why did you establish an organization that regroups the Italian restaurant presence in the US together with professionals in the import/export and distribution sectors? 

    GRUPPO ITALIANO (GI) was established in 2017 on the heels of its predecessor organization, GRUPPO RISTORATORI ITALIANI (GRI) to keep a strong educational voice before the trade.  We wanted to discuss the Italian cuisine authenticity and the sustainable practices used to produce quality Italian products; explore and help solve the challenging issues facing the hospitality industry as a whole; and create a better understanding of the importance of Italian cuisine being viewed as top quality, healthy, nutritious and safe.  It is of critical importance for the Italian restaurants, importers, and distributors to engage in dialogue and then speak in a united voice to get these ideas out into the general public (essentially our customers) and also into the marketplace. There is no trade organization filling this role at the moment with exception of the Italian Trade Commission with whom we have a wonderful working relationship in seeking these goals.

    Why is it important from your perspective to discuss Italian export in the US?

    The trade and the general public consumer(s) need to be educated on what it takes economically to present high quality products that make up the menus at our Italian restaurants across the country.  Good Products are greatly affected by sustainable and traditional farming and manufacturing processes in Italy. There are reasons—-economic and otherwise—-why menus vary, and why one restaurant is more expensive than another.  They both have delicious dishes, but the price differences and other factors need to be understood so that the consumer can make educated choices on what and where they eat.  Believe me, there is much more work to do in this area.  Educating the trade and the general public is a never-ending endeavor.

    How would you assess the situation of  the ‘Made in Italy’ brand  in the US food and beverages market today?

    The importance lies once again in education and the promotion of the notion of “authenticity”.  Great Italian dishes are made from great Italian products, “Made in Italy”.  That is simple to understand.  However, great Italian dishes in the US are also made using wonderful local products, employed in creative ways by Italian-American and American chefs.  I applaud that trend in our business.  But I do not want the trade and consumers here to lose site of quality, spirit, tradition, and history of Italian cuisine. To explore variations of traditional dishes is a natural outcrop of the world getting smaller, with more and more people traveling and experiencing other countries.  Thus the defining of “authenticity” has become a complex issue—-and we will be holding a seminar soon to discuss this. Regardless of its definition, “authenticity” provides a reference point (a gold standard, if you will) that allows us to better understand and enjoy our cuisine and the creatively to freely explore the variations of our national and regional dishes

    What's the Italian place and role in the restaurant scene of New York and other big US cities?

    According to the National Restaurant Association's “Global Palates”, Italian food still reigns as a favorite among consumers.  Other surveys may put Chinese or Mexican cuisine first.  Regardless, and undoubtedly, the position of Italian cuisine is strong in the minds of restaurant patrons.  This is an enviable position.  However, many consumers still are confused as to what is real Italian cuisine.  Many merely define favorites like pizza, chicken parmigiana,and spaghetti and meatballs as sole representations of Italian cuisine.  I feel strongly that the role of Italian restaurants—as GRUPPO ITALIANO sees them—need to go further to help define and offer consumers what is true, authentic Italian cuisine.  We again must take the role, through our businesses, of educating the trade and general public.  Restaurants are on the frontline of this responsibility.

     

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    Attendance to the "Italian Export Forum" is free-of-charge 

    January 27th  2020
    from 4.00 pm to 6.15 pm

    Please RSVP  [email protected]

    NEW YORK
    SVA - School of Visual Art - SVA  - Theatre
    333 W 23rd St
    New York, New York

     

  • Facts & Stories

    “Stronger together”: The Secret of Promoting the Made in Italy Brand.

    ARTICOLO IN ITALIANO >>

    In the past decades the “Made in Italy” brand has conquered America, from food to fashion. What is in your opinion on the status of 'Made in Italy' in today’s market, particularly within the food industry?

     

    “Let’s start by prefacing that Italian products have always added great value to foreign markets and that’s a fact, a chance that others don’t have. To be clear, we didn’t create this valuevout of thin air, we found it thanks to our identity, which stems from an incredible reality made up of ancient municipalities, each with their own traditions. 

    We have been less capable than others to make good use of this immense heritage and today we understand that in order to remain attractive we have to elevate our competitiveness by focusing on things such as technological investments on infrastructure and increasing the level of the workforce involved in the production. We have to do more.

    To remain relevant we have to keep up with the times, interpret the evolution of the consumer and continue to propose a product imbued with the values unique to our tradition. We are no longer able to remain attractive with the 'Made in Italy' label alone.”

     

    In your experience, what do Americans expect from Italian products?

     

    “The American consumer - but in general any evolved consumer - requires a product that is not only ‘physical’ but also ‘emotional.’ When someone purchases an Italian product today, they are also purchasing a part of culture, our culture, our way of life, because all of this takes place in a specific environment, Italy, which is considered unique and irreplicable. 

     

    I’m thinking of the fashion world and our great interpreters who are constantly presenting masterpieces with each of their collections, or of the food coming from the different regions of our incredible country: from parmigiano reggiano to mozzarella di bufala from Campania, from prosciutto crudo to Calabrese soppressata, from spaghetti to orecchiette; products that speak to the expert skills and traditions of small businesses or to the advanced technology of our great manufacturing companies. Between its DOP and IGP products, Italy has over 200 specialties, unique for their flavors but also for the traditions they represent. When consumers purchase an Italian product, they ultimately want to live a bit of our tradition, to make it their own.”

     

    Italy’s success is largely due to the creativity and entrepreneurship of our small and medium businesses. What should we do to help them position themselves on the American market and manage their presence here?

     

    “Creativity and entrepreneurship alone are not enough, there should be an integrated system to support our businesses and allow them to present themselves in a more ‘institutional’ manner in the market. I’m thinking of France, which has made its embassies the institutional promoters of its businesses. We, on the other hand, have a network of delegations, with undefined roles, just think of embassies and trade agencies, in addition to the many difficulties that the government with its choices is not helping to resolve.” 

     

    In other countries, companies work together, and as we know, we are stronger together and today size is a critical factor when it comes to entering a new market. 

     

    “Our production chains should organize themselves better and dedicate more resources to trademark protection, because if we look at the data on fake ‘Made in Italy’ products (known as “Italian sounding,” ed.) we notice that it amounts to a value of up to 100 billion dollars. Low-cost imitations have increased by almost 70% in the last 10 years and this means that our production chains as well as our politicians haven’t been doing enough.

     

    Specifically in the American market, we find mozzarella, parmesan, provolone produced in Wisconsin, California, or in the very state of New York in open violation of the property rights of the original brands. We even find Pecorino Romano (in those same areas) with no trace of sheep’s milk!”

     

    And then there’s the issue of tarifs and commercial policy. Here too, they should intervene.

     

    “Certainly. In 2019, the US commercial strategy was to protect internal production to the detriment of those of the European Comunity by imposing new trade tarifs amounting to 7.5 billion dollars. And the country to suffer the most from this in the food sector was Italy. The Italian Trade Agency estimates a burden of about 120 million dollars on a selection of about 500 million dollar’s wortg of products such as cheese, liquor, meat, preserves, and fruit. The essence is that it's not just the companies making the products but also the final consumers who are being penalized by these difficult relations. Central governments should initiate negotiations with the US government in order to find mutually beneficial solutions.”

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    Attendance to the "Italian Export Forum" is free-of-charge 

    January 27th  2020
    from 4.00 pm to 6.15 pm

    Please RSVP  [email protected]

    NEW YORK
    SVA - School of Visual Art - SVA  - Theatre
    333 W 23rd St
    New York, New York

     

  • Fatti e Storie

    Promuovere il Made in Italy. L'importanza di "fare sistema"

    ENGLISH  VERSION >>

    Nei passati decenni il “brand” del Made in Italy ha conquistato l’America, dalla moda al cibo. Come valuta la situazione del Made in Italy oggi su questo mercato, in particolare per il settore dell’agroalimentare?

    "Partiamo da un assunto: Il Made in Italy è da sempre un grandissimo valore aggiunto per i mercati esteri e questo è un dato di fatto, una fortuna che altri non hanno; sia chiaro non lo abbiamo studiato o creato noi a tavolino, ce lo siamo in qualche modo trovato grazie alla nostra identità che parte dall’incredibile realtà dei comuni che nascono oltre mille anni fa e che vivono ognuno delle proprie tradizioni.

    Di questo grandissimo patrimonio siamo stati meno abili di altri a farne buon uso e oggi abbiamo compreso che per poter continuare ad essere attraenti dobbiamo elevare il livello di competitività facendo dell’altro, come investimenti tecnologici sulle strutture ed elevare il livello del personale coinvolto nel processo produttivo, insomma fare di più.

    Per continuare ad essere presenti bisogna riuscire a stare al passo con i tempi, interpretare l’evoluzione del consumatore e continuare a proporgli un prodotto arricchito di quei valori che solo la nostra tradizione riesce a dare. Unicamente con il nostro 'Made in' non siamo più in grado di rimanere attraenti."

    Secondo la sua esperienza, cosa si aspettano gli americani dai prodotti italiani?

    "Il consumatore americano, ma generalmente ogni consumatore evoluto, richiede un prodotto che sia non solo 'fisico' ma anche 'emozionale'. Quando oggi viene acquistato un prodotto italiano si acquista anche una parte di cultura, la nostra cultura, il nostro essere e il nostro vivere, perché tutto questo viene svolto in un ambiente, l’Italia, che ci viene riconosciuto come unico e irripetibile.

    Penso alla moda con i nostri grandi interpreti che costantemente propongono opere ad ogni loro collezione o al cibo proveniente dalle diverse zone del nostro incredibile paese: dal parmigiano reggiano alla mozzarella di bufala campana, dal prosciutto crudo alla soppressata calabrese, dallo spaghetto all’orecchietta; prodotti espressione dell’esperta manualità e tradizione delle piccole imprese o dell’alta tecnologia delle grandi industrie. Insomma, l’Italia tra prodotti DOP e IGP ha oltre 200 specialità uniche per la loro bontà ma anche per le tradizioni che rappresentano. Il consumatore, quando compra un prodotto italiano, in definitiva vorrebbe vivere un po’ della nostra tradizione, farla un po’ sua."

    Il successo dell’Italia dipende largamente dalla creatività e dall’imprenditorialità delle nostre piccole e medie imprese. Cosa si dovrebbe fare per aiutarle ad entrare sul mercato americano e a gestire la propria presenza qui?

    WCreatività e imprenditorialità da sole non bastano, ci vorrebbe un sistema integrato che supporti le nostre aziende e permetta alle stesse di presentarsi in modo più “istituzionale” nel mercato. Il mio pensiero va verso la Francia che ha fatto delle sue Ambasciate il primo istituto di promozione delle aziende del suo paese. Noi invece abbiamo una rete con deleghe, funzioni e ruoli non ben chiariti, si pensi ad esempio alle Ambasciate ai presidi dell’ICE oltre alle molteplici difficoltà che il governo con le sue scelte non aiuta a risolvere."

    Negli altri paesi le aziende fanno sistema e uniti, si sa, si diventa più grandi e oggi la dimensionalità è un fattore critico di successo per penetrare i mercati.

    "Le nostre Filiere dovrebbero organizzarsi meglio e dedicare più risorse alla tutela dei marchi perché, se andiamo ad analizzare i dati sul falso Made in Italy [il cosiddetto “Italian sounding” n.d.r.] vediamo che nel mondo possiamo riprendere valori che potenzialmente si aggirano intorno ai 100 miliardi di dollari. Le false imitazioni 'low cost' sono aumentate negli ultimi 10 anni di quasi un 70% e questo significa che le nostre Filiere insieme alla nostra politica non hanno fatto abbastanza.

    Nello specifico mercato americano troviamo mozzarella, parmesan, provolone che vengono prodotti tra Wisconsin, California e lo stesso stato di New York in palese violazione della proprietà dei marchi di origine. Troviamo persino del Pecorino Romano (sempre prodotto in queste aree) che non ha minima traccia di latte di pecora!"

    E poi c’è la questione dei dazi e della politica commerciale. Anche qui si dovrebbe intervenire.

    "Certo. Nel 2019 la strategia commerciale americana è stata quella di proteggere le produzioni interne a danno di quelle dell’area della Comunità Europea e parliamo dell’introduzione di nuovi dazi su un valore di import verso gli USA pari a 7,5 miliardi di dollari dove il soggetto più penalizzato nell’agroalimentare risulta essere la nostra realtà italiana. Le stime dell’ICE parlano di un aggravio di prezzo di circa 120 milioni di dollari su un paniere di prodotti come i formaggi, liquori, carni, conserve, frutta che vale circa 500 milioni di dollari. Di tutto quanto detto si potrebbe fare una sintesi affermando che c’è una sola verità e cioè che oltre alle aziende produttrici è il consumatore finale ad eseere penalizzato da questi difficili rapporti. I governi centrali dovrebbero promuovere tavoli negoziali con il governo statunitense al fine di trovare una linea condivisa nell’interesse di entrambe le parti."

     

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    Attendance to the "Italian Export Forum" is free-of-charge 

    January 27th  2020
    from 4.00 pm to 6.15 pm

    Please RSVP  [email protected]

    NEW YORK
    SVA - School of Visual Art - SVA  - Theatre
    333 W 23rd St
    New York, New York

     

  • Op-Eds

    Another Turn of the Key. Nino Marano. 49 Years in Prison

    >> IN ITALIANO

     

    A crude story, but also one filled with humanity, that of Nino Marano, who spent almost 50 years behind bars. Years marked by many turned keys. A life of ups and downs. Characterized by brutal crimes that take place behind bars, but also by the love for his wife and children. 

     

    Nino Marano spends the first years of his sentence going in and out of the penitentiary. At the time he was in fact being investigated in various trials. “<< Marano, go get a job and don’t ever come back,>> Corporal Vasta told me as he handed me a suit, blue pants and a jacket of almost the same color. Who knows where he got them, but they were exactly my size and they were exactly what I needed to concretely feel like I was stepping into a different life.”

     

    “I spent eight wonderful months with my Sarina. I felt like I was finally breathing. I had taken my life back into my hands, I looked for a job,” Nino Marano remembers. But then he is told that he still has to pay his due with justice. “I had to spend 16 months in jail to permanently close with the past...Such news would have sent anyone into despair, but not me...I wanted to pay my debt to justice in full. I willingly walked into the closest police station.”

     

    From here, it gets hard to follow the unbelievable succession of events in which he is involved. Pages of criminal life, involving trials, escape attempts, sentences, prison transfers…

     

    Alongside his personal story, the book traces decades of Italian history. Events that make their way into prison. Marano encounters the brigades, the ‘carceo duro’ measures known as ‘41 bis,’ all these societal changes as seen and experienced on the inside.

     

    An almost unbelievable story, the one told by Emma D’Aquino, but true stories are often hard to believe. It all begins with a couple of stolen vegetables, following a childhood marked by hunger and poverty. The son of a sicilian worker, Marano had four brothers and grew up in a home that “smelled of hunger.”

     

    His recollections give the novel a verist quality. “In the poor man’s house, everyone is right” … “the fork is for the wretched man” … so Giovanni Verga wrote in “I Malavoglia” (The House by the Medlar Tree) 

     

    In “Ancora un giro di chiave. Nino Marano. Una vita fra le sbarre” (Another turn of the key. Nino Marano. A life behind bars) (Baldini Castoldi editions) - TG1 prime time news anchor, with an important reporting career -  takes on a delicate theme. 

     

    The citicalities tied to life in prison are still numerous. According to Italian law, sentences should have an educational purpose with the goal - also through contact with the external world - of re-integrating convicts into society.

     

    I would therefore like to continue here, with my pen, an open reflection that is incredibly difficult and vast, born during the double presentation of the book organized by Your Italian Hub in New York: the first one at St. John’s University with Professor Katia Passerini and her wonderful students; the second at Union Square Loft, where I conversed with Emma along with my colleague Francesca Di Matteo. Consul General Francesco Genuardi was there to introduce the event, while Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, the Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, and the new Director of the Italian Trade Agency Antonino Laspina sat in the audience, speaking to the topic’s appeal. 

     

    I would like to clarify that I do not intend to justify Nino Marano in any way: he is undoubtedly a multiple murderer. A killer. But, to be clear, what initially landed him in jail was the theft of a few peppers and eggplants. 

     

    When we decided to present this book with Emma D’Aquino, I knew that it would be a hard one to explain. I had read it all in one breath last summer, and then returned to it several times, gone through its pages to review some passages. His story, though unique, leads to broader reflections.

     

    The first one is: Emma D’Aquino - through the words of Nino Marano - recounts life in prison as it was decades ago, how much has changed in Italian penitentiaries since then? And the second one, since we are in New York: Is it true that the US prison system is even harsher? Also: how should we view the “re-educational function of sentences” when life in prison can actually push people towards violence? And finally: do we all agree that prison should have such a function rather than simply a form of payback?

     

    Emma D’Aquino’s is an accurate, detached, controlled, careful tale by a deeply sensitive reporter.

     

    She investigated, scrutinized, observed Nino Marano. A criminal with no affiliations to mafia clans, proud, a “one man show” of sorts, who from one penitentiary to another becomes time and again a murderer.

     

    There are several aspects that stand out about him. In his words, we make out a sort of moral code, his “immoral morals.” Something primordial, ancestral, that comes from his humble and misfortunate origins, a clear lack of civic culture.

     

    Based on a sort of “necessary evil,” which Nino considers a weapon of legitimate defense against the injustices he and others face. And for Nino legitimate defense justifies violence.

     

    “From my encounters with Nino, I learned that he acts based on a specific personal ethical code, founded on the respect of the innocent, who as such shouldn’t be harmed but protected (and prison guards belonged to this category)” writes Emma D’Aquino. She continues: “I believe he has been the victim of his inability to distinguish clearly between good and evil, without nuance or contamination. A victim of the role of censor he tried to take on within a world deprived of moral rules.”

     

    And next to this man, far away but intimately close, is a woman: his wife. Sarina never abandoned him and his words spell out his love for her. The pages dedicated to this couple, to their children, are very intense. So, he’s a ruthless man, but also deep and attentive towards his wife Sarina, whom he loves and who loves him back.

     

    I can’t help but wonder: did he become violent in prison or was he already violent? Had he been born in a different social context would he have become the same man? Could his life have taken a different path?

     

    It’s clear that we are all the same to begin with. It’s clear that prison did not help Marano to “redeem” himself, as the Italian law and international resolutions to respect human dignity would have it. Instead, detainees are left to fend for themselves "in the wild."

     

    His sentence seems to lead to new deviations. Is there no hope then for Nino Marano? That’s not the case, he too had his chances, especially in the last years. As Italian prisons slowly changed, some people offered him a hand.

     

    At the end of the book there are two chapters. One is titled “The Metamorphosis” and the other “Professor Gioia.”

     

    “My rebirth is derived of a long process, and for it I have to thank those who in these years in prison have helped me to understand, to look inside, to become the man I am today. The teachers, the volunteers, the directors. At the same time, I don’t believe that what happened to me was all my fault, and I can’t say that I have really repented for all that I’ve done in prison.” These words paint the portrait of a man full of contradictions, proud but “tormented by memories,” as the author writes.

     

    However, the book leaves us with a sense of hope, beyond the tragic story it tells. It traces a path towards “redemption.” Many questions about how to live and build a life behind bars today remain.

    I want to conclude by inviting you to read Emma D’Aquino’s beautiful book. To reflect on these deeply human nuances.

    ----

    Ancora un giro di chiave: Nino Marano. Una vita tra le sbarre
    by Emma D’Aquino 

    on Amazon

     

  • Opinioni

    Ancora un giro di chiave. Nino Marano. 49 anni in carcere

    >> IN ENGLISH

    Una storia cruda, ma anche piena di umanità quella di Nino Marano, quasi 50 anni dietro le sbarre. Anni scanditi da tanti “giri di chiave”. Una vita tra cadute e riprese. Delitti efferati che avvengono dentro il carcere. Ma anche l’amore per sua moglie e i figli.

    Nino Marano i primi anni entra ed esce dal penitenziario. Nel frattempo era infatti imputato in diversi processi. “«Marano, se ne vada a lavorare e non si faccia più vedere.» L’appuntato Vasta me lo disse porgendomi un vestito, pantaloni blu con giacca quasi dello stesso colore. Chissà dove li aveva presi, ma erano esattamente della mia taglia ed erano esattamente quello che mi serviva per avere la sensazione tangibile di cambiare vita”

    “Passai otto mesi bellissimi con la mia Sarina. Finalmente mi sembrava di respirare. Avevo ripreso in mano la mia vita, avevo cercato e trovato un lavoro”.  Ricorda Nino Marano. Ma poi viene informato che ha ancora un conto aperto con la giustizia. “Dovevo scontare sedici mesi di carcere per chiudere definitivamente col passato…. Quella notizia avrebbe gettato nello sconforto chiunque, ma non me… volevo pagare fino in fondo il mio debito con la giustizia. Mi presentai spontaneamente nella caserma vicino a casa”. 

    Da qui diventa difficile seguire l'incredibile successione di avvenimenti in cui è coinvolto. Pagine di vita criminale, con processi, tentativi di fuga,  condanne, trasferimenti in diversi carceri ...

    Accanto alla vicenda personale, la narrazione di decenni di storia italiana che entrano in carcere, l'incontro con dei detenuti brigatisti, i "neri", il carcere duro del cosiddetto “41 bis”, i cambiamenti della società italiana visti e vissuti da dentro le mura.

    Una storia che ha dell’incredibile, quella che racconta Emma D’Aquino, ma le vere storie sono spesso incredibili.  Tutto comincia con un furto di peperoni e melanzane, dopo un’infanzia e adolescenza marchiata dalla povertà e dalla fame.  Marano, figlio di un bracciante siciliano, ha quattro fratelli e viene da una casa che "puzzava di fame".

    I suoi racconti sembrano portare in atmosfere da romanzo verista. “Alla casa del povero ognuno ha ragione”... “la forca è fatta per il disgraziato”... così scriveva Giovanni Verga nei “Malavoglia”.

    Con "Ancora un giro di chiave. Nino Marano. Una vita fra le sbarre" (Baldini Castoldi editore) Emma D’Aquino  - conduttrice del TG1 in prima serata, con una carriera importante da cronista - affronta un tema molto delicato. 

    Le criticità legate alla vita nel carcere sono infatti ancora tantissime. Secondo la legge italiana la pena deve avere una funzione rieducativa che tenda, anche attraverso contatti con l'ambiente esterno, al reinserimento sociale. 

    Continuo quindi qui,  con la mia penna, una riflessione aperta perché incredibilmente difficile e vasta, nata nel corso della doppia  presentazione del libro che come Your Italian Hub abbiamo organizzato a New York: la prima alla St. John’s University, con la professoressa Katia Passerini e i suoi splendidi allievi; la seconda in un loft di Union Square, dove a intervistare Emma c’era insieme a me la collega Francesca Di Matteo, preceduta da un’introduzione del Console Generale Francesco Genuardi. Nel pubblico, a dimostrazione dell’interesse del tema, l’Ambasciatrice Mariangela Zappia, rappresentante permanente dell’Italia presso le Nazioni Unite e il nuovo direttore dell’ICE di New York, Antonino Laspina.

    Una premessa importante. Non intendo in nessun modo giustificare Nino Marano: è un pluriassassino, non ci sono dubbi. Un assassino che uccide, ma la prima volta entra in carcere per un furto di peperoni e melanzane. Anche qui non ci sono dubbi.

    Quando abbiamo deciso di presentare questo libro con Emma D’Aquino, sapevo che sarebbe stato difficile raccontarlo. L’avevo letto tutto d’un fiato la scorsa estate, per poi ritornare, più volte, indietro tra le pagine per rivedere alcuni passi.  La sua vicenda, per quanto unica, stimola riflessioni di carattere generale.

    La prima è: Emma D’Aquino - attraverso le parole di Marano -  racconta la vita in carcere di decenni fa; quanto è cambiato nei penitenziari italiani, da allora? E la seconda è, visto che ci troviamo a New York, è vero che negli Stati Uniti il sistema carcerario è ancora più duro? E ancora: cosa dobbiamo pensare della “funzione rieducativa della pena” quando la vita in carcere, in realtà , può perfino spingerti alla violenza? E infine: siamo tutti d’accordo che la pena debba avere questa funzione, e non semplicemente quella “retributiva” della legge del taglione: a tale dolore arrecato, tale dolore comminato?

    Quello di Emma D’Aquino è un racconto accurato, distaccato, controllato nei dettagli, cesellato, da cronista, realizzato con grande sensibilità.

    Ha indagato, scrutato, osservato Nino Marano.  Un delinquente senza affiliazioni a clan mafiosi, orgoglioso, una sorta di “one man show”, che tra un penitenziario all'altro diventa più volte assassino. 

    Ci sono diversi aspetti che colpiscono di lui. Nelle sue parole si evince una sorta di morale, la sua “morale senza morale”. Qualcosa di primordiale, atavico che origina nelle sue umili e sfortunate origini, in un evidente ’assenza di cultura civica.

    Alla base una sorta di "male necessario," che Nino considera come un'arma di  legittima difesa contro le ingiustizie che toccano lui, ma anche altri. E per Nino la legittima difesa ammette la violenza.
     

    “Dalle frequentazioni con Nino ho imparato che agisce in base ad un codice etico particolare e personalissimo, fatto di rispetto per gli innocenti, che proprio in quanto tali non vanno toccati ma salvaguardati (e le guardie carcerarie appartenevano a questa categoria).” scrive Emma D’Aquino. E continua: “Credo che sia stato vittima della sua incapacità di distinguere in modo nette il bene dal male, senza sfumature, senza contaminazioni. Vittima del suo ruolo di censore che ha creduto di assumere , all’interno di un mondo privo di regole morali”.

    E accanto a quest’uomo, lontana ma intimamente vicina, una donna: la moglie. Sarina non lo abbandonerà mai e le parole di Nino per lei ricamano amore. Le pagine su questa coppia, sui loro figli, sono molto intense. Dunque  un uomo spietato, ma anche profondo e attento verso la moglie Sarina che lo ama, riamata.

    Viene spontaneo chiedersi: ma è diventato violento in carcere, o lo era già prima? E se fosse nato in un altro contesto sociale sarebbe stato lo stesso uomo? Poteva la sua vita prendere una strada diversa?

    Ed è  evidente che non siamo tutti uguali nelle condizioni di partenza e questo si dimentica troppo spesso. E’ evidente che quel carcere non ha certo aiutato Marano a “redimersi”, come vorrebbe la legge italiana e in linea con le risoluzioni internazionali, nel rispetto della dignità umana. Invece il detenuto viene lasciato solo in una sorta di giungla.

    La pena per lui sembra diventare lo stimolo per nuovi scempi.  Non esiste quindi alcuna speranza per Nino Marano? Non è così, anche lui ha avuto le sue possibilità, soprattutto negli ultimi anni, mentre il carcere italiano piano piano cambiava, alcune persone lo hanno aiutato.

    Alla fine del libro due capitoli. Uno intitolato “La Metamorfosi”, l’altro la “La Professoressa Gioia. 

    “La mia rinascita è frutto di un lavoro lento, e per questo devo ringraziare chi in questi anni di carcere mi ha aiutato a capire, a guardarmi dentro, a essere l’uomo che sono oggi. Gli insegnanti, i volontari, i direttori. Allo stesso tempo, non credo davvero che quanto mi è accaduto sia tutta colpa mia, e per gran parte di quello che ho fatto in carcere, nelle carceri di quegli anni, non posso davvero dirmi pentito”. In queste parole il ritratto di un un uomo pieno di contraddizioni, orgoglioso, ma in un “inferno di ricordi” come scrive l’autrice. 

    Il libro ci lascia però con un senso di speranza, al di là della tragica vicenda che racconta. Si può fare un percorso di ‘redenzione’. Le domande, su come si vive e si costruisce la vita  dietro le sbarre oggi, rimangono però tante.

    Concludo con un invito,  quello di leggere il bel libro di Emma D’Aquino. Per riflettere su tante sfumature intrise di umanità..

     

    ----

    Ancora un giro di chiave: Nino Marano. Una vita tra le sbarre
    di Emma D’Aquino 

    su Amazon

     
  • Op-Eds

    Why Hold a Book Presentation in Italian in New York?

    Next week, Emma D’Aquino’s book will be presented in two different locations. 

    At St. John’s University, which together with Your Italian Hub is launching a new series of Italian language conversations, and in a characteristically Manhattan-style Union Square Loft, another initiative, also organized by Your Italian Hub, this time with i-Italy and the language school SpeakItaly.

    But the question remains: why would an English language communication agency targeting Americans decide to organize two Italian language initiatives?

    The answer is simple, though with underlying complexities. 

    Perhaps few people are aware that Italian surpassed French and became the fourth most studied language in the world. This is good news, but I’m not here to talk statistics, positive or negative. This is not the time and place.

    Sure, the decision, denounced by Fred Gardaphe (Distinguished Professor, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute and Queens College) in a recently published letter, which sees Brooklyn College cancel its Italian Language Major and Minor programs is extremely worrying, and should be fought, but let’s get to the point.

    Why an Italian language book presentation? How is this useful to an Italian communication company in America?

    I believe that, to promote Italy, we have to introduce people to our culture (in English of course) but without neglecting those who do know the language, who want to practice reading and speaking it.

    There are many such people. The renowned American writer Jhumpa Lahiri is not the only one who loves our language so much she decided to write in Italian. Sure, her writing abilities are extraordinary but I believe there is a world of people who share her passion and whom we have to address.

    That’s what we’re trying to do. Little by little. Because I believe that the foreigners who speak Italian are among the best Ambassadors of the Italian way of life. They love Italy, they live “all’italiana,” as the slogan created by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs puts it, and they speak its beautiful language.

    Will there be few Americans present? Since this is the first time, there is that risk, but I would like to put this initiative out there, to have it spread by word of mouth. 

    It’s a project in which I deeply believe and I would like to thank Katia Passerini, Dean of the Collins College of Professional Studies at St. John’s University and her team for participating in this project. I would also like to thank Raffaella Galliani, the founder of SpeakItaly for supporting us with genuine enthusiasm.

    So, we are waiting for you. Nino Marano’s story deserves to be known and reflected upon. “Behind bars my hands were tainted with blood,” Nino Marano declares. And that’s something to ponder.

    His criminal career begins with the theft of peppers and eggplants. Prison was supposed to reeducate him but inside he kills someone and never gets out. He’s detained in several penitentiary institutions: from Catania to Pianosa, Termini Imerese, then again Pianosa and again Catania. 49 years spent behind bars.

    And on this occasion, you will also discover the exquisite prose of the talented Emma D’Aquino, who is not only one of the most famous faces of Italian news, but also an incredible author.

     

    S. John University 
    Next Thursday, November 21 at 12:15pm 
    8000 Utopia Pkwy
    Queens, New York|
    2nd floor of St. Augustine Hall.

    ----

    Union Square Loft
    Next Friday, November 22
    RSVP
    [email protected]
    Limited Spots - Reply by November 18UNION SQUARE LOFT
    873 Broadway, NY 10003

     

     

     
  • Art & Culture

    Mauro Porcini: Advice on Building and Promoting the “Italy Brand” Worldwide

    Mauro Porcini joined PepsiCo in 2012 as the company’s first Chief Design Officer. Through innovative design, Porcini has revitalized PepsiCo’s image in pop culture with new products, packaging, advertising, and social media communication. He has provided this top company with a fresh new approach that extends to brands such as Gatorade, Tropicana, Doritos, amongst hundreds of others.

    With Mauro Porcini I have a conversation that ranges from his personal history, his work as a designer in America to some important considerations about  "Italy Brand".

     

     We could say you brought Italian design to Pepsi ...

     I brought design with an Italian approach. 

    Let’s start from the beginning, where does your passion for design come from?

     I have two passions: the humanities and visual art. 

    They come from my parents, my father was an architect and loved drawing, he painted all his life. My mother had a passion for literature, she was always writing.  

    Just as I was getting ready to sign up for architecture, a schoolmate told me they just opened a new program inside the architecture department called Industrial Design. I took the test, got in and found the program of my dreams. I didn’t think there was a school for this. And so I began this fascinating, amazing journey. 

    When did you become aware that it’s important to combine passion and creativity with the market?

    You figure that out quickly when you enter the professional world. But maybe the strongest revelation was when I began working for multinational companies. When you start to deal with global business volumes - I worked for a 30 billion dollar company. That’s what made me understand that I had to use design to create value for the company. 

     So what did you learn from Stefano Marzano?

    Stefano Marzano was head of design at Philips. I met him when I had just entered university. I elected him as my mentor. I began to write to him, letters, about design. 

    Every time he came to Italy, I went to see his conferences. 

    Then he made a small gesture, he sent me two of his books in English because he said I really had to learn English if I wanted to do something in life. And this changed my life. I had been admitted to go study in Paris but waited a year and went to Dublin instead.

    He also had a very humanistic, philosophical approach to design, he did it “all’Italiana”. 

    He brought a much more sophisticated approach. He inspired me. Then I began working in international companies and found out that everywhere else the approach was much more basic and business oriented. It was very different. 

    I started from his approach but eventually I also learned a lot from the Anglo-American culture.

    In 2010 you came to America, to Minneapolis.

     I moved to America while working for 3M. I had been working there since 2002. In 2005 I started leading my own American teams and in 2010 I finally moved there.

    At first they didn’t want me to go to America. They thought that I had to remain in a place that was design-driven, like Italy. But in truth there’s no bigger mistake. If you want to change the culture of a business you have to start from its headquarters. 

    It was an interesting time. In that period in America, there was starting to be more awareness of the importance of design within businesses. 

    The media played an important role in this, they began to speak to CEOs and business leaders about design. Something that for example we don’t do in Italy. Which is absurd because it’s the country of design and the business media don’t talk about design, which is an important player in our economy. 

    But going back to 2010, yes, some were understanding the importance of design in business but few were choosing to invest in design internally. And even if they did they made classic mistakes, they didn’t set up the right structure. 

     I wanted to make a perhaps bold but fitting comparison between the mistakes that those companies were making then, like not investing in design and to letting their promotion get dealt with externally. Do you think that our country is doing the same now, in terms of nation branding and of creating an image of Italy in the world?

    I think that our biggest difficulty right now comes from our cultural background. We are resting on the glory of the past in many different areas. The post-war era was very successful, not only in our country but internationally, in terms of branding.

    Now we live in very different times, we have to learn how to dialog with all the other players and realities.

    We have to understand what we have that others don’t have but with less arrogance and more respect for other countries. And we have to understand what’s important, what’s relevant to other cultures so that we can promote our wealth our resources in a way that is aimed specifically at them.

     We need to work on cultural mediation. Where would you start in order to build the Italy brand?

     There is little cultural contamination and little dialog with other countries. It’s important that we have this dialog in order to understand each other in a deeper way.

    Just like in business, you have to understand what motivates the actors, to communicate.

     How important is it for the promotion, in this case the promotion of Italy, to be integrated, not divided?

    Very important. If you don’t have a unique, coherent story as a brand, you can easily become schizophrenic. You behave differently every time and you lose authenticity. So it’s very important to have one story and to show how this story can be applied to different contexts and situations.

    We also have to consider our weaknesses, starting from the fact that we have the reputation of being very creative but also chaotic, not capable of working on process, strategy.

    This creates mistrust towards our country that oftentimes leaders have to overcome. Another weakness is our incapacity to work together. We are jealous. 

    The third weakness is our difficulty in scaling up. This is tied to our incapacity to delegate, organize and strategize.

    If we have an idea that’s born in Italy, but then we have to produce in China and sell around the world and we have a marketing team that’s only in America, then we have a problem.

    Because such a global approach requires a structured system.

    How did you get to PepsiCo? What were the most important steps?

     It was a good time for the company. PepsiCo was in a moment of great change. I met with Indra, our CEO, during the interview process and I understood that she would have given me the opportunity to express myself. I had never worked in the food and beverage industry, it was a challenge and a risk. But I like to push myself out of my comfort zone.

     What was the first thing you did in Pepsi?

     When you start in a new company, you have to create value to gain credibility.

    So one of the first projects with which we brought value was the redesigning of PepsiCo. 

    Pepsi had many different images in different countries. We brought them together and created one unique coordinated image, which had great success both in terms of brand engagement but also in terms of productivity.

    And from there it all started. Indra, our CEO, gave me the possibility to create my own team. I hired a few people in New York, I created the physical design space here in Manhattan. From there we began to build demand within businesses. 

     

    Fast-forward to now, 6 years later, we have 220 people, we are hiring, we keep growing, we have more locations around the world. And now design is stronger than ever.

     

    What I like a lot about American businesses, is the total meritocracy and the mobility of the market so you can attract the best talent, and even if they’re not the right fit, they move, reposition themselves. It’s something we don’t have in Italy.

    Tell me about the famous Pink Lion.

    I was in Minneapolis and I saw this fiberglass lion in the street. I liked it and picked it up. I put it in front of my house and painted it pink. Part of it was to celebrate my “Italianita’” (lion of San Marco). Part of it was to celebrate my creativity and not taking myself seriously. It was a symbol and it became famous, people started coming to photograph it. A reporter from Fast Company came to do an interview and took a photo of me and my wife in front of the pink lion. 

     Let’s talk about Italy. You told me about the steps you took in Pepsi, now can you tell me about the steps you would like to take for Italy?

    I would identify who the target audience is. Entrepreneurs, people who want to visit Italy, or maybe people who want to invest in Italy. Or maybe we’re trying to create a “sistema paese” that we want to export abroad. 

    So we identify the different types of target audiences and we find out who are the influencers for each one. Then we decide which are the values that we want to sell to these target audiences. In each country, we have to find Italians who live there and can help us create the right message for that context. 

    And another great resource, here for example, are the Americans who love Italy and are very competent. 

    Exactly, mixed with Americans who understand Italy. 

    A concrete example is Milan’s Design Week. 

    It’s the most important business event in Italy, it attracts 500 thousand people each year. 

    During Design Week, Milan promotes all types of sectors, automobile, fashion, food and beverage, etc. 

    When delegations come here in New York to promote Milan Design week, all the communication is focused on interior design. So they lose huge investment opportunities. 

    If we talked about Design Week as an occasion to be exposed to innovation in all sectors, or even where to propose your ideas to an international and varied audience, it would bring incredible investments to Italy. And this is just one example. 

    ------

    This interview is part of a series of Letizia Airos Soria's lectures at the Master of Internationalization and communication of the 'Sistema Paese" at Link Campus University in Rome.
    She is also a member of the Scientific Committee of this Master.

    ---

    St. John's University in collaboration with Your Italian Hub presents A Night of Design with Chief Design Officer of PepsiCo Mauro Porcini, an event dedicated to discussing the social and economic impact of design thinking and human-centered design with one of its major and most successful exponents.

    Click here for more info and rsvp >>>

     

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