Seven Steps for Italy. Tips from the Sea from Oscar Farinetti’s Crew

Letizia Airos (May 29, 2011)
On April 25 (Italian Liberation Day) Giovanni Soldini and Oscar Farinetti departed from Genoa on a sail boat. They will arrive in New York on June 2 for the Italian National Republic Day festivities. A crew of leading artists, entrepreneurs, chefs, and sailors travels with them. They bring seven suggestions to create a sound and robust Italy to be delivered to Consul General Francesco Maria Talò in New York.

Crossing the Atlantic in 37 days in order to revitalize Italy. Retracing that ocean which has great significance in the history of Italian emigration. It’s a simple idea, but like all simple ideas, it has that extra something for it to become a success, especially in terms of communicating a message.

The trip is designed to draw attention to the country, which today is going through a difficult period, and seeks to advance Italy toward a positive future with better and clearer ideas. Often the sea brings counsel as Oscar Farinetti knows well, since he along with Giovanni Soldini enthusiastically organized this initiative to compose seven suggestions for Italian politicians and Italian society at large.

These remarkable sailors will propose seven steps to transform the Bel Paese. The crew on board changes at every port, and is comprised of writers, entrepreneurs, and artists such as Alessandro Baricco, Piergiorgio Odifreddi, Giorgio Faletti, Lella Costa, Riccardo Illy, and many others.

The impressive ship, Vittorio Malingri’s 22-meter Oceanic 71, left Genoa on April 25 bound for Palma di Mallorca. It will stop in Gibraltar, followed by Madeira, and is scheduled to reach New York on June 2. Two symbolic dates were chosen: the departure on April 25 (Italy’s liberation from the Nazi-Fascist regime) and the arrival on June 2 (Italian National Republic Day).

It is an initiative that also demonstrates optimism for Italy which celebrates its 150th birthday this year. Exploring, reflecting, considering, discussing, and writing together to arrive in New York and then deliver to the Consul General in New York a slender document that is perhaps critical of the current situation in Italy but is constructive and hopeful nevertheless.

Oscar Farinetti’s son Nicola will be waiting for Oceanic 71 at the port in Manhattan on June 2. He is the manager of Eataly New York, the super-store dedicated to high-quality Italian food products founded by his father.

We ask Nicola to tell us something more about this initiative which is clearly important to the Farinetti family but also represents an astute and effective way to draw the attention to Italian excellence while addressing the difficulties Italy currently faces.

“Seven suggestions outlined in a written policy, but one that is not politicized but rather brings together people with completely different ideas,” says Nicola Farinetti. “I am fairly sure that Piergiorgio Odifreddi and Matteo Marzotto have two completely different approaches to life and the world. But they were on the same boat at the same time to discuss the current situation.”

Over a perfect Italian coffee, he continues to describe the family project with pride. “There are two captains present at all times, the same two for the entire trip. The cooks on board changed regularly but there are always two very talented people on board, both as accomplished chefs and as opinion leaders. On June 2 we’ll see Oscar and Giovanni, Luca Baffiggo and Paolo Nocivelli (our associates for many years and two great sailors), Guido Falck (the son of the steel factory mogul, member of one of the most important families in Italy, and a sailor himself), Simone Perotti (the Italian businessman who left everything behind and followed the path he calls the “necessity for the absence of need”). Then there is Beatrice Iacovoni (Soldini’s second-in-command who has accompanied him on many trips), Francesco Rubino (a portrait painter and cartoonist), Maria Pierntoni Giua (a young singer-actress from Genoa), and Davide Scabin (the multi-starred chef present for the final leg of the journey). I think that’s it; these are the people who should be on board.

In addition to consigning this document to the consul general, Nicola explains that there is also a more commercial aim to the project.

There is a trade wind that is called “marine.” “In search of the ‘marine,’” is a motto of great expeditions. Here it means to bring great Italian wine to the ocean where the “marine” wind is born before it arrives as a breeze every season at our vineyards in Langa. One of the seven steps is to invest in what we do the best, that is, Italian food and wine.   

He closes the conversation by saying, “I am curiously waiting for Oscar. After a month at sea, he’ll come back with 300 new stores in mind, brands, ideas….”

It will be another gust of wind from Italy. To quote the title of the 2007 biography of Turin entrepreneur Oscar Farinetti, the “Merchant of Utopias” strikes again.

At this point we would like to quote Oscar Wilde: “A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing.”

Find the journal, video, and much more on the website for these modern-day sailors at And we will meet them when their ship comes in on June 2. Stay tuned for our video.