Du bist nicht aus Zucker! (you’re not made of sugar!)

There’s a story behind my passion for languages. When I was a little girl, my grandmother taught me some words in German. She had met my grandad in Switzerland, where they had both emigrated. They got married at the foot of some Swiss mountains and then came home to Italy together. My journey has followed a similar trajectory.

At middle school I used to enjoy translating song lyrics and decided to enrol at a liceo in Bergamo that specialized in languages. Later, a three-year bachelor’s degree in Milan was followed by a master’s in Hamburg, with an Erasmus year in Dortmund in between, in an all-female household that spoke a mixture of French and Mexican.

Languages taught me something important – to understand. To listen and to understand first – and only then to act. In Hamburg, where I found work doing online marketing and market research, my co-workers were from Brazil, Finland, and China. Hamburg was the ideal vantage point from which to understand the world of today. An international city of trade – dynamic, busy, but of a manageable size; a city of water, bicycles, bridges, canals – and the omnipresent rain, driving in from the north, hence everybody telling me I wasn’t made of sugar! Hamburg taught me not to be scared of getting wet and how to cycle into a headwind!

In the end I came back home, to the foot of my mountains, with the aim of putting back some of what I had learnt into championing our local resources and heritage – which you only really learn to appreciate once you’ve been away and come back.

Back in Italy, I had an interview with MULTI, and thought, this is the place for me. There was a sense of fun, of things getting done, there were independent women and that blend of hard work and precision that’s a bit German and a bit Bergamascan.

When Giovanna, interviewing me, asked me what I wanted to do, I replied ‘to be a bridge between Bergamo and the world’. Which turned out to be the right answer.