At the age of twenty, having finished high school and done military service, I found myself on the settee at home without any plans. I had grown up thinking that once I left school, I would end up working in a bank. I soon realised it wasn’t that easy and that it probably wasn’t even my ambition.
As a result of a series of coincidences and thanks to a course at Ifoa (a training and employment agency based in Reggio Emilia, TN) and a 3-month internship, I found myself firstly having to work alongside and then stand in for the area manager of a ceramic pottery in Sassuolo and, without giving it too much thought, I was catapulted into a completely different world to the one I had experienced up till then.
New York, Boston, Montreal, Toronto, Detroit, Chicago and Minneapolis, constantly travelling by car with cases of ceramic samples in tow. Knowledge of English virtually zero. I was exploring the world but I was based in Castelnovo ne’ Monti.
I met my wife while on holiday. She was living in Korea at the time, but she is Filipino, with parents in Canada. A year later we decided to get married and we chose Canada as our home, partly because it had been my working area for years.
I lived the first two years with a very big limitation: an eight-week rhythm. I was only able to identify myself as being Canadian for two consecutive months, then I had a mental block with sleepless nights, days when I was incapable of formulating sentences in proper English and loss of appetite. I missed the mountains, coffee and my friends as much as the air you breathe. I regularly needed to go back to my mountains and it was only when my little girls were born that I managed to settle down.
Now, after years of super hardwork, I have chosen a different pace: I am self-employed, sole agent for Italian ceramics in Canada and I can satisfy my need to go back more frequently and arrange to spend the two summer months in Italy with the girls, so as to facilitate the relationship with their grandparents, who don’t like travelling.
The older I get, the more I feel the need to regain strength in this natural environment, both mentally and physically. The ones who live in Castelnovo ne’ Monti often scoff at it, as they are not able to see it through the eyes of those who live far away or of outsiders who are duly enraptured by it.
Here I can find my balance, here I have real friends and I can rediscover the customs and the people I grew up with.
It is not my dream to go back, even though I am aware that my daughters will soon go their own ways, with studies and experiences outside Canada, and culturally we Italians are very attached to the nest. Luckily, I realised this in time: making the most of life with my daughters now is what makes me happy, and doing this below the Pietra di Bismantova (a spectacular block of sandstone, TN), along with my parents, even more so.