An interview with Nita Tucker

Editorial Staff
April 20, 2006

'The Florentine is not an accomplishment. It's a miracle.'

 

How did the newspaper come about?

 

I came to Florence to fulfil my dream of living here.  I was a management consultant working with several multi-national corporations, always travelling and planned to continue, with Florence as my base.  My husband’s career, as a financial consultant, was not so flexible - but he agreed to try it out for a year. We soon realized that living in this city is much harder than being a tourist here. It was hard to find out information, to know what’s going on, and to find out how to do things. My husband, Tony, would buy the Herald Tribune every morning, but it didn’t tell him anything about Florence.  Without a local paper, he didn’t feel connected to the place in which he was living.  He even tried reading the Italian newspapers, but after several hours on one article, and maybe mistaking ‘ne’ for ‘non’, he’d usually miss the whole point.  Frustrated, he said that Florence should have a local English newspaper like the weekly we had found in San Miguel de Allende, a town in Mexico. It was a real newspaper, not just a tourist magazine, and had become a necessity for the expats living there. I thought a city the size of Florence had to have a similar publication, but while there were some excellent magazines, there was no current news.  So I decided to it myself.

 

Once you decided to do it, how did you go about starting it?

 

I knew my Italian teacher’s husband, Leo, did something with printing and advertising. So I asked him how I could go about getting something printed. I was looking for something like a Kinkos copy store. He asked me what I had in mind so I told him the newspaper idea and one week later, he asked us to come to meet his partners at their office because they might want to do the paper with us. That was in November and our first issue came out April 21. None of us had a background in journalism, none of us knew exactly what we were doing or how to do it, none of us were fluent in both English and Italian. And Tony and I didn’t have a clue about doing business in Italy - if we had, we probably never would have done it. The Florentine isn’t an accomplishment. It’s a miracle.

 

What do you love most about doing the paper?

 

It’s interesting because I think I’ve done every job there is to do for it. From delivering papers, to proof-reading, to selling advertising and writing sports - so far there has been nothing I haven’t enjoyed doing. I have to admit I love the glamour side of it. I’ve met everyone from the ambassador to the mayor to Richard Branson. I’m invited to the best parties and openings. I’ve had the chance to visit incredible palazzos and eat as a guest at the fanciest restaurants. The paper has given me an entrée into the community that probably no one, Italian or foreign, gets to experience so fully.  I think I have the best job in Florence. Glamour aside, the most satisfying part of the job is being part of something that is such a great service and has the power and privilege to make a tremendous contribution to this community.  Eugenio Gianni, the assistant mayor of Florence, thanks me every time I see him for helping him get his job done. He says that before The Florentine, there was no comprehensive avenue for the city to reach the foreigners living in and visiting Florence.  But the best, most wonderful thing I love about the paper is the people.  The people I’ve met, interviewed, become friends with, the writers who have donated their precious words to us, our editor, the interns, the printer, and my partnersWe started this paper, not knowing each other. We had no signed agreements, and could barely speak to each other.  As a management consultant, I would strongly advise my clients that this is not the way to start a business. But I work with four men - each of them unique, brilliant, creative, hip, hysterically funny, and drop dead gorgeous - and our partnership is what I love most about doing our paper.

 

What has been the biggest challenge?

 

The pace of getting things done.  The other thing is, I really don’t understand the Italian culture, especially how to do business. Without my Italian partners I would be dead in the water. Even after 20 years here, I probably still won’t understand!

 

What’s your vision for the paper in the future?

 

To me, the primary purpose of the paper is to give English-speaking people who have difficulty reading an Italian newspaper a way to feel more connected to the place where they live.  It’s not a paper for expats to meet each other. It’s meant to make it easier for an English-speaker to go to concerts or to understand the Italian passion for calcio or politics. We want to help and enhance the reader’s participation in and appreciation of the community of Florence.

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Digital Communication 2020, Autenticità e Semplicità con l’immancabile Storytelling - Dotflorence Blog

14 days and 6 hours and 54 minutes ago
[…] di The Florentine che nasce dalla domanda, o meglio dall’esigenza di una signora americana, Nita Tucker, che desiderava conoscere le notizie riguardanti Firenze e non parlando l’italiano non sapeva […]