With Expo 2015 in nearby Milan and myriad other international events, such as the Flora Firenze flower show in May and Pope Francis’ visit in November, this is a year of opportunity for Tuscan businesses. The Florentine spoke with Leonardo Bassilichi, president of Florence’s Chamber of Commerce, about how local companies can seize the moment and showcase their excellence in the global spotlight.
Helen Farrell: On the occasion of Angela Merkel’s recent visit to Florence, the Chamber of Commerce launched the hashtag #shareflorence. Can you explain the reasons for choosing this hashtag and what the project is all about?Leonardo Bassilichi: There’s a meaning and an aim behind #shareflorence. The aim is to stimulate all the companies in and around Florence to look up and get involved. Florence has some fantastic firms as well as some companies that are not doing so well. Italy has all this energy; yes, we create casino and we don’t have procedures; Italians get into a mess, but we also have energy. Unfortunately, today there’s a risk, with the financial crisis, that this energy might get lost, so we want to stimulate firms to say, ‘Yes, we’re here,’ to dust off their businesses and show off everything that they have. Secondly, it’s a marketing exercise. Ultimately, #shareflorence is about showing all of these businesses and their portfolios to the world. Florence is a unique brand, after all.
HF: With all of the international events taking place in Florence this year, this is the right moment to be promoting Florence as a brand.LB: Absolutely. This awareness-raising campaign began with Angela Merkel’s visit, but it will run through to November with the pope’s visit. Florentine companies must energize themselves this year, and it’s our job to encourage and boost them. We have a whole calendar of events that we’re promoting on an international and domestic level.
HF: We know that the Chamber of Commerce is active on Twitter. What’s your take on innovative participation projects such as the Duomo’s current Embrace the Baptistery and Santa Croce’s Crazy for Pazzi crowdfunding campaigns?LB: They’re fantastic projects and I’ll actively participate in all of them. But, I fear, Florence isn’t ready for them yet, culturally speaking. First, we need to create the culture of sharing, and, unfortunately, right now we have a culture of envy. That’s the nature of Florence and history.
HF: You became president of Camcom in June last year and we’ve already noted some change. What are your aims for the Chamber of Commerce?LB: We have lots of projects that we’re working on, but there is one fundamental aim, the project of all projects: to make the Chamber of Commerce a useful tool to businesses. I’d like, before too long, to walk around Florence, to go to Empoli or into the Chianti area, and to ask people their opinion about the Chamber of Commerce and to hear them reply, ‘Let it stay.’ Right now, the reply is, ‘Close it’. I’d like people not to say, ‘Yes, it’s great and it works,’ but simply, ‘Keep it open.’
Upcoming #Expo2015 events promoted by Florence’s Chamber of Commerce
I_DomeOpening to the public in the courtyard of Palazzo Vecchio, on April 30 during the citywide Notte Bianca event, the I_Dome will contain cutting-edge multimedia installations promoting Florentine arts+crafts and food+wine. See theflr.net/idome for more information.
Houses of ExcellenceRunning from May 1 to 31 October, the Houses of Excellence will present a rotating show of arts+crafts and food+wine from leading Florentine firms.
Culinary CenaclesMay 28, June 11+26, July 16, September 10+24, October 1+15Leading Florentine chefs will cook dinner in the city’s most striking green spaces, using organic and local ingredients.
Bread FestivalFrom June 20 to September 30A celebration of bread at Florence’s former granary, Orsanmichele, and its surrounding streets.