When Fernando Napolitano handed me the thick yellow-ish letter, with the headline “Il Presidente della Repubblica Italiana”, written in all capital letters, I thought we were up for a new joke.
Right in the midst of the Venture Camp, our flagship event, the Iene were just sneaking in, approaching the stage where some of the most relevant CEOs of the largest italian companies were debating the future of Italy.
The timing seemed perfect to crack another joke.
But indeed, the letter and its signature were coming from Giorgio Napolitano, the Italy President.
“I congratulate you for your initiative […], all the best for a successful Venture Camp 2012” he says. Holy cow! “It’d better be a successul Venture Camp 2012” I’m thinking when I’m reading the letter out loud on stage.
Still, it took me a few weeks before I got the full story from Fernando, the other Napolitano, not related to the President.
“We happened to be sitting close to each other during some of the Aspen meetings in Italy. Clearly, as we share the last name. That happened before he became President. In such occasions, you introduce yourself, in particular if there are other international guests:” I’m Napolitano”, he said to the guest.” But we are not brothers”, he urged to add.”
“The letter came in response to a chat I had with the Diplomatic Ambassador to the President, Stefano Stefanini. Mind the Bridge and IB&II are the best things that are happening between Italy and US. Ever. And the President should really attend”
Well, I guess next time we should get prepared to get an unexpected visit too.
Unthinkable. But true.
Go Mind the Bridge!