Florence, March 2015

Stefano Gabbrielli
is the new President of Confindustria Firenze Piccola Impresa – the Florence chapter of the small-business industrialist association. Small businesses are prevalent in the Florence area and account for 65% of the Confindustria membership. ENIC is one of the three hundred two associated innovative service and technology firms. The new president’s plan is to familiarize small businesses with Confindustria: the owners have little time to devote to getting to know the association and the opportunities it can offer. Another item on his agenda is the relationship with schools/universities: from orientation in the schools to internships to job placements. Meetings with community leaders, and not just business people will be part of the program to increase awareness of the value small firms have in the Florentine business-fabric by involving more and more members in the programs.

On February 16, the President of the Republic of Italy officially opened the exhibition of tapestries by Pontormo and Bronzino that have finally been brought together after one hundred fifty years “apart”. King Vittorio Emanuele II had earmarked the tapestries, that had been commissioned by the Grand Duke Cosimo de’ Medici, for the Salone de’ Dugento in Palazzo Vecchio, but the collection was scattered when the capital of Italy was moved from Florence to Rome. Some of these magnificent tapestries did remain in Florence, in the Salone de’ Dugento where city councils meetings are held, and which in the 1970s hosted several congresses. There is a fine photo of a conference from the period. The incredible thing about the picture is the crowd – that would be unthinkable today with the tapestries still on the walls, the wires for the simultaneous translation equipment and the fact that smoking was still allowed! The tapestries were taken down in the 1980s, and now, after a long and meticulous restoration they are on display in Rome. When the exhibition closes they will be taken to Milan during EXPO 2015, and then will finally return home to Florence after their long and history-making journey.

Giuliano Poletti, Minister of  Labor and Social Policies, opened the Assocalzaturifici (Association of Italian footwear manufacturers) conference in Florence this past November. The conference theme was "Grande Ritorno" – the great comeback, in other words the re-shoring of companies that had transferred production abroad and are slowly come back home. Italy is second only to the United States, on the scale of returns but there are still many legal and economic difficulties to face. The data were reported in a study with an intriguing title, “Il sentimento dei consumatori nei confronti delle calzature made in Italy”  [consumer feelings about made in Italy footwear],  presented by Renato Mannheimer. “During times of strong international competition, “Made in Italy” is a synonym for pride for us. For others who are active on foreign markets, for our competitors and for consumers who buy our products, Made in Italy is a synonym for 'well-made'”, said Luca Lotti, Undersecretary of State, who was at the conference. The meeting, prompted by Cleto Sagripanti, president of the association, was attended by all of the most famous names in this field of Italian excellence who participated in a lively debate that concluded in  an interview with James Ferragamo.

Until a few years ago, when we first organized the CISP (Centro Italiano Smalti Porcellanati) congress which is now coming back to Florence for its twenty-third edition, we certainly didn’t know very much about the glaze we see every day on our home appliances and many other items. It’s also used to clad components of the finest racing-car motors. Delegates from twenty-five countries will be attending, with a huge turnout on the part of China, with fifty-two participants. The full agenda will be rounded off by technical tours around Italy that will include stops at the Whirlpool, Indesit, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, and Ducati factories.

It is with great pride and amidst some polemics that Florence is getting ready to host the FIRST LUXURY CONFERENCE by Condé Nast. Pride because the city was selected as the destination, and polemics because the city’s most important monuments, starting from Palazzo Vecchio, have been granted for the event. The speakers are a cross-section of the luxury industry (including Laudomia Pucci, Karl Lagerfeld, David Lauren, Nadia Swarovski and Roberto Cavalli), with Suzy Menkes,  international fashion editor for worldwide editions of Vogue. Luxury yes, but there is nothing frivolous abut the congress that will discuss the countless aspects of the luxury industry, its manufacturing centers, its markets and its consumers. Dario Nardella, mayor of Florence helped stifle the polemics on the financial level (since the venues were granted against payment of rental fees that will boost the city’s income), and mainly with regard to imaging, since the conference will definitely our area’s role in an industry that is a powerful on the international scene.

This year, we will also be organizing the SIOG (Società Italiana di Oftalmologia Genetica) conference at the Centro Congressi San Raffaele in Milan. Dr. Maria Pia Manitto will open the working sessions of the congress which will be dealing with the classification and diagnosis of genetic diseases of the eye, with special focus on the instruments available to ophthalmologists. Other topics on the agenda include retinal implants and gene therapy, and at the end of the congress, there will be meetings dedicated to patient associations