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From London to Puglia: a love letter for restarting from the pandemic

The Coronavirus pandemic has been and still is a very big shock to the entire world.

Thousands of people have been struggling between life and death and sadly many innocents have lost their battle.

Too many families are facing an unprecedented economic, social and psychological crisis, workers are finding themselves on the dole or homeless, even brutal riots are starting in the United States and United Kingdom.

However, as Churchill said, even in the darkest hour we shall fight and defend our values whatever the cost will be, we shall never surrender!

And thus, despite going through such a hardship, I am revealing a little secret that made me overjoyed, which I want to share with you and with all Hermione Homes’ followers: because of my humble contribution to the Italian and English community and the history that binds me and my family to the Apulian tradition and territory, the International Association of the Apulians in the World has nominated me their Honorary Member since last 29 April.

All my life spent packing suitcases and venturing around the world, but I’ve always been so proud of my Apulian origins, that today finding this unexpected recognition I’m really grateful!

The following is a short video of encouragement during the lockdown, which I addressed from the "small" island to my Locorotondesi friends (citizens of Locorotondo, a little and very cute town in Puglia, voted one of the 100 most beautiful “borghi” of Italy), but I wish to meet them in person once the emergency has passed.

I have always liked human contact, I have always loved community work especially to help those most vulnerable and less fortunate. For several years my family and I have supported Volunteers Foundation the Kenyan mission providing schooling programs to the children of Kibera in the Nairobi slums. Even during the lockdown which limited the movements of all of us, I tried what I could to reach others. During the pandemic I discovered the local Covid-19 support group very active in helping people from the delivery of food and medicines to the housebound to collecting people donations of essential goods for the NHS workers and the food bank. There were so many heroes in this group and was such an amazing discovery that you could feel even close to others in total isolation.

Anna Quaranta graphics interview

Two Italian newspapers reported my lockdown stories: La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno and Paese Vivrai. The latter also wanted to publish a full interview and sponsored a wonderful initiative called “I stay home”, where Apulians from every corner of the world were sending these special greetings to the distant community of their birthplace.

In fact, Antonella Girolamo and Valerio Convertini both contributors to the Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno and Paese Vivrai asked me to give my perspective from London about the difficulties we faced in the City, the initial undervaluation by the Johnson’s Administration about the COVID-19 dangers, the following restrictions it had imposed, the aids it had implemented and the extraordinary response by the British people.

Further to that, together with Antonella Girolamo of Paese Vivrai, we went into my personal life, going through a detailed account of my family history. A history that clearly explains why I am still so proud of my Apulians ties!

If you want to discover more, here there’s the full translation of the interview to Paese Vivrai.

Thank you for your attention and… have a good reading!

Anna Quaranta, an account from England


By Antonella Girolamo

Anna Quaranta is a Locorotondese entrepreneur who lives in London. She reveals herself wholeheartedly and, in spite of her studies related to the cold Economy, she allows human warm and values conquer more and more her days. She tells her story by uncovering precious cut-outs from her family tree, stories of travels and experiences around the world and with a watchful eye on her daily life as a woman who knows how to be a mother, companion, entrepreneur, missionary.

Anna, how are you experiencing these months of physical slowdown and social distancing?

Oddly with great calm. I have channelled all my physical, emotional and intellectual energies into the human expression. Solidarity has allowed me to survive the great void left by the recent loss of my father, followed by the tragedy of the COVID-19 crisis and the exhausting lockdown that has forced us at home in the United Kingdom since last 23 March, just two weeks after Italy. My strength comes from responsibility I feel towards my children who, in their adolescence, are in a historical situation without precedents.

How and why, several years ago, did you choose London for your professional exploit?

It was not an actual plan. Probably the unfavourable socio-economic climate of Italy didn’t give me choice. The most serious problem of Italy is the flight of young people, for subsistence reasons. Half a million in the last year. In 1993 in Milan, while I was completing my final dissertation on project financing between the state and private sector, I worked at a SIM, the newly instituted type of brokerage agency in the Italian stock market. My salary was just enough to pay the rent of the flat I shared with two other graduate colleagues. I decided to expatriate, I was studying for the Chartered Accountant exam in Italy while also doing my admission test for the master degree for the Community of European Management Schools (CEMS). For my Master studies I ended up in France at the Hautes Ecoles des Etudes Economiques near Paris. With a specialisation in Business and International Financial Markets, I finally landed in the City of London, thanks to my internship with the London branch of Banca Commerciale Italiana (BCI) in Gresham Street. I have lived in London for twenty years with some years spent between Brussels and Singapore.

From financial sector expert in the City to manager of a real estate company. What pushed you towards this choice and what do you particularly like about this new adventure created four years ago?

I have always loved the economy and business management, so the entrepreneurial adventure had a great attraction on me and as a "fresher" entrepreneur I alternate sessions at the Cass Business School with The Insight Lab, a small laboratory for assistance to small businesses, with web meetings with landlords, tenants, suppliers, or conferences on investments because the financial part has always interested me a lot and I continue to deal with it willingly. Now with Hermione Homes there are also developments in the Itrian Valley, in the hospitality sector combined with my interest in the local culture and traditions. The idea is to welcome my guests to our homes and to immerse themselves in my homeland with which I have maintained a very close bond.

You have very important births between dad Franco and great-grandfather Antonio Mitrano. How much has their intellectual and professional activity affected your education?

I would be happy to have preserved at least a small part of this great human heritage, the legacy of my ancestors. My father Francesco, a humble person, a diligent servant of the State, an enthusiastic trade unionist, friend of the music, friend of his Murge, the hills of Puglia, to which he devoted himself fully, promoting their culture and traditions. Grandfather Giuseppe, from Naples, traded in fine fabrics around Italy with his brother, with long periods spent in Milan, where my father lived until high school. From my great-grandfather Antonio Mitrano maybe I inherited the crazy gene that took me around the world between fairs, art exhibitions and intercultural projects. He also spoke several foreign languages, participated in wine exports as an entrepreneur, but his main contribution in twenty years of government in Locorotondo, even with the arrival of Fascism during its mandate, was the impact on the great urban and economic development of the town in those years.

What do you particularly miss about the places and people of Locorotondo?

I miss the warmth, the hospitality of my people, the landscape, that sometimes impervious beauty of the territory, the colours of the Mediterranean culture, but also the great industriousness, the atavistic effort of the peasant society that has measured itself with the many challenges and lots of suffering in the common history of the "Mezzogiorno" of Italy (the South of Italy). Before the pandemic Puglia was experiencing an important phase of socio-economic development and, thanks to the many talents available on site, it showed off its beauty in reputable international travel and tourism magazines. We hope we can start again as soon as possible.

Original interview
The original interview of Anna Quaranta for Paese Vivrai

Anna Quaranta's original interview to Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno
Anna Quaranta for Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno

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