Valentino Gennarini interview
A man from another era
My profession is that of a shipping agent.
I inherited it from my father, and now my son is continuing the business.
We’ve always worked hard, and everything we’ve produced in terms of wealth, apart from what was required for the needs of the family and the company, we’ve passed on to others.
We did a lot of things for the city and for my fellow citizens, children whose operations I paid for: one had had a stone from a sling in his eye in the old town, he was 10-11 years old, then I don’t know why, it was affecting the other eye, so he faced going blind.
Well, he had surgery in Houston.
It saved his eyesight.
I also feel embarrassed to talk about things I have done, because I have always done them in silence.
We’re a law-abiding family, my brother retired as a General of the Carabinieri Corps, my brother died in the last war, so we have made our contribution to our country.
I started working as an agent when I was 21 years old.
My father was still with me.
We represent the shipowner, we look after the ship prior to arrival, during its stay and on departure.
It’s like being the owner, the boss on the spot.
When Ilva was transferred from the state to the private sector, with the arrival of Riva, we Tarantines were put out of business altogether, a company from the north came in and did everything.
And everything happened in the most deafening silence.
Nobody defended us, nobody said a word.
We were not defended by anyone.
That is the truth.
So when they say it was a different time, no!
They were different men, it is men who shape the times and not the other way around.
So, the thing I regretted most of all was that since I didn’t have enough work, I could no longer do what I had used to do for the common good.
And yet I did it.
It was much scaled down, but I still continued to do something.
We never fired anyone, they were children, brothers.
How do you say: “Antonio, you stay”, “Giovanni, you’re leaving” ?
How do you do it?!
And this caused us a loss of about 800,000 euros, we carried it until retirement.
We found a position for one, in Ancona, with a colleague of mine, and the other became a night watchman.
But the rest stayed with the company until retirement.
Caring for the environment
As for the environment, going back in time, ships used to come here to transport coal for the State Railways, because the railways ran on coal at that time.
To prevent the coal from going into the sea, because there was space between the ship and the quay.
In the transfer of the so-called ‘Japanese’, where the coal was unloaded, some of it fell and could have ended-up in the sea.
Do you know what we used to do?
We used to put big tarpaulins from the ship’s side to the quay to prevent the coal from going into the sea.
That’s what we did, and at the time the word ‘environment’ probably didn’t exist, I’d never heard of it.
– What years are we talking about?
The nineteen-fifties, sixties I think.
The port, a wealth that’s also cultural
The port is one of Taranto’s treasures, because it is there that seafarers disembark, go into town, buy, go to restaurants.
Even the Russians used to go to Salinella to buy biros and nylon stockings.
Evidently in Russia, maybe they were too expensive.
And so the seafarers spend.
The port also represents a great wealth for Taranto in cultural terms.
We know people from all over the world: Indians, Koreans, Russians, Chinese.
The secret of longevity
To get to the age I am without problems, my recipe, which I have said many times, is to have a sense of the State, to have a clear conscience, to pay the taxes you have to pay, work for the common good, to help people, for the city, for what is needed.
I feel a physical well-being, I would say the vitamins of life, and then take care of inner beauty, because inner beauty …
the outer beauty fades with time, the inner one stays with you until the end of your life.
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