- How would you describe your personal relationship with Maestro Andrea Bocelli?
I’ve known the Maestro for a few years and our relationship is based on great admiration and cooperation, which began with my predecessor Matteo Renzi and then developed over time. Of course, the main thing that brings us together is music: when you speak about music with Andrea Bocelli you immediately understand the passion that he puts into his work. Once we even played together in private, me on the violin and him on the piano, and I hope that we can do so again in the future. Beyond the music, I find Andrea to be a highly sensitive and spiritual man. I greatly appreciate the commitment that he, his wife Veronica and his Foundation give to social issues: here at Palazzo Vecchio we have hosted Celebrity Fight Night in Italy several times, which is organized for his Foundation. Last but not least, we also share a love for horses: I’m not as good at riding as he is, but we’ve promised one another that we will go riding together one day.
- What links Florence with classical/opera music?
Florence is famous the world over as the treasure trove of the Renaissance, yet it is also a city where music has always been extremely important. Just to offer you a few examples, it was here that Melodrama was born, it was here that one of the oldest opera festivals in Europe was created, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Festival, and it is here that in the last few years we have tried to support classical music with new festivals – I am referring to Strings City dedicated to string instruments – as well as new instruments – and the one-euro concerts for young people – which were a big hit with the public.
- What does the concept of empowerment, upon which ABF is founded, mean to you?
Helping others to grow and develop their abilities by providing the opportunity to do so to those who do not have it. Well, this to me seems to be a revolutionary message, not welfare-oriented or demotivating, but rather a message that aims to level the playing field for all.
- How much lack of empowerment is there and how much need for empowerment is there in the new generations, from the perspective of someone who heads up such an important city that has always provided a lot for young people?
I have a lot of faith in young people. I meet them often in schools and in the places they frequent. I don’t think they are the ones who need empowerment as much as we administrators have the great responsibility of creating the conditions within which they can develop their talents, cultivate their dreams and complete their education, first, and then undertake a career path that suits their abilities. For a mayor, this is one of the most serious issues to address, for the future of young people, as well as for the future of us all.
- The Foundation’s location inside the Piazza di San Firenze is symbolic, as it is one of the very few baroque buildings in Florence, within the temple of the Renaissance.
A few years ago, after the court moved to the new court house, we came into possession of an extremely prestigious building located right in the heart of the city and we decided to devote it to art, culture and music. Following on from the director Franco Zeffirelli choosing the former court for his International Center for the Performing Arts, the Andrea Bocelli Foundation will soon be there, as part of a wonderful social, educational and cultural project, with young people being the direct beneficiaries, the students of Florence.
- The relevance of Bocelli throughout the world and as one of the few world-famous people who is, personally, so strongly committed to doing good in various areas, even lending his own name, without making it obvious or publicizing it. What are your considerations about his traits and merit as a person?
As I’ve said, I have the utmost esteem for the Maestro, also as a person. Not all people who are ‘great’ in their careers are equally ‘great’ people. Andrea Bocelli is not only an exceptional, world-famous singer, but also a public figure who doesn’t think twice about getting involved in great social conflicts for the poorest and most marginalized people in the world. Without fanfare, silently, just because he feels he should do something that is needed, that is right, that is human. That is also why he deserves a resounding and riotous applause from us all.