By Dena-Kae Beno
Giorgio Moretti, owner of Il Marco Polo, was born in Europe 48 years ago and moved to Canada in 1995. Giorgio studied mechanical engineering in Europe and advanced his education at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. He is a Member of the Order of Engineering of North America.
Giorgio worked as an engineer for Royal Plastic Company, one of the largest plastic companies in North America. He was settling into his Canadian life in Montreal, Quebec; however, he was having a challenge finding an Italian newspaper read. He also recognized this as a community need. In 1997, he responded to this need by developing and publishing the European Times in English. After seven years, he sold the newspaper. He then moved to Woodbridge, Ontario, which has a large Italian-Canadian community and developed an Italian newspaper while he lived there. He then moved to Calgary to further advance his mechanical engineering career. Soon after, Giorgio renewed his passion for publishing and initiated the publishing of an Italian newspaper in Calgary. He produced and distributed the publication for five years. During this time, Giorgio networked with editors of Italian newspapers in other parts of Canada.
One editor, Rino Vultaggio, founder of the Il Marco Polo of Vancouver, reached out to Giorgio.
Rino expressed his interest in selling his interest in Il Marco Polo, with the desire for the newspaper to remain an important print resource for the Vancouver-based Italian community. Giorgio and Rino began working together to support this transition. On May 17, 2016, Giorgio acquired the Il Marco Polo, including all of its financial obligations. Shortly after, Giorgio took a leap of faith and moved from Calgary to launch Il Marco Polo 2017. Anna Maria, his wife, and Luca, his son, remained in Calgary temporarily, while he settled in Vancouver to establish the newspaper. These were challenging times, but Giorgio persevered and worked closely with Rino with the transition. In 2017, unfortunately, Rino passed away.
Giorgio kept Rino’s hope alive that the Il Marco Polo would continue to be a local source of Italian news. In the beginning, Giorgio had to make some necessary operations changes, but with the overall purpose, to keep the publication as accessible as possible to a broader audience. Today, Il Marco Polo publishes 60 percent of Italian content; that is supported from grant contribution funding through Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. In addition, the publication has also expanded to include Vancouver Italian-community and business news. Il Marco Polo also has a web-based presence. Overall, the Il Marco Polo 2017 has emerged with a refreshed, contemporary look and a vision to reach both Italian speaking and English speaking readers.
Mobilizing this new vision, Il Marco Polo has become the only Italian media source in British Columbia that can be accessed in both print and online versions.
The publication has increased in readership and circulation, with 500 daily on-line visitors, 2,000 on-line subscribers and 1,000-3.000 printed copies in weekly circulation. Giorgio relayed that in the first year he was required to make some challenging organizational restructuring decisions, but the changes were necessary to create a strong foundation to grow the business.
Giorgio envisions the future of Il Marco Polo to continue to be a media outlet that accounts for and fosters the living history of the Italian community in Vancouver and throughout British Columbia. He states, I want to do more in the community. I want to add to the story. I want to grow, I want to support the Il Marco team to grow and the Italian community and Italo-Canadian business to thrive. My intention is to have the best Italian newspaper in North America.
Giorgio relays that he is grateful to have a strong team to research, write and deliver the weekly news. He values the people, who are working with him and they have become like family to him.
I asked Giorgio where his entrepreneurial spirit emerges from. He shared the story about his Nonno Marino, who was a skilled Italian shoemaker. He feels that his Nonno’s craft lives on in his own desire and pride in creating something that comes from his own hands. Giorgio states, personally, I was very happy being an engineer, but I am more satisfied working for myself and being able to share my craft with so many people.
Giorgio is very proud of Italian culture and he states, I love everything that relates to Italy, the food, wine, opera, art, culture. I can feel it. It is in my blood. Even, when you die, the culture stays with you.
When I asked Giorgio what is important to him in life, he instantly responded that his family is very important to him. He also values the importance of education and encourages his son, Luca and daughter, Luana, to follow this path. He feels strongly that education is like a shelf that you can always reach for ideas from and help to carve your path in life with. He also believes in the importance of being sincere, honest, and friendly. Giorgio stated that, it is so important to be happy for one another and especially for the Italian community to stay together and support one another.
I asked Giorgio what his friends would say about him, he replied, they would say I am a nice guy, who is funny and a little bit crazy. Giorgio likes to work and stay busy, sometimes too much. But, he always makes time for people and he cares for his family and the Italian community very much.
I then asked him how he would describe himself, and he said, I am a bit stubborn and have high standards for my work. It doesn’t matter how many hours I need to spend, I want the paper to be crafted with detail and perfection. I am focused and passionate about work and life.
I have a feeling that there is much more to learn about Giorgio Moretti. Also, there will be more projects to come. He mentions that he is currently working on an exciting community partnership that will require collaboration within the Italian community and across the generations to reach a broader audience.
As we finished our interview, I asked him what he feels was the key for him to work through the early challenges of getting the Il Marco Polo to where it is now. He closed our conversation with a serious, but thoughtful look and stated, it has taken perseverance and time. One of the biggest lessons I have learned through this is even if people tell you it is hard, just keep going.
Trust yourself, build a good team, value the people who you are working with and believe in your dream.
But, most importantly, believe in your faith in God.