This post is also available in: Italian

“The longest journey begins with a small step”, this is what happened to us when we launched the contest #IlFuturoNelleNostreRadici and starting from Paliano we arrived in Shanghai.

But how do you enter the Chinese market?

Today doing business means having a long-term vision and then moving along on a daily basis. There are so many variables and changes to consider that resilience has become the most used and sought after word.

So, in our strategic meeting at the beginning of the year, we had established that we would focus on 2020 as the Year of Culture and Tourism between Italy and China.

The governments of our two countries had established that this was the year dedicated to friendship between the two peoples, but I did not believe that we would have come so far.

We had prepared for a long time by going on a mission to Chengdu, then publishing a book in 3 languages , organizing an event to present the book by Ambassador Alberto Bradanini and finally attending a meeting at the Auditorium in Rome where the ministers of culture and tourism of our two countries were present.

COVID changed the cards on the table and cleared everything. But we started to tell stories of China in a constant way and we launched the contest dedicated to Italian countries.

Thanks to the CPAFFC (Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries) and the Italian OBOR Institute, some Chinese cities have joined the contest that we have launched and they are not really small cities seeking to be known …

Today we start with the city of Shanghai.

For the uninitiated, Shanghai is a ‘small’ city of almost 30 million people and is the second most populous in China and the world after Chongqing, which also joined the contest.

Grattaceli di Shangai- Li Yen

In fact, both of these cities are considered a sort of city-state from an administrative point of view, in addition to Beijing and Tianjin.

It is located on the delta of the Huangpu River and is the most western style city in China, certainly the most dynamic and fashionable. Here are the best design schools in the world and all the greatest professionals are opening their offices in this city.

Her port is the busiest in the world and only those of Rotterdam in Europe and Singapore in Asia compete with her.

You have to be there to understand how much this city expresses the best of China and the West.

I was there four years ago and two years ago, this time with Lazioinnova for an exchange meeting on the management of cultural tourism and I stayed in the Bund, the oldest district in Shanghai which in some parts has a decidedly western style of the early twentieth century.

Think big and act small … our proposal arrived at the table of the mayor of Shanghai who joined and said that he will send us the stories of his city by the deadline we have indicated.

And this will be a great deal of work for which we are gearing up but it will also open up a series of incredible opportunities. When we received the news, our legs were shaking from the commitment it will entail but we are also excited by the idea.

Think about how many ideas can come by reading the history and diaries of Chinese people who tell of their life, their way of living and understanding life and holidays.

Meanwhile, we have opened a channel on Weibo and we have started promoting our territories and our cuisine.

If you want to think big with us you have to enter a ‘frame of mind’ different from what we are used to as Italians.

Culture and tourism are part of the social part of our life and we must plan fun with professionalism.

Take into account how cultural differences are an added value as long as you know how to respect the differences. The world is full of examples of Western companies that have made a mistake in their approach to the Chinese market and have been disappointed.

But also of winning companies that have made their fortune by entering a market that is the richest compared to the rest of the world.

And think that Shanghai is has as many people as half of Italy and it is enormously more modern, alive and rich.

It has a long-term vision and is taking all the preparatory actions to become attractive in terms of tourism and be able to seize the opportunities.

After all, we have innovated tradition, the name of our contest #IlFuturoNelleNostreRadici (Future is in our roots) says it and says the chosen means of communication, that of written history.

The innovation lies in the fact that each story is written in the first person and that our role as editor, translator and cultural mediator becomes fundamental in order to allow two ancient and distant cultures, that are China and Italy, to dialogue.

We are cultural facilitators and we are interpreting our role as story and content editors in a totally innovative way,

But if you want to be leaders of innovation in relations with China we can help you, for more information you can write to or


Claudia Bettiol

IT Ingegnere, futurista e fondatrice di Discoverplaces. Consulente per lo Sviluppo Turistico dei Territori, specializzato nella sostenibilità e nella promozione culturale dei piccoli territori e delle piccole imprese. Ama i cavalli ENG Engineeer, futurist, joint founder of Energitismo and founder of Discoverplaces. Consultant for the development and promotion of the Touristic Development of Territories specialising in sustainability and in cultural promotion of small places and small enterprises. She loves horses