Concentric Circles

by Giulio Beggio

The family sits in the first circle. Friends and the workplace are in the second. You’ll find the others in the third one, as well as neighbours, according to the values of the thousand-year-old tradition of Val di Fiemme and its ‘Magnificent Community’.

«Hi Giulio, could you come and see us in Val di Fiemme, we would like to hav e a word with you…». It was Lorenzo Delladio on the other side of the phone. Six months earlier I had received a pre-warning firing letter from being an agent of La Sportiva. I therefore thought the meeting was to discuss the final details of the end of our collaboration. I had begun collaborating with La Sportiva as a salesperson for Lombardy, a region in the Northern Italy, in 1998, when one of the other companies I was already working for, The North Face, merged with the firm from Val di Fiemme. This led to a partial joining of the selling networks of the two companies. Yet, due to the continuous changes in the top managing positions of the American firm, in 2000 the Delladio family decided to reacquire the previously sold shares becoming again the one and only owner of La Sportiva.

The return of the Delladio family as the only leading figure of La Sportiva in the long run brought competition between the two companies on some of their products and therefore, other salespeople and I, received a letter announcing our collaboration with the company from Trentino would shortly come to an end. I was feeling very bad at the idea of having to interrupt a working relation with someone I had felt very much at ease with, both on a professional and human level, so though I did not agree with their final choice, thought I still respected the formal reasons which had led them to such a decision. This is why in the months following my firing letter I still worked with the same passion and dedication as I had previously done, keeping to my contract with no grudge.

I arrived in Ziano for the meeting. Francesco Delladio welcomed me with a vigorous handshake and his usual big and a little sarcastic smile. He was behind me while I was looking at Lorenzo in front of me, as if it were a form of protection. Lorenzo started telling me they had changed their mind. They asked me to ignore the firing letter as our work collaboration was going to continue despite any possible form of competition. In the Delladio family a sense of trust, respect, depth and sharing of a common goal based on passion and dedication to an unconventional way of looking at work and mountain life had prevailed. Our meeting was then followed by lunch together, as per the customs of the Delladio family hospitality. During the meal, thanks to a good dose of humour and a couple of glasses of wine, I felt part of a project expanding itself through concentric circles again.

The inner circle was in front of me, made up by the Delladio family members. The second circle was that of all the people collaborating with La Sportiva, and I felt I was still part of that circle, more as a mountain guide than as a salesperson as all members of this circle share a lifestyle and a strong passion for mountaineering equipment. It was only later on, during one of our many sales meetings which were always an opportunity for La Sportiva to gather their big family in an atmosphere of commitment, enthusiasm and hospitality, that I could define more clearly the outline of the next circle losing itself through time and space. On that occasion, as if trying to sanction a deep sense of belonging, the Delladios initiated us to the traditions that have been regulating both social and personal relations in the ‘Magnificent Community’ of the Fiemme Valley for over a millennium. The community has always been an extraordinarily rare example of collaboration in managing a territory and its resources. The Neighbours, the Rules, the ‘Scario’ are the words which represent this reality and have been reread in a modern key to become the guidelines of a company which has reached worldwide visibility but still maintains such a strong bond with its territory and its people.

As a proof of such a deep community feeling I always like to tell the story which led to the creation of La Sportiva. Francesco Delladio told me that his great-grandmother once got lost in the woods, in a winter night, during a snow storm. The whole ‘Magnificent Community’ went out to look for the woman who was finally found safe and sound. During that night, Narciso Delladio’s mother, worried about her feet beginning to freeze, had promised herself that if she survived at least one member of her family would dedicate himself to making mountain shoes for the community. And so it was.

In conclusion, though according to the rules of the ‘Magnificent community’ you can call ‘Neighbour’ only descendants of the founding families, in all these years collaborating with them I always felt very close to this company and its family who decided I could be part of this infinite play of concentric circles.

«We want all men, both clerics and laymen, living in Val di Fiemme, that is that live there now and will do so in the future, to be granted the eternal chance to get firewood, fish, cut the grass, graze and hunt anywhere in Val di Fiemme. Also to execute or let them execute the confiscations against foreigners who do not reside in Val di Fiemme, should they wish to bother you with regards to those mountains, that is cause the investiture we undertook towards Val di Fiemme men to be fruitless.

2 April, 1314 Henry of Metz, Bishop-Prince of Trento