Farewell Giuliano Gallanti

The man who loved ports

by Massimo Provinciali

Managing Director of the North Tyrrhenian Port Network Authority

Giuliano Gallanti was a protagonist of the Italian port sector. First president of Genoa Port Authority after the radical 1994 port reform. He was called upon to manage the transition from the old to the new port system (in a context where the presence of dock workers was not only a social force but, to all intents and purposes, a symbol). On one hand, Gallanti inherited the legacy of the last president of the autonomous Consortium, Roberto D’Alessandro (strangely enough he too passed away a few days ago) on the other, he applied the changes introduced by the reform, buiding a bridge towards the future.

After Genoa, it was the turn of Livorno. He was chosen as president of Livorno Port Authority by a right-wing Minister (Altero Matteoli) and a left-wing President of the Regional Administration (Enrico Rossi), showing just how much his technical-professional competence was appreciated by all. In between the two national mandates, the chairmanship of Espo, the European seaports association: a position where Italians are difficult to find. I was very proud to accompany him abroad and to see the familiarity with which the representatives of the largest European ports welcomed him.

An apparently gruff, sometimes grumpy character, but, in reality, endowed with great sarcasm and irony, full of respect for public institutions Gallanti was a man of great presence of mind and strategic vision. It is no coincidence that his first thoughts, both in Genoa and Livorno, were to equip the two ports with Masterplans that had not been updated for years (in Livorno since 1953), aware of the fact that only adequate planning tools guarantee access to public and private resources.

In Livorno he also strongly endorsed two projects that did not look seaward, but towards the land: the transformation of the Interporto Vespucci from a real estate development company to a place for providing goods with port services, and the port’s rail links with the Tyrrhenian network and the central line. Today both projects are becoming a reality because, according to a quote he loved to repeat, “competition between ports begins when the container is unloaded on the quayside.”

Very passionate about his work, he possessed an immense knowledge of port issues acquired in the field. He paid great attention to workers, as was natural for a man of the bourgeoisie, but shaped with the values of the working- class left, what some fools call “radical chic”. He was also a man of great culture and open-mindedness. My memories of six years spent together are full of dinners in which, after a day spent in the office, it was absolutely forbidden to talk about work. Our conversations ranged from literature to French cinema, which he adored, from the football of the 60s (he claimed to have been a very good right wing) to his great love, together with ports: the political history of Italy, with anecdotes, reflections, and once again, the bitterness of no longer being able to find men with a “vision” of the future.

Deftly standing his ground, sometimes irascible, but with a passion for mediation and the common good, over time Gallanti expressed his authoritativeness without any clamor, or, rather , with the sense of confidentiality typical of his homeland and when he spoke it was never banal, but often to point at the moon while others failed to look beyond their nose.

Translation by Giles Foster