The CQ Expat Guide are honored to have interviewed Mr. Filippo Nicosia

27th July 2018


The CQ Expat Guide are honored to have interviewed Mr. Filippo Nicosia, the Consul-General of Italy in Chongqing. Enjoy the interview and feel free to contact us if you have any more questions!


see the interview on live here

1.What about Chongqing impresses you the most?

I arrived in Chongqing about 7 months ago, but I immediately liked the city, because it really fits with my life style and what I really like. I love nature and here I’m very impressed to see huge rivers like the Jialingjiang and Yangtze River, and the mountains are quite impressive too.

2.Are there any differences between the cultures of Italy and Chongqing?

They are very similar in certain ways but both Italy and Chongqing are in the southern part of their continents, so there are many common characteristics. Concerning the people, I think Chongqing people are warm-hearted, kind, open-minded and friendly. I think in a certain way they are very similar to Italians. Also as I said before the environment here reminds me of Roma, because Roma is built on 7 hills so we also have this type of geography. Though we don’t have this type of development, as ours is a bit more ancient.

3.What places you have been?

I’ve been everywhere. I’m still exploring, but I just bought myself a scooter so I like roaming around the city. I’ve been to Nanshan many times, where I love to go to eat delicious hotpot, and I’ve been to Ciqikou, which is a really nice ancient town. I also love to walk along the river, especially along Nanbin road. So as I said I’m still exploring. There’s so much to see. But I think little by little I’m getting to it.

4.I’ve heard that you love spicy food, what do you think of the local food?

I’ve gotten used to eating spicy food because I’ve lived many years in Asia. Korean food is also spicy. In Beijing I had my share of spiciness. But obviously Chongqing is the home of spicy food in China, and probably in the whole world. Xiaomian and hotpot are the two local delicacies that I often eat and I’m very fond of. I’m always open to have hotpot with friends in Chongqing.

5.In your opinion, what’s the biggest difference or similarity between Chongqing and your hometown?

I’m originally from Milan, which is world famous because of the fashion and design. It’s a very sophisticated city. Chongqing is a bit more genuine. As I said there are rivers and mountains, whereas Milan is a flat city like a pancake, so there’s a more dynamic feel. Chongqing fashion and design are still developing, but I can see that there’s a trend for Chongqing to become more and more modern and sophisticated and more similar to my hometown.

6.What’s the biggest similarity between the two cities?

They are both industrial cities. Here in Chongqing the automotive industry is very important, and Milan also has very important industries and companies. I would say that both Chongqing and Milan are economical power houses of their region. This is what I think makes Chongqing and Milan very similar, very industrial, very dynamic cities.

7.What is the most unforgettable thing you’ve had happen in your career? Any interesting stories you would like to share with us?

I worked in Korea for 4 years, and my trips to North Korea were very very interesting because as you know these days a lot of people talk about North Korea because of the Trump-Kim Summit. But I was there in the past and it’s a very impressive country. I remember some other very difficult moments, like in 2010 when North and South Korea were experiencing some very strong tensions. I also participated in the Pyongyang Half Marathon and came in 3rd, and I remember that one of the runners came up to me and he asked me many questions. Later I discovered that runner was a journalist from the New York Times and everything I said he reported in the article. I thought it was very funny because the whole article was based on my comments.

8.In your background, it shows that you entered the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a career diplomat with a specialization in the Far East in 2004. We are curious, why were you interested in learning Chinese and East Asian issues in general?

China is the 2nd biggest economy in the world. It’s a growing power, and I think for Italy it will be a very strong partner in the economy, politics, and international relations. Also the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affair thinks that certain diplomats should be trained and focused on China because it’s such an important country for us. So my precendent here, Mr Sergio Maffettone and myself, we are studying Chinese and trying to specialize in this country. Since I’m working in China, I need to learn first the language a little bit at least, and know how this country works. Otherwise if you come here without knowing too much about China, the learning curve is very steep. By the time you understand something about China, it’s time for you to live the country. So this is why I invested a lot in learning Chinese and understanding China better.

9.Between 2012-2015, you served as First Secretary at the Commercial and Economic Office of the Italian Embassy in Beijing. Compared with that experience, how do you feel about these two cities in China?

Both cities are important politically. Chongqing is a growing municipality, so it’s very important politically. But Beijing is also the economic, cultural, and political capital of China, and the city is imposing. Tian’anmen Square is huge. And I always say Beijing looks a little bit like an elegant lady with pearl necklace. Chongqing is more genuine, more down to the earth, more unpredictable, dynamic, fun, and has a different character than Beijing, which is a bit more formal and ceremonial. So I think these are the main differences between the two cities, although they are both are very important cities.

10.To improve the culture exchange, are there any cultural events that will be held in the coming days?

We just held the first Italian Movie Festival in May. We had the Italian Design Day in March. In October we are having an Italian Language Week, an Italian Contemporary Art Week, and in November we will have an Italian Food Festival. So there are a lot of upcoming events in order to promote Italian culture here. At the same time we are helping Chongqing promote its own culture in Italy by working with the local government and local companies in order to organize a Chongqing Culture Week in Milan this October. So I think my role is both to promote Italian culture here and also help my fellow Italians to understand more about Chongqing.

11.What do you recommend as a “can’t miss” experience when traveling to Italy or your hometown Milan?

Italy is kind of an exceptional country because it has everything. It has the biggest cultural heritage in the whole world. It’s a country that you can go from the beach to the highest mountain of Europe because Italy hosts the Alps, along with the most beautiful beaches along the coast. We have important cities such as Roma, Milan, Naples, Florence, and Venice which are all famous, but there’re also minor cities like Bologna, or small towns in Tuscany, or Sicilia. It’s like a box of chocolates, everything you unwrap is delicious, good, beautiful. It’s hard to single out one thing. It’s so rich. I really don’t know which single thing would be a “can’t miss”. So I recommend you go to Italy more than once because there is so much to discover that you would need to spend your whole life back and forth between Chongqing and Italy to really see all the most beautiful things we have.

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