Rejecting a Fortune to Build a New One

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By Tommaso Lecca

Imagine that you were born rich. You are the first child, and your family owns a construction company that rebuilt entire neighbourhoods in your hometown, which was bombed during the Second World War. You don’t have to worry about your future because you already have one: managing your family business. You are young, and you wear Calvin Klein clothes. You live in Sardinia, the Mediterranean island where millions of tourists dissipate each summer their savings for a beach umbrella, a chair, and a couple of square metres of sand in the most exclusive resorts in Europe. Would you leave all this? Would you move to Groningen, in the northern Netherlands, where you need the heating since October? Would you work overnight for months, in an industrial bakery, where your colleagues bully you because you don’t speak any word of Dutch? Fabrizio Murru did it, and he has no regrets.

You didn’t need migrating and doing tough jobs. For what reason did you do it?

“I wanted to meet people, speaking foreign languages, and learning about the other cultures. Because don’t forget that you can learn a lot from somebody who comes from another country, and then he can learn something from you. These must be the most important values of your life. All the rest doesn’t matter; you will leave your belongings here after you die.”

Groningen has been the destination of many migrants from Sardinia since the 1970s’. Most of them left the island with tears in their eyes and the long cherished dream to come back one day. What is your relationship with them?

“When I moved here, I used to work and hang out with some other Sardinians. But some of them took wrong decisions and went down that road. They were fascinated by the schijn, the appearance of this country. It’s like the Land of Toys, but instead of finding lights and pleasant sounds you start doing drugs and gambling. When everyone around you is addicted to something, you find yourself in a bad situation. Sardinians made some troubles, but we spread around our great culinary culture, and now we run the best restaurants in town.”

And many of them started a family and became Dutch citizens. You’ve been living here for 16 years; will you ever apply for the citizenry in the Netherlands?

“Never! I enjoy living here, but I will always be a foreigner because that’s the way this society considers me. And believe me; also the sons of Italians who were born and raised here are seen as neither fish nor flesh, or half gebakken, as Dutch people would say. You will hardly find a family who trusts a foreigner as they would trust a local person. Here in Groningen, everybody is very open with the non-Dutch people but if you get to the suburbs, you will notice the difference.”

Did this condition prevent you from being successful in this country?

“Not at all. I owned two restaurants and a delicatessen shop. If you want to run a good restaurant it’s much more important your attitude with the clients rather than the quality of the food you serve them. You have to be spontaneous, sometimes cheeky. You have to talk about your life, your early age, but you even have to lie. Do they want a clown? Be a clown! When I bought a restaurant in Roden, it was making 500 euros of revenues per week. After six months under my management, it reached 4500 euros per week. I am grateful to the Netherlands because if you have a dream, you can find here the conditions to make it true.”

What would you have done if you had stayed in Cagliari, your hometown?

“I wouldn’t have stayed. But I love Cagliari; at least a hundred of people went there for vacation because I advised them to do so. I come back every year, and I always miss it when I’m here and while I’m somewhere else. Even last summer I spent three weeks in Cagliari with my Dutch girlfriend, Marjon. We stayed in a poor neighbourhood, which has a high criminal rate, instead of in my parents’ house close by the beach. I did it for showing her a part of the world that she couldn’t even imagine and to keep me updated on what’s going on in my hometown. You know what? Although the town is more beautiful than before, people live worse.”

Will you come back to live there one day? What are your plans for the future?

“Who knows, maybe I will move again to my hometown after finishing what I have to do here. Because I feel that I constantly have to do something. An old man that I worked with for a long time once told me ‘Fabrizio, you never stop thinking and doing something new’. That’s true! I live looking for more information about every subject. Since there are Google and Wikipedia, I’m always researching. And when I see something that I can make a profit with, I start doing it. If nothing goes wrong, in a week I’ll start a new collection agency with a friend of mine who is a lawyer. I need his help because you cannot run this business without legal skills. I studied almost a year for this new enterprise, and I already told my friend that if it will be a good business I can even start studying law here in Groningen!”

 

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