I was born and raised in Göttingen, Germany, by my German mother Ingrid and my Italian father Antonio. My father is from Pietra Ligure, and already in 1973 he started importing truffles and delicacies to Germany, those flavours that he missed from home. My mother often cooked Italian food, but me and my brother grew up in the middle of Germany, and German was our mother tongue.
In summertime we arrived to Pietra Ligure and to our grandmother, nonna Lulla. At her kitchen table I discovered the true flavours and sounds of Italy and picked up a few phrases of Italian through my cousins and grandparents. But the true discovery of the Italian language arrived only later on, in 1994, when my father thought that I could take over the delicatessen wholesale business if only I spoke perfect Italian and assimilated his native culture. I decided to spend a year in Milano to learn the language. I also spent a lot of time to visit different Italian companies and farmers – a deep diving into half of my DNA - and after this period I felt I knew Italy better than Germany; I became a true Italophile.
Before this year in Italy I thought I would continue to work half time in the advertising agency which I had founded together with my brother Stefano. But travelling around to experience on-site how great food products develop in small factories, gave rise to a completely different appreciation for this work; it was a “life changer”, followed by the decision to fully dedicate myself to Italian food and culture.
Since then, Antonio Viani Import has updated its detailed catalogue into over 2,000 products and we are supplying almost 3,500 shops in Germany. In 2010 I started the Viani Alimentari shop in the center of Göttingen, where the public is invited to discover genuine Italian food, from burrata from Andria to Tuscan wildboar salami and fresh pasta. I have a special love for olive oil, the key to everything. For example you need the peppery-green and bitter Tuscan oil for a Bistecca Fiorentina, while the milder Ligurian oil suits better in a salad or on a fish plate.
Both mine and my father’s companies started with a wish to bring the quality of Italy to Germany, importing wines and olive oils. In the past ten years we’ve been experimenting more with our store and in our warehouse: our first Viani Food Festival was in 2013 and a Wine and Chocolate Festival in 2014.
I love Italy; the Ligurian Coast di Ponente, Siracusa with Ortigia in Sicily, and Milano are my favourites. Being together with Italians I adapt very quickly to the Italian lifestyle; as i said, it is at least half of my DNA. At the same time, I also enjoy being Nordic, or “cosmopolitan,” and Viani in Göttingen melds the two worlds together in such a special way.