by Melinda Gallo

Sorrento from afar

Today we attended an all-day meeting (conference) with almost 600 other participants. I was able to take a few pictures outside from the hotel's balcony. The picture I took here we can see Vesuvio in the distance. They predicted rain for the entire weekend, but we haven't seen a drop. We could see the sun in the distance, but grey clouds quickly came over the hill behind the hotel and moved toward Vesuvio.

Living in Florence :: Sorrento from afar

The meeting started at 8:30AM with breakfast. The CEO took me aside last night and requested a new feature. I tried to work on it during the meeting up in the regia (control booth). We had a late coffee break at almost noon and lunch wasn't served until 2PM. The large sala(room) where we eat became quite difficult to hear because so many people were talking. One wall of the sala is a window facing Vesuvio.

I was told to get the computer set up for the CEO's demonstration of my part of the web site before lunch. I was prepared to run the demo from the regia where all the other people were doing the demos.

When we got back from lunch, I was told that the CEO was looking for Dave and me. We were sitting up in the regia and were asked to go down to the front to sit in the prima fila (first row). They told us that we'd be going sul palco (on the stage) for the demo. I wasn't sure what I'd be doing exactly, but I did ask if I had to talk and they told me, "Stai tranquilla." (Relax). But, of course, I couldn't relax.

I listened to the CEO talk about the area that I have been working on. And with each second that went by, my heart was pounding so hard that I felt it beating in my throat. I'm not a big fan of doing presentations and get nervous just at the thought of standing up in front of a large group of people.

The CEO announced that "Sono venuti dalla California e dal Colorado." (They came from California and Colorado) and then called out our names. We walked up to the stage and he asked me to drive the demo on the computer on the podio (podium). When the two girls who escotrted us up to the palco, one of them handed me a microphone and I gave it to Dave. We didn't practice the demo, so I just followed the CEO's lead. He explained the system and I clicked the links, entered the data, and showed off the Web site.

At the end of the demo, the CEO put the microphone in front of my face and said, "Vuoi aggiungere qualcosa?" (Do you want to add something). I shook my head and said, "No, grazie." I was happy to walk off the stage and couldn't wait to go up to the regia to hide in my corner.

Overall, the meeting is quite impressive with all the photographers, video cameras, music, and lights. Live dancers come out at the beginning and end of the meeting. Alessandra, the CEO's friend that we met last week, came out to sing the company's song. They even showed a video with her, another singer, and many dancers.

What is different about this meeting is that the company has paid for everything: transportation to Sorrento, hotel for two nights, and all the meals.

The CEO has also written a book called, "Siamo tutti venditori" (We're all salesmen), and has handed out a copy to each of the participants. Toward the end of the day's events, a few people were asked to sit with the CEO for a discussion with a giornalista (journalist).

At each lunch and dinner, we have an antipasto (appetizer), like mozzarella e prosciutto, then a pasta dish, a secondo (second course, usually meat or fish), and finally un dolce (a dessert). There is always wine a fiume (that flows and never stops).

One thing I truly love here in Sorrento is the pasta, which is quite different from what we have in Florence. The different types of pasta that we've been eating is much thicker and, of course, is always served al dente.

We didn't have dinner until 9PM and then after there was a spettacolo (show) with a comico (comedian) who performed different sketches where he became different characters. He has been on TV and many people knew the comico because he had come to the meeting a few years ago.

At 2AM we were all escorted upstairs to the dance floor where there was a DJ. Massimo and I danced a little bit, but after 45 minutes, we were all exhausted. We didn't get to bed until 3AM and are not looking forward to our 8AM wake-up call.

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