Alberto Caimi, consultant at Barcelona Housing Systems
Originally from Milan, Alberto Caimi has lived in Barcelona for more than 30 years. A consultant since 2013, he spent many years working in multinationals. He is currently involved with Barcelona Housing Systems, a company that specializes in industrializing the construction of accessible housing, and with AIBlinks, which implements AI and machine learning tools in the fashion & luxury sector.
Why did you choose Barcelona?
I came to Barcelona in 1986 to avoid military service, which was compulsory in Italy at the time. Looking for places to live abroad, I remembered that I had a friend who lived in Barcelona and when I told him that I was thinking of going to work outside Italy he suggested I come to Barcelona to work for him. What was only going to be a two-year break became permanent; I have been living in Barcelona for more than 30 years now.
What do you like most about the city?
Barcelona has changed a lot since 1986, thanks mainly to the 1992 Olympic Games. But even before the Games were awarded to Barcelona, the city had started to change, clear evidence of its desire for renewal. And it has never stopped changing. The results can be seen in the large numbers of talented people who come and live in Barcelona.
What aspects of the city must be improved? How?
Barcelona has been deceived by the allure of large-scale, low-cost tourism; it makes no sense for the City Council to allow similar shops, bars, and restaurants on every street corner. Mobility policy should also be improved: Barcelona seems to be going in the opposite direction to the rest of the world. The lack of real car-sharing services and the veto of services such as Uber are very negative signals. Not to mention the removal of parking space on the chamfered corners of the Eixample. There is a battle being waged against the use of cars and private motorbikes in favor of bicycles. I believe that Barcelona, should be livable and sustainable, but I believe that the reduction in private traffic must be made up for with other alternatives. These exist for motorbikes but not yet for cars.
Which are the city's strengths that will allow it to overcome the COVID-19 crisis?
I believe that Barcelona has been able to demonstrate that it can achieve the objectives it sets itself and that it has talented and competent people who know how to evaluate problems from a global perspective and provide solutions to those problems without side effects.
What do you expect from Barcelona in the coming years?
I hope that the city will be able to retain international workers and the talented people who have arrived over the years. Barcelona is always on the list of the most attractive cities to move to for work and many have come here. But that effort must not be lost and Barcelona must be able to offer accessible housing and efficient transport services for those workers. It is great that companies have moved large customer service departments to Barcelona, but the salaries for these jobs are not sufficient to pay for a flat in the city.
Which city do you feel is "your" city? What do you miss most?
I lived in Milan until I was 24 years old, I've been in Barcelona for 32 years, and I've been going to Tuscany once a month for 10 years, especially to Florence. Without a doubt my home is Barcelona, although I feel equally at home in Milan and Florence.