Italians in London | Italians in London Alessandro Leonardi
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# 10

Alessandro Leonardi

Photo and concept by © Rob Venom 2022

My name is Alessandro, I was born 26 years ago in Caltagirone, a small town in Sicilia and I’ve been living my whole life in Gela, another town in that area.
In 2014, after working for more than 3 years in a small local IT company and seeing no future at all for my career, I decide to accept what a friend of mine proposed me: he could host me for a month or two in his room in London, where he’s been living for 2 years, and in the meantime I would look for a job to make some money and pay for a room myself. “It will be tough at the beginning, but you’ll see it’ll get better!” he said. As I have never lived alone in those 23 years and knowing I was going to one of the most busy cities in the world, I was obviously scared of failing terribly, but then I thought “if it goes bad, I can say I had an experience overseas and didn’t waste too much money, but if it goes well I will be extremely proud of myself”. So, knowing how hard is the first period in London when you have to look for a job but in the meantime look and pay for a room, usually expensive, I decided to take this opportunity of being hosted and I left my homeland with my personal plan, made of the following steps:
1. Learn English
2. (Re)start my career in IT
3. Become “wanted” in the IT environment
4. Move to Canada
Pretty high expectations for a 23yo who never cooked pasta for himself before, huh? Well, today I’m 26 yo, I work in IT and wait to be promoted thanks to my hard work, so “half way through, Alex!”. And yes, I’m very proud of myself.
What do you do in your life in London?
As I mentioned before, I work since early 2016 as Assistant IT Manager in Marriott International, currently the biggest Hotel company in the world with more than 5700 hotels. I like to spend my free time playing videogames, sometimes running and travel around the city with my girlfriend.
What is the reason to leave Italy and come to London?
At first I would say “the job”, but digging a little bit I can say that I’ve always wanted to emigrate in a more vibrant, busy, open-mind place, totally the opposite of the place where I’ve grown up.
What were your best and worst experiences in London.
Best experience was finding and dating my soulmate, completely casual but it definitely changed my life almost 2 years ago.
Worst experience for me has been a very bad transition period a couple of years ago when I’ve lost my job unexpectedly and I arrived to the moment I had to borrow some money from my friend and my brother, it was a dark period and I believe I seriously hit the bottom.
I asked you to choose a place in London that you like or you are tied to, what was your choice and why you made it?
London is home now for me, but if I have to choose a specific place I’d say Covent Garden. It’s always been my favourite place, even just to roam around alone or with friends. I like people in general and there seems like everyone you look at are happy (they’re obviously not but it’s kind of a magic and happy place) so I feel serene.
During your early times in London, did you have any problem?
Apart from the bad experience I mentioned above, I feel my only temporary problems were the stress of doing something you don’t like for an imprecise time (frying fish and chips is not a hidden dream of an IT professional), mixed with the impatient of not improving fast enough the English skills I needed to step up.
What do you think about this project?
I believe it’s great, it’s a very good idea and I fully support it, otherwise I wouldn’t be here writing about my life. 
Also, I secretly wanted to tell my story to other people who are maybe in a similar situation of how I was 3 years ago, just to shake them up and say “Hey! Do you see that it’s possible if you really want it? If you have an opportunity, don’t waste it! Especially if you believe you’re good at doing something, this may be your chance to show it off!”. I know it may sound repetitive and cliché, but this is what you would realistically see in people, step up and do something for their self they will be proud of, one day in the future.
How do you think you could support and promote Italian culture? 
Unfortunately not being an artisan or not doing a job that export Italian culture, it’s hard if not impossible to promote Italian culture. But what I can and want to do is to promote Italian pride and being a proof for whose attack and complain about Italian kids leaving their homeland to find a better place where to grow in all the aspects the life require.
An emigrated Italian responsible, multicultural and linguistically open-minded, playing a chance to feel realised in life, work and family spheres is indubitably better than a resident Italian radicalised, society-driven close-mind whose future is not in his/her hands but in the ones of who don’t care.
I will never stop thinking that.