Learning Journey 2023 to Sicily

Learning Journey Report from Paola Ligabue (Organizer of 2023 Edition and current EWMD International Co-President) 

Learning Journeys are a highlight of EWMD: 5 days (usually) during which you meet EWMD members, exchange and network with them, meet interesting companies with gender policies or simply owned by female entrepreneurs, listen to different stories, live in places completely different from what you’re used to, see new places and approach new cultures and countries. I personally am a fan of them and try never to miss any.

In 2022, at EWMD International Conference in Berlin I decided to engage in the organization of the 2023 Learning Journey, and immediately thought of Sicily as destination. Sicily is surely the Italian Region I love the best, apart from my own one: Emilia Romagna – and have always had good connections with the wonderful people of this wonderful island, thanks to my female entrepreneurs’ networks, and personal friends.

I wanted to show my European Women the beauties of this place, and meet entrepreneurs and companies, but also visiting some places and doing some touristic activities.  You must dive into the places to understand the roots, the culture and the mentality of the people living there.

The first to do was to read the Florio family’s history (I leoni di Sicilia – The Lions of Sicily).

Thanks to my connections to CNA (Impresa Donna and not only) we could meet wonderful people, enjoy an aperitif at Villa Igiea (former residence and hospital of the Florios’, and now a Rocco Forte super high-level hotel), walk in the rain through Palermo, visit wonderful churches and network.

After Palermo, we moved to the South-Western part of the island, where we could discover Marsala, Mazara del Vallo, Segesta, Selinunte, Trapani, Erice .

And what to say about the food? Very top-level restaurants, but ... too much food, too much wine, too much Marsala! The one in Erice was absolutely exceptional.

37 European women busy with a lot of sightseeing and meeting local female entrepreneurs, passionate and proud of showing their land and their products to an unusual audience.

EWMD is also full of incredibly good-hearted women, who felt touched and moved by their Sicilian peers, some of which also explained their fight against the mafia, and how difficult it was, and still is, to be a female entrepreneur in Sicily.

This LJ will be remembered for long time... I personally was overwhelmed by the love and appreciation My EWMD LJ Members showed me and thank them all from the deep of my heart. Even though my International Co-presidency mandate will end soon, count me in for the next one.

The next Learning Journey in 2024 will take place in Hamburg, at the antipodes of Europe compared to Sicily, yet a wonderful city to be discovered. I do hope that many EWMD members from countries outside Germany will join. We’ll surely solve possible problems with the language. And to those who say that Germans from the North are cold people, well, this is not true, and I say: Come and meet my friends from the Hamburg Chapter: they are much more like warm Sicilians than many Italians!