Yesterday I gladly attended a symposium in honor of Giorgio Bellettini, who just turned 90. The italian physicist, who had a very big impact in particle physics in his long and illustrious career, is still very active -e.g. he makes all the hard questions at the conferences he attends, as he has always done. The symposium included recollections of Giorgio's career and achievements by colleagues who collaborated with him and/or shared a part of his path. Among them there were talks by Samuel Ting, Paul Grannis, Michelangelo Mangano, Hans Grasmann, Mario Greco.
I also was allowed to give a short recollection of a couple of episodes, that underline the exceptional disposition of Giorgio with students. Here is a quick-and-dirty English translation of my speech (it was in Italian).

Dear Giorgio and esteemed colleagues,

I am pleased and honored by this wonderful occasion that Giorgio Chiarelli and the other organizers have given us today to salute you, now that you have reached the milestone of your first 90 years.

This morning we have been reminded, thanks to the speeches by Mario, Hans, and Michelangelo, about your brilliant career. However, in these few minutes, I want to highlight another point, an aspect of your character that I consider perhaps even more valuable—for its potential and especially for its rarity—than your immense talents as a scientist. Let me refer to this as your true hidden superpower, like that of a Marvel character.

Giorgio, I must confess here and now that you are certainly the person who has had the greatest impact on my growth as a researcher. This must have happened through osmosis rather than through direct mentoring, as Paolo mentioned at the beginning of this session, because like him, I never had the privilege of working directly with you. But thanks to you, thanks to the Summer Student program, I was given a chance to enter the world of particle physics. I arrived at Fermilab in 1992 and soon met you on various occasions during those months, absorbing not just knowledge but also and especially enthusiasm for the physics we were doing. As Chiarelli mentioned earlier, you joyfully shared your time with students, and it showed and had a big impact. From there, during my undergraduate thesis, my doctoral thesis, and my first years as a post-doctoral scientist at Harvard, I observed what I truly consider your superpower in action in several situations.

I am referring to your impressive ability, demonstrated through words, actions, and truly through your body language—because without that, words mean little—to break down academic barriers and put even the youngest collaborators at ease. I shall give two small examples of this.

I recall an important meeting of the heavy flavor working group of CDF, which was broadcast via videoconference from San Piero a Grado, the INFN center near Pisa. It must have been 1993, a hot year for the search for the top quark. By the way, let me say, as Hans already mentioned, that for me, the top quark was discovered by you, Marina, and Hans. But we know how it went, it was well remembered this morning, and I even wrote a book about it.

So, we had come from Padua to attend the meeting, and that evening I was sitting next to you at the table in front of the two bulky monitors operating this early version of Zoom. I found myself discussing with you as an equal—I, the newcomer, a first-year graduate student, and you, the leader of CDF-Italy—details of the analysis being presented, on which we evidently had differing opinions. Now, I am not a particularly shy person, nor did I have issues with authority, but the naturalness of this interaction and your exceptional willingness to elevate your interlocutors to your level—just as I believed it should be in a healthy research environment: people who, regardless of their level and rank, valued only the scientific arguments—left a strong impression on me. I observed this attitude, this ease of yours, on many other occasions, both in person and as an observer.

The second episode took place seven years later, in 2000, when I posted a draft of a proceeding paper on the measurement of the W mass at the Tevatron in the online messaging system of CDF, cdf-news, following a talk at Moriond. You read it (you were not obliged to, but you never missed a beat!) and came to my office to compliment me, but also to ask me to correct a completely wrong statement I had made about the distribution of Mw. At first, I didn't understand the issue and tried to defend my position. Instead of launching into a professor-student explanation, which 99% of our colleagues would undoubtedly have done and which would have certainly humiliated me, you calmly and unassumingly said, "I am sure."

I greatly appreciated your tact. The divergence between your status and your ability to make even the most junior students feel like your equals is something I have never encountered in anyone else in my career. And in my small way, I have learned this lesson—a small part of those superpowers has stuck with me, and today I try and think I manage quite well to do the same with my students... It's a great gift you gave me. It is truly said that in life, the most important things are learned by example from others.

Finally, I cannot help but recall an episode that entertained and surprised me, another eight years later. In those years, I was bothering many colleagues with my blogging activity—unfortunately, I come from Venice, and we Venetians are a bit outspoken, which doesn't go well in a scientific collaboration. The blogs had given me a megaphone, and many were envious of this status as a science communicator that I had perhaps undeservedly carved out; because of this climate I had created around myself, I faced several large and small negative consequences, but also great satisfactions.

So, one fine day, I received an email notifying me that I had been nominated as a spokesperson for CDF. I was automatically furious, understanding that it had been done to mock me. I investigated, and it turned out that you were the one who nominated me! Astonished, I called you on the phone and asked you for an explanation, and you candidly told me that you had faith in me and were sure I could do a great job. This trust in your collaborators—even too much in this specific case, but still— and this ability to think outside the box (in this case, proposing a simple researcher to lead an important experiment) is another wonderful trait for which you should be appreciated. Once again, I join Paolo in saying that you are a well-rounded person, not just a great scientist.

So thank you, Giorgio, I am indebted to you, and I think two entire generations of physicists are too, a legion of scientists trained thanks to your commitment and enthusiasm. I don't know how many of them have acquired your superpowers, but certainly many of them are now established scientists. For me, this is worth much more than a Nobel Prize because the collective value of this legacy far exceeds that of any single discovery.