The Caledonian Story



In 1982 our founder, Maria McCarthy, came to Italy on an 8 month contract to teach English as a second language in Legnano, a small town about 25km from Milan. Although she came from a language background, in fact she had previously worked as a trilingual Personal Assistant to key figures in important multinationals in the UK, she had very little or no knowledge of the Italian language.

When her contract expired in June 1983, she decided to stay on for another year to complete her study of the language. In Milan she specialised in in-company language training and realised that there was indeed a gap in the market. She realised that Milan could offer her much more than the UK at that time which was very much submerged in a terrible economic crisis.

In 1986 she became the internal language specialist for a large German multinational, where she managed language training, translations and interpreting for the whole of Italy.  This was a great experience for her but the managing director  believed she could do much more and pushed her into opening her own company.

On 26th February 1991 Caledonian was born. Maria had always maintained strong links with her Scottish background, so it was obvious that her “baby” had to have a Scottish name and what better logo than the symbol of Scotland, the thistle.

The first office was a room in Maria’s home, until 1994 when she  acquired small premises near the original exhibition area of Milan.  Until that point Caledonian had only offered translations, interpreting and language training in English, Italian and French, together with residential language courses abroad.  The new offices saw the expansion into many other languages, such as Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and of course all other European languages.

1998 saw further expansion with the opening of much larger premises and the division of the company into two Business units – Translations and Training – each with its own Project Manager.  

Since then Caledonian has gone from strength to strength and now offers top quality language services in practically any language, not only throughout Italy but also Europe and the United States. We now have a team of around 30 language trainers, 100 translators and interpreters and 7 office staff. The cake was iced in 2009 when Caledonian was awarded ISO 9001 certification.

Although Maria still plays a very active role, she has renewed the company by bringing in younger blood. Daniela (for language training) and Barbara (for translations and interpreting) will always be pleased to welcome you and help you in every way they can.