|Culture club: Casa Italia, the Italian promotion centre, is located at 18 Le Phung Hieu Street. — Photo courtesy Italian Embassy
To commemorate Italy's National Day on June 2, the Viet Nam News presents an article written by Italian Ambassador to Viet Nam Lorenzo Angeloni
Relations between Italy and Viet Nam have traditionally been excellent. In recent years, they have experienced a tremendous growth that has touched all bilateral sectors.
The most important breakthrough we have had is the Strategic Partnership declaration, signed last January in Rome. Italy is now part of a small group of countries that are building broader and deeper relations with Viet Nam. A Plan of Action will be finalised shortly, highlighting the concrete initiatives to be carried out soon.
Special relevance will be given to the economic field. Our bilateral trade has steadily increased in the last year. Vietnamese exports, in particular, have experienced a real boom, reaching 2.3 billion Euros (US$2.9 billion) in 2012. Viet Nam is now an important market for Italian companies and, thanks also to ASEAN and the net of Free Trade Agreements with major Asian economies, is more and more considered as a hub for productions aimed at the all region.
We still have to foster a better knowledge of the favorable conditions that Viet Nam can present to Italian entrepreneurs, to support Italian Small and Medium Enterprises who want to move eastwards to upgrade their international stance.
Besides the economic and political dimensions, I am also convinced that we must continue to offer to all Vietnamese citizens the opportunity to know and experience more of Italian culture. For this reason we have decided to launch, together with the most important and popular Italian companies operating here, the "Casa Italia" project, a centre for the diffusion of Italian culture, products, taste, design and businesses. Since April 11, it has been open to all Vietnamese, and especially Hanoians, to try a bit of the Italian environment, flavors and tastes.
I am underlining this aspect because culture is a fundamental part of the Italian way-of-life. Indeed Italy is a land of passions: sounds, colors and perfumes; books, art and music; nature and landscapes. Travelling to Italy provides many opportunities for Vietnamese who like an open lifestyle. Visiting Casa Italia can be a small introduction.
Artistic wonders can be found in every corner of Italy. Our artistic and cultural heritage is one of the most valuable in the world (Rome, Florence, Assisi, Venice, Siena, Pisa and Naples are renowned but the whole country can boast towns of breathtaking beauty, as these numbers demonstrate: 95,000 monumental churches, 40,000 forts and castles, 30,000 historical residences with 4,000 gardens, 36,000 archives and libraries, 20,000 historical cities and towns, 5,600 museums and archaeological sites, and 1,500 convents.
Italy offers a rich combination of masterpieces from different areas, blending landscape and culture, history and art, architecture and city planning. It also offers an exciting journey through time, from the Ancient Greeks and Romans to the present day.
But Italian culture is not only history and memories of the past. Art and knowledge in many forms, fun, relaxation and well-being all live within a very modern and intriguing fusion between innovation and tradition, territorial roots and cosmopolitan callings.
In this specific field, allow me to mentions the Italy of sport and soccer in particular. We know very well that Vietnamese are fond of football just as Italians magnify the teams that made into the the history of European football, like AC Milan and FC Internazionale.
Italy has always been a synonym for good food and good wine, offering an explosion of flavors, scents, and aromas. It has one of the most famous cuisines in the world and it also presents an immense variety of regional dishes and recipes - and wines.
Experiencing all this is the best ways to understand a people, their history and traditions, so as we celebrate the anniversary of the Italian Republic, allow me to invite all Vietnamese to visit Casa Italia and, after that, to travel to Italy. It's a journey they will love, thanks also to the similarities existing between our two peoples: a Vietnamese visiting Italy feels always at home (and vice versa!) — VNS