Young men and women attired in traditional Venetian costumes reminding one of ancient days of city states, Venice in the background with all its lakes and luster, Italian food, pizza, pasta et al, and above all stellar performance by celebrated Italian singer Martina—all marked the reception the Italian ambassador Stefano Pontecorvo and his spouse Lidia Ravera Pontecorvo hosted at Serena Hotel to celebrate the country’s National Day.
In fact, it is June 2 but the embassy delayed the National Day reception in respect of Ramazan and Eid and decided to celebrate it on June 11 instead.
Minister for Power Division Omar Ayub Khan along with his father and former Speaker of the National Assembly Gohar Ayub Khan was the chief guest on the occasion.
A large number of guests including parliamentarians from both sides of the aisle, members of civil society, artists, scholars and diplomats along with spouses, children and friends had come to greet the ambassador in the illuminating but jam-packed hall of the hotel.
In his address, the Ambassador briefed the guests about history, significance of the Republic Day of Italy.
“On our National Day we commemorate a very significant moment in our history, when in 1947, on the 2nd of June, Italians were called to vote in a referendum on the form of the State,” said he.
The question was whether Italians wished their country to remain a Monarchy or become a Republic. In the Referendum, the Republic won by around 6pc and that was how the Republic of Italy came about.
According to Stefano Pontecorvo, the Italian people were proud of the process and of the way things went. He asked the guests to remember, it was 1947, (the year of birth for Pakistan), immediately after the Second World War, and people were still heavily armed and tempers were running high on both sides.
“Notwithstanding these conditions, when the Republic won all Italians accepted the verdict and life continued peacefully,” remarked a beaming Ambassador.
For the year 2019, the National Day of Italy’s theme was Venice and the ambassador particularly mentioned his wife Lidia who took great pains in finding out symbols for the reception that are significant both for Italy and Pakistan.
The ambassador also mentioned Pakistan’s first participation in the Venice Art Biennale earlier in April this year as it was the first time that Pakistan showcased its vibrant art and cultural prowess on the world scene.
The Pakistani pavilion made waves and had an immense success both with the public and media and with the art critics, said the ambassador. Later cake was cut to celebrate the National Day of Italy and the guests enjoyed Italian food, music and dance. The highlight of the evening however was Pakistan’s national anthem sung by Martina winning huge applause from the guests. Her performance later added extra colour to the reception.
Who could forget Lidia Ravera Pontecorvo who individually met every guest and thanked for coming. Her dance on popular Italian tunes was also something to remember long.