The National Day of the Republic of Italy is celebrated on 2 June in Rome with a grand military parade; in Canberra by contrast with a grand welcome stroll past a cavalcade of Italian cars to lust for and a warm welcome from the Ambassador of Italy Pier Francesco Zazo and his vivacious wife Svetlana Sharapa Zazo.
It is wise to be on time, firstly to say all the important hellos and whip around the reception rooms before the crowd separates you from the prosciutto and the cheese, and it’s an idea to find a spot for the passing platters of pizza. The bar easy to see across the magnificent courtyard of this residence designed by Enrico Taglietti, but impossible to get to, is a cautionary reminder of the need for restraint in these cocktail hours.
Ambassador Zazo spoke of our travels; that’s 800,000 of us last year off to experience the delights of a country where style is genetic and food, wine and family exist to ensure we live well and enjoy it. Where music is essential and the nightly passeggiata in the piazzas connects communities in a tradition our sprawling ‘burbs make impossible. Bells anywhere near your hotel to be avoided at all cost if you like to sleep.
At this celebration Margy Abbott was a guest of honour – I’m told one of her daughters has a handsome Italian gentleman courting her – and Anthony Albanese was ‘over there’, among the beautiful people. Greg Oakes acknowledged he was the owner of Bianca the white Lamborghini at the front door that I cheekily asked the minder to warm up for my departure and I would happily leave my unmentionable brand of chariot in exchange. Not to be.
My Italian experiences are happy memories, but online shopping keeps me in touch with their fabulous fashion, homewares and shoes. The food we’ve learnt how to cook, but I will be checking with the embassy chef for that pizza recipe. Delizioso.