An unusual Italian weekend in Cairo

An unusual Italian weekend in Cairo

Cairo: It might be difficult to find an “Italian oasis” when you are a newcomer and feel homesick, unless you’re lucky to find your countrymen and women being such well-organized such as is the case in Cairo.

This past weekend has been a full-immersion in “Italy” for all Italians and non-Italians living in Cairo. It began with the lecture “Mediterranean Exchanges: Movements of People and Ideas,” organized by ITACA (The Italian Student Association at AUC) in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Center in Cairo and hosted in the Oriental Hall of the AUC on Thursday.

The three brilliant speakers Adel Beshai, Professor of Economics at AUC, Giulio Querini, Professor of Environmental Economy at Sapienza-University of Rome and Beppe Severgnini, a journalist at the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera gave a perfect example of intercultural dialogue in terms of economic, human and historical fluxes between Europe and Egypt, with an accent on the intense migration towards Italy and on the concept of globalization.

“The relationship between Europe and South Mediterranean countries is not just economic, but also cultural. There’s a specific historical intention to be in contact.”, said professor Querini. According to Severgnini, 6 points are fundamental for a good constructive intercultural dialogue, that is “equal dignity of participants, voluntary engagement in dialogue, an open and curious mindset, readiness, minimum knowledge of the other culture and having a common language.”

The active Italian presence in Cairo reared its face again on Friday, being the “Italian Day” at the 42nd Cairo International Book Fair, which was inaugurated on January 28, by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The Italian Day witnessed the participation of the Italian Ambassador Claudio Pacifico, who opened the Italian stand with the presence of a number of distinguished figures of the cultural world.

The weekend was crowned by the 99th “Pizza Italians” that took place Saturday the at  The Italian Recreation Center (CRI), in downtown Cairo. For those who don’t know, the event owes its origin to an idea of Severgnini, who decided to jokingly post on the Internet an invitation for all the Italians living in London to go and eat a pizza together. It had such an unexpected result: 110 people showed up, and so the journalist decided to make this event part of his trips around the world, sponsoring the “Pizza Italians” in almost every country he visits.

Throughout 11 years, Pizza Italians has taken place in 98 countries, including Egypt, which had the pleasure of getting together numerous members of its Italian Diaspora in one place to spend a wonderful evening. During the dinner Severgnini replied to questions from the audience about the characteristics of Italians living abroad, using his own comedic manner and showed an interest in any personal background of the guests. Next week, the Pizza Italians event will celebrate its centenary again in London, but it won’t stop there, assured Severgnini.