Always aimed to support people-to-people diplomacy, says outgoing Italian Consul General to Kolkata

Italian consul general Gianluca Rubagotti, who will soon be leaving Kolkata at the end of his tenure, on Friday said his aim was always to support people-to-people diplomacy.

Outgoing Italian consul general to Kolkata Gianluca Rubagotti addresses press conference in the East Indian city. Photo Courtesy: Supriyo Hazra

Gianluca Rubagotti, who began his tenure as the Consul General of Italy in Kolkata during COVID-19 pandemic, told IBNS: “My effort as the Consul General of Italy in this part of India was always to promote my country and support people-to-people diplomacy.”

“This is a very creative city with lots of creative people here. So, the challenge was to keep up with the expectation of people,” Rubagotti said.

During his tenure, there were several areas of cooperation between the Italian Consulate in Kolkata and various groups in the city in terms of seminars, discussions, workshops and other socio-cultural and trade events which took place over the past three years.

There were the Italo-Kolkatan Heritage Conversations with scholars from Italy who came to Kolkata to discuss the artistic links between the city and Italy.

For instance, Isabella Nardi spoke about Italian artists active in the city and Chiara Rostagno spoke about twelve marble busts in the gardens of Victoria Memorial. All these events were held at heritage sites such as the Victoria Memorial and in Tagore’s palace.

To highlight the Italian connection with Rabindranath Tagore, a permanent exhibition was inaugurated at the Rabindra Bharati Museum to celebrate the connection between Tagore and Italy.

The exhibition showcases the journeys and events surrounding Tagore’s three visits to Italy and a comprehensive glimpse into the places and times (through visuals and quotes), the link between Italian scholars and artists with the Tagore Family/RBU/VishwaBharati University.

Another initiative was to engage and address the youth in Kolkata and show them Italy in a different manner.

The Italian Consulate had a series of comic strips designed by Upal Sengupta (the famous singer and cartoonist) on The Adventures of Puchki and Cookie in Italy, where a young Bengali teenager, Puchki, visits Italy with her dog Cookie and embarks on a journey to cities like Florence and Naples, seeing them from a teenage perspective.

To highlight and celebrate the Christmas season, the Consulate organized four Christmas Concerts where choir groups composed of children from different backgrounds, including those of the schools for the blind, were taught to sing songs in several different languages such as in English, Hindi, Bengali, Italian and even Latin.

Highlighting the cultural affinity between Italy and Kolkata, the Consulate helped organize several photo exhibitions entitled ‘From Kolkata to Italy.’ The exhibitions were held at the National Library, in the Lalit Bakery and Trams.