By Afshin Majlesi

Italian embassy responsible for depicting Tehran-Rome ‘so deep and complete’ cultural ties: envoy

August 8, 2020 - 19:32

Italian ambassador to Tehran Giuseppe Perrone has said that his embassy is highly responsible for depicting the richness of so deep and so complete cultural ties, which have long been developed between the two nations.

“I think because our cultural ties are so deep and so complete in every area, we do have a responsibility to showcase this richness and to tell people the story of this important connection that has always existed between Italy and Iran in different areas, so we look forward to our future projects which are going to be quite amazing as well.”

Perrone made the remarks late on Wednesday in his residence during an exclusive interview with the Tehran Times on the sidelines of an unveiling ceremony of the first episode of a joint video-theater project “8 1⁄2 Theater Clips: How the Pandemic Changed our Lives”co-performed by Iranian and Italian artists.

Briefing on the history of archaeological ties between the two nations, the envoy said: “Archaeology is one of the most traditional areas of cooperation between Italy and Iran … Last, in November, we celebrated 60 years of our joint missions, which has been quite an achievement because over sixty years many Italian archaeologist missions came to Iran and did important discoveries, working with Iranian archaeologists and learning how to work together.”

The ambassador stressed the need for greater archaeological cooperation as the two countries are “heirs to ancient civilizations.”

 “Well, normally elite tourists come here, I mean people who are very aware of cultural heritage so it’s a very qualified type of tourism between Italy and Iran… ones who know very well the Iranian culture… The ones who are willing to discover the country with their own eyes and touch with their own hands its marvelous and incredibly rich cultural heritage.”

“Archaeology is certainly an area for us that is extremely important because it tells the world how our countries are heirs to ancient civilizations and this extremely important because it is part of identity, it’s part of who we are, and it helps us to better connect with one another.”

Perrone reminded that joint missions, who have stopped work due to coronavirus health limitations, would start again soon.

“We have [archaeological] missions in some areas… unfortunately, due to the health crisis, they have stopped working but we hope they can resume soon.”

Elsewhere in his remarks, the ambassador pointed to the conference in which Tehran and Rome mark 60 years of collaboration in the fields of cultural heritage and archaeology last year. From the early 20th century on, Italians participated in the scholarly investigation of ancient Iranian history and culture.

“So, last year, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of our joint cultural heritage and archaeology collaboration…. an occasion that also opened an extremely beautiful and meaningful exhibition dedicated to the 60th year of partnership at the National Museum of Iran in downtown [Tehran].”

Answering a question about the joint future plans, the ambassador said: “We’ve planned to expand many of the missions that we have here in different areas of Iran both in the south and in the north working with prestigious Italian universities…. to extent excavation surveys but like I said they are on halt now because of the health crisis.”

“We are planning to hold a joint archaeology film festival with some films to be screening in Tehran and Shiraz at the beginning of 2021 if the health condition will allow us.”

Responding to a question about the goal of the film event, the ambassador said “It’s not only about the past. It will be showcasing many films about archaeology…. Many films that portray [aspects of] our history together.”

Providing an example, Perrone referred to the cutting-edge technology Italian experts utilized to restore some parts of the UNESCO-registered Persepolis.

“We have had [top] mission in Persepolis, ‘Restorers without Borders’ as well as a joint archeological mission of the University of Bologna, ISMEO and the University of Shiraz (co-led by Prof. Francesco Callieri and Prof. Ali Askari), who brought in Iran a very cutting-edge technology to restore some parts of the Persepolis ….. It was like a breakthrough …. Likely [it was] the first kind of archaeological restoration mission that applied that technology here so Italy is big in terms of archaeology.”

Referring to cultural tourism, which is another arena of cooperation between the two nations, he explained: “That’s an area, which is extremely important. Last year we held an important project on promoting cultural tourism … there was also a delegation came here from Italy last November and they visited several regions in north and west of the country with the idea to improve Iran’s capacity to attract [more] tourists and that I think was extremely useful and has gonna have its follow-up again as soon as corona allows, unfortunately!”

“That was a project done by an Italian NGO called The Alliance of Italian Cooperatives (ACI), which sent a delegation here to visit several tourist destinations in the country to cooperate in improving their capabilities, their skills and set up [the ground to] even work together on improving in generally Iran’s ability to attract more tourists, which is extremely important.”

“Reverting to the cultural heritage promotion there is a lot my embassy is doing to promote bilateral ties in arts, cinema, music, archaeology, architecture, literature, and theater, like the one that we saw tonight, and design, among other arenas…,” the envoy noted.

“And I think because our cultural ties are so deep and so complete in every area, that we do have a responsibility to showcase this richness and to tell people the story of this important connection that has always existed between Italy and Iran in different areas so we look forward to our future projects which are going to be quite amazing.”

Perrone also talked about the type of Italian travelers, who in his opinion, are more interested in visiting the ancient land.

“Well, normally elite tourists come here, I mean people who are very aware of cultural heritage so it’s a very qualified type of tourism between Italy and Iran… ones who know very well the Iranian culture… The ones who are willing to discover the country with their own eyes and touch with their own hands its marvelous and incredibly rich cultural heritage.”

“Our travelers from Italy to Iran are highly educated and very well aware of the great potential and heritage that Iran has….. About the number of travelers; the figures were great in 2018 but the figures declined afterward and that is not because they have lost the interest but it is due to international complexes such as sanctions.”

Last November, on the sidelines of the ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the joint cultural heritage, the Italian envoy said: “Italian tourists are fond of Iran because it has a natural diversity that is appealing to them. Italians are also fond of Iran’s unique antiquities.”

Iran expects to reap a bonanza from its numerous tourist spots such as bazaars, museums, mosques, bridges, bathhouses, madrasas, mausoleums, churches, towers, and mansions, of which 24 being inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Under the 2025 Tourism Vision Plan, it aims to increase the number of tourist arrivals from 4.8 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2025. The latest available data show eight million tourists visited the Islamic Republic during the first ten months of the past Iranian calendar year (started March 21, 2019).

AFM/MG

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