The Italian Cultural Institute in Budapest, an office of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, organizes a wide range of events to inform the Hungarian audience on the most relevant aspects of contemporary Italian culture.
“2013 is the Year of Italian Culture, plus we will celebrate the 200th Anniversary of Verdi's birth,” Gina Giannotti, the Director of the Italian Cultural Institute (IIC) starts the interview. “We are busy planning and preparing for that year-long program. Also, in the last few months, under the mottos ‘Italy of the future, Territories, Culture as an industry, and Made in Italy,’ a myriad of the most different programs introduced Italy, the ‘country of the cento città and mille campanili’ (a hundred cities and a thousand bells), in a cultural aspect,” the director says, adding, “When I say culture, I speak of more than famous Italian Renaissance works of art. Leonardo da Vinci, Dante and Botticelli certainly are signature Italian names, or brands, I dare to say, everyone recognizes and associates with Italy. But during this program, so much more than the major themes of traditional art will be presented. My aim is to show how modern and dynamic Italian culture and Italy itself can be, with countless technological developments, great contemporary artists and designers.” According to the director, the same goes for the Italian Year programs.
"The decision to make 2013 the Year of Italian Culture in Hungary has created a golden opportunity to showcase our cultural and scientific legacies."
“Italian culture and identity will be presented and decoded through the kaleidoscope of geniality that has forged Italian life and lifestyle: art, music, theatre, cinema, literature; architecture and archaeology, science, design, fashion; politics, law and economics; and, of course, cuisine. The cultural year is to present Italy as a country that is forward-looking and forward-thinking, whose excellence is deeply rooted in a time-honored past of success in the research, discovery, with a vision and perspective together with the experience and expertise to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.” Giannotti notes that the program entitled ‘Laboratorio Italia’ which already took place in Budapest, is a perfect example for the institution’s attempt. “This program, a roundtable discussion, featured some of today’s most hot topics, including sustainable management of territory and green economy, involving Prof. Adriano Ciani from the University of Perugia, Prof Mihály Vörös, member of the International Farm Management Association, Lajos Búsi deputy state secretary at the Hungarian Ministry of Rural Developments and Prof. Dr. Pál Hajas, President of Cserhátalja Rural Development Association.”
The director, whose first touch to the institution on her arrival 8 months ago was to change the old furniture to contemporary design Cerutti pieces, as a sign of the beginning of a new era, highlights another program, an exhibition entitled '100 piazze' organized in the framework of the Budapest Design Week. “This exhibition presented the exclusive tray collection created for the Italian Driade by a leading figure of contemporary design, Fabio Novembre, architect and designer. Inspired by the most magnificent Italian squares, each and every piece of the collection made of silver-plated brass is a salute to Italian ‘square architecture’,” an enthusiastic director says. She also reveals that the exhibition was opened by the artist himself, and that he also presented a lecture during the festival. “In fact, it was happenstance that after inviting the artist to Hungary, we have found out that Design Week is being organized about the same time of the year, and that Novembre’s art would fit in perfectly with the Design Week’s program,” the director notes, adding that being flexible and open while planning the cultural year’s programs helped her to amazing contacts and ideas. “Sometimes, a concept remains a concept, but best ideas also born from half-baked concepts, sometimes originating from a party I wasn’t counting with. I am relatively new here in Budapest, after serving in France, and I am constantly on the move to make as many contacts as possible. I feel perfectly comfortable now, after discovering that while I do not speak this difficult language yet, a lot of people speak Italian in this city. Huge number of Italians live, study and work in Hungary, and even more Hungarians learn or has already learnt my language.” For them, the Italian language film screenings, also part of the Italian Season, will be a real delight.
IIC in general
“Alike the other 89 Italian Cultural Institutes, in the main cities of the five continents, IIC Budapest is like a show-case of the Country and a source of information on today’s Italy; it also acts as a propeller to encourage cultural cooperation and activities; it plays a pivotal role for Italian communities abroad and for the increasing interest in Italian culture all over the world. The Institute offers a wide choice of Italian language classes,” explains Giannotti on the question what happens when nothing special happens, on a normal day at the institute. “Our linguistic levels follow the new Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, CEF, produced by the Council of Europe. This ensures uniformity and consistency of teaching in line with other language institutions across Europe. We are proud of our library, too, that has a grand collection of around 20,000 books, magazines and newspapers and an additional 2,000 media volumes,” the director continues. IIC Budapest also offers services such as providing information and local support to private and public cultural representatives, both Italian and foreign. Information on scholarships offered by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for study and research in Italy as well as information on grants offered by the Institute for language courses in Italy can also be received.
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