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In April 1992 when I was on tour of Europe by Cosmos Tour bus I entered from Austria side into Italy crossing Brenner Pass ( Hitler and Mussolini had met for the first time at Brenner)  after passing through highest bridge of Europe  from Dalmatia region which was snow bound. There were few skiing courses on the hills also. Winter Olympic was held at Cortina, Italy in 1956. In 1992 I visited Venice first then moved to Rome and then to Florence before entering France and visiting Nice on 16th April.

In 1996 I was a member of technology mission jointly sponsored by Ministry of Industry, Government of India and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.  The Mission toured Italy from 8-12 July, 1996. The objective of the mission was to bring together SMEs of both the regions for mutually beneficial economic tie-ups. Dr.Shantilal Somaiya, Chairman of Somaiya Group of Industries of Bombay, led the mission.

From New Delhi we took an Air India flight and reached Rome. After reaching Rome I visited all the tourist places. Though I had visited Rome earlier in 1992 but this time again I visited all these spots.It has been said many times before that Rome is a palimpsest, and with each visit you discover a new layer. Undoubtedly every time I saw all the important tourist attractions of not only Rome but all over Italy though my first visit was more exhaustive.

Rome reminded me of Roman civilization and Roman Empire and Italy reminded me for its role in two World Wars. Rome is a cosmopolitan city famous for art, architecture, sculpture and culture. There are endless historical attractions in Rome.

Colosseum is ancient and large amphitheatre located in centre of Rome. It was constructed to organize gladiatorial fights witnessed by the emperors, the royalty and the common people. For the sake of entertainment and for lesson the criminals were killed in the arena. Sometimes human being was left alone to fight hungry lion who would tear him into pieces and devour him. I think such acts of the Roman civilization make them uncivilized in history.

I saw the Pantheon, an ancient structure. I also saw high columns of the ruins.

I saw Altaredella Patria, a large building built in honour of Victor Emmanuel, king of united Italy. It is said that Mussolini used to address Romans from this place.

I visited Trevi district in Rome to see the world’s most famous fountain, the Trevi fountain.  Trevi Fountain is thronged by tourists, a beautiful place which combines fountain with sculpture.

Piazza Navona is a must visit place for any tourist. There is located a fountain with four statues depicting four renowned rivers of the world. They are Ganga in Asia (India), Rio Plato in America, Danube in Europe and Nile in Africa (Egypt). This fountain is regarded lucky as I witnessed some newly married couples in their wedding costume visiting the fountain and getting photographed in different poses. They invite onlookers also to join their photo session. I also obliged them, or actually they oblige the onlookers. In front of the fountain are a large number of restaurants where tourists enjoy outdoor snacks or meals. I would not forget one experience that when I was returning after sightseeing at Piazza Navona to my hotel I boarded the public bus. After a few stoppages a co-passenger all in sudden told me in broken English that somebody had picked up my pocket but perchance the dollar traveller cheque had fallen on the floor of the bus and pick pocket had already disembarked. I was so much stunned that I took my traveller cheques and just thanked him and got down from the bus at the next stoppage. There I checked up my dollar cash kept in my ticket pocket. Actually the cash was separate from traveller cheque. Fortunately the traveller cheque was kept in a separate envelope above the cash. Perhaps the fingers of pickpocket could not reach deep in the ticket pocket. Even during my earlier visit in 1992 I was ever alerted   beware of pick pockets and thieves even in star hotels, street and public transport. When I visited Italy this time I was always conscious of the warning which perhaps saved my foreign exchange.

During 1992 and 1996 tour of Italy I visited Vatican which is adjacent to Rome. When in Rome a visit to Vatican is natural. It is the centre of Catholic Christians the Pope being its head. Here I saw St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican museum, Sistine chapel and appreciated some of Michelangelo’s masterpieces.

Venice : During 1996 Govt.of India delegation tour we went from Rome to Venice. This was my second visit to Venice as I had already visited it during my earlier tour of Italy on 11th April 1992. At Venice we interacted with industrialists and office bearers of Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Veneto Foreign Trade Centre of the Chambers of Commerce organized the seminar. I spoke about opportunity to Italian entrepreneurs to invest in Indian Textiles Industry.

In 1996 I took the opportunity of visiting Venice as rediscovery of the region. I always remember symbol of Venice, Piazza St. Marco, its courtyard, rows of restaurants, flock of dove, etc. Facing onto the square are numerous shops and cafes, which line on three sides. On the fourth side stands St. Mark’s cathedral. There are large numbers of shops selling venation art glass, Murano, in ancient and modern style. The glass works have gold and other precious metals mixed.  Travelling by water taxi (taxi acquei) to see Venice and gondola ride and to listen to songs of the boatman in every visit are always cherished memories. There is so much to see again and again various tourist spots and enjoy gondola ride and travel on water taxi. Venice is a fairy tale city made up of 118 tiny islands separated by winding canals. There are about 400 feet bridges in the city. I always remember Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.

Stretching from the peaks of the Dolomites across the Po Valley to the shores of the Adriatic Sea is the region of Veneto. The region’s economy is based primarily on agriculture and craft work like gold, jewellery, apparel, ceramics and glass blowing. Increasing industrial activity and tourism are significant economic activity.

Florence, Firenze : In 1992 I visited Florence while touring Italy. Then I stayed at Florence-Europa Hotel on 15th April.  In 1996 from Venice we went to Florence by train. On 11-12th July 1996 we interacted with industrialists and office-bearers of Toscana. There also I addressed them and invited them to invest in textiles sector in India.

Florence or Firenze is a rich place of art, painting, sculpture and culture. Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo lived here. It has large number of splendid museums and art galleries. I saw tall statue of David at its museum.  It needs several years to explore the rich cultural heritage stored in Florence. Even on roadside there are lines of artistes painting to sketching portrait of tourists. The quality of leather products are of highest quality. We visited some shops selling leather jackets which looked like made of silk. I always remember the captivating view of Florence across Arno River from the hill of Piazzale Michelangelo where statue of unifier diplomat and patriot Cavour is also installed. I again visited Pisa located near Florence. As usual I got myself photographed holding the Leaning Tower preventing it from falling on the ground.

I had visited Pompeii in 1992.Where I saw the ruins. Pompeii was destroyed in AD 79 by a cataclysmic eruption of Mount Vesuvius that killed thousands of people and buried the city in 20 feet of volcanic ash. I was told that village of Hollywood actress Sophia Loren was located there in the Napoli region.

In 1992 I visited Napoli or Naples, third largest city of Italy after Rome and Milan situated in south Italy. It is famous for expedition taken by Garibaldi for the unification of Italy.

In 1992 I had visited Capri Island, a beach resort where colour of sea is electric blue, reaching there by boat from Napoli. Besides being a nature’s jewel it is famous for exquisite art wood works and leather works. The designs and crafts man-ship of wooden works are unique in the world. There are companies who export such precious items throughout the world.

During my travel in 1992 I visited Assisi on a sunny day. Assisi is famous for its art and religious monuments.

In retrospect I always remember the rich heritage of art and culture treasured in Italy. I have kept souvenirs like small flower vase of a Murano glass. I have wall plates of Florence, replica of gondola of Venice and Leaning Tower of Pisa. I always remember striking similarly between the similar features of people of India and the people of Italy. I also remember great role played by patriots like Cavour and Mazzini in unification of Italy and the role played by this country during two world wars.

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