THE ITALIAN AMBASSADOR PIER FRANCESCO ZAZO AND HIS WIFE SVITLANA SHARAPA ZAZO WERE EXTREMELY WELCOMING INTO THEIR RESIDENCE.
In visiting embassies and high commissions in Canberra during the Spring of 2015 we were fortunate to attend the opening of the Italian Ambassador’s residence in Deakin as part of the Windows to the World program.
The offer of a free guided tour of the Ambassador’s residence was not to be refused. With 20 other visitors we enjoyed a select tour of the architecturally-designed building with floor to ceiling glass walls and inner atrium. The original architect Enrico Taglietti was so enthused for his building design that he had a sculptural bust designed and gifted to the Residence.
Within the residence there’s an array of furniture design which is eclectic and of great cultural importance to Italy. In strolling the Residence’s corridors we admired the cascading glass chandeliers and out-sized artwork in the dining room of tempests at sea. The table setting and display of Alessi objects were admired by many visitors.
Voluptuous velvet cushions and ornate wooden carved furniture fit neatly into select spaces for small gatherings and conversations. The inner atrium provides quiet areas for conversation and relaxation in the sunshine.
We appreciated the thoughtfulness and company of our tour guide that day as she chaperoned us around the gracious private building.
On leaving the Residence we were offered gift bags of Italian pasta and recipes for good old fashioned Italian cooking ‘just as Momma would have made it’.
The food theme didn’t end at the front steps though. Outside under white marquees lay platters of crisp Italian breads and pastries for sampling. Tasting trays of various meats and cheeses tempted the guys looking after the motorcade who seemed hungry for their Saturday brunch.
Short black and expresso coffees were available from a nearby stall, once the waitress had fended off yet another admirer who was keen to secure her interest. ‘But I’m already married’, she said. “I can’t marry all of you today without my husband’s permission…” she said laughing.
The guys laughed too – looking each other in the eye and winking. They all shrugged their shoulders and moved on to chat to the women near the Embassy steps. The motor car display of gleaming red sports cars also caught their attention so when the Ambassador’s chef arrived with trays of home-cooked pizza, they were spoilt for choices.
The music from the accordionist chimed in the next tour group so we visitors strolled the garden path to admire Vespas and other motor scooters on display. The ducos of the Fiats, Ferraris, Maseratis, and Alfa Suds glistened in the sunshine. We stuck our noses into the car interiors to smell fresh leather and Gucci aftershave. Where was Stig? There’s something about an Italian car ready to ‘get going’ that thrills the senses.
Ambassadorial staff invited us to Festa Italiana on 08 November which we were pleased to consider. As we left the garden area we noticed more visitors lining the pathway for a tour of the Residence. While they waited in the sunshine, some watched the Australian Federal Police cars cruising up and down the top end of National Circuit.
The Italian Ambassador’s Residence is directly opposite the front gate of the Prime Minister’s Lodge in Deakin. As far as prime location goes, this Residence is strategically positioned to impress the political movers and shakers in Canberra. It doesn’t get more neighbourly than that.
Uploaded 20 November 2015.
Text and photographs copyright Fiona Rothchilds 2015.