Rome: In a festival wonderfully received in Rome during the festive season this December, Sri Lanka's multifaceted character enthralled the Italian public with the unveiling of Sounds and Flavours of Sri Lanka ('Musiche & Sapori di Sri Lanka') – the Sri Lankan gastronomic festival at Rome's prestigious Westin Excelsior hotel.
The exquisite Sri Lankan cuisine from Chefs from Amaya and Westin Excelsior, Rome, exotic dances of Kalashuri Channa Wijewardene's troupe, ayurveda spa from Amaya resorts and Spa and fine 'Ceylon Tea' from Mlesna showcased the fine blending of island's richness, diversity, tradition and modernity in a mosaic of sounds, flavours and colour. The 10 -day festival held for the first time in Rome attracted large crowds and provided high visibility for Sri Lanka in Italy.
Speaking at the Inauguration, Sri Lanka's Ambassador in Rome, Mr. Hemantha Warnakulasuriya said:
'A new era of peace has dawned in Sri Lanka -an era in which all communities are converging to take Sri Lanka forward economically, creating wider and better opportunities for our own people and for integrating further into the global economy. Here lie the opportunities for global business especially in investment in manufacturing, services and tourism. In this era of peace, Sri Lanka, listed as the top of '31 places to go' by the New York Times beacons each one of you to explore a wonderful diversity of beaches, wild life and culture.
Italy and Sri Lanka share an abiding relationship spanning thousands of years and going back to the period of Emperor Claudius Caesar when an Ambassador from Taprobane - as Sri Lanka was then known - was ceremonially received here in Rome in 50 AD. The formal diplomatic relations established over 50 years ago, has blossomed and continues vibrantly to date.
This evening also symbolizes the warmth, hospitality and welcoming spirit of our two ancient civilizations and our two peoples, which is one of the finest elements of our contemporary relationship. This evening, Business, the Arts & Culture and Government have come together for a common purpose of further cementing this long-standing bond'.
For 10 days, diners at the famous Ristorante Doney of the Westin Excelsior, Rome, enjoyed the full spread Sri Lankan cuisine at Lunch, dinner and High Tea including the popular hoppers, live cooking of Kottu, special rice preparations, curries including cashew, chicken, lamb, etc and a range of deserts such as watalappam, musket, unduwel etc. Diners cozied up in the fine ambience of the famous Ristorante Doney, enhanced delicately by Channa's dancers to enjoy an exotic experience of flavours and sounds of a unique island civilization. The High Tea presented carefully selected 'Ceylon Tea' by Mlesna giving that refined finesse to the dining experience at the festival.
Rome - the Eternal City – is home to some of the world's richest historical and cultural heritages and the high impact made with this exotic event from Asia, competing with the many cultural events in Rome, has opened up a definitive potential for tourist travel and business to the island nation. Immediate high interest in Sri Lanka as a holiday destination was evident with several inquiries on Sri Lanka's tourist product especially for the August 2011 holidays in which many Italians take their long holidays.
The festival presented by the Embassy of Sri Lanka, Rome, and The Westin Excelsior Rome of the Starwoods Hotels and St. Regis was partnered by SriLanka Tourism, SriLankan Airlines, Amaya Resorts and Spa, the Channa-Upuli Performing Arts Foundation and Mlesna Tea, Sri Lanka.