Good reasons to come and to go

Giorgio Guglielmino - The Philippine Star

There are excellent reasons to go to Italy in 2022 and there are just as many excellent reasons to visit the Philippines, pandemic and quarantines permitting.

Let’s start with Italy. The long-awaited new edition of the Venice Biennale of visual arts, still the most prestigious artistic event in the world, will be inaugurated on 23 April.  Curated this year by Cecilia Alemani – wife of Massimiliano Gioni who curated the 2013 edition of the Biennale – she is the curator of the projects of the New York High Line. The Philippine pavilion will be occupied by the work of Gerry Tan. At the end of the exhibition (the Biennale closes its doors in November) it would be amazing to see the reconstruction of  the Philippine pavilion in Manila in order to give the possibility to see it for those who cannot go to Italy.

From October to early December, the traditional Alba truffle fair will be held in Piedmont in the small city of Alba, one of the most anticipated events for chefs, restaurateurs or simple cuisine lovers. From auctions of the prestigious white truffle to dinners organized by important Michelin starred chefs, Alba is a paradise for gourmets but also for the simply curious looking for an area of Italy far from the usual tourist destinations. And on top of everything else, can you imagine the satisfaction of answering those who ask you “where have you been?”  “I was in Alba, the land of truffles” and not just Rome or Florence.

Speaking with many Filipino friends, I was struck by the fact that for everyone Italy is represented by art, food, great tourist destinations and the sea, especially the Amalfi coast, who wouldn’t want to spend a few days in Positano? But I have hardly ever heard anyone mentioning the mountains in the north of the country, yet Italy together with Switzerland and Austria has the most beautiful ski slopes in all of Europe! Not surprisingly: Italy has in its territory one side of the Alps while the other side is in Switzerland and Austria. Just think of the small mountain town of Cervinia at the base of mount Cervino (which on the Swiss side is named Matterhorn) which is 4,400 meters high. Or – towards Austria – the Alps of Siusi and Castelrotto. Fantastic places in summer for walking and in winter for skiing. With some gastronomic delights not found anywhere else in Italy.

But what are the reasons that will push me to return to the Philippines? First of all I would like to return to El Nido, Palawan. Also in English we use the expression there’s no two without three and since I went to El Nido for the first time with my son and a second time with my daughter… well it’s time to plan the third holiday there. I really want to see the green and crystalline waters of the small and large lagoons again. But wait…do I want to go to El Nido or shall I go to Boracay to meet again Marco Biggiogero, the great Italian guy living there? Mmmhhh...not an easy choice, better to extend my holiday and go to both places!

I would dedicate five days in Manila to go for dinner in my five favorite restaurants: Finestra at Solaire where chef Alan Marchetti made me a pizza with “stracciata” of mozzarella and mortadella that still makes my mouth water; Lusso where the incomparable Margarita Fores awaits me; Toyo, a must to understand that Filipino cuisine has its place in the cuisine of the future; Bellini owned by my friend Roberto Bellini at Cubao Expo, perhaps my favorite area in all of Manila; Xiu in Greenhills Chinese restaurant for Chinese gourmets where I was always the only Westerner for dinner. Anyone who says that you don’t eat well in Manila is crazy or just got drunk in Poblacion and wants to start a fight.

I would dedicate part of my visit to art. I would like to see the new headquarters of the Metropolitan Museum in BGC and chat with the director Tina Colayco. I would like to go back to Karrivin Plaza to see the shops and art galleries. I would like to pay a visit to Silverlens Gallery to meet Isa Lorenzo and Rachel Rillo and listen to their new projects. Then I would probably go to Rockwell and sit at one of the outdoor tables of the A Mano restaurant – which has a nice painting by Pow Martinez inside – to say hello to Amado Fores and have a nice cup of coffee while watching the people go by.

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Giorgio Guglielmino is the former Italian ambassador to the Philippines.


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