Italian Consul-general Damiano Francovigh today said that Italian tourists would love the atmosphere and the artistic creations seen in the city during Durga Puja.

“It is not just the artistic creations or the mastery of craft which the best pandals display to all visitors. Kolkatas Durga puja is a mix of cultural elements, of pure joy of the people, of heartfelt participation, of meticulous preparations made by the city authorities to prepare the roads to an extraordinary inflow of guests,” he said.

“I think that the Italian tourists will fall in love with the atmosphere and the artistic creations which can be seen here on the occasion of Durga Puja. But a challenge could be the long waiting time needed to visit the pandals.”

Francovigh hailed the state government’s move to hold a carnival of the best pujas at the end of the festival at the sprawling Red Road on October 3.

“It is a very smart move. You are starting a tradition such as in Livorno in Italy where a parade of floats (decorated platform on trucks) is held. The parade of best pujas will greatly improve the potential for attracting tourists here from other states and abroad,” Francovigh said in the email interview.

Asked about probable similarities between Durga puja in Kolkata and other festivals in Italy, he said, “The event which could somehow resemble the Puja most is Carnevale (Carnival), whose tradition is very strong throughout the country.

It has specific events marking in particular places like Venice, where a crowd of participants pack the narrow streets of the historical city dressed in costumes, or Livorno, where a famous parade of floats (huge hand-made decorated platform built on trucks) attract thousands of visitors on the last day of the Carnival.

The consul-general said that people in West Bengal and Italy love all artistic expressions and have many things in common. “As we can see in the number of tourists which every year visit my country, in the sincere love for Italian arts, painters, writers and cinema.”

“To boost this we can organise events highlighting the best of our art and culture, such as the concert of an Italian quartet Il Quartetto di Cremona, that will be held in Victoria Memorial on October 9,” Francovigh said.