We’ve talked with Mrs. Alessandra Lo Cascio about her insightful impression on Serbia, her favorite landmarks, our food and cultural institutions. And, of course, coffee.
What are in your opinion the most significant differences and similarities between Italian and Serbian people?
We are both very friendly people with a strong sense of family. We both definitely feel that priorities in life are love, food and tradition. But in more general terms Italy and Serbia are also going global and they are doing so without losing the attachment to their land, actually they are both going “glocal”. As for differences… coffee, of course! I am joking! I always find excellent espresso in Belgrade as well.
Serbs look at Italy with admiration for our rich heritage of history, art, literature and music; they love and learn the language and for them Italy has been for decades a place to study and live. Italians are increasingly interested in Serbia, the number of tourists is growing fast, attracted by the exciting life in Belgrade, the nature, the traditions and every declination of authenticity that the Country has to offer. Many Italians are also choosing Serbia for investment opportunities and it is not uncommon to meet Italian businessmen who live and work here.
Italian cuisine practically became global in the last several decades. What are your thoughts and impressions on Serbian cuisine?
I have always loved traditional food in Serbia, especially burek, sarma, and peculiar products of incredible quality like ajvar and kajmak. I also cannot resist tasting raspberries and Serbian cheese in the markets of Belgrade!
Serbian food, although different from the Italian one, shares a common aspect with our cuisine: food is the result of fundamental basic ingredients coming directly from the land and presents a traditional way of cooking specific of each region, which is attentively replicated in every family.
Are there any favorite places of yours in Belgrade and in Serbia where you like to spend your time and unwind?
I really enjoy exploring the city and discovering the urban architecture: the alleys of the center, the historical monuments, but also the lively street art scene. Most of all, I enjoy relaxing at Kalemegdan, take a walk in the park and the fortress and appreciate the wonderful view on the confluence of the Danube and the Sava. Belgrade museums are also extremely interesting, for example I recently re-discovered the National Museum on the occasion of the special exhibition of “Bernini’s School and the Roman Baroque”. I also have a special place in my favorites list for the Legacy of Petar Lubarda.
Italy has branded its cities, its history, its arts, its regions, its islands… what would in your opinion be worth branding in Serbia?
Allow me to disagree: I think that “branding” is rather a commercial concept. I believe that Italy is well known and appreciated all over the world first of all because people can relate to its beauty and history. When you listen to our music, visit our cities and enjoy our food you can feel you are living a cultural experience and not only enjoying a product. I think that Serbia has already a lot to offer in this sense, thanks to its cultural diversity. Let us also think about the great opportunity that will be given in this perspective by Novi Sad as the European capital of culture in 2021. Cities like Belgrade, Novi Sad and Subotica can certainly be considered as “symbols” of Serbia, together with all its natural beauties. That is why Serbia’s touristic offer is not limited to its landmarks and a visiting your Country can become a true heartwarming experience.
By: Slavko Stefanović