London, Mar 15: A large-size bronze bust of Mahatma Gandhi was unveiled today in 'Parco Virgiliano' in the southern Italian city of Naples by Indian Ambassador to Italy, Rajiv Dogra, and Naples Mayor Mrs Rosa Iervolino Russo. The function was attended by a large gathering from Naples as well as Parliamentarians, business, cultural and media personalities and scholars. Two-bus loads of students of the Gandhi Institute of Casoria located near Naples travelled specially to attend the function. The Parco Virgiliano commemorates one of the greatest literary figures of Italian history 'Publio Virgilio Marone,' popularly known as Virgil.
This writer of the famous epic 'Aeneid,' used to practice meditation and even magic in this park in first century BC. Virgil was so enamoured of Naples that he had cast a special spell, which was rumoured to have protected Naples from ill-luck for almost a thousand years. The bust of Mahatma Gandhi was commissioned and gifted by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. It was made by famous Indian Sculptor Gautam Pal for installation in Naples. Mr Pal has a special relationship with Italy as he obtained his diploma in sculpture from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan. Mahatma Gandhi's message continues to inspire people of Italy. More than 15 educational institutions have been named after Gandhi all over Italy. Programmes such as poetry competitions, functions, discussions have been held over last two years emphasising the relevance of non-violence and peace in today's world.
Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador Rajiv Dogra said the ideas and message of Gandhiji were universal and continued to inspire young people around the world. ''Mahatma's actions and his teachings are an antidote to the brutality of violence,'' he said,adding that it was heartening to note that the life of Mahatma Gandhi is followed with admiration in Italy.
It was symbolic of close relations between two ancient civilisations like Italy and India that two of the greatest figures of history ie Virgil and Mahatma Gandhi should come to be associated together in this manner, in a glorious site overlooking the bay of Naples, Mr Dogra noted. Mahatma Gandhi's message remained relevant universally today, said Mrs Rosa Iervolino Russo, the first lady Mayor of Naples, in her address. She expressed happiness that the bust of the Mahatma had been installed in Naples, a city of peace, and hoped that the words and actions of Mahatma Gandhi would continue to provide inspiration and comfort to all people.
The Parco Virgiliano, earlier known as the Parco della Rimembranza, lies on the top of Posillipo hill overlooking the Bay of Naples with a breathtaking view of popular islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida. In 1950s, the park was renamed after the popular poet Virgil who reached Naples from Rome in the first century BC to study philosophy. The Virgiliano Park is a popular place among the residents of Naples. It is also visited by thousands of tourists every year.
Another attraction of the park is a 700-meter long tunnel built in the 1st century BC by the Roman architects linking Naples with Pozzuoli.
Stretching along the waterfront, Naples is a city of culture with 3000 years of history and known for ancient monuments, historical places, museums and churches. It was a well-known resort for kings and noblemen during the Roman times. The city is surrounded by Mount Vesuvius and ancient Roman cities such as Pompeii, Herculaneum, Sorrento, Amalfi etc.