Delhi Dweller

Home To The Prized Diva Cafe, The Italian Cultural Centre Is A Thriving Hub Of Culture

Set up in 2002 at its present location, the Italian Cultural Centre or Istituto Italiano di Cultura or simply IIC in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi is one of the 90 such non-profit cultural centres of the Italian Government present throughout the world. The centre is an aesthetically pleasing architectural model of yellow Jaisalmer stone. This one-storey building is hidden by high boundary walls and creeper plants. Follow us as we take you through!

They’ve Got Pretty Stringent Security

Situated at Nyaya Marg, on the road just behind Shanti Path, the cultural centre faces the Canadian High Commission and is adjacent to Switzerland’s embassy. As the centre is built in a highly sensitive zone when it comes to international security and the fact that it shares its premises with that of the Italian High Commission and the Ambassador’s residence, the security check upon entry is very stringent. To enter the 'istituto', one needs to furnish his/her identity proof (originals and not copies) and the entry of vehicles is restricted to staff, students, members of the 'istituto' and diplomats. Whew!

The Popular Cafe

Just as one enters the premises, one is greeted by lush green lawns and a beautiful open-air Italian café run by a cookbook author, restaurateur and globetrotter Ritu Dalmia. An Indian chef, she also runs the cafeteria at Alliance Française de Delhi, the French Cultural Centre. 

The café at IIC specializes in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine and its environs are something of a welcome break from the usual hustle-bustle of Delhi. The menu is written in Italian, with elaboration in English, making a rudimentary knowledge of Italian indispensable. The general public can have access to the café only if one is accompanied by a staff member, student or a member of the IIC. 

The Warm Architecture

The interiors of the building are very warm with the basement acting as the exhibition and events hall. The first floor houses the library, which has a collection of a whopping 8,000+ volumes of books, CDs, DVDs, CD-ROMs and other media related to art, culture, literature, cinema and the history of Italy; offices of the staff; and the Director, Angela Trezza. The ground floor faces two lawns and boasts a reception, a reading room (with access to Italian journals, magazines, dailies and internet), a conference and multimedia hall which runs weekly film shows and has a seating capacity of 120 people, four multimedia-enabled, AC classrooms for Italian language courses. A very important element of the ground floor is a notice board at the reception, which is constantly updated and contains the latest information on the scholarships and job opportunities. 

Cornucopia Of Varied Events

Every year, the IIC collaborates with other institutions and takes part in various events to which entry is mostly free and open to all. A few such events are the Delhi International Art Festival, Festival of the Arts, International Film Festival of India, Quiz Italia, a national level quiz on Italy and Unesco Italia, a contemporary photography exhibition of Italy’s rich archaeological heritage. 
A series of programmes also takes place in Delhi and other cities during the Italian Language Week which is held annually in the 3rd or 4th week of October. It’s astounding how the Italian Government, despite major economic losses, still offers myriad scholarships to Indian students every year. 

The 'istituto' is a must-visit for anybody who is curious about the Italian way of living - clamber aboard for your dose of Italian culture!