YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The Italian group of tourists that recently arrived in Armenia is the first set of pilgrims to visit Armenia from another country. The Italians have chosen to visit Armenia to examine possibilities for the development of tourism in the country. An Italian tourist agency by the name of Prana Tour outlined the sites to be visited by the group–which include churches and architectural landmarks in most of Armenia’s provinces. A visit to Ejmiatzin was also been planned–where various issues were discussed regarding cooperation between the Catholic and Armenian Churches–Armenian religious traditions–and details on the organization of pilgrimages to Armenia.
The Italian group was comprised of a lecturer from the University of Milan–representatives of associations that deal with promoting tourism in countries that do not have a history of widespread tourism–a reporter–and a banking official. The members of the group noted that they had not known much about Armenia prior to the "Armenia-Rome Exhibit" which recently took place at the Vatican. Their main awareness was limited to the Armenian Mekhitarist Monastery on the island of San Lazzaro in Venice. The Italian bank official mentioned he was also aware of Gregor Narekatsi’s works. The Italians had conducted research after deciding to visit Armenia. Their expectations were surpassed after their tour was completed.
Their first surprise in Armenia was "the beautiful Armenian crosses decorated with floral patterns." Armenian hospitality–the majestic view of Mt. Ararat–and the secluded locations of Armenian Churches–further impressed the Italian tourists.
It was further noted that other pilgrims and tourists will visit Armenia. According to the Italian group–the flow of these tourists will increase during the summer months when the Pope is expected to pay a visit to Armenia.