Sent On: 
Tue, 2019-10-15
Newsletter Number: 

As an Italian who has lived in Alexandria of Egypt for one year, every time I go back to this Mediterranean city, I feel extremely welcomed. Many inhabitants of Alexandria are willing to share with me their experience of interaction with the numerous Italians that once lived in that city. Similarly, I easily come across people with multiple origins, including Italian, Greek, French, British and much more.


Alexandria, Photo by Veronica Merlo.


Italy and Egypt appear here so close to each other. Equally, several other countries facing the Mediterranean Sea have countless aspects in common with Alexandria. As a result, since my very first arrival I sensed an extremely familiar atmosphere animating the spirit of this Mediterranean city under a multiplicity of levels.


The numerous buildings in the down town area with an evident Italian architecture immediately reminded me of my childhood walks by port cities in my home country of Italy. Moreover, the city is rich of signs in different languages, including French, Greek, English and much more. Naturally, Alexandria appeared to me an Egyptian as much as Mediterranean city, carrying a rich history of interaction among people, cultures and languages.


Al Mursi Abou al-'Abbas Mosque by Italian architect Mario Rossi,


However, that cosmopolitan Alexandria which everyone proudly talks about risks to become a nostalgic memory of the past. Many foreigners have left, the city heritage is not appropriately preserved and the urban landscape is quickly changing.


“We wish you could have seen Alexandria as it was in the past.” Boony Wani, the responsible for “Dār al-Sudan” (“the House of Sudan”) Center located in Fouad [Fuʾād] Street tells, “In this building, an Italian family used to live on the first floor. Now they have left.”


Old photo of Rue Sherif, from “Cosmopolitan Voices of Alexandria”


Nostalgia is predominant in the current time. Nonetheless, Alexandrians do not give up. The vibrant community of Alexandria has put forwarded creative initiatives to revive the cosmopolitan identity that has distinguished their cities for centuries. Discover some of these fascinating projects from inspiring people in the full article here.



October 15, 2019


Veronica Merlo,

MA student in International Security Studies in the Middle East & Journalism, Public School for International Affairs Department - PSIA , at SciencesPo Paris University

Intern at the Center for Arab-West Understanding