The Embassy of the Republic of Italy in Pakistan and Serena Hotels collaborated to host a fundraising gala dinner ‘Rhythms & Passion of Southern Italy’. The gala event featured a performance by internationally acclaimed Italian folk rock ensemble ‘Compagnia SoleLuna’. The famed Neapolitan folk rock group has an extensive repertoire of Southern Italian popular music and dance, centered on the ‘Pizzica’, the ‘Taranta’ and the Neapolitan ‘Tammurriata’ which epitomise the fire, rhythms and the contemporary vision. An amount of more than eight million rupees was raised from the proceedings of the black-tie event, which will go towards Shifa Foundation for creating awareness for early detection of autistic children, their proper handling, care and cure. Well-known Italian specialist in autism Prof Filippo Muratori, who is currently the professor of child and adolescent neuropsychiatry at the University of Pisa, especially attended the event. A live auction was also held during the event where three paintings made by autistic children from Oasis School Lahore were displayed. Guests made generous bids and all three paintings were sold within a few minutes. A lottery draw was held after the auction which gave away authentic Italian made gift items, a return air ticket from Islamabad to Rome and various other gift vouchers. “We are delighted to welcome the Italian performers to Pakistan and are privileged to be able to host events that strengthen the cultural exchange between Pakistan and Italy while at the same time supporting a cause dear to our hearts – providing support for autism,” Serena Hotels CEO Aziz Boolani said. “We provide space and opportunity for cultural exchanges by bringing unique and unusual talent to Islamabad and will continue to do so in the future,” he added. Ambassador of Italy in Pakistan Stefano Pontecarvo thanked all the guests for their contribution towards generating funds for the cause. “Autism in children coming from under-privileged families often goes undetected. These donations will ensure the correct steps are taken to raise awareness about the condition and to encourage behavioral therapy in those affected,” he said.