Press releases, 19.02.2024

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis and a number of Italian dignitaries kicked off the fourth edition of the international Romansh Language Week (Emna rumantscha) at Milan's Swiss Centre today. The FDFA runs this week each year in collaboration with the Canton of Graubünden and Lia Rumantscha. The kick-off event – 'From words to ideas: six Swiss and Italian regions in dialogue' – focused on innovation and sustainability between Switzerland and northern Italy, with fashion featuring prominently given its concurrence with Milan Fashion Week.

Switzerland and Italy share not only three European languages (Italian, German and French) but also three Rhaeto-Romanic languages (Romansh, Ladin and Friulian). The two countries' commitment to preserving this diversity is a source of innovation. This was the backdrop for the fourth Romansh Language Week at the Swiss Centre of Milan. The initiative aims to highlight the richness of multilingual Switzerland abroad, starting this year in the Lombard capital. "The city of Milan is the ideal place to bring together the different regions of northern Italy and southern Switzerland, which share a plurality of languages and a plethora of social, business and cultural connections," said Mr Cassis.

He was joined at the gathering by Mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala, Lombardy Regional Councillor Massimo Sertori, as well as Vice-President of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano Daniel Alfreider, the Vice-President of the Regional Council of Trentino Alto Adige Luca Guglielmi , Regional Councillor for the Veneto Region Silvia Cestaro and the president of the Regional Agency for the Friulian Language Eros Cisilino. 'From words to ideas: six Swiss and Italian regions in dialogue' was also attended by the president of Graubünden government  Jon Domenic Parolini.Graubünden joins the FDFA each year in organising Romansh Language Week.
The plurality of languages and cultures as a vector of innovation was at the heart of the event, which included a special fashion-focused meeting to weave in the concurrent Milan Fashion Week.

From words to ideas: six Swiss and Italian regions in dialogue

What happens when Romansh-speaking rapper Gino Clavuot (aka SNOOK), Italian-speaking artist Ivan Tresoldi, students from the Swiss School of Milan and young Ladin and Friulian speakers meet up? A work of art is born!
On the occasion of Romansh Language Week's kick-off event, the Swiss Centre and Swiss Institute are displaying Ivan Tresoldi's participatory work 'La grande pagina bianca' (the big blank page). The young participants were invited to reflect on the concept of identity and use colours and drawings to express thoughts on a large white background.
A final brushstroke was added by the Swiss and Italian authorities present, as a symbol of cross-border cooperation and shared commitment to promoting each language's unique attributes.

The artwork then served as a springboard for a discussion on innovation in fashion with representatives of the sector. The discussion, moderated by Switzerland's ambassador to Italy, Monika Schmutz Kirgöz, focused on sustainability and the related new creation and production methods arising in the textiles sector.

The event was organised by the FDFA and coordinated by the Consulate General of Switzerland in Milan. The event took place in cooperation with the Canton of Graubünden, Lia Rumantscha, the Swiss Business Hub, the Swiss School of Milan, Swiss Chamber, the Swiss Institute, Graubünden's Rhaetian Railway, Switzerland Tourism and Swiss Corner Milan.

Romansh Language Week and the FDFA's commitment to multilingualism

The annual rendez-vous with Romansh Language Week is an opportunity for the FDFA to raise the visibility of Switzerland's linguistic diversity abroad. The Swiss representations make it come alive with various activities, digital and beyond. In Finland, for example, the Swiss embassy is working with the Romance and Classical languages section of the University of Jyväskylä to offer a beginners' course in Romansh to master's students in spring 2024 under the supervision of Professor Chasper Pult.
In London, Romansh will once again garner attention during Wales Week, with the Swiss embassy taking this opportunity to highlight the FDFA's commitment to Romansh in parallel with the UK's efforts to preserve the cultural heritage of Wales.

Romansh Language Week is one of a series of events that emphasise the importance of multilingualism for national cohesion, as well as for Swiss foreign policy. These events include the Multilingualism Days, and the specific Italian, French and German language weeks. Switzerland's linguistic diversity is indeed a characteristic of the country that is appreciated around the world.
The promotion of minority languages in Switzerland also furthers the objectives of the structured political dialogue that Mr Cassis has been conducting with the cantons of Graubünden and Ticino since 2018.

The programme and some pictures of the event will be available at this link:

Communicaziun a las medias (rm)(pdf, 157kb)

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