FDFA interns visit Italian-speaking Switzerland

The FDFA and Switzerland's representations abroad are once again participating in the Week of the Italian Language in the World, whose theme this year is 'Young People and the Italian Language'. To mark the occasion, FDFA interns created a video of their study trip to Italian-speaking Switzerland. We join them in Bellinzona, before heading on to Paris to hear some tips from the Swiss embassy in France.

A group of young people walk on the walls of Castelgrande in Bellinzona.

Italian: an essential part of Switzerland. This is the motto that accompanies the FDFA's initiatives to promote this national language. © FDFA

This article is also available in Romansh.

When a group of 35 FDFA interns arrived at Bellinzona railway station one Sunday in September, they learned two things. The first was that even Switzerland's most famous 'sun lounge' occasionally gets some rain. The second was that their week of immersion in the language and culture of Italian-speaking Switzerland – part of an initiative by the federal delegate for plurilingualism – would nonetheless be packed with language courses, excursions and more than a few rays of sunshine.

A taste of Italian-speaking Switzerland in 60 seconds

Three of the group were even given a special assignment: equipped with their mobile phones, mediamatics interns Alea, Lena and Amy were tasked with creating a video summary of everything they had seen and learnt south of the Alps. As President of the Confederation Ignazio Cassis told the interns at the start of the trip: "If you bring home the joy of discovering a new language and an insight into another way of thinking, we'll have achieved something wonderful together."

Although one week likely wasn't enough to discover everything, the interns were keen to show Mr Cassis that the first objective had been accomplished, presenting him with the finished video on the occasion of Italian Language Week. It was both a symbolic gift and a memento of the language and landscape they had discovered on their trip.

Destination Paris

FDFA staff consistently strive to promote and rekindle interest in the linguistic and cultural heritage of Italian-speaking Switzerland, both at home and abroad. The Swiss embassy in France went in search of Swiss-Italian artists past and present who have left their artistic mark on the country. This long list begins with Alberto Giacometti, a Graubünden native who created internationally renowned works of art in his 24m2 studio in Montparnasse. To mark Italian Language Week, the Swiss ambassador Roberto Balzaretti visited the Institut Giacometti. Founded in 2018, it is the world's first museum dedicated to the artist's life and works and is run by the Fondation Giacometti. 

On the occasion of the Week of the Italian Language in the World, the Swiss Embassy in Paris invites you to a tour through the Giacometti Institute.

But Alberto Giacometti isn't the only Swiss-Italian artist to have left a mark in France. The embassy has published an article on the House of Switzerland website suggesting locations – all reachable on foot or by bike – where you can discover the works of architect Mario Botta, from Mendrisio, and artist Felice Varini, from Locarno. 


Italian: an essential part of Switzerland

On a yellow background, the motto 'Italian: an essential part of Switzerland' is translated into the four national languages.
The promotion of intercultural dialogue is a cornerstone of Swiss diplomacy © FDFA

The above motto is used by the FDFA in its promotional work for the country's third national language. Switzerland has a global presence with around 170 representations which employ about 2,300 local staff. The variety of languages spoken, in addition to the Swiss national languages, is enormous, making the promotion of intercultural dialogue a cornerstone of Swiss diplomacy.

Thematic weeks like Italian Language Week allow the FDFA to showcase Swiss plurality both at home and abroad through articles, interviews and stories.  

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