Cultural exchange between Serbia and Italy spans from scholarships, inter-university cooperation and research programmes, to projects and initiatives aimed at creating libraries, museums and cultural centres
Bilateral relations between Italy and Serbia are very developed and intensive. They build upon the Strategic Partnership that was established between Serbia and Italy in Rome in 2009. The cultural programme between the two countries was particularly rich a decade later, in 2019, when the 140th anniversary of the establishing of diplomatic relations and the tenth anniversary of the strategic partnership between Serbia and Italy were commemorated.
Cultural exchange between Serbia and Italy is based on cultural cooperation sector agreements for scholarships, inter-university cooperation, research programmes, and projects and initiatives aimed at creating libraries, museums and cultural centres.
One of the most important events in the long history of cultural cooperation between the two countries was the opening of the new headquarters of the Italian Institute of Culture in Serbia at Palazzo Italia back in 2006. The promotion of Italian culture in Serbia has since entered a new phase, with services and events pushed to a higher level each year. Belgrade’s Palazzo Italia has become a “showcase” of Italy in Serbia and a centre of services and information intended for citizens.
One of the most important tasks of the Italian Institute of Culture is to popularise the Italian language, and the number of students taking classes in the Italian language is growing year-on-year.
At the university level, the Department of Italian Studies of the Philology Department is one of the most popular among students, and the Italian language is ranked second in teaching after English. In Novi Sad – where a permanent lectureship has been established – Italian language classes have been running for four years and have over 200 students. Italian language classes were also introduced at the University of Kragujevac as of 2009.
The number of students enrolling in Italian language classes is growing year-on-year
The Italian language has also been added to the curricula of Serbian primary schools, as one of the main languages, on an equal standing with the so-called “universal languages”. There is also the Serbian-Italian bilingual department at the prestigious Third Belgrade Gymnasium secondary school.
Furthermore, scholarships funded by the Italian Government are awarded to deserving students and researchers to cover the costs of study trips and Italian language training in Italy.
Projects to publish and translate Italian works into Serbian, funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, are aimed at intensifying the exchange of ideas between Italy and Serbia.
Numerous cultural events are organised each year by the Institute of Culture, such as concerts, art exhibitions and events of major importance. The Institute cooperates with local Serbian academic, artistic and museum institutions, such as the Academy of Sciences and Arts, the National Museum, the Museum of Applied Arts, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Belgrade Cultural Centre, the Sava Centre, theatres like the National Theatre, the Yugoslav Drama Theatre, the Belgrade Drama Theatre, Bitef Theatre, and the main cultural endowments of the city, such as the Kolarac Foundation and numerous other institutions that depend on the Serbian Ministry of Culture and Belgrade City Council. In 2018, Belgrade Dance festival Director Aja Jung was awarded the highest state award in the field of culture – “The Order of the Italian Star” – at the Italian Embassy in Belgrade.
The most important Serbian festivals that the Institute has participated in actively and regularly include the BITEF International Theatre Festival, Music Festival BEMUS, the Belgrade Summer Festival, BELEF, Film Festival FEST, the Belgrade Dance Festival and the International Book Fair in Belgrade.