St Petersburg University opens a representative office in Italy


The University’s plan to establish an office abroad has been fulfilled at the University for Foreigners of Siena in Italy.  The official opening ceremony was held online.

The Rector of the University for Foreigners of Siena, Pietro Cataldi, welcomed the participants.  He let it be known that the University was committed to building bridges between languages, cultures, civilisations and people, dedicated to sharing experience, and open to new encounters.  ‘For our University, it is a source of great pride to work together with St Petersburg University, to have its representative office here, because when we think of Russia, of the Russia that St Petersburg stands for, we recall great writers, like Dostoevsky and Akhmatova.  We think of Tsvetaeva, Chekhov and Tolstoy and also of the great representatives of Russia’s traditions in music,’ Mr Cataldi noted.  ‘Their works have played an important role in the education of Italian artists, readers and music lovers, and in the direction they have taken in their creative development.’

‘I am very pleased that Italy will be home to St Petersburg University’s new representative office.  Italy is now one of Russia’s closest partners in Europe, with whom we have established and are developing intense cooperation in a wide variety of fields.  This is based on the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Italian Republic, which was signed back in 1994.’ - Nikolay Kropachev, Rector of St Petersburg University

Mr Kropachev underscored that, throughout the world, there are 90 centres for the testing of Russian as a foreign language that have been opened by the University in almost 40 countries, and one of them is at the University for Foreigners of Siena.  According to him, the opening of this office is a logical and natural extension of the bilateral cooperation that has already been established between the two universities.

St Petersburg University actively collaborates with 32 universities and academic organisations in Italy, and this includes agreements that are part of the Erasmus+ project. 

‘We are looking at this representative office as a future centre for carrying out joint research projects, for holding conferences and expert round tables, summer and winter schools, and public lectures by eminent scholars and cultural figures, and also for promoting the Russian language, history and culture in Italy and the Italian language, history and culture in Russia,’ the Rector of St Petersburg University pointed out.  ‘In all of these areas, St Petersburg University, the University for Foreigners of Siena and all Italian universities have good and mutually beneficial prospects, which not even the coronavirus can hamper.’

According to Carla Bagna, Deputy Rector for International Relations of the University for Foreigners of Siena, the establishment of this representative office by St Petersburg University is very important for both St Petersburg and Siena.  ‘It will certainly strengthen the spirit of cooperation in research, in the field of didactics and in student exchanges, and it will provide us with more opportunities to better understand the special features of our two countries, Italy and Russia, in whose histories there is so much in common from the standpoint of cultural ties and the attitudes towards learning the languages spoken in our two countries, Italian and Russian,’ she said.

St Petersburg University has been cooperating with the University for Foreigners of Siena over the course of many years, and, as Deputy Rector for International Affairs Sergey Andryushin noted, this is something that St Petersburg University is proud of.  ‘I am sure that having a representative office at the University of Siena will further intensify the interaction between our scholars, students, teachers and researchers,’ Mr Andryushin stated.  ‘As part of the office project, we are going to hold seminars, conferences, round tables, exhibitions and meetings of students and teachers.  I hope that this office will enable us improve our academic cooperation, to make it even more dynamic, and also promote the partnership between Russia and the Italian Republic.’

As part of the opening ceremony, leading scholars from the two universities conducted webinars in Russian and Italian.  The writer Andrei Astvatsaturov, who is head of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies in Languages and Literature at St Petersburg University and director of the Nabokov Museum, spoke about the main trends in contemporary Russian prose, and Tiziana de Rogatis, a professor at the University for Foreigners of Siena, gave a lecture entitled ‘Demargination and Frantumaglia – A Journey into the World of the Key Words in Elena Ferrante’s Tetralogy’.  Likewise, Anastasiia Miroliubova, an associate professor in the Department of the History of Foreign Literature at St Petersburg University, presented a paper entitled ‘The Translation of Italian Prose in Russia’, while Massimo Palermo, another professor from the University for Foreigners of Siena, spoke about current trends in the Italian language.  This inauguration ceremony was brought to a close by a dialogue with Andrei Astvatsaturov, which was led by Giulia Marcucci.

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