DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS BETWEEN ESTONIA AND ITALY FROM 1921–2021

Italy as a member of the Supreme War Council recognised the Republic of Estonia de jure on 26 January 1921.

For the anniversary year, we have compiled a timeline of Estonian–Italian relations. It is a chronological gallery of historical photographs, documents, and texts, which provides an overview of the important moments of the relations between the two countries over 100 years.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the collection of facts, photos, and documents!

To see the photo titles, hold your cursor over the photo.

Happy time travelling!

Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Embassy of Estonia in Italy

24 February 1918
The independence of the Republic of Estonia was declared Public reading of the Estonian Declaration of Independence from the balcony of the Pärnu Endla Theatre. Photograph: Collection of Pärnu Museum Public reading of the Estonian Declaration of Independence from the balcony of the Pärnu Endla Theatre. Photograph: Collection of Pärnu Museum
At the initiative of the Salvation Committee, the Estonian Declaration of Independence was compiled and publicly read aloud on 23 February 1918 from the balcony of the Endla Theatre in Pärnu. The next day, on 24 February 1918, the Salvation Committee declared Estonia an independent democratic republic.
29 May 1918
Italy recognised the Republic of Estonia de facto Letter from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Karl Robert Pusta and Eduard Virgo. Photograph: National Archives (ERA.957.11.33) Letter from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Karl Robert Pusta and Eduard Virgo. Photograph: National Archives (ERA.957.11.33)
Letter from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Karl Robert Pusta and Eduard Virgo. Photograph: National Archives (ERA.957.11.33)

Letter from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Karl Robert Pusta and Eduard Virgo. Photograph: National Archives (ERA.957.11.33)

 

The letter reads, ‘The Italian government, in accordance with Italian traditions, is pleased to express its strong sympathy for the independence of the Estonian people. Italy initially recognises the Estonian Riiginõukogu as an independent organisation, but leaves the recognition of an independent Estonian state as a right of the Peace Congress.’

December 1918
Eduard Virgo, a member of the foreign delegation, was appointed to represent the Republic of Estonia in Italy Eduard Virgo in 1920. Photograph: National Archives Eduard Virgo in 1920. Photograph: National Archives
As early as the beginning of 1918, Estonia had sent members of the foreign delegation authorised by the Estonian Provincial Assembly across Europe. Their task was to gain recognition for the idea of an independent Republic of Estonia and later for the already declared independent state. Eduard Virgo was appointed to represent Estonia in Italy, where he remained until December 1919.
1918–1919
End of the First World War, Paris Peace Conference Peace conference in Paris. Photograph: Archives of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs Peace conference in Paris. Photograph: Archives of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The First World War ended on 11 November 1918, and its most important result for both Estonians and many other peoples of Eastern Europe was the collapse of empires, which made it possible to create new nation states.
18 January 1919 marks the beginning of the Paris Peace Conference, which was convened after the First World War and in which an Estonian delegation, led by Jaan Poska, also participated as an observer. At the same time, the War of Independence was underway in Estonia. The conference lasted from 18 January 1919 to 21 January 1920. The goal of the Estonians in Paris was to protect the interests of Estonia and gain support and recognition.
December 1919
An Italian consular agency was opened in Tallinn at 1 Karja Street. The consular agent was banker Paul Scheel Letter from the Italian consular agency to the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Photograph: National Archives (ERA.957.11.50) Letter from the Italian consular agency to the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Photograph: National Archives (ERA.957.11.50)

The letter reads, ‘I have the honour to confirm receipt of your letter No. 7276 of the 3rd of this month and to inform you that the Italian consular agency is located at 1 Karja Street.

The residence of Mr. Paul Scheel, the consular agent, who is currently abroad, is located at 21 Suur Rosenkrantsi Street.

I have the honour to inform you that the following persons work at the consulate:

Mr Klaus Scheel, chargé d’affaires

Mrs G. Stillmark

Miss K. Gebauer

 /courtesy statements/

K Sheel

Italian consular agent a. i.’

1919
Klaus Scheel became the first Italian honorary consul in Estonia Klaus Scheel in 1914. Photograph: National Archives Klaus Scheel in 1914. Photograph: National Archives
The address of the office of the honorary consul was Eesti Pangamaja No. 19.
2 February 1920
The Tartu Peace Treaty was signed Signing of the Tartu Peace Treaty. Photograph: National Archives Signing of the Tartu Peace Treaty. Photograph: National Archives
As a result of difficult negotiations, a peace treaty was signed in Tartu between the Republic of Estonia and Soviet Russia.
The treaty ended the War of Independence in Estonia, which had lasted for almost a year and a half, and was the first major achievement in the foreign relations of the young Estonian state. The treaty defined the eastern border of Estonia, and in it Soviet Russia forever recognised the independence of the Republic of Estonia. It also paved the way for the international recognition of Estonia as an independent state.
Report of the Italian embassy in Helsingfors on 10 February 1920, forwarding the text of the Tartu Peace Treaty to Rome in Russian and Estonian. Photograph: In ASMAECI, Affari Politici 1919–1930, b. 1016, f. ‘Trattazione Generale 1920’. Archives of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Report of the Italian embassy in Helsingfors on 10 February 1920, forwarding the text of the Tartu Peace Treaty to Rome in Russian and Estonian. Photograph: In ASMAECI, Affari Politici 1919–1930, b. 1016, f. ‘Trattazione Generale 1920’. Archives of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

26 January 1921
Italy recognised the Republic of Estonia de jure Letter from Aristide Briand, Chairman of the Supreme War Council, to the Estonian representative in Paris. Photograph: National Archives ERA.957.11.33 Letter from Aristide Briand, Chairman of the Supreme War Council, to the Estonian representative in Paris. Photograph: National Archives ERA.957.11.33
Italy, as a member of the Supreme War Council, along with France, Great Britain, Japan, and Belgium, recognised the Republic of Estonia de jure. In Estonia, this long-awaited news spread like wildfire – flags were hoisted everywhere and festive acts and spontaneous celebrations began. In Tallinn, there was even a fireworks display and people were dancing on the streets. The declaration of the independence of the Republic of Estonia on 24 February 1918 was one thing, but getting official recognition and support from superpowerswas something else entirely.
21 February 1921
The first Italian ambassador to Estonia, Agostino Depretis, presented his credentials Credentials of Agostino Depretis, signed by King Vittorio Emanuele III of Italy. Photograph: National Archives ERA.957.7.9 Credentials of Agostino Depretis, signed by King Vittorio Emanuele III of Italy. Photograph: National Archives ERA.957.7.9
28 February 1921
Karl Robert Pusta was appointed Estonia’s first ambassador to Italy Karl Robert Pusta in 1928. Photograph: National Archives, Parikas Karl Robert Pusta in 1928. Photograph: National Archives, Parikas
Karl Robert Pusta resided in Paris. He presented his credentials on 23 June 1921.

Credentials of Karl Robert Pusta, signed by State Elder Konstantin Päts on 26 February 1921. Photograph: Archives of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs In ASMAECI, Direzione Generale del Personale, Serie X Legazioni estere in Italia, b. 13, f. 26 Estonia

Credentials of Karl Robert Pusta, signed by State Elder Konstantin Päts on 26 February 1921. Photograph: Archives of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs In ASMAECI, Direzione Generale del Personale, Serie X Legazioni estere in Italia, b. 13, f. 26 Estonia

Credentials of Karl Robert Pusta, signed by State Elder Konstantin Päts on 26 February 1921. Photograph: Archives of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs In ASMAECI, Direzione Generale del Personale, Serie X Legazioni estere in Italia, b. 13, f. 26 Estonia

Credentials of Karl Robert Pusta, signed by State Elder Konstantin Päts on 26 February 1921.
Photograph: Archives of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs In ASMAECI, Direzione Generale del Personale, Serie X Legazioni estere in Italia, b. 13, f. 26 Estonia

14 October 1922
Italian Ambassador Augusto Stranieri presented his credentials to the State Elder of the Republic of Estonia Italian Ambassador Augusto Stranieri presenting his credentials to the State Elder. From the left: Ambassador Augusto Stranieri, State Elder Konstantin Päts, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ants Piip. Photograph: National Archives Italian Ambassador Augusto Stranieri presenting his credentials to the State Elder. From the left: Ambassador Augusto Stranieri, State Elder Konstantin Päts, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ants Piip. Photograph: National Archives
Augusto Stranieri remained the ambassador until 1928. At that time, the Italian embassy was located at 9 Tõnismägi Steet.
1922
The first Estonian honorary consul in Italy was Christopher (von Tangen) Kielland in Genoa Honorary consul of Estonia in Genoa Christopher (von Tangen) Kielland. Photograph: Private collection Honorary consul of Estonia in Genoa Christopher (von Tangen) Kielland. Photograph: Private collection
Kielland was from Norway. His grandson Eugenio Kielland became the honorary consul of Estonia in Genoa in 2001 and still is today (2021).

Estonian honorary consuls in Italy before the Second World War:

  • Christopher (von Tangen) Kielland (since 1922) in Genoa
  • Giovanni Rasini (1923–1940) in Milan
  • Enrico Scarciglia (since 1923) in Naples
  • Giovanni Aurelio Scaccinocce (since 1924) in Palermo
  • Giacomo Radonicich (1929–1936) in Venice
  • Enrico Alberto Sperco (since 1929) in Trieste
  • Lorenzo di Tito Aicardi (since 1930) in Bari
  • Carlo Masini (since 1937) in Venice
Operating licence issued to honorary consul Rasini. Photograph: National Archives (ERA.957.3.513)

Operating licence issued to honorary consul Rasini. Photograph: National Archives (ERA.957.3.513)

1 November 1923
Hermann Hellat was appointed as adviser and chargé d’affaires in Rome Hermann Hellat in the 1920s. Photograph: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hermann Hellat in the 1920s. Photograph: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Hermann Hellat was the first Estonian diplomatic representative residing in Rome. He was formally subordinate to the Estonian ambassador in Paris. He held this position until 1 July 1925. At the time, the Estonian embassy in Rome was located at Giambattista Morgagni 5, Roma 50.
Proposal of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and decision of the government to appoint Hermann Hellat as chargé d’affaires in Rome Photograph: National Archives

Proposal of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and decision of the government to appoint Hermann Hellat as chargé d’affaires in Rome Photograph: National Archives

Autumn 1923
For the first time after the establishment of the Republic of Estonia, Italian was taught at the University of Tartu Professor Walter Anderson. Photograph: National Archives Professor Walter Anderson. Photograph: National Archives
Italian had been taught at the University of Tartu from 1814–1893, after which there was a gap until, in the autumn of 1923, Italian started being taught again in Tartu. The first lecturer was professor of folklore Walter Anderson. Starting in 1933, several Italian language lecturers were sent to Tartu with the funding of the Italian government. Until 1940, the lecturers were: Renato Fleri (Pfleger), Carlo Tivoli, Luigi Borgogno, Alessandro Volpicelli, Indro Montanelli, Roberto Veiss, and Manglio (or Manlio) Mangini.
Letter from the Italian embassy in Tallinn to the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 4 August 1933, confirming that Professor Pfleger could start teaching Italian. Photograph: National Archives (ERA.957.13.831)

Letter from the Italian embassy in Tallinn to the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 4 August 1933, confirming that Professor Pfleger could start teaching Italian. Photograph: National Archives (ERA.957.13.831)

July 1925
Aleksander Jürgenson was appointed adviser and chargé d’affaires in Rome Aleksander Jürgenson. Photograph: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Aleksander Jürgenson. Photograph: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Jürgenson was assisted by Grigori Volkonski, who replaced Johannes Lamp, a former freelance official who was graduating from the Faculty of Law at the University of Rome at the time. Jürgenson remained in this position until 1927.
1927
Karl Tofer was appointed the first plenipotentiary of Estonia in Italy, residing in Rome Karl Tofer. Photograph: National Archives Karl Tofer. Foto: Archivio Nazionale
On 1 April, the Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs proposed to the government to open the seat of the plenipotentiary in Rome, and on 1 May, Karl Tofer, the former Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, was appointed the plenipotentiary. Tofer remained in that position until 15 February 1931. Starting in 1929 the Estonian embassy was located at Via Andrea Vesalio 26.

Karl Tofer was the ambassador to Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Romania at the same time, which meant constant travelling. The Deputy Secretary General of the embassy was David Janson, who started working at the embassy in 1927 and remained in office until the occupation of Estonia and the liquidation of the embassy in 1940. In 1951, Janson moved from Germany to the United States. He died in New York in 1955.

David Janson (third from the left) in 1935 with a group of Estonian tourists in front of the Embassy of Estonia in Rome. Photograph: private collection

David Janson (third from the left) in 1935 with a group of Estonian tourists in front of the Embassy of Estonia in Rome.
Photograph: private collection

15 February 1931
August Schmidt (later Torma) was appointed as the Estonian ambassador August Schmidt (Torma) in the 1930s. Photograph: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs August Schmidt (Torma) in the 1930s. Photograph: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Starting in 1931 the Estonian embassy was located at 36-A, Via Rubicone 9. Schmidt (Torma) held this position until 1 November 1934. He, too, often had to be away from Rome. David Janson continued to work on-site at the embassy. After August Schmidt (Torma) became the ambassador in London in 1934, the seat of ambassador in Rome remained vacant for two years. In 1936, Julius Seljamaa was appointed ambassador, but he died before assuming the position.
Spring 1936
The University of Naples started teaching Estonian language and literature and the Finno-Ugric Institute was opened Report of the Embassy of Estonia in Rome to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tallinn. Photograph: National Archives (ERA.957.14.227) Report of the Embassy of Estonia in Rome to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tallinn. Photograph: National Archives (ERA.957.14.227)
At the initiative of Professor Amadeo Barbellini and Dr. Luigi Salvini, courses in Estonian and Finnish languages and literature were organised at the Eastern Institute of the University of Naples in Italy. In the autumn of 1936, a Finno-Ugric/Italian Institute was established there, the task of which was to teach Finno-Ugric languages and the cultures of these peoples.
Report of the Embassy of Estonia in Rome to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tallinn. Photograph: National Archives (ERA.957.14.227)

Report of the Embassy of Estonia in Rome to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tallinn. Photograph: National Archives (ERA.957.14.227)

1936
The Estonian–Italian Academic Association was established in Tartu Meeting of the Italian–Estonian Academic Association on the occasion of the visit of the Italian Ambassador Cicconardi on 22 May 1939. Photograph: National Archives Meeting of the Italian–Estonian Academic Association on the occasion of the visit of the Italian Ambassador Cicconardi on 22 May 1939. Photograph: National Archives

Excerpt from Päevaleht on 7 April 1937

On Tuesday afternoon, the Estonian–Italian Academic Association held its first regular general meeting. The association was founded last year and its task is to acquaint Estonia with the achievements of Italian science, culture, and literature. The activity report submitted by Professor E. Ein, the chairman of the association, revealed that so far the activity of the association has been hindered by various external factors which are expected to be overcome in the coming year. The Italian Ministry of Education has promised a grant of 4,000 lira, or 774 kroons in Estonian money to the association.

Professor Ein and Professor A Volpicelli, Professor of Italian Language and Literature, explained the action plan of the association.

The board consists of seven members: Professor E. Ein, Professor W. Auderson, Professor ?l. Volpicelli, Professor J. Nilbelt, MA student M. Nurk, student T. Turwiste, and Mrs Sarni. The other candidates were: Miss Frep and Mrs Piiper. The Review Committee consists of Mrs Triik and Mr R. Ränk

30 September 1936
Estonian Ambassador Johan Leppik presented his credentials in Rome Johan Leppik. Photograph: National Archives Johan Leppik. Photograph: National Archives
Johan Leppik remained in office until the loss of the independence of the Republic of Estonia and the liquidation of the embassy on 15 August 1940.
Spring 1937
The Italian Institute of Culture was established in Tallinn

Extract from the article ‘Uus Eesti’ on 24 May 1937

The Institute of Culture aims to strengthen Estonian–Italian relations and to introduce Italian culture in Estonia.

Italy’s Institute of Culture has been operating in Tallinn for two months, headed by the lecturer of Italian at the University of Tartu and the Tallinn Institute of Technology, Dr A. Volpicelli. The institute gives lectures on the Italian language and culture. These lectures have proved out to be very popular in Tallinn: every evening, the rooms are filled with guests looking to find out more about Italy. Lectures are given in Italian, French, German, and English. Rumour has it that Dr. A Volpicelli has started learning Estonian.

…. He spent the first six months adjusting and preparing. University professors, students, and other members established an Estonian–Italian academic association in Tartu. Cultural ideas are quick to spread in the university town. The Institute of Technology in Tallinn started teaching Italian only this year and the interest of locals in humanitarian culture is especially noteworthy because they usually study technical sciences there. The Institute of Culture was founded on the initiative of locals interested in Italy. 498 people signed the proposal to establish the institute. The institute does not pursue simple school principles, but has higher goals: to improve knowledge of art, literature, and history, and to provide a good Italian-language library to the people.

25 March 1938
An exhibition of Italian landscape paintings was opened in Tallinn Art Hall Opening of the exhibition of Italian landscape paintings in Tallinn. From the left: Minister of Education Colonel A. Jaakson, Feretti, Italian Ambassador to Tallinn Cicconardi, Minister of Foreign Affairs Friedrich Akel with his wife, wife of A. Jaakson. Photograph: National Archives Opening of the exhibition of Italian landscape paintings in Tallinn. From the left: Minister of Education Colonel A. Jaakson, Feretti, Italian Ambassador to Tallinn Cicconardi, Minister of Foreign Affairs Friedrich Akel with his wife, wife of A. Jaakson. Photograph: National Archives

Excerpt from Päewaleht on 27 March 1938:

Yesterday, the opening of an exhibition of Italian landscape paintings took place in the Art Hall with a large number of guests. Minister of Education Colonel A. Jaakson and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Fr. Akel, foreign representatives, and a large number of cultural figures, artists, writers, and journalists attended the event.

The opening speech of the exhibition was given by the Italian Ambassador V. Cicconardi. He first expressed his respect to the state protector K. Päts and his government ‘who, with friendship and cordiality, have facilitated and promoted the establishment of cultural and spiritual relations between the two countries’.

The Minister continued, ‘Landscape painting is the youngest daughter in the family of arts. Although loved by the audience, landscape painting has long been considered an unwanted intruder by the other arts. Such a reception is unfair, because landscape painting, when it rises to the height of a work of art, derives its beauty from the divine beauty of nature. The Italians were the first to realise that landscape paintings must not show reality. Instead, landscape painting must express some feeling, joy, pain, sadness. It must evoke a moral impression in us through an optical impression, forcing us to think. This exhibition aims at setting a direction rather than being final and perfect; it just wants to draw attention to the achievements and tendencies of modern Italy.’ The Minister of Education A. Jaakson spoke after the ambassador, noting in praise and appreciation the care and efforts of the Italian Ambassador Cicconardi to intensify the cultural relationship between the two countries, as evidenced by this exhibition. The exhibition will be open until 6 April.

23 August 1939
Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact Map of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact Map of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was signed in Moscow, and its secret supplementary protocol divided Eastern Europe between Germany and the USSR, paving the way for the occupation and annexation of the Republic of Estonia.
21 June 1940
A coup d’état was carried out in Estonia with the support of the Red Army First sitting of the Riigikogu elected under the conditions of occupation. Photograph: Nädal Pildis 1940 First sitting of the Riigikogu elected under the conditions of occupation. Photograph: Nädal Pildis 1940
The incorporation of the Republic of Estonia into the Soviet Union began. The government of the Estonian SSR ordered the liquidation of all Estonian embassies, consulates, and honorary consulates and the transfer of their assets to the local offices of the USSR. By 25 August, all foreign envoys in Estonia were required to leave. The Italian embassy in Tallinn was forced to close its doors. Italy never recognised the occupation and incorporation of Estonia into the Soviet Union.
August 1940
The embassy of Estonia in Rome ceased its operations Telegram with an order to hand over the embassy to the USSR on 8 August 1940. Photograph: National Archives (ERA.957.15.1) Telegram with an order to hand over the embassy to the USSR on 8 August 1940. Photograph: National Archives (ERA.957.15.1)
On 8 August 1940, an order was given by telegram from Tallinn to hand over the Estonian embassy to the USSR and immediately return to the homeland. On 15 August 1940, Johan Leppik was recalled from Rome as an ambassador with a directive.
Report of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs of 8 August 1940-XVIII Photograph: Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs ASMAECI, Affari Politici 1931–1945, Estonia, b. 4., f. 1 ‘Rapporti politici 1940’

Report of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs of 8 August 1940-XVIII Photograph: Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs ASMAECI, Affari Politici 1931–1945, Estonia, b. 4., f. 1 ‘Rapporti politici 1940’

 

The report of the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs (8 August 1940) states,

‘At 6.30 p.m., the Minister (Ambassador) of the Estonian embassy arrived, who informed that at 4.30 p.m., two officials of the Russian embassy introduced themselves to him and demanded that the embassy be handed over. They said that if he refused, they would come back at 10 a.m. the next day to take over the embassy. The Estonian Ambassador, considering that Italy recognises his country and, on the other hand, Italy does not recognise the annexation of the Baltic states by the USSR, asks whether he must submit to the threats or continue to resist. He also asks if an armed escort could be made available to him.’

Recall of Johan Leppik on 15 August 1940. Photograph: National Archives (ERA.957.15.1)

Recall of Johan Leppik on 15 August 1940. Photograph: National Archives (ERA.957.15.1)

 

After the liquidation of the embassy (handed over to the mission of the USSR), Johann Leppik remained in Rome. He served as a military doctor in the corps of General W. Anders of Poland in Italy from 1943 to 1946. In 1947, he moved to Sweden, where he lived until his death in 1965.

1988–1989
Efforts to restore independence The Baltic Way. Photograph: National Archives, Harald Lepikson The Baltic Way. Photograph: National Archives, Harald Lepikson
The Singing Revolution in Estonia and the other Baltic States in 1988 and the Baltic Way in 1989 brought widespread international support. On 23 August 1989, on the 50th anniversary of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, a long human chain (the Baltic Way) was formed across the three Baltic States, where people joined hands to draw attention to the situation in the Baltic States.
1988
The Dante Alighieri Society was founded in Estonia
Dante Alighieri societies around the world are affiliated with the Dante Alighieri Society in Italy (La Società Dante Alighieri), founded in 1889 to spread the Italian language throughout the world and to cultivate a love of Italian culture among foreigners. The society organises Italian language courses, grants scholarships, and issues internationally recognised language diplomas.

The activities of the Dante Alighieri Society, which was first founded in Estonia in 1988, subsided, and the society was re-established in Estonia in 1999. Among the members of the society were people in different fields from all over Estonia who were united by their interest in the Italian language and culture. The society organised language courses and cooking and film evenings, as well as lectures on literature. Today, its initially vigorous activities have subsided and await the enthusiasm of a new generation of Italophiles.

Ambassador Jaak Jõerüüt and poet Viivi Luik performing at the Dante Alighieri Society event in November 2002. Photograph: Urmas Eigla

Ambassador Jaak Jõerüüt and poet Viivi Luik performing at the Dante Alighieri Society event in November 2002. Photograph: Urmas Eigla

1989
The Estonian Institute of Humanities began teaching Italian language and literature Logo of the Estonian Institute of Humanities Logo of the Estonian Institute of Humanities
The first students began studying Italian language and culture under Ülar Ploom at the Estonian Institute of Humanities. In 2005, the Institute of Humanities was merged with Tallinn University. The bachelor’s curriculum in European modern languages and cultures at Tallinn University offers the opportunity to choose Italian language and culture as a major. At the University of Tartu, it is possible to study Italian as a minor in the Department of Romance Studies at the College of Foreign Languages and Cultures.
20 August 1991
The Supreme Council of the Republic of Estonia adopted a resolution on Estonia’s national independence. The Republic of Estonia was restored on the basis of legal continuity Taking down the statue of Lenin in front of the building of the Central Committee of the Estonian Communist Party (now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) on 23 August 1991 Photograph: Peeter Langovits, Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Taking down the statue of Lenin in front of the building of the Central Committee of the Estonian Communist Party (now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) on 23 August 1991 Photograph: Peeter Langovits, Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
31 August 1991
Diplomatic relations were restored between Estonia and Italy Joint Declaration on the Restoration of Diplomatic Relations. Photograph: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Joint Declaration on the Restoration of Diplomatic Relations. Photograph: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Italy (re-)recognised the Republic of Estonia on 27 August 1991. Diplomatic relations between Estonia and Italy were re-established on 31 August of the same year.

The joint declaration states, ‘The Government of the Italian Republic and the Government of the Republic of Estonia have today agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations, which were severed in 1940 when Estonia was annexed by the Soviet Union, which Italy has never recognised…’

30 October 1991
Carlo Siano, the first Italian ambassador to Estonia after the restoration of independence, presented his credentials Ambassador of Italy Carlo Siano presented his credentials to Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Council Arnold Rüütel in Kadriorg on 30 October 1991. Photograph: National Archives, Erik Prozes Ambassador of Italy Carlo Siano presented his credentials to Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Council Arnold Rüütel in Kadriorg on 30 October 1991. Photograph: National Archives, Erik Prozes

Italian ambassadors to Estonia after the restoration of independence:

  • Carlo Siano (1991–1996)
  • Roberto Martini (1996–1999)
  • Luchino Cortese (1999–2002)
  • Ruggero Vozzi (2002–2005)
  • Fabrizio Piaggesi (2005–2009)
  • Rosa Maria Chicco Ferraro (2009–2012)
  • Marco Clemente (2012–2016)
  • Filippo Formica (2016–2019)
  • Daniele Rampazzo (since 2019)
Italian Ambassador Rampazzo meeting with President Kersti Kaljulaid after presenting his credentials. Photograph: Office of the President of the Republic

Italian Ambassador Rampazzo meeting with President Kersti Kaljulaid after presenting his credentials. Photograph: Office of the President of the Republic

September 1996
Ruth Lausma took up the post of chargé d’affaires in Rome Chargé d’affaires Ruth Lausma and secretary of the embassy Heli Tomingas in October 1996 in front of the embassy building. Photograph: Private collection of Ruth Lausma-Luik Chargé d’affaires Ruth Lausma and secretary of the embassy Heli Tomingas in October 1996 in front of the embassy building. Photograph: Private collection of Ruth Lausma-Luik
Until 2000 the Estonian embassy was located at Via Po 24, then it moved to Viale Liegi 28.
Embassy of Estonia in Rome at Viale Liegi 28. Photograph: Embassy of Estonia in Rome

Embassy of Estonia in Rome at Viale Liegi 28.
Photograph: Embassy of Estonia in Rome

20–21 March 1997
Minister of Foreign Affairs Toomas Hendrik Ilves on a visit to Rome From the left: Kyllike Sillaste, Director of the European Union Office of the Political Department, Ruth Lausma, chargé d’affaires, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sven Jürgenson, Director General of the Political Department. Photograph: Private collection of Ruth Lausma-Luik From the left: Kyllike Sillaste, Director of the European Union Office of the Political Department, Ruth Lausma, chargé d’affaires, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sven Jürgenson, Director General of the Political Department. Photograph: Private collection of Ruth Lausma-Luik
This was the first official visit from Estonia to Italy after the restoration of independence. Minister of Foreign Affairs Ilves met with Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lamberto Dini, Minister of Defence Beniamino Andreatta, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for European Affairs Piero Fassino, and Chairman of the Italian–Baltic Parliamentary Group de Benetti.
22–23 May 1997
President of Italy Oscar Luigi Scalfaro paid a state visit to Estonia Reception at Kadriorg. President Scalfaro and President Lennart Meri in front of the honour guard. Photograph: Voldemar Maask, archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Reception at Kadriorg. President Scalfaro and President Lennart Meri in front of the honour guard. Photograph: Voldemar Maask, archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

During the state visit, Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Patrizia Toia signed a co-operation agreement between the Estonian and Italian governments in the field of culture, education, science, and technology. The establishment of the agreement boosted cultural exchange and provided the necessary framework for educational cooperation. For example, Estonia and Italy mutually allocated scholarships that allowed Estonian students to study at Italian universities and Italian students to get to know Estonian language and culture.

Signing of a cooperation agreement between the Estonian and Italian governments on culture, education, science, and technology on 22 May 1997 in Tallinn. Photograph: Voldemar Maask, archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Signing of a cooperation agreement between the Estonian and Italian governments on culture, education, science, and technology on 22 May 1997 in Tallinn. Photograph: Voldemar Maask, archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

25–29 March 1998
State visit of President Lennart Meri to Italy President Lennart Meri meeting with Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro. On the right, Helle Meri and daughter of President Scalfaro – Marianna Scalfaro. Photograph: Voldemar Maask, archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs President Lennart Meri meeting with Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro. On the right, Helle Meri and daughter of President Scalfaro – Marianna Scalfaro. Photograph: Voldemar Maask, archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Meeting of President Lennart Meri with the Prime Minister of Italy Romano Prodi. Photograph: Voldemar Maask, archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Meeting of President Lennart Meri with the Prime Minister of Italy Romano Prodi. Photograph: Voldemar Maask, archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

March 1998
The first Estonian honorary consul in Italy after the restoration of independence, Mario Boidi, was appointed in Turin
The honorary consulate of Turin was opened by the President of the Republic Lennart Meri on 28 March 1998.

Estonian honorary consuls in Italy after the restoration of independence:

  • Mario Boidi, Turin (1998–2011)
  • Pierangelo Paleari, Milan (1999–2004)
  • Luigi Cecchini, Florence (since 2000)
  • Eugenio Kielland, Genoa (since 2001)
  • Mario Forte, Naples (2002–2014)
  • Giuseppe Barranco di Valdivieso, Milan (2006–2019)
  • Marcello Floris, Cagliari (2006–2013)
  • Giuseppe Iazeolla, Bari (since 2009)
  • Piero Bettini, Venice (since 2012)
  • Gaspare Panfalone, Trapani (2012–2017)
  • Antonello Miranda, Palermo (since 2018)
  • Piergiorgio Valente, Milano (since 2021)
21 September 1998
Jaak Jõerüüt, the first Estonian ambassador after the restoration of independence, presented his credentials JJaak Jõerüüt. Photograph: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jaak Jõerüüt. Photograph: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Estonian ambassadors in Italy after the restoration of independence:

  • Jaak Jõerüüt 1998–2002
  • Jüri Seilenthal 2002–2006
  • Andres Tomasberg 2006–2010
  • Merike Kokajev 2010–2014
  • Celia Kuningas-Saagpakk 2014–2020
  • Paul Teesalu since 2020
Ambassador Paul Teesalu presenting his credentials to President Sergio Mattarella. Photograph: Office of the President of Italy

The current Ambassador, Paul Teesalu, presented his credentials to President Sergio Mattarella on 24 September 2020. Ambassador Paul Teesalu presenting his credentials to President Sergio Mattarella. Photograph: Office of the President of Italy

2004
Estonia became a member of NATO on 29 March and member of the European Union on 1 May Estonian flag ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Photograph: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Estonian flag ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Photograph: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
20–21 April 2004
Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi paid a state visit to Estonia The presidents exchange decorations (for President Ciampi, the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, and for President Rüütel, the Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic). Photo: archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Erik Peinar The presidents exchange decorations (for President Ciampi, the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, and for President Rüütel, the Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic). Photo: archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Erik Peinar
Prime Minister Juhan Parts introducing President Ciampi to the Estonian e-government system. The introduction of the Estonian e-government system to Italy continues to this day. Photo: archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Erik Peinar

Prime Minister Juhan Parts introducing President Ciampi to the Estonian e-government system. The introduction of the Estonian e-government system to Italy continues to this day. Photo: archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Erik Peinar

2012
The Italy-Estonia Association was founded in Rome Logo of the assocation Logo of the association
The Italy-Estonia Association develops cultural, economic, and tourism co-operation between Italy and Estonia.

Read more about the association: www.italiaestonia.org

 

2016
The book Silver White by Lennart Meri was published in Italian Estonian Ambassador Celia Kuningas-Saagpakk, translator Daniele Monticelli, and Head of the Estonian Institute Mart Meri at the presentation of the translation at the Italian Geographical Society on 22 September 2016. Photograph: Urmas Eigla Estonian Ambassador Celia Kuningas-Saagpakk, translator Daniele Monticelli, and Head of the Estonian Institute Mart Meri at the presentation of the translation at the Italian Geographical Society on 22 September 2016. Photograph: Urmas Eigla
The book Silver White by Lennart Meri was published in Italian in 2016. The work was translated by Daniele Monticelli, a lecturer at Tallinn University who is also a semiotician and a valued translator of Estonian literature. The translation project was supported by the Lennart Meri European Foundation, the Italy-Estonia Association, and the Traducta programme of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.
29 September 2016
A street in Florence was named Estonia Andrea Vanucci, Deputy Mayor of Florence, Municipal Police Officer, Ambassador Celia Kuningas-Saagpakk, and Luigi Cecchini, honorary consul of Estonia in Florence. Photograph: Urmas Eigla Andrea Vanucci, Deputy Mayor of Florence, Municipal Police Officer, Ambassador Celia Kuningas-Saagpakk, and Luigi Cecchini, honorary consul of Estonia in Florence. Photograph: Urmas Eigla
The city government of Florence named a section on the Soviet Union Street after Estonia – via Estonia. Estonia Street is surrounded by streets named after Lithuania, Poland, and Portugal.
1 July – 31 December 2017
Estonia held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union Symbols of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Photograph: Government Office Symbols of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Photograph: Government Office
The presidency of Estonia of the Council of the European Union was celebrated in Rome with a solo exhibition by artist Konrad Mägi.

From 10 October 2017 to 28 January 2018 a solo exhibition of Konrad Mägi was open at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (Italian National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art). It was opened on 9 October 2018 by President of the Republic of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid.

Opening of the solo exhibition of Konrad Mägi at the Italian National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Opening of the solo exhibition of Konrad Mägi at the Italian National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.

2018
The Republic of Estonia turned 100 years old
In Rome, the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia was celebrated with a concert of the music of Arvo Pärt in the church of Santa Sabina all’Aventino on 7 May 2018, where the maestro himself was present. His music was performed by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste.
Estonian Ambassador to the Holy See Väino Reinart, Estonian Ambassador to Italy Celia Kuningas-Saagpakk, German Ambassador to the Holy See Anette Schavan, Arvo Pärt, Tõnu Kaljuste, Speaker of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor. Photograph: Urmas Eigla

Estonian Ambassador to the Holy See Väino Reinart, Estonian Ambassador to Italy Celia Kuningas-Saagpakk, German Ambassador to the Holy See Anette Schavan, Arvo Pärt, Tõnu Kaljuste, Speaker of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor. Photograph: Urmas Eigla

 

Republic of Estonia 100 insignia. Photograph: Government Office

Republic of Estonia 100 insignia. Photograph: Government Office

 

3 July 2018
Italian President Sergio Mattarella paid a state visit to Estonia The president of Italy in Kadriorg. Photograph: Office of the President of the Republic The president of Italy in Kadriorg. Photograph: Office of the President of the Republic
President of Italy Sergio Mattarella, who paid a state visit within the framework of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, met with President Kersti Kaljulaid, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, and the Speaker of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor. The president was accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs Enzo Moavero Milanesi, who met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser. The close co-operation between the two countries was praised in all the meetings.
1 October 2020
The Embassy of Estonia in Rome started working at Via Clitunno 34-36 Estonian embassy building in Rome. Photograph: Embassy of Estonia in Rome Estonian embassy building in Rome. Photograph: Embassy of Estonia in Rome
26 January 2021
100 years passed since Italy recognised the Republic of Estonia de jure and established official diplomatic relations
Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (right) and Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio in Brussels on 25 January 2021. Photograph: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (right) and Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio in Brussels on 25 January 2021. Photograph: Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

Embassy of Estonia in Rome on 26 January 2021 In the photo (front row from the left): Adviser Anne Mardiste, Ambassador Paul Teesalu, Consul Marika Lampi. Standing: Secretary Kadi Auksmann and driver Simone Gentile. Photograph: Embassy of Estonia in Rome

Embassy of Estonia in Rome on 26 January 2021 In the photo (front row from the left): Adviser Anne Mardiste, Ambassador Paul Teesalu, Consul Marika Lampi. Standing: Secretary Kadi Auksmann and driver Simone Gentile. Photograph: Embassy of Estonia in Rome