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Our history

On the 4th of October 2014, SIOI (Italian Society for International Organization) celebrated its 70th anniversary. We are talking about the historical Italian internationalist organization that since the post-war years to these days has carried out the most important negotiations of accession of Italy to the main international organizations. Alcide de Gasperi, prime minister of Foreign Affairs during Bonomi’s second government, in December 1944 sensed the contribution that an institution like SIOI could provide to the Italian government in its return to the international scene during the difficult years of the post-war transition. Convinced that a democratic Italy could receive its full international legitimation with the admission to the United Nations, he wanted SIOI to present its own candidacy to the forming World Federation of the United Nations Associations (WFUNA). In 1946, SIOI joined WFUNA, becoming the landmark of United Nations in Italy.

The development of the Society’s action in the international context was also matched by the intense activity of the government on the international front. Foreign policy became a priority for Italy: many of its actions and strategies were born at Palazzetto Venezia. During those years our country played a leading role on the international chessboard and SIOI became a direct witness of meetings (private and public) that would lead to alliances, agreements and historical decisions.

An immense historical and cultural heritage that we decided to describe in the exhibition “1944-2014: the 70 years of SIOI. Palazzetto Venezia tells the story of Italian foreign policy.” We are talking about hundreds of unpublished shots, from the twentieth century to today, which underline how Palazzetto Venezia and SIOI have been the heart of international debates of our country for seventy years.

The forty panels of the exhibition contained archival photos that start from the history of the palace: the years in which Cardinal Pietro Barbo had the building erected, its transformation from Palazzo della Serenissima to Palazzo degli Ambasciatori and finally, to the current name of Palazzetto Venezia.

The years from 1944 onwards are the most significant. They describe the period in which our country was dramatically divided in two parts and the war was still devastating the North of the peninsula. It was then that a group of young jurists deeply tied to the values of liberty and democracy decided to oppose the autarchy and nationalism of the Ventennio and to affirm that in Italy too there were people who believed in the collaboration between populations.

SIOI was supposedly born in one of their households and certainly they matured and expressed the new ideals in secrecy. It is said, by oral traditions, that the girlfriends and the wives of these young men were involved in the manufacture of the large flag that they planned to display after taking over the chosen place.

In 1944, after Rome’s liberation, Palazzetto Venezia was occupied by the Internationalists. Roberto Ago, Dionisio Anzilotti, Niccolò Carandini, Luigi Einaudi, Riccardo Monaco, Umberto Morra, Tommaso Perassi, Norberto Bobbio are just some of those who, since those years, inextricably linked their names to the beautiful adventure of SIOI.

The first meeting of the constituent assembly of Italian Society for International Organization opened on the 4th October 1944. Guido Gonella, Arturo Carlo Jemolo, Gaetano Morelli, Umberto Morra, Tomaso Perassi, Rolando Quadri, Luigi Salvatorelli, Roberto Ago all attended. The presidency was offered to Dionisio Anzilotti, master of italian’s internationalists, former President of the Permanent Court of International Justice.

From the first President of the Republic, Enrico de Nicola, to the visit by Carlo Azeglio Ciampi in 2004, and the last visit by Giorgio Napolitano in 2014, shots of our exhibition tell about all of the heads of state that walked through the door of Piazza San Marco 51, SIOI’s headquarter, as well as the activities carried on, through the society, by many Ministers of Foreign Affairs: Carlo Sforza, Antonio Segni, Aldo Moro, Gaetano Martino, Arnaldo Forlani, like the negotiations for NATO membership, or the meetings between the President of the Council Alcide de Gasperi and the Austrian Foreign Minister Karl Gruber.

There are different panels that tell about the distinguished visits to Palazzetto Venezia: Henri Spaak, Paul Ramadier, Jacques Maritain, or the elegance of some women like the Ambassador Clare Booth Luce and Lady Virginia Clarke, the private meeting between Nicolò Canardini (SIOI’s President at the time) and Leone Cattani for the birth of the Radical party, the meetings with Gaetano Martino and Aldo Moro, the celebration of the admission of Italy to the United Nations with Giovanni Gronchi, Giovanni Leone and Enrico De Nicola, and then again, the shots of young Eugenio Scalfari, Giulio Andreotti and Emilio Colombo, the meetings with Ferruccio Parri, the prince Aga Khan, Henri Kissinger, Francois Mitterrand, Jacques Chirac. The visit of Israel’s Prime Minister, Abba Eban, during the Six-Day war, the one of Iran’s foreign minister Kharazi and the ones of two ONU’s general secretaries: U Thant and Kurt Waldheim. The participation of lawyer Gianni Agnelli to the activity of SIOI’s Turin section, the testimonies of Susanna Agnelli, Emma Bonino, Francesco Cossiga, Sandro Pertini, Pier Luigi Bersani, Achille Occhetto, to these days.

It is the story of italian’s foreign policy seen from Palazzetto Venezia’s perspective. The exhibition was inaugurated on the 20th October 2014, in SIOI’s cloister, to the presence of the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano.

    Alcide de Gasperi, prime minister of Foreign Affairs during Bonomi’s second government, in December 1944 sensed the contribution that an institution like SIOI could provide to the Italian government in its return to the international scene during the difficult years of the post-war transition. Convinced that a democratic Italy could receive its full international legitimation with the admission to the United Nations, he wanted SIOI to present its own candidacy to the forming World Federation of the United Nations Associations (WFUNA). On 4 March 1946 he wrote this letter to SIOI President Dionisio Anzilotti. 
     
    SIOI (from the book “I 60 anni della SIOI Cronache e Memorie”, March 2005)