Bilateral relations Switzerland–Italy

Switzerland and Italy have been long enjoying good relations characterised by close economic, political, human and cultural ties, a common language, and regular contacts at all levels.

Key aspects of diplomatic relations

Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Italy are based on a complex set of agreements. Representatives of the governments and administrative authorities of the two countries meet on a regular basis. The main institutionalised platforms are the dialogue on economic matters, the dialogue on cross-border cooperation and the Switzerland–Italy Dialogue Forum. In addition, there are regular exchanges on current international issues and cooperation in multilateral bodies, as well as formal institutional contacts between both nations' parliaments. The last state visit by an Italian president to Switzerland was made by Giorgio Napolitano from 20 to 21 May 2014.

Some 320,000 Italian nationals (not including dual citizens) live in Switzerland, constituting the largest foreign community in the country.  The Italian community in Switzerland is an important social factor in relations between the two countries, not least because it gives the Italian language greater weight in Switzerland.

Treaty database

Economic cooperation

Italy is Switzerland's third largest trading partner. In 2021, Switzerland exported goods worth CHF 15.5 billion to Italy and imported goods worth CHF 18.8 billion, resulting in a total trade volume of CHF 34.3 billion.

Cross-border relations are particularly worth noting: about 40% of the trade volume between Switzerland and Italy is generated in the border regions. Moreover, some 82,000 Italian cross-border commuters work in Switzerland every day. At the end of 2020, Swiss direct investments in Italy amounted to CHF 21.4 billion and Italian investments in Switzerland totalled CHF 4.1 billion.

Italy and Switzerland working together for innovation and growth (PDF, 28 Pages, 2.4 MB, Italian)

Trade promotion, Switzerland Global Enterprise

Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Italy (it)

Italian chamber of commerce for Switzerland (it, de, fr)

Italy, SECO (fr) 

Cooperation in education, research and innovation

There are five Swiss schools in Italy – in Milan, Bergamo, Rome, Catania and Como. Swiss higher education institutions have long maintained close and regular contacts with partner institutions in Italy. The establishment of the Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) in Lugano and Mendrisio and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) have given a new dimension to academic and cultural exchanges between Switzerland and Italy. Researchers and artists who are citizens of Italy can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.

Università della Svizzera italiana, USI (en)

University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (it)

Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for Foreign Scholars and Artists, SERI

Cultural exchanges

Switzerland and Italy also have close relations in the cultural sphere. Since 1947, Switzerland has been maintaining the 'Istituto Svizzero di Roma', which is dedicated to cultural and scientific exchanges, and has a regional office in Milan, the 'Centro culturale svizzero'. A wide range of activities are organised every year in Italy. The FDFA participates in joint projects worldwide as part of the 'Settimana della lingua italiana nel mondo', an initiative of the Italian foreign ministry.

Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Week of the Italian Language in the World

Swiss nationals in Italy

In 2021, over 50,000 Swiss nationals were living in Italy.

History of bilateral relations

Switzerland and Italy have enjoyed diplomatic relations since the Italian state was founded in 1861. Two milestones were celebrated in 2011: the 150th anniversary of Italy's unification and the 150th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Italy.

In 1957, the Federal Council upgraded the Swiss legation in Rome, which had been maintained since 1871, to an embassy.

Italy, Historical Dictionary of Switzerland (de, fr, it)