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The Warsaw Voice » Other » May 28, 2008
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A Window on Italy
May 28, 2008   
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The Italian Cultural Institute in Warsaw, in existence since 1934, has moved to a new address in the heart of the Polish capital, at 72 Marszałkowska St. The institute is based in the Matias Taubenhaus building, a neo-Gothic 19th-century palace listed as part of Poland's historic heritage. This building, constructed in 1898 and faced with ceramic bricks-the color of "burnt sienna"-is the work of architect Edward Goldberg, who took his inspiration from the Venetian Gothic style.

The interior is decorated with stucco, arches, Gothic ceilings and inlaid parquet floors. After World War II and a devastating fire in 1944, the palace underwent restoration, which lasted from 1945 until 1950. However, it was not until 1998 that true conservation work began, which restored the building's artistic beauty and splendor.

The institute's new headquarters, the Italian government's latest acquisition in Warsaw, has spacious rooms adapted to host cultural events. The institute aspires to be a window on Italian culture and Italy as a key nation in a united Europe. It plays this role by organizing events that link Italian and Polish cultures. The cultural closeness between Poland and Italy dates back to the Renaissance period when Italian-born Queen Bona Sforza, married to Polish King Sigismund I, promoted Renaissance culture in Poland through Italian architects, sculptors, artists, bankers, doctors and historians. The famous Jagiellonian University in Cracow, one of the oldest universities in Central and Eastern Europe, was founded on the basis of the same legal principles as the University of Bologna.

Events organized by the institute are aimed at emphasizing the functions and aims of the center, which strives to directly involve cultural figures, friends of the institute, and students.

The Italian Cultural Institute in Warsaw, as an official arm of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, strives to disseminate and promote Italian language and culture in Poland via cultural events that encourage the exchange of ideas, art and science.

The Italian Cultural Institute in Warsaw offers the following services:
- language courses run by a qualified team of Italian and Polish teachers
- two exam sessions leading to a proficiency diploma in Italian as a foreign language
- an Italian library available to the institute's students as well as persons registered with the library to borrow books, CDs, DVDs, magazines and Italian newspapers
- an information service and documentaries on Italian culture

In the organization of concerts, some art exhibitions and other important events, the institute works in association with artistic institutes and local museums such as the Royal Castle, the National Philharmonic, the Wielki Theater/National Opera, the Palace of Culture and Science as well as many institutions overseen by the Polish Ministry of Culture in Warsaw.
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