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State visit from Italy

His Excellency the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, began a state visit to Norway today, accompanied by his daughter, Laura Mattarella. They were greeted in an official welcoming ceremony in the Palace Square.


His Majesty The King is currently ill, and in his absence His Royal Highness The Crown Prince Regent is the host of the visit together with Her Majesty The Queen.

President Mattarella and his daughter, who is the Italian First Lady, are accompanied by a large delegation of political and administrative officials and representatives of Italian culture and business. The purpose of the visit is to further develop the already good relations between Italy and Norway. The agenda is focused on the green transition, with emphasis on renewable energy, environmentally friendly shipping, blue hydrogen and carbon capture and storage.

Official welcoming ceremony

The President and Laura Mattarella arrived at the Palace Square at 11:00 in the morning, accompanied by Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess. The Palace Square was decorated with Norwegian and Italian flags, and the guests were formally greeted by the Crown Prince Regent and Queen Sonja. The visitors and their hosts listened as the Italian and Norwegian national anthems were played.

Laura Mattarella, Queen Sonja and Crown Princess Mette-Marit during the welcoming ceremony. Photo: Lise Åserud, NTB  

Crown Prince Haakon accompanied the President as he inspected the Guard of Honour in the Palace Square. Pupils from Oslo’s Gamlebyen school and representatives of Norway’s Italian community came to wish the visitors welcome. The official party had a chance to greet some of them before entering the Royal Palace for official photographs and talks.

President Sergio Mattarella inspects the Guard of Honour in the Palace Square, accompanied by Crown Prince Haakon. Photo: Lise Åserud, The Royal Court

Crown Prince Haakon and Queen Sonja greeted some of those who had come to wish the visitors welcome in the Palace Square. Photo: Sara Svanemyr, The Royal Court 

Wreath-laying ceremony

It is customary for visiting heads of state to lay a wreath at the national monument at Akershus Fortress, and the President of Italy paid tribute to Norwegians who lost their lives in the Second World War. President Mattarella also inspected the Akershus Fortress Guard of Honour, accompanied by the Crown Prince Regent.

President Mattarella laid a wreath at the national monument at Akershus Fortress. Photo: Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen, The Royal Court

From Akershus Fortress, the Crown Prince Regent went with President Mattarella to the Storting, where the Italian President met with the President of the Storting before a working lunch with Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

Museum visit

Italy’s many world-class museums contain some of the greatest works in art history, and Norway hopes to increase collaboration between Norwegian and Italian museums. On Thursday, Queen Sonja accompanied Laura Mattarella to two of Norway’s most important art museums: the MUNCH museum and the new National Museum.

MUNCH is one of the world’s largest museums dedicated to a single artist ­– Edvard Munch. There, the artist’s works are shown in dialogue with artists from around the world. MUNCH’s director, Tone Hansen, presented plans for exhibitions in Italy before the Queen and the First Lady were given a tour of the museum. They visited the exhibition Infinite, which includes renowned works such as “The Scream”, “The Sick Child” and “Vampire”, before moving two storeys up to the Monumental exhibition, with its version of “The Sun” and other monumental Munch works.

Guided tour of MUNCH. Photo: Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen, The Royal Court

Queen Sonja and Laura Mattarella were also entertained by Ensemble Solvind, a classical vocal quartet whose members performed works by the Italian composer Saverio Mercadante with lyrics by Pietro Metastasio.

National Museum

The Crown Prince Regent and President Mattarella joined the Queen and First Lady for the visit to the National Museum. More than a million people have visited the new museum since its opening in June 2022. One of its first exhibitions was dedicated to the Italian artist and architect Giovanni Piranesi. The exhibition Oltre Terra by the Italian design studio Formafantasma will open on 26 May.

The guests were given an introduction to the artwork “Pile o´Sápmi” by the Sami artist Máret Ánne Sara in the vestibule of the National Museum. Photo: Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen, The Royal Court

The guests visited numerous museum display halls, including the design exhibition Two queens meet. Norway has had two queens, Queen Maud and Queen Sonja, since the dissolution of the union with Sweden in 1905. The exhibition shows how these two queens from different backgrounds and different eras have filled their role with substance and personality, in part through the attire they chose to wear.

Oslo from the water

During the afternoon, President Mattarella and Laura Mattarella took a trip on one of the electric ferries serving the inner Oslo Fjord. The Crown Prince Regent accompanied the guests on the ferry with Oslo Mayor Marianne Borgen serving as guide.

Ready for a boat trip in the inner Oslo Fjord. Photo: Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen, The Royal Court

Oslo has undergone major changes in recent decades. Where industry once dominated, today we find cultural institutions, recreational areas, offices and homes. Much of this cityscape is visible from the water, allowing Mayor Borgen to explain the history of Oslo City Hall – which was inspired by city halls in medieval Italian cities – as well as the Opera House, the MUNCH museum, the Deichman library and the Sørenga Seawater Pool.

The guests from Italy also learned about environmental aspects of Oslo’s “Fjord City” waterfront renewal development. Electric ferries are an important element of the planned green transition of the city, and all public transport on the inner Oslo Fjord is expected to be emissions-free by 2028.

Gala dinner

In the evening, a gala dinner was held in the Royal Palace’s Banqueting Hall in honour of the state visit.  

Queen Sonja and President Mattarella arrive for the gala dinner. Photo: Javad Parsa, NTB

The Crown Prince Regent gave a speech as the host of the dinner. He highlighted the shared interests, beneficial cooperation and friendly competition of the two countries, and he thanked Italy for its far-reaching response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

“We are very grateful for Italy’s assertiveness, its willingness to share knowledge and the solidarity it showed towards Norway and other countries. All this while you yourselves faced a terribly difficult situation. The hard choices that Italy made early in the crisis significantly limited the spread of infection within and from Italy. Many lives were saved thanks to your efforts.”

On Friday, President Mattarella and Laura Mattarella travel to Trondheim. Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit will accompany them on a visit to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology as well as to lunch in the Archbishop’s Palace and a concert in Nidaros Cathedral.



Facts about Italy

Capital: Rome
Largest cities: Rome, Milan, Naples

Size: 301 338 km² (Norway: 385 203 km²)
Population: about 59 million (2022)
Language: Italian

System of government: Parliamentary republic
Republic founded: 18 June 1946
Head of State 2023: Sergio Mattarella

Norway and Italy enjoy good bilateral relations and are close NATO allies and partners in the EU’s internal market. The green transition is an excellent opportunity to expand business and research cooperation between Italy and Norway.

Norway’s exports to Italy centre on gas, oil and fish. Key imports to Norway from Italy include industrial machinery and motor vehicles as well as metals, beverages, food products, clothing and furniture.

King Harald and Queen Sonja have paid state visits to Italy in 2001 and 2016. The previous state visit from Italy to Norway was in 2004 by President Carlo A. Ciampi in the company of his wife, Franca Ciampi.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The King and Queen were given a guided tour of the the Roman Forum. Photo: Lise Åserud, NTB scanpix

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