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History of IKIS

Our story starts in 2006. Then Hanne Tobiassen, Luca Usai and Paola Testarmata got to know each other in Stavanger. 


Hanne Tobiassen lived in Faenza, close to Bologna, in Italy for five years and studied ceramics at the Instituto statale di ceramica e Ballardini.

Later she moved to Stavanger. So did the Italian Luca Usai, and started his language school, Allora.

Paola Testarmata had moved to Stavanger with her family and lived in Gamle Stavanger.

Together with friends, they took the initiative for what is the Italian Cultural Association in Stavanger.

Midjord bydelshus became the gathering place for the association. In 2006, they started showing Italian films on the last Friday of the month. The association was formally registered in Brønnøysund-registeret the 20. April 2007.

Paola Testarmata became the association's first president from 2007-2010 when Luca Usai took over.

After that, Marianne Steen-Pettersen, who helped start IKIS back in 2006, took over as president. In autumn 2007, Elisabeth A. Olsen also became a member of the association and joined the board.
During those years the association organized many events including wine tastings with Italian wine producers, film festivals in cooperation with the cinema of Stavanger with the participation of Italian directors.

In the first years, most Norwegians were members. Hanne Tobiassen says that they had around 30 members and many regularly met at the film evenings. It should be said that the film program the association delivered in the early years was impressive. And as always, when Italians and people who loves Italy are gathered, food is served. On film nights at Midjord, home-baked cakes were always served.

We are grateful for all the work put in by the initiators during these years.

In 1999 Gianluca Monachese moved to Stavanger. He joined the board from 2009 and also brought Tania Di Chiara with him. In 2012 he took over as president of the association, and was president for seven years, until 2020: during this period he contributed to association development from 30 to more than 100 members, and association budget consolidation at the current level. The movie nights at Midjord continued until the pandemic years.

The association's activity level increased sharply with regional events, cultural cafes and other social activities.


For his efforts, Gianluca Monachese was awarded the "Order of the Star of Italy", which was given for his work promoting friendly relations between Italy and Norway, and the promotion of ties with Italy.

Have you noticed the nice graphic illustrations for our events? In 2015, Jonathan Massaro came to Stavanger and IKIS. One of the first things he did was to create our logo inspired by Three Swords monument.

What he did not know was that the artist was also strongly linked to Italy.

You can see them by Hafrsfjord, and were made by the artist Fritz Røed, who grew up in Bryne and who found his dream place in Liguria in Italy, in the town of Villa Faraldi, where he is also buried. In 2004, the Skulpturparken opened in the center of Bryne, which is now home to eleven of Fritz Røed's sculptures.

In 2020, Giuseppe Di Pinto took over as the president of IKIS. He came to Stavanger in 2012 and soon became a member of the board. From 2020-2023 as the president of the association, and during 2023 as a board member. Giuseppe Di Pinto led the association through the pandemic years. Planned activities such as Christmas parties and regional events had to be canceled, but in return the association introduced new activities such as H-Ikis, organized by boardmember Francesco Sanfilippo, and a digital cooking course with Caroline Schoning, a Norwegian chef living in Piedmont, and not least online sightseeing in Venice.


In the spring of 2023, Cristiano Camatel took over as president. He came to Stavanger in 2014, and became a member of the board in 2015, and treasurer from 2020 -2022. In the current year, we have started new activities such as Language exchange fixed once a month, Norwegian and Italian, invited newcomers to an introduction evening to Stavanger, and repeated the success with regional events, this time from Trentino Alto-Adige and set up a varied program for 2024.

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We would like to thank everyone who has made an effort on the board of IKIS:


Hanne Tobiassen, Luca Usai, Paola Testarmata, Elisabeth A.Olsen, Marianne Steen-Pettersen, Sigmund Dobbe, Bjørn Egeland,Ester Del Bino Norero, Silke Rehwald, Hild Bakka, Daniel Toscano, Christian L Fresta,Tania Di Chiara, Luca Palmas, Sergio Tassi, Olav Myklatun, Daniela Durante, Francesco Sanfilippo, Eliana Ricca, Jonathan Massaro, Geir Gundersen. 

Have we forgotten you? Please send us an email with name and when you have been volunteering, and we will update the list. 

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