The Fondazione del Centenario BSI 2020 Prize to Francesca Rigotti


Institutional Communication Service

7 October 2020

Every two years, the Fondazione del Centenario della Banca della Svizzera Italiana (established on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Banca della Svizzera Italiana) assigns a prize to individuals or organisations that have worked to improve relations between Italy and Switzerland thus contributing to a better understanding between the two countries by fostering the growth of the common cultural heritage. Francesca Rigotti, lecturer at the USI Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society, has been awarded the 2020 Prize for her work in the field of philosophy and for her commitment to increasing friendly relations and cultural exchange between Switzerland and Italy.

"The Foundation highly appreciates Rigotti's high profiled presence in the media around Italy, Southern Switzerland and Università della Svizzera italiana: a commitment that enriches the cultural life of the country. Her work at the crossroads between Switzerland, Germany and Italy is a tangible sign of openness and fellowship: a bridge between North and South", these are the words included in the commendation to Francesca Rigotti, who has been officially awarded during a ceremony on 7 October 7 2020, held in private form due to the ongoing health restrictions.

As also stated by the Dean of the Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society "For several years, Francesca Rigotti's reflections have been channeled into her teaching and her will to engage in dialogue with USI's students. It represents for our Faculty a valuable critical look at wide-ranging cultural issues that condition the processes of communication. We are thinking above all of the analysis of concepts and metaphors in political thought, which has allowed Rigotti to open spaces for reflection on important values for public communication in a democratic society, such as equality, inclusiveness and gender equality".

Philosopher, essayist and literary critic, Rigotti was a visiting fellow at Princeton University and professor at the Universities of Zurich and Göttingen. For over twenty years she has been teaching at USI at the Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society, which with its new name, focuses towards the multiple challenges society. Among these, the coming together and coexistence of cultures, languages and ideologies fostered by digital communication, in this period of health emergency, have become part of everyday's life. "At the peak of the health emergency I was unable to interact with the students in person, I could only think of them by using my imagination, picturing them young and beautiful as they are. I imagined them communicating only digitally and missing out on the most interesting things in life such as hanging out, relationships, exchange, friendships, love, but also confrontation, conflict, and hostility", explains Prof. Rigotti. The opportunity of digital communication, to be followed and enhanced, shall not, therefore, replace the opportunity of encounter. Hence an appeal to her students: "Be like the hand that opens. Be open. Be willing to accept, without prejudice and differences. That is what happened to me by coming into contact with these regions and the people who live there. I opened my hands and found them full. Nevertheless, also know when to close them, as in a handshake. Understand excess and learn to avoid it. Always keep a small grain of your identity, always ready to blend it with the grains of other identities but also to distinguish, recognise and preserve it".

The prize has been awarded for her ability to blend the "grains" mentioned above between Switzerland and Italy, thus fostering friendly relations and cultural exchange between the two countries, which are different in language and landscape and at the same time similar at a closer look. "If I focus on Ticino and the bordering Italian areas - continues Rigotti - the differences are levelled out, and the similarities are accentuated, as it happened to Pascal when he got closer to things and managed to grasp the most minute details. In both regions, the language and landscape are very similar. I see mountains and rivers and lakes in both countries, and I hope that they will be preserved from harmful interventions. Above all, I see the common Italian language, not to mention the dialects, and I see them being undermined, one and the other, perhaps permanently". Rigotti also invites to continue cultivating relations between the two countries: "Language is the house of being, Heidegger said, a being that inhabits places. Do not destroy them, I suggest, indeed I beg you".


The Fondazione del Centenario was founded in 1973 to support projects in favour of the development of relations between Switzerland and Italy and of rewarding personalities present and visible at an international level in the cultural, artistic, social or political spheres in the Italian-Swiss context. Members of the Foundation Council are Eugenio Brianti (President), Franco Polloni (Vice President), Massimo Antonini, Valeria Galli Butti, Fabio Merlini and Karole Vail.