The article reconstructs the main stages of the history of the Italian association for cultural relations with the Soviet Union - also known as "Italy-USSR" - from 1944 to 1960. The genesis of "Italy-USSR" relates to the post-war international cultural context. The polarization of the national and global political-ideological struggle led the asso-ciation to a clear political turn: the fight against anti-Sovietism became an uncritical celebration of the Soviet Union. "Italy-USSR" thus scarcely succeeded in being an ef-fective actor of the cultural Cold War, since it was not very capable of attracting people far from the Socialist and Communist parties. The new secretary Orazio Barbieri (1953-1958) wanted to strengthen an objective knowledge of the USSR even if 1956 - as well as the Pasternak case - confused many of its members. Paradoxically, Barbieri’s dyna-mism was the main weak spot in relations with the Italian Communist Party and the So-viet interlocutors who could not stand the autonomy of "Italy-USSR" in launching ini-tiatives that were often considered too elitist and far from the masses. The ICP inter-vened to strengthen political control over the association just when the unofficial ef-forts of "Italy-USSR" had contributed to the signing of the 1960 intergovernmental cul-tural agreement between the two countries.
Keywords: International cultural relations, Italy-USSR, cultural cold war, unofficial cultural diplo-macy, propaganda