Perestroika represents a unique season of reforms, open debates and mobilization of citizens from below. Gorbachev himself became very popular in a Western public opinion that looked at the Soviet leader asking for political change, peace and the end of the Cold War. In Italy, the "gorbymania" was displayed in thousands of letters that politicians, scientists, artists, ecclesiastics, academics, or ordinary citizens sent to the Soviet leader and his wife Raisa. Italians’ letters were characterized by a variety of con-tents, tones and criticisms. They encouraged changes in foreign policy, supported the regime's renewal processes and openly condemned their limits. This article aims to examine ‒ through the letters sent from Italy to Mikhail and Raisa Gorbačëv in 1988-1989 ‒ the perception and the active response of Italians to those transformations tak-ing place in the USSR. It also aims to investigate a transnational analytical level of the Italo-Soviet relations which went beyond the institutional dimension and directly in-volved individuals.
Gorbačëv, Raisa, Perestroika, USSR, letters, gorbymania