From Ray McCune: The articles on Italy are interesting. To get a complete picture however, one must get information from the Swiss Mission history, since that mission was responsible for sending in the first full-time missionaries into Italy. The Swiss Mission had the responsibility of watching over many countries when no official mission activities took place. As a side note, we had had missionaries in Beirut, Lebanon during my stay.
I entered the Swiss Mission in December 1960 and was released in June 1963. I was responsible for printing the first Italian Lesson Plan in the mission home in Zurich early in 1963. This plan was given to a few Elders at the direction of President John M. Russon, Swiss Mission President. I believe there was a district of Italian speaking missionaries formed in Basel before I left. A few were going to Italy in late June 1993 to find places for Elders to move into.
Let me quote from the "Swiss Mission Reaper" dated May 4 ,1963: "President Russon reported the baptism that took place while traveling through Italy. This would have been recorded last week, but his report didn't get here until he himself returned. Through the efforts of a mother's daughter, who was baptized earlier by Elders in Zollikofen, Sister Lucci was baptized in the Agean Sea by President Russon."
I know of missionaries that were sent specifically to the Swiss Mission because of their heritage. Elders Pizzuto, Camberlango, Sonzini, Bodrero, Favero, Fischio, Cavali, and Fahrni were Italian names serving in the mission. It was natural because Italian is the third official language spoken in Switzerland.
April 13, 1963 has this article: "Italian Books of Mormon have at last arrived from Salt Lake." Also: "Our Mission Parents leaves this Friday for Italy to hold Conferences the next two weekends with the Service Men's Groups in Verona, Vicenza and Naples. They will also visit members through out Italy and hope to baptize at least one or two while there." These groups greatly helped set an example to many Italian people.
It was very exciting to see the Lord bless these missionaries who were learning Italian without the help of an MTC.