A few years back we made contact with the Italian town of Priverno in the Lazio region just South of Rome when we met their people in Uherske Hradiste, their and our Czech twin town. The Mayor Umberto Macci, had been a regular attender at the UH wine festival and during his time in office had clocked up over a dozen link towns around Europe. In May this year he went the way of many Berlusconi acolytes and the Left swept to power in Priverno suggesting that they would be doing away with most of Macci’s international links. Bridgwater International administrator Brian Smedley hurried down there to put a word in for Somerset.
New Mayor of Priverno is 34 year old Angelo Delogu, a Labour rights Lawyer from the Sinistra Ecologia Liberta Party (Green Socialists basically) who won office with the backing of the centre left Partito Democratica (Democrat Party). His deputy Mayor is Anna Maria Bilancia (PD).
Angelo is dynamic, friendly and popular. He lives in rented digs in the ancient centre of Priverno and seems to know everyone he meets on the street. During the visit Italy was hit by torrential downpours and Priverno was hit by Mudslides -Angelo was out on the streets on the spot helping deal with the looming catastrophe.
|Anna Maria Bilancia (Deputy mayor of Priverno) at the new Roman museum|
Smedley said “It became clear quite quickly that the new Mayor and his Council wanted to not only continue but develop their link with Bridgwater and much of our time was spent discussing ways to make the link work for both communities and concentrating on clear and achieveable goals.”
Bridgwater were planning to take a youth football team-Rhode Lane Wanderers, across next autumn – Priverno would organise community teams of the same age for them to play against and a social programme to help foster understanding plus some joint coaching sessions .
Priverno were keen to send Italian students to England to either stay with families or take part in English language courses or summer camps. Bridgwater International agreed to facilitate this.
Bridgwater College wanted to send their media students to Italy to visit the Cinnecita film studios, Priverno would supplement the trip with their own media students and organise social events to encourage an environment for best interaction.
Priverno were keen to look at the English Local Government system and consider solutions to potential problems that they are increasingly facing -such as flooding (Priverno is situated just above the ancient pontine marshes, reclaimed from the mosquitos in the 1930s) but also at cultural and educational link ups ; they are particularly proud of their newly opened Roman history museum based on the site and surviving relics of the ancient Roman town of Privernum.
Bridgwater was keen to send it’s community choirs over to the land of song to meet singers and sing and perform together. Priverno has several choirs that were very keen.
|Nearby Oasa di Kufra on the Med|
Finally both sides wanted to promote tourism. Priverno is less than an hour from Rome (which is 2 hours from Bristol) and the train costs a mere 5€ to get there! A short drive to the coast is the beach hotel of the Oasa di Kufra, whilst in the Appenine town of Priverno there are several B&B’s and at leas tone sizeable Agrotourism project the Regina Camilla.
We agreed that both our towns were ideal jumping off points for the touristic riches of the surrounding area. From Bridgwater you were in easy reach of the Quantocks, Exmoor, Cheddar Gorge, Wells , Glastonbury and the English Channel resorts whilst in Priverno you were a similar distance from the Mediterranean, the second world war sites of Cassino and Anzio and of course the Eternal city itself.
|Priverno station- 5€ south of Rome|
Anyone wishing to help us develop these links can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Both sides agreed that co-operation would continue ‘with a view to a twinning’. But at this stage “treat it as a courtship…” suggested Angelo. At which point I went down the pub and watched the football.