July 1, 2007
The visit is to mark the 30th anniversary of this area's relationship with the city of Poggio a Caiano, a city in the county of Prato much like Charlottesville and Albemarle County.
It’s a friendship of two similar cities miles away, but looking towards the same goals.
“This is a relationship that I’ve personally been involved with since 1983 and in my mind it's the true cultural exchange,” said Jeanne Cox, Charlottesville Clerk of Council.
Poggio officials touring the area are here to bridge the gap between Charlottesville and Italy in hopes locals from both areas will visit the other.
“A lot of Americans not from Virginia, but all of the United States came to Italy, came to Tuscany and so we want them to come to Prato and Poggio a Caiano,” said Alberto Penuzzini, Director of Tourism Agency in Prato.
To help make that exchange a reality Poggio leaders plan to meet with local education officials to work out a possible student exchange program on the high school and collegiate levels.
They also plan to meet with members of the business community. Just like Charlottesville, Poggio is close to much larger cities and leaders say they have many challenges to face.
“To become bigger to become more important to be in the center of a lot of commercial business bigger than we have now,” Penuzzini said.
They hope tourism from this area will help business grow and second to education exchanges it begins with, “relationships with travel agents here so that you know there is an exchange of visitors in both communities,” said Cox.
The last time officials from Poggio visited was 2002.