Pittsfield, Massachusetts hosted a delegation from its Italian sister city on Friday in an effort to renew an international dialogue on tourism.
It’s the 31st anniversary of the partnership between Pittsfield and Cava de’ Tirreni, Italy.
Mayor Linda Tyer welcomed the Cava de’ Tirreni delegation on Friday at city hall. Mayor Vincenzo Servalli greeted Tyer with a kiss on both cheeks. They spoke through an interpreter.
“It is always emotional for me to see those two flags together,” Servalli says.
Tyer says Pittsfield’s relationship with international allies is more important than ever.
“The way that we exchange ideas and share our culture is extremely important especially in these days,” Tyer says.
The two cities formed their relationship through the Sister Cities International Program. Each city has a commission that handles communication and setting up meetings like this.
Last year for the 30th anniversary, meetings were held in both cities. This year, the Italian delegation spent the weekend on Onota Lake, hiking Mount Greylock and at the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s 80th anniversary at Tanglewood.
Tyer and Servalli spoke all morning about the challenges the two cities face – finding many similarities.
“Our challenges are around housing and economic justice,” Tyer says.
On the southern end of Italy’s boot, Cava de’ Tirreni is known for its downtown high-end shops, with vistas of fruit and tobacco fields on the hills of Mount Saint Liberatore in the background. Like Pittsfield, the city has a rich history of textiles, manufacturing and food processing.
Servalli says his people face many difficulties.
“The problem of public health, of work for everybody, of housing for everybody, of economic development,” Servalli says.
But the largest shared challenge is attracting the tourism dollars that both cities rely on.
Pittsfield’s budget process is always a struggle, and the delegates from Italy say the tax base in Cava de’ Tirreni goes to national and regional efforts first, which the Italian guests don’t like.
Servalli, a first-term mayor elected in 2015, invited Massachusetts residents to visit his city. The cities have an exchange program allowing students to study academics and cultures.
Cathy Penna from the Sister City commission says the two cities will continue to discuss ways to benefit both communities.
“Fostering long-lasting relationships across seas for the purpose of peace and fellowship,” Penna says.
The representatives exchanged gifts: Pittsfield gave knickknacks from around the region, like a bottle of the Fire Cider wellness tonic, as well as a large painting of the city that highlights its Italian ancestry. Cava de’ Tirreni gave Pittsfield a newly published book about its history, and Italian artist Adriana Sgobba presented Tyer with one of her paintings. Downtown Pittsfield Inc. houses an exhibit of Sgobba’s work.
“And in the moments of difficulties: Limoncello,” Servalli says.