Rockford, Ferentino mark 10 years as Sister Cities

Rockford Italian Sister Cities Alliance (RISCA) is celebrating the ten-year anniversary of the Sister City agreement between Rockford and Ferentino, Italy. This partnership recognizes the contributions of Rockford’s Italian community and the century-old ties that many have maintained with Ferentino, an ancient walled hill town of 21,000 people 40 miles southeast of Rome. Ferentino has three distinct architectural periods, pre-Roman ruins and distinctive stone gates. Its industries are pharmaceuticals, soaps, textiles, bricks, electronics and foods. Its patron Saint Ambrogio, a 4th century Roman centurion, tortured and executed for his Christian faith, is revered and codified in city statutes. In 1918, immigrants to Rockford from Ferentino formed the Society of Saint Ambrogio Martyr Mutual Benefit (St. Ambrogio Club) on Montague Street, the last remaining Italian social club of many in south Rockford.

Discussions between the DeCastris and Giorgi families in Rockford and Ferentino began the process, which became a project of the Greater Rockford Italian American Association (GRIAA), the organizer of Festa Italiana and other programs that highlight Italian culture.

After much work by committee members and public officials, Mayor Larry Morrissey of Rockford and Mayor Piergianni Fiorletta of Ferentino signed the agreement at Rockford’s City Hall on May 15, 2006. Nine public officials from Ferentino’s City Council and its Pro Loco Association visited Rockford that week for the signing ceremony and official meetings and festivities. Over the past decade, many individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations and public institutions have supported our Sister City programs. The committee has remained active, adding members and meeting monthly to plan events. Proclamations from the City of Rockford and Winnebago County and Illinois Resolutions from State Sen. Steve Stadelman and Rep. Litesa Wallace have commemorated this milestone. Many thanks to everyone involved over the years for their work and support and for the recognition bestowed on us.

For more information, visit Rockford Italian Sister Cities Alliance on Facebook; ourrisca.org; or email Risca2006@gmail.com. Further info at griaa.org, saintambrogio.com, proloco.ferentino.fr.it. The Taste of Italy Fundraiser is at the Venetian Club, Nov. 5.

–Valeri DeCastris

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