Duncanville Delegates Visiting Italian Sister City in June

Duncanville delegates visiting Italian Sister City
Mayor Glenn Repp, David Green and other delegates on Pilgrims Trail in Italy courtesy photo

A delegation of Duncanville travelers and friends are planning a trip to Italy in June. They will enjoy an event-packed visit to their Sister City, Monasterolo di Savigliano, in northern Italy. The trip marks the 26th anniversary of the Sister City relationship and cultural exchange program between these two small cities over 5,000 miles apart.

Duncanville goes to Italy
Welcome reception for Duncanville delegates courtesy photo

Delegates visiting Monasterolo di Savigliano will depart on June 12 and return June 24. While in Italy, they will stay in the homes of local host families where they are treated “like family.” They will be taken on tours of local businesses, cathedrals, and schools and honored with special receptions and events.

Sister City Concept

Sandi Ciarochi, a longtime supporter (along with husband Fred Ciarochi) of the Sister City program, said, “The sister city concept is unique for a city as small sized as the Duncanville area, and it shows the multicultural reach of our citizens. The world is getting smaller and smaller as we expand our oneness with each other. We are indeed rich!”

She noted that “Other sister cities in Texas are larger, like Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin.”

Sandi Ciarochi lived and worked in Duncanville as a dietitian and psychotherapist for 40 years before moving to DeSoto with her husband, a retired endocrinologist. She served on a number of Duncanville civic boards, including the Sign Board when the signage code was being revamped. Sandi is still active in several Duncanville clubs and the couple still attend church services there. Their three children graduated from Duncanville HS, and their family hosted three exchange students from Germany.

School children in Monasterolo
School children perform for Duncanville visitors courtesy photo

Sandi says they have been “active in the sister city program since 1999, and have hosted many young people and families from Monasterola. Our home was on two acres so we were able to host the entire group at our home for meals and community meet and greets over the years. We’ve made many lifelong friendships.”

Sister City Origins in 1994

The Sister City relationship between the two small towns—Duncanville in North Texas and Monasterolo di Savigliano in Italy, started in 1994/1995 with the friendship of Drs. Nancy and Cecil Woods, then dentists in Duncanville, and Dario Crosetto, a native of Monasterolo di Savigliano. In 1996, then State Senator Jane Nelson became involved in further cementing the relationship.

In March 1997, Duncanville Mayor Ed Purcell welcomed an informal delegation led by Sindico Antonio Prochietto on their visit to Duncanville. A proclamation was issued in Monasterolo in July 1997 recognizing an Act of Friendship between the two cities. Then in July 1998 a formal ceremony was held in Monasterolo with Duncanville Mayor Glenn Repp, Sen. Nelson, and 13 other Texans participating. Monasterolo is located in the province of Cuneo in the Piedmont region of Italy. The town has a total area of 5.76 square miles, and its population was 1,373 in 2017.

Sister City delegates
Delegates in City Hall/Castle Room

In September of 1998, a group of 39 delegates from Monasterolo visited Duncanville, and a formal ratification ceremony was held at City Hall. Local dignitaries included the City Council and city staff, Duncanville ISD administration, and the Honorary Vice Council of Italy. Since that time, there have been many back and forth visits to the Sister Cities.

Duncanville Mayor Glenn Repp and Mayor David Green were both heavily involved in maintaining the relationship. Monasterolo Sindico (mayors) Prochietto, Sindico Marco Cavaglià, and Sindico Georgio Albertoni also nourished the relationship. On March 23, 2016 Sindico Marco Cavaglià visited with Mayor David Green to reaffirm the sister city relationship. On Sept. 5, 2016 a room in the Southeast tower of the Monasterolo Castle (their City Hall) was dedicated to Duncanville.

City Hall in Monasterolo
Monasterolo City Hall/Castle Reception

In March, 2017 the Duncanville City Council created the Duncanville Sister City Commission as an ad-hoc committee created for the purpose of facilitating the continued sister-city relationship.

Former Duncanville Mayor David Green

David Green says as Duncanville Mayor Pro Tem In 2004, he accompanied Mayor Glenn Repp, Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, and others on a trip to Monasterolo. After he became Mayor, he visited the Sister City several more times. Green is still involved on the Sister City committee, but said he doesn’t plan to take the 2023 trip.

“I’ve got great memories of the times we spent there,” he said. “We were welcomed like family members by our hosts, who opened their homes to us. They have an active Rotary Club, and they threw a really big dinner party for us one night. Our Sister City program isn’t geared toward commerce like the national program, but is strictly a people-to-people cultural program. About 25 people usually go from here, but twice as many come here from Monasterolo. Their last visit was in 2019, and we took them to Texas Motor Speedway, a Mavs game, and on a tour of the suites at AT&T Stadium. They were all placed in the homes of our local host families.”

Italian delegates at Reunion Tower
Italian delegation touring Reunion Tower photo courtesy Sandi Ciarochi

In Sept. of 2019 a 30-member delegation from Monasterolo visited Duncanville, where they were welcomed by Mayor Barry Gordon and hosted by local families. Visits to the Sister Cities were held every year, except during the Pandemic. The trips are now planned every two years because of the expense involved in hosting and airfare, Sandi said.

Over 300 delegates from each city have experienced the special friendship of the two cities, promoting their educational, cultural, and economic presence in the international community. The 2023 Duncanville Sister City Commission members are Fred and Sandi Ciarochi, Stella Moten, Gale Sliger, former Mayor David Green, and Duncanville Chamber President Steve Martin.

Applications for Sister City Trip to Italy

There’s still time for local residents interested in joining the cultural exchange trip to apply, but the group size is usually limited to 30 because of tour bus sizes and host family availabilities. A $500 deposit is required to hold your reservation. An information meeting iw scheduled for March 6 at 7 p.m. at the Duncanville Chamber of Commerce.

Travel Agent Jean Kibler is available to answer any questions about air travel to Italy. She can be reached at jkibler@tbycampbell.com, 972-757-5001 or 972-789-5657. Sister City committee members Sandi Ciarichi or Stella Moten are also available to answer questions about reservations at srciarichi@sbcglobal.net, smdecember45@gmail.com, or 972 -296-2331.

Sister City at reception
Sister City committee members Sandi Ciarochi and Stella Moten admire Italian pizza courtesy photo

Duncanville resident Stella Moten, who was a delegate for the 2018 visit to Monastolero, said “I highly recommend the trip from my experience. It was very affordable because there was no hotel cost, and all of the ground transportation, excursions /restaurants were partially sponsored. Initially as an African-American woman, accommodations in a family home was a big concern. My experience was a great match, and I made friends that continue to this day. Our daily schedule was a different fun adventure, learning about the local culture (so different yet much commonality). I was humbled/amazed by the natural beauty in the region and the congeniality of folks encountered. One of my most memorable trips away from tourist track or work-related travel.”

Airline Travel Agent Jean Kibler

Sandi says the NY consolidator who works with Jean Kibler is holding air seats for the delegates at a decent price, since airlines have had to make a lot of adjustments this past year. The best way to purchase tickets is to call Jean to reserve your airline tickets. The group is expected to arrive around the afternoon of June 13 at the Turin Airport, to board the bus to Monasterolo. Because of the time difference, the delegates leave on June 12 but arrive in Turin on the 13th.

“The most exciting addition to this visit is a side trip to Florence and a possible visit to the Mediterranean Sea,” Sandi said. “Our host city is working very hard on the itinerary. We will experience the culture, industry, life and history of the Piedmont Region. There will be a lot of sharing of experiences and friendships.”

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Jo Ann Holt
Jo Ann Holt is an award-winning journalist with 40+ years of experience as a writer and editor. She loves live performances, from country music concerts to Broadway musicals to community theatre productions. Holt also enjoys art and cultural festivals, and good food and wine. She’s toured Amsterdam, London, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and various cities in Mexico but looks forward to visiting even more countries. She has traveled by boat, plane, and train, but especially likes taking long road trips across the U.S. with her husband, retired history professor Durhl Caussey. They enjoy meeting friendly people, learning about different cultures, and visiting historic sites wherever they go.