It’s official – Johnston and the town of Panni in the Foggia province of Italy are now “Sister Cities.”
The agreement – which Mayor Joseph Polisena first signed last July before a crowd of roughly 350 people, including the state’s congressional delegation – was signed into law last Thursday evening in Italy.
While it was around 2 p.m. in Johnston, it was approximately 8 p.m. in Italy when Louis Spremulli – with permission from Polisena – signed the agreement with Panni Mayor Pasquale Ciruolo in the Italian community’s town hall.
Although Polisena’s schedule prohibited him from making the historic journey to Italy with the co-sponsoring Pannese Society, he joined three-dozen town residents inside the Johnston Senior Center’s conference room to mark the proceedings in Italy.
Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, the official signing could not be streamed via Skype as planned.
Joseph Spremulli, president of the Pannese Society, also did not join his group in Italy, but chatted with the mayor and others inside the senior center.
“It’s too bad we didn’t see the signing, but we thrilled that our mission of joining the two towns has become a reality,” he said.
Polisena praised the Pannese Society’s efforts on the agreement.
“This is good for our town,” he said.
The hope is the agreement will lead to future events and promote tourism, education, and student exchanges.
“I’m looking forward to the student exchange,” Polisena said. “That, as people know, will begin in 2017 when we send five Johnston High School students to Panni. The entire program is nice for our cultural heritage.”
The 18-member Pannese Society delegation, which took part in Panni’s annual feast and festival, is scheduled to return home on Sunday, Sept. 4, after a journey that includes stops in Rome, Venice, and Florence.