It's not often that a dignitary from another country visits Cranston. But, it is truly special, when that visitor is the Mayor of Cranston's sister city in Italy, Itri.
Over the weekend, Mayor Antonio Fargiorgio visited relatives in the Knightsville section of Cranston which has long been associated with Italian immigrants and the City of Itri. He attended a mass at St. Mary's Church, and a reception at the St. Mary's Feast Society.
Capping off his official visit, Monday, November 26, people from all over the city, local elected officials and students from Cranston East and West attended a special ceremony hosted by Cranston Mayor, Allan Fung.
Following welcoming remarks, Mayor Fung had the Cranston Police Honor Guard post the colors of Cranston and Itri. The playing of both country’s national anthems came next.
Fung spoke about the uniqueness of the relationship between the two cities.
"As many of you here today know, the sister city relationship between Cranston and Itri symbolizes an unbreakable bond between our communities and our countries. Cranston is widely known as being a community shaped by Italian immigrants," he said.
He spoke of the strong impact the Itri immigrants have made in Cranston over the years and how they have helped build a strong community.
Fung acknowledged former Mayor John O'Leary as the one who started the relationship between the two cities, and offered his gratitude for the length of the program.
Fung presented Mayor Fargiorgio with a key to the city.
"A key to the city is the highest honor that a community can give to open its doors to visitors," he said.
Fung invited O'Leary to the podium to join him presenting a special proclamation declaring November 26, 2018 as Itri Italy day. There were actually two proclamations prepared, one in English and one in Italian.
Students from Cranston High School East and West were brought to the podium to greet the Mayor.
"The Cranston East students who were present for the ceremony were our Italian IV and V students. We gave a sweatshirt, hat, socks, cup, and "Thundersticks," said East Principal Sean Kelly.
"Our Cranston West students that attended the Itri ceremony field trip: Catherine Consiglio, Isabella Corso, Alexis Coutu, Hope DiBiasio, Jason Fillipone, Julia Hazian, Daniella Hurtado, Domenic Kaffenberger (presented gift in English to Mayor Fargiorgio), Mikayla Kiernan, John Michael Manzi (presented gift in Italian to Mayor Fargiorgio), Brianna Pagano, Amber Paquette, Matthew Perrotta, Ava Santamaria, Abigail Shellar and Joel Taglianetti. They presented gifts of a small West gift bag with hot West tumbler mug, cold West cup and West red t-shirt," said Tom Barbieri, Cranston West Principal.
Ward 5 Councilman Chris Paplauskas, Ward 6 Council Vice President Michael Favicchio and Citywide Ken Hopkins were called upon to present Mayor Fargiorgio with a special City of Cranston flag.
Favicchio took to the microphone, joking that he is only one of a few councilmen of Italian heritage.
"It is my honor and privilege to welcome you to our city," he said.
Mayor Fargiorgio greeted the room, and was welcomed with a hearty buon giorno in response.
His comments in Italian were translated by his cousin, Cranston resident, Simone Fargiorgio.
"It's a great honor to be here today to represent the City of Itri and the people of Itri. It feels like we have come full circle, I know the early residents of Cranston never thought the Mayor Itri would visit their city. This is something I needed to do, and I believe from the bottom of his heart to give a voice to those who have been here a long time and never had a voice. My visit here is actually an act in memory of everything that has been done in the City Cranston. Cranston has a piece of Itri, and Itri has a piece of Cranston," he said.
Mayor Fargiorgio gave thanks for the opportunities given to the citizens of Itri.
"The city of Itri is very grateful to the City of Cranston for giving many opportunities to immigrants that they would not have had the same opportunities if they stayed in Italy." he said.
The Mayor stated how pleased he was to see all the people in the room, especially the young ones, and he hopes that the relationship between the two cities will continue.
"Itri and Cranston should keep this pact. We should make sure that it keeps going forward," he said.
He thanked everyone for coming, and invited everyone to come visit Itri.
Fargiorgio presented Mayor Fung with a proclamation from Itri, a book about historic Itri and a special book from 1406 containing the statutes of the City of Itri.
Mayor Fung concluded the ceremony by presenting the Mayor's wife with flowers and two books about Cranston.
Guests enjoyed refreshments furnished by the Cranston Senior Center.