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Vicenza Art

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Buona Fortuna Sister City Committee:

President Joyce Bollenbacher, Recording Secretary Barbara Ferg and Guard Andy Fricano.

The process began in August 2016 when:

President Bollenbacher and Barbara Ferg attended the Sister Cities convention at the New World Landing. An appointment was requested to meet with Mayor Hayward to pursue a sister-city association with Vicenza, Italy.

Sister City Project Correspondence:

12 February 2017

The Honorable Ashton J. Hayward, III

Mayor, City of Pensacola

P.O. Box 12910

Pensacola, FL 32521

Dear Mayor Hayward:

Members of Order Sons of Italy Buona Fortuna Lodge #2835 of Pensacola, Florida, are keenly interested in establishing a Sister City with Vicenza, Italy.  There are many reasons for establishing this particular link.  First of all, our organization is composed mostly of Americans with Italian ancestry and backgrounds.  They are proud of their Italian heritage and would like to learn more about what it means to be Italian.  But there are others, too, who would like to expand their horizons and discover the real Italian culture.  Second, the U.S. Army Garrison is situated on Caserma Ederle and Caserma Del Din, both in Vicenza itself, under the leadership of Garrison Commander, Colonel Steve Marks. There also are many military family members living in the area.  Third, there are three Department of Defense Dependents Schools on two nearby bases, with more than 1560 students, about 153 educators, and 25 staff.  Fourth, due to the many events offering enjoyment for everyone throughout the year, there is a very strong connection between the Americans and the Italians in the beautiful and historic city of Vicenza.  

Why would the American community be interested in forming an alliance with Vicenza and, conversely, the Italians with Pensacola? There are numerous underlying reasons, which would provide amazing opportunities for the Italians who visit Pensacola and for the Americans who visit Vicenza.  Since we already know what Pensacola has and can do, let’s first discuss what Vicenza offers.

Culture—With an emphasis on educational exchanges (students visiting one another’s homes and attending local schools); learning the language by exposure to Italians and their families; and involvement in the arts and sports.  Here is a small sampling of what is available in the area, although there is much more to be found.  Every corner is filled with history.

Verona: Juliet’s home (from Shakespeare’s play Romeo & Juliet), as well as its famous amphitheater and operas.

Venice: Less than an hour’s ride from Vicenza, Venice offers more than anyone could possibly ask for—gondolas, water taxis, museums, concerts, making the famous Murano glass and Burano lace, and, of course—although somewhat humorously—the pigeons of St. Mark’s Square.

Asiago: Yes, it has the well-known cheese, but it also offers skiing and hiking, as well as many historic spots well worth visiting, to include hidden cemeteries from WWI and WWII.

Marostica: Every two years, this small village offers a Medieval Pageant, with rich costuming, magnificent horses, jesters, amazing music, and an incredible history about the royal families of Northern Italy.  While the entire production is in Italian, it begins with a summary in English of the story concerning the royal families.

Food—With all the possibilities of learning about Italian cuisine, attending cooking classes, and talking with internationally-known chefs.  One of these chefs, Luca Chemello, is renown throughout Italy and much of Europe.  Because he is a personal friend of a Buona Fortuna member, Barbara (who lived in Vicenza for seven years while working for the Department of Defense), he has promised to offer a cooking class focusing on how to make one of his famous signature dishes, Fagottini.  As well, there is the Medici Estate about 90 minutes from Vicenza where the Medici family, led by Alessandra Medici, makes the magnificent Balsamic Vinegar—so rich it tastes just like chocolate on vanilla ice cream.

Pottery—Since Vicenza is one of the main locations in Italy for pottery, it offers a grand opportunity to visit the various locations to see pottery-making in operation. One of the best-known outlets in the Vicenza area is VBC, owned and run by Agnese and Venzo Mariano, and their son Andrea.  They make pottery on the premises, oftentimes shipping it to Williams & Sonoma, Lenox, Tiffany, and other companies in the United States.  This family is very customer-oriented and goes out of its way to provide the best for their clientele.  A request to VBC to open its doors and its pottery-making to Sister-City participants would be met with enthusiasm.

Economic Development—The promotion of tourism, with travel in and around Vicenza, visiting the many historic sights and famous buildings.  Participation in craft and art shows, as well as interaction between various businesses, would be very beneficial to vendors and artisans alike.  In fact, it could provide a great opportunity for them to develop connections with their counterparts in Pensacola.

Technical Assistance—How to ride buses and trains, how to exchange money, understanding the rules and policies of Vicenza, holidays and customs, daily schedules to include pisolini (nap times) and shop hours.

Architectural Sights—One of the most famous buildings in Vicenza is the Teatro Olimpico, the oldest theater in Europe. What’s more, it is the site of the Vicenza American High School graduation ceremony, graciously offered by the city of Vicenza to the American community. Another marvelous structure is La Villa Rotonda, one of Palladio’s masterpieces.

What would Italians expect to learn and do on arriving in Pensacola? Nearly everything listed above would apply, with a few variations and adjustments.  Thriving youth soccer leagues, as well as soccer at the University of West Florida; the Pensacola Ice Flyers; the Naval Air Museum and its extraordinary I-Max cinema with The Magic of Flight; the Seville Quarter events; the Blue Angels; dolphin cruises; deep-sea fishing and tournaments; the Gulfarium in Fort Walton Beach; the Blue Wahoos and the baseball player’s’ parent team, The Cincinnati Reds; Bocce Ball; folk museums; visits to Disney World in Orlando and to the highlights of New Orleans; experiencing the Emerald Coast, something that would be familiar to many Italians who have the Costa Smeralda (also an Emerald Coast); the many festivals—Seafood, Jazz, Arts, Greek, and, of course, the famous Festa Italiana; the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, the Pensacola Ballet, and the Pensacola Opera, along with the touring Broadway shows at the Saenger Theater.  The possibilities are unending.  

Through Barbara’s very close friendship with a real estate agent in Vicenza, we are fortunate to be able to rely on the assistance and guidance of Stefania Zocche.  She visited Pensacola last year for a week, and she is ready and willing to help with this Sister City venture.  She already has mentioned to the Mayor of Vicenza, Signor Achille Variati, the excitement and wonderful benefits of the establishment of Vicenza and Pensacola as Sister Cities and will pursue this further when we make a firm commitment.  

Here is some very pertinent data about the city:   

Local time: 7 hours later than Pensacola Central Time

Population: 113,655 (2014)

Area: 30.89 sq miles (80 km²)

Vicenza, which lies in northeastern Italy, has an extensive history, dating back to pre-Roman times. It is in the Veneto region at the northern base of the Monte Berico, where it straddles the Bacchiglione River. Vicenza is approximately 60 kilometers west of Venice and 200 kilometers east of Milan.

One of its major figures is Andrea Palladio, who was an Italian architect active in the Republic of Venice. Palladio, born in Padua in 1508, also was a friend of Galileo, who lived in various areas of the Veneto.  Influenced by Roman and Greek architecture, primarily by Vitruvius, Palladio is widely considered to be the most influential individual in the history of architecture. The city of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  One of the most well-known of these important buildings is La Villa  Rotonda.  In the 1700s, when Thomas Jefferson visited Vicenza, he was captivated by this completely symmetrical building and made arrangements to secure copies of Palladio’s architectural designs.  From these, he built Monticello in Virginia.  It is an exact replica of La Rotonda, which stands atop a hillside and is a dramatic part of the landscape, visible from many quarters.    

It is our sincere hope that you will support our request to unite Vicenza, Italy, and Pensacola, Florida, as Sister Cities.  They have so much to offer one another.  The Order Sons of Italy in America, Buona Fortuna Lodge in Pensacola, stand ready to do whatever it takes to make this venture a reality.


Joyce Russo Bollenbacher, President

Order Sons of Italy,

Buona Fortuna Lodge #2835



April 3, 2017

Good Afternoon Dr. Ferg-Carter,

Thank you for submitting the proposal to establish a Sister City with Vicenza, Italy. Mayor Hayward has reviewed the Sons of Italy’s proposal and decided that he would like to move forward towards establishing this relationship. The next step in the process is to have city council pass a resolution. I met with the Council secretary today and was notified that the resolution will be proposed not this upcoming council meeting, but the one following.

Could you please provide me with a digital copy of the proposal that was mailed to City Hall?

Ben Ouellette
Executive Aide to the Mayor

The Office of the Mayor, Achille Variati
Palazzo Trissino Comune di Vicenza,
36100 Vicenza, Italia.

The Town council approved and passed the resolution in May 2017.


June 26, 2017

The Honorable Achille Variati
Palazzo Trissino Comune di Vicenza
36100 Vicenza, Italia

Dear Mayor Variati:
I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to you to express the City of Pensacola’s interest in
establishing a Sister City relationship with Vicenza.
Like Vicenza, Pensacola has rich history as America’s first settlement, established by Tristan de
Luna in 1559. While our city highlights its historical presence, our vibrant, walkable, waterfront
downtown continues to evolve on all fronts with chic shops and trendy restaurants. Pensacola also
has a tremendous military presence as we are home to Naval Air Station Pensacola, known as the Cradle of Naval Aviation.
The many great aspects of Vicenza have been brought to my attention, thanks to our American- Italian citizens, specifically the Sons of Italy in America, Buona Fortuna Lodge 2835. I have reviewed the request to foster a relationship with yourself and the city of Vicenza and I feel that creating this
bond would be mutually beneficial to all of us for many years to come.
I look forward to taking the next steps in developing a Sister City relationship between Pensacola,
Florida and Vicenza, Italy. On behalf of the City of Pensacola, please accept my request to
collaborate and initiate this relationship process.

Warmest regards,
Ashton J. Hayward Mayor

And the same Letter in Italian that was transcribed by Andy Fricano and delivered to the mayor of Vicenza.

June 23, 2017
L’Onorevole Achille Variati
Palazzo Trissino Comune Di Vicenza
36100 Vicenza, Italia

Caro Sindaco Variati:

Spero che questa lettera La trovi bene. Le sto scrivendo per esprimere l’interesse da parte della citta’ di Pensacola di stabilire un rapporto di gemellaggio con la citta’ di Vicenza.

Come Vicenza, Pensacola ha una ricca storia, come la prima colonia americana stabilita da Tristan de Luna nel 1559. La nostra citta’ e’ fiera della sua presenza storica, ma anche il nostro vibrante, percorribile lungomare nel centro citta’ continua a evolersi su tutti I fronti con negozi chic e ristoranti importanti. Pensacola ha anche una tremenda presenza militare, perche’ siamo la base o meglio la sede della “Stazione Aeronautica Navale Pensacola”, conocsciuta come la culla della Aeronautica Navale Statunitense.

I molti grandi valori di Vicenza sono stati gia’ portati alla mia attenzione, grazie ai nostri cittadini italo-americani, specificamente dell’organizzazione “Sons of Italy” loggia Buona Fortuna numero 2835” Ho esaminato la richiesta di promuovere un rapporto con Lei a la citta’ di Vicenza e penso che questo legame sarebbe reciprocamente vantaggioso per tutti noi per molti anni in avanti.

Ci auguriamo vivamente che i prossimi passi sulla via dell’attuazione del gemellaggio tra Vicenza, Italia e Pensacola, Florida USA si compiano al piu presto. In nome della citta’ di Pensacola, la prego Signor Sindaco di accettare la mia richiesta di collaborare e iniziare la procedura per questo rapporto di gemellaggio.

I piu’ sinceri saluti,

Ashton J. Hayward
Pensacola, Florida USA

Update July 2017

A letter from Mayor Hayward was personally delivered by member, Andy Fricano, to the Mayor’s office in Vicenza at a meeting on Thursday, 27 July at 11:00 with Councilman Franzina. The councilman mentioned he will present the letter to Mayor Variati and that the first step is to establish a pact of friendship between the two cities. Then the rest will follow. Andy was assisted by Barbara Ferg’s friend, Stefania Zocche.