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Mayor Maurizio Marello's Letter on the Twenty-Three days of the Free Republic of Alba

posted Nov 23, 2012, 9:44 AM by Doug Snider   [ updated Nov 23, 2012, 10:00 AM ]

Our friends in Alba have endured the same economic crisis from which we are emerging. They are fortunate to have the heroic example of their recent past to inspire them to overcome hardship.  This year they mark the 68th anniversary of the Free Republic of Alba, historic days of defiance when Alba’s young partisans stood up to their Nazi occupiers and fascist oppressors. They also celebrate the life of Beppe Fenoglio, the partisan who went on to become one of Italy’s greatest novelists and a chronicler of the Resistance. They are very fortunate to have a leader like Mayor Marello who calls on Alba’s history as he deals with a myriad of problems with the same determination that led Alba to its freedom almost seventy years ago. His thoughts are especially timely as Italy begins its electoral cycle.

"Saved by the Constitution.

These are the weeks when we commemorate the partisan Resistance of Alba, from its highest moment and that is the 23 days of freedom made famous by the story of Beppe Fenoglio, the anticipation of definitive liberation from fascism that would eventually be captured in April 1945. In September of last year, with the reading of “The Twenty-three Days of the City of Alba” we opened the year of Fenoglio, the period during which Alba will celebrate its great writer at ninety years from his birth and at fifty years since his death.

We are discouraged, if not lost, at a time of our history not only affected by the economic crisis that shows no sign of ending, but especially affected by the crisis of values that appears day after day to cancel certain references to the past. Politics, economics and finance seem to feel more "against the man" and not "for the man."

We need, then, to find that passion and that civic jolt that animated our partisans, young people, our people between 1943 and 1945 that returned freedom and democracy to the country and lost dignity to its citizens. If they were able to succeed in a crisis far more serious, we can also do it today.

But no one will save us nor will we save ourselves.

Only the Constitution and Policy will save us.

The Constitution, ripe fruit of the Resistance, with its high values of freedom and solidarity.

The policy, which must recapture the spirit of the founding fathers, their ability to make a synthesis of positions and different cultures in the interest of the country and citizens. A new and beautiful policy. Nobody can give it: we must build it, all of us, together, starting from the bottom, changing ourselves first of all.

Ethical rigor, the quest for justice, the values of brotherhood and peace shall not be suspended in times of crisis, but they are the main way to get out of it without losing on the road to freedom and democracy that the partisans gave us a great price "

Mayor Maurizio Marello”

Tanti Auguri a Pina e Gianni Toppino per l'Anniversario di Matrimonio 50

posted Jul 3, 2012, 8:23 AM by Doug Snider   [ updated Jul 6, 2012, 8:25 AM ]

Grandi amici di Medford, Pina e Gianni Toppino celebrato il loro 50° anniversario di nozze in Alba. Gianni e Pina hanno fatto tanto per collegare le nostre due città. Tutti i loro amici a Medford inviano le loro congratulazioni a Gianni, Pina e l'intera famiglia Toppino. Ad unirsi a loro nella cerimonia in chiesa erano Enzo e Diva Agnelli, Francesco Rivella e Dina Toppino. Facciamo qui un brindisi alla prima coppia di Alba.

Great friends of Medford, Gianni and Pina Toppino celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Alba. Gianni and Pina have done much to bring together our two cities. All their friends in Medford send their congratulations to Gianni, Pina and the entire Toppino
family. Joining them in the church ceremony were Enzo and Diva Agnelli, Francesco Rivella and Dina Toppino. Here we make a toast to the first couple of Alba.

Alba Plans for Telstar Anniversary Celebration

posted Jun 7, 2012, 7:39 AM by Doug Snider   [ updated Jun 8, 2012, 8:05 AM ]

On Tuesday, June 5, Alba’s Medford Sister City Committee met in the Alba city hall. At the meeting, plans were made for the observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the historic Telstar satellite phone conversation between the mayors of Alba and Medford on July 26, 1962. The July 26 observance will include a ceremony at 6:00 PM in the council chambers with Mayor Maurizio Marello presiding. Participants will include Councilman Olindo Cervella, the U.S. Consul Annamaria Saiano and Alba’s Medford Sister City Committee chairman Giorgio Sordo. Italian national press will cover the event and an Italian space scientist will discuss the science of the event that changed how the world communicates. A dinner of celebration will follow.

Very fittingly, Giorgio Sordo’s guest for the meeting was Sean Snider, grandson of Medford’s Mayor John Snider who was on the Medford end of historic event. Sean has been in Alba since the beginning of February teaching English, physics and mathematics at two local high schools

From left to right: Gianni Toppino, Pino Dutto , Anna Agnelli, Laura Casorzo, Renata Ceste, Sean Snider, Giorgio Sordo, Enrica Masante and Biancarosa Demaria

A Journey Begins in Alba

posted Jan 30, 2012, 7:19 PM by Doug Snider   [ updated Feb 1, 2013, 3:05 PM ]

On January 30, 2012, Piercarlo Rovera, the head of Alba’s Liceo Scientifico Statale Leonardo Cocito and the Liceo Classico Statale Giuseppe Govone, greeted the newest recruit to his faculty at Milan’s Malpensa Airport. Joined by teachers Marina Rista and Luisella Vernone, professor Rovera drove the young scholar to Alba, now carpeted in its first snow of the winter.  Last summer, the principal of both prestigious Alba high schools extended an offer to Sean Snider of Medford to teach, and learn, in Alba’s science and classics schools. Snider, a recent graduate in physics from Santa Clara University, met the headmaster during the student exchange that brought Alba students to Medford. Sean’s desire to teach high school science had met headlong with a climate in which American schools were paring their faculties and reducing their course offerings.

Sean had no hesitation accepting Rovera’s generous offer and spent the next few months preparing for a unique teaching experience.  Corresponding with his future maestro and his future colleagues, Sean began preparing a syllabus for how he would teach high school students in Alba. Obviously the language would be a challenge and he would be both a teacher and a student at the same time. Expressing his passion for physics to students who may not have a perfect grasp of English will require skills he did not acquire in the physics lab. 

Fortunately for Sean, this is not his first visit to Alba.  In 1994 he traveled with his parents and his brother Ryan to visit dear friends of the Snider family.  Even at eight years of age, Sean showed an affinity for Alba and all things Italian. He ignored the language barrier and carried on conversations with his Italian peers as though they had a common language. During his first visit, he even faced off on the soccer pitch with Alba’s mayor Enzo Demaria who may have allowed a few goals that were not entirely earned. Sean went on to be an all-state forward on his state championship winning high school soccer team, perhaps thanks to his Italian coaching.

Pino Dutto and Sean on Via John Snider
In 2003 Sean returned to Alba as part of the Medford-Alba student exchange. He not only reconnected with friends from his first trip but made many new friends in Alba. When the Medford students found themselves without and English speaking host available, they called upon Sean to make sense of a language that none of them had studied. Sean will be right at home in Alba. One of the unique opportunities he will have is spending time with his Italian “uncle” Pino Dutto and walking along Via John Snider, a scenic Alba street named in 2010 for his grandfather, former Medford Mayor John Snider.
Sean with Elisa Perletto's Volleyball Team
Sean at Elisa Perletto's Volleyball Game

UPDATE: Since Sean’s arrival in Alba, he has begun teaching English in the two high schools and helping students prepare for a very important five section English language exam on March 1. He is helping the students with the two sections of the exam on English usage. Sean will soon begin teaching fifth year physics classes with emphasis on magnetism and radiation. He has gotten to know his colleagues at the two schools which include teachers from England, Canada and one from Baltimore.  He says he is not only learning Italian but also the differences between American English and British English.

On Tuesday, February 21, Sean returned to Alba from “Settimana Bianca” (White Week) in the village of Sampeyre in the Italian Alps. He joined the teachers and students from the two high schools for this traditional pre-Lent break. He says the weather was beautiful and he even got a little tanned.  Back at work in school now after the break, he is expanding his academic activities to include teaching four Physics lectures on magnetism, black body radiation, resistance and relativity. He is also helping with Philosophy and translating Petrach. He continues to work with students preparing for the very critical English examination on March 1, 2012.
He reports that as his students’ English improves, so does his Italian.

On Sunday, February 26, Sean was honored at a welcome dinner in the village of Guarene.  The event had been postponed several weeks due the severe winter weather that greeted Sean upon his arrival in Alba one
month ago. The postponement was fortuitous since it moved the event to the day after his 26th birthday and gave him time to gain some confidence in his Italian speaking. Sean addressed the gathering of friends in Italian. Sean thanked the special people in Alba who had made his stay in Alba possible and had given him the most memorable birthday party of his life. He also paid tribute to his late grandfather, former Medford mayor John Snider, who played a key role in bringing Medford and Alba together.

Forget the Train. Take the Ferrari.

posted Dec 22, 2011, 12:27 PM by Doug Snider   [ updated Feb 2, 2012, 4:18 PM ]

If you can’t decide how to get around in Italy on your next trip, you might want to consider taking the Ferrari. Beginning in March, travelers will have a luxurious, high speed option to renting a car or taking the train. Ferrari chief Luca Cordero di Montezemolo is launching a private train service, Italo, that will travel from Turin to Salerno with service to Bologna, Florence, Milan, Naples and  Rome. The 300 kilometer per hour Ferrari red bullet train will set a new standard for railway luxury with several classes of accommodations.  “Tunnel proof” wi-fi and an on board cinema are a few of the amenities that set it apart from the state run rail service. If you can’t think of being away from Alba’s fabulous cuisine for very long, have no fear. Food service aboard the train will be provided by Eataly, the globally successful brain child of Alba’s own Oscar Farinetti. 


Take a Ride

Two Remarkable Women

posted Dec 4, 2011, 11:43 AM by Doug Snider   [ updated Nov 4, 2012, 3:14 PM ]

Pina at the Alba booth for Festa Italiana
Medford and Alba were able to celebrate a half century of friendship thanks to many people on both sides of the connection but two special people stand out for their dedication, passion and years of service. Pina Toppino and Liz Smith were the heads of their cities’ sister city committees for almost half of the fifty years. In spite of the distance between the two cities, Pina and Liz worked together as a team coordinating programs and events for more than two decades. They became great friends and had frequent opportunities to meet in Alba and Medford.

Pina’s involvement goes back to the earliest days of the “gemellaggio” of the two cities. From 1972 until 1975 her husband Giangiacomo Toppino was Mayor of Alba and, as Alba’s first lady, she devoted much of her time to furthering the bond between the two cities. She not only organized events and programs but, in the typical manner of the Albese, she opened her home to perfect strangers traveling from Medford.

In 1992 she joined Liz Smith and her co-chair, Nancy Collins, for the celebration five hundredth anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of America in Washington, D.C. Liz and Nancy traveled to Alba on that occasion and cemented a friendship that typifies the special connection between Medford and Alba.

In 2003 Pina and Gianni traveled to Medford for the Festa Italian in Jacksonville where she represented the City of Alba and promoted the products and tourism of the Langhe and, as always, made more friends for Alba. For hours on end Pina manned the Alba booth on the streets of Jacksonville dispensing samples of Alba’s products and the charm that will always be Pina’s signature gift

Pina’s dedication and charm attracted people on both sides of the exchange to become involved in sister city programs. Her entire family has been at the center of sister city activities in Alba and a third generation of her family is ready to follow in her footsteps. Fittingly, her years of promoting international understanding did not go unrecognized by the Italian government. She was named a Knight of the Republic.

Nancy Collins, Enzo Demaria and Liz Smith
Like many members of the Medford-Alba Sister City Association, Liz Smith’s involvement began with the participation of her daughters Kim and Carrie in two of the earlier student exchanges. In 1989 She and fellow student exchange parent, Nancy Collins, took over the leadership in Medford and began to build on a connection that had already endured more than twenty-five years. In addition to countless hours of hard work, Liz brought a wide network of friends an acquaintances to help build the program. 

Liz and Nancy participated in the 1992 quincentennial celebration of Columbus’s discovery of America.  They joined their counterpart, Pina Toppino, in Washington D.C. and later arrived in Alba for the Truffle Festival.

Under Liz’s leadership, the student exchanges have become the centerpiece of sister city activities and Liz selflessly has dedicated herself to the success of the program. Every other year, students from local high schools compete to be selected as ambassadors to Alba. Selection to the highly competitive program is an achievement that the best and brightest students proudly add to their résumés.

For Liz, the inbound component of the student exchange has also been a labor of love. Liz has always managed to attract willing and welcoming host families to ensure the very best experience for our young Italian guests.  Liz has always been at the forefront organizing events, arranging for transportation and personally welcoming Alba’s student ambassadors.

In 2010 Liz’s leadership was instrumental in organizing the fiftieth anniversary celebration in Medford. The events over several days were perfect demonstrations of Medford’s love for Alba and the one time we came close to matching Alba’s marvelous hospitality.

Liz has been an excellent ambassador to Alba and led the Medford delegation to both the fortieth and fiftieth anniversary celebrations in Alba. Like her Alba counterpart Pina, Liz has always been willing to open her home to visitors from Alba. She and her husband Stephen are regular travelers to Alba, and like Pina, have a third generation waiting to be part of our special relationship with Alba.

After twenty-two years as president of Medford’s committee, Liz has decided to step back and let new leadership build on her accomplishments. She wants to continue her involvement as a board member and to share her knowledge and experience from more than two decades of service.

Pina and Liz will be missed as leaders of the program but their passion for the program will continue to be at the heart of a special connection that is truly all about people.


A Singular Tribute

posted Oct 15, 2009, 8:02 AM by Doug Snider   [ updated Jun 8, 2012, 1:05 PM ]


On Friday, October 1, 2010, the people of Alba, Italy joined a delegation from Medford in Alba’s Piazza Medford for a very special event.  Alba’s mayor, Maurizio Marello, opened a ceremony that marked the beginning of three days of celebration of the fifty years that Alba and Medford have been sister cities. As an honor guard of the Carbinieri saluted, the flags of Italy and the United States were raised above plaza while the Mayor’s wife, Teresa sang the anthems of both counties in a beautiful and resonant soprano voice. Mayor Marello, Medford City Council president Al Densmore, Medford’s sister city committee chairman, Liz Smith, her Alba counterpart, Giorgio Sordo and an enthusiastic throng were joined by the American Consul Annmaria Saiono for an occasion that is emblematic of the very special relationship between the two cities.


They were gathered on the veranda of Alba’s exhibit and convention hall to observe a singular event in the long history of the affiliation of Alba and Medford. Mayor Marello and his administration had recently elected to honor the memory of former Medford Mayor John Snider by naming one of Alba’s streets, Via John Snider. This unprecedented action by the City of Alba not only recognizes Mayor Snider’s prominent role in establishing and nurturing the ties between the two cities but is a testament to the importance of the Medford-Alba connection and the breadth an depth of the friendship that it has engendered. Two of John Snider’s children were present for the ceremony, Doug Snider and Mary Ann Edelstein. Addressing the crowd that included many of John Snider’s friends gathered for the occasion, Doug Snider noted that Alba does not take the naming of streets lightly and had named its streets for significant figures in Alba’s rich history. He said that the people of Alba could take pride in telling visitors that it had named a very prominent street for a very special friend. Link


Following addresses by Mayor Marello and Consul Saiano, the crowd moved to the intersection where Via John Snider begins for the unveiling a newly minted street sign bearing its new name. Doug Snider and Mary Ann Snider Edelstein were given the privilege of pulling the cords that removed the Italian and American flags veiling the new sign. They were joined by friends who have been deeply involved in the sister city connection since its inception. Among them was Alba’s first ambassador to Medford, Pino Dutto, who is hosting the Snider family during their stay in Alba. Pino was very instrumental in having the street dedicated to John Snider. Several former mayors of Alba were present for the unveiling including Medford’s special friend Gianni Toppino. Several of the first group from Alba to visit Medford were in attendance.


Following the unveiling, an official ceremony was held in Alba’s council chambers to observe the fifty years of friendship that the two cities celebrate this year. During the ceremony, Consul Saiano remarked that, in her career in international diplomacy, she has been involved with many sister city affiliations but she has never known one as successful and as deeply rooted in personal friendships as the Medford-Alba program. Mayor Marello remarked that the connection between the two peoples was much like a brotherhood.


The day’s festivities concluded with a fabulous dinner at the nearby Castello Grinzane Cavour, the ancestral home of Italy’s first prime minister. Following an exquisite meal featuring Piedmontese cuisine and Alba’s prestigious wines, the participants gathered in front of the hilltop castle to watch fireworks exploding across the valley above the city of Alba. The fireworks marked the end of a perfect day in Alba the inauguration of the second half century of this phenomenal union of cities

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