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FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions:

How did Medford and Alba become sister cities?

The Medford-Alba link established in 1960 was one of the earliest such unions and was indeed unique. While many American cities were pairing up with Pacific Rim cities with the intent of promoting commerce, Medford’s mayor, John Snider, took a very different approach.  Tasked with choosing which foreign city among several candidates would be Medford’s partner, he based his choice on factors that he believed would lead to deep and lasting bonds between the two communities and promote personal and family friendships which would become the heart of the union.  Alba and Medford shared some essential traits.  Both cities had nearly the same population and both were the centers of flourishing agricultural regions.  Both cities enjoyed remarkably similar temperate climates due to their proximity to the sea.  The two cities were similarly located in large river valleys surrounded by scenic foothills and the mountains beyond them.  Their differences in language, culture and history were not barriers but gifts that they would come to share and appreciate.  The city councils of both cities agreed with the pairing and Medford and Alba were officially sister cities. 

How can I get involved with the Medford-Alba Sister City Program?

The special connection between Medford and Alba is something that belongs to the people of both cities. It is not a club. It is not an ethnic organization. It is a wonderful way for people of two different countries and cultures to share the best they have and to foster understanding among the world’s citizens. The student exchange program offers students from both cities the life changing experience of world travel in the setting of host families and friends. Medford is looking for even more ways to involve more people in this bridge across the globe. When visitors from Alba are in our community, Medford has public events to welcome them and introduce them to their sister citizens.

What activities and programs does the Medford-Alba Sister City Association conduct?

The Medford-Alba Sister City Association has participated in bi-annual student exchanges since 1985. It sponsors and facilitates outbound exchanges of local high school juniors and seniors and arrange host families and activities for the incoming students from Alba.  (Note: This site is not connected in any way with the Medford Alba Sister City Association.)

What' so special about Alba?

  • Alba, originally called Alba Pompeia by the Romans, was the birthplace of Emperor Elvio Pertinace (Pertinax).  Pertinace, also known as the original Elvis, ascended to the throne in 193 A.D.  Because he was intent on reforming a very corrupt system, he was assassinated after only a few months in office.  He is believed by many to be the inspiration for the character Maximus in the movie, “Gladiator”.

  • Alba was a center of the resistance against the Nazi occupation during World War II.  It declared itself to be the “Free Republic of Alba” and withstood a fierce German siege and bombardment for twenty three days.  Arterial shells were fired into Alba from the nearby hilltop village of Santa Vittoria, the town that was the subject of the film, “The Secret of Santa Vittoria”. Following the war, the city was awarded the Gold Medal of Military Valor by the Italian government for its heroic stand against the German occupiers.  One of the partisans, Beppe Fenoglio, chronicled his experiences in the resistance and became one of Italy’s most heralded novelists.  His daughter has been a frequent participant in sister city events.

  •  Alba is home to Ferrero SpA, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of chocolates and confectionery products.  Noted for its Nutella and TicTac brands, Ferrero was named the Most Reputable Company in the World in the 2009 survey by the Reputation Institute.  Billionaire owner Michele Ferrero is now Italy’s richest man.  The Ferrero family got the enterprise started during World War II creating products that substituted hazelnuts for cocoa that was at that time a very scarce commodity.  The Ferrero Foundation is one of Alba’s greatest civic benefactors and members of the Ferrero family have been actively involved in Alba’s sister city program.

  • Alba is famous for its White Truffle of Alba, a pungent subterranean fungus used for seasoning that is unique to the countryside around Alba.  Truffles have commanded prices as high as $4,000 per pound.  The highest price ever paid for one of these prized delicacies was $330,000 in 2007.  In Italy, they are found by highly trained dogs who locate them underground near oak and hazelnut trees.  Every October Alba holds the Fiera Nazionale del Tartufo Bianco d’Alba, an internationally acclaimed festival celebrating the annual truffle harvest.

  • Alba is the geographic and cultural center of one of Europe’s most prestigious wine producing regions.  Barolo and Barbaresco are two of the most sought after premium wines made from the Nebbiolo grape. The zones where these two distinguished wines can be produced are very tightly defined and the regulations for vinification of Barolo and Barbareso are some of the most stringent in the world. Wine making in Alba and the surrounding hills of the Langhe dates back to Roman times when the region provided wines for the empire’s most privileged citizens.  Today Alba and its surrounds have become a Mecca for wine loving tourists from all parts of the world who come to enjoy its wines with its equally delicious cuisine.

  • Alba has been at the crossroads of history.  Its original inhabitants were neolithic tribes who hunted and practiced agriculture along the banks of the Cherasco River.  It has successively been under the control of the Roman Empire and several European dynasties.  Among Alba’s least welcomed visitors were the Gallic invaders from the north, Lombards, Burgundians and Franks who arrived after the fall of the Roman Empire.  Napoleon Bonaparte arrogantly quartered his horses in the city’s cathedral. Hannibal is believed to have camped near Alba after crossing the Alps in 218 B.C.  The architecture and archaeological sites in and around Alba attest to its rich history. The local dialect is flavored with French words and pronunciations and the local cuisine is heavily influenced by its French roots.

  • Camillo Benso the Count of Cavour was Italy's first prime minister and had held several   high offices before the unification of Italy.  He had been the mayor of the town of Grinzane a few miles from Alba.  Today the Castle of Grinzane Cavour is a noted center for wine and food.  Its grounds are graced by a stand of Douglas firs donated by citizens of Medford.