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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Students from Cagli, Italy a vanguard for Spokane’s sixth Sister City designation

Cagli is a small town in the Marche region of Italy, about 150 miles north of Rome and 30 miles inland from the Adriatic Sea.

For the past 12 years, some Gonzaga University students have spent summers there learning the language, meeting the people and taking courses in the medieval town.

This summer, the flow of students will reverse a bit, as 10 Cagliese students will visit Spokane for three weeks, from July 23 to Aug. 13. For all but one, it is their first trip to the United States.

The visit is just one part of the upcoming designation of Cagli as an International Sister City with Spokane. Following the student group, another Italian delegation will visit the city in October when Spokane Mayor David Condon and Cagli Mayor Sindaco Alessandri will hold a formal signing ceremony recognizing the sister city status.

The ceremony will coincide with the Order of the Sons of Italy grand council meeting in Spokane and will be part of the local American Italian Club’s 50th anniversary.

Tagliatesta Ramona has only dreamed of traveling, and she can’t wait.

“I’ve never been abroad before, but I can’t wait to travel the world,” Ramona wrote in an email. “It’s my biggest dream and I hope that Spokane will be just the beginning of a long trip.”

Ramona, like her fellow student visitors, is filled with images of what Spokane might hold. She imagines Spokane to have “lots of green parks with high trees and under their shadows, people having picnic, running and drooling dogs, children playing volleyball, wonderful lakes and fountains, singing birds.”

Alessia Barzotti called the upcoming trip an “impossible dream.”

Barzotti said Spokane and Cagli would make good sister cities because they share many characteristics, including rivers, mountains and a population with a penchant for winter sports. She, like many of the Italian students, expected to attend at least one barbeque.

“You enjoy baseball and basketball and surely savor a good burger,” she wrote.

Cagli will be the sixth sister city for Spokane, following Nishinomiya, Japan; Jilin City, China; Limerick, Ireland; Jecheon, Korea; and San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The idea for international sister cities began with President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, when he laid out a vision of cooperating cities fostering peace and prosperity around the world.

For Cagli, it’s a long time coming. Gonzaga has been taking students to the town since 2004, and plans to keep the relationship between the towns going.

John Caputo, the Gonzaga professor who heads up the Cagli Project through the university’s communications and leadership studies department, said though the sister city project is now larger than his program, the university remains “at the heart of the initiative.”

“We have come a long way in carefully crafting the development of a long term relationship between our two communities,” Caputo said. “This has all been done as part of our tradition and the COML department’s attempt at global outreach, and sister city status makes the paths to continue this growth and expand the relationships outside the university as well.”

But for now, it’s about the Italian students travelling halfway across the world to experience a new culture.

Eleonora Pantaleoni is excited to see how Americans live, and learn some American history.

“In Spokane I hope to see all the landscape of this country, meet American people of my own age, do shopping, improve my English and learn something about this culture,” Pantaleoni said in an email. “We were told to have lots of trips and excursions, I’m looking forward to come in Spokane and have fun!”

This story has been changed to correct Tagliatesta Ramona’s name.
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