Official from Italian village helps solidify 'Sister City' bond

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For a second time within four weeks, there was an interesting international Italian meeting inside Johnston Town Hall.

In mid July, Amedeo DeCotiis, the former assistant mayor from Panni Foggia in Italy who now serves as that region’s vice council, visited Polisena and rekindled the unique “Sister City Agreement” that began three yeas ago between Johnston and the small Italian village.

On Monday, Polisena welcomed Danida Mansolillo – the new vice mayor of Panni Foggia – and Johnstonians Arthur and Giovanna Mansolillo-Venditelli who have been hosting their beloved niece who came to Rhode Island on a two-fold mission. She is here to continue the “Sister City” accord and take a vacation that included visits to various parts of Rhode Island including Sunday when she took in the Newport International Boat Show.

Also on hand Monday was Joseph Spremulli, the sage and president of the Pannese Society that initiated the “Sister City Agreement” which was signed into law in 2015 by Polisena and Panni Mayor Pasquale Ciruolo during a ceremony before 300 people at the Johnston Senior Center.

Likewise, Pannese Society members Lou Mansolillo – who led a delegation of Johnston High school students to Italy last year – and David Venditelli were part of Monday’s meeting that was strictly of a social nature with brief chats about possible future exchanges concerning tourism, culture and student visits.

Although the Panni Vice Mayor is not related to Mansolillo, David Venditelli is her cousin and a proud and highly-active member of the unique Pannese Society.

Born in Foggia in 1993, Danida has lived all her life in the Italian village. She graduated from Liceo Poerio where she majored in Educational Psychology. In 2012, she was elected a councilwoman and served in that position until 2016 when at the age of 23 she was appointed alderwoman responsible for social issues and setting policies for the town.

Just last year she won the plurality of votes cast in the mayoral election in Panni being elected on the ticket with the current Mayor Ciruolo and coming in first on his support list.

“In her role as Vice Mayor of Panni, Danida assumes the ‘general powers of representation’ and is visiting us here in Johnston in that capacity,” Louis Mansolillo explained during Monday’s meeting. “To her credit, she is the youngest individual to have served in this position and she is only the second female to be in this position.”

He suddenly paused then mused, as a wide smile appeared on his face: “The first female to hold the post was back in 1946. We congratulate Danida and appreciate her visiting us to strengthen and continue the Sister City relationship between Panni, Foggia and Johnston.”

The Panni Vice Mayor was also a special guest at the Rhode Island State House this week and honored during a “Meet and Greet” by the Pannese Society at a special reception held at the Young Pannese Society in Silver Lake.

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