To celebrate the 30th ANNIVERSARY OF THE TWINNING Mario Coralli wrote this article explaining the history of the Twinning agreement.
1968-1998 HELSTON-SASSO MARCONI
Written by MARIO CORALLI
by magazine "Sasso 98" Translation by Marks Stephen Howard
Mario Coralli Mayor of the Sasso Marconi from years 1965 at 1974
The Twinning between towns of different countries developed around the 1960, when the world division of two different military blocks, i.e. East countries-Warsaw pact- and west countries-NATO- arrived at an alarming state, thus intensifying the politics of rearmament, both conventional and nuclear, encouraging also the aggression or repression against the people who were looking to gain their national independence. It looked like it would result in a new world war, this time with atomic weapons.
Worried about the danger, it was decided to establish a "people diplomacy" to get over the limitations of virements diplomacy". So some friendship and Twinning among towns of different countries started.
The occasion for us presented itself at the Mondial Congress of Twinned Towns, organised by the Mondial Federation of the Twinned Towns, which raised again the right of people to establish a politic based on peace.
In this situation our Municipality, as many other towns in Bologna area, looked for a twin-town, in the name of the great scientist Guglielmo Marconi. When we came home from Aosta, we weren't completely satisfied. On that occasion 1000 municipalities were present: basically coming from Italy, France, Africa; very few from Great Britain or North Europe. We made however some contacts with the city of Stain Ville in France, near Paris, but this contact didn't have a follow-up.
Based on our willingness, we went on in our search following the instruction we found in the book by Mr. L. Solari “Marconi in privacy and at work", printed in 1940 by Mondadori.
This volume reports all the studies, triumphs and glories of G. Marconi, in the acquisition of space, so we learnt about Poldhu, Cornwall, as the place where the great scientist made important conquests.
We followed ideally the progress, which starts in Pontecchio (first experiment in 1895 with the rifle shot) to Poldhu (G.B.) where 6 years later the exceptional experiment to transmit a signal to St. John in Newfoundland took place, overcoming the problem of the earth's curve and crossing the Atlantic ocean.
We looked for Poldhu in our maps, but we could not find it. Nevertheless we didn't abandon our search: we decided to write a letter to "his Worship the Major of Poldhu - Cornwall. We thought, "There must certainly be a Mayor ". In this letter we introduce ourselves and purpose (we learned later, that this letter addressed to the Mayor of Poldhu, was immediately placed in the archives, also because it was written in Italian).
Only later it was taken into consideration. Much time later we received a letter from the Mayor of Helston Informing us that Poldhu was part of the Helston Municipality, in that city there was a small museum containing Marconi relics, and on the cliff there was a monument to remember Marconi and his experiments in 1901.
At last we had found the partner we were looking for!
We had then, more than now, some problems, difficulties, translations, authorisations, distance, transports, etc... 30 years have passed since then, today everything is easier.
A further correspondence informed the town of Helston about our willingness to create a Twinning between our two towns, in the name of peoples friendship, and in the name of Guglielmo Marconi. We received a positive answer, and an invitation to visit Helston to discuss in details the matter, and to programme the following steps.
We informed the Prefecture in Bologna about what was happening: during these years many of the proposed Twinnings were cancelled to avoid expense to the towns ("peoples diplomacy" was not very popular with governments of that period). The Prefecture accepted, by exception, because of the important meaning.
Locally an interest arose, more and more relevant. A twinning committee was formed: the Town Council decided to accept the invitation from Helston Town Council to pay them a visit on the 8th May, the day when in Cornwall the Flora Day is celebrated. I as Mayor, Mr. Betti Dino and Mr. Claudio Canova were elected members of the delegation.
We left full of excitement, following the instructions we had received from Helston: arrival at Heathrow airport in London, train from Victoria Station, departure from London-Paddington and arrival in Truro, Cornwall where someone would be waiting for us. We were aware that we had some difficulties: concerning British habits and language: none of us could speak a single word of English!
We arrived in Truro on a dark and wet night: on the platform we found none waiting for us. We set out towards the exit and met a man who opened his jacket and showed us a big gold chain complete with a gold medal (the chain was the Mayor's banner, but we didn't know that!).
The man tried to speak with us in an unknown language: we spoke Italian with the addition of some words in French, the conversation was impossible until 15-20 minutes later when two cars arrived with two people and an interpreter (Mr. Martin) speaking Latin more than Italian. We began to introduce ourselves, we got into the car and we were taken to the hotel. Another shocking impression was the cars direction: the cars went in the wrong direction in the wrong lane! the left one , and at every crossing it seemed to us that we would crash into the cars coming from the opposite direction!
It was nine thirty in the evening of the seventh of May 1968 and the interpreter requested us that the official speech be read the following day at the Flora Day party, on the 8th of May. We had to write immediately, and using block letters in order that he could understand the words and provide the immediate translation. Our speech was ready at midnight.
The following morning other novelties, the big feast of the Flora Day attended by thousands and thousands of people. This show takes place in every weather condition, even in case of driving rain. In the morning the pupils and students, at midday the youngsters and in the afternoon elderly people from the procession led by the Mayor and the band, and parade along the roads to the tune of traditional Flora Day hymn. It was an exceptional and wonderful experience, with the participation of the citizens.
At the official luncheon at midday some other novelties were waiting for us: the access to the Town Council Chamber was announced (with the blow by a pummelled stick) by the town clerk wearing a white wig. Both the Mayor of Helston and the Mayor of Sasso Marconi entered the Town Council Chamber, received by the applause of the audience: the Mayors of the Cornwall town and their wives (too wear a smaller golden chain).At the end of the official luncheon, the Mayor of Helston welcomed us, on behalf of Helston town and called upon us to speak.
On that occasion, we thanked for the hospitality and solemnly we proposed a Twinning in the name of friendship among people and in the name of the great scientist Guglielmo Marconi who linked our two towns and countries for his discoveries and his success and represented a strong cultural and historic link for our friendship. Our proposal was addressed to an interested audience who, after the translations sprang to a roaring applause I’ll never forget.
In the evening the Flora Day celebrations ended on green field, with the official exchange of gifts, and the engagement to meet again the following day to go on with the discussion, the visit of the town and Marconi places. In the morning we visited the museum and the Poldhu monument where, moved, we lay a wreath, the hotel where Marconi stayed and we defined the programme for the following day : Penzance, Land's End, Falmouth.
In the afternoon we were present at the election of two councillors: Helston Town Council is renewed yearly with the election of two councillors from four who run for the seat. At the end, both losers and winners have to make a speech from the Mayors balcony, even if no one listens to them. The town of Helston was composed of 2 cities: Helston and Porthleven. The Mayor is chosen alternatively from Helston and Porthleven, every two years.
Our proposal was accepted and we left with the pledge to prepare the solemn pact that would be signed the following year, in October during the Marconi days, with the testimony of the chairman of Foundation G. Marconi, the pact was signed in the old Town Hall of Sasso Marconi. Since then 30 years passed.
We repeated the same ceremony in 1973, in the presence of the chairman of The region of Emilia Romagna on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the Twinning, to open the new Town Hall.
The Twinning was successful and strengthened through the years in the name of Guglielmo Marconi and thanks to the willing of science, cultural and sport associations, schools, councillors, interpreters, citizens, students and particularly many mothers who received and accommodated English children (as many English mothers received Sasso Marconi Children too). They learnt the English language, got to know other children, made new friends, even if they are far from here, with different traditions that live and will maintain a deep friendship between Helston and Sasso Marconi.
I would like to thank all of you and send my thoughts also towards those who are no longer here with us, but who I’ll never forget.
The Twinning continues and will last a long time! We hope it can became even wider and include St. John in Newfoundland one day.