6th EVENT: RIETI (ITALY)
12.-14. APRIL 2019
Event title: ART AND CONNECTION
DAY 0: FRIDAY, APRIL 12 2019 – ARRIVAL DAY
All participants were accommodated at the Four Seasons Hotel in Rieti.
20:30 – DINNER AND FREE EVENING
The partners agreed on a joint dinner where we socialized and enjoyed authentic Italian food – especially pasta in many different variations. Despite the long journey, the hearty kindness of the hosts encouraged us to get to know each other and make us feel good. No one seemed to remember being tired and in good spirits we hung out into the night. In the end the friendly Four Seasons Hotel – where our hosts had arranged our accommodation – attracted us, and in the morning, the sun and the beautiful view of the square in front of the hotel awakened us completely renewed.
DAY 1: SATURDAY, APRIL 13 2019
Some members of the partner organizations arrived on Saturday, but since we started work at 10 am, they settled into the Four Seasons Hotel without difficulty and signed their presence.
After breakfast we went to the SANTA LUCIA cultural center together, where the hosts organized for us the public event “Rieti, a land of welcome and inclusion”.
Representatives of the lead partner, Anka Kolenc and Lovro Lah, welcomed all present and thanked the Italian partners for their hospitality. They gave the floor to an Italian partner, now a friend Michele, who particularly emphasized friendship, wonderful collaboration and everything we learned and experienced together this year. He then announced the lecture given by prof. Alessandro Zucconi, lecturer in “Contact Management” at the University of Rome (Faculty of Humanities) and Tourism Anthropology at the LUISS University in Rome. The professor lives in Rome, but also works in Rieti, where he is well acquainted with the situation and cultural tourism, with which he has informed us about and which relates to all our project events so far.
Alessandro first introduced himself and expressed his delight at participating in the event of Heart of Europe, HE-ART, in Rieti. He is a lecturer at the Faculty of Rome and his efforts are largely focused on exploring how tourism differs between different countries. He is also involved in tourism and tries to explain certain concepts that we encounter in tourism to people who work in tourism, and sometimes to tourists.
First, he presented the definition of a tourist, as well as the different starting points of experiences and beliefs we have as tourists. Most often we think that things have happened only to us, which, of course, is not true. The definition of a tourist came from the United Nations Convention in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1982. It defines a person who is from 12 hours to 12 months away. Given this definition, a large proportion of migrants could be defined as tourists.
The convention in Buenos Aires also assumed that tourism is the best way to prevent wars, misunderstandings and misapprehensions, as it is based on learning about the real lives of people, their culture and way of life, in different parts of the world, which is a way to understand and truly embrace diversity, a way to friendship, connection and cooperation.
In the following he presented the influence that different media have: radio, television, print on distorted facts and misconceptions, even clichés about different countries and destinations. Some countries have their own emigrant destinations, such as Italy, which has its New Italy on the US east coast. The essence of New Italy is completely different, and in the misrepresentation it mixes with European Italy, which gives rise to the false expectations of tourists.
Prof. dr. Alessandro also introduced the changes in the life of the locals when a destination becomes a tourist attraction. He presented his experience of living in Rome, where the trumps of tourists gather and it is of great value if you can live in a more peaceful environment and away from it.
Otherwise, the beginnings of tourism go a long way; in the Middle Ages, when lords travelled from one castle to another. The castles were distant, and because of the need for safe rest, they began to build outposts, hostels that provided lodging and catering services. In those early times, on the basis of various dangerous things that happened while traveling, there was also a fear that something would happen to us. This one is present to this day. A variety of agencies therefore take care of the sophisticated travel organization and the various fun events that make us forget about fear.
Prof. dr. Alessandro also introduced us to the ups and downs of tourism; elite tourism with its beginnings and mass tourism with its growth, dropping and rising again. There is also tourism that is not based on getting to know people and by its nature is not cultural tourism, such as in Dubai; tourism based primarily on profit.
Lately, the internet has a major impact on tourist visits to particular destinations. In times of general mistrust, most people trust the internet more than their friends. Many times, however, people get completely wrong information on the internet – as in other media. This is why it is especially important for guides and tourism workers to present true, real life to visitors; culture and lifestyle in their environment and in their country. Our responsibility is not to satisfy the guest with the cultural peculiarities of his environment, but to present our real life, our culture, cultural heritage and lifestyle in a way that he will be able to understand us, accept us and love us.
This is the direction of tourism development, as well as the use of experience and all the senses that we have available to live in this world.
So we really enrich people, we prevent wars with tourism, we increase the flow of capital to the country and we are ennobled in our spiritual growth.
In the following we became acquainted with Laura, who works in the field of cultural tourism in Rieti, for this purpose she founded the “Roots of the World” association with her friends, so in the continuation of the project she will connect and interact with our heart points and contribute to awareness and contribution of the tourism to the Heart of Europe and the creation of a new civic identity of Europe. Laura and her friends founded and designed a unique approach to guide tourists, presenting lively meaning to them, most notably the attitude of the local public towards particular points of heritage of their environment, while constantly monitoring tourists impressions of these experiences and interactively enriching them with additional explanations and experiences, on the basis of which feelings come to life in addition to the facts.
The president of the Comitato 10 Febbraio partner organization further explained Laura’s involvement in our project. All her energy, with the presentation of cultural heritage and cultural tourism, is fully recognized in the wonderful mission of the project Heart of Europe, HE-ART. The efforts of the “Roots of the World” association are also focused on the pulse of recognizing one’s identity, and on that basis, on the connected, common, European pulse as a large common heart.
The project meeting continued with a public event at city hall, in the beautiful, main conference room of the Municipality of Rieti – where a reception was planned with the signing of the Memorandum on the permanent and sustainable cooperation and functioning of the Heart Points of Heart of Europe, HE-ART.
The full audience was first greeted by the mayor of Rieti, Mr. Antonio Cicchetti. He said it was a great day for him today and thanked everyone who was present.
With a clear knowledge of the project Heart of Europe, HE-ART, the mayor highlighted the part of its mission that impresses him most. He believes that this is a project, which from diversity, from different identities that are between us, creates knowledge, connections, friendships and cooperation. He estimated it to be a project dedicated to the young and our future generations. It is a project that seizes the opportunity that Europe offers and builds peace; a major project that builds cooperation between European countries; a project that works against misunderstanding, injustice and dishonesty. It comes from the needs of young people and works for young people and later generations. This is a project that is against all the arguments that could defend war in Europe; it is an invitation for nations in all their diversity to start and always work together; it is a project that calls for a new European culture in which differences will be our strength and beauty – not the dividing line. Therefore, at the heart of this project, Rieti is always looking forward to welcoming everyone who wants to join. He once again thanked everyone who were with him on this great day.
The following was summarized by Dr. Michele Pigliucci. He said that by signing the Memorandum, we commemorate a one-year project work involving 8 countries, the Heart of Europe, created by the partner country Slovenia and originating from the heart of Slovenia, from GEOSS. It is not a coincidence, but the symbolic fact that the last project meeting was in Rieti, the centre of Italy. Thus our heart points will be connected with the true centres at the beginning and end.
The Heart of Europe, HE-ART project manager Anka Kolenc welcomed all those present on behalf of all Slovenian partners and expressed her deep gratitude to the host partners, Comitato 10 Febbraio and the Municipality of Rieti for both an excellent and heartfelt accommodation and as well for a well organized programme in which we have witnessed the pulse of the whole year of the project, she also expressed gratitude towards the desire for the project to continue to grow with us throughout our lives.
Lovro Lah, President of the association GEOSS and the Association Theatre Kolenc, briefly presented the project Heart of Europe, HE-ART. The presentation was supported in Italian language by dr. Michele Pigliucci.
The Association Theatre Kolenc, in collaboration with the association GEOSS, the Municipality of Litija and the Family theatre Kolenc, has been managing the project Heart of Europe, HE-ART since January 1, 2018.
The project is based on the noble mission of the center of Slovenia, GEOSS, which was created in 1981.
At the time, the GEOSS builders pledged to be guided in the creation of the heart of Slovenia by the thought taken from Zdravljica, the heartfelt poem of our greatest poet, France Prešeren, with which he toasts to all nations who wish to live in peace, harmony and connection; In 1991, after the independence of Slovenia, this part of Zdravljica became the Slovenian national anthem, which makes us, all the people, wholeheartedly builds awarness and friendly connects us on a personal, national and international level.
The project therefore stems from the mission of GEOSS, from the centre point of the heart of Slovenia. This mission was formulated already in 1981 by the leading builders of this heart: the initiator, Jože Dernovšek and the author, Peter Svetik. They wanted to create a point that, through self-discovery and self-acceptance, would ensure the connection, friendship, compassion and mutual acceptance of all people, regardless of their differences, ways of thinking, and religious and political affiliations. The international expansion of the project was conceived by Anka Kolenc in 2012 with the International day of friendship –Crow’s flight to freedom.
- Partner organizations from seven countries are involved in the project Heart of Europe, HE-ART. In addition to Slovenia, participating countries are: Italy, France, Albania, Bulgaria, Sweden, Spain and Greece
- The project is funded by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA)
- The aim of the project is international collaboration and the creation and establishment of a durable network of heart points with attributes that stem from GEOSS’s noble mission. At each of the six meetings, a heart point, such as GEOSS in Slovenia, came to life.
- Each international cultural heart point will be a creative hub where cultural events will be planned, designed, implemented and held to promote the heart and values of cultural heritage, so that acceptance of diversity, understanding, humanity, friendship and solidarity can be fostered, heart-bonding while maintaining your identity, compassion and sustainable survival on Earth – on a personal, national and international level.
- Through the Heart of Europe, HE-ART network, an example of cultural tourism will be set, establishing a pulse of the heart point that will work for the town, city, for the homeland and for international cooperation and integration. Among other things, contemporary problems of European citizenship, which are intertwined with today’s life, will be addressed.
- At the conclusion of the presentation, Lovro Lah said that for more than a year, we have been implementing a project in which we have made good and strong connections and that he feels that its power is increasing more and more. He expressed his belief that this would continue in the future.
- Before signing the Memorandum on permanent and sustainable cooperation, Daniele Sinibaldi, deputy mayor and councilor and head of the department for production activities and tourism of Rieti Municipality, also spoke for the project Heart of Europe, He-art. He sincerely thanked everyone who helped to make the project so successful to this day. The municipality of Rieti joined the project with a deep conviction that local identity awareness should be sought. The operating and administrative installation of the heart point of the Heart of Europe, He-art for Italy will be on the first floor of the municipal building. The partnership and friendship we have built this year must continue to live on. The municipality of Rieti will be happy to share or post on the Heart of Europe, HE-ART project’s website all our efforts to do so.
The head of the project Heart of Europe, HE-ART, Anka Kolenc, accompanied the introduction to the signing of the Memorandum by saying: “The Memorandum is a reminder of what we have drawn throughout the year of confrontation, growth and insights from project content that is moral, ethical and emotional. That is the decision we are making together today. In order to be able to carry it out, we will need to remain active in the future, and to work closely and be connected. Connected – also with future projects that will make our heart of Europe a reality, build upon and enhance it. The functioning of this Memorandum is the same in all languages and cultures. That is why I believe we will succeed. ”
This was followed by the signing of the Memorandum signed by authorized members of municipalities and partner organizations: Rieti Municipality, Comitato 10 Febbraio, Sandanski Municipality, EUNI partners, GEOSS Society, Kolenc Theater Society, AAIE, Lezhë Municipality, Medina del Campo Municipality, (subsequently as well the Municipality of Litija – Mayor Franci Rokavec, Association PCD – Jelka Babič, IFALL, Mata-malam and Larissa Municipality).
Before we went out for lunch, we took a picture of the representatives of the partner organizations and all present.
Lunch followed at the “Le tre porte” restaurant (“Three Doors”). There, the organizers prepared a very interesting presentation of local businesses and typical products of Rieti’s artisanal world. Before lunch, we also had a taste of the best wines, and at lunch we tasted food – both from the Sabina region. The food – especially pasta in many variations – was excellently prepared and served by CPF students.
In the late afternoon, with an authorized guide, we went for a walk around the city and experienced an unforgettable, heartfelt, interactive, expertly rich and experiential interpretation of a few points of Rieti’s cultural heritage. We took a look at some interesting city buildings, squares and typical streets of Rieti, the Flavio Vespasiano Theater, the San Rufo Square, as well as the center of Italy (“Centro d’Italia”), which the Italians call the navel of Italy.
Towards evening, we headed to the Varrone Auditorium – where we were witnessing “Community stories and integration rails.”
We first listened to the lectures of prof. Mario Polia, who is an Italian historian, anthropologist, ethnographer, archeologist, specialist in religious anthropology and history of religions. He is a professor of Anthropology at Pontifical University of Rome (Pontificia università gregoriana di Roma), Director of the Leonessa Demo-Anthropological Museum, in the city of Rieti where he currently resides, President of the Picena Traditional Studies Center. Prof. dr. Polia presented to us his discoveries and reflections on the development and meaning of identity. He believed that participation in every community life was important; good cooperation is possible only with respect for differences. The most beautiful thing we can find in Europe are the differences that are our identity, e.g. smells, fragrances, colors that we can see; finally, patterns of behavior; to the extent that these differences remain intact and can be shared, then we are heading in the right direction. Identity should not be based on exchange of views, acceptance of foreign influences, but should be maintained as it is. He expressed the hope that events such as the project Heart of Europe, HE-ART meetings would be as many as possible and we would be able to talk about connecting and imagining the future of Europe as it could be.
The next lecturer, Jean-Philippe Vaquier, economist and anthropologist, social scientist, studied at the University of Science and Technology de Lille, graduated in Modern Philosophy at Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne, with experience in the world, as well, in marketing strategies, leading projects to strengthen tourism communication and agribusiness in Italy and France. Using an anthropological approach to the product, Jean-Philippe examines the social relationship that is established with each economic reality (brand, company, place of consumption and purchase, product).
Jean-Philippe Vaquier, a tourism marketing teacher, introduced a slightly different concept of identity, which he linked to a book by French writer Fernand Braudel, entitled La Mediterranee (1949). This book is about Mediterranean identity. He considered the concept of Mario Polia to be static and the concept represented by the book to be dynamic and based on an exchange of views and to include the influence of interactions. Among other things, Jean-Philippe is involved in brand creation, so he uses a technique that incorporates a dynamic approach.
The interpretation of dynamic identity is explained in the book by historical, developmental, climatic, environmental changes that happen over a period of time and also affect the change of identity of an area, in a book e.g. Of the Mediterranean. Prof. dr. Vaquier considered both concepts to be very important, both static and dynamic, though contradictory. All phenomena should be studied in the light of both.
An indicative narrative on the integration between immigrants was given by a social worker and a representative of Caritas in Rieti, Mr. Said.
He is working on a project to help migrants and asylum seekers. He represents the Islamic community in Rieti. He spoke about integration and connecting, as he works at Caritas, but also at an organization called the United Arabs. In this organization, they are united by positive human values. They give asylum seekers the opportunity to find a job and a place in society. They are offered various workshops, career guidance, counseling and help them communicate with public institutions. Their main purpose is to help them integrate into society. In this case, we are talking about positive integration, which is promoted by preserving the values of the land of origin and linking them with the values of Italian society. Differences do not separate, but we always need to find a point that connects us.
Nabil Velenciani, who represented the second generation of immigrants from Morocco, also spoke about his experience. He was born in Rieti and is a testament to the possibility of involvement and participation in Rieti, as his parents have taught him to respect diversity and local culture. The process of integration in this city is also facilitated by a personalized administration, as the people who work there are well aware of this topic and do a good job. All of this helped make Nabil feel like an Italian citizen.
European and national identity, local identity and integration for the project Heart of Europe, HE-ART, was also investigated within the Institute of Elena Principessa di Napoli, Rieti High School.
We listened to the students present their research, which they did for the present lecture of Heart of Europe, HE-ART. The student named Pietro said that they focused on how high school students at Elena Principessa di Napoli perceive their identity and what they think of it – in relation to European identity.
A classmate Valentine continued: “When we wondered what defines our identity as Rieti residents, we first got involved in sports. Local athletes achieve very good results and we are very proud of them, they connect us. As part of the survey, we were also interested in whether students felt they belonged to the city. As it turns out, as many as 35% of students identified themselves as not exactly connected to the city. We think that one of the reasons for this situation could be the problem with urban public transport. The city of Rieti offers many opportunities for activities to its residents, but few are targeted at young people.
Public transport seems very outdated. Young people have only two lines available throughout the day, one in the morning and the other in the evening. This makes it difficult for us to be able to hang out with classmates, friends, for example in downtown. In order to increase the proportion of young people who feel a sense of belonging to the city, we suggest that youth centres should be organized, following the example of the surrounding municipalities. The young people of Rieti have no place to gather, organize group lessons, have space to socialize. We also think that youth centres that could be funded by the European Union would help reduce the proportion of students who do not feel the identity of the European Union. The survey showed that 40% of students do not feel like Europeans. Italy, however, was one of the founding countries! The European Union also promotes ideas such as freedom of decision-making, democracy, acceptance, diversity, tolerance, equality, etc.; values that we, too, strive for, and have to promote, share and realize. ”
Karla took the floor and introduced us to the class interviews:
We wondered if classmates felt accepted. We have quite a few classmates at our school who are immigrants from other countries. We asked them if they were feeling good in class and if they were accepted. They answered that they are generally feeling very well accepted, but they think that there is still a fear present, fear of diversity in the society, fear of strangers. They think that such thinking and fear of foreigners could be reduced by organizing lectures in which we would represent different cultures, and especially the countries of our minorities. We could also organize e.g. cooking courses to learn about the gastronomic specialties of these countries. As far as belonging to the European identity is concerned, we suggest organizing lectures, among which young people will learn about European projects aimed at young people. Indeed, a large proportion of students do not know all the possibilities that the EU offers them.
Karla continued with the broadcasting of the short video recordings of individual interviews. We have heard that some do not see their future within the borders of Italy and want to live and work abroad, since the European Union allows them to travel, relocate and gain employment in any European country, without the need for a work visa or similar document, this facts encourage their feeling of belonging to EU. The students feel a sense of belonging to the city of Rieti and are grateful for all the rights and opportunities that the municipality allows, such as elections. Students consider themselves as Italians, except for immigrants who feel a greater attachment to their parents’ culture than Italian one.
They also presented a student whose mother is Italian and her father is English. She feels a sense of belonging to both cultures and identifies with the culture of both nations. Living inside the European Union for students means living within a large community made up of different nations, with different languages, customs, traditions and cultures. Being Italian within the EU means being European, being free to travel around Europe and learning about other languages and cultures.
Finally, some words for the conclusion were added by the student mentor. We should really talk more about the European Community at school, research, experience. It would make sense to connect with the project Heart of Europe,HE-ART, with other schools or other institutions, in order to connect and consolidate the awareness of European Community’s identity.
Full of impressions we went to an Italian dinner as usual with pasta in different shapes and flavours, and full of impressions – we ended the evening in a pleasant socializing.
SUNDAY, APRIL 14 2019
After the breakfast, our aspiring host partners arranged transportation at Cavour Square, from where we took a guided tour of the Franciscan Sanctuary of Fonte Colombo and Sanctuary of Greccio. St. Francis of Assisi is closely connected to the city of Rieti.
Francis of Assisi was born in 1181/1182 in Assisi, Umbria, central Italy. His father, Pietro Bernardone, was a wealthy merchandiser. Mother Pica Bourlement was from Provence, France. Francis was fond of gathering rampant friends and spending his father’s fortune. Because of this, he was very popular among peers.
He really wanted to become a knight. He wanted to gain knightly honour and glory through his heroism in wars that were not lacking at the time. At the age of twenty he went to war between Assisi and Perugia but was captured and was held captive for one year. On his return home he soon became seriously ill, but later also participated in the war in Apulia, southern Italy.
Along the way, he had a mysterious dream that changed his mind and life. He traveled to Rome, devoting himself to prayer and contemplation of God’s presence, of man’s complete freedom, of his freedom in God. He realized that the path to this was life according to the gospel, so he advocated consistent fulfilment of the gospel. His life has changed a lot. He helped the poor and the sick, and his father got frightened for his fortune because Francis had been giving it away so he demanded that Francis should publicly renounce his inheritance. Francis did so and has since spent a life in poverty and in good works. He founded the Franciscan Order to encourage penance and mutual love. His simple, sincere and kind words reached people’s hearts. He had a heart full of love, so he knew how to calm down and encourage everyone. After his death he was proclaimed a saint.
The sanctuary of Fonte Colombo is located on a hill in a beautiful natural setting. The original Latin name “Fons Colombarum” was, according to some sources, as given by Francis, who saw a group of pigeons usually stop and drink at the spring. Inside the sanctuary is the Santa Maria Chapel. Here, St. Francis left a mark that he had left in many places he visited. It was discovered during restoration work.
Fonte Colombo is where St. Francis fasted in meditation for 40 days between 1222 and 1223 to write his third and final rule – the Bullata Regula, recognized by the Church as authentic. He arrived here three years before his death, having already completed his internal travel experience. Due to eye problems, he underwent very painful operations here in 1225 or early 1226. After seeing the Fonte Colombo shrine, we took a bus to the sanctuary of Greccio.
Many stories of the work and life of Francis of Assisi are connected to this built-in-the-rock sanctuary. These are stories of his modesty, his poverty that made him happy, that he was happiest when he slept on the stone …
One of the many beautiful stories is that he prepared live cribs during Christmas of 1223 in the cavern of the lonely town of Greccio. Since then, we have a habit of laying cribs around churches and homes at Christmas time. For the feast of the exaltation of the holy cross, September 14, 1224, Francis received the marks of Christ’s wounds on his hands, feet and chest, which he wore to death. Two years later, he fell ill and laid down on a hospital bed, he created a poem known in literature as the Sun Song or the Praise of Creation. He died in 1226, barely 44 years old.
The wonderful cultural heritage, imbued with art in words, images and natural beauty, deepened our understanding of the partner city Rieti. With heartfelt gratitude to the hosts, we headed out for lunch.
The lunch was followed by a brief evaluation of the 6th event and a brief overview of the work which still awaits us, which still has to be done by the end of the project period.
Representatives of the lead partners, Anka Kolenc and Lovro Lah, asked the participants in the last phase of the project to be responsive and to undertake tasks that have not yet been completed as soon as possible. We have reiterated that we will keep the honourable promise of permanent and sustainable cooperation and constantly upgrade the project Heart of Europe,HE-ART. The promise was underpinned by the magic of friendship and cooperation and numerous heartfelt embraces that ensured that the Heart of Europe would continue to flicker for future generations and, through cultural tourism, guarantee to achieve understanding, compassion, acceptance, peace, friendship and cooperation.