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Twinnings

Għajnsielem - Tolfa
The twinning negotiations started in August 2002 after a delegation from Tolfa visited Għajnsielem. An agreement between the two communities was signed a year later when a strong group of 50 Għajnselmiżi visited the beautiful town of Tolfa for the first time. The tears shed on the last day showed that a new friendship has started between the two communities.
 
The respective mayors, Francis Cauchi and Alessandro Battilocchio, were instrumental in ensuring that the twinning agreement between Għajnsielem and Tolfa was a successful one. In fact, a strong friendship exists between the Italian people and the Għajnselmiżi. Several trip exchanges take place each year in order to keep this twinning friendship between the two towns alive.
 
The story so far...
 The story started with a simple fax which Alessandro Battilocchio decided to send to the office of Għajnsielem Local Council. The fax was an invitation to discuss the proposal of twinning between the two towns. After doing some research on the Internet, and seeing that Tolfa is a beautiful town full of cultural history, Mayor Francis Cauchi immediately accepted the invitation.
 
2002
 Għajnsielem had already started talks with a Portuguese town with the aim of signing a twinning agreement but nothing was concluded. Negotiations officially started in August 2002 when Għajnsielem Council Secretary Dolindo Cassar was engaged in talks with representatives of Tolfa Council to conclude an agreement. In December of the same year, Mayor Alessandro Battilocchio, together with three Councillors, visited Għajnsielem to discuss the twinning agreement with Mayor Francis Cauchi. The delegation was simply impressed with the village of Għajnsielem.
 
2003
A few weeks later, the Għajnsielem Local Council decided to set up a twinning committee responsible for Għajnsielem’s twinning agreement with Tolfa. During the first meeting, it was decided what are the main areas where the two towns can start working together.
 
In March 2003, a delegation from the Għajnsielem Local Council started a five-day visit in Tolfa. The visit was a follow-up meeting, after a delegation from Tolfa visited Għajnsielem in December. During this visit, it was decided that Tolfa will be the first to host an exchange visit. In fact the Għajnsielem Football Club was invited to make the first visit to Tolfa in August 2003.
 
 In August 2003, the first cultural exchange trip to Tolfa was held. The tears on the last day showed that a new friendship had started between the two communities. A preliminary agreement was officially signed. Għajnsielem.com later interviewed Tolfa Mayor Alessandro Battilocchio for his comments regarding this first cultural exchange trip.
 
Mayor Alessandro Battilocchio visited Għajnsielem for the second time a few weeks later and this time he was welcomed by many Għajnselmiżi who had met him during the exchange visit to Tolfa. He was also present for the Miss Malta preliminary contest. In the meantime, the twinning committee held a series of meetings to prepare for a strong delegation of 125 people who were expected to visit Għajnsielem in August 2004. The hosting family preparations was at the top of the agenda
 
2004
 A provisional programme of activities was announced in March 2004. It was also announced that the Tolfa delegation would be coming during the last week of August - the week dedicated to Our Lady of Loreto.
In May, thirteen students from the Għajnsielem primary school were in Tolfa for a six-day cultural exchange visit. Mayor Francis Cauchi later told Għajnsielem.com that the main aim behind this visit was for students to share their experiences with each other, make new friends and learn about each other's culture.
A 140-strong Tolfa delegation arrived in Malta over three different flights, after which they were transported to Ċirkewwa to catch a ferry to l-Imġarr. And one week later as the ferry left its berth, a last salute of car horns was given, closing one chapter of the Għajnsielem-Tolfa twinning, but preparing for a multitude of stories that are to follow.
 
2005
 The twinning committee announced that the second cultural trip to Tolfa will take place during the first or second week of August. This time, the visit to Tolfa was going to be in the form of a youth exchange thus focussing on youths aged 25 years and under.
 
Between 7 and 14 August, a group of 70 Għajnselmiżi spent a truly memorable week in Tolfa (Italy). This was the second time that an Għajnsielem delegation visited this beautiful Italian locality. And as Tolfa Mayor Alessandro Battilocchio said "This trip is only the start of a new beginning". Għajnsielem.com has prepared a special photo gallery.
 
2006
 It was announced that the Choir of Tolfa, well known in the Lazio Region for its performances, will be visiting Għajnsielem in February.
 
The weekend of 24-27 February was characterised by rain, cold and wind. Yet despite the inclement weather, the festivities prepared by the Għajnsielem Local Council in honour of a visiting delegation from Tolfa went ahead. The Tolfa Choir was involved in several cultural activities organised by the Comune di Tolfa in collaboration with the Għajnsielem Local Council and the Lauretana Choir.
 
2007
In May, the Għajnsielem Local Council organised the second cultural visit in Tolfa, Italy for the Year 6 primary school students. This trip was made possible thanks to the European Union Student Exchange Programme. The children were accompanied by Mayor Francis Cauchi, Miss Pauline Grech (Head of School), Mrs Sylvana Agius (Year 6 teacher) and their parents. The Hon. Minister for Education Louis Galea was also invited as a special guest of the Għajnsielem Local Council. He was impressed by the friendship of the people of Tolfa.
 A group of 55 residents from Tolfa came for the feast of Our Lady of Loreto. During their stay, the twinning agreement between Tolfa and Għajnsielem was renewed in order to continue to build on the already good relations which exist between the two communities. Check out our special section covering all the activities that were organised for them.
 
 In September of the same year, the St Joseph Band Club organised an eight-day grand-tour around the main cities of Italy. Tolfa was one of the locations visited.
 
2008
 On 25 July, Mayor Francis Cauchi gave a presentation about the success story of the twinning between Għajnsielem and Tolfa emphasizing that, although the agreement was signed in 2003, the relationship between the two communities is still alive. The presentation was held during a meeting between the college of Local Councils led by Parliamentary Secretary Chris Said.
 
On 9 October, a delegation from Tolfa of around 20 primary school students accompanied by their parents spent a 5-day cultural exchange visit in Għajnsielem. The main aim behind this visit was for the students to share experiences with each other, make new friends and learn about each other's culture. The group was once again led by Tolfa Mayor Dr Alessandro Battilocchio. The children took part in several extracurricular activities and also visited Għajnsielem Primary School where they took part in an activity which was attended by several distinctive guests including the Speaker of the House Dr. Louis Galea, Gozo Minister Hon. Giovanna Debono, the Italian Ambassador to Malta H.E. Dr Paolo Andrea Trabalza and Gozo Bishop Mgr. Mario Grech. During this event, Għajnsielem Mayor Francis Cauchi and his Italian counterpart Mayor Alessandro Battilocchio exchanged gifts for the occasion.
 
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