Sister City Helps Revive Tradition

Sant’Elia Fiumerapido, Italy is a picturesque town in the Roman countryside with a long culinary history. It was known to provide much of the olive oil for the Roman Empire and olive harvesting is an integral part of the town’s identity and tradition. In recent years, with changes in the local economy, Sant’Elia’s famed olive trees are being threatened. Sister city Santa Monica, California is now playing a role in helping revive its rich culinary tradition. Every year, residents of Santa Monica travel for a week to the olive fields of Sant’Elia and take part in local olive harvesting, learn about how extra virgin olive oil is made at the local olive mills, and take multi-course Italian cooking classes.

Since the program began in 2009, hundreds of Santa Monicans have traveled to Sant’Elia, absorbing local culture and creating awareness. “The visit is an amazing cultural learning experience for us. And we hope to create jobs for the young people of this town,” says Liza Salvatore, Vice President for Santa Monica Sister City Association’s (SMSCA) Italy programs. Due to the recent economic downturn, unemployment among youth in Sant’Elia exceeds 30 percent.

SMSCA is currently also working with Cultural Anthropologist Charmaine Kaimikaua, PhD to research the tradition, preservation, and promotion of Sant’Elia’s tradition. To join SMSCA in their interesting program this year from November 3-9, email Ms. Salvatore at [email protected].