San Michele Salentino
During the year 2010, the Xaghra Local Council initiated the friendship ties with the Comune of San Michele Salentino in Italy. This Council is responsible for the organisation of activities such as festivals, seminars and international conferences with the aim of promoting figs as one of their typical products. The Comune of San Michele Salentino possesses various researched publications about the cultivation of the fig tree, its history and its different uses.
The Xaghra Local Council came to know this Comune in Italy in October 2009 when a delegation from our council composed of the then Mayor Joe Cordina and local councilor Mary Carmen Bajada was invited to participate in the annual figs festival in Carmignano. The visit of our delegation started on the 22nd October and lasted for four days. During these days, our delegation had the opportunity to meet Dr. Vincenzo De Leonardis who is the main coordinator of this event together with various European professors who spoke during this conference. The Xaghra Local Council thought of organising a figs festival in our locality during the month of September or October.
The Xaghra Local Council joined the ficusnet network which is a network of European cities which produce figs. Therefore, the Council was listed in history as the first Maltese council which joined this network and committed itself to promote Maltese typical products.
Our Council made an official invitation to Mr. Vincenzo De Leonardis to visit Xaghra so that we can discuss the technicalities related to the organisation of this festival. Mr. De Leonardis accepted our invitation and visited Xaghra between Tuesday 20th and Thursday 22nd April 2010. The Xaghra Local Council then participated in the annual figs festival which was held in San Michele Salentino between Thursday 26th and Tuesday 31st August 2010. Our delegation was featured on an Italian television station on Saturday 28th August in the evening.
The first edition of the figs festival in Xaghra was held between Friday 24th and Sunday 26th September. This festival included an interesting exhibition about the different types of figs, an international conference about the history and different uses of figs and an exhibition of fig-made products and other typical products in Victory Square. A foreign delegation from Italy and France participate during this festival. Hon. Giovanna Debono, Ministry for Gozo, and Hon. George Pullicino, Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs, participated during the conference which was held at the ‘Dun Alwig Camilleri’ Hall in the Victory Philharmonic Society. During these days, the foreign delegation had the opportunity to visit the Basilica of the Nativity of Our Lady, Ta’ Kola Windmill, the Ggantija Temples and spent some leisure time at Ramla Bay. Moreover, the professors who were present for this festival had the opportunity to visit the officials from the Agricultural Department within the Ministry for Gozo with the aim of studying the possibility of reserving a piece of land in Gozo to cultivate exclusively the fig tree.
Between 11th and 12th April 2011, Mr. Vincenzo De Leonardis participated in the Twinning Conference organised by the Department for Local Government. In the meantime, the Xaghra Local Council made a formal request to Mr. Alessandro Torroni, the then Mayor of San Michele Salentino, to make a formal twinning agreement with our Council. Our request was accepted. The first part of the signing of the twinning agreement was held during a visit which a delegation from our council made to Italy between Thursday 25th and Wednesday 31st August 2011. The Xaghra Folk Group, led by Mrs. Josephine Azzopardi, was also present. The second part of this ceremony took place on Saturday 8th October 2011 during a commemorative evening held at ‘Dun Alwig Camilleri’ Hall in the Victory Philharmonic Society’s Band Club on the occasion of the second edition of the figs festival held in Xaghra.