The evening of Wednesday the 5th of September saw the European University Institute’s Welcome Reception, kick-starting a new academic year, and with it, the cultural and intellectual community which will call Fiesole its home.
Over 300 new EUI researchers and fellows, representatives of local organisations, and students from other Fiesole campuses were warmly welcomed to the Roman Amphitheatre for an event which Florence newcomers will remember as a truly Italian welcome.
After mingling with community societies and learning about local life, guests were treated to guided tours of the Etruscan archaeological site and its accompanying museum, before taking their seats in the amphitheatre for speeches and music at sunset.
The Secretary General of the EUI, Vincenzo Grassi, began proceedings by welcoming the students, fellows and locals to the city of Florence. Calling for newcomers to embrace the area’s “rich cultural network” with open minds, he urged them to exchange experiences and make the most of the “particular landscape” of their Tuscan countryside location. Openness and communication across borders, he argued, are more necessary tools than ever in fostering a community, despite the political insularity of recent years.
Anna Ravoni, the Mayor of Fiesole, urged the new arrivals to treat the town as their “own living room”, as fellow citizens of the local community. Speaking in Italian, with English translation provided by EUI’s Communications Service, she described the cultural ties which have been fostered in Fiesole in recent years, from friendships and scholarship to weddings between former students.
After the speeches, guests enjoyed a concert by Fiesole’s local orchestra, the Società Filarmonica Comunale di Fiesole “Giuseppe Verdi”. The orchestra played a concert of popular and movie music, from ‘Don’t Cry for me Argentina’ from the musical Evita, to Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’, inspiring much enthusiasm from the audience.
For the final hours of the evening, guests sampled the local cuisine with a buffet of Italian dishes, from pappa al pomodoro to bruschetta and panna cotta. Local wine generously provided by the Azienda Agricola Buonamici and the Fattoria di Poggiopiano drove the party into full swing, with many guests reluctantly heading for the number 7 bus only when the event ended.
EUI extends a warm welcome to its 200 new fellows and researchers, and hopes that they will have a prosperous time in Fiesole.