Italian consul pitches ski town as a potential Aspen sister city |

Italian consul pitches ski town as a potential Aspen sister city

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – Abetone, a ski town in the Italian region of Tuscany, wants to become part of Aspen’s international family.

On Tuesday, Alessandro Motta, the consulate general for Italy representing Colorado and the Midwest, pitched Abetone as a good fit for the Aspen Sister Cities program. He told the organization’s board members about Abetone’s status as a world-class ski resort, its close proximity to other Italian places of interest such as Florence and recent investment in high-speed lifts, a gondola, restaurants and nightlife.

Motta said this week’s visit marks his second trip to Aspen in a year in order to discuss the possibility of including Abetone in the program. Abetone has been working for many months to meet the criteria for the program, forming its own Sister Cities committee and lining up sponsors to help fund its projects, he said.

“This would be an agreement not just about sports and skiing, but culture and education,” Motta said. “Kids will be the most important, the fundamental part of the exchange. This is an occasion for kids to open their mind to new experiences and get into contact with a new world and a new language with people their own age.”

A primary project of Aspen Sister Cities involves the exchange of middle-school students between Aspen and its sisters. Six spots around the globe are linked to Aspen through Aspen Sister Cities. They are: San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina; Chamonix, France; Davos, Switzerland; Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany; Queenstown, New Zealand; and Shimmukappu, Japan.

Motta said Abetone is targeting Aspen for several reasons. Unlike many other ski destinations in Colorado that are lifeless during the offseasons, Aspen has the feel of a real community and enjoys thousands of full-time, year-round residents, he said.

During World War II, he said, partisans from Abetone and other surrounding villages fought the Nazis alongside the famed 10th Mountain Division, the U.S. Army unit that formed at Camp Hale near Leadville.

He also pointed out that Aspen has Sister Cities agreements with all European countries that feature alpine skiiing except Italy. The board did not rule on Abetone’s application, but Sister Cities President John Sheeley said he would like to make a decision within a month.

Abetone is small, with about 800 residents and less than 32 square miles of land. Its name means “large fir,” and it was created in the early 18th century to serve as a link along a new road connecting two other locales. It is the birthplace of Zeno Colo, one of the greatest Italian skiers in history. Colo won two gold medals at the 1950 World Championships in Aspen.

Motta said he has gotten to ski all four of Aspen’s ski areas on his current trip, and he finds the snow conditions favorable.

“Everyone is complaining about the snow,” he said. “I think it’s great. Everything is relative.”

In other business Tuesday, Sister Cities board members met several exchange students from Shimmukappu.

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