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Index of documents > Euromeetings Magazine > Euromeetings Number 21



XXII Euromeeting in Tuscany

The XXII Euromeeting of the European Association of Retirees of Savings Banks took place this year once again in Italy. After going to Sicily and Sardinia, Tuscany gave us a warm welcome. We spent an enjoyable week in the Val d’Orcia and we stayed in the hotel Grand Admiral Palace in Chianciano Terme. The freshly prepared dishes were delicious (my acknowledgements to the cooks), the hotel staff was pleasant and courteous. The first class atmosphere met, once again, our expectations.
The issue discussed in our Euromeeting was:
-    How can we make sure the “Silver Economy” ensures the correct implication of the retirees?

The representatives of Portugal, Italy, France, Spain and Germany intervened on this issue during the annual General Assembly and we exchanged our impressions during intense debates. The result and conclusions of these negotiations will be sent to the AGE platform in Brussels by the directive board. The Italian speaker Dr. Francesco Chitollina surprised all of us with his interesting intervention. His explanations reflected the constant vicissitudes of the history of Europe, marked by crises and progress. The objective was the unification of the European states. Unfortunately, the community is still at stake of falling apart.

Our vice President, Mr Jean Claude Chrétien has left, to our regret, his charge. We thank him for his engagement during all these years and we wish him all the best. We wish his successor, Mr Michel Pageault, good luck in the various duties in the future.

The excellent planning and organisation of the directive board and also of the travel agency “Viajes Transvia” set the bar very high as far as the diversity of the touristic programme is concerned. We did not only get to discover Tuscany with its pine woods, its vineyards and its hilly landscapes, we also had a trip to Umbria, the green heart of Italy.

Our first trip took us to Siena. We visited the Piazza del Campo where the most moving Palios di Siena, the horse races, took place; the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption decorated in an exquisite way; and the Town Hall.

On the third day we visited Florence, the cultural capital of Tuscany divided by the river Arno. Having crossed the Ponte Vecchio, we got to the historic centre discovering the Pizza del Duomo and its gothic cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, its bell tower and baptistery. The facades of the buildings were decorated by different coloured plates of marble. The baptistery is the oldest temple of the city, it has a great value because of its portals representing scenes of the Old Testament. David of Michelangelo, with its oversized proportions, found next to the main entrance of the Palazzo Vecchio, is a well appreciated photographic attraction.

In the small Renaissance cities of Pienza and Montepulciano, we enjoyed a more relaxed day. We walked through the old town of Pienza and bought the well-known Pecorino sheep’s cheese and in Montepulciano, we took the steep alleys in the pedestrian zone, with its uncountable wine shops of Cantina Ercolani in which, after a guided tour, we tasted the refined Vino Nobile and its delicious varieties of cold meat and cheese.

In Umbria, the Trasimeno Lake lays perfectly between the mountains of the Apeninos. We climed up to the village of Castiglione del Lago in the mountain, discovering its medieval fortress and enjoying the beautiful views of the lake during a long walk in the old fishermen town of Passignano. Our ascent to the old centre of Perugia was a lot easier thanks to the escalators. These escalators went through an underground suburb which was buried after the subordination of Perugia in 1540 to Pope Paul III. The highest part of the city also surprised us with its cultural monuments, the Etruscan Arch, the Maggiore Fountain and the Saint Lorenzo Cathedral.

After having an excellent meal in the restaurant “Posta dei Donini”, located in a historic residence in the outskirts of Perugia, we went along, with our batteries charged, to Assisi, birth place of Saint Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order, and of Saint Clare, founder of the Saint Clare Order. The medieval style of the city and parts of the basilica were seriously damaged by the earthquake of 1997 and valuable frescoes and paintings of Giotto were destroyed. After being restored, the cycle composed of 28 frescoes, in which the life of Saint Francis is told, is considered as one of the greatest work of art of Italy.

We got to Orvieto with the cable car or “funicolare”.  We visited the ruins of the well of Saint Patrick, found next to the Etruscan ruins of the fortress and we were surprised by the gothic cathedral because of its facade decorated with precious motifs showing scenes going from the book of Genesis to the day of the Last Judgement.

We were all fascinated and greatly impressed by the vibrant tradition and ancient culture of Italy. We will return to Germany with a lot of beautiful memories.

The German delegation thanks all of the organisers. We say “Arrivederci” and “Até logo” till next year with our Portuguese friends as our hosts in Oporto.

Christa Saia

P.S: The terrible earthquake in Italy and the pain of its inhabitants has deeply moved us. We wish the Italians a lot of strength and courage and may God bless them in the future.