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Mon City prepares to join Italian sister

| Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013, 12:36 a.m.
Pier Luigi Milani, right, plays guitar and sings a song in Italian while Terry Necciai sings along. A reception was held for Milani at the Little City Coffee House in Monongahela on Monday, Aug. 12, 2013.

A year from now, Monongahela will celebrate its kinship with sister city Ono San Pietro.

On Monday night, a visitor from the same Italian province of Brescia was welcomed during a reception at the Little City Coffee House in Monongahela.

Pier Luigi Milani's latest visit is designed to pave the way for a visit during the celebration by Ono San Pietro Mayor Elena Broggi.

Guiseppe Domenighini, who is expected to run for mayor of Ono San Pietro when Broggi's term ends, came up with the sister city idea.

His daughter, Petra Domenighini brought a letter to Monongahela Mayor Bob Kepics last year requesting the designation. Petra Domenighini was born in Monongahela Valley Hospital Nov. 18, 1984, during a visit to the city by her family. She has dual U.S. and Italian citizenship.

Last fall, Monongahela Council approved a proclamation naming the two communities as sister cities.

A committee is being formed to plan the gala for the big event next year.

Connie Vairo Russell, who is heading the committee, said Monday that the three-day event is tentatively scheduled Aug. 22-24, 2014.

Russell said it will begin Aug. 22 with a wine and cheese party.

A parade and dedication of the sister city signs will take place Aug. 23, followed by a mini-concert and then a dinner at the Monongahela Fire Hall.

On Sunday, a Mass will be celebrated at St. Anthony Church, followed by a walk through the St. Mary section of the Monongahela Cemetery. A light lunch will be served before the Ono San Pietro contingent leaves for Italy.

A reception took place Monday night for Milani, an attorney and historian who is making his seventh visit to Monongahela since 2000. He resides in Valle Camona in the province of Brescia. He has an interest in the sister cities and is researching a book about Italian families who set roots in Monongahela.

Terry Necciai, preservation architect/architectural historian, planned the reception and invited local families. He grew up in Monongahela. His grandfather was born in Italy.

Necciai learned from an online community bulletin board in 2000 that Milani was coming to Monongahela in search of his grandfather's grave in the St. Mary section of the Monongahela Cemetery.

They have been in touch ever since.

Necciai is writing a book on Italian families that immigrated to the Valley. He said families with 70 Italian surnames came to the Valley, the majority in the Monongahela area.

He hopes to complete the book in time for the sister city celebration.

“We need photos and genealogy of these families,” Necciai said.

Necciai said a Facebook page is being created so Valley families of Italian heritage can share photos.

While Ono San Pietro has just 970 residents, it has contributed 40 surnames to Monongahela.

Monday night, Milani charmed the gathering of about 35 city residents, speaking in English with occasional help from Necciai in translating his thoughts. At times, the two friends spoke in Italian.

“Next year should be a special week for the sister cities of Monongahela and Ono San Pietro,” Milani said. “I think this occasion is a special moment to try to build a new relationship between Ono and the Monongahela.”

Milani said that in the past, contacts and visits across the ocean were occasional.

“Now, it is possible to build new friendships,” he said. “Times are ready for that.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or