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On Monday, 20th September, 2010, six delegates from the Maidenhead Women’s Group for European Friendship flew to Frascati, Italy to attend the 2010 Congress of the Circle of Friendship Groups. The Congress would prove to be very much a working holiday as the six sister groups of the Circle, from Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria and England, came together to exchange ideas on many topics and above all to discuss the continuation and furtherment of our Friendship Circle in Europe.


On arriving in Frascati, we were greeted by our individual hostesses and taken to their homes in Frascati and its surroundings.  By early evening, all six  delegations of 30 delegates had arrived. That evening, a gala dinner was held at the Grand Hotel in Grottaferrata, where we enjoyed the generous warm-hearted hospitality of our Frascati hostesses and the first of many fine meals. We were soon taken back into town where our hostess bought us the largest icecream we had ever had!


A splendid banner announcing the 2010 Congress of the Women’s Circle for European Friendship hung above the entrance to Frascati’s beautiful Town Hall and it was there that all our formal meetings were to take place.  On Tuesday morning there was an Opening Ceremony with greetings from the local authority at the Town Hall and an welcome message by the Mayor of Frascati, Signor Stefano Di Tommaso of the Sindaco di Frascati.  After this, the Presidents presented their grops’ activity reports covering six years since the 2004 Congress.  This was followed by a wonderful concert given by the Piccola Orchestra Tuscolana which included relatives of our hostesses, at the Scuderie Aldobrandini entitled ‘Immagini e Musica’.


The afternoon began with a three hour working session with all nationalities represented on the Round Table discussions and  a separate  President’s table. Presidents discussed mainly official matters such as the Joint Charter for all 6 Groups, the aims of the Circle at national and international levels, communication and coordination amongst the Groups.


The Round Table groups each consisted of delegates from several national Groups and each was conducted in the one of our main languages. Talks began in earnest in English, French, Italian and German and voices were raised and lowered accordingly throughout the afternoon. They discussed the agenda produced by Frascati, under the title of “Women in a Changing World”, covering EU enlargement, new family models, integration and discrimination with regard to immigrants, and the possibility of producing a book of the Circle’s history. Michaela’s proposal that we set up a web site for the whole Circle, which will enable access to information about programmes, activities, achievements and ideas, was met with wide-spread approval from the other round tables. Other delegates also tabled some practical suggestions for increasing the contacts between Groups and furthering the aims of the Circle by increasing our knowledge of “New Europe” through visits, conferences and talks. A lot of ideas were put forward, many good and others not really relevant to our group’s future.


Over the next two days the round table talks continued in three hour sessions each day, culminating in each table producing a report of their conclusions. A presentation of the conclusions and the signing of a new Charter for our Circle  was held at the country estate ‘Borgo dell Angiola’ in Frascati, where food and refreshment was served alfresco with many members of the CFAE and other foreign ladies living in the Frascati area. We were also entertained by a local choir and two accordian players who performed pieces originating from the six Circle countries.


During our stay we also enjoyed private dinner parties and a guided tour of the Castel Sant Angelo in Rome  This originated as a tomb for the Emperor Hadrian but in time became a stronghold for the Popes, situated on the opposite bank of the river Tiber to the Vatican but linked by a covered fortified corridor to St. Peter’s Basilica. This was followed by dinner at ‘Les Etoiles’ restaurant with a panoramic view of the Vatican and Rome itself plus a stroll through the Borgo Pio.


The Frascati Group’s President, her committee and helpers had pulled out all the stops to make the Congress unforgettable including the beautiful weather! We flew home with many impressions as new friendships were formed and old ones renewed and we felt a greater determination to continue the close bonds of friendship formed with our sister groups.  The Congress was a very enjoyable experience and one which we hope will benefit our Group.


Susan Brock, Frascati 2010





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