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City to host Italian visitors

Suffolk will host an official delegation of 19 Italians from its sister city of Oderzo this month.

The visitors will arrive on Aug. 16. They have a packed schedule through Aug. 20, when they will depart for Pennsylvania, spending a few days there before flying home on Aug. 24.

Oderzo is one of Suffolk’s sister cities because it was the hometown of Amedeo Obici, Planters Peanuts founder and Suffolk benefactor who lived here for many years and established the hospital in his wife’s name.

“It’s really important, because it shows them what our culture’s like and how we live in the United States, and how we continue to keep Amedeo Obici’s memory alive and well through keeping the Obici House restored and the Obici Healthcare Foundation,” said Susan Blair, a member of Suffolk Sister Cities. “They’re very interested in him. He’s their hometown hero.”

This is the third delegation since 2005 that has visited Suffolk. Groups from Suffolk also have visited Oderzo several times, most recently in September 2011.

“When we go over there, we get to see their culture,” Blair said, adding they also show off Obici’s childhood home, the hospital he founded there and the high school that bears his name.

The itinerary for this visit is busier than most. The group — only six of whom have visited Suffolk before — will have a Friday morning tour of the Planters Peanuts facility, walk around downtown and visit the Obici Healthcare Foundation, train station and Riddick’s Folly.

That night, they will be the guests of honor at a welcome dinner at the Suffolk Visitor Center Pavilion.

On Saturday, they will visit the Nansemond Indian Tribe’s annual powwow, then head to Norfolk for the American Rover Harbor Cruise. They will wrap up the night with a dinner at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.

That Sunday, the visitors will be able to spend the days with their host families. That evening, they will be hosted by Mayor Linda T. Johnson at the Obici House, the restored home of Obici now located on Sleepy Hole Golf Course in North Suffolk.

On Monday, they will depart for Charlottesville and tour Monticello and the Barboursville Winery. The group then will head for Washington, D.C., and have an evening tour of the monuments. The next day, they will take a driving tour of the capital before getting on the train to Pennsylvania, where Obici lived before coming to Suffolk.

“We do everything possible to make their stay here as special as our stay there was,” Blair said. “It’s important to have that type of enthusiasm. It really gets exciting.”

For more information on the Sister Cities program, visit www.suffolkva.us/SisterCities.