Two mayors, two cities, tied together by the arts

Mayor Daniele Benedetti of Spoleto, Italy at a press conference Thursday, May 24. Aasimah Navlakhi/

Daniele Benedetti, mayor of Spoleto, Italy, joined Charleston Mayor Joe Riley Thursday morning at City Hall to talk about strengthening and promoting existing ties between the sister cities.

The Spoleto Festival USA originated as an offshoot of the Festival dei Due Mondi, established in 1958 by Gian Carlo Menotti and located in the town of Spoleto. The Charleston-based festival was founded by Menotti in 1977, and in the early years the two festivals overlapped a bit, sharing artists and productions.

Since 1983, Charleston and Spoleto have been designated sister cities. In 2008, six residents representing both places united to form the Spoleto-Charleston Sister City Initiative.

The initiative is designed to promote education and tourism between the two cities, said spokesman Sergio Fedelini.

At Thursday’s presentation, Riley reaffirmed Charleston’s desire to pursue a strong relationship with Spoleto.

“We plan to continue to find ways for our communities to connect,” he said.

Sarah DeSantis and Rebecca Seel are Newhouse School graduate students.