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  • Writer's pictureFredericksburg-Este

Fredericksburg-Este Association Summer 2020—President’s Letter

Hello everyone!

I hope you are safe and well.

No 2020 Programs

Covid-19 has halted our Fred-Este activities, and so we as a board are agreed not to hold any events of our Fred-Este group until 2021. We are simply going to skip our 2020 year, and reboot in March 2021. As our events are mostly held in closed spaces, and many of our group are in the prime at-risk category, it seemed the wisest course.

We hope to hold our Annual Meeting in March 2021, and will communicate possible plans for that event as the new year brings new beginnings.

We are suspending dues for membership for the 2020-21 fiscal year. In February 2021, we will send reminders of 2021-22 membership dues to everyone. We hope to plan our Annual Meeting and election of new board members for March 2021. We will send out more information in the new year.

Personal note: I was in hospital (non-covid), and am just getting back on my feet, so apology for not communicating sooner.

Paola Fontana and Marcello Pistorio as Rotary Guest Speakers

On July 22, Paola and Marcello were the guest speakers via Zoom for the Rappahannock Rotary Club. They talked about Este, about their prosciutto business, and about Covid-19 in Este and Veneto. Rotarian Earl Baughman, who with wife Pat have a personal friendship with Marcello and Paola, arranged for this Zoom guest appearance.

Here are highlights: In Este, there have been 48 cases of Covid-19; 1 death; and currently, 0 cases. On 21 February in nearby Vo Euganio, a village of 3,000 about 10 km northwest of Este, the first Italian Covid-19 death occurred. As you know, the virus quickly spread throughout Italy.

At the Fontana Salamifuco business, 5 of their 11 employees were from Vo (thus quarantined there). Paola and Marcello found out that Vo was under strict quarantine via TV broadcasts, and had no direction about next steps. So Paola and Marcello were really facing difficulties. As a food supplier, their factory was considered an essential business, but they wondered if they could stay open with half of their staff in quarantine.

Veneto was at the heart of the red zone; everything was closed, and Este was a ghost town. Their business had lost 30% of its customers—restaurants, bars, hotels—so they questioned: best to close or to continue?

Their factory practices require extreme measures for sanitation, so the addition of masks and hand sanitizers and frequent temperature checks was not such a reach; they decided to continue production. They discovered a new motivation to continue the work with lower staff numbers, and learned more efficient ways to run their operations.

Their small business has numerous products: prosciutto, salami, and other sausage varieties; unlike larger facilities, which produce only one main product. In the end, that small and diversified path was the key to their business’ survival. Many customers continued their orders, and private sales also helped, so they have weathered their crisis.

As of July 22, Este is slowly opening up, though its townsfolk are still cautious about distancing and universally wearing masks.

The worst challenge, though, was to manage online schooling for their four children and quarantine in their rather small in-town apartment. Balancing their work and family life was truly a new lesson in living.

Currently, they are in Sicily, vacationing. Marcello is from Sicily, and thus they have relatives there. They are so happy that their children can be outdoors and can be in the company of their cousins.

It was wonderful to hear from them, and to know that Este survived the terrible covid-19 storm.

Annual Report

Attached please find the Annual Report. It is in PDF, and was written in early March just before the quarantine time, so the conclusion reports that the annual meeting occurred on March 19. Editing the PDF proved impossible, so please understand that non sequitur. This PDF did not translate to the new version of Publisher, so it was impossible simply to go in and edit for changes.

Our balance, after only five years of existence, stands at just over $25,000. More financial information is shared in the attached fiscal year accounting sheet.

In this Annual Report, we give tribute to the wonderful and well-loved Steve Beauch.

Nancy Acton Heyward 1944-2020

Included here is a tribute to Nancy Acton Heyward, who died on June 9, 2020.

Nancy Heyward was an active participant in the Fredericksburg-Este Association from its inception. She attended every event she could—lectures. La Befana, our free concerts, the wine tastings, and field trips when she was able. She was generous with both her time and her culinary contributions, always preparing authentic Italian contributions for our lectures, for meetings, and for our joint Sister City dinners. Nancy taught at New York University—SUNY Brockport, for many years, in Early Italian Renaissance art, and for as many years, led a group of students for summer study based in Orvieto, Umbria, Italy. Later, she worked as Education Director at Belmont, and led an adult group from Belmont on an Italian art tour. She was particularly passionate about the works of Giotto and Piero della’Francesca. We were fortunate to host Nancy as guest lecturer for our Este group on several occasions. She will be sorely missed, both for her passion about Italy and for her gracious friendship.

In the meantime, we post occasional updates on our website—if you’ve not visited in a while, might be worth a look. In addition, we post news on our Facebook page, and our Este friends also post their news there as well. Latest photos show Massimo with his motorcycle buddies and his adored Harley-Davidson ride.

Again, be safe. We will be in touch!

Kathryn Willis



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