BIG FLATS, N.Y. (WENY) -- This morning, at the crack of dawn, the Corning San-Giovanni Sister Cities Association sent a group to visit San Giovanni Valdarno in Italy. Two high school students, two teachers, superintendent Michelle Caulfield, Corning Mayor Bill Boland, his wife Sue, and friends lifted off from the Elmira-Corning Regional Airport at 6:30 a.m. to visit the Sister City. 

“This is amazing,” Mayor Boland said. “We’ve got a great group of people and I know the Italians are waiting for us with a great program for 10 full days...we couldn’t be happier.” 

Mayor Boland is one of the lucky people taking the trip to see old friends. The trip is a long time coming. The group was set to travel in 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic put a wrench on plans. Now, they are on their way, along with a few Corning-Painted Post Area School District students.  

“Our students get to go and live and see what it’s like to live in another county,” Caulfield said. “I’m excited...this is my first time joining the Sister Cities.” 

A few CPP students and staff members are getting an opportunity to create a partnership with a new school in Italy on the trip. Caulfield said the students will get a once-in-a-lifetime chance to fully immerse themselves with friends in San Giovanni Valdarno.  

“Like, how often do you get to go on a trip and actually live with a family and experience what they experience every day,” she said.  

During the trip, people from Corning will be able to recreate the signing of the Sister Cities agreement between city mayors. It is a special union that happened to take place when Italian friends visited New York during June of 2023. 

“That’s an agreement that was established formally the relationship between our two cities and an ongoing desire to be twined with each other,” Mayor Boland said. 

Now, they are flying off. 

“I learned a new phrase in writing,” Caulfield said. “I haven’t learned how to say it yet but ‘to travel is to live,’ and really...I’m just excited for our students to be able to do that.” 

Everyone will be flying back home on February 25th.