The project was funded with the support of the European Union under
the Programme "Europe for Citizens"
Applicable to the Strand 2 – Measure 2.1 "Town-Twinning”
Enhancing a Collaboration on The Future of Europe
Ħad-Dingli Local Council (Malta) & Comune di Monte Isola (Italy)
The project involved 160 citizens, notably 80 participants from the city of Ħad-Dingli Malta and 80 participants
from the city of Monte Isola Italy. We had a mix of participants, with ages ranging from 4 years to the eldest aged
at 77. The participants had different backgrounds, having a mixture of students, employees, employers and
pensioners. The participants included:
- Academics, teachers and librarians;
- Self-employed, including architect, lawyers, auditors and tradesman;
- Farmers and gardeners;
- Representatives from NGOs;
- Pensioners (to share their past experiences);
- School children;
- Persons with disability; and
- Other persons active in the community.
The event took place in Monte Isola (Italy) from 22/03/2019 to 26/03/2019.
This town twinning project brought together the citizens of two European localities of Ħad-Dingli and Monte Isola.
This engagement of 160 participants from Malta and Italy was a follow-up of the signing of a twinning agreement
between the two localities which took place few weeks before this activity. The main topic discussed during the
meetings was ‘The Future of Europe’ and building sustainable tourism models. Throughout their history, both
localities have been positively affected, mainly in economic terms, but have also been negatively affected, mainly
in terms of the environment. These environmental burdens are affecting most of the small tourist municipalities
across Europe who have limited capacity to deal with these pressures. The four-day programme involved a
number of debates, discussions, workshops, visits and presentations on:
- Solidarity amongst European citizens;
- The EU’s environmental policy;
- Multi-culturalism in local communities; and
- The involvement of local business in the tourism industry.
Through this town-twinning project, we reached the following objectives:
✓ Instil a sense of European solidarity amongst EU citizens;
✓ Engage in debates on differing views with regards to the Future of Europe;
✓ Find common solutions to the pressures being put on small communities by tourism; and
✓ Exchange of best practices on sustainable tourism and the effected EU policy areas.
5 Common Themes
This Town twinning was based on five common themes shared between the two Localities of Ħad-Dingli and
Monte Isola as follows:
In Monte Isola you can taste traditional dishes such as Salami and the famous “fish in oil” which are very
appreciated by tourists. Another important tradition is the production of extra virgin olive which is made by local
farmers and then sold on the market. In Ħad-Dingli various farmers cultivate olive trees to harvest and then produce
oil. Traditional Maltese dishes use olive oil as their base such as with traditional Maltese rabbit, bread and tuna.
First preference is given to agricultural products available in the area according to the season. This will eventually
help the surrounding farmers and make the users aware of our rich local produce. The habit of using wild edible
plants is still alive in Ħad-Dingli. Farmers have also cultivated chili and fruit making delicious pastes and jams.
We have identified various areas which can be further explored by both Ħad-Dingli and Monte Isola, including the
exchange of local recipes, innovations in jam making, wine making, exchange of knowledge on how to use wild
flora in dishes, the art of food and the creative process of cooking.
Gastronomy and gastronomic tourism can be the engine with potential to mobilise other sectors and resources,
to contribute to villages’ overall experience and increase their attractiveness. During our stay in Monte Isola a
traditional night was set up to highlight the main dishes.
Monte Isola has always been a special place for the artisan production of boats and nets. Ħad-Dingli is also a hub
of agricultural traditions. Festivals held throughout the year showcase reed making, cotton making, pottery
traditions, as well as music and drama traditions. A workshop was done focusing on this sector and it provided
amazing opportunity for residents from both localities to exchange knowledge of the traditions passed on from
fathers/mothers to daughters and sons throughout the years, as well as encourage new collaborations.
The hospitality sector promotes entrepreneurship, SMEs development and employment as an engine for the
development of the locality. Around 1/3 of the tourists who visit Malta come to Ħad-Dingli to visit the Cliffs, which
are a natural asset. However, the Council strives to enhance the touristic experience, also through maps, trails,
videos as well as Apps which aid to make Visit Dingli a wonderful and unique experience. Festivals are also
organised to attract more tourists to the locality, such as the Agrarian Festival held in April/May.
There was a workshop where further collaboration between the two localities could help both Ħad-Dingli and
Monte Isola in extending the tourism campaigns but also learn how a Tourist office functions especially since we
would like to open such an office in Ħad-Dingli. This workshop provided an opportunity to exchange knowledge
on tourism attraction techniques which are used by both localities.
During the workshops, we also discussed the idea of a possible collaboration concerns training of young people
in the tourism sector, as well as SMEs directly impacted by touristic activity.
Both Monte Isola and Ħad-Dingli educational facilities discussed on how to communicate, collaborate, and
develop projects in the educational field. One of the possible future projects identified during the meetings included
a sensory project which the primary school can embark on, as well as parent-child reading sessions. Other
discussed educational programmes included the exchange of youths from both localities and an educational
tourism initiative, which includes training for youths in the tourism sector to enrich the hospitality sector, engage
in better communication skills and adopt more practical tourism management skills.
Ħad-Dingli has a very strong local community with vibrant and well-functioning local organisations: music
societies, drama, Scouts, Girl Guides, football associations and church/feast committees. An exchange with the
local communities was discussed and this could provide an opportunity to build long-term partnerships, civic
responsibility as well as exchange of practices used in the different organisations. The sport facilities existent in
Ħad-Dingli and Monte Isola could greatly benefit from such a collaboration. Children and youths may also explore
new sport facilities which may not be available in the localities.
Type of Activities
During the four days programme, the participants had the opportunity to engage in a number of different activities,
including debates, workshops, visits and discussions focused on the common theme of sustainable tourism and
the programme’s priority, ‘debating the future of Europe and challenging Euroscepticism’. Through the debates
and small workshops, the participants were able to identify common difficulties that they face related to the above
mentioned themes and how to tackle such difficulties. They also shared best practices and other good examples
how different citizens can contribute towards a more sustainable tourism and also a better future in Europe. The
participation of different persons from different aspects of life and different social and educational background has
enriched the discussions among all participants.
The activities have fostered a sense of solidarity amongst the participants also through informal activities held
throughout the visit at Monte Isola. The visits have given a space for the Maltese and Italian participants to ask,
share and learn new aspects, especially those related to sustainable tourism.
Engagement of Participants
It is to be noted that all participants were given the opportunity to participate and share their views. The
discussions were held in a familiar environment to encourage all participants to share their views. An academic /
researched presentation was given at the beginning of every workshop, however then all participants were
encouraged to participate. We also ensured that different persons presented material for the different workshops,
✓ School children, with the help of teachers had to prepare material to be shared during their visit at school;
✓ The councillors and the executive secretary had to prepare a short report on the policies and actual work
being carried out in that particular area being discussed during the meeting;
✓ Self-employed persons had to share their experience and difficulties faced in their particular work;
✓ The Scouts Leaders and other representatives from the local NGOs had to prepare a short report and
bring with them reports to show the work that they carry out at their respective locality; and
✓ Farmers and Gardeners, apart from bringing some quality produce, they also shared the difficulties they
faced to have sustainable farming.
All citizens were encouraged to give their opinions, even if they are not experts in the discussed subject. This
informal engagement led to the sharing of innovative and creative ideas and also for the exchange of contacts.
This led to an effective networking session among all participants. Although the sessions were held in English,
those Italians and Maltese that did not know how to speak in English had the opportunity to share their views in
their own language and then an interpreter from each local council will translate what they had said in English for
all to understand. This has facilitated the communication among all participants, although it is to be noted that
most of the participants understood and spoke English fluently.
This project tackled the European dimension in the following two ways:
✓ Through the transnationality of both participating localities, with one municipality from Malta and the other
municipality from Northern Italy; and
✓ Through the topics chosen to be discussed during the town twinning programme, during which the
participants discussed issues which are of interest to both localities and on a European level.
This element of togetherness was highlighted in the white paper on the future of Europe, where, as previously
identified recent struggles have led to the creation of disunity across the bloc. The discussed topics, tackled issues
which are important to both localities, but also relate to different aspects of EU policy ranging from tourism,
environmental and social policy. As a result, the participants will also learn from the respective EU policies.
The Maltese participants met near the Dingli Local Council offices and left to the airport. The contingent of 80
persons took a direct flight from Malta International Airport to Milan Linate Airport, leaving at 12:30 and arriving
at around 14:30. Upon arrival to Monte Isola, the coach stopped for a short break at Bergamo and then continued
to Sulzano were the group took a boat to Peschiera (Monte Isola) where the contingent carried out the check-in
to the hotel.
Later in the afternoon, a welcome address by the Mayors of Ħad-Dingli and Monte Isola were held. These
speeches opened the four-day programme of activities and discussions among the 160 Maltese and Italian
After the welcome speeches, all participants had the opportunity to meet and greet, having the first networking
activity. The Maltese prepared some food representing the local Maltese gastronomy, bringing the Maltese taste
During the morning, the first workshop on local communities and the European Union was held. During this
workshop participants had the opportunity to talk to each other and understand better the two localities. The
participants were divided into smaller groups and each where given one theme from the five common themes
mentioned above. The participants were divided according to their interest in the following workshops:
✓ Education; and
✓ Sports / non-governmental organisations.
Some of the participants had to prepare a short presentation to explain the relationship between these themes
and their locality and then a discussion was opened for all participants. Each workshop had around 30 to 35
participants and therefore throughout the two-hour meeting we tried to give an opportunity for all to share their
opinions. Once the workshop was over, a representative from each workshop shared with the rest of the
participants the main points discussed during the respective workshop.
In the afternoon the second workshop was carried out and this focused on protecting the environment. During
this session we focused on:
✓ The natural assets found in both localities;
✓ How these are attracting tourists and how tourism is having a negative effect on these natural assets;
✓ Policies and practices carried out by both localities to protect the environment;
✓ The European agenda with regards to environmental protection and adapting to environmental measures;
✓ Best practices by individuals;
✓ What gaps need to be addressed in order to build more sustainable environment; and
✓ How both localities could assist each other in building a more sustainable environment.
During the morning, the participants took a boat ride around the island, visiting Carzano, Siviano. During this
sightseeing guided tour around Monte Isola, the Italian participants explained the history and traditions of Monte
Isola and how this is linked to the daily life of today’s community in Monte Isola. While the Italian participants
shared their knowledge on the history and traditions of Monte Isola and the venues which we visited, the Maltese
participants also shared any similar traditions which are present in Ħad-Dingli. The group also discussed the link
between the religious monuments found in both localities and the importance that the church had in the past
and how this has changed.
In the afternoon we also visited a number of local entrepreneurs in the tourism sector, explaining to us what
practices they are implementing in order to build sustainable tourism. Through these informal discussions, the
participants shared the burdens that they are facing and giving suggestions on the way forward.
Later, the group went to the Local Council premises and met with the staff and councillors. During this visit the
participants met with:
- The Mayor who explained his weekly routine;
- Some of the councillors who explained their work at the Municipality and the project that are ongoing and
those which are planned for the coming months;
- Customer Care Workers who explained what type of queries the citizens of Monte Isola and tourists usually
- Other workers at the municipality who explained the work they carry out; and
- Other persons during our tour at the premises.
This visit was followed by a discussion on the openness of both towns when it comes to foreign communities.
We discussed the temporary border controls amongst member states and any practices in place which assists
in the integration of foreign persons into the local communities.
This day was dedicated to local entrepreneurs where they presented and told their stories to the participants.
The aim of this morning sessions was to bring the different entrepreneurs together to share their good practices
and build small networks between the two localities, building new economic relationships between Malta and
Another group, made up of students and teachers, participated in another workshop at school. The Maltese
students went to an Italian primary school. Both the Maltese and Italian students prepared something to share
with the rest of the group. They also had time to carry out crafts together and speak to each other, with the
assistance of the teachers and some parents. This visit was important as it instilled a European citizenship
amongst the future generation.
Later, a workshop on local tourism followed where more information was discussed on the events that’s occur
in both localities. The participants (both Maltese and Italians) were divided into smaller groups and a brain
storming on how to improve the tourism package was discussed.
This final day was dedicated to an evaluation session on the whole project discussing what was being said
during all the workshops and taking feedback from the participants so that we can improve the experience. It
was nice to see that the participants participated in the discussions and workshops and askes several question
to widen their knowledge. This positive feedback was an encouragement for both localities for future
After the evaluation session and farewell and exchange of gifts, the Maltese contingent left Monte Isola to travel
to Milan Linate and took the flight back to Malta.
Results obtained through the project
The Biggest Achievement of this project was seeing the participants from the two localities, Ħad-Dingli and
Monte Isola, exchanging ideas about important topics like solidarity amongst European Citizens and sustainable
tourism. The main challenge was in handling the group since the group was a little bit big. The participants
involved participated in every discussion or workshop that was organized. To keep the participants interested,
the workshops and discussions were interactive with the involvement of all participants. The results and impact
of the project was according to the following target groups:
The Participating Municipalities:
- Increased the cooperation between both towns, including the sharing of ideas and best practices as well as
facilitating commitment for European integration;
- Increased knowledge of EU policies and their relevance to the localities of Ħad-Dingli and Monte Isola;
- Increased awareness on strategies used by both localities in terms of sustainable tourism;
- Increased participation of European citizens in EU funded projects;
- Increased understanding on the need of the local communities; and
- Increased knowledge on practical ways how to transform ideas into factual projects.
Councillors and Administrative Staff of both localities:
- Learned new knowledge and practices from the policies adopted in the other European locality;
- Increased knowledge on administrative issues carried out in another similar locality;
- Increased international contact through the town twinning agreement; and
- Increased experience in EU funded projects.
Academics, Teachers, Librarian and School Children:
- Made new contact and friendships with new citizens from another country;
- Learnt new things on another European locality;
- Increased experience in participating in an EU project;
- Built new networks among teachers and academics which might be fruitful for future projects; and
- Had an experience in another school.
- Increased the international contact through the town twinning agreements;
- Increased knowledge on EU policies, regulations and funding;
- Learnt new practices and good practices from other participants; and
- New practices for an increase the sustainable growth of economic activity.
Farmers and Gardeners:
- Learnt on how other localities are minimising the risks of global warming and tourism activities;
- Made new contact with other European farmers; and
- Increased knowledge and experience in European policies and projects.
Representatives from NGOs;
- Increased international contact through town twinning agreements;
- Increased knowledge on EU policies;
- Increased knowledge through the sharing of experience and best practices among all participants;
- Increased awareness on the opportunities that come with the EU and the Europe for Citizens Programme;
- Enhanced intercultural dialogue; and
- More active at a local and EU level.
Persons active at community level and the General Public:
- Increased the visibility of this programme among the residents of both towns involved in this town-twinning
- Increased the interaction and participation of the participants from both localities in a tighter-knit Europe and
developed a more sense of belonging in the European Union;
- Increased knowledge on the importance of town twinning;
- Increased knowledge on traditions and culture of Ħad-Dingli and Monte Isola;
- Increased awareness on EU strategies;
- Increased intercultural awareness and appreciation;
- Increased awareness in the work of local municipalities and the direct positive consequences these may have
on the towns' populations; and
- Increased awareness on the historical and traditions of both localities.
Dissemination of the Project
The Ħad-Dingli Local Council carried out the following dissemination and visibility measures:
- Wrote an article on the local council magazine which is called “iż-Żagħfran” and is distributed in every
household in Ħad-Dingli.
- Distributed posters in the notice boards and in every shop in the locality was also distributed.
- Uploaded and published information on the Local Council’s Facebook page, including photos of the
- Held a meeting in the village hall to explain in detail what the project is all about. The meeting was also
broadcasted live through the Facebook page for those who couldn’t attend.
- Published a booklet on the results of the town-twinning project, focusing on the 5 common themes between
All materials provided such as the brochure with the final results, the local council’s magazine, the notices,
the programme of activities, the tags, power point presentations and handouts included the logos according
to the Europe for Citizens Visibility Measures.