New Milford is taking the first steps to
establish a special relationship with Vinci, Italy, the hometown of
Leonardo da Vinci.
At the urging of Peter Orenski, better known
locally as the Flagman, Mayor Art Peitler on Monday proclaimed that April
15, the birthday of the famed artist, architect, engineer and
mathematician Leonardo da Vinci, be a day to honor Italian-American
residents and the town of Vinci.
"The town of New Milford takes great pride
and is thankful for the many artistic and cultural contributions made by
our citizens whose family roots lie in Italy," the proclamation
This is the coat of arms for the town of Vinci, Italy.
The town would fly Vinci’s flag that day as
"an expression of friendship to the citizens of Vinci and in gratitude for
the contributions of Italian-Americans to our community."
Mayor Peitler plans to send symbolic
presents — an official New Milford flag, as well as a table flag with a
marble base quarried in the Boardman District of town and a
jewelry-quality New Milford lapel pin — to Giancarlo Faenzi, mayor of
He and Dr. Orenski hope the town of Vinci
will fly the New Milford flag on July 4 to celebrate America’s birthday
and also the birth of the New Milford flag, July 4, 1995.
"All of civilization owes a debt to
Leonardo," said Councilman Ray O’Brien, who supported the idea of honoring
Italian-Americans on April 15.
He quipped, however, that it seemed terrible
to associate the event with income tax day.
"I would love for the mayor to declare us a
sister city with Vinci," Dr. Orenski said recently. "It would be fun for
us and a good tourist draw for them."
Mayor Peitler said last week that the idea
of a sister city relationship is "an interesting idea worth following up
on. That kind of connection is always exciting. A lot of things can spin
In 1997 the mayor proposed becoming a sister
city with Kenmare, one of Ireland’s planned towns, but that idea didn’t
seem to catch on. New Milford, however, celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with
a reception and ceremony naming the Irishman and Irishwoman of the
The idea for a relationship with Vinci was
spawned when Dr. Orenski was traveling in the Tuscany region of Italy in
June. He serves as treasurer on the executive board of NAVA, the North
American Vexillological Association, a flag study society, and was
speaking at Italian Flag Society meetings.
While he was having lunch across the street
after visiting the Leonardo Museum in the Castle Guidi, he noticed there
was no flag flying over Vinci’s town hall.
Since flags are his passion as well as his
business, he headed across the street to find the mayor and discuss the
need for a flag in a town with "thousands of years of history."
Dr. Orenski met with the assistant mayor and
left with a copy of the town’s coat of arms, determined to design a flag
Flag design is not a new endeavor for the
man who organized the competition to design the familiar green and white
New Milford flag in 1995.
"Every time I see the flag flying from the
library and town hall it makes my day," he said. "I get all
Vinci at a glance
äźVinci, Italy, is the town where
Leonardo da Vinci was raised, although he was born in a
farmhouse in Anchiano, 3 kilometers from
äźThe borough of Vinci has about
14,000 residents and consists of 54 square
äźIt is located in verdant
countryside in the heart of Tuscany, near
äźThe Romanesque Santa Croce
Parish Church is near the 11th century Conti [Count] Guidi
Castle, which houses the Leonardo
äźThe Leonardo Museum has several
floors of working models of machines inspired by Leonardo da
äźVinci is known for its extra
virgin olive oil and wines, including Chianti Putto Montalbano
and Chianti D.O.C.G.
— Lynda Wellman
Dr. Orenski explained the New Milford flag
gives him a feeling of belonging that he’s never had over a lifetime of
living in several countries. Born in Romania, he has been a U.S. citizen
since 1965 and a New Milford resident since 1987.
"Through flags I connected," he said,
remarking that despite a successful career as a chemist, he’s proudest of
the New Milford flag.
Flags have been his business since he
retired from Union Carbide in 1989. He wrote a book based on the process
leading up to choosing New Milford’s flag: "A Flag for New Milford, The
Practical Guide for Creating a Successful Civic Flag."
The book has spawned what Dr. Orenski
jokingly calls the "son" and "grandson" of New Milford, a regional flag
for Hampton Roads and a flag for Southampton County, both in
Using the Vinci coat of arms as a base, Dr.
Orenski has designed a flag true to the shield on the coat of arms. His
proposed flag has the da Vinci family alternating gold and red stripes at
the base and the castle tower above on a blue background.
Heraldry rules, however, usually forbid
putting one color on top of another since it thwarts easy identification
when colors melt together in the distance.
Roberto Breschi, a well-known Italian
vexillologist, has researched the coat of arms and discovered the castle
was originally silver or white on blue instead of red on blue as in the
coat of arms. Following Dr. Breschi’s suggestion, Dr. Orenski is
presenting an alternate flag choice with a white on blue castle for the
The proposed flags are designed in the
"Divine Ratio" used by the Greeks in the Parthenon in Athens and by
Leonardo da Vinci.
"It just happens to be very pleasing
proportions..., visual harmonics," said Dr. Orenski, remarking the typical
American flag is 3 feet by 5 feet, "as close as any manufacturer will get"
to the perfect ratio.
"The perfect ratio would have meant a lot to
Leonardo," Dr. Orenski said.
In designing a flag, Dr. Orenski said he
aims for simplicity, visual impact with color and proportion and to use
symbols that mean something to the residents.
Dr. Orenski’s company, TME Co. Inc.,
headquartered in New Milford, owns the rights to Ambassador Lapel Flags
and Ambassador Badges. TME sells jewelry-quality, 24K gold-plated flag
pins, as well as watches, other accessories and