Interview with Mayor Bra (no, we're not kidding)
The mayor of Bra has his hands full right now. Only 45 miles south of Torino, the town is wooing visitors to the Winter Olympics with local delights such as La Salsiccia di Bra (Bra sausage). In a world-exclusive interview, Dr. Camillo Scimone told ESPN.com he wants more American tourists to explore Bra, including its famous cheese, attractive Baroque architecture and an international short film festival with prestigious first prize "The Golden Snail."
Bra -- population 30,000 and not to be confused with the Boston Redevelopment Authority -- is also the birthplace of the international Slow Food movement. This group is dedicated to the enjoyment of quality food and the pleasure of annoying McDonald's. Not keeping anything close to his chest, the good doctor spoke freely to ESPN.com at his town hall office:
Q: What's your favorite piece of clothing?
A: For my work, I'm forced to wear a jacket and tie and shirt, but I like comfortable clothing and sportswear. I quite like swimming trunks on a nice beach.
Q: Where does the name "Bra" come from?
A:The origin of the name is very ancient, it comes from Roman times. The original name was "Brayda."
Q: Bra has no link to the bra?
A: It doesn't have any connection with any piece of clothing.
Q: Would Bra pair with another place also named after a piece of clothing? Like Trousers, Miss.?
A: We are open to the idea. If anybody can propose a twinning initiative, we are ready.
Q: Do you get fed up with journalists asking about the name?
A: It's a funny situation and, actually, can be used for [attracting] tourists to the town.
Q: What's Bra got in it?
A: Bra's got lots of old traditions and cultural life and is surrounded by natural sites of great beauty. It's got a lot of gastronomical, rural and industrial activities. The latest addition is the University of Gastronomic Sciences [in adjacent Pollenzo]. Slow Food was born in Bra.
Q: Does Bra have many clothes shops?
A: Bra has got quite a lot of clothes shops. The clothing industry is part of the economy with a link to Alba, the next town. Bra is opening a new big hospital together with Alba that will be called the Bra and Alba hospital.
Q: Do you get many American tourists in Bra?
A: We get some, but, of course, we would like to have many more. My nephews are living in New York, in Bethlehem, and their children were born there, so they are American. We would like to improve this connection between Bra and the American people. I'm sure they will find themselves at home [in Bra]. There's art, culture and you can eat very well.
Q: What's Bra doing for the Olympic Games?
A: Bra itself is not involved in the organization of the games, but we prepared for the reception of tourists. Before the games, we had the Olympic flame coming through Bra, and I was proud to hold the fire of Olympia in my hands. We are very proud that the Olympics are in our region.
Q: You're a doctor specializing in sports medicine and also the mayor of Bra. So I have to ask: Are sports bras healthy?
A: [Laughs] Whoever does sport must feel his/her body is free without any impediment. Maybe it's better to have a tight T-shirt.
(The city's Italian-language Web site is www.comune.bra.cn.it. Thanks to interpreter Silvio Arlenghi, Bra Tourism Office's Fabio Curti and Italian journalist Romolo Gandolfo for help with this interview.)
Brian Church is a columnist with the Athens News in Greece. He will be contributing to ESPN.com throughout the Olympics.