NEWS » Borghi under threat

Borghi under threat

The existence of Italian “borghi” (small municipalities) is threatened by a new regulation which forces hilltop villages to merge with larger municipalities. According to the mayors of the borghi the measure might cause the perishing of an important part of Italian culture and tradition, considering that rural villages are already menaced by rural poverty, which is causing for many of them to be abandoned, and natural disasters have in some cases made it impossible for the inhabitants to continue living there.

 

From the Piedmont region in the north-west to Puglia in the south-east, 112 mayors of borghi declared war on the proposed legislation that will see all towns with a population of less than 5,000 people merged into larger municipalities. 

 

The mayors of some of these borghi gathered at the meeting of the “Association of Forgotten Communities” to save the identity of their little communities and prevent the administrative shake-up which might cause further cuts in funds.

 

The measure interests 70 percent of Italian municipalities, which are 8006. The Italian average is 7,500 inhabitants per municipality. If we consider the rest of Europe, in France there are 36 small municipalities with an average of 1,700 inhabitants; in Spain just over 8 thousand with 5 thousand inhabitants and in Germany 11 thousand with 7 thousand inhabitants.

 

Small municipalities agree to the unification of borghi and to streamlining of services, but are against merging and cancellations of municipal councils. A petition started on Change.org, while a Facebook page is collecting all the dissenting voices of mayors and municipal councils.

 

In Tuscany the protest movement is particularly lively. Thirteen mayors of the Province of Siena have signed a manifesto to "help small municipalities to live, not to die." They are the municipalities of Cetona, Radicofani, Chiusdino, Chianciano Terme, Casole d'Elsa, Castiglione d'Orcia, Monteriggioni, Piancastagnaio, Pienza, Radicondoli, San Casciano dei Bagni, San Gimignano and Trequanda. All their first citizens belong to the Democratic Party, except for three who were elected in the civic lists.

Even larger municipalities such as San Gimignano are involved in the protest because the orientation of Tuscany is to reach an average of inhabitants per municipality ranging from 10 thousand to 20 thousand inhabitants. Another worry for larger borghi is that the municipalities resulting from the merging of small ones would obtain higher scores in regional tenders for public works.

Giulia Lombardo

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