Italy may well be in a poor state but this week I discovered just how community spirit is alive and well.
Significant and long-term lack of maintenance, recent large movements of timber, and poor weather have left the road here in Valdichiascio in a terrible condition. Last week one of my neighbours went to the roads department in the Comune of our local town Gubbio – them that are supposedly responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the roads to ask that repairs are carried out forthwith. He was met with the usual, ‘we have no money, we can’t do anything, the Commissario has blocked all spending” I hear you ask who is the Commissario?
Last year, the council or comune failed to agree a budget and so the mayor was sacked and the town was put into administration. The person appointed by Rome to oversee the running of the city – but only until the next elections in April is a Commissario Prefettizio.
So the story is that the roads department cannot repair the roads. Readers who follow my blog might remember me posting about my meeting with the roads director some years ago (‘you made a mistake buying a house where you did’) and subsequent meetings with the then Mayor. The story was the same then….. How come?… Change the record please!
So, time to take the ‘bull by the horns’ and see if something can be done. A few of us residents here in the beautiful part of Valdichiascio drew up a petition, had it translated and checked, and over the past week I, along with a couple of other neighbours have been circulating all the houses in the valley. I calculate we are a population of some hundred and twenty adults plus a growing number of children. Out with Apetto, Jenny hopping in expecting a walk down by the now flooded river Chiascio, but no we are off round the houses.
Nobody has refused to sign, indeed everybody is so positive about the petition, and grateful for the initiative. It takes time to go round the houses, people are friendly and all want to talk. A coffee here, a glass of home-made wine there, a slice of home-made cake. my diet is suffering! Everybody is moaning about the current political situation, the seeming lack of future, hopelessness for youth, strangulation of businesses, never-ending form filling, lack of positive change and endless corruption, pocket-lining and self interest in all layers of bureaucracy and politics here in Italy, we all ‘sing from the same hymn sheet’. A couple of hours pass and only a few signatures collected, it is time consuming, but very rewarding.
What has come across is the warmth and community spirit of my neighborhood. Although it is nearly seven years ago, I am one of the most the most recent arrivals, and the latest foreigner to the valley, and with Bellaugello Gay Guest House as my home and business, I guess it was not without a bit of consternation and concern at the outset that the locals greeted my arrival. If it was so they never let me know, they have been quietly supportive, I am real lucky. What I discovered in my giro of the houses collecting signatures, of which we now have some 96 signatures (bravi!!) and there are still a few houses to visit, is just how warm the welcome is here, and how some of the older residents who I thought might be sceptical or reluctant to engage with me are instead those that want to join me in presenting our petition to the Commissario. They too are tired of th constant manual hole-filling repairs and want something more substantial done. It will be a good representation that presents our petition in comune this week, and even if we do not manage to achieve our aim of a comprehensive remaking of the road, and that we are trying very hard to do, we have all discovered that cutting across all social levels we are a cohesive united community.