Riace is a town of about 1,726 inhabitants near Reggio Calabria, well-known for the discovery, in 1972, the famous Riace Bronzes, two bronze statues of Greek origin discovered in an exceptional state of conservation just 200 meters from the coast of Riace Marina.
Since 2004, thanks to the hospitality of the mayor Domenico Lucano policies, the country and in particular the old town depopulated, he gave hospitality to more than 6,000 asylum seekers from 20 different countries, integrating them in the city cultural fabric and introducig them into the employment of the small village, making the city of Riace come back to a new life.
The mayor Domenico figure at the 40th place in the world ranking of the 50 influential men in the American magazine Fortune. It all started in 1998, with the landing of 200 refugees from Kurdistan in Riace Marina. The association Città Futura (dedicated to the Sicilian priest killed by the mafia, Don Giuseppe Puglisi) decided to help immigrants just landed giving them the available old houses abandoned by their owners, long gone from the country.
Thanks to his inclusion policies, the mayor of Riace has managed not only to offer hospitality to refugees (now 400 across the country), but also to all illegal immigrants with right of asylum, keeping alive the primary importance services like school by funding the small town with micro entrepreneurial activities related to crafts such as textiles and ceramic workshops as well as bars and bakeries to get to the the recycling door to door collection, guaranteed by two non-European and transported through the use of donkeys.
In order to cover the delay of the Community contribution, in the country runs a special currency in denominations of 10, 20 and 50 euro, that immigrants can use for daily costs, waiting for the European funds.
The immigrants integration is ensured by approximately 70 cultural mediators employed by the municipal authorities and part of Sprar system (Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees), born to propose, beyond the measures of assistance and protection to individual beneficiaries, the process of social and economic integration of which seems Riace is a promoter.
About the author:
Michele Cirillo (Italy, 1988) is a photojournalist based in Rome, interested in narrating human stories and the geopolitical changes of recent years. During the past years he has collaborated with various newspapers and agencies as Repubblica.it, Parallelo Zero, Positive-Magazine, The Post Internazionale. His travels include: Mexico, Ecuador, Tanzania, Kurdistan, Turkey, Bosnia and Palestine.
Among Riace Marina and Riace Superiore are welcomed more than 400 immigrants and asylum seekers, so the country is also known as the hospitality city.
Bairan, 49, posing in front of the restaurant that helped to restructure. He is the immigrant with the longest presence in the small Calabrian town. He landed in 1998 along with 200 other Kurds just in front of the coast of Riace Marina.
Roberto Lucano, 89, is the father of the mayor of Riace. Despite didn’t voted for Domenico Lucano in the first elections, now he recognizes all the goodness of a policy of integration and support for refugees.
Aiwa, 42, from Togo, working as an ecological operator in Riace. He survived the Rosarno shootings in the 2013 where he injured his leg.
The mayor Domenico Lucano, at his third political office as mayor, was added in 2016 by Fortune magazine as one of the 50 most influential men of the world. He coined the phrased the expression “sweet hospitlity” to indicate the integration model of Riace.
ISpecial Bonus that immigrants can use while waiting for the Europeans funds.
Ali, 28, he’s in Riace from a year. He fought in Afghanistan as a sergeant with the US Army. Now he is in Italy as an asylum seeker.
Venancio, 60, has lived for 20 years in Riace Superiore and works at the prison of Locri as a house painter. He do not agree very much with the mayor Domenico policies and sees with skepticism the mediatic rise of Riace.
Lamin, 19, he came from Gambia to arrive in Libya and then in Sicily. From 3 months he and his friends will be moving in one of the houses made available by the administration of Domenico Lucano.
omenico is one of the 70 Italian operators, he’s working from one year and four months for Aquilone cooperative which takes care of the donkeys that are used for the recycling collection. To help him there are three African guys and a men from Kurdistan.
Raffaele, 64 anni, è la mRaffaele, 64, is the historical memory of Riace. After having a bar in the town center, now he works as a farmer in the plots of land that have been redevelopment in the last few years through the terraces.
Roawda, ran away from the war in Somalia about 7 years ago. Arrived in Libya, after 2 days of sea crossing reached Lampedusa at first and then was transferred to Foggia for 6 months. She works full-time now in the glass laboratory of the association Città Futura.
Umme Kulsoom (on the left) in the association’s pottery workshop Citt‡ Futura along with her assistantof Riace. Umme comes from Pakistan, she has 4 children and lives for 4 years in the city of hospitality.
Jalil is from Nigeria, he’s 37 and lives happily in Riace from 1 year and 7 months.
The carpentry workshop where he works. Fish, 24, from Eritrea. For almost a year in Riace, he has lived 9 months in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. It was rescued by the Coast Guard about a year ago, after three days of agony at sea trying to reach Sicily.
Antonio, 52, 40 years of work at the “Bar Gervasi” in the main square of Riace. Like many Riace inhabitants sees the arrival of immigrants in a positive way in his country.
Inside the embroidery workshop where Caterina, a volunteer of Citt‡ Futura (on the left) embroidered with Tahira, from Afghanistan and from two years in Riace with her two sons.
Sandro Lucano, 50, is the younger brother of the mayor. He along with other friends, helped to incorporate Domenico in the Civic List that elected him mayor. Sandro has three sons and is currently unemployed.
Mirella, 32, is a Romanian girl from 10 years lives in Riace. Before working in the bar of her husband in Riace, she was breeding cows in one of the Calabrian countryside. Now she has two wonderful sons aged 4 and 7 years: Cosimo and Maria Cosimina.
The sewing workshop where Selma from Somalia work, Fthacuit from Eritrea and Zahra Afghanistan.
Mohammed, 38, comes from Iran. From 4 months it works with restructuring the homes of immigrants in Riace.
In Riace also live many under age children, for them there’s an a football field and a playground that allow fun and active recreation, besides schools and many educational activities.
An Eritrean boy carrying groceries on his bike through the streets of Riace.
A view of Riace Superiore. Inside its village there are more than 30 houses given to families and to individual immigrants of all nationalities. Many people are worried about the future of the country, wondering until when it’ll be possible to maintain this level of integration and development that is good for both immigrants and citizens of the small town.