Italian Town Sees First Birth In 28 Years

A small town in Italy has not seen a birth of a single baby until this week. No inhabitants of Ostana, Italy have given birth to a baby since the 1980s, yet that has all changed with the arrival of the newest town member.

The Washington Post relays details about the small town and the reason for its population decline over the decades.

“According to La Stampa, the town has only 85 inhabitants, including newborn Pablo. Its population has continuously fallen — a fate shared by many other Italian towns and villages.”

Mayor of the small town, Giacomo Lombardo, spoke on the matter of the town’s decrease in population.

“The real decline started in 1975, with 17 babies between 1976 and 1987, when the last boy was born – until little Pablo.”

Lombardo then shared that the town will celebrate the new turn of events and remain hopeful that this may mean a turnaround in the population issue.

Although the mayor is hopeful, the Post notes the issue that may keep any sort of increase from happening.

“[T]he population decline will be hard to stop, no matter what ideas Lombardo comes up with. Younger Italians in particular say there are few attractive job prospects in rural areas. Many have moved to cities, leaving their hometowns to the elderly. Ostana, which is in northern Italy, has only one shop, a bar and two restaurants, according to the Italian news site the Local.”

Parts of Northern Italy have experienced the steepest population decline over the past couple of decades and have been the hardest hit in the country due to unavailable opportunities for career and lower quality of life.

As the publication notes, some towns have put strict rules in place to help to ensure town members are healthy and to slow down the death rate. One such rule involves making it “mandatory for its inhabitants to attend a health check. The expressed goal of that initiative: slow down death rates to keep the town alive. Skeptics joked that the idea came close to ‘making it illegal to die.'”

The town of Gangi offered an attractive incentive to bring people to the town. Part of the island of Sicily, Gangi’s council decided to sell about 20 houses for less than $2. Fifty people accepted the opportunity but were expected to renovate their own properties. Gangi is much larger than Ostana, having a population of 7,000, yet the council fears that the town may be facing a similar fate as the town of Ostana.

Baby Pablo was certainly a welcome arrival to the people of Ostana, and Lombardo was quoted as saying, “It’s great to finally have someone born here, and it shows that our efforts to reverse population decline are slowly working,”

Lombardo has been busy attempting to create jobs for the town’s inhabitants as well as to attract new members to the town. The Washington Post relays how the decline has impacted even the mayor’s own family, who were then convinced to remain due to job creation.

“Lombardo has tried to create jobs in order to prevent other young people from leaving the town. Pablo might be the first indication that his strategy is working. His parents wanted to move away several years ago but stayed after they were offered the opportunity to work at a mountain refuge.”

The Telegraph shares about an additional small hilltop town in Italy for which a campaign has been launched in order to the save it.

Last year, a campaign was launched to save Civita di Bagnoregio, a spectacular hilltop village, from collapse because of erosion. The village, which once had a population of 3,000, has shrunk to as few as half a dozen residents during the winter, although it is visited by 600,000 tourists a year.

[Photo by Associated Press]