MIGRATION AND INTEGRATION IN THE SOUTH OF ITALY
In 2021 the number of migrants disembarked in Italy doubled compared to 2020 when about 33 thousand new arrivals were registered. A growing number also due to the pandemic crisis caused by Covid19. The dream for most of the migrants is to reach Germany and Northern Europe, even if over the years, some of them have found their own dimension in the small villages of southern Italy, integrating into local communities.
For many years now the small villages of Italy have been struggling not to disappear due to the abandonment of the local population who emigrate to the cities in search of better working conditions and life prospects. There are many municipalities in the south who struggle every day to keep up the essential services for the community that decides to stay. Many schools close due to lack of children and many offices are merged or relocated.
In a scenario of strong uncertainty, where job and earnings prospects in the south are very limited, there are those who have found their ideal size: this is Salento, in the province of Lecce, precisely in the cape of Santa Maria di Leuca, a famous summer destination where thousands of tourists invade the beaches and small villages every year. But if summer records dizzying numbers with overcrowding on accommodation facilities, restaurants and bathing establishments, in winter the reality changes radically, with small villages displaced or sparsely populated.
However, there is a trend that bodes well for the survival of these small places away from the spotlight. In fact, there are more and more children and families of immigrants who, despite the misfortune of a complicated and destroyed life, find the ideal conditions to stabilize and embark on a new path.
The numbers of recent years record a percentage of 3-5% of foreign residents in the countries of the lower Salento, with a growing trend compared to the numbers of Italian residents. We find full-time workers, seasonal workers, occasional workers or simply students working hard to obtain a residence permit. The small villages thus become centers of welcome and integration, hosting people who come from Africa, Asia and Central America.
From migrants to useful resources employed in activities and jobs that no one wants to do anymore but for which there is always a strong need and demand.