News / Europe

Euro Crisis Prompts Italian Village to Declare Independence

A general view of Filettino, Italy, a small town 70 km east of Rome that is trying to go independent and mint its own money in protest against government austerity cuts, August 2011. (file photo)
A general view of Filettino, Italy, a small town 70 km east of Rome that is trying to go independent and mint its own money in protest against government austerity cuts, August 2011. (file photo)
Henry Ridgwell

Italy's tough austerity drive includes plans to force local authorities to merge, in a bid to rein in public spending. The tiny village of Filettino faces such a prospect - but its mayor is fighting back. The town is bidding to become an autonomous principality with its own currency. And it might just stand a chance.

Deep in the rugged mountains east of Rome lies the quiet village of Filettino.

Not much has changed here for centuries. But the 554 residents are now part of a revolution in the making; Filettino is trying to break away from Italy.

Under the government’s tough $67-billion [50 billion euro] austerity package, all towns with fewer than 1,000 residents are being forced to merge with neighboring communities.

That would see Filettino’s Mayor Luca Sellari out of a job. So he’s leading the fight back.

“We want to manage our resources independently. This town is rich in natural resources and this could provide great economic opportunities. We have about 8,000 hectares of land, and forests that we could cut, but the state doesn’t allow us to do it,” he added. “We have water resources, but these are managed by a company in Rome, and we don’t receive any money."

Filettino has even started printing its own currency, the Fiorito - complete with a picture of Mayor Sellari.

Mayor Luca Sellari displays Filettino's own bank currency - the 'Fiorito' - at his office in Filettino, Italy, August 2011.
Mayor Luca Sellari displays Filettino's own bank currency - the 'Fiorito' - at his office in Filettino, Italy, August 2011.

The village's few shops stock T-shirts bearing the new Filettino coat of arms. For now, they are just souvenirs. Sellari insists, though, there is legal precedent.

Before unification in the 19th century, Italy was made up of dozens of principalities and kingdoms. Some, like San Marino, still survive.

“We were the first ones to protest, maybe the ones who protested loudest - and the government stepped back. At the moment the town is not merged with the neighboring village, but still, the government is forcing us to unify our services. That would force our costs up, so I hope [Prime Minister] Monti’s new government will propose a reasonable solution to this,” said Sellari.

Rosa Maria Giulitti helps run Filettino’s main restaurant, La Galleria. She remains skeptical of the mayor’s plans.

“We don’t want to be independent from Italy, we don’t want to be out. We just want to manage our own resources, which we don’t want to concede to anyone else,” said Giulitti.

Giulitti’s mother takes over the cooking - insisting that the local cattle produce the tastiest steak in the world. "This is the local blood of the principality!" she declares.

Filettino’s people are clearly proud of their culture and their village.

Across Italy, around 2000 villages face losing their mayors. Many of them will be watching carefully whether Mayor Sellari can one day call himself the Prince of Filettino.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid