“20 million euros for a village is too much”: Italian mayors shaken by the victory of their rival | Italy

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Several Italian mayors have been left in turmoil after a rival hamlet of just 142 people scooped €20m (£16.9m) under a national scheme to revive the struggling economy from Italy.

Trevinano, an ancient hilltop hamlet in Lazio from where locals can also marvel at views of the hills of Umbria and Tuscany, has beaten 13 other candidates to secure the windfall from the post-pandemic recovery fund of the EU.

Italy is the biggest beneficiary of the fund, and of the 191 billion euros the country is expected to receive, 1 billion euros will be spent to save 200 villages on the verge of becoming ghost towns due to depopulation. But only one lucky village in each of Italy’s 20 regions is eligible for a €20m tranche of funds.

Trevinano, which falls under the municipality of Acquapendente in Lazio, was the first winner to be announced after courting judges with plans to turn the hamlet into a student training center linked to the nearby University of Tuscia, in Viterbo, and restore houses for tourist accommodation.

Trevinano will be “transformed”, says the local mayor. Photography: Zoonar GmbH/Alamy

Alessandra Terrosi, the mayor of Acquapendente, told La Repubblica: “The idea is that this village can be transformed into a place of training, capable of attracting young people, for programs including landscape studies and reforestation, and thus promote not only repopulation, but the economic revitalization of all regions.

Trevinano was settled by the Etruscans and had around 1,000 inhabitants in the 1960s before population decline set in.

But as the few residents celebrate their victory, the mayors of the candidates who failed argue that such a sum of money should have been distributed more fairly.

Luca Profili, the mayor of Civita di Bagnoregio, a hamlet perched on a plateau of volcanic rock surrounded by steep ravines at risk of landslides, told the Guardian he was disappointed.

“20 million euros for a village is too much,” he said. “It would have been better to share it between several projects in Lazio. The other problem is that it is often difficult for small towns to spend so much money. Trevinano has until 2026, so let’s see if that’s a success.

Civita di Bagnoregio in Umbria.
Civita di Bagnoregio in Umbria. Photograph: George Oze/Alamy

On the plus side, neighboring regions would likely benefit from Trevinano’s success, Profili added. Civita di Bagnoregio has only a handful of permanent residents, but has benefited enormously from tourism in recent years. “We are in a good position, but we will apply for other projects from the rest of the funding, so despite the disappointment, we are optimistic.”

Maranola, a hub for luthiers and other artisans, was also among the losers. “I regret that the money only goes in one direction,” mayor Gianluca Tadeo told La Repubblica. “But we will continue to work on our recovery plans.”

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