In Italy, a Struggling Town Looks to Refugees for Revival




The population of this town located in the toe of Italy’s “boot” is shrinking as its residents get older.

The narrow streets climbing the hills of the old town are lined with empty houses marked vendesi —for sale. The central square is nearly empty at midday—just a couple of shops remain open. The biggest commotion in town happens each day at 8 am, noon and 4 pm. That’s when a loud siren blares to commemorate bombings during World War II, which many of the residents are old enough to remember.

At its peak in the 1950s, the old town of Satriano had about 3,800 residents. Today it’s down to about 1,000. If it shrinks much more, schools, health clinics and the local post office may have to be closed.