The Italian Almanac

olt television

Italian News - April 21

The 250 inhabitants of Torri, about 9 kilometers (5.7 miles) inland from Ventimiglia in the Liguria region, appear to have turned to procreation as recreation: the percentage of children in the total population, 32%, is more than twice that of the Italian national average.

Torri, or towers in Italian, takes its name from a fortified structure built there in 1173. The sheltered mountain position that once made for protection against outsiders now shields the town from TV reception. State broadcaster RAI's signal doesn't come through at all while only one channel from commercial broadcaster Mediaset gets through for a few hours if the weather is right.

Perhaps politicians and church officials, who have been trying to convince Italians to raise a one of the world's lowest birth rates, should take note. Towns throughout Italy now offer 'social subsidies' that grow with the family as incentives. A typical program offers cash for the first five years of a child's life, doubling for every sibling added to the family.Some of the more whimsical initiatives honoring precious newborns include towns like Moretta, where the main square lights up for each new citizen or Monza, where each family is sent a personalized poem marking the event.

Torri's baby boom may not last forever, though, some local residents have successfully petitioned to have a new antenna tower installed.

Adults only, please.