The Italian Almanac


Best for Children

Turin, which has given the world Juventus, Fiat and solid chocolate, was named as the best city in Italy for children. The capital of Piedmont won out in a new study thanks to the wide range of programmes for kids run by the city council to develop environmental awareness, civic sense and an appreciation of local culture. Experts from environmental group Legambiente, who penned the 'Ecosistema Bambino' report, said they were particularly impressed by the way the city kept initiatives for children going over the years. They said that all too often city administrations started off full of ideas and enthusiasm, setting up youth committees to advise them, but then allowed the shows, camps and meetings to fizzle out.

Behind Turin came Ravenna, a historic city on the northern Adriatric which like many others in Emilia Romagna has consistently performed well, and Rome, which has shot up the standings since being placed 17th two years ago. The Ecosistema Bambino survey takes into account the ways councils try to involve children, the presence of offices dedicated to them, the number of museums, libraries and theatres catering to youngsters and the quantity of courses, clubs and newletters for kids.

While Legambiente was quick to praise cities like Turin, Ravenna and Rome, it complained that too many municipal governments were ignoring their duty to help children grow and socialise outside school. ''There haven't been many interesting experiments for a long time. Italian cities need to focus on the younger generations, on getting them involved,'' said Rosella Muroni, the organisation's director general.

Southern cities tended to fare poorly in the study. Bottom of the pile were Oristano and Nuoro in Sardinia and Catanzaro in Calabria. But Muroni stressed that it wasn't all grim down south. She noted that the Sicilian town of Caltanissetta - known to many for its Mafia connections - had started an innovative and energetic campaign to educate children in why respect for the law was fundamental.

Asked to imagine the best possible city for Italian children, she said it would combine Turin's council schemes, the cultural attractions of Rome and Caltanissetta's determination to get children involved in the life of the city.