The Italian Almanac

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Sweeping Mayor

The mayor of a Piemonte town pledged to don dustmen's overalls and clean the streets of his city every morning in a bid to keep the costs of urban cleaning costs to a minimum. Varallo Mayor Gianluca Buonanno, who is also a Northern League MP, said he will also empty bins during his morning shift, leaving afternoons free for his mayoral and political duties.

''Fortunately Varallo is already clean and orderly - so much so that many compare it to a Swiss town. But that's not enough - I want to improve it further and above all I want to contain the costs of the urban cleaning service,'' Buonanno explained. ''Dedicating myself personally to the service, I want to understand how much work can be done every hour. ''It will also make it easier for my constituents to meet me - they won't have to make an appointment with my office but can find the mayor and MP on the streets,'' he added.

Buonanno did not mention if he had been inspired by a barrage of media images last week that showed Premier Silvio Berlusconi taking a broom to the streets of Naples for 15 minutes. The premier also picked up rubbish during the photo opportunity, urging locals to keep the city as clean as they would their own homes to prevent another waste crisis like the one that crippled the Campania region this year.