Rural Reception

Lago San Ruffino, Italy – September 2014
Lago San Ruffino isn’t really called that, that’s what the locals call it because it is near to the abbey of San Ruffino, the tower just below the lake in this picture.
Lago di San Ruffino seen from the woods above Smerillo. Very pretty, but if you are a migrant from Africa who has been sent to the reception centre here, rather rural for your future needs, I would say.
I noticed this autumn, when I went for a meal in the Osteria del Lago that there were a large number of black Africans hanging around about. I asked about it of the people who run the restaurant. ‘They’re from Gambia’, said the woman, ‘They’re staying at the white house just along the road behind the barrier. It has become a reception centre for people seeking asylum. It’s paid for by the commune’.
This white house has for some years been being done up as an agriturismo, I think it was planned to be called Agriturismo della Nonna or something similar. And it seems that as with many a guest house in Rhyl or Morecambe, they found a shortage of paying customers and so have, in effect, hired it out to Social Services.
When I walked up to the house there was a social worker with a sandy beard and circular white-toothed smile – social workers look the same the world over – with a clipboard in his hand, talking to some young African men – more boys than men.
The woman in the Osteria agreed with me that the African men and youths cannot find work, as they do not have a permesso di soggiorno, they just have to hang around until something happens, either their applications are accepted, in which case they get their permesso though that does not leave them a lot better off, or they get deported back to wherever they came from, which is unlikely to actually happen. And in the meantime they hang around. ‘It’s a big problem’, she said, ‘All over Italy’. It sure is!
Some African young men climb the slope back to the reception house.
Dealing with the washing.
The migrants presumably get fed and may receive an allowance, I understand this is €35 per day, paid from the European Fund for Refugees, though they may not get all of this in cash, some will go towards their accommodation and upkeep (I think). More on this (in Italian) at
Some people locally gripe that the migrants all seem to have new mobile phones, but I suspect the phones aren’t new and that for the most part they brought them with them. But the perception of course is, ‘These migrants being given all this stuff and we don’t get nuffing’.
It gets quite cold in the winter in these parts, with sometimes quite a lot of snow. And can be very wet with landslides in the spring. So doesn’t look like a very comfortable winter to look forward to. And what will happen? Centres such as this are springing up all over Italy, while yet more migrants arrive to make a need for yet more centres. A big problem indeed.

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