A baby boy named Pablo, born last week, is one of the biggest miracles of a tiny Italian town that hasn’t seen a newborn resident since the 1980s, nearly three decades, the first in 28 years.
Although Pablo was born about 90 kilometres away in Turin, the town of Ostana is celebrating the boy’s birth as a “dream come true,” according to mayor Giacomo Lombardo.
The mayor of Ostana, which is located about 695km north-west of Italian capital, Rome and lies in the mountains of the Piedmont region, says the new arrival is a “dream come true” for the tiny community, which has seen its population plummet over the past 100 years. Baby Pablo, who was born in a Turin hospital last week, takes the number of inhabitants to 85, although only about half live there permanently, Ostana’s population has continuously fallen, a fate shared by many other Italian towns and villages, La Stampa newspaper reports.
Mayor Giacomo Lombardo says that while 1,000 people called Ostana home in the early 1900s, a steady drop in the birth rate began after World War Two.
“The real decline started in 1975, with 17 babies between 1976 and 1987, when the last boy was born – until little Pablo.”
“It’s great to finally have someone born here and it shows that our efforts to reverse population decline are slowly working,” the mayor said.
Ostana is trying to reverse the depopulation trend, primarily by creating new jobs. Pablo’s parents, Silvia and Jose, aren’t even native to the town, they had planned to move five years ago, to the French island of Reunion, in the Indian Ocean, to live and work, but stayed put when offered the chance to manage the nearby mountain refuge. Pablo’s mother, Silvia Rovere, is from the Piedmont region, where Ostana is located, while father Jose Vallelago Berdugo is originally from Madrid, Spain.
Pablo’s arrival is being marked with a party with hopes this will be the start of a reversal of that depopulation trend.
But the population decline will be hard to stop, no matter what ideas Mayor Lombardo comes up with. Younger Italians in particular say there are few attractive job prospects in rural areas. Many have moved to cities, leaving their hometowns to the elderly. Ostana, has only one shop, a bar and two restaurants, according to the Italian news site the Local.
Parts of Northern Italy especially small towns have experienced the steepest population decline over the past couple of decades and have been the hardest hit in the country due to unavailable opportunities for career and lower quality of life, as young people move out to find work. Some have tried to reverse the trend by giving away empty houses for free, while one mayor focused his efforts on stopping the existing population from declining by “banning” residents from falling ill.