Italians, the descendants of the water-savvy and water-loving Romans, still maintain a potable supply of drinking water today. Overall, the water quality in Italy is excellent. Italy’s drinking water is safe to drink and widely available, with public fountains running fresh drinking water throughout many major cities.

These fountains, called “nasoni,” which means “big noses” in Italian, provide high-quality and free drinking water in cities like Rome and Florence for locals and tourists alike. Florence regulates its water with a strict code of 61 parameters. Florentine officials examine the chemicals in the water and its microbiology using these parameters to ensure potability.

Both rural and urban populations in Italy have 100 percent access to improved water sources, making water quality in Italy superb, even better than the United States, which comes in at 99 percent access to improved water sources.

Although all Italians have access to improved water sources, the water quality in Italy does vary slightly by city. Naples, for example, has lower quality water than most other major Italian cities. The water in Naples “may be safe to drink” according to a tourist water safety website. However, strains of local E. coli are present within Naples’ tap water. Locals are accustomed to these strains of E. coli, but tourists and other visitors are not. Therefore, the water is safe for locals, but visitors require a transition period in order to drink the water without experiencing unpleasant after-effects, such as diarrhea.

The inferiority of Naples’ drinking water compared to other Italian cities could be due to the toxic waste and immense pollution in Naples. Some claim that the mafia dumped hazardous industrial waste on agricultural lands outside of Naples, creating pollution problems. More obvious pollutants are the immense piles of garbage lining the streets of Naples and the litter on its surrounding farmlands.

Although pollution threatens health and safety standards in Naples, the city fights against it by cleaning up dirtied areas and installing spaces for outdoor recreation. By 2014, the city of Naples created a larger beachfront for pedestrian use and a bicycle lane lining its coast. Additionally, large portions of Naples’ bay have been cleaned, allowing for swimmers to retake the water.

Decreasing pollution creates tangibly increased standards of health and safety, including better water quality in Italy. Additionally, reigning in pollution increases the quality of living for residents of a city, as it provides greener and more appealing outdoor spaces, encouraging physical activity for its residents.

Mary Kate Luft

Photo: Flickr

10 facts about Italy refugees
Italy has become one of the top destinations for refugees, or asylum seekers, over the past few years. Many of its current refugees transport via boat, crossing the Mediterranean Sea on their way to find peace. Here are 10 facts about Italy refugees:

  1. In 2016, Italy broke its record of asylum seekers admitted from the Mediterranean, at close to 200,000 for the year.
  2. Eighty-five percent of these migrants were from African countries, including Nigeria, Eritrea, and Sudan.
  3. More than 176,000 refugees are in reception centers.
  4. October and November were record-breaking months for Italy, with more refugees making the sea voyage than in previous years. This was partially due to better sea conditions.
  5. Better sea conditions resulted in more people traveling on a single boat, which also resulted in more deaths. Almost 5,000 people died at sea in 2016, compared to fewer than 4,000 the previous year.
  6. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that more than 85 percent of migrants arriving in Italy through the Mediterranean started their journey in Libya.
  7. In September 2016, European countries agreed to relocate 160,000 refugees from Italy and Greece, to help ease the heavy loads that these two countries carry — only 4,000 were displaced.
  8. Some Italy refugees perform volunteer community service — sweeping the streets, cleaning up parks and maintaining gardens.
  9. According to the U.N. refugee agency, 26,000 unaccompanied minors made the trek to Italy last year.
  10. The Italian government is constructing a plan to integrate asylum seekers into the workforce while they are waiting in the reception centers.

Attempts to get help from other European countries to lessen the load on Italy have fizzled out over the past few years. As a result, the Italian government strains to make providing aid to those who flee from turmoil possible. These 10 facts about Italy refugees illustrate the difficulties, and the opportunities, that this mass displacement presents for all countries.

Dustin Jayroe

Photo: Flickr

Italy attracts thousands of tourists because of its food, history and beautiful coastlines. However, the diseases that Italians are prone to are often overlooked. In 2012, certain diseases resulted in 613,520 deaths in Italy. Here is a quick overview of the top Italian diseases.

Heart Diseases

Ischemic heart disease took the lives of 75,098 Italians in 2012. Other types of heart diseases killed 48,384 Italians in 2012. In general, heart conditions accounted for 30 percent of all deaths in Italy that year. Symptoms of ischemic heart disease include recurrent chest pain and discomfort due to a lack of blood flow to the heart.  Ischemic heart disease develops when cholesterol particles accumulate on artery walls that supply blood to the heart. Eventually, the arteries become clogged, blocking the flow of blood to the heart.

Cerebrovascular Diseases

 Cerebrovascular diseases have resulted in the deaths of thousands of Italians. Cerebrovascular diseases refer to all disorders in a specific area of the brain that is impacted by ischemia or bleeding. Strokes and aneurysms are common examples of cerebrovascular diseases.


Trachea, bronchus and lung cancer killed 33,538 Italians in 2012. Such cancers were the second causing cause of death for men in that year. Each of these cancers impacts the lungs and throat area of the body and are caused by smoking.

The top Italian diseases generally result from poor lifestyle decisions, such as lack of exercise, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. The most common diseases in the country can be prevented if Italians commit to making simple lifestyle changes. Proper lifestyle choices can help decrease the prevalence of these diseases and can allow many Italians to enjoy their beautiful country and culture for longer periods of time.

Mary Waller

Photo: Flickr

Food Waste in Italy
Each year, about one-third of the food produced worldwide, 1.3 billion tons, is lost or wasted — enough to feed the one billion people who are malnourished and two billion more. Including food waste in Italy and France, the food wasted in Europe alone could provide for 200 million people.

“The problem is simple — we have food going to waste and poor people who are going hungry,” French politician Arash Derambarsh said to the Independent.

France became the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from disposing of unsold foods and require them to instead donate the products to charities and food banks. The Italian Parliament has become the second to introduce food waste reform.

In contrast to its French counterparts, however, Italy’s bill rewards supermarkets for helping reduce food waste instead of punishing them for not doing their part.

Current law requires stores to declare each donation five days in advance, preventing supermarkets from giving away excess. Once the new bill becomes law, markets will only need to submit a document detailing what was given at the end of the month. The donations will go to public authorities and non-profit organizations.

The new legislation also allows markets to donate mislabeled food products if the expiration date and allergy information are properly indicated. A food education program for schools, a national awareness campaign and a take-out system for restaurants will follow within the next three years.

According to La Reppublica, 43 percent of food waste in Italy happens at the consumer’s home. Each person wastes an average of 76 kilograms per year, costing the country $18 million. Maruzio Martina, the Italian agriculture minister, said he hopes to increase Italy’s food recovery from 550 million tons to 1 billion.

Many hope the bill will not only reduce food waste in Italy but also benefit the 6 million Italians living in poverty who rely on donations to survive.

The waste-bill, brainchild of Italian member of parliament Maria Chiara Gadda, has received bipartisan support, and was passed in the Senate on August 2.

Ashley Leon

Photo: Flickr

Montessori Education
Montessori education is a different method of education that focuses on student development rather than learning. In other words, it does not emphasize exams, quizzes or grades. In fact, it aims to create mature and socially adept students. The system was invented by Maria Montessori around 1900 in Italy to educate poor children.

In a study in the U.S., students following the Montessori system performed better than traditional students. The biggest differences were in social skills and behavior. There is also more beliefs of justice and fairness in Montessori Education and emotionally positive feelings.

The Montessori education believes that children learn best when they choose by themselves what to learn. In Montessori classes today, there are children from different age backgrounds who participate in various activities. Teachers are only there to guide the children through the activities.

In Montessori classrooms, children learn the value of independence. This makes them capable of making the right decisions and seeking knowledge by themselves. Also, they learn to support and help each other which builds a sense of responsibility. Tracy Yarke, a teacher who uses Montessori style at Rasmussen College says the style uses the child’s interests to spark learning and develop at their own pace.

By focusing on multiple activities with different paces for every child, Montessori education helps build leadership, coordination and concentration skills. This is a lot of freedom for the students to pick up their own activities but they are all performed with specified parameters. Students are also taught in a family based environment. It gives them the support and the encouragement to seek knowledge by themselves.

A recent report by Dr. Elliott Landon, a superintendent of schools in Long Beach, explained that improving the quality of education in both local and national levels is associated with providing a good pre-school education. The number of Montessori school in the U.S. has increased by 33 percent since 1981.

On a global level, Montessori schools have opened in various locations around the world. There are schools in Egypt, Thailand, Tanzania, Mexico and Argentina. Most of these schools started operating quite recently in the twenty-first century. The schools have gained support among refugee communities in those developing countries. Montessori education in developing countries also aims to give better chances for disadvantaged children who face problems to acquire basic traditional education.

Noman Ahmed

Photo: Flickr

Mobile Medical Unit
Revolutionary in more ways than one, the Vatican recently donated a mobile medical unit to the people of one of the most ancient cities on the planet. The unit tours Rome’s borders and offers free health care to those in need — including but not limited to immigrants, expectant mothers and children.

Pope Francis is a prominent voice for those in need. Regularly speaking out about people living in poverty, the Pope frequently stresses the importance and impact that the impoverished have on society.

The life-saving vehicle does its best to blend in — with Vatican City license plates and the Holy See’s coat of arms (two keys topped by a papal crown), the mobile medical unit is Roman through and through. Dr. Lucia Ercoli, director of the Instituto di Medicina Solidale, said that using Vatican license plates allows migrants living in inhumane conditions to experience the closeness of the Pope and the church.

Istituto di Medicina Solidale staff, a group of volunteer doctors, health care professionals and medical students, use the RV-styled vehicle to assist people in need. The vehicle serves a diverse group of people, including many refugee children who lost their parents during the dangerous journey from their home country to Italy.

The group has been active since 2004 and partners with other nonprofit groups and the church to create makeshift clinics that offer services to the poor. In the summer of 2015, the association started providing services to a church-run center for immigrants near a city train station. In one day, hundreds of people showed up for check-ups.

In March of 2015, the Vatican opened a “clinic for the poor” located near the colonnade. The clinic offered free medical treatment and services to those unable to afford basic medical care.

Additionally, the Vatican has provided access to showers and barbershops. In October 2015, Pope Francis and his fellow Jesuits converted an old travel agency into a dormitory for the homeless.

The Vatican mobile medical unit provides a more private setting for patients and includes more equipment. As of August 2016, the vehicle has accommodated more than 2,000 people near shanty towns and abandoned buildings while simultaneously paving the way for further developments in healthcare.

Jacqueline Venuti

Photo: Pixabay

Poverty In Italy

Causes of Poverty in Italy

Poverty in Italy is on the rise as millions of Italians are unable to heat their homes and afford basic necessities. A recession, soaring unemployment and an increasing migrant population are the biggest contributors so far. In light of these conditions, Italians are working together to reduce poverty rates.

A post-war recession caused the number of people living in absolute and relative poverty to jump in 2012; southern regions were hit especially hard. Italy’s unemployment rate, like its economy, is slow to recover. Despite living in the third-largest economy in the eurozone, youths between 15-24 years of age are hit the hardest as approximately 40% are unemployed.

The Group of the Party of European Socialists (PES Group) in the Committee of the Regions (CoR) hopes to address this issue through the Giovanisi project in Tuscany. This project, which draws support from the European Union’s Structural Fund, includes initiatives to promote a right to study, vocational skills, entrepreneurship, support for housing and independent living as well as services related to well-being in the community.

Food Security

Food security is also an issue for many citizens. Of the 8.6 million impoverished people in Italy, about 16.6% of families live in poverty and cannot afford healthy meals. As a result, a family may go without meat once every two days. According to the Associated Press, Italy’s highest court ruled that stealing small amounts of food is no longer illegal for the country’s destitute and starving in May 2016.

Pope Francis recently visited the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to address the need to end hunger. The pope called on U.N. member states to strengthen their commitment to serving and cooperating with WFP. “In this way, the World Food Program will not only be able to respond to emergencies but also implement sound and consistent projects and promote long-term development programs, as requested by each of the governments and in keeping with the needs of their peoples,” said the pope. Despite the lack of food security in Italy, the European nation was one of the top 25 donors to the WFP in 2015.

Migration into Italy

Italy has also seen a spike in the number of migrants. According to the Telegraph, “There are more than 130,000 migrants living in reception centers in Italy, waiting to hear if they will be granted asylum or expelled.” However, migrants have played a role in aiding police officers in the town of Caltanissetta, Sicily. According to The Local, officers struggled with providing support to the thousands of foreign visitors and migrants that pass through each year. Police Chief Diego Peruga approached the city’s mayor, Giovanni Ruvolo, about getting lessons for his officers. Ruvolo thought it would be beneficial if some of the city’s asylum seekers could teach a 30-hour basic English course for the police force; the asylum seekers were happy to volunteer as teachers. “It also provides them with the opportunity to give something back to the town which has welcomed them with open arms,” said Ruvolo.

There is still much work to be done to alleviate poverty in Italy — changes in the economy and unemployment cannot happen overnight. Thanks to these initiatives the country is getting on the right track.

Veronica Ung-Kono

Ending Hunger in Italy

In the past few years, remarkable progress has been made toward ending hunger in Italy and throughout Europe. However, there are still 836 million people living in poverty worldwide along with 795 million people struggling with chronic hunger.

By looking at Italy’s approach to addressing hunger and poverty–both domestically and internationally–the achievements and shortcomings of Italy’s social policy reveals the complexities of the fight to end global hunger by 2030.

10 Facts About Ending Hunger in Italy

  1. The rate of undernourishment in Italy is at 5 percent, according to the Global Food Security Index. This low figure is in part due to Italy’s food safety net programs, school lunch programs and high nutritional standards.
  2. Italy has one of the highest child poverty rates in Europe. Children are subsequently more at risk of living in a food insecure household. About 15.9 percent of Italian children live in relative poverty, according to UNICEF. Relative poverty is defined as living in a household where disposable income is less than 50 percent of the national median income when adjusted for family size and composition.
  3. Over one in four Italians are at risk of poverty or social exclusion, according to Italian news agency ANSA. In 2015, Italy’s poverty risk rate rested at 28.4 percent versus the European Union average of 24.5 percent after years of facing an economic crisis.
  4. According to UNICEF, an estimated 13.3 percent of children in Italy are deprived of some basic necessities even if they don’t live below the poverty line. UNICEF included 14 items on the deprivation index including whether or not children had access to three meals per day, fresh fruits and vegetables every day, and at least one meal with a rich protein source.
  5. If you’re homeless and hungry, it may not be a crime to steal food from a supermarket in Italy, according to an Italian court ruling this year. The Supreme Court of Cassation revoked the conviction of Roman Ostriakov, a homeless man from Ukraine, attempting to leave a supermarket with cheese and sausage in his pocket after only paying for some breadsticks. The circumstances under which Ostriakov stole was enough for the court to decide that he stole in a state of immediate and essential need which does not constitute crime, according to ANSA.
  6. Social welfare resources in Italy, such as the Social Card, are inadequate for alleviating poverty and ending hunger in Italy. According to a national report by Combatting Poverty in Europe (COPE), the Social Card is a debit card charged on a bimonthly basis – financed by public resources and private donations – and is used to purchase groceries and pay basic utilities. The Social Card has been subject to heated debate due to the strict and very limited eligibility of getting a card, and the inadequate financial assistance the card provides to low income families.
  7. In response to the apparent need for improving social welfare programs in Italy, organizations like the Costa Crociere Foundation formed to provide humanitarian assistance. The Costa Crociere Foundation addresses the main causes of poverty by “giving people the tools they need to lift themselves out of hunger” in the long term while working to ease the short-term effects of hunger and homelessness. They do this through food assistance programs and providing shelter for the homeless.
  8. In 2015, Expo Milano was hosted in Milan, Italy centered around the theme “Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life.” The exposition’s primary objective is to foster international dialogue on the challenges concerning food security, malnutrition and sustainable agricultural practices. Expo Milano was visited by an estimated 20 million people, according to the Brookings Institution.
  9. While the Italian government and local organizations continue to grapple with alleviating poverty and ending hunger in Italy, the country is also a top donor for international hunger relief programs. According to the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), Italy is as a generous donor and partner with IFAD in their shared mission to make food security a reality worldwide. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations also recognizes Italy’s contribution to 39 projects that have been implemented in 85 countries “with the aim of addressing poverty and improving food security by enhancing agricultural productivity.
  10. Ending hunger in Italy is not Italy’s only goal. The United Nations, including Italy, aims to end world hunger by 2030. The UN and partner organizations plan to end world hunger by primarily focusing on increasing investment in rural infrastructure and agricultural resources in developing countries and reforming food security policies worldwide.

Daniela N. Sarabia

Photo: Pixabay

Poverty in Italy
Rome, Italy has a population of nearly 2.9 million people and is considered to be one of Europe’s most significant cities. Notwithstanding its status as a city rich with culture and history, Rome is also a victim of poverty.

Although the country has seem some economic stability during the past several years, Rome, as well as the rest of Italy, are not foreign to financial turmoil.

Several years ago, poverty in Italy reached its highest level in over 16 years. It resulted in high levels of unemployment and lower wages. Today, more than 16 percent of the country’s population lives in poverty.

In Italy, poverty is defined by a family of two living on a monthly income of 991 euros or less.

Similar to much of the industrialized world, Italy experienced an economic recession following the global stock market downturn of the late 2000s. Between 2011 and 2012, the nation saw its poverty levels increase.

Like the rest of the country, Rome’s economy is decidedly mixed. Even though Italy has seen some economic improvement in recent years, there continues to be some worrisome signs.

As a metropolitan city and popular tourist destination, Rome, like many of Europe’s cities, regularly sees its economy boosted by tourism. This is in conjunction with an increasingly significant number of African refugees who occupy isolated camps and villages around the city.

Unlike other countries, Italy does not provide refugees with adequate skill sets and chances to seek new economic opportunities. Many of these refugees, who are from the impoverished nations of the Horn of Africa, often find similar poverty conditions along the outskirts of Rome.

Such poverty is not limited to African refugees, however. Thousands of children in the city live in a state of poverty. Austerity measures, generated by the recession of recent years, have not had much of an effect.

Perhaps only time can help alleviate some of Rome’s economic suffering. With its notable tourism industry, Rome will likely remain one of Europe’s most prominent cities despite its lingering poverty problem.

– Ethan Safran

Sources: Reuters, Ansa Med, Open Society Foundations, Global Post, The Guardian
Photo: RT

poverty in naples
There is truth to the common stereotype that Naples, Italy is a poor and dirty city ruled by the mafia. Indeed, organized crime and political corruption have hampered the city’s development for decades.

Despite being a major tourist destination, Naples is one of the poorest cities in Europe. The city has an unemployment rate of about 28 percent, and some estimates even put the rate as high as 40 percent.

Across all of Italy, the economic situation has been on the decline. Ever since the 2008 recession struck, Italy has lagged behind the rest of Europe by a significant margin.

The poverty rate is the highest it’s been in at least 16 years. And matters are far worse in the south — where Naples is located — than in the richer north. Between 2011 and 2012 alone, poverty rose in the north from 4.9 percent to 6.2 percent compared to 23.3 percent to 26.2 percent in the south.

A recent study in Naples showed that only three percent of the population said that it was “easy to find a good job.”

Italy’s economic downfall has hit poor Neapolitans harder than most. The recession has forced a series of spending cuts. In 2010, the Campania region ended its minimum welfare program which delivered over 130,000 families into the clutches of poverty.

And those few Neapolitans who can find legitimate work have found the pay insufficient to support a family. The result has been a shocking increase in child labor.

Thousands of Neapolitan children have been forced to work just to keep their families afloat.

After his father suddenly died of cancer, 10-year-old Gennaro had to drop out of school and begin work as a shop assistant. He wakes up every morning at 7 a.m. and begins his work carrying boxes and crates for less than a euro an hour — which is significantly more than his mother earns.

He and his family live in a tiny 35-square-meter apartment in downtown Naples. Their story is becoming an increasingly common one for the area.

Between 2005 and 2009, 54,000 children in the Campania region dropped out of school, presumably to begin working. Of those kids, 38 percent were under 13 years of age.

As bad as child labor is, the more menacing case is when the kid drops out of school to work for the local mafia. The Camorra crime family — which runs Naples’ lucrative and dangerous black market — is infamous for employing child soldiers.

The mafia in Naples has built up an army of young pickpockets and enforcers. Take for example 12-year-old Marco, who was drafted as a pickpocket when his family fell into debt with mafia loan sharks. Camorra made Marco drop out of school and join their ranks, where he then became addicted to cocaine.

The crime-ridden state of affairs in Naples has made one in five locals say they “rarely or never felt safe” in their neighborhood.

While Italy’s economic crisis has played a large part in the misfortunes of Naples, it is the rampant organized crime that is primarily to blame. For a long-term, sustainable fix to poverty in Naples, the mafia’s grip on the city’s politics must be eliminated.

Sam Hillestad

Sources: European Commission, Reuters, VoxEurop
Photo: Flickr