Sicilian Villages Festival: Stop depopulation, empower youth to enhance extraordinary places.

From May 10th to 26th, the Festival of Villages returns in Sicily, a event that focuses on involving young people and is part of a social regeneration and identity re-appropriation process led by the Fondazione Le Vie dei Tesori together with the Municipalities and the Regional School Office to rediscover an extraordinary hidden heritage, promote the creation of new tourist itineraries, and combat depopulation processes.

“The villages project is our most challenging project,” says Laura Anello, president of Le Vie dei Tesori. “Our goal is to use the heritage of these small communities as a lever to reverse depopulation, enhancing extraordinary places and itineraries with the contribution of young people. Based on this experience, we have successfully applied to represent the project Italea in Sicily. We like to think that the descendants of emigrants, who represent an extraordinary tourist and economic potential for their places of origin, can help today’s youth to not emigrate out of necessity.”

“It is a nice recognition,” says Sasà Salvaggio, testimonial of the event, chosen for his connection with Italian communities abroad. “I am now a bridge between Sicily and Sicilians living abroad. And among them, I find things that we have forgotten here. We must be tied to our roots.”

“Our Botanical Garden, a precious treasure of the plant world with plants from every corner of the planet,” says Massimo Midiri, rector of the University of Palermo, alongside Michelangelo Gruttadauria, president of the University Museum System. “It will now travel the world to showcase its extraordinary biodiversity. The University of Palermo thus adheres to the Italea Sicilia project, the territorial antenna of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to bring the flowers of Sicilian fields to the descendants of emigrants scattered around the world, hoping that they will soon come to smell their scent in their land of origin, discovering a land that has changed from the times of their ancestors, a land capable of development and innovation from which we hope there will be less emigration.”

“The Sicilia Foundation enthusiastically adheres to an initiative like this,” comments president Raffaele Bonsignore, “which strengthens ties between territories and cultures through roots and reclamation of places. The Sicilia Foundation has always prioritized the promotion of the island in all its forms, including interventions to revalue and regenerate villages at risk of depopulation. It is essential that these small, unique centers in the world also become an opportunity for work for the many young people who will hopefully soon not be forced to leave their land. In this sense, roots tourism can and must open new paths.”

“This virtuous project,” says Enrica Ronchini, External Relations Manager at Igt, “includes not only the mapping and digitization of cultural sites but also the training of young people from local communities who will be prepared to know and tell their land, also through digital tools. Training of young people, enhancement of historical-artistic heritage, and technological innovation are the cornerstones of our commitment to the community, fully realized in the Villages of Treasures Roots Fest, allowing us to share the values that guide us and connect us to the roots of the country.”

Anna Prizzi for Usr (Regional School Office) highlighted “the great work done with the kids is beautiful: through storytelling, they can tell the outside world about places, values, testimonies. It could be their future work with the awareness of belonging to a territory that has future prospects.”

Il festival dei borghi siciliani, Laura Anello: «Stop allo spopolamento, valorizziamo luoghi straordinari col contributo dei giovani»

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