Image from website Sprar.it  redit: ANSA
Image from website Sprar.it redit: ANSA

Young refugees and asylum seekers in the Italian region of Calabria have had the opportunity to learn about Italian cultural heritage restoration through an art restoration project.

Refugees hosted in some reception centres in Italy's Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees (SPRAR) program have been working for a few months on cultural and historical heritage restoration in towns in the area of Vallo di Diano, in the southern region of Calabria. 

The project, titled "Art Workshop: We Restore in Colour," involved young men from centres for unaccompanied minors in the provinces of Padula, Atena Lucana, Montesano sulla Marcellana, Polla and Sassano. In recent months they attended a restoration course, after which they began performing some initial work in the field. In addition to having the opportunity to learn a trade, the young "restorers" have been taking part in the local community life. 

The desire to stand out and learn 

In Padula, after having worked with the young restorer Massimiliano Pignata, the men got to work on the entrance door at the Joe Petrosino Museum House, a symbol of integration. Petrosino was a police officer who had been born in Padula and emigrated to the United States in the 1970s. 

Restorer Pignata said the young men gave him a lot during the time they worked together. "I was able to see how much they wish to stand out and their great desire to learn," he said. "There are some among them with talent, and I really hope they continue to cultivate it, because they have everything they need to become excellent restorers. This project will leave them with knowledge they can use in their lives." 

A doorway as a symbol of integration 

In recent days, the doorway that the young men restored was handed back over to the community. Padula cultural assessor Filomena Chiappardo said the choice of the entrance door was symbolic. "The museum is part of Padula's heritage, and this is a gesture of integration and participation in the community's social life," Chiappardo said. "Joe Petrosino is a model of healthy emigration, of an Italian who is a worldwide symbol of the fight against the mafia, a teaching for all. The collaboration with the city will continue in the coming months with new initiatives." 

In addition to the door at the Joe Petrosino Museum House, the young men also restored the door of the Constantinople Church in Atena Lucana and are currently working on restorations in the cities of Montesano sulla Marcellana, Polla and Sassano. 

 

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