An Italian man, Stefano Lotumolo, is walking from the Umbria town of Assisi to Riace, in Calabria, to meet with former mayor Mimmo Lucano as part of an initiative to raise public awareness on the importance of welcoming migrants.
In a symbolic initiative to raise public awareness on the importance of welcoming migrants, a man is walking from Assisi, the town of Saint Francis, to the town of Riace, in the southern Italian region of Calabria.
Lotumolo began his pilgrimage on October 4. He is now close to Riace, although he might have to interrupt his journey due to the coronavirus emergency.
He was scheduled to arrive in Riace in about a week's time to meet with Lucano, the mayor who over many years helped integrate over 6,000 asylum seekers in Riace, a town that had very few residents left up until 17 years ago.
Lotumolo walks on average 25 kilometers a day, sleeping in a tent or in the home of those who want to host him. He is alone and communicates through emails and text messages.
An activist for migrants
Born in the Tuscan city of Lucca, Lotumolo, 33, is based in the Sardinian city of Olbia with the association he chairs, Africa Masterpiece Children.
He played soccer professionally with Lucca's local team Lucchese but after two injuries he was forced to retire. He then worked as a floriculturist and as a pizza chef. He has been working as a photographer since 2015 to portray "what is right and what isn't," he said.
On September 25, he was at the port of Olbia together with colleagues who work for magazines specialized in immigration to report on the arrival of immigrants aboard migrant-rescue ship Alan Kurdi. He says that he will write a book on his pilgrimage while his photos will continue to portray the world around him.
Activism will not stop in Riace
The planned meeting with Mimmo Lucano is aimed at giving visibility to Africa Masterpiece Children. The organization is active in Tanzania, where it promotes initiatives to help women and children, fighting against infibulation and promoting education.
Moreover, the activist said he is not stopping in Riace but will continue to work for the causes close to his heart.
"I left behind a life without limits," he said of his youth. "The world spins too fast, it is necessary to take a break," he continued, adding he did not want to be consumed by "work, stress, a career."
He decided to take this journey because, even after taking up photography, "I had many projects and I was always running around."
"I have to slow down now," the activist explained.
He took ''two steps'' from Assisi to Riace because "Saint Francis loved all human beings like brothers and Mimmo Lucano's project is unique."