Italian Town Welcomes First Baby in 28 Years


It’s not uncommon for babies to enter this world with an adoring entourage of family and friends already in place. But your average newborn is nowhere near as popular as baby Pablo, whose fan club is 84 strong—and growing. Pablo has the distinction of being the first baby born in Ostano, Italy in nearly three decades.

The population of the remote Italian town—currently at 85, including baby Pablo—has been creeping toward zero for decades. A century ago, Ostano was thriving, with a flourishing economy and more than 1000 residents. However, the town hasn't seen that population high point in years.

It’s hard to find work in towns like Ostano, where commerce consists of a mountain lodge, a single bar, two restaurants, and one shop. As a result, new generations are packing up and leaving for the cities, or at least towns with more financial opportunity. That flight of the young people has left remaining residents scrambling to keep their towns alive.

Ostano isn't the only Italian town facing this problem. Hoping to slow death rates, one town instituted mandatory doctor visits. Another area, Gangi, decided to sell about 20 homes for less than $2 to buyers who agree to stay and renovate the buildings.

“The problem is that there is really an absence of politics to help small mountain communities—we are a long way from Rome,” Ostano mayor Giacomo Lombardo told The Local.

By the 1970s and '80s, there was a real chance Ostano could die out completely. At its lowest point, Ostano’s population totaled five full-time residents. Only 17 babies were born there between 1976 and 1987, and none have arrived since—until Pablo. And even that was a close call.

Pablo’s parents Silvia Rovere and Josè Berdugo Vallelago were ready to leave. They’d even bought plane tickets. But Ostano’s town council had begun fighting to keep its people. The council offered Rovere and Vallelago jobs at the lodge. They decided to stay.

"It's great to finally have someone born here, and it shows that our efforts to reverse population decline are slowly working," Lombardo said in The Local.

The town is throwing a party for baby Pablo and his family, who say they’re glad they stuck around. "We never regretted our decision," Vallelago told the Italian newspaper La Stampa. "This place immediately felt like home."

[h/t The Washington Post]

Paris is Selling Its Love Locks, and Donating the Proceeds to Refugee Organizations

Paris officials have turned an urban problem into a public service: They’re selling the city’s “love locks” as souvenirs and donating the proceeds to refugee groups. The Guardian first reported the news back in December, and now—beginning on Saturday, May 13—the locks will be auctioned off online.

For traveling couples, the padlocks they affixed to the iron grills of the French city’s bridges, initials scrawled on the surface, were a symbol of romance. But to Parisian officials, they were a civil danger. Fearing that the locks would weaken overpasses like the Pont des Arts, the city began dismantling the metal trinkets in 2015.

Left with 1 million padlocks (which totaled 65 metric tons of scrap metal), authorities needed a creative way to repurpose the waste. So they decided to sell 10 metric tons of locks to members of the public, marketing them as relics of the city’s bygone history.

“Members of the public can buy five or 10 locks, or even clusters of them, all at an affordable price,” Bruno Julliard, first deputy mayor of Paris, said in a statement quoted by The Guardian in 2016. “All of the proceeds will be given to those who work in support and in solidarity of the refugees in Paris.”

The locks will be sold in a variety of lots, some of them just as a single souvenir, others in groups. Smaller lots are expected to sell for anywhere from $100 to $200, while pieces of the padlocked railings could go for as much as $5000 to $9000 apiece. Proceeds will benefit the Salvation Army, Emmaus Solidarity, and Solipam.

99-Year-Old Woman Checks "Spending Time in Jail" Off Her Bucket List

When a senior looks back on his or her life to assess their triumphs and regrets, “not getting arrested” typically falls into the former category. But according to the BBC, a 99-year-old woman in the Netherlands wished she had spent time in the slammer. To help her achieve this unconventional bucket list dream, law officers let the woman, named Annie, hang out in a jail cell—with handcuffs on—at the police station in the eastern Dutch town of Nijmegen-Zuid.

Annie has her family to thank for the experience. "Her niece came to us with this request," a police officer told the BBC. "When she was reporting a crime, she told the police officer about Annie's 'bucket list.'"

"You get many unusual requests with this profession," he added. "We thought it would be nice to do something special for Annie."

Politie Nijmegen-Zuid/Facebook

As you can see in the photos above, Annie’s brush with the law was a blast. However, she isn’t the only senior who has wondered what life is like behind bars. Last year, a 102-year-old woman named Edie Simms from St. Louis, Missouri was faux-arrested per her own bucket list request. Police teamed up with a local senior center to make Simms’s dream come true. "She was so excited that she can ride in a police car and she said, 'Do you think you could put those handcuffs on me?'" Michael Howard, executive director of Five Star Senior Center, told KPLR. Talk about centenarians gone wild!

[h/t BBC]


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