About the Ravine – Results…?

On a beautiful Wednesday morning, we head once more up the hill to the town hall, this time to meet the mayor. The receptionist telephones through to upstairs – “Gli Inglesi, sopra la spazzatura…” we are famous already, or shall I say infamous. She sends us up to meet Rosalia on the second floor. The offices are grander here, and we are received with extreme politeness, even a touch of reverence, offered a seat and asked about our concern. Rosalia of the second floor is as touched by our story as was Rosalia of the first floor (it seems one has to be called Rosalia to get a secretarial job in Zafferana Council), and she views with disgust our latest photos, which include some rather unsavoury shots of freshly butchered horses’ heads. What opens the doors to people’s hearts is the fact that we are strangers who spend their free time, even their honeymoon, cleaning up nature.

After 10 minutes wait, we are lead into an office where –surprise, surprise – we meet Sergio, the consigliere. Sergio has good news for us. Last week, the sindaco sent a formal request to the police, who then sent a formal request to the regional courts, to be allowed to fix CCTV cameras by the bridge. Everything has to go its bureaucratic way; a camera infringes on privacy rights. They are expecting to get the go-ahead within ten days, by which time they will also organise vehicles with the necessary equipment to lift all the rubbish out of the ravine, including the tyres, fridges and vehicles. Sergio emphasises that Zafferana prides itself on being a clean town, and that they will deal with this incident despite the fact that the bridge does not lie within their boundaries but is the county of Catania’s responsibility. He promises to let us know when the cleaning action will take place and he alerts us that this Sunday the group PuliAmo Zafferana will meet for a cleaning day, if we would care to join them. He also tells us that our request to visit the Isola Ecologica means obtaining an authorisation from the desk of waste control, but we should be able to get this in due time. Once Sergio has explained everything, he takes us across the hallway to the mayor’s office.

Alfredo the mayor jumps up from his seat behind a huge desk and comes towards us to receive us with a cordial handshake. He thanks us for our initiative and tells us that Zafferana, although just a small town, includes a huge area in its jurisdiction (bigger than Catania) and that the question of waste disposal is an ongoing and very complex concern. He shows us the Council’s initiative to print educational title pages to children’s exercise books, which get distributed in all schools, each year with a different message. Last year it was about separating different types of recyclables, this year it tells about the initiative of linking clean water and waste disposal. For every kilo of recyclable waste that a resident of Zafferana brings to the Isola Ecologica, they receive a credit note for a litre of purified drinking water from the Casa del Acqua. As we leave, the mayor gives us his promise that within 10 (working) days, the ravine by the bridge should be clean and the CCTV in position to catch further perpetrators.

We leave the office stunned to have achieved such a positive result. On the way down, we pop into the office on the first floor to personally thank everyone there and to show our faces, just in case they’d forgotten us… 😉

Of course one shouldn’t count one’s chickens before they are hatched and we are looking forward to promises being put into action, but what we can say for sure is that everyone we met in the council received us with the utmost politeness and a willingness to help. Everyone there wants to make a change regarding the current situation of illegal dumping, but it needs a lot of money and co-ordination, and it can at times be beyond the town council’s financial abilities to do so.

We look forward to joining PuliAmo Zafferana on Sunday. Apparently more than 300 people took part last month.

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