Italian village with 46 residents has 30 local election candidates | Italy

The last time Igor De Santis ran for mayor in Ingria, a tiny village surrounded by forests and mountains near Turin, he won an easy landslide victory. But he faces a tough challenge in his bid for a fourth mandate, after his mother joined a rival camp.

Ingria, one of the smallest villages in Italy, is home to 46 inhabitants. A further 26 people, registered to vote from abroad, make up the electorate.

De Santis, 42, has led the administration since 2009 and had expected competition in the mayoral race from an opposition councillor, 70-year-old Renato Poletto. The situation became more complicated when Stefano Venuti, a Milan resident who has a second home in Ingria, threw his hat into the ring. “We weren’t expecting that,” said De Santis.

And then the micro-race was fully upended by Poletto announcing that he had secured the support of De Santis’s mother, Milena Crosasso, and had put her forward for a councillor position in the ballot to elect a new council on 8-9 June, as part of a list comprising nine women and one man. In all, 30 people – about two-thirds of the village’s inhabitants – are now competing for positions.

“I did ask [my mother] to join me but after she saw that Poletto’s list was mostly women she decided to go with them,” said De Santis. “They are all volunteers who have worked really hard for the village.”

Crosasso said that the rivalry would not impact family harmony. “Both my son and I want the best for the community and this is an opportunity to give voice to women’s points of view without weakening family bonds,” she said.

Ingria is in Italy’s Soana Valley and experiences similar issues to other mountain villages, such as depopulation, scant services and challenges with snow during winter. Since 2022, when it was named as being among Italy’s “most beautiful” villages, it has also had to deal with an increase in tourism.

“There has been an incredible spike and we have to manage this,” said De Santis. “There are few residents, but a lot of second homes. Our main aim is to preserve Ingria’s beauty.”

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Venuti told Corriere della Sera newspaper that he decided to run for mayor after being urged to do so by locals. “I’ve integrated very well,” he said.

Despite the competition, De Santis, whose grandfather was mayor of Ingria for 30 years, said he was “optimistic” that he could win.

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