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Barca district (TO, Italy) and Via Anglesio

Il portico di Via Anglesio, che comprende: Cantiere Barca, Spazio Anziani e ASL - Clicca per ingrandire

Via Anglesio building, it includes: Cantiere Barca, Spazio Anziani and ASL – Click to enlarge

The Barca quarter is a territory within the 6th district of the city of Turin. It’s enclosed between the industrial area Pescarito (north), the towns of San Mauro and Settimo Torinese (east), San Mauro road (south) and Stura river (west). It’s a working class district and its economical and socio-cultural development follows the lines of a small town: there is a strong social identity between the inhabitants, that forms solid groups, sometimes hard to communicate with. This autonomous sense of exclusion from the city rises from many overlapping reasons, some of them are historical, some geographical. In fact, even the borders of the Barca quarter represent an obstacle for the local community.

Northwards, the industrial area of Pescarito is a cluster of anonymous buildings, such as logistics plants; plastic, metal and wood factories; big industries with enormous buildings that cover huge areas (IVECO/FIAT). South and west sides are limited by the rivers, leaving only two links toward the city: the Amedeo VIII bridge and the Diga del Pascolo bridge, often traffic congested. The northern coast of the Stura river, called Lungo Stura Lazio, it’s a high traffic road and it is in fact another obstacle to crossover. Moreover, the coast houses a gipsy community of around 1.200 people, causing several problems to the people living nearby: there are thefts, in particular to building, as they look for copper, and toxic pyres fired to clear out their wastes.

Barca is a district made mostly of council housing. It’s not new to disadvantaged situations, conflicts and urban abandon1. The youth population faces problems such as school interruptions, and there is no cultural offer or alternatives to the streets.

In particular, the area around Anglesio street was a place of trafficking for both light and heavy drugs. However, the situation is now better, thanks to a 15-years work that resulted in the opening of an ASL (health spot), the Centro Incontro (recreational center) and the Spazio Anziani (Senior Center).

Unfortunately, the Centro Incontro and the Spazio Anziani are underutilized. The Spazio Anziani does not have a clear opening, it offers workshops and courses during the year (sewing, bricolage, painting, arts) for a small fee (10 – 30 €). We couldn’t manage to get a calendar for the activities, as they are comunicated via the Circoscrizione 6 website and/or mailing list. Anyway, locals do not attend these courses, as their users come from nearby disticts, such as Barriera di Milano and Borgo Po. The Spazio Anziani could represent a good opportunity for the Barca district, since their rooms are big and well equipped.

Instead, the Centro Incontro opens from monday to sunday, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and its users are the local elderlies, mostly men: in other words, it is used by the locals as a Senior Center. Here you can play cards or bocce, while the youth presence is limited to summer, when the city fosters afterschool programs for the youths. This is why the center comprehends a minimal equipment for entertainment, such as two football tables and other games, almost not used during the whole year.

Although there are still some social problems linked to drug and alcohol abuse, the area experiences virtous dynamics and an intense collective life around the kiosk, placed in the center of the green lawn in Via Anglesio: here it’s possible to notice neighbourhood relationships based on reciprocity and solidarity, even if may be hard to enter the group.

This community sense reflects a social model similar to a small town and it comprehends the immigrant population too, composed by africans and north-africans, now at their 2nd generation in Italy, and romanian, maybe less integrated in the community as they came here in more recent times.

The socio-economic structure is characterize by a professional istruction level, and so are the typical jobs, while there is a wide use of subsidies related to the high rates of disabilities in the area2.

That being so, the perspectives for the youths aged 5 to 20 years are very limited: there is no cultural or recreational offer, no educational offer (if not elementary and medium schools of course) and there isn’t an area they would identify with, except the portico of Via Anglesio. This place is in fact a meeting spot for etherogeneous groups, a meeting point between the kiosk community, the childrens, the teenagers and the elders.

1 PePS-6, Profili e Piani di Salute della Circoscrizione 6 / Health Profiles and Plans within the 6th district, 2009

2 According to PePS-6, 2009, the requests to social services are rising among the new generations of immigrants. These include in particular requests of removal of children from their parents, related to familial violence and conflicts.