Every Wednesday morning, I take the 9:40 train 40 minutes out of the city of Florence to a sleepy borgo. From there, after driving 10 minutes more into the hills, away from town, I reach a little old house. This place is a centro d’accoglienza straordinaria, or center for temporary assistance.
As of December 2017, 81% of migrants (or 151.239 people)
present in the Italian reception system are housed in these
emergency structures, which are assigned when ordinary centers are not able to sufficiently meet demand. In Tuscany, they are often old bed and breakfasts or agriturismi or even unused vacation homes assigned by the prefecture, and their purpose is to accommodate migrants who are going through the process to remain in Italy legally. Applicants must wait months or years for a response to their request, and many are ultimately denied.
This centro in particular is home for around 20 young men from central Africa, bringing with them many different cultures,
backgrounds, languages, and stories.