MONTEGRANARO, ITALY - 28 NOVEMBER 2019: A nine-story apartment block above a supermarket, entirely vacant save for one unit, is seen here in Montegranaro, Italy, on November 28th 2019.
Montegranaro is a hilltop town that has seen its 600 footwear companies cut down to 150. The town’s population has dropped from about 14,000 two decades ago to 13,000 today, and about 1,000 are now immigrants -- Albanians, Africans, Chinese. According to Mauro Lucentini, this is not a trend to be proud of. The Africans loiter the streets, drunkenly harassing women, he says: “The Nigerians are savages.”
Italy has proved especially vulnerable to China’s emergence as a manufacturing juggernaut, given that many of its artisanal trades -- textiles, leather, shoe-making -- have long been dominated by small, family-run businesses that lacked the scale to compete on price with factories in a nation of 1.4 billion people.
In recent years, four Italian regions that were as late as the 1980s electing Communists and then reliably supported center-left candidates -- Tuscany, Umbria, Marche and Emilia-Romagna -- have swung dramatically to the extreme right. Many working class people say that delineation has it backwards: The left abandoned them, not the other way around.