SOVERIA MANNELLI, ITALY - 17 NOVEMBER 2016: Leonardo Sirianni (64), mayor of Soveria Mannelli, poses for a portrait by a mural in the townhall council room in Soveria Mannelli, Italy, on November 17th 2016.
Soveria Mannelli is a mountain-top village in the southern region of Calabria that counts 3,070 inhabitants. The town was a strategic outpost until the 1970s, when the main artery road from Naples area to Italy’s south-western tip, Reggio Calabria went through the town. But once the government started building a motorway miles away, it was cut out from the fastest communications and from the most ambitious plans to develop Italy’s South. Instead of despairing, residents benefited of the geographical disadvantage to keep away the mafia infiltrations, and started creating solid businesses thanks to its administrative stability, its forward-thinking mayors and a vibrant entrepreneurship numbering a national, medium-sized publishing house, a leading school furniture manufacturer and an ancient woolen mill.