World Mayor 2020

Aldo D'Achille Mayor of San Bellino
Aldo D'Achille, Mayor of San Bellino, Italy, since 2014
World Mayor Essays
Aldo D'Achille
Mayor of San Bellino, Italy
By Matteo Dalle Fratte, Senior Fellow, City Mayors Foundation

OTHER ESSAYS: Mayor of Ankara ||| Mayor of Braga ||| Mayor of Bratislava ||| Mayor of Grigny ||| Maire de Grigny (Français) ||| Mayor of Mannheim ||| Mayor of Raqqa ||| Mayor of Rotterdam ||| Mayor of Saint-Omer ||| Maire de Saint-Omer (Français) ||| Mayor of San Bellino ||| Sindaco di San Bellino |||

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(Il saggio in italiano)

Aldo D'Achille was born in 1971 in Lendinara, a town near San Bellino. His instinct for sharing and the community spirit that distinguish him are linked to experiences in his early childhood. After losing his father when he was only seven years old, he moved together with his mother to his grandparents' house in San Bellino. From then, his life changed radically. As an only child, he found himself part of a large patriarchal family, his mother being one of nine children. His grandfather, a man of great practicality and efficiency, played the paternal role for the young Aldo. Surrounded by the dynamism and affection of his many relatives, country life and work in the fields were among his first educational experiences of social and environmental awareness. His mother was employed at the registry office of the City of San Bellino. Coming back from school, Aldo often stopped off at her office where he would complete his schoolwork, entertained by the comings and goings of both locals and visitors.

Sport has always been another essential element in Aldo's life. He started playing rugby at a very young age and this would become one of his main pastimes for many years. Aldo is convinced that the game’s characteristic team spirit was fundamental in his development.

Along with sports, another important part of Aldo’s life and personal growth has been his involvement with various volunteer associations. Community group work and attention to education and those most in need soon became very important values for him. It was in the association environment that he met Elena in 1991. They married a few years later and have two daughters, Maria Sole and Allegra. In 1994, he decided to object to compulsory military service, dedicating the year instead to civil service as an assistant at a home for the elderly.

Aldo’s university studies focused on two major themes: the soul and the body. In 2000, he obtained a Diploma in Religious Sciences at Bologna’s Institute of Religious Sciences and in 2002, a Degree in Motor Sciences at the University of Medicine and Surgery of Verona. Following these studies, he also qualified in Massage Therapy, and as a state high school teacher with the Ministry of Education. He later became a Professor of Religious Studies at the Agricultural Technical Institute of Sant'Apollinare. The teaching profession has become an important source of study and inspiration for him, and a fascinating opportunity to exchange ideas and opinions with colleagues and students on agricultural and environmental issues.

His political experience began in 1999 when he was invited by the then mayor of San Bellino to run in his civic list. After being elected as a member of the City Council, he soon became part of the Statute and Regulations, Agriculture and Environment, Productive Activities and Library Commissions. In 2001, he intensified his public commitment by becoming Councillor for Social Policies. He was subsequently re-elected in the 2004 and 2009 elections, confirming his role as Councillor for Social and Family Policies.

After ten years of administrative experience, he decided to run for Mayor with a list called ‘Choose for San Bellino’, a diverse group composed mainly of young professionals from the local area. With his team, he won the municipal elections in both 2014 and 2019. Aldo believes very much that young people have an important role to play in politics, not only because of their modern vision of reality, but particularly because of their instinct for 'daring' to improve the future of their communities.

Aldo is strongly motivated to study issues and strategies that can achieve the maximum potential of local government. In 2015, he decided to request a consultation from Professor Edgar José Serrano, a teacher on the International Master's course in Local Development at the University of Padua. He wanted to investigate and implement local actions that could really improve the lives of citizens. One of the outcomes of this work was the decision to replace the term 'participation' with 'involvement' in San Bellino’s municipal statute. This was a choice that aims to give citizens a sort of administrative co-responsibility, with the purpose of strengthening civic sentiment and respect for the territory and all those who live there: humans, animals and plants.

The many innovative projects already successfully implemented by the administration of San Bellino include:

• The ‘PEBA’, meaning the ‘plan for the elimination of architectural barriers’, which makes San Bellino the first municipality in Italy to achieve total accessibility across the town for all citizens.
• The experimental Tartufaia (truffle plantation), which has seen the planting of over 400 mycorrhized oaks to produce truffles, giving a new skyline to the area and a renewed economic boost for local agriculture.
• The conception of the regional project 'Ridiamo il sorriso alla pianura Padana' (Let's make the Po Valley smile again), dedicated to the donation of plants to citizens. In 40 days, 70,000 plants were donated in over 400 municipalities in the region.
• A public referendum for the implementation of new street naming in the town. Citizens were not only able to vote for a wide range of personalities, but also had the opportunity to learn more about the history and values of famous men and women from the area and beyond.
• The 'Green Monument to Memory', which involves young people and adults in remembering the martyrs who were rounded up by the fascists at the end of the Second World War. The project is renewed every year with a new phase of tree planting in the entrance avenues of the town, assigning to each new tree the name of one of the 43 martyrs of neighbouring Villamarzana.

Aldo's commitment to politics and his love for the territory of Polesine led him to run as a candidate for regional councillor in the 2020 elections, with an electoral campaign carried out solely by bicycle. He narrowly missed being elected, but it was a great experience for him.

Aldo is not only an avant-garde mayor with an extraordinary ethical, civic and social vision, but he is also a man of exceptional positivity and kindness. His model will not only inspire the local governments of every town and city, but will also hand to the next generation a system of politics that is based on competence and harmony – where investment is made not only in addressing important issues, but also in the concrete involvement of a community that lives and grows together with those in local government.