Raggi administration threatens to close Celio Azzurro.
Parents, teachers and small children gathered on the afternoon of 2 March to protest the threatened eviction of a multi-ethnic, city-subsidised kindergarten on the Coelian hill near the Colosseum.
The Celio Azzurro, which has catered predominantly to children of migrants for the last 27 years and is considered a model of social inclusion, faces eviction on 31 March following an ultimatum by the administration of Rome mayor Virginia Raggi of the anti-establishment Movimento 5 Stelle.
The city has demanded that Celio Azzurro pay €5,676 rent per month – instead of its usual monthly rate of €1,135 – in addition to the city's demand for six years of back-rent based on the new monthly figure, totalling €242,585.
The Celio Azzurro has vowed to resist the city's demands and has described the eviction threat as an attempt to "kill interculturalism, scuttle social inclusion, and shut down a space that respects and values difference."
The current much-discounted rent paid by Celio Azzurro is the result of a 1995 legislation by former Rome mayor Francesco Rutelli, which sees the city supply funds and facilities to almost 400 clubs and associations that provide residents with socio-cultural activities.
However the auditor's court ruled recently that the roughly 800 financial concessions that the Comune di Roma provides for rentals of city-owned properties – including the nearly 400 socio-cultural venues – must be re-evaluated based on the current real-estate market.
Founded in 1990 by volunteers and the Caritas charity, with the help of the late social justice campaigner Don Luigi Di Liegro, Celio Azzurro today has 60 students from 25 different nationalities.
The school is located on Salita di S. Gregorio al Celio, among other public and private kindergartens and a theatre academy, on a secluded green hill between the Circus Maximus and Villa Celimontana.
Photo Corriere della Sera