Italian man obtains identity – after 62 years

An man living in the Ligurian city of Genoa has been issued with an identity card after 62 years, having lived his entire life invisible to the Italian state.

Italian man obtains identity - after 62 years
Photo: Mustafa Ozer/AFP

The only official trace of his existence was his birth certificate, which had been locked in a hospital drawer since 1953.

It might seem impossible that someone could live their life invisible to the state in today's “big brother” society, and the story of how it came to pass involves an exceptional and convoluted set of circumstances.

La Repubblica reported that after being born the boy, known as Pietro, was placed in the care of a school run by nuns in Reggio Emilia, a city in the Emilia-Romagna region, because his mother decided she could not support him. He had never met his father.

The school was never required to ensure he was registered, and so Pietro grew up invisible to the state, left school and moved to Genoa to find work.

In Genoa he had been working without a contract, and paying rent in cash since the 1970s. He had never been in trouble with the law, and had neither left the country, been to the hospital or opened a bank account, thus avoiding the need for documentation.

His unregistered life was just fine – until two and a half months ago, when at the ripe old age of 62, Pietro had a problem. He needed to have a medical check-up, for which he needed an identity card. 

Pietro decided to finally go and get one, but was unable to provide the civil registry office with any information besides his name and birthday.

He had nothing to prove his identity, show his marital status or place of birth, and did not know if he had any brothers or sisters.

This meant it was impossible for him to be issued with the document, creating a huge problem for the civil registry office in Genoa.

“At first we didn't think it was true,” registry office employee Vilma Viarengo told La Repubblica. “It was very difficult to reconstruct his life because we had such little information to go on.”

Obtaining the birth certificate was no easy feat for the registry office workers. Even though Pietro knew he had been born in Reggio Emilia, hours of frustrating searching initially failed to turn up the only official document that proved he existed.

But a few months later, the birth certificate was finally found. The cause of the problem? Although Pietro had been born in the north eastern city of Reggio Emilia, his mother had registered the birth certificate in the southern city of Reggio Calabria, where she claimed to be living at the time.

Once in possession of the birth certificate, the registry office sent the police to speak to Pietro's neighbours, in order to verify if the strange story was true.

They confirmed that yes, he was Pietro and had been living there for years.

And so, Pietro was finally issued with an identity card after 62 years, meaning he could go for his first ever medical check-up.

Viarengo said he was delighted to finally receive the official document.

“When we gave it to him, his eyes lit up as though he'd been reborn.”  

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German tourists among 13 dead in Italy cable car accident

Thirteen people, including German tourists, have been killed after a cable car disconnected and fell near the summit of the Mottarone mountain near Lake Maggiore in northern Italy.

German tourists among 13 dead in Italy cable car accident
The local emergency services published this photograph of the wreckage. Photo: Vigili del Fuoco

The accident was announced by Italy’s national fire and rescue service, Vigili del Fuoco, at 13.50 on Sunday, with the agency saying over Twitter that a helicopter from the nearby town of Varese was on the scene. 

Italy’s National Alpine and Speleological Rescue Corps confirmed that there were 13 victims and two seriously injured people.

Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported that German tourists were among the 13 victims.

According to their report, there were 15 passengers inside the car — which can hold 35 people — at the time a cable snapped, sending it tumbling into the forest below. Two seriously injured children, aged nine and five, were airlifted to hospital in Turin. 

The cable car takes tourists and locals from Stresa, a resort town on Lake Maggiore up to a panoramic peak on the Mottarone mountain, reaching some 1,500m above sea level. 

According to the newspaper, the car had been on its way from the lake to the mountain when the accident happened, with rescue operations complicated by the remote forest location where the car landed. 

The cable car had reopened on April 24th after the end of the second lockdown, and had undergone extensive renovations and refurbishments in 2016, which involved the cable undergoing magnetic particle inspection (MPI) to search for any defects. 

Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Twitter that he expressed his “condolences to the families of the victims, with special thoughts for the seriously injured children and their families”.

Infrastructure Minister Enrico Giovannini told Italy’s Tg1 a commission of inquiry would be established, according to Corriere della Sera: “Our thoughts go out to those involved. The Ministry has initiated procedures to set up a commission and initiate checks on the controls carried out on the infrastructure.”

“Tomorrow morning I will be in Stresa on Lake Maggiore to meet the prefect and other authorities to decide what to do,” he said.