Patrizio Catena: Tradition and Progress

Story by Dianna Stratton

As children ride their bikes around the fountain in the center of the piazza in Cagli, Italy, this idyllic scene may not seem like progress.  But according to Patrizio Catena, mayor of Cagli, a piazza without cars is one step closer to revitalizing a town and restoring a lifestyle reminiscent of his own youth.  

In 2009, Patrizio’s campaign to become mayor focused upon the concept of progress as a means to bolster the town. The economy was tightening; businesses were closing, and the younger generation continued to move away, simply to find work. For Patrizio, progress meant creating social and economic opportunities for the residents of Cagli so they could move beyond simply living here to thriving here.  After all, for Patrizio, the Cagliese are not just constituents or even neighbors but friends and family.

Patrizio was born and raised in Cagli.  He married a local girl, and they raised their two children here.  Both his parents and his in-laws still live here, too.  Family is a cornerstone of life in Italy, and Patrizio understands that his work directly impacts not only his family but all the families of Cagli

Since taking office, Patrizio has spent 10 to 12 hours a day working to make his campaign promise a reality.  His days are consumed with politics.  While mornings may be spent in his office within City Hall, a commanding building that overshadows the piazza, most of his time is spent traveling. He represents Cagli at various meetings, functions and conferences throughout the provinces of central Italy.  His cell phone often rings, keeping him in contact with the police department, hospital, and various social services that protect the welfare of the local citizens.

Thanks in part to Patrizio’s efforts, change has come to Cagli.  Patrizio helped to convince the town to restrict motorized access within the piazza in the evenings, the time and place that many of the townsfolk traditionally gather to reconnect with each other and share their days.  Where speeding cars and noisy mopeds once dominated the piazza, nowchildren laugh and play while their families sit at the caffé.  Removing cars from the center meant finding parking for them elsewhere. The town’s only grocery store, situated just outside of the historic center, was relocated across the street into a brand-new building complete with 120 new parking spaces. 

Patrizio believes that the surest sign of progress in Cagli is within City Hall itself.  He appointed five women to several prominent positions in City Hall.  Women now work as the general director, the director of tourism, director of finance, director of culture and captain of the police. “While women do not have a strong presence throughout the city, they are integral to work in City Hall,” he says. Each of their contracts was just renewed for another year -- contracts Patrizio signed with an antique-looking fountain pen.

Fountain pens and cell phones.  Tradition and progress.  Striking a balance between the two and continuing his vision is why he plans to run for mayor in 2014. “I love this city, “ he says.  “I won’t give it up yet.  It’s in my heart.”

Patrizio Catena, Mayor of Cagli, as he speaks on his cell phone and writes with his fountain pen.

Patrizio Catena, Mayor of Cagli, at work.

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