Alessandro Biscaccianti: Politics with Passion
As he walks down the cobblestoned streets of Cagli, Alessandro Biscaccianti shakes hands and talks with people who approach him with their concerns about this small Italian city. The people of Cagli have a rich history and passion for their community. The assessore or city councilor listens carefully to what residents have to say because he shares their passion. This is his city, and he has lived here his whole life.
“I love Cagli and love to fight inequalities,” Alessandro says.
Most people in Cagli know Alesandro, or “Sandro” as his friends call him, because he has been in public life for many decades. During his years here, he has seen the city’s good and bad. He likes to talk about the Cagli he knew more than 30 years ago.
At that time, Cagli served as a hub between the larger cities of Urbino and Gubbio. Cagli once hosted the region’s major hospital. He remembers a Cagli full of palaces, a place that provided the three cities with many public needs such as medical care and transportation. Sandro also recalls a time when Cagli was a major symbol in politics and religion in Italy – so important a Catholic bishop once visited.
From his second-floor office in City Hall – right next to the office where he once served as mayor – Sandro’s passion for the city is clear. In a wooden case, underneath the mural-painted ceilings, a Cagli flag hangs surrounded by dozens of 19th century Senato del Regno books or Senate of the Kingdom law books. Often, Sandro and his team meet around a blue-velvet table in the Renaissance-styled office that has 19th-century theater posters hanging on the walls.
From his office, Sandro walks downstairs to meet with other city employees. On his way to solve a problem, he listens to other problems told to him over the phone; he will take sometimes half a dozen calls during a 10-minute period. Sandro can often be found with a cell-phone held to one ear and a desk phone to another while taking notes on any random piece of paper he finds. He sits at the closest desk, whether it is his or a colleague’s.
He envisions returning Cagli to its prime. In recent years, economic troubles have hit the city hard. The financial crisis – the worst in 50 years – has provided officials such as him with many challenges. Tourism is moving toward the coastal towns, making it difficult for local shop owners. It is difficult to watch as friends shutter their shops, Sandro says.
As councilor for public works, he oversees the city’s infrastructure projects, from lights and sewer to buildings, roads, and bridges. Tough economic times mean less money to spend on revisions, which means Sandro’s team must repair instead of rebuild.
These same financial troubles have taken Cagli’s hospital from a major hospital to one in jeopardy. Sandro, like many of the people in the city, is focused on keeping the hospital functioning. He once worked at the hospital as a chemist.
Sandro’s passion and political influence stretch further than Cagli; he is a recognized political figure throughout central Italy. He says his days don’t follow a typical pattern, but he can often be found in his office or visiting on the piazza. Weekly, he travels between the cities of Pesaro and Senigallia for political meetings. He even met Italy’s current president, Giorgio Napolitano.
Whether he is walking the century’s old streets of Cagli, shaking hands, talking or meeting with elected officials, Sandro has one thing on his mind – what is best for Cagli and its people. About the only time he is not working is when he is home sleeping – and even then, his cell phone is probably nearby.