The Two Faces of Urbino

Thousands of young students and a handful of ageing residents learn to get along.

URBINO, Italy — One of the capitals of the Renaissance, this city remains a tourist mecca, its alleys, churches and gorgeous palace components of what many people consider the “ideal city.’

But an assessment of life within its famed walls varies between its two main resident groups.

The estimated 17,000 thousand University of Urbino students who live here only part-time for a few years, see few problems, other than the cost of apartments and hardships of living on little money in a pricey tourist town.

But the few dozen full-time residents who call the city their full-time home, most of whom are elderly, see the students as noisy, bothersome neighbors – but a group they can’t live without for economic reasons.

Alberto Carneroli

Alberto Carneroli, a life-long Urbino resident, was a World Champion shooter.

Alberto Carneroli, university alum who has lived here all of his 69 years, doesn’t like the noise and problems students create when they gather to drink and socialize each evening in the Piazza della Repubblica. Speaking through an interpreter he said students leave behind beer bottles and trash, which the city must then clean up, a problem the full-time residents uniformly dislike.

Nor does Carneroli, who lives with his wife, like the temporary nature of the student’s citizenship. Most, he said, leave after graduation because of a lack of jobs in the city, a trend he says creates a “brain drain: in the city.

But for all the problems they create, Carneroli doesn’t want the students to go away. They are important to the economy as well as the vibrancy of city life.  Students, he said, have helped fill the vacuum caused by the steady migration of residents from Urbino to larger cities for jobs.

[pullquote]Urbino is surrounded by lots of mountains and hills, and as a result of its disadvantageous geography, it isn’t developed so much in industry.[/pullquote]

“Urbino is surrounded by lots of mountains and hills, and as a result of its disadvantageous geography, it isn’t developed so much in industry,” Carneroli pointed out. “But thanks to students and tourists, we won’t be affected by the economic crises so badly.

“Our richness depends on the incoming students. In the last two years, many structures and building were made for young people.”

And the students are also good for keeping the ageing residents young, he said. ”When I see them it reminds me of my youth,” said Carneroli.

Alexandra Francesca

Alexandra Francesca, 22 is a student at the University of Urbino.

Francesca Galluccio, 22, is one of those students and says her two years living inside the walls with Carneroli with fulltime residents has generally been a positive experience.

The communications student said her life stays busy between her studies and the activities of the political groups she belongs to.

Speaking through an interpreter, she said the difficulties students face living in Urbino has less to do with the residents and more to do with their busy schedules, and the cost of living in a tourist destination.

But she said the permanent residents generally treat students well when they meet.

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