- AffiliationRiace, Italy
For decades emigration drained life from Riace, a village of 2,000 on the Calabrian coast. When a boatload of Kurdish refugees reached its shores in 1998, Lucano, then a schoolteacher, saw an opportunity. He offered them Riace’s abandoned apartments along with job training. Eighteen years on, Mayor Lucano is hailed for saving the town, whose population now includes migrants from 20-some nations, and rejuvenating its economy. (Riace has hosted more than 6,000 asylum seekers in all.) Though his pro-refugee stance has pitted him against the mafia and the state, Lucano’s model is being studied and adopted as Europe’s refugee crisis crests.