November 2012

Italy’s most philosophical town

Written by Rob Mason

A little Italian town has made world news by appointing a municipal philosopher. Its Mayor, a philosophy teacher, Ada Fiore said her mission was to get the 5,800 residents of this town in the southern Puglia region to take time out to ponder existential questions. "All we are saying is 'look at the direction the world is heading in, it's not okay,'" she said, adding that Italy's real problem was not the economic crisis but "the crisis in the relationship between man and his surroundings". Under her leadership the town council has put up plaques with quotes from famous philosophers; distributed free postcards asking existential questions; Why were you born, in shops and bars to stimulate discussion; she has invited distinguished foreign philosophers to local seminars.

The philosophical consultations she helped organised are proving popular, with around one in five of the town’s inhabitants flocking to the 15 euro ($19) an hour sessions hosted by philosopher Graziella Lupo “People come and consult with me mainly on relationship dynamics,” said the bespectacled thinker.


In late June of last year, the Sophia in Wonderland philosophical park opened. This particular project is part of a larger program to attract citizens, and in particular young students, to the world of philosophy.