Attilio Visconti

A few months after taking office, the Prefect of Bologna, Dr. Attilio Visconti, outlines in our interview the guidelines for carrying out his function, which he considers “a challenge as demanding as it is stimulating.”
Alberto Borghi

A few months after taking office, we met with the Prefect of Bologna, Dr. Attilio Visconti, and asked him a few questions about the Region of Bologna and beyond. 


Dr. Visconti, throughout your career, you had never before held prefectural office in the territory of Emilia-Romagna. Your predecessors over the past decade have had to deal with major crises, most notably the earthquake, the tenth anniversary of which we are now commemorating. What are the main items on your agenda for the first months after being appointed Prefect of Bologna? Performing the function of a Prefect in a privileged territory such as Emilia-Romagna represents a challenge as demanding as it is stimulating. Indeed, we must contend with the high degree of efficiency achieved by local institutions and the economic and social fabric. 

Dr. Attilio Visconti, Prefect of Bologna

Well aware of this, I immediately initiated a process of close cooperation with the main institutional actors in the region to help define priority areas for action. First of all, security, to be defined according to a broad perspective and an integrated approach, which at times I would call pedagogical. Bologna does not need robust as much as targeted interventions relating to the exact dimension of the problems and the context in which they occur. Secondly, monitoring and support measures for situations of socio-economic vulnerability resulting from the pandemic crisis, the first step of which was the establishment of an inter-institutional table to deal with eviction procedures. Lastly, the protection of the environment, which has been a constant aspect of my commitment in the various forums where I have served as Prefect, in the firm belief that it is a civil and moral duty to contribute to the protection of a heritage common to all, and especially to the younger generations.


Dr. Attilio Visconti, Prefect of Bologna

In your role as representative of the Government in the Region of Bologna, what would be the most important challenges to be currently addressed as far as welfare and social issues are concerned, with particular concern with the world of disability? Attention to social issues is a recurring theme in the work of the prefectures to which I have always felt I should give maximum emphasis, ranging from mediation in labour disputes to the establishment of study groups and working tables, such as the eviction issue mentioned before. Undoubtedly, the pandemic crisis, which was not only health-related but also had economic and social impacts, represented a real watershed with serious consequences, not only in terms of loss of jobs and wealth produced, but above all because it entailed a breakdown in social cohesion, particularly risky for those groups of citizens who most rely on the fulfilment of public and private solidarity duties. In this context, it is important to remember that solidarity is a true constitutional duty, which our fundamental Charter defines as imperative.


At the beginning of your administrative career, you spent five years in the Minister’s Cabinet Office. Bologna is a city with a tradition of concerted action between the various members of the economic and social sectors. Does confrontation between public administration, economy and society remain a key to addressing and tackling small and large crises in the region? Concerted solutions are the most effective for two reasons. First of all, thanks to the contribution of all stakeholders, it is possible to better understand and solve those critical issues which, considered separately, without the contribution of the best strengths of civil society, may lead to outline partial and therefore inadequate remedies. In addition, sharing the objectives to be pursued and the pathway to get there is an effective tool because it allows stakeholders to be fully involved in the implementation process, through participation, in a context of dialogue and joint decision-making.


One of the consequences of COVID-19 and the resulting restrictions on social relations seems to be that of juvenile crime, particularly teenage gangs. What do you think could be the most effective government response to this phenomenon? The most effective response to a complex and delicate phenomenon can only be integrated, the result of an effective cooperation between those institutions capable of carrying out preventive and corrective measures, even before repressive ones. The young age of the offenders of the acts we have all too often read about in the post-pandemic reports must lead us to reflect on the gaps of our education and value system, in order to commit ourselves to filling them with solutions aimed at inclusion and at bringing back these young people to the rules of civilized coexistence, rather than excluding and stigmatizing them.


Important trials were held in Reggio Emilia and Bologna against organized crime and its offshoots in the Emilia region. Should the focus on the mafia phenomenon remain high or do you think the region can rely on its own “antibodies” that find nourishment in the history of local values? The pervasiveness of the mafia phenomenon requires us to keep our guard up at all times in an economically flourishing territory such as the Emilia-Romagna region, which in some ways constitutes an ideal terminal for organized crime to creep in. In spite of these risks, against which we must be carefully vigilant, the solid civic traditions that characterize the socio-political fabric of the Province of Bologna have prevented the emergence of situations of deep-rooted contamination of the local institutional context, which are the real trait of the mafia’s influence in an area. Where there have been attempts to penetrate, and even partial successes on the part of gangs, the joint action of the judiciary and the police forces has represented a solid containment, aimed at disrupting this criminal infiltration before it becomes a system.


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