An Italian Village Hit the Jackpot. Will That Save or Destroy It?

LIVEMMO, Italy — The only full-time employee of Livemmo, a secluded mountain village of 196 residents in northern Italy, has a lot on his to-do list.

At 7:26 on a recent morning, he stamped his timecard, lifted the blinds and straightened up the town hall office. He drove the yellow school bus over fog-shrouded roads, picking up little children in winter hats from surrounding hamlets, beeping at the curves slick with red autumn leaves and taking it slow around the bell towers. Back in the office, he paid a bill and answered emails. Then he turned to his other task — helping the village spend nearly 20 million euros (nearly $21 million) earmarked by Italy to save Livemmo from oblivion.

“It’s a huge job to spend all this money,” Marino Zanolini, 57, said of the bounty. “At the end, if something goes wrong, you know whose fault it will be.”

This year, Livemmo beat out dozens of other villages in the Lombardy region for a share of about €200 billion in Covid recovery funds…

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This article was written by Jason Horowitz and originally published on