A Frecciarossa 1000 at the Vatican to improve life in the suburbs

More than 500 children from all religions and backgrounds met Pope Francis to talk about life in the great suburbs of Rome and Milan

Rome, 9 June 2018

Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, Orthodox, atheists: the "Children's Train" - organized by the "Cortile dei Gentili" in collaboration with Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane - brought more than 500 young students from Rome and Milan, mainly from neighbourhoods characterized by social complexity and fragility, with significant presences of foreign families, high crime rates and numerous urban problems, to visit Pope Francis.

This year's theme, in fact, is the urban redevelopment of the suburbs, with particular attention to the spaces and reality that surround the young. Therefore, students from four schools in the large suburbs of Milan - GallarateseCorvettoBarona andVia Padova were on the Trenitalia Frecciarossa 1000 directed toward the Vatican. To welcome the children of the comprehensive schools "Ilaria Alpi", "Riccardo Massa", "Tommaso Grossi" and "Via Giacosa", were companions from twoschools in Rome, from the inclusive institute "Giovanni Battista Valente" (Prenestino/Centocelle) and from the "Arvalia School" of the comprehensive "Antonio Gramsci" Institute, from the Borgata del Trullo (Magliana area) who arrived on board Busitalia buses, a road transport company owned by the FS Italiane Group.

"The large suburbs, daughters of a twentieth century urban model, have for too long been relegated to spatial, social, and conceptual margins; but more than being places facing criticality and marginality, these are places that bring life. This is demonstrated by the look of a child - able to photograph new realities unknown to us," said Cardinal Gianfranco RavasiPresident of the Pontifical Council for Culture. "These children have identified the problems of their neighbourhoods, but also what is beautiful, what creates community. Public urban redevelopment policies should start with this, from the voice of those who do not call these "suburbs", but "home".

"Integrating the downtown and the periphery of our cities is one of the objectives of the FS Group, so as to ensure sustainable development from a social, environmental, and economic point of view - said Gioia Ghezzi, President of FS Italiane. This can also happen thanks to the recovery of railway lines and stations no longer used for our activities. We can hope for the rebirth of peripheral areas through a real urban redevelopment and a new model of integrated mobility, with more connections, more frequency, and better accessibility for all. The projects presented today by children allow us to imagine a better future of the spaces in which we live and a new urban vision and mobility, in which our cities more and more resemble 'intelligent communities' ".

The children arrived at the Vatican thanks to Frecciarossa 1000, the fast, comfortable, safe and ecological Trenitalia convoy, symbol of excellence of the High Speed fleet.

In this regard, it is important to underline that "Children's rain" - this year entitled "Friendly City" - is not just a moment of joy and sharing, but a real educational project within schools, that all year has worked on the theme, visiting neighbourhoods, identifying critical issues and strengths, collecting photographic materials and testimonies, and planning alternatives and concrete proposals.

Previous editions (the first one dates back to 2013), for example, involved migrant children, children of prisoners, children at risk of school dropouts, and students from the schools of Central Italy hit by the earthquake in the pedagogical path and in meeting with Pope Francis.

We’d like to thank Ladisa who, because of its sensitivity to the theme and its familiarity with the initiative, has offered lunch to these little travellers.