hidden europe 9

Ethnic enclaves

by hidden europe


Migrant communities are often some of the most intriguing in Europe. We look at Senegalese settlers in Lombardy and Vietnamese entrepreneurs in Berlin.

I chanced upon Bovezzo entirely by accident. I had driven down from the Swiss border, avoiding the crowds on the routes that hug the valley floors, and taken a few minor roads that had doubtless done nothing for the car's suspension. I crossed a mountain pass in a great thunderstorm, with grit and gravel splaying over the road. Fate had its revenge an hour later when there was that distinctive rhythmic bump that signals a flat tyre. I pulled off the main road, reconciled to changing a wheel, and stopped on the outskirts of Bovezzo. This was another Lombardy, a different world from the lakeside villages of Garda and Iseo. For Bovezzo is home to some several hundred Senegalese migrants, who in the early nineties had set up home at the village's Residence Prealpino and many were still there when I landed on their doorstep a decade later. It turns out that there are, concentrated in a number of villages around Brescia, Bergamo and Cremona, many thousands of Senegalese settlers. The sound of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer is an improbable addition to the Lombardy soundscape.

Such migrant enclaves are often some of Europe's most intriguing communities.

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Welcome to hidden europe 50. We live and work in a city where foreign nationals make an immense contribution to the local economy, to society and to the arts. Berlin is in that respect very typical of many places in Europe. In hidden europe, we celebrate the diversity of our home continent.