The images of recent days of the rows of people at Villa San Giovanni waiting to embark for Sicily tell us after all the reality of Italian internal mobility, where there are still large flows of mobility from south to north, whose dynamics are very complex and continue to be decisive for the economy of our country.

In fact, mobility is a phenomenon that goes beyond the historical north-south flows.  In the current health emergency it is not easy to predict what will happen in the future, but we can assume that - if the crisis linked to the coronavirus is managed with the same logic of economic policy without intervening with corrective policies - the differences between North and South will be further accentuated: people will tend to go back to their affections and concentrate where there are more job opportunities and resources, thus underlining the bipolarism of the North-South divide.

Unlike the great internal migrations of the past, however, the current ones are more precarious and less stable, represented also by off-site students or commuters who can bear the costs of a mobility facilitated by low cost transport, but not those of a family relocation. The result is a constantly evolving picture, in which the main axes of internal migration are also moving along other paths, with dynamics that are highly conditioned by social and economic factors.

In a period of health emergency, such as that of the coronavirus, it is necessary to be well aware of these dynamics in the choice of policies to contain contagions and manage flows.


Stefano Gallo (CNR-ISMed), expert in the history of migration, for years he has been dealing with the phenomena of territorial mobility in contemporary Italy. Some of his publications on internal migration:

Stefano Gallo, Senza attraversare le frontiere. Le migrazioni interne dall'Unità a oggi, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2012

Stefano Gallo, Migrazioni interne al Meridione e politiche della mobilità tra le due guerre, in «Meridiana», n. 92, 2018

Stefano Gallo, La grande emigrazione dei rurali italiani e il mito delle golondrinas, in «Archivio Storico delle Emigrazioni Italiane», n. 16, 2020


Interview with Stefano Gallo by Antonella Filippi, "South-North migratory flows are unstoppable". (il Giornale di Sicilia, 29 marzo 2010)