With the EU Parliamentary elections just under five weeks away, Euronews is counting down by taking a road trip across the continent to speak to voters about the issues that matter to them. We are visiting towns and villages around Europe – inviting people to talk about what's on their minds, ahead of what is a key vote at a crucial moment for the European Union.
The final story on our Italian leg comes from Taranto where Europe’s biggest steel plant is based. It provides 20,000 jobs to the area - but its fumes are also blamed by local health authorities for causing the deaths of over 11,000 people.
In 2012 the plant was even seized by the public prosecutor and there’s vast scientific evidence which proves the dangers of the air quality here to the local population.
Euronews correspondents Jack Parrock and Elena Cavallone were invited to the home of Angelo and Carla - their son, Giorgio, died in January at the age of 15, after suffering from soft tissue cancer called sarcoma.
His parents spent months travelling around Italy and abroad to find better treatments for him but nothing worked.
“You enter into hell, there is no other metaphor you can use," Carla Luccarelli said "You don't sleep anymore you lose your breath. I wonder: what will the future be if the polluting sources are not turned off? Perhaps the best thing to do is to not let these children be born because if they have to go through what he has gone through, it is unexplainable ... I don't wish it on anyone.”
Their story is sadly far more common in this part of Italy - tumour rates in children here are 54% higher than elsewhere in the country.
The company which now runs Ilva plant committed to improving air quality when it bought the plant in 2017. Members of the previous management are in prison for causing an environmental disaster.
Antonia Battaglia has been campaigning for the European Union to step in to help the people of Taranto.
“The environment and the sanitary crisis are very strong," Antonia said. "There must be a political decision but this political decision must also be accompanied by a confrontation with the reality, with the real issues on the ground. So as citizens we ask a more strong involvement, and also a bigger role of the parliament.”
Road Trip continues in Greece
After two weeks driving more than 1,200 kilometres across the French Alps and then from the far north of Italy, Jack and Elena arrived in the southern port of Brindisi.
Euronews correspondent Bryan Carter was waiting for them before heading on the next leg of the trip in Greece, so be sure to tune into Good Morning Europe to follow along.
Click on the player to watch the full report.