Sanpa: Community of life

There are about 900 young men and women, primarily drug addicts but also alcoholics and gamblers, who come to San Patrignano, also known as “Sanpa”, with the hope of returning to living. Today, Sanpa is considered the largest recovery community in Europe and one of the most important in the world. It’s a recovery program for hundreds of lost young people, filling it not only with affection but also with strict rules, study, and work. It was born from the intuition of Vincenzo Muccioli, a pioneer in the treatment of drug addiction. When it was founded on the hill of Coriano in Rimini in 1978, in fact, the heroin phenomenon had just exploded and little was known about its effects, detoxification, and implications. Muccioli created workshops, which today are excellences, in which young people find the first reason for living, feeling indispensable, becoming artisans, and competitive professionals in the delicate phase of social reintegration. Currently, the length of stay in the community is about three to four years. 60 percent of those who complete the program do not relapse into drug addiction. Assistance and recovery are free: there is no fee to enter nor does the state contribute. The community relies on donations and, since the 80s, partly on economic activities such as the production of wines and other food and craft products. Addiction is not treated using pharmacological treatments (no methadone or other synthetic opioids), but with a recovery program that is essentially educational and rehabilitative. The rules and discipline are strict. Cell phones and computers for personal use are prohibited. Leaving the community is not allowed. Contact between males and females is prohibited. Drinking wine is prohibited. Recently, smokers are rationed to 5 cigarettes per day. Communication with family members is only allowed via mail and visits are only allowed after one year. Music is limited to only 1 hour in the evening, before the news and a movie projected on a big screen inside a large shed. After each phase of the program, there is a verification. The most important one is the one that allows returning home for a week after three years. At Sanpa, they work 8 hours a day. The young people are taught a trade that they will need once they are out in the world. Each new guest is assigned a tutor who has been in the community for at least a year and who follows them 24 hours a day. The ratio is very simple: the person who has overcome drug addiction is the best educator for those who suffer from it. “Taking responsibility for someone who is further back in the program and who you understand, because they think like you did a year ago, is the winning key to rebuilding oneself,” says Massimo, who works in the decorations sector. (text by Luca Catalano Gonzaga).

Latest stories
© 2024 Luca Catalano Gonzaga - Privacy policyCookie policy

Il sito utilizza cookie per fini statistici, per la visualizzzione di video e per condividere argomenti sui social network. Proseguendo sul sito l’utente ne accetta l'utilizzo. Per maggiori informazioni consulta l’ Informativa Estesa.


Witness Image is a non profit organization founded by Luca Catalano Gonzaga, which combines photography and journalism.

Its’ purpose is to narrate the great transformations of our time through a number of projects.


Witness Image aims to document the world disorder of our day through images and their stories such as: the causes and consequences of the war, child abuse, hunger, poverty, injustices, natural and environmental disasters.


Witness Image wants to build a reflection on the right of people to remain themselves in this era of great political and socio-cultural changes.

go to witness image