Smart Villages support in Italy
The SR21 Country Page
information on Smart Villages in Italy
How is the concept of Smart Villages defined?
The definition formulated by the pilot project on Smart Eco-social Villages, initiated by the European Parliament, is commonly used at national level. The elaboration of a Smart Village strategy based on existing initiatives, the use of digital technologies and participatory approaches to mobilise local communities are considered the key steps in the implementation of Smart Villages.
Is digital a key feature of Smart Villages?
The implementation of Smart Village strategies is considered a driver to innovation in a broad sense. Digital technologies are important tools in the adoption of innovative solutions. Their use intends to improve the capacity of villages to address the challenges of their territories, in particular in relation to mobility, communication and public services. Innovative solutions can: i) reduce economic and social disruption; and ii) help villages to adapt projects to their contexts.
The capacity to introduce innovation through the use of digital tools is considered key for improving small communities. The presence of digital services in small villages can boost the creation of new businesses and support the fight against the process of depopulation.
Is social innovation a key feature of Smart Villages?
The most pressing social challenges (lack of services, digital divide, lack of employment opportunities, climate change) can be identified in the Italian rural areas, thus, social innovation becomes a key feature in their development, and social innovation processes should involve, through participatory approaches, different categories of stakeholders. Boosting social innovation mechanisms started with the implementation of the National Strategy for Inner Areas intended to support the diversification of rural areas’ economy (through recreation and leisure, social services, productive labour opportunities, social integration of immigrants).
This process is envisaged to be strengthened by the implementation of Smart Village strategies within the CAP Strategic Plan.
How is the CAP supporting Smart Villages?
Ministero delle Politiche Agricole, Alimentari e Forestali (National Rural Network, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry)
Paolo Ammassari, Head of National Rural Network and Rural Development Unit
Indirectly, no specific Smart Villages intervention.
LAGs across the country have had a focus on the development of Smart Villages within their Local Development Strategies.
Yes, direct Smart Village interventions are planned:
Smart Villages will be supported through the implementation of a specific Cooperation intervention (Cooperation for rural and local development and Smart Villages). This intervention will support the implementation of strategies related to rural tourism; food systems, food supply chains and local markets; social and economic inclusion; and environmental sustainability.
Smart Villages will be also supported through LEADER. Local Action Groups (LAGs) will be able to implement Smart Village strategies through their Local Development Strategies, when envisaged, and by applying for the Cooperation intervention.
CREA Ricerche (CREA Research)
Raffaella Di Napoli, Coordinator LEADER Task Force – NRN
CAP Network support
Yes, specific Smart Villages network activities.
The National Rural Network (NRN) started in 2021 a number of activities to support Smart Villages. The LEADER team within the NRN set up a thematic group on Smart Villages in 2022 (activity included in the action plan of the 2014-2021 NRN for the 2021-2023 period).
The main actions to be implemented are:
Training/ workshops and study visits on/ for Smart Villages: four webinars were organised during the first part of 2022. Furthermore, a workshop and the first training actions took place in July 2022.
Collection of specific examples/ good practices on Smart Villages: the collection of examples and experiences will allow to create a reservoir of practices useful to improve the future implementation of Smart Village strategies.
A Smart Rural Hub was launched at the beginning of 2022 as a capacity-building initiative, in collaboration with the LEADER Forum (a national association of LAGs for exchange of experiences and debate on topics relevant to local development). The aim of this initiative is to facilitate the implementation of Smart Village strategies within the CAP Strategic Plan.
How are other policies supporting Smart Villages?
National Recovery and Resilience Plan
National Strategy for Inner Areas
EU – Interreg Alpine Space project (Regione Lombardia)
Roberto De Marco
Yes, other policies are supporting Smart Villages.
The National Recovery and Resilience Plan supports an intervention targeting rural areas. The objective is to support projects developed by villages in order to boost their sustainable development. Twenty-one projects related to economic development have already been selected and the selection procedure of 200 project proposals on cultural development is ongoing.
The National Strategy for Inner Areas is an integrated plan aimed at tackling problems such as depopulation, low access to services and lack of development in remote and ultra-remote areas. The Strategy is funded under the European Structural and Investment Funds and national funds. Local integrated development strategies are financed in 72 pilot areas. The Strategy aims to reinforce the demographic structure of the selected areas by promoting multi-level governance (national/regional/local), improving services and investing in key sectors (e.g., energy, agriculture, culture), using the multi-fund approach to concentrate financial resources, involving communities and local policymakers.
EU – Interreg: The transnational approach makes it possible to bring new ideas and new tools for the implementation of a smart village strategy. The Smart Villages project in the Alpine Space is one example that brings together thirteen partners from six countries.
Smart Rural 27 – Smart Villages Taskforce
No taskforce is set up yet
Smart Villages in Italy
The village is a touristic community of about 130 houses made mostly of holiday houses with a few residents and some agricultural activity. It is situated in a region that is one of the most vulnerable to energy poverty in Italy. The relationships with the neighboring villages are good and the stakeholders are well coordinated by a young administrator, providing a collaborative environment. Every August, there is a general meeting with community members to discuss the projects’ economy and other topics relevant to the residents and people owning holiday houses. In the past, the village experienced hydrological difficulties in the area and is now thinking about ways to preserve water and reuse the wastewater. The village is currently designing the energy community under the RECAH program. A feasibility study is ongoing for a photovoltaic system and will be finished in August 2023. The project will, hopefully be accepted and start by 2024. The village’s geographical position and weather conditions have led to a primary focus on generating electricity from solar power.Read more
Gaiba is a village on the border of Rovigo and Ferrara provinces with 1000 inhabitants overlooking the banks of the river Po, the longest river in Italy. The village is located between Venice and Bologna, in a rural and agricultural-oriented area. The new administration of the municipality of Gaiba took the challenge of developing the village into several paths. The main motivation was the citizen’s disappointment with the stagnation and inertia in the village, in addition to the feeling of being abandoned by local institutions. The village is facing several issues: lack of jobs, agricultural crisis, depopulation, and youth out emigration, but still with the social engagement and commitment the village is having, human capital is a great resource. As a consequence of every crisis, creativity and innovation are growing by considering local richness and open-mindedly seeking and taking inspiration from worldwide projects. The longest river in Italy, the biodiversity and environment of the countryside, the historical and archaeological sites such as old villa, 10-centuries monastery ruins, barbarian tomb, horse ranch, and unique tennis grass courts in Italy that can attract tourists, engage citizens into entrepreneurship activities, and increase attention on this area. Still, the administration is struggling to realize its political dream to become a smart village.Read more
Ostana is an Occitan multi-centric settlement in the north-western Alps, in the Po valley, facing the Monviso mountain in Italy. In 1921 there were 1 200 inhabitants. At the end of the 20th century only six were left with a depopulation rate of 99,5%. Nowadays, the inhabitants count 50 permanent ones, while in the summer and high season this number grows to 500 tourists and second-home owners in total. T
Over the years, Ostana was able to attract a network of qualified supporters and build a system of competences and alliances from outside the valley. A small and tough community created the conditions for a better life, including work around architectural renovation, providing services to the inhabitants, developing cultural projects, and taking care of the deployment of renewable energy, agriculture and forest management.
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Last update: September 6, 2022