The development of Inner Areas in Italy

"The development of Inner Areas in Italy" is a biennial research project stemming from an agreement between GSSI and the Technical Committee "Inner Areas".

Within the framework of the "National Reform Plan" – and against the background of the 2014-2020 Cohesion Policy – the Italian Government has launched the "National Strategy for Inner Areas" in 2012.

According to the definition adopted, "Inner Areas" cover a vast part of the Italian territory hosting a population of more than 13.540 millions. Around one quarter of Italy's population lives in these areas, divided among more than four thousand municipalities, which cover sixty per cent of the entire national territory. This territory possesses a "territorial capital" of exceptional value and diversity but which is largely unused as a consequence of the long-term demographic decline that began in the 1950s when Italy started its industrial take-off. The Strategy adopted by Italy – now in its experimental phase – has the overall objective of promoting local development by activating unused territorial capital through carefully selected development projects. Improving the quality and quantity of the key welfare services (education, health, transport) in the inner areas is a central pillar of that strategy. By means of an initial screening of the national territory, 20 areas have been selected to enter the pilot phase of the strategy, which will end in 2020; and many of them are already drawing up the preliminary drafts of their local strategy, which include an analysis of the resources already available in each area and the possible actions which could be successfully applied to foster a long-period development.

Discussing the Italian strategy for inner areas provides an intriguing starting point for broader reflection on European inner (or peripheral) areas and their development trajectories, which addresses some crucial issues in the regional studies debate.

In recent decades Europe's peripheral areas have had to address the challenge of re-inventing themselves and to undertake the task of finding their place in a more globalized and interconnected world.  A number of new opportunities have been furnished by increased mobility and the greater importance acquired by information and communication technologies, which have resulted in different perceptions of how development policies are interpreted and designed.

The development strategies of peripheral areas in Europe often address social, political and cultural priorities, i.e. reversing the depopulation and marginalisation of these areas, by relying mainly on two key economic policy assets: improving essential services and triggering local development processes. These areas, in fact, have distinctive features. Firstly, they are fragile areas from a socio-demographic point of view because of population ageing. Secondly, they are unstable from an environmental (physical, eco-systemic) point of view as a consequence of insufficient maintenance of their semi-natural capital (human landscapes). Lastly, and more importantly, these are areas in which a significant part of the territorial capital is underexploited or unused. These three characteristics have a crucial social, economic and environmental importance at both a national and local level.

Relying on relevant case studies which can help shed light on development policies in peripheral areas, the research project focuses on the following topics from a policy-oriented, trans-disciplinary perspective:
• the urban/rural dichotomy and urban/rural interactions;
• future development trajectories of remote mountainous, rural areas;
• theoretical and practical approaches to the concept of peripherality;
• the polycentric urban region and polycentric development policies;
• the endogenous dynamics of local systems and the effects of policies on them;
• welfare, social policies and access to essential services;
• mobility and accessibility in peripheral areas;
• culture, tourism and destination marketing in marginal territorial contexts;
• the language of policy-making.

Research team
Alessandra Faggian, Full Professor
Bianca Biagi, Associate Professor (Università di Sassari) and GSSI affiliate
Alessandro Crociata, Assistant Professor
Giulia Urso, Assistant Professor
Cecilia Pasquinelli, Post-Doc
Maria Giulia Pezzi, Post-Doc
Gabriella Punziano, Post-Doc (2015-2017)
Matteo Bocchino, PhD student
Simone Grabner, PhD student
Alessia Mastrangioli, PhD student

Workshops, seminars and special sessions organized by our unit

• Seminar: "La Strategia Nazionale per le Aree Interne", Gran Sasso Science Institute, L'Aquila, 15 settembre 2015
• Workshop: "Turismo nelle aree Interne Italiane". Gran Sasso Science Institute, L'Aquila, 31 maggio-1 giugno 2016
• XXXVII Conferenza AISRe, Ancona, 19-22 settembre 2016. Titolo della sessione organizzata: "The development of peripheral areas: a European challenge", Maria Giulia Pezzi, Giulia Urso (GSSI)
• RSA Annual Conference, Graz, 3-6 aprile 2016. Titolo della sessione organizzata: "The development of Peripheral Areas in Italy: A European Perspective", Maria Giulia Pezzi, Giulia Urso (GSSI)

Special Issues: Italian Journal of Planning Practice
"Local development strategies in peripheral areas: a European challenge" I-II
Co-edited by Maria Giulia Pezzi (GSSI) and Giulia Urso (GSSI)

In recent decades Europe's peripheral areas have had to address the challenge of re-inventing themselves and to undertake the task of finding their place in a more globalized and interconnected world.  A number of new opportunities have been furnished by increased mobility and the greater importance acquired by information and communication technologies, which have resulted in different perceptions of how development policies are interpreted and designed.
The development strategies of peripheral areas in Europe often address social, political and cultural priorities, i.e. reversing the depopulation and marginalisation of these areas, by relying mainly on two key economic policy assets: improving essential services and triggering local development processes. These areas, in fact, have distinctive features. Firstly, they are fragile areas from a socio-demographic point of view because of population ageing. Secondly, they are unstable from an environmental (physical, eco-systemic) point of view as a consequence of insufficient maintenance of their semi-natural capital (human landscapes). Lastly, and more importantly, these are areas in which a significant part of the territorial capital is underexploited or unused. These three characteristics have a crucial social, economic and environmental importance at both a national and local level.
The aim of the issues is to bring together papers that focus, from a policy-oriented, trans-disciplinary perspective, on the above mentioned topics, relying on relevant case studies which can help shed light on development policies in peripheral areas.

Special Issue "Local development strategies in peripheral areas: a European challenge" I - 2016

Special Issue "Local development strategies in peripheral areas: a European challenge" II - 2017

Special Issue: Regional Science Policy and Practice
"Local Entrepreneurship and tourism: policies and practices in peripheral areas" (forthcoming)
Co-edited by Maria Giulia Pezzi (GSSI), Alessandra Faggian (GSSI), Neil Reid (University of Toledo)

Discussing the linkages between local entrepreneurship and tourism provides an intriguing starting point for a wider reflection on the role of existing policies and of emerging practices in fostering local development in peripheral areas.
Peripheral areas can be considered as areas relatively far from urban hubs providing essential services, typically suffering from de-anthropisation and marginalisation, though provided with a wide range of environmental, cultural and social resources.
In this sense, the investigation of the linkages between local entrepreneurship and tourism in peripheral areas, and of the role of existing policies and of the arising bottom-up practices in fostering local development, is aimed at deconstructing basic dichotomies often emerging when dealing with such issues, i.e. rural-urban and/or centre-periphery relationships, innovation vs tradition, authenticity vs mise en scene, agency vs inertia, social, cultural, economic mobility vs immobility etc. Moreover, focussing attention on the possible compliance or conflicting strategies of local actors with existing policies allows the possibilities arising from the analysis of local entrepreneurs as agents of change to be taken into consideration
In focusing on relevant case studies we are able to shed light on local entrepreneurship in peripheral areas in relation to tourism.

 

Publications
Updated 20 September 2018

Pezzi, M. G., Urso, G. (forthcoming 2018), Innovazione sociale e istituzionalizzazione: l'esempio delle cooperative di comunità nell'area interna dell'Appennino Emiliano, Geotema.
Pezzi, M. G. (forthcoming 2018). Home away from home: landscape as a mediator between place and belonging in the peripheral areas of the Marche region in Italy. International Journal of Tourism Anthropology.
Pezzi, M. G., Punziano, G. (2017), La categoria di "distanza" come proxy delle questioni ruralità, perifericità e sviluppo locale nella strategia nazionale per le aree interne, Sociologia e Politiche Sociali, Vol. 20, 3/2017, pp. 167-192, DOI: 10.3280/SP2017-003009.
Pezzi, M. G. (2017). When History Repeats: Heritage Regeneration and Emergent Authenticity in the Marche's Peripheral Areas. Almatourism, 8(7), 1–20.
Pezzi, M. G., Urso, G. (2017). Coping with peripherality: local resilience between policies and practices. Editorial note. Italian Journal of Planning Practice, 6(1),1-23.
Pezzi, M. G. (2017). From peripheral hamlet to craft beer capital: Apecchio and the 'Alogastronomia'. Italian Journal of Planning Practice, 7(1),154-183.
Pezzi, M. G., & Urso, G. (2016). Peripheral areas: conceptualizations and policies. Editorial note. Italian Journal of Planning Practice, VI(1), 1–19.
Punziano, G. (forthcoming 2018), Salute, mobilità, istruzione: strategie per le aree interne, Scienze Regionali. Italian Journal of Regional Science.
Punziano G., Urso G. (2016), Local development strategies for inner areas in Italy. A comparative analysis based on plan documents, Italian Journal of Planning Practices, Vol. 5(1), pp. 76-109.
Urso G. (2016), "L'innovazione nell'accesso ai servizi di base. Un'analisi comparata delle policy di alcuni paesi europei", in S. De Falco (a cura di), Innovazione, competitività e sviluppo nei territori dell'Unione Europea, Edicampus, Roma, pp. 47-66.
Urso G. (2016), Polycentric development policies: a reflection on the Italian "National Strategy for Inner Areas", Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 223C, pp. 456-461

On the basis of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Comitato Tecnico Aree Interne (CTAI), coordinated by the  Dipartimento per le Politiche di Coesione della Presidenza del Consiglio, and the Gran Sasso Science Institute (GSSI) - the GSSI (area of Social Sciences) has launched in September 2015 a series of research, training and analysis activities aimed at assisting and integrating the activities of  CTAI within the National Strategy for Internal Areas (SNAI), with the ultimate aim of accompanying the decision-making process for the definition of Area Strategies.

2015-2016
Alta Valtellina, Valchiavenna, Antola-Tigullio, Casentino-Valtiberina


2016-2017
Appennino Basso Pesarese-Anconetano - Marche

Madonie - Sicilia

Montagna Materana - Basilicata

Appennino Emiliano - Emilia Romagna

Reventino-Savuto - Calabria


(updated 10/2018)


For more information on the National Strategy for Inner Areas visit this link (in Italian):
http://www.agenziacoesione.gov.it/it/arint/index.html