Allegrini 2018

Among Cammini and small villages, Italy can start again from its true excellence

The Cammini report of Fondazione Symbola and Ifel. 92% of PDOs and 79% of the most important Italian wines come from small Italian municipalities
Monteriggioni, on the Via Francigena, in the heart of the Chianti Classico area

The 5,498 small municipalities of Italy (69.5% of the total), is the cradle of 92% of PDO and PGI products and 79% of the most important Italian wines. An enormous heritage, which further enhances the great attention that the pandemic has brought back to small communities and rural areas. And if there are those who rediscover them now, there are those who see them, for years, not as places on the verge of extinction to be saved, which is still a necessity, but as a real engine for the development of Italy, as a land of opportunity for young people, where so much is linked to quality wine & food, rural hospitality, small catering. Provided, however, that the State invests in them, especially in infrastructure and broadband, but also in essential services, in order to project them fully into a new and different future, of which these small villages can be new frontiers.
Among those who have always believed in this, there is the Fondazione Symbola, led by Ermete Realacci, who presented the Report “Piccoli Comuni e Cammini d’Italia”, together with Ifel (Institute for Finance and Local Economy of Anci), focusing on the 44 Routes, surveyed by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, to which others will be added, from the 1,1000 kilometers of the Via Francigena downwards, cross the Belpaese with 15,400 kilometers of walking routes, touching hundreds of municipalities and villages. Which, more than ever in this era, are also fundamental for the resumption of tourism, in the year in which, according to Coldiretti, 25% of Italians will make tourism almost at 0 Km, allocating a third of the expenditure to the purchase of typical products of the territories. And, what’s more, that of the small villages and paths, is “a slow, cultured tourism, able to respect the fragility of our territories and enjoy the beauty that is intertwined with an immense historical and artistic heritage scattered throughout Italy, and to recognize its great value”, said the Minister of Culture and Tourism Dario Franceschini.
“To seize the potential of the Cammini d’Italia in a moment of crisis like the one we are going through - says Ermete Realacci, president of the Symbola Foundation - means to strengthen the role and the garrison of small municipalities, institutions and local communities. Traditions, culture, beauty, cohesion, innovation and creativity are the keys to a more human scale economy on which the Assisi Manifesto invites us to bet to face the challenges of our time. We will overcome the difficult and demanding trials of this crisis also thanks to the strength of the territories, their ability to hold together technology and empathy, the dignity of people, well-being and vitality of communities, hospitality, ancient knowledge. A very clear vision in the words of greeting of the campaign “Voler bene all'Italia” by Legambiente of the former President of the Republic Carlo Azeglio Ciampi: “betting on small municipalities, investing in these places by young entrepreneurs, thanks to the development of information technology and new technologies, can become a great adventure to be seized”. Small municipalities, territories and communities are an extraordinary opportunity for Italy: they are the example of an economy more on a human scale that focuses on the interweaving of tradition and innovation, between old and new knowledge. We can restart tourism and the economy and we can compete in a globalized world if we innovate without weakening our identity, if Italy is Italy”.
“Italy must literally “get back on the road”. The whole of Italy - says Guido Castelli, president of the Fondazione Ifel - must find its way back to growth and development. It is vital to do so especially in the inner territories and small municipalities. Tourism is their leading sector. To re-approach the “Italy of walks” is an invitation for the next holidays of Italians, but it is also an invitation to politics to put in place promotional actions. This set of paths, communities, identities, traditions must become a single system of offer. A network of attractions of beauty that must become known and easy to visit”.
A tool, that of the Walks, which, together with others, can become decisive for the future, even of many young people, as recalled by President Coldiretti, Ettore Prandini: “until today many young people have looked to the cities, but also to other countries, to think about the future, but many are returning to the land, to modern agriculture that is also protection of biodiversity, of which Italy alone represents 70% worldwide. In this perspective, it is fundamental to revitalize the small villages, where most of our PDO excellences are born, which also give work to other sectors such as craftsmanship, culture and innovation, and make it in this wider context that today we have to talk about agriculture”.

Focus - The report “Piccoli Comuni e Cammini d'Italia” (Small Municipalities and Italy’s Walks)
“Piccoli Comuni e Cammini d'Italia” is a journey made up of 44 itineraries in 15,400 km that winds along the entire Peninsula and the islands, crosses 1,435 municipalities, 944 of which are small (66% of those covered by the network of itineraries), and meets over 2,000 cultural heritage and 179 DOP/Igp productions, 86.6% of the latter in small municipalities. The latter numbered 5,498 (i.e. with a population of 5,000 inhabitants or less) in Italy on 31 March 2019, out of a total of 7,914 municipalities. They represent, therefore, 69.5% of the total number of Italian municipalities.
One of the most suggestive reasons to embark on this adventure is certainly the special relationship between the small municipalities and the Cammini d'Italia, identified in 2016 by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism. A list of 44 routes that will grow over time with the progressive inclusion of new routes, particularly in southern Italy, which will provide an opportunity to expand and update this work that comes to enrich the series Geografie of the Fondazione Symbola. It is a project of analysis and narration of the economy and the historical, cultural and environmental heritage of the Italian territories started in 2016 with Small Municipalities and typical products, carried out together with Coldiretti, which showed that 92% of PDO and PGI products and 79% of the finest Italian wines have to do with small municipalities; and with the Atlas of the Apennines, the first systematization of the environmental, cultural and economic values of the largest mountain system in the Mediterranean.
The Walks are an opportunity for tourist and cultural promotion and local development for medium and large cities of art, but especially for those territorial realities able to take advantage of the opportunities of the Small Municipalities Act (No. 158 of 6/10/2017, better known as the Realacci Act): which provides measures and tools to strengthen territorial services - starting from digital and health care facilities as the Covid-19 emergency has highlighted - and promote, in particular, craft and food and wine production and the recovery, upgrading and safety of historic centers. These are fundamental conditions for adequately organizing hospitality, catering and services and thus responding to a new tourist demand destined to grow also as a consequence of the Covid-19 epidemic as evidenced by the high number of presences recorded in small municipalities and mountain areas in these first weekends after the end of the lockdown.
Territories that today are looked at with new eyes for their healthiness, for the quality of the landscapes, for the physical distance as an innate condition of the places and not constricting, for their small size and for their proximity, as also demonstrated by the debate that has opened on the possible processes of dispersion of housing from large urban areas to villages and small municipalities.
The sceneries offered by the Cammini d’Italia are really vast and different, crossing national and regional parks, rivers, woods and forests, agricultural landscapes, skirting lakes and wetlands, reaching villages, parish churches, abbeys, sanctuaries, monasteries, fortresses and castles. We find regional itineraries such as the Ligurian Path and the Journey through the History of Abruzzo: the first, from Luni to Ventimiglia, through Liguria along the coast, climbing for some stretches on the slopes of the mountains; the second leads us to the strong and gentle region through five different itineraries, passing through over forty municipalities in the province of L'Aquila and Pescara, crossing archaeological sites, churches rich in beauty, breathtaking landscapes and places of high naturalistic interest. Or the Magna Via Francigena, which divides Sicily in two on a route that connects Palermo to Agrigento. Other routes, on the other hand, cross Italy starting from outside the national borders, such as the Via Francigena, which arrives in Rome and starts at the San Bernardo Pass - in Italy on the border with Switzerland - meeting 145 municipalities in a route over 1000 km long. Or like the Via Romea Germanica, which starts at the Brenner Pass and travels 1020 km through 6 regions to Rome.
There are also many religious routes: for example the Via di Francesco, which retraces the main places and sanctuaries of the life of the Patron Saint of Italy. The Cammini d’Italia also strengthen the role and the protection of small municipalities, institutions and local communities capable of maintaining and strengthening the international records that our country can boast: like the one that, according to the ranking drawn up in 2019 by The Spectator Index, sees Italian culture as the most influential in the world, powerful and evocative background of Made in Italy and the many successes of Italian exports.

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