It was understood that Minister Franceschini loved small towns since he declared 2017 the year dedicated to villages, but the PNRR has created a real space for intervention dedicated to this Italian peculiarity.
The PNRR, the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, has allocated the huge sum of 1 billion euros dedicated to the repopulation of the most disadvantaged villages. The fund is managed by the Ministry of Culture but the real novelty is that its attention is focused on the people, what we could call the village's soft-skills.
The interest of the call is on how to bring people back to live in historic centers and how to start businesses and for the first time the real crucial point is the socio-economic sustainability of the villages, and not just their aesthetic appearance.
Just reading the announcement excited me because we have been working on these issues for years and we have an infinite series of situations (especially in Lazio and Sicily).
Try to imagine a beautiful historic center of a small village with a bar, a post office, a restaurant, a B&B and maybe an artist's shop. Now try to imagine it without any person working in these personal services.
In the first case, you immediately want to stay for a few hours, if not one night, in the second case the visit lasts a few minutes and then you run away in search of signs of life.
And paradoxically this problem also has large tourist cities such as Venice, which practically appears deserted off the main roads, or the historic centers of important cities such as Rome whose shutters of many shops have been lowered due to COVID.
And the problem is also well known to all those who deal with the reconstruction of post-earthquake centers, in which the abandonment of historic centers has made them ghost villages that need to be revived.
Returning to the PNRR announcement on villages, there are some keywords that make the focus on which the project must focus well: "Next Generation EU and give new roots to young people by creating jobs in an ecosystem that meets the needs of everyday life ".
And for the village that is selected, there is another pleasant surprise, an additional loan dedicated exclusively to businesses to facilitate their start-up and training.
At this point all that remains is to start with the design that essentially has to answer a question: for whom do we do these interventions? What are the real needs of a young person who stays (or returns) to live in this village?
Great challenge. We are there with some ideas based on individual realities and we can make partnerships with our work of the Town Ambassador Award dedicated to a particular target of young people: Italian descendants abroad.