AN ASSOCIATION OF … TERRITORIES AND COMMUNITIES THAT “WANT TO MAKE IT”
The first Association was informally formed in November 2002 (17 members) taking the name “Villages d’Europe” Association. Later (January 2004) the members’ assembly (28 members) decided to change the name to “Authentic Villages of Italy” and expand the fields of intervention and action. On March 28, 2007, the members (61) reconstituted themselves by public deed providing for the expansion of the social purpose and articulating the new strategic perspectives.
HOW WE WORK
The Association is joined by small and medium-sized municipalities, Unions of Municipalities, local authorities and mixed local development bodies.
It is a network of territories and communities that make relationships, exchange of best practices and network projects a key resource. Local communities, aware that they have resources and opportunities to create new development and improve the overall quality of life at the local level, are for Authentic Villages the protagonists of the platform of actions and projects that leverage an enormous human, historical, landscape, cultural and economic heritage of the realities that belong to that Italy “that wants to make it…” We are talking about villages, small towns, territories that focus on the rediscovery, enhancement and growth of their own identity, connecting the knowledge and intelligence of their own communities with the solicitations deriving from national proposals, alliances with other networks and entities in Italy and abroad, challenges, criticalities and the many positive goals that can be achieved together.
Authentic Villages proposes and promotes, also through its “Manifesto” intervention strategies to nurture sustainable local development policies aimed at achieving concrete results, through the development of levels of inter-institutional cooperation between municipalities and between them and other local authorities, regions and public and private partnership networks at national and European level; the adoption of local public policies and corresponding administrative behavior aimed at continuously improving the physical, social, economic and cultural environment of places; the creation of governance systems capable of stimulating citizen participation and empowerment in the definition of strategic perspectives.
Entities that join the Authentic Villages Association are aware that they must get involved: they are asked to make constant progress in terms of sustainable development, social inclusion, job creation, landscape quality, proximity agriculture and high quality food production, fight against depopulation, preservation and improvement of environmental and natural heritage, cultural enhancement, and they are proud that their work and their good practices find support, detection, planning incentive, address and dissemination through this instrument of aggregation and strategic planning represented precisely by the Association of Authentic Villages of Italy
Numerous, the achievements and good practices that over the years the municipalities associated with the Association have undertaken with commitment and through the lines of action shared and encapsulated in the Manifesto of Authentic Villages and in strategic projects and network that have come to be outlined. And they have done so together with the citizens, their organizations, and the many public and private associations that have been willing to cooperate and empower themselves to improve the quality of life for them, new residents and visitors.
For example, through the Hospitable Community project, today several of our associates propose a community, experiential tourism, thanks to which the tourist/resident barriers are broken down and guests are to all intents and purposes true “temporary citizens” discovering a dimension of travel, slow, responsible and immersion in local life and culture. In this project, which has also obtained co funding from MIBACT and the Region of Sardinia, about 100 thousand inhabitants from various Italian regions are involved, more than 350 operators between accommodation and catering and altogether this innovative system of tourist offerings has 3600 beds.
In the Authentic Villages, the community is at the center of daily civic engagement and one of the strategic projects that is increasingly spreading in our villages is the “Community Cooperative,” a model of social aggregation capable of building shared responses by citizens, to collective needs. In fact, the Community Cooperative is an instrument that shares and realizes the community itself, making available (each member and all together) its creativity, its skills, its know-how, to respond, in terms of services, to emerging needs in relation to welfare, sustainable development, improvement of the quality of life and the local environmental and social context. And so Community Cooperatives were born in the Authentic Villages for the dissemination of photovoltaic systems on private roofs, the management of otherwise unused public property, the management of forest nurseries, the provision of home-based social services, the management of vacant houses in historic centers, the management of abandoned and uncultivated land for zero KM agriculture production, and the management of property confiscated from the mafias.
The zero waste, recycle or reuse strategy sees many of our municipalities banning plastic bottles thanks to water houses, increasing door-to-door collection, a constant abatement over time not only of undifferentiated waste but of the waste itself including the wet fraction also through community or household composters. Recycling and reuse and the need to reduce and zero food waste are proposed in school workshops.
Then there are numerous projects that together with our associates we apply for regional, national or EU funding. Such as, for example, the MaC Village project, funded in 2019 by the EU under the Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE Program, with the aim of making cultural and creative enterprises cooperate with traditional enterprises in rural territories to revitalize the capacity of entrepreneurs to innovate and promote themselves or the ADRIONET project, funded under the Interreg ADRION Program. The common strategy of Adrionet is aimed at the creation of a transnational network of authentic villages that promote the preservation of natural and cultural assets by pursuing development based on social, environmental and economic principles of sustainability, with the quality of life and well-being of local people at the center first and foremost, as a prerequisite for pervasive care of the landscapes concerned, but also of attraction and satisfaction of visitors.