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Pre-Planning in Piedmont Areas: the Strategic Plan “Pinerolese Yard: Towards a Plain-Mountain Network” of the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone (Piedmont, Italy)

Maria Anna Bertolino
Cet article est une traduction de :
Pre-Progettazione Strategica in Territori Piè-Montani: Il Caso Della Zona Omogenea Pinerolese


This paper is about city-mountain relationship as pointed out in a pre-planning work done by the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone of the Metropolitan City of Turin (Western Italian Alps) and supported by the “Call for technical assistance for the elaboration of local territorial development strategies” of the program “Turin and the Alps” from the Compagnia di San Paolo Foundation (Turin). The pre-planning work led to a strategic plan called “Pinerolese yard: toward a plain-mountain network”. During its planning, the city of Pinerolo established a dialogue with the different local mountain actors that marked a new vision for the entire territory. This vision called for the overcoming of the core-periphery model, which emerged in the area in the last century because of economic and social dynamics such as depopulation and desertification of the traditional mountains activities. Moreover, both the administrative reconstruction of the Metropolitan City of Turin and the macro-regional strategy Eusalp are nowadays external forces that require a joint public action between urban and mountain territories in order to reach a greater territorial competitiveness, especially in medium-sized territories, such as the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone. This could be achieved in different ways: on the one hand by structuring an alternative offer to the metropolis in terms of goods and services, on the other by better managing the city-mountain interchange.

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This work has been supported by LABEX ITEM ANR-10-LABX-50-01

The Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone as an actor of local development

1This paper aims to contribute on the reflection on the city-mountain relationship started within a pre-planning work carried out by the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone in the framework of the “Call for technical assistance for the elaboration of local territorial development strategies” of the program “Turin and the Alps” of the Compagnia di San Paolo Foundation.

  • 1 The metropolitan city has 315 municipalities on 6800 square kilometers and a population of 2.247.78 (...)

2The strategic vision, coherent with European Agenda (2014-2020), has been developed in the document called “Pinerolese yard: towards a plain-mountain network”. Recently, the territory interested by the pre-planning work has been affected by the suppression of the Province of Turin and the birth of the Metropolitan City of Turin (Lg. 56/2014)1. For Corrado (2015, p.44), this passage could “support and strength a leap of cultural perspective [...] by providing new territorial representations and building new alliances to define strategic and innovative territorial visions”. These alliances and visions are put in the most recent planning addresses of rural areas, in particular the so called “Inner areas” (Barca 2012, Meloni, 2015), that gravitate toward the neighboring cities, connoting relations based on an interchange that sees the mountain territories being a source of resources, even if often not recognized (Dematteis, 2015a). Some cities in the Alps (Cuneo, Aosta, Belluno) began working on the strategic planning in order to reverse the tendency to a mere functional dependence of the other territories from the city (Corrado et al., 2017); but the specificity of the Metropolitan City of Turin – the only Italian metropolitan city to have almost half of the municipalities in mountain or in partially mountainous areas, which occupy more than 60% of the territory – requires more a comparison with foreign cases in the western Alps, such as the Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolitan Areas or the Grenoble City Région, than a national comparison with other metropolitan cities.

  • 2étropole.

3In the first case, the system of relationships between rural and city is characterized by the verticality of the region, in which city, sea and mountains coexist and are linked by the history. Although the metropolitan area of Nice has an extension far below the Metropolitan city of Turin, its Statute (approved in 2012) identifies the harmonious and balanced development of the territory in the reaffirmation of the municipal identity, stressing that “the municipalities carry the collective memory of the inhabitants and their feeling of belonging to a territory, a history, a culture” and, at the same time, that new forms of intercommunal cooperation can deal with the «needs of the inhabitants in terms of travels, work, consumptions and leisures»2.

4The relationship between urban poles and the mountain ones is also pointed out in the Schéma de cohérence Territoriale 2030 of the Grenoble City Region, that emphasizes “the enhancement of the mountain and its landscapes for tourist attractiveness, a more efficient agricultural and forest economy, an increased environmental behaviour to preserve the natural resources and the ecological continuities” (Région urbaine de Grenoble, 2012, p.12).

5This is also the aim of the operational agenda of the Strategic Metropolitan Plan of Turin (PSMTo): in the mid-term vision (2016-2019) we read that one of the objectives is overcoming two well-known dichotomies: the plain vs mountain and the urban vs rural (Torino metropoli, 2016).

6A mountain hinterland as important as that of some cities in the Alps requires the rethinking of relations between city and mountain, no longer seen as two domains but as a single territory whose government must be oriented to overcome the urban-rural division as well as the subsidy mentality, in view of an “territorial ecosystem” at the fairest condition as possible (Pecqueur, 2015).

  • 3 This homogeneous zone is identified as the n° 5. It covers 1302 square kilometers, the 19% of the e (...)
  • 4

7To this end, the Metropolitan City of Turin identified 11 homogenous zones, areas characterized by territorial contiguity, with a population of no less than 80,000 inhabitants, with a previous experience of intercommunal cooperation, based on a political sustainability. These, as underlined in the article 27 of the Statute are born for the purpose of strengthening the internal cooperation and can become the optimal framework for the joint development of municipal services and for the delegated exercise of functions of metropolitan competence. Up to now, in addition to the Pinerolese Homogenous Zone3, another strategic vision has been developed by the Eporediese Homogeneous Zone (Torino Strategica, 2016) while, before the establishment of the Metropolitan City, 38 Municipalities of the conurbation of Turin have been involved in the Strategic Plan “Torino Metropoli 2025”4. Furthermore, other small territories inside the homogeneous zones are now providing masterplans that demonstrate a layered strategic planning which, however, must be integrated and compared with that of the metropolitan city itself (Corrado et al., 2017 , p. 121) in order to avoid the risk of territorial asymmetries, as shown by international cases (Bertrard et al., 2015), and to get a real opportunity of territorial cohesion (Barbieri, 2015, p.3) This seem to be good, in particular, “for the homogeneous zones from the n°5 to the n°11, i.e. those not so closer to the metropolitan area, which include secondary urban poles and agricultural territories or valleys, because the potential for innovation in terms of policy and of common actions is promising. These territories can really become the basis for strong collaborations among municipalities regarding services and administrative functions” (Castellani, Prat, 2015).

  • 5 The macro-strategy Eusalp was born in Grenoble on October 18, 2013. It was signed by the Ministers (...)
  • 6

8The Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone, characterized by a medium-sized city,foothills and mountain territories, has therefore found, in the birth of the homogeneous zone and in the pre-planning offered by the Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo, the opportunity to rethink the relationship between urban and rural and try to regulate the interchange between city and mountain in an innovative way. Moreover, its geographical conformation could make it a laboratory for the Alpine macro-regional strategy Eusalp5 guidelines application, because the small and medium-sized areas could better carry out the goals of the strategy that are currently struggling to take off on a greater territorial level. The macro-regional strategy, based on three pillars, sees in the one called “Growth and Innovation” the direction to “ensure sustainable growth and promote full employment, competitiveness and innovation by consolidating and diversifying specific economic activities with a view to mutual solidarity between mountain areas and urban areas”6. As regard the Metropolitan City of Turin, this can be implemented by starting from the local actors of the homogeneous zones, which may affect the interests of the metropolitan city (often addressed to the non-mountainous areas) thank to the greater interterritoriality made in the past and to the “consolidated territories in terms of images, vocations, representations” (Corrado et al., 2017)

9Going back to the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone, the stakeholders involved in the construction of the strategy showed the desire to give a coherent image of their territory in front of the Metropolitan City of Turin, despite its diversity of vocations, and tried to design a more inclusive planning for the future.

The geographic and territorial context: brief description of the socio-economic developments and of the spread of new images

10The “Pinerolese” area (132.920 inhabitants in 2016, ISTAT data) is a historical and functional sub-region that takes its name from the City of Pinerolo (35.808 inhabitants in 2016, ISTAT data), composed of 45 Municipalities of which 33 classified mountain and piedmont that gravitated around the city.

FIG. 1 The Pinerolese area

FIG. 1 The Pinerolese area

Source: personal processing on Google maps data.

11The area is divided longitudinally into three parts. A mountaneous part, which borders on France, includes the valleys Pellice, Chisone, Germanasca and Noce, and a flat one, who included an agricultural plain. Between these two parts, a third one is interposed, formed by the hilly belt of the piedmont transition.

12Like many other areas of the western Alps, the industrialization of the plain and the city in the last century, as well as the strong appeal of Turin and FIAT (now FCA), led to a periurbanization that increased the number of residents of Pinerolo and of the municipalities of the valley floor. In the same years, some high-mountain places in Val Chisone (the only valley with a road access to France) knew the mass tourism as consequence of the development of skiing, with the concreting of natural sites.

13Today we are witnessing the crisis of economic activities that guided the development of the area in the twentieth century, especially as regards the secondary sector. At the same time, some new settlements in the mountains are appearing. They are examples of the neo-ruralism (Merlo, 2006), often new-highlanders that return to re-cultivated the lands (Corti, 2007).

14The uplands of the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone have historically (and politically) been seen from the plain and the city as detached territories due to their own historical and cultural factors (e.g. nowadays the so-called minority languages, the presence of Protestantism, civic uses other than the city and different methods of government, from the Escartons to the French domination). Recently, however, it has acquired its own dimension from the point of view of self-representation of its inhabitants. They “tend to recognize themselves as belonging to the same territorial reality [...], which is the indispensable requirement for launching and accepting the challenge of integrated territorial development” (Maffione, 2005, p.5).

15As highlighted by the analyses, the attention of policy-makers has been paid to environmental issues, life choices, different economic models that can affect residential and capital investments in mountain and rural areas: now, the entire Pinerolo area, like other territories in the Italian Alps, shows an alternative offer to the metropolitan lifestyle, in terms of goods and services (from nature to sport, from tourism to well-being) able to accentuate its competitiveness and to attract incoming people (Adobati, Ferri, 2013).

Pinerolo: from an hinge to a knot between plain and mountain

  • 7 “Inner mountain” is a classification by Istat from 1958. A study of the Institute of Economic Resea (...)

16The Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone is characterized by a large number of small municipalities (<5000 inhabitants) and very small ones (<1000 inhabitants, all mountain) and by a rather low average housing density (103 inhabitants / Kmq), with strong disparities between the plains and the inner mountain7, where the older population is concentrated in an hight percentage.

FIG. 2 Municipalities of the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone divided by classes of inhabitants

FIG. 2 Municipalities of the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone divided by classes of inhabitants

Source: personal processing on ISTAT 2016 data.

FIG. 3 Old-age index (%) of the Municipalities of the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone

FIG. 3 Old-age index (%) of the Municipalities of the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone

Source: personal processing on ISTAT 2016 data.

17Because of this condition, over the years and on several occasions, the local administrators have declared the wish of “create a system”, a synergy of all the local resources, also to support those municipal governments that have limited human resources within themselves (Borgarello et al., 2007).

  • 8 The Integrated Territorial Programs (PTI) belong to the negotiated planning instruments promoted by (...)

18The possibilities to try out a strategic planning work at the supra-municipal level, at least in the last 15 years, are not lacking. We need to briefly recall the experience of the Integrated Territorial Programs (PTI)8 but also the opportunity offered by the winter games of Turin 2006, in which some sports and their infrastructures (hockey, nordic ski, curling, ski jumping) were placed in the Pinerolese area. Although these are two different experiences, from the preliminary analyses carried out for this work, it emerged that they are perceived by the local administrators as missed opportunities of development, relaunch and reconstruction of the entire area.

  • 9 Through a qualitative-quantitative survey that involved all 45 mayors of the homogeneous zone.

19In fact, faced with a noteworthy richness of projects in the past (Borgarello et al., 2007, p.101), the difficulty of the territory to integrate a plurality of sectoral stakeholders is now known. From the analysis of the previous projects9 indeed a two-speed planning-skills emerged: a good level of preparation, and therefore the ability to attract investments, by the Comunità montane , active up to the previous European programming period 2007-2013, in contrast to the planning abilities showed by the city and the plain areas.

20This led to an imbalance also in terms of partnership: while the mountain looked to the France for cooperation, the city and a the plain were being sucked into Turin, appearing territories without a network frame.

21Today, with the creation of the homogeneous zone, local administrators have found a new possibility to build a territorial system based on a huge network, renewing a city-mountain pact that often, for political, historical and cultural reasons, has failed. Pinerolo, in the process of enhancing the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone, can move from the role of simple territorial hinge to that of a node capable of becoming the spokesperson of a strategy only if some political difficulties are overcame: on one hand the city must be recognized as a leader for the territory and, with the human resources inside it, lead beneficiary of some projects guided by a common strategy cancel that doesn't cancel the specificities of the mountain; on the other hand, the city must allow variable strategic alliances on specific issues and funding opportunities.

The definition of a new relationship between city and mountain in the strategic document “Pinerolese yard: toward a plain-mountain network”

  • 10 The strategic guidelines, each one divided into objectives and actions, have been summarized by the (...)

22The strategy identified aims to the integration between the city and the neighbour mountains with the objectives of: improving the quality of life; reducing the socio-economic gap between the different territories through an equal access to the resources and the services; revitalize the local economy towards a circular model10.

23In the following argumentation some of the themes of the strategy are showed: these cross the most recent projects already financed, and turn around the possibility for the city of Pinerolo to rediscover its “alpinity” (Dematteis, 2015b, p. 31) starting not only from the human, economic, environmental and cultural resources available inside its territory but also from the over local pressures that are taking place and in general from the political and cultural changes.

Intercommunal cooperation: a new governance

24A first new mountain-city relationship is given by an innovative governance to overcome the chronic lack of relations between public administrations, institutions and organizations of the territory.

25After that the Mountain Communities in Italy were abolished, the territory has lived a few years of transition to the new Mountain Unions.

26Today there are four Mountains Unions on the territory: the Mountain Union of the Olympic Municipalities-Via Lattea, the Mountain Union of Valli Chisone e Germanasca, the Pinerolese Mountain Union, the Pinerolese Pedemontana Mountain Union.

  • 11
  • 12
  • 13 The C.H.A.V. is composed by: the Communautés de Communes du Briançonnais, du Pays des Ecrins, du Gu (...)

27In the territory of the plain there is a single Union of Municipalities. The Group of Local Action (LAG) Escartons Valli Valdesi (E.V.V.)11 and the Consortium Bacino imbrifero montano (BIM)12 Val Pellice operate on a large part of the Pinerolese mountain area. We also note the presence of the Association Alte Valli (CHAV), established in 2007 – but already active since 2000 – to give an operational character to cross-border cooperation with the aim to evolve into an European Group of Territorial Cooperation (GETC)13.

28In view of common decisions, the governance identified involves these institutions, the Municipality of Pinerolo, some local administrators of the plain and one representative of the Protected Areas of the Cozie Alps.

FIG. 4 Associationism and cooperation in the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone

FIG. 4 Associationism and cooperation in the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone

Source: personal processing.

29Actually, given the numerous opportunities offered by the European founds and by regional and private institutions financial aids – that require strategic planning at different territorial scales –, a sharing process has been necessary in order to improve the design, enhance territorial cohesion and make the area able to present itself united in front of the donors.

30Nevertheless, the development of new cooperations between these institutions gives few financial problems while the availability of local internal human resources is critical and this affects in particular the mobilisation of the different stakeholders (often without common working traditions) and the definition of shared actions. For this reason, in the wake of what happened for the construction of this strategic document, the group of work has identified the need, for the whole Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone, to be guided by a territorial animator, able to planning, delegated to the relationships with the various institutions.

From a city of services to a city for services

31A second possible relationship between city and mountain concerns the integration of some services aimed at different population groups, for the fight against social exclusion and the strengthening of solidarity and equity. Lately, many services have been concentrated in the city, but many other have been closed by the higher institutions (ex Province of Turin, Region).

Health care

32In the recent years the gradual contraction of public resources has led to a loss of welfare services, due to centralisation at the expense of the more marginal areas. This situation have had heavy repercussions on the quality of life of those who live in those places, creating a gap in accessibility to the care services. This requires today the rethinking of welfare services, if not to reduce the dependence of the mountain from the city, at least to lower the costs related to the distance (Dematteis, 2015a, p.67). For example, telemedicine is being tested in the Unione Montana dei Comuni Olimpici-Via Lattea with the project “Meno soli nelle Alpi” (Less Alone in the Alps), while it is supporting the creation of Case della Salute (health houses) - where there were two hospitals in the past - in Torre Pellice (Pellice Valley) and Pomaretto (Germanasca Valley). These, in view to bring the city and the mountains closer together and to contrast social and health inequalities, constitute an innovative multidisciplinary support that allows to manage the incoming patients at the hospital of Pinerolo. As a consequence it aims to reduce the problems of transport and congestion of the main hospital and to start a process towards home care (especially for over 65s) already experimented in Piedmont and in the Western Alps with the figure of the family and community nurse (Bacci, Palummeri, 2017).

Innovative transport policies

33Into the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone, the 82% of journeys takes place privately and the 69% takes place for work reasons (IRES, 2016, pp. 66-69). Although the public transport Turin- Pinerolo exists both by train and by bus, there are disadvantages for the rural and mountain areas, as the populations of these areas are often not in a position to move from / to Pinerolo easily and according to individual needs. These problems require a rethinking of classic transport services to forms of alternative mobility starting from the experimentation that in some areas is already done: car sharing, call-a-bus, etc ... Pinerolo has a fundamental role in this because it has the main junction: Movicentro is the area dedicated to the intermodality. However, for the mountain territories, the coordination of the transport is delegated to the Mountains Unions, but this role must be coordinated at the level of the entire homogeneous zone, integrating both areas with weak demand and areas with strong demand for a city-mountain integration. Pinerolo, with the project Alcotra M.u.s.i.c. (Safety, Intelligent and Aware Urban Mobility), is launching a series of actions towards sustainable mobility, combining the improvement of local transport from and to the valleys and the country. Among the actions of the project there are: the allocation of low emission vehicles and the implementation of a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) that can be integrated with territorial actions such as the rethinking of the rail, currently suspended, which linked the Val Pellice with Pinerolo, in terms of alternative mobility and transport for tourists and commuters.

Benefits of investing in education

34The Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone is, with its 22 schools (17 of these present in Pinerolo) and 6106 students (2014-2015 SY), the first homogeneous zone for school supply and for self-containment (Ires, 2017, p. 38). The offer responds both to the demand for traditional courses preparatory for university (high schools such as lyceum) and to the growing demand for professional training that combines with the new directions for the development of the territory (to be noted the number of enrollments increasing for the Agriculture Institute and for Professional Institute for chef), which is flanked by professional training courses guaranteed by agencies and consortium, often addressed to local know-hows.

35However, the perception of the lack of job opportunities and of involvement of the world of local businesses does not yet allow students to think about a future job in loco. The actions and those supported intend to ensure the meeting between school and economic needs of the area, using also the recent tool, introduced at national level, of the work-linked training. To this end, the Alcotra project “A.P.P. VER. Learning to produce green” lays to the creation of a system of cross-border vocational education, adapted to the socio-economic transformations and the guidelines of the green economy (Borghi, 2009), which can transform the mountain “in an experimental laboratory of a possible transition to an economy and a society that incorporate the concept of limit in their development process” (Dematteis, 2016, p 12).

36However, this is only possible if the project A.P.P. VER recognizes the mountaineous areas as a place to experiment the work-linked training, with the involvement of local small enterprises, also in view of new occupations linked to revitalized traditional jobs.

New local economies towards a circular economy model

Employments opportunities from territorial resources

37The crisis that since 2012 have afflicted in particular the secondary sector, often released from local territorial resources, has led to a rethink of the economic model of development of the last seventy years.

  • 14 The tangible mountain resources are: the agriculture, the water, the forests, the landscape and cul (...)

38New jobs should be create from a renovated educational system, in which the city of Pinerolo and the mountain interact to each other, from the capitalization of competences and local know-hows and the sustainable management of tangible mountain and rural resources14. In particular, the territory has a great richness of traditions and knowledges in the agri-food field. The strength of the territory lies in the presence of all agricultural productions of the Northern Italy and of new innovative experiments (from ancient cereals to cannabis sativa). As noted by Meloni (2016, p.5), proximity farming, together with its goods and services, helps to create a new city-rural relationship, not only because it improves the quality of life of the city but also because its productions (and related networks) are often linked to local cooperation involving a growing number of actors belonging to different socio-economic systems, including urban ones. From the analysis and the focus groups led for this work it is emerged that a more exchange of information between the stakeholders linked to the different steps of food production would increase the level of cooperation and offer a greater support for collective actions (cooperatives, business networks), creating a short food supply chain. Pinerolo is the first market place for the fruit and vegetable productions and the presence of daily farmers' markets, the GAS (Solidarity Purchasing Groups, the italian version of Ethical Purchasing Groups) and specific projects (see the Pinerolese eco-solidal Map or the Valdesi Valleys Bio District), positively affect the image of the territory and can became attraction keys for those who decide to settle on site.

Compensation for ecosystem services, some examples

39Another local production on which it is worth reflect in terms of the city-mountain relationship: the wood. The Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone has a particularly high wooded index (32.5%) (Ires, 2016) that requires attention considering the benefits that the city and the valley floors can draw from the development of a mountain wood economy.

40Climate and environmental emergencies oblige to consider as a priority the development of alternative energies and the maintenance and protection of the territory for greater hydrogeological safety, but also to recognise the potential of a correct management of the forest heritage in terms of multifunctional use (tourism, educational, training) (Avocat et al., 2011).

41These themes take part of the ecosystem compensations between the city and the mountains, that are difficult to quantify (Dematteis, 2015a, pp. 66-68) but show how both the highlands and the plains would benefit from the re-launch of forest activities. In order to produce a real added value for the territory from the forest management, the mountain has not be seen seen as a mere catchment area pool of environmental resources: as Puttilli (2015, p.148), the “territorial rootedness” of the supply chain requires a model for the valorisation of endogenous resources through a place-based process, ie initiated, practiced and managed by local actors, albeit in synergy with over-local actors and networks of public and private institutions. It is a model based on the involvement of the different local actors (from producers to users) that does not exclude the presence of conflict on the local scale (biomass or forest tracks are just some of the debated issues) and that can be drawn a common medium-long term from the participated strategic planning.

42The presence in the Pinerolese mountains of local actors with a knowledge and know-how that were willing to network each other, has led to the recognition, during the planning of the strategic document, of the institutional political support for the enhancement of the wood supply chain. Lately, these has given rise to a consortium management of forest resources, to certified production chains (e.g. PEFC label), to the establishment of a business network based on the model of the first Italian business network founded in Friuli Venezia Giulia called 12-TO -MANY.

Working for the transition to an oil free community and for an integrated touristic image

43The Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone is closed to Turin and is therefore an attractive area for new forms of residences and productive settlements, especially due to the image of the healthiness of their territories and for good physical and virtual connections. The great real estate present, often consisting of second homes in the mountain areas, requires to be re-used to meet the new demand for residency and production. In particular, the alpine vernacular architecture is a source of renewed interest, just think of the Measure 322 of the Rural Development Plan 2007-2013 that have financed four villages in the territory, as well as the numerous spontaneous recoveries that are taking place (Bertolino, 2014, pp. 115 -121). Within the European and national policies, public administrations, and in particular local authorities, are called to play an active role in the promotion and implementation of interventions for environmental protection and energy saving, in view of the creation of an Oil Free Community (see the Environmental Attachment to the 2016 Stability Law). An instrument that has been identified and reported as a priority objective in the document is that of the Covenant of Mayors, already signed by the city of Pinerolo and the mountain municipality of Pomaretto. A joint Covenant of Mayors within the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone could be lead to the drafting of the Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans and Climate (SECAP), the first step for audits aimed at wide area projects for energy efficiency both for public and private buildings.

44Next to the new forms of inhabit linked also to the crisis of the urbanocentric paradigm (Salsa, 2007), as Dematteis notes (2015a, p.65), «an alternative use of the mountain is also manifested with respect to the twentieth-century tourism that began to modify the accommodation offer. It now tends to grow more widespread, even far from the more established ski-stations, through “sweet”, experiential and eco-sustainable practices» (2015, 65).

45Tourism is a significant item for the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone; indeed it is the third homogeneous zone for number of hotel and extra-hotel accomodations and for bedspaces even if with a strong discrepancy between mountain and plain (Ires, 2016). The mountain sees a ski tourism concentrated on few places - which record important numbers in the winter season - and some place out of the way because they are access corridors to the ski resorts, although frequented for several reasons: from a genealogical tourism linked to the presence of the Waldensian Church that has known diasporas all over the world, to new tourism based on quality productions and sweet activities.

46But the plains and Pinerolo, even if rich in potentially tourist goods, appear to be less involved in these processes. So, to overcoming a city-mountain duality, the strategic document has identified as a priority objective the constitution of an integrated tourist image, aimed at a seasonally adjusted tourism based on sports and alternative activities. Pinerolo, in this process, could become a centre of interpretation of the territory to best address the tourist offer. Among the actions that just have been promoted there are: the maintenance of the great hiking network of mountains and plain path also for cycling and horse riding, for which the Cosme project “European Route D'Artagnan” is achieving some important transnational actions. The so-called “sweet” tourism allows to overcome the dichotomy between the mountains of the mass tourism, that of the niche tourism and the city.


47This paper wanted to frame a series of territorial dynamics of an alpine area that is assuming the connotations of “metro-mountain” territory (Corrado, 2015, pp. 43-45).

48The Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone is regaining centrality by restructuring itself as a collective territorial actor, which builds visions and strategies to be invested in over local relations, while Pinerolo is re-building itself as a centre of coordination of city-mountain relations for an integrated management of the territory, in view of increased its competitiveness. This process is the result of a contemporary change in the images of the Alps, which have acquired an important space that they have never had before (Debarbieux, 2008, p.40). But the mountain areas, unlike other territories, can enjoy an advantage if they are not sectoralized and if they know how to exploit a unique position on the market (Perlik, 2015) given by their non-relocatable resources. Pinerolo, in this scenery, can increase its “alpinity” if it acknowledge that these resources are part of a territorial system that requires the involvement of the city to the territorial dynamics of the mountain hinterland.

49As highlighted by Dematteis (2015a; 2015b; 2016), the mountain-city relationship has its own peculiarities that still go beyond the urban-rural relationship: the verticality of relationships, flows and exchanges stakes resources and specific skills referring to a planning exercise – such as that carried out by the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone – that would just appear possibile only in metropolitan areas that incorporate different altitudes. However, the strategic planning work takes a cue from what has already been done by different European metropolitan areas, where the urban-rural relationship has been at the centre of new visions no longer dichotomous but focused on the mutual mutuality as strong point (Metrex, 2006; Baschenis et al., 2016) for a competitive positioning of the metropolitan system (Corrado et al., 2017) and in view of a greater territorial coherence (Bertrand et al., 2015). In this case, the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone must not be closed in many different territorial institutions (such as Mountains Unions, associations, consortium) if it want to pursue the mountain-city integration that characterise the “convergent planning” model. This one proceeds from the homogeneous zones to the Metropolitan City of Turin and should find guarantees in forms of representation such as the Assembly of the Majors and the representation in the Metropolitan Council of homogeneous zones (Barbieri, 2015, p.2).

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1 The metropolitan city has 315 municipalities on 6800 square kilometers and a population of 2.247.780 inhabitants (ISTAT data).


3 This homogeneous zone is identified as the n° 5. It covers 1302 square kilometers, the 19% of the entire metropolitan area, of which 71% is hilly or mountainous (Ires, 2015, p. 296).


5 The macro-strategy Eusalp was born in Grenoble on October 18, 2013. It was signed by the Ministers and the Presidents of the 48 European regions of the seven States who consider the Alps a common denominator.


7 “Inner mountain” is a classification by Istat from 1958. A study of the Institute of Economic Research of Piedmont (Crescimanno et al., 2010) identifies within this category the "natural areas with low population density", to which we can refer here. This typology describes the «inner mountain with high naturalistic-landscape values, but with poor accessibility and high socio-economic discomfort. These are the mountain areas that, throughout the decline of the industrial period, maintained fair rates of activity and remained a reference point for the middle-class workers, who often migrated from here into cities. Today this term reflects the sedimented memory of the Piedmontese mountain imaginary» (Crescimanno et al., 2010, p.87).

8 The Integrated Territorial Programs (PTI) belong to the negotiated planning instruments promoted by the Piedmont Region in the period 2007-2009. The Pinerolese Territorial Program involved not only the Pinerolese but also other Olympic territories and neighboring valleys. The aim was to involve all public and private subjects operating in the area in a shared development plan. It has probably "failed" because of the territorial extension that is too vast and, in general, due to the lack of multi-level governance, firstly because the Piedmont Region itself abandoned the program.

9 Through a qualitative-quantitative survey that involved all 45 mayors of the homogeneous zone.

10 The strategic guidelines, each one divided into objectives and actions, have been summarized by the political-technical consultation group in these titles: a connected territory; an inclusive community; a sustainable dynamic economy and a resilient environment. Furthermore, in the document are reported the next priority objectives: the establishment of a governance for the entire Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone; the implementation of Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans and Climate (SECAP) and a strategic positioning strategy for tourism and sport.


The Local Action Groups (LAG) are a non profit-making composition made up of public and private organisations whose purpose is to plan Local Development Plans within Leader + European funds. 56 municipalities are part of the LAG EVV, of which 29 into the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone.


The Consortia BIM are a local authority established in Italy by the Law 959/1953 with the task of favouring the economic and social development of the territory through the joint use of common hydroelectric fees.

13 The C.H.A.V. is composed by: the Communautés de Communes du Briançonnais, du Pays des Ecrins, du Guillestrois, du Queyras and the Syndicat du Pays de Maurienne for France and the Mountains Unions of Pinerolese Valleys and of Susa and Sangone Valleys for Italy.

14 The tangible mountain resources are: the agriculture, the water, the forests, the landscape and cultural heritages; in a generalist way we could say all the material products that are increasingly recognized as “goods” and are the basis of important ecosystem services. These resources are fundamental in the current debate on mountain-city exchanges (Dematteis, 2015a).

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Table des illustrations

Titre FIG. 1 The Pinerolese area
Crédits Source: personal processing on Google maps data.
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,3M
Titre FIG. 2 Municipalities of the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone divided by classes of inhabitants
Crédits Source: personal processing on ISTAT 2016 data.
Fichier image/png, 2,8M
Titre FIG. 3 Old-age index (%) of the Municipalities of the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone
Crédits Source: personal processing on ISTAT 2016 data.
Fichier image/png, 2,8M
Titre FIG. 4 Associationism and cooperation in the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone
Crédits Source: personal processing.
Fichier image/png, 2,5M
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Référence électronique

Maria Anna Bertolino, « Pre-Planning in Piedmont Areas: the Strategic Plan “Pinerolese Yard: Towards a Plain-Mountain Network” of the Pinerolese Homogeneous Zone (Piedmont, Italy) », Journal of Alpine Research | Revue de géographie alpine [En ligne], 106-2 | 2018, mis en ligne le 14 août 2018, consulté le 21 septembre 2018. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/rga.4255

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Maria Anna Bertolino

Ph.D. in Anthropological Sciences. University of Turin.;

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