Community cooperatives: the small Italian towns taking charge of their own future

Karli Drinkwater
Karli Drinkwater - [email protected]
Community cooperatives: the small Italian towns taking charge of their own future
Vetto. Photo credit: Il Pontaccio - Società Cooperativa di Comunità/Facebook

Villages setting up as so-called 'cooperatives' are gaining pace across Italy. Here, a founder of one of the latest communities to run themselves tells us how she believes this will create the country's future.


"We want to build a better future for Vetto, starting with us and for us," Elisa Marchi, one of the founding members of the town's community cooperative, told The Local.

Vetto is a mountainside town in Emilia Romagna with a population of around 1,800 inhabitants.

Alongside other passionate advocates of the area, she set up 'Il Pontaccio', a cooperative that aims to boost local businesses and put the community on the map - to attract new residents and tourists alike.

"Vetto is such a beautiful place and a wonderful area to live. By setting up this cooperative, we want to build new possibilities for future generations," stated Marchi.

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"We have a big pot of ideas from the community, new enterprises and companies. A lot of young people are involved who want to build new companies, too," she added.


The people of Vetto want to take the fortunes of the town into their own hands by launching this social scheme.

More and more small Italian communities are adopting the model, which sees citizens as producers and users of goods and services.

To fill the gap left by a decreasing young population and an increasing elderly one, this project aims to invest in human capital and thereby attract new life once again.

"The past year gave us time to reflect on what is important to us and how we want to live. It's even more important to have a good quality of life," said Marchi.

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An advantage of running the community this way is "union and solidarity". Vetto is able to grow with the population by putting resources into local businesses and listening to what citizens want from their town.

"We share the dreams and ambitions of the residents. We want to create an environment that's cooperative with other places and share our knowledge of the territory," she added.

For Marchi and her colleagues, the cooperative is "a dream waiting to be realised".


“We hope to see new people, children playing in the playground, people riding e-bikes through the hills and we want to invite people to come and eat our food. We will select food that's grown from our farms and we have lots of delicious jam, honey and fruit here," said Marchi.


Vetto counts among one of Italy's towns in need of new investment - there are long-abandoned properties which are in need of renovation. Something the government hopes to tackle with the Superbonus.

This is an opportunity to move to beautiful scenery, according to Marchi, as the town now has fibre internet, making remote working a possibility.

"There is space for Vetto to grow and the chance for more people to have a good life here. Now's the time to make the most of all this potential," she said.



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