Local endogenous development
and urban regeneration of small alpine towns


WP7 Regione Piemonte

The renewal of abandoned mountain hamlets

Case-project abstract

The project is aimed at developing an integrated approach to the renewal and regeneration of a completely abandoned hamlet (borgata Varda, valley of Roc, Local Authority Noasca). The hamlet is part of a landscape and environment of great value, within the Piedmontese side of the Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso, and is of interesting architectural quality. The integrated approach to regeneration should take into account not only architectural but also social and economic aspects.

Reasons for the choice of this case-project

Due to the depopulation, in Piemonte there are several abandoned mountain villages and hamlets. In few cases, in the most touristic and rich areas, they are bought by non-local people who renew the buildings (often with great care, sometime foreigners) and use them as second homes. In very few cases, some people try to come back to live in these places, but discover the uneasiness and lack of services. Mostly, they fall into ruin. It is an architectural and historic heritage at risk that deserves to be put back into use. But the problem is not only to save the buildings but to take back dwellers and activities.

The Vallone del Roc, above Noasca, is an area of relevant and unspoilt beauty. The hamlets are not accessible by road and have been abandoned for a long time (in 1956 there were still 700 pop. and 50-70 schoolchildren). There is already a small eco-museum (the old primary school) and quite a few tourists come to walk along the paths, but it is worth renewing and putting back to life as much as possible the area. However the approach should not be that of creating a second homes enclaves, but promoting a sustainable economic, social and physical regeneration of the area.

The Comune is aware of the existence of 2-3 local families interested in developing some economic activities in the hamlet.

Adopted methodology

The study is expected to:

  • Analyse the built heritage of the hamlet, the conditions for a transformation and re-use of the buildings (e.g. habitability, accessibility, sewage and services provision);
  • Investigate thoroughly the question of the renewal and regeneration of abandoned villages and hamlets and its diffusion in the Alps; collect and evaluate practices and success stories from which draw lessons;
  • Evaluate, together with the Park, the Local Authority, the owners and the various stakeholders (especially those families interested in investing in the hamlet) the re-development options aimed at residential, tourism (in particular so called diffused tourism), agricultural and breeding, crafts, activities etc. and identify the preferable option;
  • Draft a feasibility study, inc. technical, urban planning, economic, financial and management aspects, also by involving experts and local stakeholders.

Expected benefits (local and regional levels)
Local level:
  • Sustainable and endogenous economic development, population increase, building renewal;
Regional level:
  • Positive influence on the development of the surrounding area and number of visitors to the Park (visibility);
  • Transferable model and approach for other abandoned mountain areas.

Are follow-up activities foreseen ?

The follow-up activities should be the implementation of the integrated renewal strategy devised by the feasibility study.

Expected value added (other than financial) from the participation to an INTERREG project
  • Collection of practices and success stories from other Alpine areas (for example Friuli as far as the diffused tourism is concerned);
  • Promotion of the area at transnational level and any project that may come up.

Output indicators

1 feasibility study

Impact indicators

Involvement of many experts and local stakeholders into the project, in order to take it forward to the implementation phase

Consequent renewal of the buildings and increase in the level of dynamism and liveability of the area

Visibility of the results

Name of the town/s concerned


Demographic, social and economic situation of the town/s concerned and specifically identified problems

Mountain Comunity Valli Orco e Soana: 8.356 inhab. ( 2001) (10.151 in 1981)
Town of Noasca: 270 pop.

Role of the mountain resource within the local development chances of the town/s concerned (positive or negative)

So far the mountain has been seen more as an obstacle than as a resource. The establishment and activities of the Park have already changed the perception and the local population and visitors are more and more aware of the environmental value of the area. In a way it is luck that the complete abandonment of these villages has meant in a way their perfect preservation in a traditional state instead of a poor quality renewal.

Expected contribution of the foreseen actions towards the development of the town/s concerned

The renewal and re-use of a small hamlet can be beneficial for Noasca and for the lower part of the Valley, which is less known than the upper part (Ceresole).

Who is the responsible for the concrete development of the project?
  • Politecnico di Torino
  • Comune di Noasca (and the local comunity)
  • Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso

How are activities sub-contracted?

Most likely an agreement between public bodies will be signed (Convenzione).
The Politecnico will do most of the research and feasibility work.

Beside the partner, which administrative authorities are involved in the project? How?

Beside those already involved: the Mountain Community should be involved

Who are the main local/regional project actors?

Beside those already involved: the Mountain Community should be involved

Are there important actors who are not integrated or are opposing the project?


The case is isolated or integrated within a broader frame/ programme of activities? How? How are these activities being financed?

There may be a project on accessibility to the hamlet starting in parallel or afterwards. The activity should be connected and coherent with the existing planning guidance of the local authorities, the mountain community, the province, the Park.

Timetable for the project development (July 2004 - May 2006)

The project period (2004-2006) will be characterised by the following activities:

  • analysis of the hamlet environment at territorial-urban level and at social-economic-cultural level;
  • analysis of local buildings/ruins and their ownership;
  • map of mountain pastures;
  • hypothesis for new functions;
  • feasibility study;
  • economic analysis.

Are experts (non SSC) involved into the case and research activities undertaken for the case? What is their role?

Experts from the Polytechnic of Turin (Dipartimento di Ingegneria dei sistemi edilizi territoriali) are involved in order to devlop the feasibility study