The series of violent earthquakes that occurred between August 24 and October 30 2016 brought the economies and populations of numerous local communities in central Italy to their knees. A later tremor in January 2017 plus an intense wave of unusually bad weather aggravated the situation in an area spanning more than 8 thousand square kilometers across the Abruzzo, Lazio, Marche and Umbria regions that is home to approximately 600 thousand people.
These events not only damaged homes but also many small-scale farming and food production businesses. Nearly all of these were family-run firms that keep alive local traditions, making high-quality products that are typical of the internal areas of the Apennines. The “Alleva la Speranza” project was created specifically for them in 2018: it is a large crowdfunding campaign to support these productive activities and thereby prevent the economic desertification and depopulation of the area.
The donations received through the PlanBee platform were added to those from Legambiente and Enel so that these recovery projects could come into being. “We believe that promoting this initiative sends an important signal for the revival of these areas in central Italy,” said Nicoletta Novi, our Head of CSV and Sustainability Projects. This tangible commitment represents the bond that has always existed between Enel and local communities in our country.
“By supporting breeders, farmers and small non-hotel hospitality we wanted to provide a tangible contribution to reviving the local economy and helping families and young businesspeople to rebuild the future of their own areas, enhancing the wealth of natural heritage and the quality of food products.”
The spirit of this fundraising campaign, the national President of Legambiente Stefano Ciafani explained, “is what has characterized us since the very beginning: telling the story of and actively promoting the Italy that resists during challenging times, focusing on quality production, organic agriculture and sustainable tourism, overcoming numerous obstacles, from sluggish bureaucracy to lockdowns, like those that occurred in 2020 because of the Covid emergency.”
“It was not easy to accompany these projects over three years that have been characterized both by the challenges of reconstruction as well as the consequences of a terrible pandemic, which continue to resonate.”
Amelia, Alessia, Teresa, Silvia, Alba, Arianna, Fabio and Pietropaolo were the eight animal breeders from Central Italy who began this pathway of rebirth. The first two phases of the campaign began in November 2018, and concluded after 6 months thanks to contributions from more than 400 donors: in total 133,500 euros were raised, which the beneficiaries used to support their own businesses. In particular, the funds were allocated for the reconstruction of the stables belonging to Silvia Bonomi in Ussita (near Macerata) and Amelia Nibi in Amatrice (near Rieti), for the purchase of machines for Teresa Piccioni’s company in Teramano and Alessia Brandimarte’s in Norcia (near Perugia), for the redevelopment of the family farm stay business of Arianna Veneri, also in Norcia, and to help Alba Alessandri in Pieve Torrina (near Macerata) switch to organic farming. Funds raised by “Alleva la Speranza” also enabled Fabio Fantusi to create a picnic area near his riding stables to help entice tourists back to Amatrice (near Rieti), while Pietropaolo Martinelli managed to purchase livestock to recommence production of the famous Farindola Pecorino cheese in the province of Pescara.
In spite of the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, the third phase of the campaign, which was launched on December 12 2019, made it possible raise more than 52,000 euros to help projects concerning four new farmers. Valentina Capone used the funds to build a workshop for harvesting honey at the family farm in Bagnolo di Amatrice (near Rieti); Simone Vagni purchased animal feeding machines for his wild-reared livestock in Cascia (near Perugia); Angela Catalucci focused on sheep rearing in Acquasanta Terme (near Ascoli Piceno), while Massimo Pierascenzi built a barn to house his livestock in Valle Castellana (near Teramo).
On December 1st 2020 the crowdfunding initiative returned in the form of “Alleva la Speranza+” and was also extended to include small-scale tourist activities that had been affected by the consequences of the health emergency. The new campaign, which also saw the collaboration of Federtrek, Turismo verde, Fondazione Symbola and the Host Italia association, made it possible, with the help of 273 donors, to allocate almost 56,000 euros to four businesses operating in the field of sustainable tourism and non-hotel accommodation. The funds raised were assigned to Stefano Cappelli for the creation of some mobile accommodation solutions and an access ramp for disabled visitors at the Mezzi Litri mountain hostel in Arquata del Tronto (near Ascoli), to Eleonora Saggioro to renovate the Sebastiani mountain hostel in Rocca di Mezzo (near L’Aquila) in line with anti-Covid regulations, Domenico Angelini to purchase hives for his bees and to create a tasting point on the panoramic terrace of his farm in Monteleone di Spoleto (near Perugia) and to Brigida Stanziola, coordinator of the Il Sentiero environmental education center, to improve waste management and develop a dispersed hospitality project in Poggiodomo, Umbria’s smallest municipality, which is in the province of Perugia.
Finishing on a high note
The fifth and final phase of the crowdfunding campaign, which was launched on July 1st 2021, concluded on a particularly high note: thanks to 151 donations, 84 thousand euros were raised. Now Amalia Arpini will be able to get a new fence to protect the Bergamasca sheep she rears in the valleys of the Sibillini mountains in Belforte del Chieti (near Macerata); Enrico Foglietti can develop a refreshment area near the clear-water streams in San Martino, the source of the water he uses to irrigate the fruit trees on his organic farm in Norcia (near Perugia); Marta Giampiccolo can purchase a refrigeration unit for conserving the different varieties of apples she grows on her family farm in Sant’Anatolia di Narco (near Perugia) and upgrade the classroom used for educational activities. Finally, Jean Luc Furore, an environmental educator from the Greenwilli cooperative, will be able to complete work on the energy renovation of the facilities in the park and the former hunting lodge in Bosco di Don Venanzio in Pollutri (near Chieti), in addition to adapting the local wildlife museum to meet anti-Covid regulations, creating an inclusive barbecue area and building an educational classroom with charging stations for electric micro-mobility.
All the projects share one characteristic, which is also a defining feature of our Group: the determination to help local areas fulfill their potential with tangible and innovative business initiatives to support communities and the country’s recovery.