Nei comuni montani nascono le Botteghe dei servizi: Poste con Uncem per la vita dei piccoli centri

Poste Italiane confirms its commitment against commercial desertification in small mountain municipalities. Uncem Piemonte, Unione nazionale dei Comuni, delle Comunità e degli Enti montani [National Union of Municipalities, Communities and Mountain Authorities] has launched the “Service Shops” initiative which, in partnership with Poste Italiane, will help bring our country’s small villages to life.

A countrywide challenge

“The fact that almost a hundred towns in Piedmont, and over 200 in Italy, no longer have a shop and a bar is a problem. It’s a social as well as an economic issue. It’s a challenge for the country and the region to heal those fractures created between growth opportunities and commercial desertification,” says Roberto Colombero, President of Uncem Piemonte, the National Union of Municipalities, Communities and Mountain Authorities.

It’s also happening in France

France, as part of their Avenir Montagne initiative, has launched the “Mille Cafés” plan, a thousand cafés. “Because bars,” Colombero emphasises, “are meeting points, the anchor of the community. They’re a place for exchange and dialogue. The Region has done well to launch the “Service Shops” plan, which Uncem supports and promotes among Piedmont’s municipalities and mountain unions.”

The call

The first step by the Piedmont Region is the publication of a notice for the collection of expressions of interest aimed at creating and strengthening “Service Shops”, at It will be the mountain Unions of Piedmontese municipalities that will stimulate proposals and initiatives for the territories. After the arrival of the expressions of interest (collected by the mountain Unions, with Uncem and GALs) and an assessment of the social and economic needs expressed, the Region will draw up a specific call for tenders for the new Service Shops.

What are “Service Shops”?

The term “Service Shops” refers to commercial establishments in which retail trade (primarily of foodstuffs, newspapers, magazines, stamps and tobacco) and the possible provision of food and beverages is carried out in conjunction with other services for the community, including the role of local “terminals” for the Public Administration, in cooperation between private beneficiaries and the Piedmont Region.

The partnership with Poste

The final call will be aimed at businesses and community cooperatives, those who already own or wish to develop a shop, a “Bottega”, offering the products and services foreseen in the call. These include the resale of stamps and tobacco; the remote issuing service of certificates on behalf of public administrations; a post office counter, through the signing of a special agreement with Poste Italiane, also for receiving and sending postal packages and e-commerce activities in special boxes and lockers; an ATM service, through the signing of a special agreement with Poste Italiane or with credit institutions and cooperative banks; telefax, photocopying and Internet point services; local public transport, railway or cableway ticketing; tourist information, communication and territorial promotion services. The Service Shops will also become simple, smart interfaces of the region, particularly in mountainous areas.

Community Spaces

“The real goal is not only an economic one,” Colombero points out, “it’s primarily a social one. We have never needed recognisable community spaces before. Spaces offering services, opportunities, and above all, spaces to meet one another. I’m thinking of the great work done on community cooperatives in many parts of Italy, especially in Piedmont. We find physical places, which produce, which bring income. But even before that, we find identity, a sense of building together a piece of the future that’s very different from the past, free from the rhetoric of traditions, without remaining anchored in banalities. You also build the future with specific initiatives and funding such as Piedmont’s “Service Shops”.