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PIEMONTE EVOLVES:

Infrastructural and Olympic Transformations

 

Piedmont has always known how to mix tradition and innovation, and in recent years it has become the symbol of an important, unique process of transformation. The recent metamorphoses and changes have revealed that the region is open and receptive to change, a laboratory of innovation and culture; this peculiar cultural and intellectual ferment has allowed Piedmont to rediscover its own identity and traditions, inventing a completely new future for itself.  Piedmont has an important history and a unique geographical position, which places it right at the heart of a system of European development. Piedmont has never been as active as it has in recent years. The region, which played an essential role in the economic and social development of Italy in the 20th century, has embarked on a difficult and complex process of transformation, which is starting to show its first significant results.

 

Today, the region's economic profile is that of an area of advanced development that continues to evolve. Like other large European regions with a high level of industrial development, in the last twenty years, Piedmont has seen a rebalance between the various economic macro-sectors (agriculture, industry, services).  Another aspect of Piedmont's evolution is the territorial re-balancing of the production of wealth, based on the resources of the territory, and on a network of small and medium sized enterprises which have succeeded in blending flexibility, efficiency and a talent for innovation. The main motors of development in the region are internationalisation, the improvement of and support to the system, local development and the enhancement of the territory, training and social cohesion and, of course, an improved quality of life. There has been sweeping structural change, from the renovation of historical town centres and suburbs, to the construction of modern road and railway links, but the horizon of change in the region is conditioned in particular by one huge event, the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. This event has been approached by the institutional system as an enormous challenge, in organisational, but also cultural and image terms. The radical change we have seen in recent years involves the whole territory at a structural and cultural level. Piedmont is a real laboratory of creative ferment, able to generate continuous challenges which are taken on with the awareness of a great tradition and a deep passion for innovation.

 

Olympic Transformations

The awarding of the 2006 Winter Olympic Games to the city of Turin, the result of close collaboration between the various institutions, has been seen as a unique opportunity to revive the fortunes of Turin and of the entire Region. An investment of about Euro 1500 million has been financed by public authorities for the architectural work to host the 2006 Games, while Euro 1000 million has been raised by private sources (sponsors and television rights) for their actual organisation. The Olympics are part of a vast programme of events, which will make a strong statement about Piedmont's new international image and the territory will inherit cutting edge tourist structures. There are about 60 projects, including sports facilities, infrastructure of all types, Olympic villages for athletes and the media. The plans for these works have been designed to contribute to the development and improvement of the territory in the post-Olympic period.

 

 

New buildings, but also important restoration work to existing buildings, which will be modernised for future use. International tenders were held for both the design of the Olympic sites, and for the reorganisation of urban sites, and the winning projects bear the names of the world's most prestigious architects. At the same time, a great effort has gone into improving the structures and infrastructure in mountain areas, including those not directly involved in the Winter Games. In order to promote homogeneous development in the areas not involved in the Olympics, over 100 additional projects have been financed all over Piedmont. New ski lifts, modernisation work on the cross country and downhill pistes, service centres, and the expansion of the artificial snow system, as well as initiatives to promote the spas, parks and protected areas: all these and more are on the list of accompanying works for the 2006 Olympics, which features 100 projects distributed throughout the eight Piedmontese provinces. The aim is to ensure that all the areas not hosting competitions will develop in a uniform way, in order not to be sidelined competitively speaking by the huge state-funded investments made for the Olympic venues in the Turin area. In line with its goal of improving the quality of life, the commitment undertaken by TOROC (the Olympic Games Organising Committee) and by the institutions, is to organise the first "green" Olympics in history. Great attention is focused on the environment, with appropriate strategic considerations regarding the projects, which include the use of bio-compatible materials, and constant environmental monitoring.

 

Infrastructural Transformations

The railways, motorways and logistic infrastructure in Piedmont have been recognised as strategic for Italy's modernisation and development as part of Europe.

 

Piedmont has chosen to play a central role within the European Union, including in geographical terms, and is investing huge resources in the construction of an infrastructure network capable of sustaining the competitive challenge of the regional system in the European market. Work is underway that will considerably improve the already excellent level of regional infrastructure. This work will account for approximately Euro 11.5 billion between 2001 and 2006. The construction of the High Speed rail link between Turin and Milan, which will later be extended to Venice, Trieste and on to Eastern Europe, is the jewel in the crown of another element that is central to Piedmont's growth, like the Turin-Lyons stretch, which will include a tunnel 54 km long through the Alps. Novara, Vercelli, Turin and the Susa Valley will be part of "European Corridor no. 5", a high-speed rail route which will link Western Europe to Eastern Europe. The Turin-Lyons rail link, which lies at the centre of the North-South and East-West European transport axes, is a hinge that sustains the entire rail transport system in Europe.

 

It will make trade safer and less polluting, and journeys will be faster and more convenient, goods will travel outside the towns and Piedmont will be incorporated even further into the international networks. The work will also entail the construction of a new intermodal centre.

Work is also underway to improve the orbital roads around Turin, and to construct the Piedmontese capital's first underground railway. A great deal of attention is focused on the question of modal interchange hubs to boost public transport, a strategic action that can increase the level of environmental sustainability of the transport system, both in town and inter-city. In the urban context, MOVIcentres are being created, complex interfaces between two or more means of transport, or between different lines of the same system, where special organisational, structural, and engineering changes will make it easier for travellers to move from one means of transport to another. The Turin-Milan motorway will be widened, and the motorway from Asti to Cuneo will be finished; it will eventually be extended towards Nice with the construction of the Mercantour tunnel.

 

These changes are part of a broader, more complex, organic strategic project, which will rely on the involvement and collaboration of the public and the private sector.

 

 

 

PIEMONTE EVOLVES:

Cultural and Social Transformations

 

 

The cultural system in Piedmont is based on a wide variety of galleries, museums, castles and sanctuaries. A sweeping recovery programme is underway for the period 2000-2006 to make them more functional and more exploitable, with a total budget of about Euro 500 million received from the EU, the Government, the Regional Council, Provincial councils, banking foundations and Town councils. In recent years projects have concentrated on restoring and conserving the 17 Savoy residences, which were recently recognised as World Heritage Sites by Unesco: they include the Royal Palace, Palazzo Madama, the Stupinigi Hunting Lodge, Villa della Regina, the palace in Pollenzo, home of the University of Gastronomic Sciences, and the Palace of Venaria Reale which is the largest restoration project in Europe.

 

Added to these is an array of museums of considerable artistic value: almost 130 in the province of Turin, and another 200 in the rest of the region. The most important are the Egyptian Museum, the Cinema Museum inside the "Mole Antonelliana" in Turin, and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rivoli castle, another beautiful Savoy residence.

 

On the cultural front, work is ongoing to convert some of the large monuments of industrial history, to extend the university facilities, and the offer of art, cinema, theatre and cultural events, as well as urban reclamation of old town centres and suburbs. There have been some important projects to transform abandoned factories into centres of contemporary art and culture, like the Agnelli Gallery in Lingotto, the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation in Turin, and the Pistoletto Foundation in Biella.