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Leader seminar "Challenges and methodology of transnational Cooperation"

2-6 April 1997, Dieulefit (Drôme), France


Case study


Agri-tourist cooperation between Valnerina (Italy)

and Drôme provençale (France): The Truffle and Flavour Road

The action

The Truffle and Flavour Road is a pilot project for interregional cooperation between Drôme provençale (Rhône-Alpes Region, France) and Valnerina (Umbria Region, Italy). It is structured around two objectives: the development of truffle cultivation in the two associate areas and the utilisation of local products for tourism. The action was financed in December 1993 in the framework of Article 8 of the EAGGF.

For 2 years a genuine intermittent on-site workshop would be run in Valnerina together with numerous exchange visits between the 2 areas.

The real involvement of the teams of the 2 organisations, backed by outside supporters, would result in the joint publication by a French-Italian team of an agri-tourist guide of itineraries and a catalogue of proposals of receptive tourist holidays. The major effect of the cooperation would be the training of technicians from the Comunità de Montana to operate the tools put in place.


The key elements


  • A number of similarities between the two areas in question facilitated the cooperation project: the geographical context (similar landscapes), the socio-economic context, the good relations between institutions (which enables fruitful dialogue), an identity of two very close areas.
  • The black truffle, a prestigious production of great symbolic value, is an element of their identity in the local imagination and in the perception from outside.
  • Cooperation was targeted: the aim was to reinforce the identity of the areas by taking advantage of the agri-gastronomic heritage and especially the symbolic image of the truffle.
  • The presence of specific terms of exchange and achievement to be transferred to both sides contributed to the success of the cooperation.
  • The definition of a formalised cooperation methodology in a contract.
  • The existence of appreciable financial means in the framework of Article 8 of the EAGGF.
  • In contrast, the cooperation action was primarily centred on the Italian project.

Valnerina is in the mountainous part of Umbria, in the "green heart" of Italy. It is an area of low mountains in the Piedmont of the Apennines, some 200 km from Rome. Valnerina has 15,000 inhabitants and an area of 100,000 hectares. Valnerina comprises 10 municipalities organised in a "Mountain Community".

Farming is important, employing 25% of the working population, and is marked by cattle, sheep and pig farming. Non-industrial agri-food production is an important activity. Valnerina is a reference area in Italy for the production of truffles.

In Drôme provençale, the area of application of the project concerns in particular les Baronnies, on the border of Vallée du Rhône south of the Rhône-Alpes Region. This vast expanse of 1,230 km2 only has 20,000 inhabitants.

Farming remains the predominant activity and accounts for 50% of the economic activity. It is very diversified. With Tricastin which is adjacent to the region of Baronnies, this area is a major producer of black truffles.


Point of departure

The triggering factor of cooperation is the search by the Italian partner of a French truffle-producing area in order to submit a proposal under Article 8 of the EAGGF. It is therefore a cooperation project induced by the existence of European funding.

The first meeting between the partners was organised by a private company, a world leader in the truffle trade located in Valnerina.

The proposal to be submitted under Article 8 of the EAGGF was elaborated by people acting for the Comunità de Montana and the Syndicat d'Aménagement des Baronnies (SAB). Initially, the main area of cooperation is not obvious and the focus is more on sharing the funding rather than cooperating.

At this time, the Syndicat d'Aménagement des Baronnies took the initiative of creating in France a voluntary structure "La Route des Senteurs" (The Fragrance Road). This association was comprised of ten truffle producers.

At the second preparatory visit of the Italian partner, the Italians showed particular interest in the Olive Tourist Road and the Fragrance Road. These two initiatives were implemented by the Syndicat d'Aménagement des Baronnies. From this emerged the idea of cooperation between France and Italy on the theme of the Fragrance and Flavour Road.

From the start, the operation was served by the SAB experience in interregional cooperation (Via Mediterranea, Article 10 of the ERDF, LEDA, strong involvement in the LEADER I network).



The cooperation project took place in three phases:


- 1994: Coordinating and preliminary study phase


  • During this first phase, two types of action were implemented. They were for two types of target public. On the one hand, two exchange visits bringing together local officials and producers were organised in the two areas concerned.
  • On the other hand, technicians belonging to the two partner structures participated in field studies in Valnerina. On the basis of an analysis of the area's potential, the team of multidisciplinary technicians came up with a plan for the Fragrance Road. This plan included the development of two products:
  • a guide of tourist itineraries combining the rural landscape, gastronomy and tourist facilities points;
  • a tourist holiday catalogue that can be proposed to the Italian clientele by a reservation centre.
  • After being presented to the elected officials of Comunità de Montana, this plan was the subject of a contract with the "Association des Routes des Senteurs" and with the Mediterranean Centre for the Environment.


- 1995: Development phase

  • The initial team was reinforced by the manager of a small tour operator specialised in rural tourism in Perugia. With a very strong involvement by Comunità de Montana, the actions provided for in the plan materialised.


- 1996: Dissemination - Communication phase

  • Two seminars to present the achievements to the public were organised. One was held in Valnerina, the other in Drôme provençale. 10,000 copies of the guide are today in circulation in Italy, and the range of holidays developed is sold by a tour operator.
  • The total budget of the cooperation action for 30 months amounts to ECU 130,000. The financing plan includes EAGGF intervention of 50%, a contribution from Comunità de Montana of 30% and participation from the Association de la Route des Senteurs of 20%.

Projects are being planned:

  • The Association Route des Senteurs will organise the first study trip for those producing and processing truffles in Valnerina.
  • French-Italian meetings on the theme of agri-gastronomic heritage will be organised.
  • A partner search is under way in Spain.




Route des Senteurs

Avenue Frédéric Mistral, 1

BP 85

26111 Nyons Cedex

Tel: 33 (0) 4 75 26 01 48

Fax: 33 (0) 4 75 26 03 45


Giancarlo SCERNA

Comunita Montana Valnerina

Via Manzoni, 8

I- 06046 NORCIA

Tel: +39 743.816980

Fax: +39.743.81.75.66


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