Urban - rural linkages: the case of Valle Arroscia

Another interesting case study from ESPON Project URRUC comes from Valle Arroscia, a territory that is located on the Alpi Marittime mountains, in the Northern part of the Province of Imperia. The province is 5,416 square kilometres in size and is home to 1,565,307 inhabitants. Valle Arroscia covers about a quarter of the provincial territory.

Still, only 2% of the province’s population lives there, as the population is moving from the inland to the main urban regions along the coast. Critical services, such as healthcare and education, are also centralised in coastal parts of the province. People dependent on accessing these services, consider the existing infrastructure insufficient. Transport is almost entirely public (by bus in the inland and bus and rail along the coast).

In Valle Arroscia, River Trasporti spa provides public transport only on weekdays. Two local cooperatives manage school buses, social and tourism transportation. Alternative services are tested in other areas of Liguria Region. The Local strategy of Valle Arroscia, which is under development within the National Strategy for Inner Areas, aims to explore and provide the alternative public transport provision in the future.

Valle Arroscia suffers from remoteness and transport inequalities that are typical of rural and mountain valleys of the Liguria Region. The inland area suffers from poor accessibility due to infrastructural, landscape, and spatial development features. In many cases, the valleys are served by a single road. In case of floods, avalanches or car accidents this raises severe problems in terms of accessibility.

Demand for transport is weak and scattered due to the isolated nature of the population. Traditional public transport services become very expensive, inefficient and scarcely competitive when compared to a private car. This is due to the scarce and dispersed demand, which requires higher prices to cover costs. Improvements to rail and bus services in the area are needed.


The ESPON project URRUC identified several recommendations for the Valle Aroscia region to overcome these challenges. The highest priority includes the introduction of a feeder service to replace bus routes in the inland valley areas of Valle Arroscia. Such a service will be more efficient than the existing bus routes.

It also recommended appointing an individual or a team to coordinate transport activity and collaboration between local institutions. A transport consortium bringing together key local players would also be beneficial. Extending the theme of collaboration, encouraging interaction between national, regional, and local sectors will be advantageous to the region.

A more flexible legislative framework would also remove barriers in implementing transport solutions. And extending e-services provision could reduce the need to travel across the region.

But in any case, it is imperative to adopt policies that will tackle the marginalisation and depopulation of the rural areas. Addressing the “digital divide” in terms of skills and coverage will also improve access to e-services.

Valle Arroscia. Synthesis of operational, specific and general recommendations Source: Authors’ own elaboration

More information

Article edited by Nikos Lampropoulos, Project Expert Press and Media Activities