Italy's new smart working village in Tuscany

Sailko (CC BY-SA 3.0)/wikimedia
Sailko (CC BY-SA 3.0)/wikimedia
18 November 2020, Redaction

Working remotely in one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, doing so using high-speed internet and benefiting from an incentive that covers 50% of the rent. This is the proposal of the Municipality of Santa Fiora in Monte Amiata, a splendid village that is a candidate to be the first smart working village in Italy. For more details, idealista/news interviewed the mayor Federico Balocchi.

The origin of the project

Contrary to what one might think, this smart working project in the village of Santa Fiora actually started before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which, as the mayor points out, "was certainly an accelerator to make this initiative take off".

An initiative that, as Balocchi explained, "we started planning in February 2019, to include it in the electoral programme that we were going to present at the time. The idea was to focus on the fast internet connection that was about to arrive in Santa Fiora, but at that moment we imagined a 10 year development plan perspective, with the pandemic we soon realised that the perspective would become more like 10 days and so we set out as soon as possible".

And things get even better for the area, as the smart working village project in Santa Fiora has already taken off, as the first three remote workers who have applied to join the municipal proposal are already expected in the Municipality. "In addition to the first applications", explains the mayor, "I know that many real estate agencies and private individuals are receiving a lot of interest about houses to rent in the area". 

What does the Santa Fiora smart village offer?

The Municipality of Santa Fiora is willing to cover 50% (up to a maximum of 200 euros) for a maximum period of 6 months of the rent of a remote worker who moves to the village on Monte Amiata. The application must be submitted via PEC (certified email) to the Municipality by 31st December 2020. In the application you must show a permit granted by your employer allowing you to work remotely (indicating the time period) and you must also indicate the property you plan to rent (address, period, rental amount and owner of the property) in order to obtain the voucher.

Services for families

The mayor Balocchi has also made it clear that "there is no problem with the budget, if the funds are not enough to meet all the demands, we will allocate more money because for us the smart working village is a strategic project. Requests can be submitted until the 31st, but we will certainly be able to extend the deadline for submitting requests if necessary".

Not a passing trend, therefore, but a strategic project for the Municipality of Santa Fiora which, as the mayor himself points out, has all the characteristics to be a perfect smart working village: "Our village is not only a wonderful village set in the greenery of Monte Amiata; the most relevant aspect, especially for a family where parents work from home, are the childcare services on offer".

But that's not all: "the nursery is state-run and therefore free", Balocchi continues, while the local area is also home to "all the necessary schools until high school level". The mayor adds that the village also has, "a children's playroom open until 6pm which costs 2 euros per hour and of course in summer in addition to the nursery school, there are summer schools, and we also offer school bus services".

In short, the smart working village is not only worker-friendly, but family-friendly, every aspect is taken care of in detail without leaving anything to chance. "We have to give something more so that the families come to us", underlines the mayor of Santa Fiora.

Living with the coronavirus in Italy and beyond will likely make smart working a structural measure, changing many life habits that could mean workers never have to travel to the office on a daily basis again. And this is why more and more people, at least for some periods of time, may decide to move away from large urban centres. Federico Balocchi, mayor of Santa Fiora, points to this: "The quality of life that a village like ours can offer is incomparable, as are the costs. In our municipality you only need 800 euros per square metre to buy a house and with the same money you need to buy a flat in the city, here you buy a small villa with garden".

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