The study tour in Italy was held from 12th to 16th March 2018.

The tour has been magnificent and perfect.

Flaminia, Enrico and Marco from Legacoop Agroalimentare worked hard to organise a superb tour with extremely interesting visits and excellent logistics. Their kindness and efficiency just made it a very enriching tour for all the representatives who learned a lot and really enjoyed the visits.

The visits ranged across a wide spectrum, as the team considered what other consortium partners had suggested to add. We started the visits in Rome with the Organic shop (Spazio Bio) in the City of the alternative economy (Citta dell’Altra Economia), followed by San Lidano a cooperative on fresh fruit and vegetable for large retail where we visited the whole industrial processing chain, and its shorter chain: Orti Laziali. Then CONAPI, a 35 years old honey, pollen, royal jelly and propolis cooperative, which, despite having become the largest beekeeper cooperative in Italy, has kept intact its values and traditions. A fascinating visit with lessons directly relevant to BOND as we were listening to every word of our wise host, telling us about the life of bees: “ Single intelligences put together bring superior intelligence”…and, she was saying, ..this is why bees are 30 million years old…the only insect of such longevity…so, long life to BOND and collective action! We listened to Cristian Maretti, the President of Legacoop Agroalimentare North of Italy presenting one example of recent evolution with an online platform: Local2You, an ethical, social coop for disadvantaged people;  also telling us in general how the coops reached an 8 billion Euro turnover …telling  the stories, the context, the conditions that allowed for the creation and development of  these cooperatives. We also visited Mercatale di Montevarchi, directly selling farmer’s products, with detailed explanations on the synergies with public support and steps of establishment. Finally, Garfagnana coop which revived a traditional wheat variety cultivated since neolithic times, which was going extinct, spelt (Triticum spelt), kept for religious ceremonies;  and a large cooperative of olive oil founded in 1953 by a group of farmers, Cooperativa Montalbano, now merged with a wine cooperative, with 1700 members, leading the market, where we were rejoined by the Legacoop Agroalimentare General Director who provided ample explanations to the many questions.

The tour had 10 representatives: Josip and Bruna from Croatia, Albana, Arjan and Nikolic from Albania, Inga and Cristina from Moldova, Vesna from Montenegro, Hugo from Norway, and Biljana from Macedonia. In total 6 women and 4 men (in France we had 5 and 5, and in Spain 6 men 4 women).

In addition, there were 2 interpreters: 1 for Albanian,1 for English. Then Gaetano, filming portraits and landscapes between the drops of rain, and setting up the digital strategy for BOND; and Angela Hilmi on CU side. 

The group bonded very nicely and worked intensively. The last evening, the group had a touristic marathon before dinner, through Florence, led by our male hosts who are both from Tuscany. The opportunity to walk on Ponte Vecchio and remember forever the importance of collective and collaborative action.