Many EU Countries are facing the depopulation of inland areas and small towns. In the light of such a pressing and intense exodus from rural areas, the cities are experiencing increasing overcrowding. This leads to a rapid growth in urban congestion, as well as the consumption of land and resources. It is only in recent years, due to the crisis of the metropolitan model, also accentuated by the current pandemic emergency, that a radical change in trend has taken place, which sees the valorisation of inland areas as an indispensable action for the sustainable development of Countries. The presence of large green spaces, clean air, quality of the built environment and landscape reveal the great potential of these areas, which have proved to be extremely resilient to sudden changes. For these reasons, both at European and national level, strategies are being implemented to recover small towns and inland areas. Starting from European data on rural demographic contraction, the paper presents a critical examination of the main valorisation actions adopted both in the EU and in some Countries, with the aim of highlighting their criticalities and potentials. This is an essential premise for designing economic policy models that can have a significant impact on local realities.
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