Advising the town of Canzo, located in a pre-Alpine valley between the two branches of Lake Como, on the planning of its territory meant addressing particular issues for a very particular context. The last stop on a direct railway line from Milan, the town constitutes a bridgehead for the system of relations of the plain and the key point of reference for the entire valley. Canzo has played various roles over the years: as an industrial town hosting some activities of a very particular character but connected in some way to the nature of the territory (e.g. the production of bottled drinking water); as a holiday resort hosting an important system of high-quality villas for the industrial middle class of Milan and Brianza; and as a small residential town within an important environmental system. As the plan has discovered, all these systems, key points of reference in the past, are weaker today and the associated parts of the territory are in difficulty. The industrial system is hit by problems of connections and accessibility with the rest of the productive territory and some of its activities have been discontinued (including the bottled water plant). The villas are run-down or even abandoned and have unquestionably failed to develop as a network and establish relations with the rest of the town. The environmental system has come under attack from recent development but can still boast areas of great importance like the ecosystem of Lake Segrino. The plan requires an understanding of the scenario to be designed for such a context driven by different dynamics: the defence of micro-transformations on the small scale; maximization of the private benefits of some transformations of disused areas on the intermediate urban scale; and the potential broader, knock-on effects of the 2015 Expo in terms of transformation of the territory on the large scale.
The plan thus invests in the quality of the existing territory, initiating micro-actions to boost the quality of the settlement system (starting with the historical centre) and policies to safeguard the substantial environmental heritage, choosing to work on its provisions in the short term and wait for the external tensions to take concrete shape as impetus for transformation of the territory. Until this happens, the plan will act as an authentic tool of management, with no particular visions that the local context cannot support, in the form of a strategic map of actions that can be undertaken in the everyday course of running the territory. It thus works actively on the capacity of its provisions to ensure that the existing territory works efficiently, eschewing recourse to particular events and relying on the ability of the territory as it is to generate virtuous micro-processes of quality. The adoption of a short-term planning perspective also makes it possible to keep the situation under observation and avoid undertaking actions that cannot be implemented within the set period.