On the track of Stipa Tenacissima – Second Journey in Tunisia, June 2014

June 18th, departure.

I set out from Bologna, in 2 minutes I prepare my luggage, as usual, while I’m coordinating our teams in Bologna and Bujumbura to prepare the submission. We want to be shortlisted for the assistance of Burundian authorities in drafting the national energy efficiency plan. The project is financed by the European Union and the deadline is in one day, the 19th of June, at 11 a.m. The schedule is so tight that I have to be on the phone until the plane takes off.

At the airport of Tunis, two persons I met in my last visit in Tunisia are expecting me: Jamila, researcher at INAT (Institut National Agronomique de Tunisie) and Samira Missaoui, a very talented textile artist. I need to be aware of her work if I really want to explore the possibility to introduce the Alliance model in pilot regions of Tunisia. Art, artisanship and design can reach an important status, and they should, but in order to achieve this result it is vital to create networks among actors, and first of all among women.



June 19th, on the road to Gafsa ( قفصة )

It is 5 a.m.; we need to leave early from Monastir to be at the University of Gafsa to review and sign the framework agreement that would start the process of transfer and adaptation of the Alliance and n4f models in this region.

I keep following and supervising  the submission of the application in Bujumbura, but I do not want to miss the experience of travelling. We manage to make the delivery at 10.59: just on time. Now, we just have to wait for the outcome.



I finally turn my tired eyes away from the screen of my laptop and I start watching the bustle on the streets. I see factories of Benetton and the Miroglio passing by, placed in the middle of non-urbanised territories. These industrial sites communicate indifference, alienation and arrogance towards everything outside the walls of the factories. I wonder about the social model introduced by Olivetti, at the beginning of last century. I think … about our Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I ask a question to Marzio, who’s travelling with me:

“How is that our Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not set up a forum with the leaders of the dozens of Italian companies delocalising in Tunisia, in order to study together possible synergies with the foreign policies of development aid?”

It is extremely hot that morning and we take a break in a rest stop,  well equipped, as usual. We arrive in Gafsa on time and we find Imen Said waiting for us. She is professor of the faculty of sciences, appointed by the dean to coordinate the final drafting and signing of the agreement.



June 19th in Gafsa

After a short break, we spend the afternoon visiting Gafsa: archaeology and art crafts. We visit the center of ONA (Office National de l’Artisanat) Direction du développement des compétences.


Afterwards we take part to the closing ceremony of the academic year at the ‘Institut Supérieur des Arts et Métiers de GAFSA”. We spend the evening to acquaint ourselves with Fatma, with whom we have cooperated to create a network of international specialists in the field of water governance. Fatma was born in Turin and she can perfectly speak Italian. Her father is a Tunisian engineer belonging to one of the most ancient families of the country, her mother is from Turin and she has chosen to stay at the heart of this country, she is fluent in Arabic and French. She is a wonderful example of the richness that comes from the intersection of cultures and traditions of our Mediterranean. Imen is with us. We talk about recent and remote history, the role of women in the future we are hoping for, and about our joint projects for Gafsa and Kasserine. In order to intervene in a territory you need, gently and respectfully, to approach its soul.