Decision-making paralysis or policy innovation? The Turin-Lyon and Valsusa railway line - The high-speed rail affair in the Valle di Susa is emblematic of the conflict surrounding major infrastructure projects in Italy. The paper, which reconstructs the contestation of the project, offers a few considerations concerning the role played by the ‘Observatory’ set up by the Prime Minister’s Office in 2006 in proposing an alternative form of consensus building. This involved recognition and discussions with the different ‘spirits’ of the ‘No high-speed’ movement, as a condition for the reconstruction of a way forward based on consultation. It was designed to change not so much the relationship between general strategies and local interests within a predetermined political framework as the methods of the social, political and media construction of the conception of what is in the public interest. Numerous uncertainties still persist over future developments: the optimism of enthusiasm places the emphasis on the possible outcomes of the process, even if they are to a large extent uncertain, while the pessimism of logical reason suggests caution with lengthy processes before a genuine solution to the problem is reached.