“Slow travel” is an expression that is increasingly used in newspapers, TV, and radio around the world. From the English newspaper The Independent to the Spanish agency EFE, it seems that traveling slowly has become particularly trendy; there are many tour operators offering travel packages that include, for example, long walks to discover natural landscapes or long train routes as an alternative to flights.
There is certainly a wide range of potential tourists looking for a different experience, on a more human scale, able to provide a real escape from the frenetic rhythms of our daily lives. And there is also a growing attention to environmental problems and the climate crisis, so many people are opting to avoid traveling by airplane when it is not strictly necessary.
This idea of slowness is, of course, what lies at the heart of Slow Food. In the mid-80s, in Italy, Slow Food released its Manifesto: “We fell prey to the same virus: ‘the fast life’ that fractures our customs and assails us even in our own homes, forcing us to ingest ‘fast food.’ Homo sapiens must regain wisdom and liberate itself from the ‘velocity’ that is propelling it on the road to extinction. Let us defend ourselves against the universal madness of ‘the fast life’ with tranquil material pleasure.”
These words are still relevant and today, more than 30 years since Slow Food was born, we are concerned not just about our own wellbeing, but also the wellbeing of the planet. We want to contribute to just causes while also satisfying our desire to slow down, our need to reconnect with ourselves and our communities through meaningful experiences.
Taste, biodiversity, human and animal wellbeing, and the natural world are under continuous attack because the most prevalent food production and consumption models today are harmful to the Earth, its ecosystems, and to the peoples who inhabit it. This jeopardizes the very urge to eat and produce food as gastronomes and to exercise the right to pleasure without harming the existence of others or the environmental equilibria of the planet on which we live. The desire to explore new places and ways of life inspires us to travel, and the excitement and pleasure of travel come from living experiences, hearing new stories, and meeting new people.
Since these themes are linked to our philosophy, we have been reflecting on the concept of slow tourism for many years and recently we have begun to formulate a structured idea for Slow Food Travel.
At the center of Slow Food Travel is the discovery of a territory through food. The map of food production in a community, with all of its interconnections, becomes the map that we invite the slow tourist to use as a tool for exploration. Unique and diverse gastronomic identities constitute the heart of the project and underpin all its activities, interlinking the various attractions, such as osterias, agriturismi, restaurants, inns, bars, and recreational and leisure venues, as well as connected activities such as fairs, events, and food and wine tastings. The result of these connections and activities, which exist in every territory, is a convivial community that interacts and works as a system, welcoming visitors to discover it through food. The project seeks to develop tourist itineraries and services through the promotion of local cultural, agri-food, and gastronomic diversity, thanks to the participation of visitors (visits to food companies and farms, tastings, events, etc.).
The ultimate goal is to educate and raise awareness among visitors about the conservation of biodiversity and cultural heritage, identities, and local gastronomy, as well as to develop connections between virtuous businesses in different locations in order to spread a more sustainable model of tourism.
So far there are three active Slow Food travel itineraries, one in Austria and two in Italy. We started out with rural mountain areas, where the need to promote artisanal, sustainable food production systems that maintain and preserve the territory is most acutely felt.
Slow and steady, we will add other territories, create networks of food producers to make local gastronomic and agricultural heritage better known, and foster open environments where tourists become people with whom to share food, in the broadest sense.
Slow Food Press Office
Paola Nano (+39 3298321285)
Slow Food is a global network of local communities founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions and counteract the rise of fast food culture. Since its founding, Slow Food has grown into a global movement involving millions of people in over 160 countries, working to ensure that everyone has access to good, clean and fair food.