Description and Scope
Slow Italy is a slow traveler’s guide to Italy and the Italian way of life, designed to inspire and entice people to travel deeper instead of wider, beyond the obvious and the clichés. It is aimed at the seasoned traveler and avid first-time traveler who wish to explore Italy beyond the regular must-see sights and collect meaningful moments while savoring the country’s true spirit.
The articles cover either a specific region or city, or an unusual itinerary across several regions of Italy, themed around a common, specific topic, such as chocolate, unusual churches, beautiful gardens, or ghost towns, etc. They are based on the author’s first-hand experience while traveling, on exchanges with locals, after-thoughts, as well as her pre- and post-travel research to prepare and document her travels.
Slow Italy aims to show that slowness is not confined to a specific type of traveling. It can be practiced everywhere in Italy and transcends every segment and every type of traveling, be it backpack travel, budget travel, ultimate luxury travel, cultural travel, solo travel or family travel.
For more information about the author’s background, read about me.
For more information about Slow Italy, read on.
Why Slow Italy?
Slow Italy stands for a way of traveling that promotes savoring the moment and not getting stressed about seeing “everything”. After all, you are on a vacation, and if there’s one country in the world where “slow is more‘, it’s definitely Italy! Slow Italy also stands for a sustainable way of traveling that makes maximum use of existing resources (historic buildings, family-owned hotels, B&Bs, castles, agriturismi, etc.) without requiring new infrastructures, specifically built for tourists.
Italy is a multi-sensory place that you can only fully appreciate when visiting it with all your senses open. Much of its richness lies, not just in the obvious historic and architectural treasures, but also, or even more so, in its people, their authenticity, their creativity and their ability to transmit their passion about what they do, believe and like.
More than just “traveling like a local”, which has become some kind of catch phrase meaning, “doing what locals do and eating what they eat”, I prefer the idea of “traveling through the eyes of the locals“. It is not merely immersing yourself or imitating what locals do, but sensing with your ears, eyes and palate what the locals will gladly show and share with you,… IF you take the time for it. It is not merely observing and imitating, but exploring, asking and interacting.
Go with an open mind and learn from every experience and every person you meet on your travels. Collect meaningful moments instead of top sights on your check-list.
Your time in Italy will be much more rewarding if you are not just collecting monument snapshots, but take the time to feel what Italy has in its soul. You can’t appreciate that if you only scratch the surface. By slowing down your own pace you’re going to explore, enjoy and savor much more of the country’s true spirit.
Of course, traveling to Italy is expensive and I understand that the temptation is high to fit as much as possible into your schedule, or at least as much as is humanly and logistically possible, in order to maximize the return on travel expenses.
BUT,…if you are on a tight schedule chances are high that you are only going to see the touristy façade of Italy, instead of the authentic Italy I’d like to defend and support.
Italy is a slow travel country par excellence. Indeed, the slow movement was initiated by an Italian, Carlo Petrini, who founded Slow Food in a protest against the opening of a fast food restaurant in Piazza di Spagna, in Rome in 1986. Slow Food aims to promote regional and home-made cuisine made with traditional, locally grown ingredients.
The fact that the Slow movement precisely initiated in Italy makes sense; the country has always defended values that are linked to doing things at the right pace and with a passionate dedication to excellence. So, the Slow movement has always been intrinsically linked to Italy, even before it was dubbed “Slow”. Over time, other slow movements have followed, going from Slow Design, over Slow Travel and Cittaslow (Slow Cities) to Slow Wine, and more globally Slow Life, a life embracing all or part of the Slow concepts.
While many of the Slow movement principles are universal, when it comes to Slow Travel, interpretation and implementation may vary depending on the country you’re traveling in. Slow travel embraces values and principles common to responsible travel, ethical travel, sustainable tourism which may not take on the same global dimension in both developing and industrialized countries, for example. So, it is impossible to adhere to general slow traveling principles without taking the specific nature of each country into account. That’s why we created Slow Italy, a website specifically aimed at traveling slow in Italy.
Italy has the highest number of UNESCO world heritage sites in the world, as well as an impressive number of national parks, historic sites and beautiful stretches of nature that need protected. Due to the high density of these sites and the specific geography of Italy, new accommodation specifically built for tourists (tourist resorts, but sometimes also imposing apartment blocks designed to be rented to tourists) almost always impact in one way of the other on these sites, whether esthetically, environmentally or even more profoundly, by affecting the local culture and structure.
Reversely, Italy has plethora of historic buildings that need to be restored and maintained, but due to the high number of these sites, of which many are still privately owned, there is always lack of funding. So, by staying in a historic building, castle, farm or family-owned hotel that needs funding for restoration you are not only doing something worthwhile for the history and the culture of your host country, but you are making use of existing resources, which has a lower impact on the environment. What may appear as a luxury mode of traveling (staying in a castle) may in fact be an environmentally friendly and sustainable mode of travel (and not necessarily a more expensive one!) that makes maximum use of existing resources without requiring new infrastructures, specifically built for tourists. Italy, maybe more than any other country, has many of these historic buildings and sites that are partly maintained thanks to travelers who chose to stay in this type of accommodation. Agriturismi are conceived on the same principle: by diversifying into the travel industry, family-owned farms manage to survive in an increasingly difficult economy. Just like family-run B&Bs in private homes they have a low impact on the environment as they are perfectly integrated into the landscape of the town or area.
Moreover, by staying with a local family (in a B&B or agriturismo), or in a family-run hotel or residenza you get a much closer look at the local culture. Italians are very open people, who enjoy talking about their region’s culture, history, traditions and local cuisine. So, you will probably pick up more of the local culture and spirit in a locally owned and family-run hotel, than you would in a impersonal chain hotel or even in a rental accommodation, especially if the latter is part of one of these tourist apartment blocks located outside the center of local community life.
So, whether you are staying in a hostel, B&B, luxury hotel, residenza, or agriturismo slowness can be practiced everywhere in Italy. Just be curious and open. Take the time to talk and listen to what the locals have to say about their city or region, from the receptionist or owner of your hotel over the taxi drivers, waiters to shop owners and all local people you will come across while traveling. Prefer family-run hotels and traditional little restaurants over impersonal chain hotels and tourist restaurants with menus translated in fourteen languages. By choosing your type of accommodation within the local community life, you will get the possibility to connect with locals and in some cases also have the opportunity to do something useful and meaningful for the local community… And, remember that the hub of social life in Italy is at the bar and in the piazza, so hang out on the piazza and skip the hotel breakfast and go to the local bar (coffee shop) instead.
For information about me, see my about me page.