Walking trips…cycling holidays…the Slow Travel Fest: the latest trend in the world of tourism is slow travel, which you can enjoy on your own or in the company of others, with itineraries lasting several weeks or just a weekend. It is a new take on holidays, inspired by our desire for first-hand experiences and to discover the natural and cultural treasures of the places we visit.
From 22-24 September 2017, Monteriggioni, located along the Via Francigena near Siena, will be hosting the Slow Travel Fest: three days of outdoor experiences to celebrate slow tourism.
Slow travel is a global movement, a product of our time, and promotes a return to more “sustainable” interests and lifestyles that are more in tune with the land and closer to our pockets and culture. It also represents a new business model, a way of promoting local natural wonders which are often unknown to others. Whether we venture out on foot, by bike or boat, the important thing is to slow down the pace of life and respect the environment. Journeys often become a personal story shared with friends and acquaintances through posts on Facebook and photos on Instagram.
In Europe, just as in Italy, there is no shortage of itineraries and memorable places where you can practise this new kind of tourism. One itinerary that is becoming more and more popular is the famous Camino de Santiago de Compostela, which pilgrims have been undertaking since the Middle Ages, crossing France and Spain to reach the sanctuary of Santiago de Compostela, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 800-km walk takes about one month if you go the whole distance.
And if you are a bike lover, you can enjoy the cycle paths in the Po Valley, two thousand kilometres of routes through the flat countryside, far from traffic; or why not try the bicycle paths in Holland, one of the most cycle-friendly countries in the world?
Another favourite is hiking along the ancient Hadrian’s Wall which once marked the border between the occupied Roman province of Britannia and Caledonia. The site can still be seen today, located in the countryside between England and Scotland.
Italy has some 6,600 km of stunning itineraries stretching from north to south, where slow travellers can experience the scents and colours of the countryside they visit. More and more people are abandoning the comfort of planes, trains and cars for “solitary” walks, following popular, well-signposted and safe routes. According to the latest figures published by Enit (The Italian Tourist Board), 60% of the Italians interviewed opt for nature and the countryside when choosing their holiday destination, while 61% want to visit artistic and cultural treasures.
There is more to slow travel, however, than just travelling. In September, Tuscany will be hosting the Slow Travel Fest for the many followers of this new trend: three days dedicated to slow travel on foot or by bike. The Festival has scheduled a variety of activities in the local area, including excursions along the Via Francigena in Tuscany – the ancient road that linked northern Europe to Rome – and the Montagnola Senese district. The three-day event has been organised for travellers, walkers and cyclists, from expert guides to families with children, as well as anyone wanting to join this world who shares the desire to make a connection with the places they visit on their travels. Most of the Festival’s events will take place in the municipality of Monteriggioni, and more specifically in the town of Abbadia a Isola. In ancient times, this town stood on the edge of a marsh and the abbey, which was founded in 1001 A.D., looked as if it stood on an island, hence the name. It is a place of great charm and mystery. The Festival has a busy programme of meetings, art, music, nature and excursions. It will also welcome authors whose works feature walking and slow travel.
It is therefore no coincidence that the opening event is dedicated to the American writer and journalist, Jack London: the artist and walker Davide Sapienza, who has translated a number of works by the author of “The Call of the Wild” and “White Fang”, will bring to life the famous American writer whose books spoke of open spaces and freedom.
The main theme of the Festival will be “Discovery” in general: Tiziano Fratus, author of “Manuale del perfetto cercatore d’alberi” (Manual of the perfect tree explorer), will hold meetings for people who enjoy looking for ancient trees, taking them on a journey of discovery of the local tree heritage. Similar events, where visitors can learn more about the area and its products (including its food and wine), as well as workshops and artistic meetings, have been scheduled for the duration of the Festival. An invitation for everyone to “move” slowly but intensely.
Facebook e Instagram: @slowtravelfest