Thursday, July 20, 2023
To not miss the most Italian sunrise, one must be at the gates of the Colosseum at 6 in the morning. Then visit the Forum and the Arch of Constantine. Remember, at 10 o'clock the free yellow umbrella tour starts, and at 11:15 the Last Judgment awaits in the Sistine Chapel. It doesn't matter how quickly you explore the treasures of the Vatican; you mustn't sit down for a meal before posting photos from Campo dei Fiori or with the statue of Vittorio Emanuele and a couple of other things recommended somewhere on the internet.
This is probably not the "Roman Holiday" that Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck envisioned for their summer in 1953. However, nowadays, it is one of the most common stories among tourists. Endless workdays, family demands, constant noise, traffic, the digitization of leisure, and social commitments have created a lifestyle where it seems like we should always be on the move, producing and consuming without pause. Fortunately, there's no need to go back to the summer of '53 to reconnect with our surroundings.
Slow travel is an emerging trend that revolves around appreciating destinations at a leisurely pace, promoting authentic and environmentally respectful experiences. For example, instead of visiting multiple destinations in a short period, slow travel focuses on thoroughly exploring a region or city. This way, travelers can dedicate more time to immersing themselves in local culture, interacting with the community, and discovering the hidden charms of a specific place. Additionally, this type of vacation emphasizes connecting with nature and environmental conservation. In this sense, destinations that promote ecotourism offer outdoor activities such as hiking, bird watching, diving, and kayaking.
One of the organizations promoting slow living and tourism is called Cittaslow, which began in Italy in 1999 as a response to the fast pace and negative effects of globalization in cities. Since its beginnings, this initiative has sought to preserve local identity, traditional values, culture, gastronomy, and the way of life characteristic of each community. There are now more than 200 Cittaslow-certified cities worldwide, but there are many more that are also internationally known precisely for promoting the values of calmness and sustainability among their inhabitants and tourists. These are some of them:
Balmaseda in Vizcaya
Located about 30 kilometers from Bilbao, it has witnessed pilgrimages and is a meeting point for different cultures. An example of a sustainable practice at this location are the gardening services, as they have introduced new methods, practices and products that are more respectful of the planet's health and that of the workers. In addition, the City Council will soon rehabilitate an industrial area to create a space for amphibians and environmental education.
Greve in Chianti, Italy
Located in the region of Tuscany, Greve in Chianti is known for its landscapes, vineyards and for being a pioneer in the slow living movement. This city has a strong connection to nature and a gastronomic culture rooted in local products. Here, more than half of the vineyards are certified organic. In addition, almost all the companies that manage them report having implemented improved water management and a reduction in the carbon footprint of wine production.
This city is in the center of the island of Bali, Indonesia, and is renowned for its cultural heritage, stunning scenery and focus on spirituality. As part of its commitment to sustainable development, the town offers tourists weekly courses to learn how to respect nature and reduce individual waste. Because of its activities, Ubud is known as "the green heart" of Bali.
Slow cities and towns are an alternative lifestyle and vacation option. They are destinations committed to respecting the environment, supporting local businesses, recovering historical heritage, improving public spaces and promoting healthy (and sustainable) cuisine.
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