Remind me, again! What is “slow travel”?
It is related to the The Slow Food movement which began in Italy a couple of decades ago, when fast food from America was beginning to invade Europe and other continents. The Italians feel strongly about anything that interrupts their slow pace of living. This might be said of most Latin cultures, but my familiarity is with Italy. As the Italians noticed fast food creeping into their culture, they made enormous protests which resulted in few such corporations making gains in that country. Likewise, travelers began to notice there was a much more satisfying way to travel than at a very fast pace, on a large bus filled with tourists, stopping in a different town each day.
Thus, Slow Travel was born, when independent traveler’s began to spend longer and longer vacation time in one place, rather than changing locations daily. By spending more than a few days, maybe a week or more in a vacation rental, an apartment, casita or self -catering villa, travelers can become familiar with their surroundings. They get to know the local shop-keeps and their neighbors, becoming part of a neighborhood. Learning about a country’s culture in this way gives the traveler an authentic experience of who the people are, how their history shaped today’s context and an entirely different view of the people, in many instances, than what one is accustomed to on a fast paced “must see everything now” sort of tour. Forming relationships with the local people, sipping coffee for hours in an outdoor cafe, marketing locally and spending three hours preparing lunch, experiencing the daily rhythm of a village or town, makes a vacation so much more relaxed and memorable.
Traveling Slowly can mean many different things, most obviously pointing to a slower pace of activity. One learns to linger over meals, spending time in the lost art of conversation. Or maybe it’s just taking time to journal, sketch and hone some artistic skill that’s been nagging for attention. This is certainly a way of waking up the senses, getting a “sense of place” in whatever place you happen to be spending time. Italy is the perfect country to practice these lost skills. There is an abundance of natural beauty, places left untouched for centuries just begging for a listen or a look. There are people, friendly and open just waiting to engage with you in any sort of connection and communication. This is a most satisfying, enriching way to experience time, place, connection and relationships; slowly and with deliberate enjoyment!
What Italian Excursion tours offers its guests is the opportunity to have a slow experience by creating just a small group and staying in either a boutique hotel in the country or a self catering villa for the length of the tour. We plan one, possibly two activities in a day for the travelers and then meander through our day at a very slow pace. Meals are enjoyed for an extended period, sometimes several hours; wine or olive oil tastings in the country where the products are produced; small, unknown museums and archeological sites may be a destination; nature walks in national parks or visits to an abandoned village, many centuries old. The list is endless and each trip brings new discoveries because there are so many layers to Italy’s past. This idea of slow travel, a reaction to our current fast paced global culture and can bring enrichment as well as reminders of why we seek respite from our daily lives in the form of vacation time.
The above post is another iteration of an old post and I want to be clear, that after nearly 17 years of visiting Italy at least twice annually, that my views have not changed much. This is my last post as a partner of this wonderful group of small group tour operators as I am off on new adventures in the autumn of my years. Italian Excursion will still be making sojourns into the countryside of Italy and Spain but with an even smaller, more intimate look at travel. It is our wish to continue serving small groups but maybe with special interests. Please visit our website (www.italianexcursion.com) periodically for updates on our next venture. Buona fortuna a tutti! Keep traveling, keep engaging with people of other cultures. Travel promotes peace and understanding between our different viewpoints.
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Cheryl has been traveling to Europe for more than sixteen years. Her interest in Italy, its history, art and rich culture led her to purchase property near Orvieto, allowing her to spend more time there. Cheryl’s exploration of Italy include the regions of Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio, as well as the areas around Venice and south towards Sorrento. She continues to travel into Italy’s less traveled regions, and enjoys sharing her discoveries with others. Relaxed, leisurely tours (www.italianexcursion.com) are her specialty with an emphasis on the comfort of her guests. Cheryl spends the rest of her time near the beach in San Diego, cavorting with her two small grandchildren. She’s an avid reader, health advocate and community volunteer. Her career as a social worker brings an understanding of people’s needs to the tour business.
www.slowtraveltours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.
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