More and more we are hearing and learning about slow food. And the slow food movement has led to the concept of slow travel. For some, these buzz words may not mean much, but they actually mean something to me.
The lifestyle and culture of both Italy and France lends itself very well to the more laid back travel experience, eating and moving around at a more relaxed pace allowing you to savor every last bit of a meal, a museum or a destination. It’s one of the many reasons I adore these two countries.
Slow Food and Slow Travel are exactly the opposite of fast-food and fast travel.
While I could spend hours attempting to explain the definitions and the movement itself and how it started, honestly I think that you would be able to learn and understand more about it directly from the source. If you’re really interested in learning more, read Slow Food Nation, which is written by the President of the Slow Food Organization, Carlo Petrini.
Instead, I’d rather spend a few minutes explaining to you, from my point of view, what they mean to me and how it translates into my work. I’d much rather speak to you from the heart.
But first, let me tell you a funny, yet scary, story that really resonated with me.
A few years back, I read Dario Castagno’s popular memoir called Too Much Tuscan Sun (a great read). In it, he reveals a rather embarrassing story about a tour that he was leading with some Americans in Siena, Italy. During the part of his tour where he would normally bring his clients to a family owned trattoria that prides itself on preparing time-honored recipes using local foods for lunch, he was met with a chilly response when he announced these plans. The clients responded that they had come all that way to Italy to enjoy real Italian food, and would rather pass on Dario’s personal recommendation in favor of a Pizza Hut or Olive Garden.
I have no words. Could you imagine how Dario must have felt? How insulting!
Unfortunately, I think stories of this kind play out much more often than is written about. Not only are Pizza Hut and Olive Garden not my idea of real Italian food in the U.S., but it certainly isn’t my idea of authentic Italian food in Italy.
And why would I want to experience the same thing when I travel that I do day in and day out at home?
Isn’t the point of travel to understand and experience the local culture and immerse yourself in something different?
Personally, I think it a shame that McDonald’s has set up shop in both of these countries. There are far better, healthier and more interesting options for sightseers on the go who don’t wish to take the time to savor a full meal for every lunch and dinner. In Italy things like lampreddoto, porchetta and pizza al taglio all come to mind. In France, there are crêpes, falafel, sandwiches or even just a baguette and cheese. Or better yet, why not pick up some fresh food at a local market and enjoy a picnic in a lovely garden or park?
One certainly doesn’t need to resort to finding a McDonald’s or god forbid an Olive Garden!
What Slow Food doesn’t mean to me
What Slow Food does mean to me
What Slow Travel doesn’t mean to me
What Slow Travel does mean to me
If the idea of slow food and slow travel in Italy and France resonates with you, you may be interested in:
What does Slow Food and Slow Travel mean to you?
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