Slow Travel Fest Italy’s first festival on green tourism

The first Slow Travel Fest – Italy’s first festival dedicated entirely to slow and sustainable travel – attracted around 2000 visitors to the small medieval town of Monteriggioni, near Siena, and the neighbouring hamlet of Abbadia a Isola.

The aim of the Tuscany-based festival, staged 9-11 October 2015, was to encourage visitors to explore the area – and particularly the ancient pilgrim route of the Via Francigena – on foot and by bicycle – whilst reconnecting with nature and finding a new level of relaxation through the enjoyment of a slower pace of life.

Despite torrential rain on the Saturday of the three-day weekend festival, Slow Travel Fest delivered most of its programme of walks, talks, cinema, music and activities for children. Visitors learned, from a range of speakers and walking and cycling specialists, about the sustainable tourism options available to them and some explored the stretch of the Via Francigena on which Monteriggioni is situated.

The staging of the festival coincided with the unveiling of a new hostel for walkers, cyclists and faith tourists, based in Abbadia a Isola and consisting of modern dormitory accommodation housed in a medieval building dating back to 1100. The accommodation can house around 100 people and will be fully open by spring 2016, when it will offer green travellers not just a comfortable bed and modern bathroom facilities, but an amazing view of the surrounding Tuscan countryside when they look out of the windows.

Meanwhile, a new-look tourism office has opened in Monteriggioni, complete with an engaging exhibition telling the story of the Castello of Monteriggioni and its turbulent past spent fighting off the ever-present threat from Florence.

Whilst Monteriggioni is known for its July festival, in which historical re-enactments are juxtaposed with fireworks and parades, slowing down to the pace of Slow Travel Fest was a first.

Speaking on behalf of organisers, Ciclica, Giovanni Morozzo says: “We are pleased with how well the festival evolved, despite the weather on the Saturday, and were delighted to see so many people enjoying the varied programme of events, whilst also picking up information about walking and cycling activities.

“We are looking forward to building on the success of this year and taking Slow Travel Fest to another level in 2016.”

More information about the 2015 Slow Travel Fest can be found at www.slowtravelfest.it Details of the 2016 event will be posted there as soon as they become available.