The movement celebrating the art of sustainable slow travel comes to Tuscany with the first Slow Travel Fest on October 9 to 11. Centred in Monteriggioni, the free festival will move along the Tuscan portion of the via Francigena, an enduring symbol of movement and pilgrimage. Launching with a group hike from Monteriggioni to the medieval hamlet of Abbadia a Isola, the festival includes excursions by foot and bike, concerts, film screenings and lectures. Though the culture of 'slow travel' can cover a range of practices and ideas, the festival's artistic director Giancarlo Brunelli told The Florentine that, in his view, the concept of slow travel is rooted in encountering: encountering new people, often by chance; encountering previously unknown places; or even (perhaps especially) encountering new dimensions of oneself. Many different speakers and excursion leaders in the festival lineup will take this same introspective approach.
On October 10, international guest Claude Marthaler, bestselling author of Zen and the Art of Cycling, who will have just returned from travels in central Asia, will speak (in English) in Monteriggioni. Another special guest is Swiss Nordic Walking instructor Caterina Frey, who will lead two excursions, encouraging participants to focus on active meditation and silent reflection. Any travelers who have ever had to rely on the kindness of strangers will appreciate the stories of Darinka Montico, an Italian woman who recently crossed the entire country on a bamboo bike, without a euro in her pocket or a single hotel reservation made. After living abroad for 16 years, she found herself wanting to reconnect with her roots, setting off on a long journey from Sicily to her hometown on Lago Maggiore. She will share her uplifting experiences (in Italian) at 6pm on October 10. AGAT Toscana will offer night and daytime walks through the Sienese hills, with additional routes available for those who prefer to travel on two wheels. On Sunday, October 11, Luca Gianotti, editorial director of Edizioni dei Cammini, will lead a meditative sunrise walk. The program leaves plenty of time for weary travelers to rest: participants can relax with DJ sets against a Tuscan backdrop or enjoy a concert from Camillocromo, a Florentine circus swing orchestra.
The festival is family-friendly: some of the main kids' activities include donkey rides on October 10 and 11, and a treasure hunt on the closing day of the festival. For the full program, see www.slowtravelfest.it.