Slow Walking in Italy

Slow Travel Fest for Nordic Walkers and others.

SlowTravelFest-logoThis announcement of the 2015 Slow Travel Fest is so intriguing (and tempting) that I am sharing it in its entirety. The website, alas, is only in Italian.  Here it is:

The inspiring new Slow Travel Fest, taking place in and around medieval Monteriggioni, near Siena in Italy from October 9 to 11, is offering walkers of all levels some unique propositions, as well as the chance to explore stunning Tuscan landscapes and the ancient pilgrim route – the Via Francigena.

This sustainable tourism focused festival – Italy’s only festival devoted solely to slow travel – will be welcoming walkers who wish to reconnect with nature, increase their health and fitness, discover incredible new villages, beauty spots and architecture, or simply walk for pleasure.

Families are very welcome and, if the children don’t wish to walk, there will be activities specifically laid on for them to engage in whilst their parents walk.

Slow Travel Fest has some interesting options that could be dream experiences for those who love to travel ‘a piedi’ as they say in Italy and which all come for free.

Gentle walking for enjoyment

Free excursions will be arranged from Monteriggioni, which visitors to the festival can join, if they wish to walk with a group and be guided to certain points of interest or natural beauty. Alternatively, they can do their own thing, walking solo, or with partners, friends and children, perhaps stopping to sketch, take photos, enjoy local food and drink and watch and listen to the entertainment laid on as part of the festival, as they stroll. With some loveable donkeys to be found around Monteriggioni, walking with a faithful friend will also be a popular option.

Deep Walking

The festival will be welcoming the inventor of ‘Deep Walking’, Luca Gianotti, who is also editor of walking publication, ‘Edizioni dei Cammini’. Deep Walking is a new mode of walking that enables the individual to encourage inner growth through meditation, a reconnection with nature and the simple things in life and enhanced awareness. Luca Gianotti will be explaining this to those who walk with him at dawn, as night’s darkness dissolves to reveal the stunning beauty of Tuscany’s rolling hills. These mentally and physically stimulating experiences will help develop empathy with oneself and with nature, encouraging a spiritual rebirth, as the birth of the day arrives on the Via Francigena.

Nordic Walking

Nordic Walking instructor, Caterina Frey, arranges courses on more than sixty routes around Siena and will be at Slow Travel Fest to teach more people why Nordic Walking is so beneficial. This style of walking is 40% more efficient than walking without poles and increases calorie consumption by up to 45%. It also increases oxygenation, helps eliminate the hormones caused by stress, strengthens the immune system, economises the work rate of the heart, delays the ageing process and relieves contractions in the shoulders and neck. As a firm advocate for this style of walking, Swiss-born Caterina will be teaching visitors to Slow Travel Fest the technique involved. There will be two sessions in which to take part in Nordic Walking and learn how it can assist endurance, strength, mobility and co-ordination.
Night Walks

There will be guided nocturnal walks through the Sienese hills, lead by AGAT Toscana environmental guides, for those who are more confident in their walking and have the good level of fitness required to tackle walking by dark.

Talks About Walking

Those who love to hear about the walking experiences of others will be able to attend talks by people with amazing stories to tell. The festival programme will include talks by Franco Michieli, who has crossed some of the world’s most arduous terrain on foot, with no GPS, telephone, maps, or compass and who believes that not knowing a route is the best way to explore an area.

Another speaker will be Darinka Montico, who walked the length of Italy with no money, relying on the hospitality of strangers. Alfredo Covelli will present his documentary, ‘With Real Stars Above my Head’, which focuses on his hiking up several Himalayan peaks to deal with his worsening multiple sclerosis. Paraplegic traveller and author, Pietro Scidurlo, will explain what slow travel means for those living with disabilities.

Getting There

The closest airport to Monteriggioni is Pisa, which is served by budget airlines and regular airlines alike. Visitors could also fly to Florence, Milan or Bologna.

From Pisa, you can hire a car, or take a bus to Siena. By car, you need to take the Florence-Siena road and exit at Monteriggioni.

You can also catch the bus to Pisa Central train station and then take a train to Castellina in Chianti- Monteriggioni train station, making one change at Empoli. This journey takes 1.5 hours. From the station, you can take a walking path (2km) to Monteriggioni.

From Florence airport, you can take a train to Chianti-Monteriggioni and proceed as above.

From Milan or Bologna, you can take the train to Florence train station (Santa Maria Novella) and then take a 1.5-hour train journey to Castellina in Chianti-Monteriggioni, changing at Empoli. Then follow the 2km walking path to Monteriggioni.

More information and a full programme of activities for a festival that also includes cycling excursions, a photographic exhibition, nature-based activities for children, entertainment from musicians and roaming theatrical shows and an amazing festival soundtrack from circus swing orchestra Camilocromo, will shortly be available at slowtravelfest.it