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About this book

This book investigates why and how cycle and walking paths can help to promote the regeneration of marginalized areas facing depopulation and economic decline. In addition, it offers a broad overview of recent scientific research into slow tourism and marginality/spatial inequality and explores the linkages between these topics. Key issues are addressed by experts from various disciplinary backgrounds, and potential measures are proposed for the integration of slow tourism into strategies for regional development. Particular attention is devoted to the VENTO project, which involves the creation of a 700-km-long cycle route from Venice to Turin that passes through various rural and marginalized areas of northern Italy. The goal, research process, design, and early lessons from this important project are all discussed in detail. Moreover, the book describes policies and strategies that have successfully been used to enhance the slow tourism infrastructure in other European countries. Given its scope, the book will appeal to researchers, professionals, and students interested in e.g. policymaking, tourism planning, regional development, and landscape and urban planning.

Table of Contents


A Proposal of Regeneration for Marginal Areas


From Slow Tourism to Slow Travel: An Idea for Marginal Regions

Tourism represents  a strategy that can be used to imagine the development of marginal areas. But what type of tourism? Slow tourism is considered in literature and by the main development policies of marginal areas as one of the forms of tourism that best lends itself to the specific context of these territories. There are three factors whose possible relationship and interaction will be studied: tourism, slowness, and marginal areas. In this piece, the matter of marginal areas is not discussed, and it is taken as fact. What is discussed is the combination of slowness and tourism, often identified with the idea of “slow tourism”. The article proposes its own definition of slow tourism, where slowness, as a conscious and alternative attitude, invests in and modifies the economic sector of tourism. We therefore identify the attitudes of slowness that bring meaning to a territorial project, useful to the development (not only financial but also cultural and social) of marginal areas. From tourism, we move on to travel, a free and discovery-based approach, in line with the lessons that slowness can provide.
Paolo Pileri, Rossella Moscarelli

The Seat and the Saddle: How Slow Is Quick and Fast Is Stuck

This brief essay reflects on what it means to go slow and fast. Drawing an analogy with a river, the waters of which run sluggishly near the banks but pick up speed in midstream, it contrasts both speed and slowness with the measure of velocity, calculated as the ratio of metric distance to chronological time, premised on the assumption that movement transports the traveller from one point to another, as from bank to bank across the river. This difference between going along (joining with the river current) and going across (taking the bridge) is linked to alternative modalities of perception, which depend on whether the traveller can maintain an upright posture with all-around vision, or whether their vision, from a reclining position, is oriented only forward. In the history of transport, this distinction is linked to that between the saddle and the seat. Re-entering the current of life means exchanging the seat for the saddle.
Tim Ingold

Marginality: From Theory to Practices

The essay tackles the concept of regional marginality, by presenting the main open fields of discussion regarding: the criteria by which to identify the marginal regions, how to measure marginality and the nature of the dynamics between center and periphery. Focusing on these three aspects, the paper concentrates on the relation between theories and consequent practices. Indeed, it is demonstrated how starting from different ideas it is possible to arrive at completely different hypothesis of actions. The paper aims at providing a critical reading about answers given to these complex questions. What makes a region marginal in respect to another? How to measure and represent this phenomenon? Can the unbalanced relationship between core and periphery change in time? If yes, should public policies try to rebalance such relationship? In which way? In the conclusion, an approach to face the issue of marginality is proposed, in the form of “line-based projects”, in opposition to the traditional “point-based projects”.
Rossella Moscarelli

Marginalised Areas as a Public Policy Concern

This chapter is an attempt to sketch the broader context into which regional development for ‘left behind’ places, and the potential for their regeneration via ‘slow tourism’, the main focus of this book, is located. This context does not lend itself to easy generalisations. This becomes clear in Section One, which summarises recent changes in the distribution of incomes—at personal, regional and country level—in Europe and beyond, and finds that while inequality between countries has fallen, inequality within countries (whether between rich and poor families, or between dynamic and lagging or declining areas) has often increased. Section Two offers a brief account of the drivers of income inequality, focusing on the effects of trade (globalisation) versus technology (automation) on jobs and earnings, and emphasising local effects. Section Three reviews the current debate on the political consequences of regional decline, as manifest in electoral support for populist forces, in the light of competing paradigms in economic geography (‘place-based’ versus ‘people-based’ policy approaches). The final section discusses the implications for public policy for the revitalisation of lagging and declining areas, stressing the need to steer a new course, tapping into unused potential and local knowledge, and involving all relevant stakeholders.
Manos Matsaganis

Italian Policies on Marginal Territories: An Overview

The topic of inner areas and attention to economically marginal areas manifest periodically. The paper traces the main public policies that deal with these areas since the second post-war period. The literature review intends to critically evaluate the results that these interventions have given to the territories. The study of the first results of the National Strategy for the Inner Areas deals with the theme of participated planning and the bottom-up experience in regional cohesion policies: the areas selected become an experimental laboratory and an incubator for solutions identified ad hoc. The paper, therefore, focuses on the effects of the Intervento Straordinario per il Mezzogiorno (Extraordinary experience for South Italy) and of the actions for the economically depressed territory of the Centre-North. The research identifies differences, overlaps and problems that led to the suppression of the two measures: for 40 years these interventions have attempted to reform the agricultural sector and try to favour the establishment and development of the industrial sector. The critical reading focuses therefore on the analysis of the specific legislation for mountain areas: in this case, the legislation from a first phase of a welfare nature changes towards a cultural policy of protection and enhancement of local particularities, losing its specificity in time.
Benedetta Silva

Landscape and Heritage as Keys for Slow Travel


Slowness to Discover the Ordinary Italian Landscape

“The history of walking is the story of each of us”, Rebecca Solnit wrote. The ordinary Italian landscape, without ostentatious of magnificence, modest but fascinating as it can be scrutinized in its most intimate aspects, is varied and articulated, beautiful and simple, the best place to feel in its slowness of everyday life (walking, cycling, contemplating). From here telling slowness in the Italian landscape between these quite invisible characteristics is certainly a must. Studying the statistical data about Italy we discover that it’s a Nation of territorial inequalities, but if we initially suppose that these are well defined between North and South, then we understand that we are wrong: there are gaps both in the North and in the South, both on the mountains and on the flat lands, both along the sea coasts and internal areas, both in rural and periurban areas. A geography where creation of new opportunities not only improves the economic aspect but also the will and empathy of the communities: the goal could be to intend this territory as a unitary cultural heritage, where culture stands for knowledge and participation; a landscape connected to daily life and therefore not superbly evident but a needful production landscape to look at through a new systemic approach.
Chiara Visentin

Food on the Bike

Food is a key asset for the italian tourism but speed is not the best tool to discover it. Because of high-speed’s tale of the modern society, people are discouraged from learning the fascinating relationships between the biodiversity of local food and landscape. Walking and cycling can help people pay more attention on local food as a legacy of a peculiar landscape.
Massimo Montanari

The Role of Historic Roads to Preserve and Valorize the Landscape

Historic roads are roads that, through design, experience or association, have contributed to our culture in a meaningful way. Historic roads form a very interesting architectonic, technical and cultural linear system: not only the traces, but also the road features (walls, bridges, tunnels, drain wells), the connected buildings (churches, chapels, fortifications, custom-houses, mills, forges, furnaces, mines) rose out of ancient religious, military, commercial or industrial functions with a relationship between villages, towns, landscapes. The type of road, its history and current condition determine the most appropriate action for preservation. As with all historic resources, it is impossible to separate a historic road from its context, its setting. Leaving out the more ancient trails (roman and medieval roads) with a lot of archeological importance, there are many roads dating from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century now transformed or abandoned. These can now be used as landscape, and cultural resources, but it is necessary to preserve and conserve this heritage with specific inventories, analysis and restoration policies and practices in order to define management and valorization plans with historic, touristic and ecological purposes.
Alberta Cazzani, Maurizio Boriani

Cultural Heritage Preservation and Territorial Attractiveness: A Spatial Multidimensional Evaluation Approach

The introduction of the concept of sustainable development in the field of cultural heritage preservation has stressed the importance of a holistic approach. Achieving a balance among cultural significance retention and economic development is a challenging goal, even more for fragile and vulnerable contexts with limited economic and social resources, low return expectations and a huge tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Given such a complexity decisions about where to place valorisation interventions with the purpose to activate synergies with existing projects and trigger economic and social development processes require to be based on robust evaluation methodologies. According to this instance, Spatial Multicriteria Analysis (SMCA) can support decision-makers along all the steps of the decision process, moving from the intelligence phase to the design and, finally, to the choice one. Within this approach, the study has been focused on the intelligence phase, in order to define a multidimensional analytical framework aimed at mapping widespread cultural heritage with a special attention to its territorial features. The proposed methodological evaluation framework points out the challenge of structuring a decision problem related to the inner areas regeneration by the reuse of cultural heritage placed along slow mobility routes. The results are value maps that provide recommendations for placing culture heritage preservation and reuse interventions, meant as territorial catalyst.
Alessandra Oppio, Marta Dell’Ovo

A Line Born for Sustainable Development: The Case Study of VENTO


Slow Travel Project for Enhancing Territories: Motivations and Directions

Every project should follow an idea, a theoretical and intentional framework orienting the sense of its practical actions. Nevertheless, in many cases the project comes before then the motivations. This can be a mistake, especially in cases of regional projects affecting policies, people and territory. Giving priority to the idea makes the project more effective and people and institutional stakeholders involved more aware. This is the reason why the project VENTO, the proposal of a long cycle-tourist path in Italy, is born firstly by elaborating its motivations and objectives and, later, by designing the bike track. VENTO has the precise aim of regenerating marginal areas thanks to the introduction of the paradigm of the slow travel: it is a model of sustainable development with the shape of a cycle path. This paper analyses motivations and goals of the project and explains in which sense VENTO can be considered as a project of territory, as a way to increase local green jobs, as a political manifesto, as a new deal for investing in infrastructures, as a proposal for travelling and not for spending just few hours, as a vernacular opportunity, as a anti-fragility policy. These ideas have sustained the process of realization of the project.
Paolo Pileri

Design, Public Engagement and Communication: Reframing Methodology

VENTO is a territorial project threading its way through the cycling–pedestrian infrastructure that will run along the banks of the river Po from VENice to Turin [TOrino]. The project has been conceived at Politecnico di Milano to propose a concrete and viable development option in response to the fragile situations of the inner areas around Italy’s largest river valley. The project defines a new methodology to manage complex territorial governance plans, which concomitantly address both the vast and local scale. The scope of the paper is to describe the methodology developed by the research team by dividing the process into three phases: ideation, taking charge and implementation. The latter is still in progress. The plan, which has also been carried out with ongoing and constant cultural work targeting multiple subjects—spanning local, regional and central institutions, national and local associations, and citizens—was developed with a parallel communication project as important as the infrastructural project. Indeed, it is an intrinsic part of the methodology perfected with VENTO.
Alessandro Giacomel, Diana Giudici, Camilla Munno

Narration of Cultural Heritage as Antifragile Tool

In our contemporary, multicultural and globalizing society, what can help a fragile territory and community in the protection of its cultural heritage? While walking through a territory, you can realize how it offers itself as a story in continuous elaboration, able to give back ancient and authentic memories, but also to build new ones that can generate opportunities. In this sense, the ancient and spontaneous practice of narration can become an innovative antifragile tool: as an inclusive action for marginal individuals; as a new protection practice for small museums; as an opportunity that facilitates local development processes of depopulated territories, for tourists but also for communities themselves. After a discussion on the topic of narration and its antifragile abilities, we will describe the case of VENTO crossing Casale Monferrato, a small town in the Italian region of Piedmont. VENTO is a project for a cycle route that crosses northern Italy and hopes to mend the identity weave of depopulated territories, generating jobs through the narrative ability of the slow line.
Catherine Dezio

European Policies and Strategies Enhancing Projects of Slowness


Learning from Experience: A Set of European Policies

Defining a dedicated national plan for soft mobility means creating a strategic tool for a country’s growth. Indeed, investing in a large-scale network of cycle paths generates economic and social benefits, which also extend to other occupational fields that are not strictly related to cycling. They involve various actors and stakeholders, and offer an opportunity for cooperation between institutional bodies at various levels. An increasing number of European countries are defining a structured intervention strategy. Their experiences witness how this approach is proving to be essential to converge the many issues related to the project for a territorial infrastructure and the resulting effects. The purpose of analysing five case studies—The Netherlands, Germany, France, Denmark and Switzerland—is to reason on the many methods and tools available to promote cycling in an effective and coordinated manner, and to underscore certain factors, which are present in all experiences and are crucial for a successful strategy.
Federica Bianchi

The United Kingdom’s National Cycle Network: Paths for Everyone, Past, Present and Future

The National Cycle Network (NCN) covers every region and nation of the United Kingdom. At its peak, it totalled over 16,500 miles, with routes on quiet roads, traffic-free paths and greenways. First conceived of in 1997, the network was initiated by the sustainable transport charity Sustrans; this organisation is still the custodian of the Network but it remains very much a joint production. Routes are provided and maintained by local government, private landowners large and small, volunteers and government and non-governmental bodies. It is a major collaborative achievement of civil society and in 2017 carried 785 million journeys a year, with an estimated annual contribution to the UK economy of £3.8 billion. This paper does three things: first recount the genesis of Sustrans and the NCN; second, explain the rapid growth of NCN in the early twenty-first century and its impact; third, explain the 2017–2018 review of the NCN and its re-visioning as a network of traffic-free paths for everyone—in many ways a return to its founding ideals and one that is as important as ever.
Xavier Brice

The Singularity of the Camino de Santiago as a Contemporary Tourism Case

The present work analyses the uniqueness of the Camino de Santiago (or The Way of Saint James), a religious and medieval pilgrimage route that has become a contemporary tourist product with a deep power of attraction. To this end, a series of factors that have contributed to the change and renewal of its nature are detailed. Firstly, we explain the public promotion of the Camino as a catalyst for a process of physical construction of a pilgrimage route. Secondly, we focus on studying the Santiago pilgrim’s motivation, as it is also a relevant factor in determining slow mobility in urban and rural areas. Finally, these factors interact with each other and result in the definition of the pilgrim as a new tourist who walks or rides a bicycle. All of the above leads to consider new social and territorial dynamics.
Rubén C. Lois González, Lucrezia Lopez

The Success of the Cycle Tourist Backbone Along the Danube in Germany and Austria

The Danube Bicycle Trail consists of several sections which are in different stages of development across Europe, from Germany to Bulgaria/Romania at the Black Sea. The best developed and historically best-documented sections are in Germany and Austria. These can be models for bicycle tourism in other regions. Based on the historical development of the western Danube Bicycle Trail, also known as EuroVelo No. 6, this article presents important basic and advanced requirements for successful bicycle tourism. In the case of the Danube Trail the basic conditions for touristic success already existed, when in the 1980s forward-looking tourism managers and planners at local and regional levels determinedly took steps towards developing the region. Retrospectively, branded touristic routes like the Danube Bicycle Trail assisted in conserving regional ecosystems and heritage, while at the same time opening economic opportunities for local businesses and generating jobs. For continuous success constant improvements to safeguard a leading position as an outstanding tourism region are necessary. Other regions seeking to emulate the accomplishments of the Danube Trail should also highlight their specific heritage and natural assets.
Michael Meschik
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