By DAISY SAMPSON
TAVIRA, SILVES, Lagos and São Brás de Alportel have become official members of the Cittaslow, a slow city movement which started in Italy in 1999, and aims to improve the quality of life of those who live in and visit these towns.
Traditional cultural events and the heritage of these Algarve towns are shown to be priorities by the city mayors as they join the initiative and work towards preserving local skills and produce.
A spokesman for the Cittaslow movement in Italy said: “We are looking for towns where people are still curious to learn about the old times, towns full of theatres, squares, cafés, restaurants and spiritual places. We want to involve areas with untouched landscapes and traditional craftsmen and where people are still able to observe the slow course of the seasons.”
The four Algarve towns are considered to fulfil the criteria of a slow city and will be hoping to attract new lifestyle tourists who are looking for specialist destinations. As part of the initiative, the towns will also be included on the slow movement map which could lead to an increase in people moving to those areas, looking to downsize their lives and go back to a more traditional way of life.
Cittaslow literally means ‘slow city’ in Italian and is an international network of cities and towns with 50,000 or less inhabitants who actively work towards a set of goals. Cities involved aim to improve the quality of life for those who live in and visit the area.
The Cittaslow movement asks citizens to care for both their town and the people who live there and is as much about changing and improving the lifestyle of residents as improving facilities.
Every slow city is encouraged to break away from being a homogenous city without identity and urged to promote local talent, traditions and produce.
Italian Paolo Saturnini started the movement in Italy in 1999 during a food festival in Orvieto and now there are over 30 Italian cities that are part of the cultural programme.
Networks of slow cities exist in England, Germany, Poland, Norway and Brazil and there are also other countries with cities in the programme including France, Spain, Australia, Japan and now Portugal.
For further information about the Cittaslow initiative, please visit www.cittaslow.net (available in English and Italian).