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Written by Elizabeth Kenerley, Especially Puglia

Fast cars, fast internet, fast food. In many ways speed is one of the defining aspects of modern life. But we know it doesn’t have to be this way. If the Slow Food movement shows us anything, it’s that there is so much to appreciate when we stop rushing through life and simply take an interest in what we’re eating. Who makes the food and how? How long has it been done this way and why? What’s the maker’s story and how do I connect to it? The core of Slow Food asks these questions and more in order to connect us to the food we eat and the people who make it. Now, what if I told you we can go beyond just asking these questions? What if you not only learned the traditional foodways of a region, but you carried them out in-person, on-location? This is the type of experience slow travel can offer.

{{ image(5919, {“class”: “fill round”, “width”:640, “height”:340}) }}Processing semolina flour at an Altamura mill

By its most basic definition, slow travel is a way to live in your place of destination rather than simply shuffling through it tourist trap to tourist trap. The idea is to replace the all too familiar anxiety of travelling with an appreciation and respect for where you’re at. And Slow Food lovers will know the best way to appreciate a place is by enjoying the local food. But don’t stop with eating at the local bakery each morning, though surely the bakers welcome your patronage. Actually participate in the food production process!

Especially Puglia takes the idea of Slow Food and allows you to dive deeper into a truly immersive slow travel experience exactly by getting you to participate in the process. Founder Michele Iadarola grew up in the Apulian town of Pietramontecorvino. Especially Puglia is Michele’s way of sharing his love for his home through the lens of Slow Food and slow travel. Puglia is home to nineteen Slow Food Presidia and three UNESCO World Heritage sites, making it a region steeped with tradition and history that any slow traveller will fall in love with.

{{ image(5920, {“class”: “fill round”, “width”:640, “height”:340}) }}Podolica cows grazing the Gargano National Park

Especially Puglia offers a selection of traditionally produced Apulian foods such as single source extra virgin olive oils and caciocavallo podolico cheese. But perhaps most enticing is the annual FarmStay program, in which Slow Food and slow travel come together in one week that won’t soon be forgotten. The backbone of the trip is experiencing the olive harvest and olive oil production (Puglia is the top extra virgin olive oil producer in Italy). You can connect with every aspect of the process as you live in masserie, or traditional farmhouses, and participate in harvest and production. You will get to know the farmers and the land. Needless to say, tasting the olive oil at the end of the process knowing exactly how it got there is an experience like no other. Tastings and cooking classes are a staple of the journey; and by the end of the trip you will have a deeper understanding of the food of Puglia and the people who make it.

{{ image(5921, {“class”: “fill round”, “width”:640, “height”:340}) }}Harvesting olives before processing into extra virgin olive oil

The trip centers around food, but doesn’t stop there. Travelers have the chance to visit historical sites and national parks, as well as have the opportunity to meet and connect with local Pugliese. Because Michele is a local, you can be assured the experience is authentic and ethical.  Sustainability of food under traditional production is highlighted, and the people who carry on the traditions, as well as their culture, are respected. This isn’t about hopping as quickly as possible from one site to the next; it’s about slowing down and experiencing all that a place has to offer, from food to land to people. This is slow travel.

Image at top: Enjoying the view from Trabucco Peschici


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