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Italy is the cradle of food and wine culture and it is not surprising that dedicated tourism is among the most popular.
The choice on the theme is very wide, from North to South and, paradoxically, the many proposals could confuse the visitor.
In Tuscany, land of food and wine tourism par excellence, the Federation of Tuscan Wine, Oil and Flavors Roads, founded in 2001 in Montespertoli (FI), collects the best of the excellence of the territory, in order to offer the user a range of tidy and varied proposals.
We know this reality better from the words of the President Pier Paolo Lorieri.
Your Federation gathers various realities of the Tuscan territory. How are these companies, associations, cooperatives promoted by you, also in order to optimize the choice of the numerous offers?
The Federation of Wine, Oil and Taste Roads of Tuscany represents twenty roads that cover the whole of the Tuscan territory, for a total of over 2500 companies represented.
The Roads and the Federation were born to respond to the growing demand to enhance territories characterized by quality wine, olive-oil, agricultural and agri-food productions and have certainly done an excellent job in these thirty years. They have made the territories recognizable, the companies accessible to tourists (thirty years ago thinking of a road arrow indicating a farm was an absurd time) and today they have encouraged company computerization, necessary for promotion through the new means of communication. Today, we are working to support the renewal process that is required of all the actors in the territories to emerge stronger than before from this difficult historical / epidemiological period.
The Federation acts as a glue between the world of institutions, businesses and the territorial roads which are the heart of this composite organism. The Federation is a space, a tool, a moment. The Strade di Toscana, the only associations established by regional law, collect the requests and needs on the territories of competence and then communicate with each other within assembly moments coordinated by the Federation. The individual items thus become a plurality, and together it becomes easier to achieve the set objectives. The strength lies in cohesion, where everyone must feel represented in the same way.
There is a better known Tuscany, where there are large companies, which is flanked by a Tuscany still to be discovered, made up of willing young people and people who have dedicated their lives to the development of small entrepreneurial realities. Here, within the Federation, every territory and every complex or not complex company, through the Territorial Road, finds its space.
Your portal offers a very interesting list of what you call “experiential tourism”. Can you briefly summarize some of your options?
Sea and mountains, hills and cities of art, food and wine and outdoor experiences, the tourist offer on the portal embraces, for now, the entire Tuscan coast. Tourists, increasingly attentive to the issues of sustainability and the environment, eager to live an engaging experience in total safety, find in this portal the inspiration to experience an authentic Tuscany: Tastings in the marble quarries or excursions in the saddle of a Donkey, all experiences in contact with the real Tuscany. The proposals on the Federation website are just some of the possible itineraries.
Over time the offer has expanded, and has gone hand in hand with the opportunities for implementing territorial promotion, as has happened thanks to the participation of the Federation in European projects, such as Terragir3, which sees Tuscany, Liguria, Sardinia and Corsica in the creation of joint systems for the promotion of innovative tourism products. Also through unprecedented collaborations between neighboring regions.
Living in Tuscany at 360° is possible thanks, above all, to the professionalism of the operators present in the individual territories. Each of them has a strong link with the place where it operates and is able to immerse the visitor in genuine, “real”, unrepeatable experiences.
The proposals on the portal represent first of all the future of the Tuscan Roads and is one of the development projects we are working on. At the moment, there is a “beta” version of the website which, in the coming months, will be implemented and transformed.
Is wine tourism still winning or is the olive world starting to collect interest?
Individuals and oil mills have been following the path of the cellars, organizing themselves to welcome tourists for some years now. Precisely for this reason we prefer the term “Food and wine tourism” to “wine tourism”. Living Tuscany means immersing yourself in architecture, landscape, people, wine, oil and flavors. In an informal way we are the “Roads”, and the beauty lies precisely in the fact that each territory feels the need to highlight the product that feels most like the one capable of expressing the character of that place. It is the beauty of Tuscany, which is expressed through landscapes ranging from the white of the Carrara quarries to the colors of the sun-scorched lands of the “California” of Livorno, from the green of the Pisan and Florentine hills to the blue of the coast sea, and this not to mention the rows of cypresses, woods, villages, fortified cities, history and all that immense cultural heritage that Tuscany is able to offer, thanks to the foresight of the past centuries, to all those visitors who want to experience it , discover it, whether they do it in a fleeting way or in a passionate way: Tuscany will be able to give them emotions that go beyond the distinction between wine and oil.
Not only wine and oil but also DOP and IGP gastronomic itineraries, which ones in particular?
There are famous realities in the world, but not at home, such as the production of Marradi Brown which is especially appreciated in Japan. The Strada dei Sapori di Marradi helps tourists to discover these products and places thanks to festivals, events, trekking in the woods that draw this particular landscape.
An unexpected Tuscany, all to be discovered. It should also be emphasized that not all territories have chosen to identify themselves in products with a designation of origin or geographical indication, perhaps because the richness and variety of productions that each territory expresses is such as to overcome these patterns, which were important for a past time. , but distant from the thinking that is developing for the future of territorial organicity.
We think that today guided tour initiatives are being developed in the horticultural farms of Pistoia! The creativity of farmers is in constant ferment to us, developers of ideas, the task of giving them the strength of aggregation to amplify and disseminate them.
Federations like yours are necessary in a nation with a high wine tourism vocation such as Italy for the dissemination of our food and wine heritage. Currently, what new opportunities do you think you can benefit from, despite a particular period like the current one? On the contrary, what are still the limits of food and wine tourism, according to your experience?
In a reality like the Italian one, made up largely of small and medium enterprises, the Federation, but above all the Roads, carry out the “institutional” promotion of the reference territories, remaining, in fact, the only subject capable of carrying out in an integrated an information, communication and promotion activity of the individual territories.
The current situation, which favors short-range travel, of small or very small groups, with scheduled visits in close proximity, represents a great opportunity to make our quality production and entrepreneurial realities appreciated and known. Quality is “our” trademark, the common goal to be achieved at all levels. Yesterday was like today.
What has changed and what will still change is the quality of the offer that we will be able to offer. Despite everything (these two years will mark us at least for the next six), there are difficulties and they are in all sectors, but in ours we have a great advantage: we know how to resist. Ours are farmers, they are used to sharing their business with good and bad weather, getting their hands dirty and not being afraid.
Look forward with confidence, correct past mistakes, and try to stick together. Rather than thinking about what is missing for the development of wine tourism, we must think that it is precisely the inadequate vocabulary to represent the thoughts of the traveler of 2030 who will no longer move in single sectors but to bring home emotions, experiences, memories.