Food and wine tourism is a journey for both the body and the spirit.
It is a journey exploring the origins of well-being that awakens us to a deeper sense of our needs, at the level of health and pleasure, security and identity.
We are nourished by food, air and impressions. Our instinct is to explore the roots of everything that makes us what we are, including our relationship with the land.
There is a more pressing need for us to rediscover the thread that binds us to nature, and to look at how the earth transforms light, air and human care into nourishment.
We therefore must seek to nourish ourselves with genuine artisan products and foods with a recognised origin, to give ourselves new energy by exploring products and places that have managed to maintain their special character and negotiate the complexities of the modern world.
Our wish to travel has never been stronger, but there is also a new awareness that it is possible to explore the world better by gaining knowledge and experience of the ecosystem that nourishes us: in other words, by taking a step back to observe it and appreciate how it changes both itself and ourselves. And thereby determine which journey leads to a more important place.
The modern food explorer looks at several maps at the same time: he knows that to truly appreciate the food of a certain place involves forming a symbiotic relationship with nature, and a bond of mutual respect with man caring for what cares for him.
The traditional wisdom is right in this respect; the gourmets of the past were aware of it and were more in touch with the cultural and poetic aspects and the multi-sensory experience. Today’s generation also know it, but are more practical in their approach, pleasing one sense at a time; and they are more critical and analytical, preferring facts to stories.
The 2023 Report of the Italian Association of Food and Wine Tourism looks at the desires and motivations of those who choose a holiday, or even just a weekend break, which focuses on the origins of taste and those common practices that are rooted in traditional culture: the farmer’s expertise that has been handed down through the generations.
According to the Report, people are now increasingly keen to understand what they put on their plate; and in addition to the experience of tasting and exploring the lifestyle of rural businesses, there is a real wish to have more information about the nutritional value of the product, and advice about psychophysical well-being.
For years now, oil producers have been recreating the sort of initiatives that originated in the world of wine, welcoming the passage of tourists in the olive groves which seem suspended in time. They have shown them round their oil mills, which now use new, sustainable technology to transform the energy of the plant into food, sharing their passion for a difficult job for which they have an innate affinity.
As a visit to the cellar is a feature of wine tourism, so oil and food tourism always includes a visit to the mill: it is here you can hear the great “roar” of the freshly pressed oil pouring out of the separator and breathe in its pungent aroma, the ultimate reward for so much effort.
There is a growing desire to explore the lands of olive groves, maybe cycling along the white country roads and stopping now and again to draw breath (and a drizzle of oil always helps). This desire accompanies a search for well-being, which involves listening carefully to your body: perhaps taking part in aerial yoga sessions; adopting the more traditional approach and relaxing in a wellness centre on an olive estate; enjoying the restorative properties of the fruit such as in the form of cosmetic treatments; and savouring delicious meals to the sound of cicadas.
This symphony of the senses takes you to a whole new level of consciousness, producing the sort of “peak experience” that only a combination of beauty, tradition and nature can bring, when the intellect is switched off for a few moments and precious energy is put into store.
It is for these reasons, and for a wish to hear the stories of those who care for the land and its fruits, together with a wish to taste and enjoy them with all one’s senses, that food and wine tourism will play a more significant role in people’s lives.