All you need is la – part 2

With the frantic pace of daily life on a steady rise, the need for change becomes more urgent. The Slow Living Movement revolts against pop cultural homogenisation and fast-paced living and urges us to protect and support treasured cultural traditions and ways of life. The Slow mission has been adapted to successful and growing social initiatives spanning from Slow Food to Slow Travel, and even Slow Cities.

What is the Slow Cities Movement?

In 1999, inspired by the successful Slow Food Movement, a group of traditional Italian towns banded together in the hopes of protecting and supporting their cultural traditions and heritage, and green and sustainable living, to create global organisation Cittaslow, which literally translates to “Slow city”. Cittaslow recognises the need and value of celebrating and supporting tradition and cultural diversity within towns and cities in order to protect a high quality of easy and enjoyable living.

What makes a city Slow?

The Cittaslow organisation holds the power to assess which cities have the right to be deemed “Slow”, and have developed a Manifesto underlying their core principles and a Charter of Association to be signed by all member cities. Towns or cities may apply to the organisation to gain Cittaslow status, and may achieve such if they meet the requirements outlined in the Manifesto upon assessment and inspection. The high quality of green and sustainable life enjoyed in Slow towns and cities is achieved and maintained by the collective community that strives to protect and preserve its distinctive features and surrounding environment, ensure the environmentally-friendly use of land, preserve history and heritage, support the production and consumption of organic foods, promote products and practices with their roots in tradition and encourage widespread friendliness and hospitality.

According to the international Cittaslow Manifesto, a Slow town is “brought to life by people who make time to enjoy a quality of life…blessed with quality public spaces, theatres, shops, cafes, inns, historic buildings, and unspoiled landscapes…where traditional craft skills are in daily use, and where the slow, beneficial succession of the seasons is reflected in the availability of local produce, in season. Where healthy eating, healthy living and enjoying life are central to the community.”

As of 2009, there were over 100 recognised and idyllic Slow cities across the world, mostly located in Europe. Even for the cities and towns that do not quite meet membership requirements, the movement initiated by the establishment of the Cittaslow organisation supports slow, green, sustainable, enjoyable living. It encourages people everywhere to slow down and appreciate and preserve a higher quality of life supported by community values and tradition in an age of materialism and superficiality.

Cittaslow around the world

Katoomba, Australia

The Australasian Network of Cittaslow was established in March of 2007 when Goolwa in South Australia and the Blue Mountains were inspected by Cittaslow delegates and declared Cittaslow towns. The World Heritage environment, vibrant arts community, eclectic range of cafes and restaurants, historic buildings and unique small businesses that famously characterise Katoomba are all the same elements that demonstrate the community’s Cittaslow commitment to preserving its unique and highly traditional way of life.

Nördlingen, Germany

The town of Nördlingen in Bavaria, Germany is located in the middle of an enormous meterorite crater called the Nordlinger Ries, and is famously Slow for its rich historical heritage. The impact that caused the Nördlinger Ries crater created an estimated 72000 tons of diamonds when it impacted a local graphite deposit. As a tribute, stone buildings in the town contain millions of tiny diamonds, all less than 0.2 millimeters across. Notably, Nordlinger’s 90-metre steeple Daniel, part of Saint Georg’s Church, is made of an impact breccia called suevite containing shocked quartz. Other historic buildings include the town hall (13th century), St. Salvator church and the Spital, a former medieval hospital. The remains of a Roman castellum, built in the year 85AD and probably called Septemiacum, have been found under the city.

This historic town also holds its place in popular culture – in the final scenes of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Nördlingen was the town shown as the glass elevator floated into the sky.

Positano, Italy

Positano on Italy’s beautiful Amalfi Coast is one of the original Italian Cittaslow towns, famous for its magnificent Slow food. Local restauranteurs pride themselves on using only locally grown organic products in the creation of delicious and homely traditional foods.

Set amid dramatic natural scenery, ledges of land and traditional architecture cascade into a deep blue sea below. Positano’s beauty is to be truly savoured and admired only by way of Slow living and travel. Driving is restricted in many parts of the city, but who wants to drive when strolling the quaint and cosy streets allows for a greater appreciation of the magnificent views?

Sonoma Valley, California

Sonoma Valley is the birthplace of the California wine industry and often called The Valley of the Moon. Sonoma Valley is home to some of the earliest vineyards and wineries in the state of California, some of which survived the phylloxera epidemic of the 1870s and the impact of Prohibition. The wineries are set against rolling hills and valleys that provide breathtaking natural backdrops for wine tasting and Slow exploration. Sonoma Valley offers a wide range of local year round festivals and events, including the prestigious Sonoma Valley Film Festival, as a celebration of Slow living shared with welcome visitors.

For the Slow traveller seeking new cultural exploration, or for anyone needing to unwind and slow down a little, Slow cities offer the perfect getaway destinations. For the full list of Slow cities, or further information on the Cittaslow organisation or movement, visit

The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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