Preserving the authenticity of food and wine festivals: the case of Italy

Cristina Santini, Alessio Cavicchi, Eleonora Belletti


In the last ten years, the Academy has fostered the scientific debate over typical food products and their role in the development of rural communities and rural tourism. Background research define terroir as a harmonious bundle of territorial, climatic, historical and cultural characteristics which belong to a certain region. According to UNESCO, food and wine festivals are part of the intangible cultural heritage: during festivals product knowledge is spread among participants and local communities and local products become a powerful tool for disseminating the culture of a place. For many years in Italy there has been a growth in the number of food festivals: tourists in their journeys seek for authentic expression of local traditions and communities. Nevertheless, attracted by profits and by the availability of new demand, many actors have jumped into the business of culinary events and the outcome has been a proliferation of festivals who are not tied to the surrounding cultural heritage and offer products that do not originate from the area where events take place. This situation can damage seriously the territory by affecting its credibility, arming the carrying capacity, and by compromising the authentic tourism attractions and the exploitation of local economic resources by rural communities. This paper describes the recent case of the national agreement among public administrations, trade and hospitality associations and local farmers to develop some codes of practices to discipline the complexity of food and wine festivals, by adopting food safety principles and preserving environmental, historical and cultural authenticity.

Secondo l’UNESCO, i festival enogastronomici fanno parte del patrimonio culturale intangibile: durante questi eventi, la conoscenza del prodotto viene diffusa tra i partecipanti e le comunità locali e così i prodotti locali diventano uno strumento importante per divulgare la cultura di un determinato luogo. Per molti anni in Italia c’è stata una crescita nel numero di festival enogastronomici e nuovi attori, attratti dai facili profitti, sono entrati nel settore. Il risultato è stato la proliferazione di festival tutt’altro che “autentici”, dove vengono offerti prodotti non originari del luogo in cui l’evento si tiene. Questa situazione può danneggiare gravemente il territorio pregiudicandone la credibilità, alterandone la capacità di carico e compromettendo le attrazioni turistiche autentiche così come lo sfruttamento delle risorse locali da parte delle comunità rurali. Dopo aver introdotto il ruolo dei prodotti tipici (cibo e vino) nello sviluppo di un’esperienza turistica autentica, l’articolo descrive il recente caso dell’accordo nazionale tra pubbliche amministrazioni, associazioni del commercio e del turismo e organizzazioni di agricoltori per sviluppare alcune linee guida al fine di disciplinare la complessità dei festival enogastronomici, adottando rigidi principi di sicurezza alimentare e preservando l’autenticità culturale storica e ambientale dei luoghi.

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