No doubt, you have heard of the Slow Food Movement, but you may not know that it began in Italy with the forerunner organization, Arcigola, which was organized in 1986 to resist the opening of a McDonald’s near the Spanish Steps in Rome. Three years later the manifesto of the Slow Food movement was signed in Paris by delegates from 15 countries.
At that point the organization broadened as an organization force against big international business interests. Today, it has more than 100,000 members with chapters in over 150 countries. Eight hundred localized convivia chapters exist with 360 of these in Italy. Each convivium of local supporters has a leader who is responsible for promoting local artisans, local farmers, and local flavors through regional events such as Taste Workshops, wine tastings, and farmers’ markets.
Although Slow Food events happen every day somewhere in the world, the big one, Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre, will take place October 25-29 in Turin, Italy. Salone del Gusto is actually a biennial international event and this year expects to draw more than 200,000 visitors to Turin as well as literally thousands of small food producers from all other the world.
Visitors will have a unique opportunity to discover and taste the products and cuisines of the Slow Food network worldwide and to attend some of the hundreds of Taste Workshops, conferences, Theater of Taste events and more. If there is a special Foodie heaven, this has to be it.
This is the ninth edition of the Salone and the fourth edition of Terra Madre. The latter is a network launched by Slow Food to give a greater voice and increased visibility to small-scale farmers, breeders, fishers and food artisans around the world whose approach to food production protects the environment and communities. It brings them together with academics, cooks, consumers and youth groups so that they can join forces in working to improve the food system. More than 2,000 Terra Madre food communities have been formed around the world.
Of course, there are other reasons other than food to take a trip to Turin. Museums have to be placed high on the list. Turin is Italy’s automobile capital (home of Fiat) and their big car museum, The Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile di Torino, just reopened last year after four years and 33 million Euros of renovations and expansions. It showcases almost 200 original automobiles produced by 80 different brands, ranging between 1769 and 1996.
Less than three hours away in the city of Modena you will find the new Museo Ferrari that opened back in March and is devoted to all things Ferrari. The centerpiece of the collection is an exhibition of Ferraris, which span the spectrum from the very first 125 S, built in 1947, to current models. The Ferrari Museum also features a unique collection of memorabilia, trophies, photographs and exhibitions, which tell the story of one of the most famous car brands on the planet. About 200 miles southeast of Turin in Bologna you can also visit the home of Lamborghini (about a 3 hour drive).
However, shifting away from automobiles, Turin has a wide cultural range of museums that appeal to many different interests. The Cinema Museum pays tribute to the fact that Turin in addition to its many other historical claims is also where Italian cinema got its start. And, there is no shortage of art to explore in Turin.
The Biblioteca Reale features work from Leonardo da Vinci while the Galleria d’arte Moderna has one of Italy’s best collections of modern and contemporary art. Turin even has a puppet museum and a museum totally dedicated to fruit. Either side of your Salone del Gusto events there is not the slightest chance that you won’t be fully entertained.
Airfares between LAX and Turin are under $1,100 from a number of different carriers and a search of hotels.com turns up a selection of three and four star hotels in the $100 to $150 per night range even for the week of Salone del Gusto.
These include the Hotel Diplomatic and the NH Ambasciatori. You can find others on venere.com and expedia.com. These selections will thin out as the date for this huge event approaches.
All in all, a trip to Turin in October should be a pleasant one with temps in the crisp range of mid-forties to mid-sixties. The central part of the city is pure eye-candy for those who love baroque architecture. It is the perfect place to enjoy coffee drinks and exquisite pastries in the morning and in the afternoon an apéritivo, invented here back in 1786, when Benedetto Carpano created vermouth by flavouring white wine with herbs and spices. Happily, big buffets are often included with the price of a cocktail. So cheers, to great food and drinks and a great food event experience.
For more information visit slowfood.com, terramadre.org, museoauto.it and museo.