The new walking routes as an opportunity for cultural tourism in Central Italy
Giovanni BAIOCCHETTI, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy
Dino GAVINELLI, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy
Giacomo ZANOLIN, Università degli Studi di Genova, Italy
This contribution presents a reflection on the meaning that walking routes are gaining nowadays. Along these routes, tourism practices that appear to be crucial for the enhancement of socially, politically and economically marginalized areas are indeed performed; such areas are often endowed with a high tourism potential related to the existence of a relevant environmental, cultural, historical and landscape heritage.
Despite originating from proto-tourism activities among the most ancient ones (such as pilgrimages), the new walking routes phenomenon appears today as a partially new activity that is developing all over Italy, showing a potential opportunity especially for inner regions of the Apennines. These areas are indeed characterized by the presence of a widespread heritage distributed throughout the territory and not necessarily gathered in major urban centers. Due to the presence of walking routes, such heritage acquires a new configuration and a new referential power both of which allow its valorization. Hence, new tourism opportunities are emerging for those spaces that linearly extend for dozens of kilometers interrelating distant and apparently disconnected places. Thanks to the rhetoric prompted by the construction of such routes, these places obtain a clear identity and therefore increase their attractive potential.
In particular, due to a limited international mobility related to the current pandemic phase, the walking routes phenomenon is experiencing a sudden growth for its extraordinary capacity to attract national and proximity tourist flows. In this context, our research outlines a series of reflections to interpret the phenomenon based on field research; the analysis is built on in-depth interviews to private and institutional actors variously involved in the promotion of different walking routes mainly localized in Central Italy.
Keywords: Walking routes|Appennines|Heritage|Marginalized areas|Cultural tourism