Food tourism and foodies in Italy
In Italy, local food production brings to the market more than 4,400 traditional food products officially registered by the Ministry of Agriculture, among which we can find 332 quality wines produced in designated regions plus 118 wines with a typical geographical indication, as well as 265 protected designations of origin (PDO) and protected geographical indications (PGI) for food products. Furthermore, it is possible to find about 531 wine cities, 354 olive oil cities, 225 almond cities and 192 organic farming cities, just to cite few examples. Considering the whole bundle of food and wine cities, the total number of public bodies involved is 2,022. The strong culinary tradition evidenced by these numbers is spread among Italian families, and during the last years those who can be defined as foodies have been reached 5 million, with an increase of 250,000 persons per year. Furthermore, millions of foreign tourists visit Italy every year, with food experience as one of the first motivations for travel. Nevertheless, despite some rough estimation, it is very difficult to exactly define the boundaries of this emerging trend. For this reason, we can call it a “sleeping giant”. During Expo 2015, many cultural events and conference around food, tradition and tourism have been carried out and the topic of the Expo “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” has been an important lever to connect the theme of food and food tourism to the emerging need of sustainable economic development of Mediterranean regions.
The aim of this chapter is to provide an overview of the main initiatives, events and activities currently carried out in Italy in this field and to list a series of best practices, as emerged during Expo 2015. Desk research, participant observation and interviews with key informants who took part in the International Exhibition in Milan have been adopted.