Presentation Vice President Rodenburg Heritage Conference Amsterdam


Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for attending this workshop. I hope it will give you some interesting perspectives for you based upon my work in the cittaslow movement.


My name is Arnoud Rodenburg. I live in the Netherlands and I am representing the international network of cittaslow. This organization was founded in 1999 in Italy and the mission is to be aware of the qualities of your community and develop them in the best way possible. With special attention to keep the tradition alive and make the best combinations out of the past through innovation. The community of Midden-Delfland joined the cittaslow movement in 2008 after a discussion about our city future with inhabitants and stakeholders. I am the mayor of Midden-Delfland, a beautiful place between Rotterdam and the Hague, “the green area” in a highly urbanized region and since 2010 vice president of cittaslow international or like the Italian say: “presidente vicario”.

3- Meeting eachother

Let me start with an observation, a question. When your visit on your city trip one of our famous places in the world, like Amsterdam, Venice or Barcelona, it may be possible that you are filled with lots of negative impulses, too many tourists, so massive. Then you will choose definitely one of the streets behind the main squares and there you will find more characteristic places, with authenticity. You may meet the residents telling the real stories of the town. And that is what we are looking for during our holiday nowadays, the history of the town and the people who are the basis of the community. These experiences are really important.

These impressions are the pictures for your photo gallery on Facebook, these impressions are the stories to remember, these impressions make your holiday unforgettable. Please keep in mind these impressions, then you will realize that slow tourism could be a new path in the world of travelling around the world. Small is beautiful. It takes time to enjoy real quality. Quality of life, that’s is the world of cittaslow.


My presentation is on behalf of our organization of Cittaslow. I would like to speak about several items. First I tell you something about the history of our international network. Then I will present to you the philosophy of cittaslow. After this I speak about identity, heritage and especially about the opportunities of slow tourism. I have some examples from our cittaslow movement, where identity was the main road to create added value to the city and the tourist attraction of it. When we have time I could present a short video and before closing this session we have a short discussion or you can ask some questions. It is up to you. Okay?


In 1999 four mayors in Italy founded the cittaslow movement. They noticed in Italy, the country of tradition, good food, slow food and family values, an upcoming new life style. Fast food, always in a hurry and mass tourism. That was not the ideal of these mayors. The mayors were extremely aware of the qualities of their cities and were discussing the negative development with the colleagues. When you lose the qualities of your city, your city is about to die. So it was time to organize some countervailing power on the world of fastliving: citta (the Italian word for city) and slow. Together: one word Cittaslow. The founding mayors of Greve in Chianty (Saturnini, the honorary president), Bra, Orvieto and Positano realized a new movement with accreditation by assessment and reassessment and is striving for high quality in the participating cities. The quality system was born.


Municipalities which join the association are motivated by curious people of a recovered time, where man is still protagonist of the slow and healthy succession of seasons , respectful of citizens’ health , the authenticity of products and good food, rich of fascinating craft traditions of valuable works of art, squares, theaters, shops, cafés, restaurants, places of the spirit and unspoiled landscapes, characterized by spontaneity of religious rites, respect of traditions through the joy of a slow and quiet living.


Nowadays the organization counts 220 member in 30 countries in the world. In the Netherlands we have now 8 members. In total the inhabitants in the participating Cittaslows are about 3 million. You can see on this sheet the variety of our participating members, but all in their characteristics are focusing on the highest quality on their unique “selling points”.


First of all, you must be aware of the qualities of your city. Awereness is the beginning, development is the next step in cittaslow working and doing. When you see the examples of the awful coastal areas in Spain or Turkey you recognize the effects of the opposite of slow tourism. The mass tourism is demolishing the former landscape quality and social structures, the stories of the city and landscape only exist in the booklets and tourist guides. Only the owners of the big hotels earn their money. The local population is disappearing from the touristic podium.

The second step is , when we are aware of the unique qualities, recognize them and be willing of preservingthem. Also important to innovate, to increase these in the best way there is. For instance landscape and history, the former functions from the middle ages, you want to protect the identity when you can still see it.

The last step but not the least, is improving the quality. You may be able to invest in your landscape, to invest in mobility in that way you can reach the beautiful places easily by bike, in Holland for instance, but also investing in quality of historic buildings, restoring and showing these quality improvements to your visistors.


With the cittaslow approach we are every moment able to tell stories about our heritage. Our history is very important to know, we can understand the day of today. Our monumental buildings tell the stories from our parents, our grandparents etc. you can learn a lot about this cultural heritage. Lots of stories can be told. We give our monuments a “speaking voice”. Who were living in it, how did the people do their business, what was the situation before constructing the building? To help visitors to learn about the monument or part of the monument, a bridge or part of the landscape we introduced the QR code and launched a website especially for monuments in Midden-Delfland. We placed certain little shields at the doorsite of the monument and place the QR code so that everyone can read on the smartphone the story of the building.


Another possibility to learn about our cultural heritage is to organize walkings, tours along the monuments. In Midden-Delfland we organize every year tours for children and their classes. They visit monuments in our villages and some actors tell the story of hundred years ago, to make the children aware of their history on local scale, the place where they live. We call it children s heritage day.



And now the basis of slow tourism. It is the full emersion of the place you visit. Take your time instead of being taken by the time. Not being in a hurry, but organize quality time. It is about the very authentic values, you may recognize in original buildings, specific monumental details on ships, bridges. But you can also recognize the original streetnames, like the bakkerstraat, paardenbrug, kerkstraat, herenstraat). But also the landscape and his characteristic details, `from the middelages, the old parceling of the land of the Roman decade for instance.

13- slow tourism (2)

In Cittaslow we are fully aware of making connections between cittaslows based upon common values. So new arrangements between cittaslows are being prepared. A new touristmarket will be opened from now on.


Cittaslow is not only about food, like slow food, but food and regional products are important of course. The Italian food tradition is quite different from the Dutch, but we cannot forget our own boterham with cheese. We gave it recently a new impulse during one of our cittaslow activities in Milan. During the Worldexpo, named “feeding the planet, energy for life”, we presented our real Dutch farmers power lunch. Originally, produced by people in Midden-Delfland. New product, but based upon tradition of our farmers identity.


Another example to present are the historical tours, walking paths through our landscape, that show you the history, for example the canals to Delft and the towing routes. In former days the vegetables from the farmers, but also the milk have been transported by typical Dutch boats, barges pulled by horses. Now there is an annual event the Midden-Delfland boat and sailing event. No horses, but e team of Friends ore businessclubs who put forward the boat when there is no wind. The history is alive, the old historical details, bridges with decending rails on the canalside because of the towing ropes are showed during this event.


A new event is the tour with sloop through the historic centre of one of our villages. New boats, but very attractive to use and enjoy the beautiful houses. The owners of the houses now are extra aware of keeping their houses in the best conditions and show them better than before. Also shops and other entrepreneurs see their chances and take them.


Years ago, Pollica in the south of Italy was a traditional poor fishermansvillage. One of the fisherman, Angelo Vassallo became the mayor of the community. The Italian called him “sindaco pescatore”. The mayor and fisherman started a new way of politics, not the administration, not the power politics of the Italy we know, but real citizen oriented politics. It is all about future of the traditional population.


I said before, the fishermen were poor, the facilities in the little harbor were as poor as all the buildings, marketplaces and churches. There was no tourism, it was certainly not the place to be. But the mayor recognized however the qualities of his place, the green hills very authentic, the coastal area and the beautiful deep blue clean sea with his own history and traditional fishers. And of course there are plenty of possibilities when you take this in mind. It could become a paradise on earth, not by creating something new. But being aware of the existing values, preserving them and renovate and innovate. Real cittaslow thinking and doing.

He invested with European money in the harbor, the community bought the harbor places and realized better infrastructure for the fishermen. The tradition of fish got an impulse, more facilities in the harbor appeared, there was more money to earn, they invested in renovating churches, renovated traditional places. The fishermen and their families on the other hand, started investing in restaurants and even the Mediterranean Diet appears. Special see food, more healthy tan other food.


Now awarded by the UNESCO. Food and especially fish is very important now, but when you realize that these fishermen also clean up the sea some times a year, you enjoy even more your meal.


And the politics of Pollica are focused on the preservation of the landscape, the green hills remain as beautiful as they were. A real paradise on the Italian part of the earth. No big hotels, but small B&B in the hillyside of Pollica. That’s were Cittaslow stand for, keeping the tradition alive, investing in and let increase the quality of life.

You see the pictures, now it is a beautiful place. The tragedy was that the mayor died in 2010 because of a mafia shooting. People say it was because of his strong fight against the mafia and people who invest in the area by demolishing the beauty of the landscape and introduced drugs related tourism. The new mayor continues the political approach of Vassallo. The mayor is the president of our organization of Cittaslow International.



During my speech I gave some examples how to use your identity based values, the awareness of these qualities and how to use these talents in the most precautious way. Innovation and tradition, it is a very attractive combination. I am sure that this is the basis of a little story you will hear when you visit one of our cittaslows. So, when I try to give a the short summary, I have 5 points:

1 Use your identity, with local support, the people who live here and work in the region. It is the warm way of city marketing, the most honest story to tell.

2 hospitality is very important, the most important attitude, hospitality is a way of living, it is a verb. It asks for action, not lay back in a lazy chair

3 use your identity and products where you are proud of. So we were on the Expo Milan. With our dutch farmers powerlunch, a new product but so real Dutch, a boterham with cheese, salad,etc . to present the taste of Midden-Delfland. Like the fish is in Pollica, the Mediterranean diet.

4 create arrangements, work together to realize an experience in a livable landscape

5 working together on a common goal, it makes your society stronger, it brings up some chances to take, to invest and to get return on these investments. The small pieces of quality come together in a chain of slow living. And to get there and to feel it as an alternative for Amsterdam of for a day trip after having visited Amsterdam you must travel to a Cittaslow. In that way slow tourism is a new path to visit all the little pieces of happiness in the world. And give prosperity to both visitor as inhabitants in the end.

Cittaslow, smart power in tourism

All our 230 members in cittaslow have a lot of examples and good practices, based on local identity. The coming week and months we are working on a special slow tourism offer to present in June during our general assembly in Portugal. All national networks are working together to present their national touristic plan based on cittaslow principals. So that the Korean not only visit the city of Amsterdam, but directly go by bus to one of the slow cities in the Netherlands or Europe when they have time.