Slow city is not just saying used for certain cities but it is the name of a movement. It has started in the city of Toskana of Italy. The supporters of the movement advocate that there should not be any vehicle traffic within the city premises as well as no supermarkets, shopping malls or even fast food chain restaurants such as McDonalds; basically almost all there is about consumer capitalism. The movement speculates that by prohibiting such establishments cities will become more liveable. The movement that has started in Italy, where the renaissance lifestyle has originated from, the country of “La dolce vita” (sweet life), has now moved other parts of the world including Asia. The symbol of the cities those have earned this title has been the one of the slowest animals of the animal kingdom, that is, as you might imagine, “the snail”.
The first phrase used for the slow city term was its original Italian version “Citta Slow”. Other relatively small Italian cities such as Bra, Positano and Orvieto have followed this trend. Examples from another major European country that is Germany include Hersbruck, Ludinghausen, Waldkirch, Uberlingen and Schwarzenbruck. Today, there are 42 cities that are entitled “Slow City” in Italy and many others in other countries of Europe such as England, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Poland, Norway, etc. It is not surprising that the movement has started in Italy, since the said Italian cities are already known with their slow lifestyles and their cuisines, which require a lot of effort and time. Characteristics of these cities include no rushes or hurries anywhere, no overworking hours, more holidays and more time to rest for everyone.
What are the Criteria to Become a “Slow City”?
Slow city declaration includes more than 50 criteria and commitment beginning from saying no to noise pollution, traffic jams, implementing a ban on bright advertisement boards and/or billboards, increasing green fields and areas that the passengers can use on foot, supporting the shops those produce local products and the others that use these local products such as local restaurants, promotion of organic food, adapting the school education to include elements of quality and aesthetic lifestyle, and protecting the local aesthetic elements.
The primary criterion to become a slow city is to have a population that is less than fifty thousand people, which makes sense when considering that there is no traffic allowed within the city premises. Otherwise it would take a whole lot to achieve this criterion in metropolitan cities.
Other criteria include setting and strict implementation of any rules to preserve the traditional structure of these small cities via removing vehicles from within the city premises for instance. Other criteria include consumption of local products only and use of sustainable energy.
For this reason, slow cities take advantage of the new technology and innovations while attempting to preserve the authenticities of the cities dating back to the Renaissance or to the Middle Ages in general. An example is the electronic doors, which allow the passage of only passengers and not vehicles. Another system has already been implemented in the city of inclined tower, Pisa, where the cameras detect whether the parking time has been exceeded, which in that case a fine is issued even if the violation is just for one minute. Urbino University has become the official advisor of the Citta Slow organization in their quest of bringing technology and authenticity together.
After all the said criteria have been complied, inspectors inspect the candidate cities and then regularly audit the slow cities for them to be able to maintain their “slow city” status.
Slow city movement is also seen as a movement against globalization, which is why it is not surprising to see that it is more popular in more developed areas of the world. Citizens of the cities of certain countries that have been entitled as “developed countries” for quite some time basically try to address their tiredness from the rapid, violent and tiring lifestyle of today’s globalized consumerist economy driven capitalism. Therefore, it would not be realistic to expect the same trend to become widespread at least not at the same level in the developing or udnerdeveloped countries.