Italy is especially known for its interesting Roman past, iconic historical sites, and delicious local cuisine. As a premier destination for travelers from all over the world, the demand for ecotourism in the country has risen and Italy has done well in accommodating sustainable travel. The country plays host to the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, making preservation a key component in the country’s tourism sector. Cooking with local produce and serving regional wines further contributes to the pride in maintaining traditional, yet eco-friendly agricultural practices. Visit Italy and experience an environmentally conscious holiday where sustainability is an already inherent practice.
Cinque Terre is a popular region with centuries-old seaside villages that dot along the Riviera Coast. Famous for its vineyards, terraces, seafood and pesto, the region experienced an upsurge of visitors recently and has adopted initiative projects to help tourists learn about the impact of tourism in small villages, like the ones found in Cinque Terre. While the more classic experiences of walking, hiking, biking, and food and wine tours are in abundance, alternative activities focusing on ecotourism are also available. Get involved and help locals build stone walls to preserve historic and scenic sites to lend your hand to sustainability.
Slow Food in Piedmont
In the region of Piedmont, there is a growing movement of sustainable tourism promoting Slow Food. Taking the opposite approach of fast food, the Slow Food movement promotes local food and traditional cooking in attempts to preserve regional cuisine. As the birthplace of the Slow Food movement, various eco-friendly resorts, accommodations, and tour agencies are available in Piedmont for travelers looking to have a unique culinary experience that features sustainable food practices.
One of the country’s many UNESCO sites, the Dolomites are a stunning mountain range of nearly 20 peaks that stretches over 500 miles. Featuring beautiful lakes and popular ski and snowboard resorts, the Italian Alps offer a large variety of outdoor and eco-friendly activities. The Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park, in particular, invites visitors to keep in mind the importance of natural and historic preservation. Book from a wide variety of green accommodations and resorts and supplement your eco-friendly visit with walking, hiking, climbing, or cycling through stunning landscapes. A good tip for any environmentally conscious outdoorsman is to use reusable water bottles or canteens to stay hydrated.
Visit the Italian-Swiss border to see Italy’s famed Lake District featuring lakes Lugano, Maggiore, Como, Iseo, and Garda. Lake Garda, in particular, is internationally known for its water sports, cycling paths, and surrounding hiking trails that provide amazing views. Summertime in the Italian Lake district can be quite crowded so be sure to book in advance or opt to visit during other seasons. A number of green accommodations including eco-friendly B&B’s and bio-hotels that use energy-saving technologies are available.
For a more off-the-beaten-track experience, head to the Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily. A volcanic island chain, the rustic charm and peaceful tranquility of island life are sure to soothe even the most active travelers. That said, the volcanic island chain offers a wide range of outdoor and eco-friendly activities ranging from swimming in the sea, hiking up a volcano, canoeing, snorkeling, and diving. Take a sailboat tour to make the most of your time and explore all seven islands. See how some of the lesser-inhabited islands are protected, offering only environmentally-friendly accommodation to keep the wilderness as pristine as possible.
As a general tip, when partaking in water sports consider using eco-friendly sunscreens not harmful to the water and marine life.
Being environmentally conscious in a busy city can sometimes be a difficult task, especially in one as bustling as Rome. While walking or cycling between destinations can help reduce your carbon footprint, simple decisions can also make an impact. When in Rome, choose to eat at Roman owned and operated restaurants that use produce from the region. Avoid taxis and take public transportation where possible, be aware of the local trash disposal and recycling systems, and refill your water bottles at public fountains found throughout the city. From the Colosseum to the Trevi Fountain, help keep Rome “the Eternal City” with eco-friendly actions.