Will Sonoma's Slowness Drive Tourism?


In this fast-paced world slow is becoming more and more of a virtue. The wine country town of Sonoma has received an official designation as a "slow city" by Cittaslow, an international group that advocates for a more relaxed way of life. Sonoma is the first place in the United States to win the title partly because the town has sought to create an old-fashioned small-town atmosphere. The Cittaslow network includes 129 towns spread across 29 nations. The town each have populations of less than 50,000 and are evaluated on criteria including environmental management, infrastructure, quality of local historic buildings, parks, local produce, products, craft, and availability of healthy eating.

While a recent NY Times article questioned whether or not the "slow city" label is a sign of a wealthy enclave stuck in a rut, it is hoped that the new title might attract more tourists. After all, these days one of the major reasons people go on vacation is to escape the pace of their hectic lives. Where better to do that than in a town celebrated for its quality of life? A bunch of hotels including the Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa are celebrating the news.

The end of this month might be a good time to visit. CittaSlow President Gianluca Marconi, director of CittaSlow International Pier Giorgio Oliveti and Dr. Paul Knox, professor and senior fellow from Virginia Tech will make an official visit to Sonoma beginning January 26 to tour Sonoma's many "slow" features like wineries, restaurants and community gardens and talk with the community about the slow" philosophy. Slow Food Sonoma Valley, led by Gary Edwards, will host a Slow Soup Supper featuring locally grown winter vegetables.