Best Italian Creative Destination Awards is an initiative created by the international organization Creative Tourism Network® with the aim of enhancing and promoting Italian tourist destinations that focus on culture, creativity and intangible heritage to reinvent their tourism model. The call is one of the various projects promoted by the global creative tourism network in 2021, declared by the United Nations “International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development”.
Laterza was awarded as “Best Italian Emerging Creative Destination”
On this occasion, we interviewed the councilor for tourism, Sabrina Sannelli. Laterza was awarded above all for its alternative approach in creating a cultural tourist offer capable of involving the local community, combining the distinctive aspects of the territory in a sustainable and original way, such as gastronomy, nature and crafts and converting its unique traditions in an interesting way of experiencing local culture.
Congratulations for the deserved victory. Why do you think it is important to promote creative/experiential tourism in your destination?
I think that in today’s fast-paced age, there is first and foremost a human need to reconnect with the direct experience of territories and their resources. A walk in the open air in the parks, and I think of our wonderful canyon, the Gravina of Laterza, as well as the direct processing of clay, or bread, allow you to fully immerse yourself in the spirit of the place, in its traditions and customs. The experience allows to connect the tourist to the territory in the strictest sense of the word, and creates a positive memory of the place visited. Laterza has a traditional heritage that allows it to have experiential tourism as a peculiar axis of its tourist offer. (The ceramics of Laterza has been awarded the C.A.T. mark. , by decree of the Ministry of Economic Development of March 1, 2016. Established by Law 188/1990, the Mark C.A.T. protects the fundamental characteristics of production of traditional ceramics with particular characteristics due to the material used, origin, models, styles, shapes, processing and typical decorations).
What are, in your opinion, the intangible heritage resources (gastronomy, traditions, music, crafts, etc.) of your territory with greater tourist potential?
The city of Laterza shines for its majolica art, a typical traditional decoration concerning ceramics characterized by turquoise stylistic elements on white enamel, which make our ceramics a very rare and valuable product. For this reason we are also part of an association (AICC – Italian Association of Ceramic Cities) that enhances all the municipalities that have a long ceramic tradition. The alleys of our old town were once teeming with the activities of master craftsmen. The majolica has experienced its heyday between 600 and 700. Today in Laterza you can experience the lathe and decorative workshops, bringing with them a memory. I still think about the naturalistic heritage that characterizes us. The majestic ravine of Laterza offers paths where you can admire all its rare beauty. I also want to dwell on the possibility of experiencing the territory through the tasting of typical products or their processing (bread, oil, wine and meat on the stove). Ours is a place full of possibilities, if only we think that just 25 km from this beautiful inland area characterized by the Murgia and the ravines is the Ionian coast and its beautiful seaside destinations. Moreover, I cannot not say that at the same distance there is the suggestive city of Matera.
Which of these resources would you like to promote more as it identifies and represents your local culture?
First of all, our beloved Gravina, which acts as a link between the historic center and the suburbs. It makes the historic center of Laterza possess a rare beauty, with the chianche and the little walls that embrace the vegetation. And especially for the precious fauna and flora that inhabit it. Laterza has an office LIPU, just to protect the protected species of the Egyptian vulture. Moreover as already said we want to valorize the majolica, the traditional Apulian music, the production of typical products such as bread, oil and wine. In Laterza there is also a Slow Food convivium.
Considering the various options in your territory, what kind of creative tourist are you aiming at?
On a tourist who wants to be in contact with a place that preserves the authenticity and natural beauty by experiencing the adventure of the cliff through climbing or being guided by a relaxing walk at sunset in front of a breathtaking view. Laterza offers many opportunities, from climbing to birdwatching, but also to hiking walks where you have the chance to appreciate rare flowers. As every Apulian corner in Laterza does not miss the sacred and devotional aspect that allows you to attend, during the festivals of the patron saints, the sacred processions. Moreover in occasion of the same it is possible to see the city embellished from the typical luminarie pugliesi and cases harmonicas.
What are the benefits of creative development in your area?
The possibility of experiencing the traditions and peculiarities of the place through direct contact with them and with the local inhabitants. The offer of the territory must always respect the authenticity of places and allow direct contact between tourists, residents, operators, artisans, traders, so as to enrich the experience at the place and keep an authentic memory.
Do you think that the creative tourism potential (intangible heritage) of Southern Italy is being best exploited to satisfy the South’s need to diversify the tourism offer and consequently deseasonalize traditional tourism?
The goal of deseasonalization is the common intent of the Region and the Municipalities. In a place rich in coastline, it is certainly the primary objective. I must say that in recent times there has been an increase in proximity tourism and an enhancement of inland areas, given the tourist’s need to discover new places, just like Indiana Jones used to search for his treasures. The inland areas still preserve their delicacy far from mass tourism, that’s why Laterza has also joined the project Il Cammino Materano (Hellenic Way) a project conceived and registered by the association In Itinere aps, which was born with the aim of promoting slow tourism, a new model of tourism, deseasonalized and eco-sustainable that allows to enhance from a social, anthropological and economic point of view the inland areas.
For more information about Laterza, click here.
Interview conducted by Ilaria Coribello