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Globalisation and tourism

Di Antonio Caneva English translation Paola Pr, 31 Agosto 2001

I have spent a few days in Corvara, in the Dolomites, to escape the stifling heat of Milan. Like all good tourists, I went to the tourist board to collect a booklet containing information on the place and the programme of available entertainment. It is a well-done and exhaustive publication; on page 13, speaking of handicraft, it reads: “in this time of industrial mass production, interest in handicraft and “popular” art is re-awakening. In Alta Badia, handicraft has always found a fertile ground, its documented production dating back to 1020. From being a mere need, it developed into a form of art. Of particular interest in this connection are sculptures and woven fabrics. We recommend doing your shopping from artisans who display the identification logo of our membership”. Among the entertainment opportunities suggested by the booklet, in addition to mountain hikes, lectures on life in the valleys and band parades, a fair of local handicraft was also included, to be held in Corvara on the 15th of August between 10.00 a.m. and 10 p.m. Based on the above introduction, and knowing how much the local people love their traditions, I was figuring to see fabrics from Val Badia, wooden sculptures from Val Gardena, and more. The fair stalls, on the contrary, only displayed products from Venice, Padua, Verona… The closest place of origin was Rovereto. Then I remembered when – also in Corvara, a few winters ago – I had gone to buy some apples from the main local shop, expecting to find the juicy and fragrant variety of that area, and found that the label was not from Val Venosta or Val di Non, but New Zealand. Tourists are not only attracted by the sights of a place, but also from the various aspects of its local culture. In an article I wrote last year, I praised the revival of local cooking traditions through the organisation of courses for tourists, but this time I surely cannot congratulate Ladin tourism. These are just small and trivial examples of a tourist offer where a mistaken spirit of globalisation penalises local peculiarities and turns into self-inflicted damage. Unfortunately, the symptoms of such a disease are increasingly widespread in our country!

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