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Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 19:46 GMT 20:46 UK
Easy living in Slow capital
The market at Greve
Greve's market is the focus of commercial life
By Shirin Wheeler in Greve, Italy

A movement to slow down the pace of life and protect local traditions is gaining support across Italy.

It all started in Greve, in Italy's Chianti country, but 70 Italian towns and small cities have now joined the Slow City Movement, which aims to counteract the effect of big business and globalisation by promoting small-scale industry and traditional products.

Sergio Ballini
Sergio Ballini: Chianti maker, and guardian of local culture
A prime example of what the movement aims to preserve is the San Cresci vineyard, where Sergio Ballini's family has been growing the grape for seven generations.

San Cresci is the smallest of the Chianti Classico labels, and Signor Ballini says businesses like his are under threat from the multinationals and industrialised farming.

Slow stew

If they disappear he says the loss for the region will be profound.

Grilled steak
The Slow movement is not vegetarian
"It will take away that slice of the culture that is original, that is connected with this place and with the countryside," he says.

Protecting traditions and savouring a slower pace of life has become a mission for many in Greve.

In the kitchen of the Giovanni da Verrazzano restaurant they make Tuscan stews and sauces that take time - four hours in the case of the Stracotto della Chianti Classico, Otorina the chef says proudly.

Unfortunately in this world of the internet we consume everything so fast

Rosella Rossi,
restaurant manager
It's a rich dish of pine nuts, raisins and garlic clinging to wine soaked meat - no fast food fixes here (see below for recipe).

Manager Rosella Rossi says taking it easy in and outside the kitchen is what the Slow City movement is all about.

"The important thing is to save not just our old traditions of cooking but also to recover a lost dimension to life - something a bit calmer, less frenetic," she says.

"Unfortunately in this world of the internet we consume everything so fast."

Listening mayor

The mayor of Greve, Paolo Saturnini, is another who is committed to protecting local industry and tradition from the excesses of big business - indeed the Slow City movement is his brainchild.

We want to save the souls of our cities, our traditions and our history

Paolo Saturnini,
Greve mayor
Part of that is being there for the people, he says.

Every Saturday morning he listens to their worries at the town hall just off the main piazza.

"We want to save the souls of our cities, our traditions and our history," he says of the philosophy of his movement.

Butcher slices roast pig
Citizens seem happy to put a brake on the pace of modern life
"That means the environment, the countryside and our cuisine."

So far Mr Saturnini's policies mean it is not the superstore but the weekly market that remains the centre of Greve's commercial life.

Local business and traditional produce are promoted by the town council.

Development is limited by strict planning and environment laws.

Natural rhythm

A local butcher at his stall slices a whole roast pig still steaming as tourists and locals alike watch transfixed.

Opposite at the cheese stall a long queue is forming for the Parmesan and Pecorino. With the deep purple of plums, scarlet tomatoes - it's a riot of colour.

Greve market scene
The market: A riot of colour
The citizens of Greve seem happy enough to put the brakes on the pace of modern life.

"It's about rediscovering the value of living with a natural rhythm," says one woman shopper.

"Going back to the old ways would be fantastic, just fantastic," says the cheese seller.

At the Fornacina terracotta factory just outside Greve they pound clay into huge moulds. Shelves of pots, vases and ceramic cherubins fill the small workshop.

Carmine Buonocore, 23, set up the small factory three years ago.

Preserving the old ways will depend on younger people like him.

"This clay has a value of its own that I think will always be there," he says.

"People have been working with it for years and years and will always recognise that."

By cherishing the past, supporters of the Slow Cities movement hope not just to preserve its beauty but to rekindle a calmer spirit in modern life.

  • Stracotto al Chianti Classico

    Beat garlic, parsley, and two hot chillies, 100g of raisins, and 100g of pine kernels with a little salt and pepper.

    Stuff 1kg of shoulder of beef with the mix, making sure to tie the meat very tightly.

    Chop four onions and five carrots into a big deep pot and pour over 0.25 litres of olive oil. Place the meat to cook on this bed of vegetables and cook slowly, occasionally adding water or meat stock.

    When the meat is half-cooked (after an hour or so) cover the meat with a bottle of Chianti Classico and cook slowly for another hour.

    Then add 300g of pine kernels and 300g of raisins and allow the meat to cook for a final 30 minutes.

    When properly cooked it should be a deep brown colour and the sauce should be rich and quite thick.

    Cut the Stracotto into even thick slices and serve covered with the sauce. The dish can be accompanied with cannellini beans, spinach or oven roasted onions.

  • See also:

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    Is fast food bad for Europe?
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    Chirac slams US food domination
    14 Apr 00 | e-cyclopedia
    Globalisation: What on Earth is it about?
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