February 11, 2009


Dear Blog friends, Welcome back to the Life Beyond Tourism® Blog!!

Life Beyond Tourism® is back in activity, and hopes that your had a good start of the year!

We would like to share with you a very interesting event that we have recently participated in!

From the 15th to the 19th of January 2009 we attended the first edition of the JOSP Festival in Rome! JOSP stays for Journey of the Spirits, and it was organized by the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, the Vatican’s institutional unit of the Vicariate of Rome, Department of the Holy See. The JOSP Fest celebrated not simply the pilgrimage, but particularly any traveling experience that “stimulates and contributes” to one’s spiritual and cultural growth. We could  met with a various number of public such as tourist industry’s operators, Italian and international Institutions, and students.

Did you participate in the JOSP Fest? Did you ever make a pilgrimage or a trip that particularly inspired you? Tell us your story!

November 20, 2008

“Degree and Profession” and The Tourist City


From the 14th to the 19th of March took place  the first “International Regional Festival – Degree & Profession” in Baku, Azerbaijan, on the subject of  Traditional Islamic Architecture.
Participants from 6 countries came together for four days to listen to conferences and discuss regarding the Architecture and the Conservation of Heritage.
The energy of more then 100 participants, students, graduates, professionals and professors created an event that will be a milestone for the Romualdo Del Bianco Foundation, and its mission “For Intercultural Dialogue – Life Beyond Tourism”, showing how coming together under a common goal can break down the barriers.

More than 25 degree project were presented (Degree, Master, and PhD), and winners were selected to come to Florence for a stage-period: Timur Kiryashov, Nurlan Koishanbaev, Leyla Shiraliyeva and Cavid Mammadov.

Baku is the 2009 Capital of  Islamic Culture!!


Florence, Italy

Dear Blog Friends,

Last week in Florence the Romualdo Del Bianco Foundation promoted an International Festival called Degree & Profession, an important meeting for students, graduates, companies, professors, universities and professionals having the chance to share their own knowledge and experiences.

This Festival was rich of conferences, workshops, and other interesting events related to the worlds of school, workculture, architecture, and, of course, TOURISM.
In particular, there was a very interesting workshop about tourism which was intitled The Tourist City, conducted by the Professor Ray Hutchinson from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, U.S.A.


Tbilisi, Georgia

The participants to this workshop were people from all over the world, coming from Georgia, America, Italia, Iran, Estonia, Serbia, Russia, etc., and they were all experts in the field of tourism. Their works were all about the relation between their cities of origin and tourism, in the sense that tourism is a very important aspect for the growth of their economy and for a social and cultural growth too.


New York, U.S.A

It was very interesting to notice how different was the approach of each participant to this argument, and how different was their concept of tourism applied to each one of their cities.
In fact, we can’t talk about New York as a tourist city in the same way as we talk about Tbilisi (the capital of Georgia) as a tourist city, because each place has its own features and characteristics, its history, culture and economy. Therefore, every place has got its own tourism, in the sense that tourism depends on the resources that a particular place can offer to tourists.

For example, New York is a great business city and is so organized and structured that tourists often visit it simply to say “I have been to New York!”. In this case we don’t need to do more to improve tourism in this city or to promote its features because it already does it by itself.
Instead, there are places like Estonia or Iran which are not so well known, which need to be promoted by a different kind of tourism that focuses on their historical, cultural or landascape characteristics.


Belgrado, Serbia

Another interesting point was the intercultural dialogue established by the participants to this workshop. Everyone talked about his country and at the same time interacted and shared his knowledge with the others and learnt about different cultures, cities and realities. They shared their point of view and discussed about different ways of “making tourism” and different experiences and stories.
Again, New York has got a very different culture and history compared to Florence which has got its very personal history too.


Yazd, Iran

In conclusion, every place in the world is worth to be visited and known because of its own features, culture and history. If we want to avoid mass tourism we should visit both the most famous places and the less famous ones because we could happen to be amazed by the beauty of some of these places!

What do you think about it?


July 17, 2008

American students talk about Florence

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Dear Friends,

Yesterday a group of students of an American University who has been studying in Florence for three months had a very interesting meeting at the Gabinetto Vieusseux ( in Palazzo Strozzi.

The meeting was entitled Firenze Immaginata, Firenze Vissuta and they had to talk about the difference between how they had imagined Florence before coming here and how it is in reality after a three months’ stay?

The guys have kept talking for almost two hours and their comments and opinions were very impressive!

Here are some of their considerations about the argument:

“…Which is the element that makes you feel part of Florence? Is it visiting the museums or eating the Bistecca alla Fiorentina in a very expensive restaurant? I don’t think so. I think that when you start living in a place, and you also start working, you start taking part to the daily routine of that place, so you are not a tourist anymore and you don’t behave as you still were it. So, life in Florence is not only going to the museums or doing something special, but it’s also study, work and routine…”

“…Since I live in Florence, I noticed that life is very expensive! One of the main means of livelihood for Florence is tourism, and of course also fashion and luxury, but this is often an outward way of living, because actually many families have financial difficulties and living here is quite hard…”

“…I noticed that there is a strong sense of solidarity between the families of the block of flats where I live. I think that Italian people in general have a great sense of community and neighborhood, and this is different from America, where people live on their own without having any contact with their neighbor…!”

“What I expected to find and what I actually found:

  • The social aspect of Italians: they are very open and dramatic people above all when they discuss something

  • The food culture: for Italian people living is eating, but in the sense that to them the eating time is a time to spend together, a time to share opinions, feelings, etc.

  • The sense of belonging to a place

I also learnt one thing from this experience: imagination is something that you can’t have if you don’t have real life.”

“…Before coming to Florence I had the common stereotypes that everyone has about Italians: pizza, football, mandolino. This is what I imagined, actually I learnt that reality is often very different from imagination. Florence is in fact a very cosmopolitan place where different people from different cultures leave together every day with all the difficulties that come from a similar situation…”

“…How the Florentine people do behave with foreign people? Do they accept the fact that their city is full of foreign people? What do they think about the foreign tourists?…Sometimes it seems to me that they have an attitude to separation from other people…”

“…I am from Angola and I have been living in Florence for 8 years. My idea of Florence has changed a lot during these years. Before coming here I thought that all Italian people were Catholic, but then I suddenly realized that it was an old idea. In fact, I usually go to Mass while my Italian friends meet me later outside the church…”

“…Living in Florence gave me the sensation of being independent and self-governing. When I arrived here I suddenly felt that I could walk around the city without losing myself and in an autonomous way. Florence transmits a sense of safety and independence…”

“…Every place in the World is different from all the others and it’s unique, and every place communicates something different and peculiar…”

“…To deepen your own knowledge of a place you need to feel the spirit of that place and immerse yourself in the local customs and culture…”

“..To get in contact with a place you need time and patience, you need to be curious and investigating, you need to listen to that place…”

“…To understand a city you can observe people in their daily actions, such as waiting for a bus, going to work, etc…”.


These are just some of the ideas that came out yesterday during this meeting and we would be very happy if these guys wrote other comments on our blog!!!

The IMAGINATION/REALITY theme is very important to understand many things on people and places and to realize how easy it is to generate stereotypes in general.

How can we avoid to be superficial in our judgements?…

Think about it!


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