Sensory global towns: An experiential approach to the growth of the Slow City movement

Sarah Pink, Lisa J. Servon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores, through the example of the Slow City (Cittaslow) movement, how an analytical focus on the experiential dimensions of urban experience adds new layers of knowledge to our understandings of how and why town leaders engage with urban frameworks and principles. The global growth of the Italian-based Cittaslow movement has been explained both as part of a deceleration narrative and as a transferable urban development framework. We show how an approach that takes the experiential as its analytical starting point offers an alternative interpretation of the movement's contemporary growing global membership. Cittaslow aims to ensure quality of life in its towns and seeks to create an environmentally sustainable and pleasurable future. Drawing on research in Spanish Cittaslow towns, we examine the terms upon which town leaders engage with the movement's ideas and framework. We propose that Cittaslow is appealing to town leaders because it enables them not only to identify the qualities of their towns against its membership criteria, but also to invest in its framework normally unspoken, embodied, sensory, and tacit dimensions of their towns. A focus on the experiential, we suggest, is key to understanding the movement's appeal to town leaders across diverse cultural and national contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-466
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironment and Planning A: Economy and Space
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cittaslow
  • Ethnography
  • Sensory anthropology
  • Sustainability
  • Towns
  • Urban planning
  • Urban social movements

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