Pijao, a small town in Colombia, is to become the first Cittaslow city not only in that country but in all of Latin America as well.
Although Pijao, a municipality in the south-eastern part of the department of Quindío, Colombia, may have been avoided by travelers just a year ago due to FARC activity in the area, the situation has improved immensely and the city now sees more and more foreigners passing through.
Located 31 kilometers (19.3 mi) from Armenia, Pijao — named after the indigenous tribe that populated the area prior to the arrival of the Spanish — is a small agricultural city of 10,149 inhabitants live in the slow lane, the first town in Colombia and all of Latin America to join the Cittaslow (Slow City) movement founded in Italy in October 1999.
As a Slow City, Pijao residents have committed themselves to slowing down their pace of living, decreasing environmental degradation, preserving their culture, promoting sustainable tourism and educating future generations on ecological topics.
The city itself doesn’t offer much to tourists beyond walking around and soaking in the local culture and architecture. However, there are hiking and biking opportunities, waterfalls and traditional coffee farms to visit on its outskirts, making Pijao a relaxing place to stop while in the region.
The inspiration of Cittaslow was the Slow Food organization. Cittaslow’s goals include improving the quality of life in towns by slowing down its overall pace, especially in a city’s use of spaces and the flow of life and traffic through them.
Cittaslow has expanded broadly beyond Italy. By 2006, national Cittaslow networks existed in Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom. By mid-2009, fourteen countries had at least one officially accredited Cittaslow community. In July 2009, the small seaside village of Cowichan Bay in Canada became the North American continent’s first Cittaslow town.
Slow cities are characterized by a way of life that supports people to live slow. Traditions and traditional ways of doing things are valued. These cities stand up against the fast-lane, homogenized world so often seen in other cities throughout the world.
No town or city with more than 50,000 residents may apply to be called a Slow City. The Slow City manifesto contains 55 pledges or criteria, grouped into six categories upon which cities are assessed; environmental policy, infrastructure, quality of urban fabric, encouragement of local produce and products, hospitality and community and Citta Slow awareness. To qualify to be called a Slow City and to use the snail logo, a city must be vetted and regularly checked by inspectors to make sure it is living up to the Slow City standard of conduct.