Lori Sorrentino is an award-winning photographer and travel writer who loves slow food and slow travel. “Eat Local, Travel Slow” is the mission that’s defined her travel blog, Travlinmad, since 2014. She is also an UnTours UnFluencer who unlocks the hidden gems in your favorite destinations and champions a better kind of travel that preserves and protects.
As a former destination marketing pro, Lori has been published in the Washington Post, Tages-Anzeiger, and The Huffington Post, among others. Originally from New Jersey, when not slow traveling Italy, Lori is at home in Naples, Florida writing for the Naples Florida Travel Guide. We spoke with Lorie about what being an UnFluencer means to her.
What is your personal concept of the kind of slow travel that makes a positive contribution to the world?
Slow travel makes a sustainable, economic contribution that benefits local communities, and provides a connective experience for both the local people and the traveler. It’s a win-win experience of strong, sustainable tourism.
How do UnFluencers differ from influencers?
Travel to me isn’t about competitive, bucket list travel. It’s about simply being in the experience, treading lightly on the landscape, connecting with locals through their food and traditions, all reflected in real and beautiful travel images – not “curated” or staged, but always inspiring.
How can UnFluencers be a part of destination management that preserves nature and culture?
I believe education and presentation is key. Often, communities don’t see their own value, and turn instead to embellished or recreated experiences that feel inauthentic in the end. I worked for a DMO (destination management organization) in my former tourism career, and when tourism managers see the benefits of slow travel in their community, it can change their idea of what a successful and sustainable tourism model can be.
Can you share a personal story of slow travel that was meaningful to you?
I’ve spent a lot of time in Italy but it wasn’t until my first trip to the Tuscan-Emilian Appenines between Bologna and Florence that I truly began to understand Italy’s slow food culture and its significance to slow travel.
The region there has so much vibrant culture largely unvisited by tourists, including some powerful street art that reflects the region’s not-so-distant WWII history.
Getting off the beaten path is always my goal, but it took getting lost in these small places where no one spoke my language to feel the heart of Italy.
Through the magic of Google Translate, I experienced just how generous locals were in showing me around. And when new local friends recommended their favorite restaurant and the owner/Chef talked so loud into my phone that Google Translate couldn’t discern what she said, it didn’t matter. The food was insane and the hospitality couldn’t have been more welcoming.