Cafés, fairytales, and female writers: Three new cultural routes across Europe

Interested in the history of cafes? Local folk tales? Female writers? These are the themes of three new Council of Europe Cultural Routes

Gran Caffè Ristorante Quadri in Venezia - Italia. Image: Brian & Jaclyn Drum via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)
Gran Caffè Ristorante Quadri in Venezia - Italia. Image: Brian & Jaclyn Drum via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

The first Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe was inaugurated with the Declaration of Santiago de Compostela pilgrim routes in 1987. With the addition of 3 more this year, there are now 48 different routes for travellers to follow across Europe.

The 3 new routes are:

As over 70% of Europeans look to travel the continent this year, these routes will undoubtedly attract tourists. The range of themes now on offer to travellers highlights the varied histories that Europe has and it’s hard not to be inspired to visit many of these iconic sites and museums. With themes varying from industrial heritage to Mozart, there’s something for everyone’s interests.

Coffee stops

The coffee bar at Caffè Fiorio in Turin Italy, still serving since 1780. Image: Mister654321 via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Even if you aren’t a lover of coffee, historic cafes are still worth a visit for their cutural contributions to European identities and culture. Literary figures, politicians, and philosophers would commonly meet for coffee in the 19th and 20th centuries, making cafes places of cultural significance.

Caffè Fiorio in Turin, for example, often hosted some of the statesmen responsible for the unification of Italy. Nearly 100 cafes make up the route over some 15 countries, from Portugal to Türkiye.

Historic Cafes also contributed to shaping a culture of equal sociability between men and women, individuals of all social classes and backgrounds

Historic Cafes Route

Even if you’re not a caffeine lover, there’s a lot of history to discover in these old meeting places.

Fairytale Travels

Pinocchio by Enrico Mazzanti (1852-1910), coloured by Daniel Donna.

Fairytales will be familiar to many of us, making us think back to a nostalgic childhood of fantasy and imagination. The folk tales we heard might just be local legends, or they could be as notorious as leprechauns – either way, they’re often a key part of our heritage.

Now, fairytale fans can look across this route for inspiration, and to discover museums that promote local folklores. The route was first proposed by the National Carlo Collodi Foundation (who look after the heritage of famous puppet Pinocchio), but now spans 8 countries, from Cyprus to Ireland.

Literary Ladies

Bust of Jelena J. Dimitrijević
Image: Ana Stjelja via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The 48th Cultural Route is the Women Writers Route. It encourages visitors to follow the traces of women writes over 6 countries, and explore their exceptional life stories and literary works. The network features museums, memorial spaces, and places dedicated to the women that struggled for rights in the 20th century, and will also host workshops and productions for children.

The network emphasises the works of women such as Anna Akhmatova, Maria Konopnicka, and many others. These writers and poets often penned influential pieces in their home countries, but also made waves in the wider world. Jelena Dimitrijevic, for example, travelled much of the globe and wrote the first Serbian travelogue of America.

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