“Once abandoned, Castelfalfi, an 800-year-old Tuscan village, is being reborn. A German travel company purchased the town and began renovating it, with plans to make it a thriving town and resort (http://www.castelfalfi-resort.com/). The project, one of the largest such in Europe, promises to bring the village ‘back to life' by offering visitors an authentic taste of Tuscany… But how can a village created for foreigners retain any kind of genuine authenticity? ‘There is a chance this will become a Disneyland version of an Italian village,' says sociologist Pierluca Birindeli, a professor at Gonzaga University in Florence, ‘but Italy is used to trading on its history and past; we've been doing it since the times of The Grand Tour.” (Kirsten Hills, Sleeping beauty, The Florentine).
On the relation tourism-authenticity, you can read the following contributions:
- MacCannell, D. (1973) Staged Authenticity: Arrangements of Social Space in Tourist
Settings, “American Journal of Sociology”, 79(3): 589-603.
- MacCannell, D. (1976) The Tourist: A New Theory of the Leisure Class, Schocken Books
Inc., New York.
- Urry, J. (1995) Consuming Places, London: Routledge.
“Touristic consciousness is motivated by its desire for authentic experiences, and the tourist may believe that he is moving in this direction, but often it is very difficult to tell for sure if the experience is authentic in fact. It is always possible that what is taken to be entry into a back region is really entry into a front region that has been totally set up in advance for touristic visitation” (MacCannell 1973, 597).
“A particular issue is that of authenticity. It is argued especially by MacCannell that what tourists seek is the 'authentic', but that this is necessarily unsuccessful since those being gazed upon come to construct artificial sites which keep the inquisitive tourist away ... Tourist spaces are thus organised around what he calls 'staged authenticity” (Urry 1995, 140).
“Touristic shame is not based on being a tourist but on not being tourist enough, on a failure to see everything the way it 'ought' to be seen. The touristic critique of tourism is based on a desire to go beyond the other 'mere' tourists to a more profound appreciation of society and culture, and it is by no means limited to intellectual statements. All tourists desire this deeper involvement with society and culture to some degree; it is a basic component of their motivation to travel (MacCannell 1976, 10).