The Authentic Europe Network was created with the support of the Europe for Citizens programme 2014 – 2020, Strand 2.2 Networks of Towns.
The Authentic Europe project has created a Network of towns, aiming to support the development of the rural tourism of its members, with major focus on the active involvement of the local communities and on the inclusion of the heritage of the rural areas that are preserved (traditions, lifestyle, music, dance, magical practices, and natural resources). The initiative has contributed to citizens’ understanding of the Union, its history, diversity and shared values. It creates opportunities for citizens to know each other’s culture and traditions from one side and raises the awareness on the importance of preservation of heritage and the provision of know-how for its implications in tourism development from the other. The interactions, exchange of experience and good practices among citizens have contributed to the development of a sense of European identity, based on common values, history and culture and thus, fostering a sense of ownership of the European Union among its citizens.
The Network has been founded by the Municipality of Strumyani, Bulgaria; Municipality of Agia, Greece, Naxxar Local Council, Malta, the Province of Burgos, Spain and ANCI Sardegna, Italy.
During the Authentic Europe project implementation, 6 international events took place, hosted by each of the project partners:
The Kick-off meeting was held in Strumyani, Bulgaria in the period 24-26 October 2014, where representatives of the 5 European partners gathered to lay the foundation of the network, the rules and principles for management, coordination, communication, evaluation and dissemination.
The Workshop: Challenges and best practices for conservation and management of natural environment, cultural sites and local traditions was held in Mandas, Italy in the period 16 – 18 June 2015. The challenges and practices in the conservation and management of natural environment, cultural sites and local traditions in Bulgaria, Greece, Spain, Italy and Malta were the main topic of the meeting.
The workshop “Citizens and governance – Towards networking and active involvement of citizens” took place in Agia, Greece – 24 – 26 March 2015 with a focus on the active involvement of the local communities in local heritage preservation and tourism development.
The Educational workshop and reenactment: “Turning traditional magical practices into tourist attractions” was organized by Naxxar Local Council, Malta in the period 3rd – 5th June 2015. The main focus of the workshop was the interactive theoretical and practical training, targeted primarily at local authorities, the local communities and the performers.
The Municipality if Strumyani, Bulgaria hosted the Workshop on building strong destination image, differentiating the tourism offer and building a unique “brand” of the Network – magical practices in tourism offer, which took place in the period 5th – 7th August 2015.
The Rural Tourism and Entrepreneurship Forum, where the importance of inter-generational learning, the preservation of the intangible heritage and its implications for rural tourism and entrepreneurship were point, took place in Lerma (Burgos), Spain between 18th and 20th September 2015.