Roots…from suspicion to welcome
Over the two centuries during which tourism developed in the Alps, the relationship between tourists and local people changed, because of the difficult communication among people belonging to two different cultures.
On one side, Alpine people, jealous and repositories of traditions and local habits: for them, foreigners who came to visit their places were intruders. On the other side, travellers and tourists belonging to the well-off class were curious to explore a new place and to have contact with the unknown culture of farmers. Walking in the mountains to get to the top, to look for rare or unknown stones or for the best glimpse to paint a painting: for these reasons, tourists had to get to know local people and their ancient knowledge. At the beginning, foreigners were only few mountaineers and scientists; towards the end of the 19th century, Alpine clubs were founded (Deutsch-Österreichischer Alpenverein and Club Alpino Italiano), and tourists started to go to the mountains. At the beginning, refuges only represented a support during the trekking, but at the beginning of the 20th century, they turned into welcome and meeting points. Since the 1960s, tourism turned into an industry and changed the life condition of many valleys; furthermore, through tourism, local people and foreigners had more possibilities to meet.