One of the 8 Million Steps project's primary objectives was to document the fascinating journey with short films, weaving a colourful tapestry of culture, gastronomy, history and traditions along the shores of the Mediterranean.

It was a family affair: I was doing the walking and talking, my daughter Maia directed, filmed and edited, and her husband Basil composed the music and mixed the sound. 


As I am preparing for my walk of 8 Million Steps, I reflect on my past, my goals and why I have decided to walk from the south of Spain to Istanbul.


We are in La Linea De La Concepción at the southern tip of Spain to celebrate a farewell party.

The fiesta is overflowing with duende as our very talented friends share their flamenco spirit with us into the early hours of the morning. Two days later, I'll set off on my 8,000 km walk starting at the Rock of Gibraltar.


A  gentle guitar solo by Pedro Barragan, from my farewell fiesta. Apart from this performance at the celebration, Basil recorded Pedro and a group of flamenco friends performing a stunning array of music, which then became the theme song of 8 Million Steps and features in the score of many of the films.


An entire village and centuries of rural tradition are in danger of extinction. Why? In whose interest?

The heavy hand of the authorities is threatening people’s very existence with absurd laws and regulations written by anonymous bureaucrats in Brussels and enforced by ignorant local officials.

These villagers, whose only crime is to grow and share their own food, are living in fear, unable to defend themselves against the senseless attack on their way of life. They can’t sell their produce, so they’re all forced to buy their food in a supermarket 20 kilometres away.

What will become of them? And of their ancient values and wisdom? It’s all disappearing faster than I thought possible, and I can only hope that those who are behind this injustice will wake up to what they’re doing before it’s too late.


Slow Food has an enormous network of food producers and restaurateurs who believe in traditional ways of growing and serving food: in harmony with the environment, organically, and with lots of love and care. Our next three short films will feature some of these inspiring individuals, starting with María Orzáez, an exceptional cheese maker. María says she didn’t find cheese, it found her. 

Ten years ago she decided to leave her comfortable position with a chemical company, pack her bags and two children, and search for a more meaningful life. She stumbled across Benito, an old goatherd in a small village called Castilblanco de los Arroyos, drunk his milk, had a revelation, went to study traditional cheese-making in France, came back to Castilblanco and set up Mare Nostrum (Roman name for the Mediterranean).

Today her cheeses are highly sought-after by foodies and fine restaurants alike but success didn’t change María’s ways: she still produces only a small quantity, still only from the milk Benito brings every morning, only with her own hands.


Finca Montefrio is a pig farm nestled in the mountains of Aracena, home to the world’s best jamón. Armando and Lola, our generous hosts, don’t breed just any old pigs – theirs is a pure race, ancient Iberian pig, and they see themselves as custodians of their delicately balanced ecosystem for the generations to come. Their farm extends over a sizeable tract of land covered with oak trees. Called “la dehesa”, it serves an important purpose of providing much-needed oxygen to Europe. It comes as no surprise that la dehesa is disappearing too, like so many good things in the Mediterranean. It’s the same old story – lack of vision, greed…

Armando and Lola work incredibly hard – their life is a self-imposed sacrifice in a way, but they wouldn’t change it for anything. They taught us a number of lessons in a short time: the importance of accepting what is given to us rather than always wanting and expecting more, caring for the environment, living a noble life of giving more than you take… We’ll never forget Armando and Lola.


Cortijo Vistalegre is a Slow Food-inspired restaurant in Cazalla de la Sierra. It’s run by Enrica Basilico who hails from the southernmost tip of Italy, but is now totally identified with the land and the people of this unspoilt part of Andalusia.  She is a quiet but effective campaigner for small food producers who find it more and more difficult to maintain their traditional methods in the face of aggressive government intervention. "They are forcing us underground," she says emphatically, "but I’m not afraid, we’ll be illegal if we have to be, let them come for me!"

Enrica takes us to meet Carmelo, an 87-year-old farmer who supplies her vegetables and seeds. He truly is the last of his kind - still tilling the soil with two mules and an ancient plough. He’s been doing the same thing on the same plot of land for 75 years and, when he goes, his way of life will go with him. 


A film that captures the unwavering dedication of artisans that span generations of tradition. Enter a visually breathtaking world of hand-made guitars, exquisitely crafted ceramics and centuries-old textile looms.

The true artisan is driven by passion, you could even say obsession. These are trying times for artisans – it's impossible to compete with mass produced goods that flood the marketplace.

In the last few years, majority of artisan workshops in Spain have been forced to close down and only a handful remain.


In the foothills of the Sierra Morena, north of Sevilla, lives a community called Los Portales, one of the first eco villages in Spain. They were founded by a group from Belgium over 30 years ago, looking for personal growth and a new way of living.

A self sustainable community with their own renewable energy, ecological agriculture, animals, wheat, bread and even school, they believe in deeper human connections and greater respect for nature.

At Los Portales, we had the pleasure of speaking with some of the warmest and most positive people we have ever met. 


We asked one simple question to over 40 people along our
journey walking through Spain. What does the Mediterranean mean to you?

We were surprised by the emotional impact of the answers.


'To walk slowly means having nothing in your pockets except your hands', said an Italian writer Cassano.

At the 1,000 km mark, we cut two different kinds of films celebrating the act of walking: this is the first version, the Director's Cut, shot entirely by Maia, titled “To walk, to feel, to see”. It explores what it feels like to slow down and become at one with your surrounds. 


I have now walked the first 1,000 kilometres along the coast of the Spanish Mediterranean. It already feels like an eternity, yet there’s still another 7,000 km ahead of me. 

It hasn’t always been easy. The routine of getting up every morning and heading off to yet another destination some 20 km away, spending the night in yet another hotel and repeating it the next day can get tedious at times. Fortunately, every day springs up a different surprise or two, so it’s impossible to become jaded.

This short film captures the walk from my perspective, shot with my handy cam as I forged my way forward.


It’s October and we are in Torino: Slow Food has put on the greatest gastronomical show on earth, Il Salone del Gusto / Terra Madre. It’s marvellous to see such incredible variety of regional, authentic food from all around the world, and the infectious enthusiasm of the people who travelled all the way to Italy, proud to represent their culture and their home-grown products.

I focused on the Terra Madre part of the event and I decided to speak only to women. Mothers. Perhaps not surprisingly, we invariably ended up talking about love.


A whimsical little music clip made on the fly when Basil got hold of a GoPro camera and let loose his goofy inner self. 

How can you not love baby animals?  Sit back and enjoy Basil's unashamedly sentimental film capturing the first steps of recently born piglets.