The Via Francigena: Calais and the new guide. News from Champlitte

A large European family at work on the Via Francigena: important news arrives from Champlitte, in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region.

The General Assembly of the European Association of Via Francigena Ways (AEVF), which took place on 18th May, was in fact the opportunity to formalise some decisive steps for the future of the cultural route certified by the Council of Europe.

New members and French collaboration: France's support grows following the important accession of Calais and the Haute Saône department. So the European members of the association increase to 142 with 14 municipalities in France and Calais, the door into France from Canterbury.

The General Assembly also welcomed other new municipalities: Seveux (Haute-Saône, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté), Montfaucon (Doubs, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté), Etroubles (Valle d'Aosta), Ponte Buggianese ( Pistoia, Tuscany), Monte Sant'Angelo (Foggia, Puglia); and the friend associations: Via Francigena Voie de Sigéric - VFVS (Blessonville, Haute-Marne, Grand-Est), Association pour l'église de Montcherand (Montcherand, Vaud, Suisse) and Associazione Monte Sant'Angelo Francigena (Monte Sant'Angelo, FG, Puglia).

This collaboration with France also strengthens the relationship between the AEVF and the Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pédestre (FFRP). The AEVF assembly in Champlitte welcomed Claude Saint-Dizier, representative of the Federation Française Randonnée Pedestre (FFRP), with whom the AEVF is currently discussing an agreement to use the official AEVF logo, as well as general cooperation, starting from the new official guide.

The official guide from Canterbury to the Great St Bernard: in 2019 the Via Francigena guide will be presented, dedicated to the first section from Canterbury to the Great St Bernard Pass. The edition, edited by the Swiss publisher Suisse Itinérance, will be published in English and French, and subsequently, with an agreement with Terre di Mezzo, in Italian.

The official guide for the second section, from the Great St Bernard Pass to Rome, already available in Italian and English, will become available in French. "We see remarkable progress of the Via Francigena project. The official guide promotes greater use of the Way. This is therefore another step that leads us to say that the Via Francigena project appears to have increasingly higher prospects" highlights the AEVF president, Massimo Tedeschi.

Unesco: the candidacy of the Via Francigena as Unesco Heritage extends to the other countries crossed by the route. The seven Italian Regions, together with the AEVF, have finalised the preliminary analysis of the Italian path, but as says President Tedeschi: "Today there is a need to take a second step: to integrate the French, Swiss and English sections to the Italian. The project must see the support of the national authorities through the Ministries of Culture, but the involvement of local, provincial and regional authorities in their national governments will help us greatly. And that's what's happening. At Champlitte - concludes Tedeschi - we found great interest and commitment towards this project on the part of local communities".

Watch the video interview with the AEVF President, Massimo Tedeschi

 

Silvia Iuliano

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SantiaGoToRome begins! The project created by Associazione Movimento Lento, sponsored and supported by the European Association of Via Francigena Ways, comes to life. Having achieved its first fundraising goal, the initiative to unite the path of Santiago and the Via Francigena has officially been launched.

Two pilgrims decided to return to Sigeric’s route backwards, crossing France to reach their destination in Spain: new steps to test the route. Valentina Prestigiacomo, from Sicily, left Rome on Sunday 13th May and will travel along the Via Francigena of the Valle di Susa up to the Montgenèvre, to Arles on Via Domizia. Luca Mattei, will also start from Rome, in June, on the route that crosses Liguria from Sarzana to Ventimiglia.

It’s a journey - half dream, half challenge - to reunite two major European routes of over 3 thousand km at a slow pace. How was this idea born?

"In the Middle Ages, the Via Francigena and the Camino de Santiago were both part of a large communication network. Even today, these two paths are connected through France with the GR (Grande Randonnée). So we decided to throw a stone into the pond: the Via Francigena can connect Rome to Santiago and from here the SantiaGoToRome project started," explains Alberto Conte, president of Associazione Movimento Lento.

How is the project structured?: "We invented a "guerrilla" communication style. As the path of Santiago is marked towards Santiago, we said: "Why not put signs on the other side?" It is a service to pilgrims and a communication operation to publicise the way to Rome - adds Conte - a volunteer, Sara Pezzuto, enthusiastically joined the project; she started the journey and took care of the first signs. At the same time, we launched a two-month crowdfunding campaign; we exceeded the target thanks to the contribution of sponsors and friends, collecting about 3 thousand euros to repay part of the costs of starting the project".

SantiaGoToRome has captured the attention of the web and the dream continues. "We will follow Valentina and Luca on their journey. It will help us to test the route - adds the founder of Slow Motion - Luca Mattei will follow the stretch from Liguria. The route that crosses Liguria is wonderful, it has strong potential for development but has not yet been valued as a link between the Via Francigena and Santiago. One of Luca's objectives will be to explore and narrate this path. If we succeed, we want to raise awareness among administrations, stakeholders and communities to develop the route. Liguria, from marginal territory, could become a central hub of European paths".

What’s next for SantiaGoToRome? "Our goal is to open the "western front" of the Via Francigena by creating a flow of pilgrims from abroad to Italy, from France in particular. We will contact the various associations of the ‘Friends of the Way of Saint James’ of France to explore their interest, in collaboration with the European Association of the Via Francigena Ways"says Conte.

This project aims to recall the appeal of the Cammino di Santiago brand and propose locally, as well as creating microeconomics. We know when sustainable tourism is important for territories; we’re talking about a target that has economic value but above all a strong socio-cultural value, an intangible aspect that should not be underestimated. Since we opened our hostel in Piedmont (the Casa del Movimento Lento in Roppolo, in the province of Biella) getting in touch with people coming from all over the world has become a very important form of personal enrichment".

The project has just begun. Pilgrims step up. SantiaGoToRome awaits you!

To join and participate, visit www.santiagotorome.org

Silvia Iuliano

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