Via Francigena


Christmas 2022

Here is the message of greetings from the Bishop of Langres for this Christmas 2022:

A little snow has covered the countryside, and I am enjoying staying warm at home. This is not the time to set out on the Via Francigena to face the rigours of winter. But, a few thousand kilometres away, people at war have no way to keep warm and must fight the cold and the anxiety with all means at hand. I think of the child of Bethlehem, fragile and destitute, whose birth is a sign of hope and light. “Peace on earth to the people God loves” sang the angels.

What if I took advantage of this time of pause to work for peace, in my family, my village or my neighbourhood, my professional activity? Great causes begin with small gestures…

Joseph de Metz-Noblat, Bishop of Langres
President of Spiritualitas in Francigenam

Read the beautiful Christmas greetings for 2021 as well


Via Francigena in Southern Lazio: a stretch of the path to discover

It’s hard to say which section of the Via Francigena is our favorite. Certainly each stage contains experiences worth setting out several times, knowing that each time something new will surprise us. We’re pleased to inform you of a new collaboration with DMO, aimed at promoting the Via Francigena in Southern Lazio, from Rome to Teano. This is a section that can be traveled in both directions, either on foot or by bicycle. Let’s get to know this new partner better!

DMO – Destination Management Organization – Francigena sud nel Lazio is an association created on 28 January 2021. It has the aim of managing in a coordinated manner everything that makes up for the Francigena in southern Lazio. From trail maintenance to marketing activities, to reception facilities and attractions, everything is interpreted to develop the route together with the territories involved. Castelli Romani, Monti Lepini, Monti Ausoni and Piana Pontina are all territories to explore. In fact, they are rich in points of interest in terms of landscape, art, architecture and gastronomy. The collaboration stems from the shared desire to give voice to small villages and at the same time enrich the experience of every traveler, helping them to immerse in the typicality of this territory.

Among the initiatives promoted by DMO are group walks, travel ideas and lots of advice aimed at pilgrims. Information is provided through a regularly updated website, Instagram profile and Facebook page. We encourage you to follow them so you don’t miss upcoming events!

On the website you can also download route maps and find logistical information to organize your own walk. In addition, each member municipality can stamp pilgrims’ credentials to attest to their passage at the stage. You can receive the “testimonium” at the Vatican covering at least 100 km on foot or 200 km by bicycle. Along the Lazio stretch there are also 3 sales points authorized to issue the official credential, while on the website it is possible to consult and book the first travel packages for spring 2023.

Public and private entities belong to the DMO network. Participating are the municipalities of Albano Laziale, Castel Gandolfo, Cori, Fondi, Formia, Marino, Monte San Biagio, Nemi, Norma, Priverno, Sermoneta, Sonnino, Velletri, the Appia Antica Regional Park, the Monti Ausoni and Lago di Fondi Regional Park, as well as the Gruppo dei Dodici Association, the ENOLAN Consortium, the Onorato Caetani Association, the Associazione l’Asino e le Nuvole, and the tour operators Promotours Snc and Spirit Of Travel By Travel Store.

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The Via generates economy: statistics at the Stati Generali del Turismo

On Friday 28 and Saturday 29 October, the Italian ‘General States of Tourism’ meeting was held in Chianciano Terme (SI). This was the first national planning conference organised by the Italian Ministry of Tourism and promoted with the intention of arriving at the elaboration of the Strategic Plan for Tourism 2023-2027, through analysing the statistics, listening to and working together with all the operators in the sector, and increasing the quality and quantity of the national tourist offer.

Among the many strategic themes presented on which to focus to increase the country’s competitiveness in the global tourism scenario, sustainable and responsible tourism was also discussed. Analysing the statistics, the Director of the AEVF Luca Bruschi showed how the travel experience of walking must be considered a competitive asset within the Italian tourism offer. Here are therefore some of the numbers analysed during the meeting.

The numerical trends of tourism linked to the Via Francigena

The number of pilgrims on the Via Francigena is constantly increasing, and they currently arrive on the trail from 70 countries around the world (from Europe, mainly Italy, France, Germany, Holland, the United Kingdom, and the Scandinavian countries; and from outside Europe, mainly the United States, Canada and Australia). 8 out of 10 pilgrims will return to the Via Francigena as tourists to deepen their knowledge of the places and with a longer stay. The economy around the Via Francigena is already worth 25 million euro today and generates enormous cultural wealth for the villages crossed.

Through the AEVF credential distribution, the estimate of pilgrims who walked for at least one week in 2019 was around 50,000. During 2021, given the restrictions due to Covid-19, the estimated pilgrims were around 40,000.

Click here to see all the data for 2021

Identikit of the Francigena pilgrim

Statistics reveal that the pilgrim who walks along the Francigena route stays in the area for an average of 8-10 days and has a daily spending capacity of 50/60€ for those who walk long distances, while it increases significantly for those who move at the weekend or within the week. 80% travel on foot, 20% by bicycle. There is a slight predominance of women. Age ranges from 16 to over 80 years. AEVF estimated that 500,000 walkers and pilgrims have travelled the route for at least a week in the last decade (’12-’21). The period? People walk all year round, but mostly in spring and autumn: this means that this is qualified tourism in the period of deseasonalisation.

The motivations that drive modern pilgrims to undertake the long itinerary that leads to Rome and continues to the ports of Apulia are manifold and reflect the varied needs of contemporary society: for some, an albeit significant minority, the journey is a religious experience; others are driven by spiritual, cultural, landscape, gastronomic and sporting motivations, motivations strongly associated with the principle of slow mobility that contrasts with the frenzy that characterises modern life.

The IRPET data

According to a recent IRPET (Istituto Regionale per la Programmazione Economica Toscana – Regional Institute for Economic Planning of Tuscany) study, in the ten-year period 2010-2019, against an average regional increase in overnight stays of 23%, in the 28 municipalities along the route there were increases in the tourist sector of 49%, while in the municipalities within a radius of 5 km from the itinerary there were increases of 43%. These statistics prove that there is a competitiveness differential generated by the presence of the route in an area.

The Via Francigena as a promoter of slow tourism in Europe

It is important to continue to promote the tourist offer on the Via Francigena by strengthening the system of reception, route, maintenance and promotion. At the same time, we must enrich the network of partners with targeted collaborations designed for pilgrims’ flow. Among the latest partnerships activated by the Association is a special discount dedicated to those with a credential so that they can travel along the itinerary at a discounted price on one of Flixbus buses: an agreement emerged from analyses of pilgrims, who can now easily move between over 40 stages of the itinerary or return home at the end of their journey enjoying a 10% discount, with the possibility of transporting their bicycle. A best practice which could be extended to all 4 countries crossed by the trail, thus promoting the itinerary as a national ‘flagship product‘.

We must also keep in mind the two upcoming goals that will give even more visibility to the route: the candidature of the Via Francigena as a UNESCO heritage site and the Jubilee of 2025, for which we hope to see at least 100,000 pilgrims arriving on foot and by bicycle in St. Peter’s Square in Rome.


The Earth Week Festival reaches its 10th edition

La Settimana della Terra” (Earth Week) is a popular science festival addressing the topic of GeoScience in Italy. The festival, now in its 10th edition, took place this year from 2 to 9 October 2022.

How many times have you walked through breathtaking landscapes and wished you knew more about your surroundings? Or have you been on a hike and only learnt later that around you, close by, there were wonderful caves, ancient lakes, rivers and prehistoric settlements to be discovered… We often simply appreciate the beauty that surrounds us, but have no deep knowledge of the land we are walking through.

In order to make the Italian territory known to the general public, through its extraordinary geological, environmental and natural heritage, ‘The Earth Week’ was born 10 years ago. The Week is the brainchild of two passionate and experienced university professors, geologist Silvio Seno and palaeontologist Rodolfo Coccioni. It is an annual event lasting an entire week in October. Professionals including geologists, researchers, climatologists, archaeologists, astronomers, and researchers participate and create popular events throughout Italy. For the occasion, the events are called ‘Geoevents‘.

Since 2012, over 1,800 ‘Geo-events’ have been created in many locations. The festival offers open doors at museums, research centres and astronomical observatories, educational and experimental workshops, exhibitions and shows, conferences, lectures and seminars, artistic and musical activities, food and wine, as well as many hikes and walks for walkers and nature lovers.

As well as an experience across science, The Earth Week is also an opportunity to raise environmental awareness. We are facing an uncertain future due to ongoing climate change caused by our lifestyles. Are we sure of what lies ahead? What can we do to recover the relationship we have with nature and improve our quality of life?

Given its aims, the Festival embraces and supports slow, sustainable and responsible tourism. Such tourism respects environmental resources and, through slowness, generates knowledge and care for local treasures. The appreciation of natural heritage is often enjoyed together with other cultural attractions and local products.

Discover here our section on environmental responsibility and the role of walking routes in sustainable development.

Italy has a unique quantity and variety of situations to learn about, and we have a responsibility to preserve and protect them. Getting close to these jewels of nature and experiencing them means contributing to sustainable tourism, the promotion of which is one of the objectives of our Association,‘ says the festival co-founder Silvio Seno.

A unique festival, inviting people to discover the wonders of our country and to take care of our planet. Only in this way can we truly protect Italy’s heritage.