Introduction

On 22 April 2001, 34 Local Entities along the Italian section of the Via Francigena, following the route of Sigeric, Archbishop of Canterbury in 990, signed the deed of foundation of the European Association of the Via Francigena (EAVF) in Fidenza.

The EAVF has a bottom-up approach that fosters the relationships between the actors involved in the enhancement of the route, connecting all institutions from the local to the European level.

In 2019 the EAVF is an association of 155 local authorities and 60 non-profit organizations in 4 countries, which animates the route, promotes responsible tourism and provides another way of discovering the territory. The association unites more than 300 private stakeholders from tourism and hospitality sector.

Since 2007 the AEVF was recognized by the Council of Europe as a carrier network of the Via Francigena Cultural Route due to its protection and enhancement of the whole European stretch in England, France, Switzerland and Italy and promotion of the European values of intercultural dialogue, understanding and highlighting of common to Europe heritage.

In 2009 the Tuscany region, supported by the AEVF, started implementing the necessary infrastructure to make the route accessible and for the restoration of the cultural heritage located along its path. The other regions and local authorities joined the work started by the Tuscany region.

Since 2014 the AEVF together with the regions of Lazio, Campania, Molise, Basilicata and Apulia have been working on the extension of the Via Francigena in the South – 900 km from Rome to Santa Maria di Leuca along the Roman Via Appia.

Progress has also been made in increasing awareness of the universal value of the Via Francigena, which resulted in a proposal in 2009 to launch the project of nominating the route for the UNESCO World Heritage List. Over the years, this project received increasing consideration from major institutions, which in 2016 resulted into establishment of a specific Coordination Group for the nomination of the Via Francigena onto the UNESCO World Heritage List, entrusting the task of coordinating to the AEVF.

The AEVF has legal offices in Fidenza and Piacenza (Emilia-Romagna, Italy) and Champlitte (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France).

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