Via Francigena

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A new project for a Via Francigena in Southern Italy accessible to everyone

The project financed by the Italian Ministry of Tourism with 332,500 euros was presented in Lecce, Apulia.

The Salentine municipality of Poggiardo is leading the project for an accessible and inclusive Via Francigena in Southern Italy, funded by the Italian Ministry of Tourism as part of the public notice for the development of the tourist offer of Italian religious paths.

The network of beneficiary municipalities of the project also includes the administrations of Cannole, Giuggianello, Giurdignano, Martano, Palmaraggi, and Tricase in the Lecce area.

The interventions are divided into various project areas along the stretch from Lecce to Santa Maria di Leuca: accessibility of the route (mapping of trails, requalification of the path, first aid kits); information (cartography, census, web platform, videos, QR codes, audio guides, signage); education and communication (workshops, forums, animation).

The two-year project includes interventions not only for people with motor, sensory, or cognitive disabilities, but also for those with autism spectrum disorders, the elderly, and people with particular dietary needs. An important objective is also to raise awareness among local communities and younger generations about these issues, which increasingly need to become part of our cultural background.

The press conference took place last June 6th at the headquarters of the Province of Lecce, in parallel with the Training Academy of Brindisi on Cultural Routes. Participants included provincial councillor and mayor of Martano Fabio Tatantino, mayor of Poggiardo Antonio Ciriolo, director of the European Association of the Via Francigena ways Luca Bruschi, representatives of the “Mollare Mai” (Never Give Up!) association Adriano Bolognese and Salvatore Micolani.

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The Via Francigena Confirmed as a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe

The Via Francigena has been confirmed as a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe.

The Executive Secretary of the Governing Board of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe, Stefano Dominioni, recently sent the official communication to the EAVF.

This news confirms the significant work that the European network of the Via Francigena is doing at the international level for the promotion, enhancement, and protection of the European route. 2024 is a special year as the Via Francigena celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of its certification by the Council of Europe, which took place in 1994.

The Via Francigena is thus reaffirmed as a “Cultural Route of the Council of Europe” following the four-yearly evaluation of compliance with the criteria of Resolution CM/res (2013)67. It also confirms the accreditation of the European Association of the Via Francigena ways (EAVF) as the managing body of the Via Francigena, highlighting the uniqueness and exclusivity of the European network, which today involves 243 local member entities in four countries and 92 volunteer associations that animate the route on a local or regional scale.

The result achieved underscores the great seriousness with which the Via Francigena network is working in the four countries it crosses – the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Italy. The confirmation of the certification also gives an important boost to the institutional and technical process for advancing the UNESCO dossier, led by the Tuscany Region”, said Vice President Francesco Ferrari.

The “Evaluation Report” was drafted by Professor Maria Gravari Barbas of the Pantheon-Sorbonne University in Paris and makes recommendations that AEVF will seek to address as best as possible.

Both the dossier prepared by EAVF and the evaluation report of the Council of Europe are available to EAVF members and friends.

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Walking the Francigena Britannica: from London to Canterbury

A delegation from the EAVF and the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome worked on the verification of the “Francigena Britannica” route and held institutional meetings in London, looking towards the certification of the extension of the Via Francigena.
LONDON AND ROME CONNECTED: THE FRANCIGENA BRITANNICA PROJECT

London and Rome are drawing closer, thanks to the Via Francigena. More precisely, the credit for this natural connection goes to the ancient Via Britannica, which links the English capital with the city of Canterbury, the zero kilometre of the itinerary certified in 1994 by the Council of Europe.

And it was precisely in London on 5 May 1949 that the Council of Europe – the first international organisation to emerge in Europe after the Second World War – was founded. the London Treaty was actually signed by 10 founding countries: Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Sweden. The Via Britannica and the Via Francigena, therefore, strengthen the bridge of connection between the United Kingdom and Europe through peace, intercultural dialogue, exchange, and cooperation, but also through the recovery of historical paths and slow tourism.

THE CONFRATERNITY OF PILGRIMS TO ROME PROJECT

The Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome (an association of volunteers founded in 2006 and affiliated with EAVF) which brings together the world of Anglophone walkers, has been carrying forward the project for the recognition of the Francigena Britannica for some years now: a 145 km route to be covered in six stages on foot that starts from Southwark Cathedral in London and rejoins the Via Francigena in Canterbury. The project, which has been under study and development since 2021, has already been submitted to the European Association of Via Francigena. A well-structured dossier from a historical, scientific, and pedestrian route point of view, with reference also to the usability of the route and the cultural heritage present along the municipalities crossed.

The itinerary intersects seven paths that are already well signposted: Thames Path, Green Chain Walk, Darent Valley Walk, Pilgrims Way, North Downs Way, Medway River Walk, and Stour Valley Way.

INSTITUTIONAL MEETINGS IN LONDON AND FIELD INSPECTION OF THE ROUTE

From 9 to 13 June, a technical inspection of the route took place, attended by Luca Faravelli, EAVF project manager and Giancarlo Laurenzi, honorary president of the CPR. This field inspection was accompanied by important institutional meetings, in which EAVF director Luca Bruschi also spoke. The meetings were held with Caroline Hicks, Head of Economic Development at Dartford Borough Council and Will Norman, London’s first Commissioner for walking, cycling and slow mobility routes. The city of London has for many years placed the theme of slow mobility, particularly pedestrian and cycling, at the heart of its urban development policies. The Francigena Britannica represents an extraordinary pedestrian link from London to Canterbury, and then continues on the Via Francigena to Dover and enters the mainland at Calais. The global public of pilgrims who reach London by air will thus be able to set off directly from London, walking along the Thames and following the path of the Via Britannica.

The AEVF delegation also met CPR President Nick Dunne and Vice President Brian Mooney in London. Institutional visits continued in the city of Canterbury, EAVF partner municipality since 2005, which is strongly supporting the development of the Via Francigena.

NEXT APPOINTMENT IN MONTE SANT’ANGELO, PUGLIA, WITH THE AEVF ASSEMBLY

The outcome of this inspection of the route will be presented by the CPR at the next AEVF Assembly on 18 October 2024 in Monte Sant’Angelo (Foggia, Puglia). Ample space will be dedicated to the presentation of the project that will see EAVF members as protagonists for the approval of this cultural extension of the path, whose European route nevertheless always provides for Canterbury as the zero kilometre city.

It will be an important moment to write a new and beautiful page in the history of the Via Francigena, together with all the members and friends of the European Association of the Via Francigena ways.

THE FRANCIGENA BRITANNICA AND ITS STAGES, IN SHORT

The historic pilgrimage route that runs from Southwark Cathedral in London to Canterbury is called the Via Britannica. This is the route described by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century Canterbury Tales. This itinerary therefore represents an important pilgrimage route in its own right, but also a logical extension of the Via Francigena in the United Kingdom.

The stages:

  • Londra (cattedrale di Southwark) – Abbey Wood – 17 km
  • Abbey Wood – Dartford – 21 km
  • Dartford – Otford – 20 km
  • Oxford- Peter’s Bridge – 24 km
  • Hollingbourne – Broughton Lees – 21 km
  • Broghton Lees – Canterbury – 24 km
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The Via Francigena and the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe met in Brindisi

The Via Francigena splendidly celebrated the anniversary of its European certification (1994-2024) in the international context of the Training Academy 2024, marked by dialogue and cooperation.

The city of Brindisi and the Apulia region became the capital of European cultural routes: from June 4 to 7, at the “Accademia degli Erranti – Statio Peregrinorum” headquarters, a training event was held involving 100 representatives from 37 routes, coming from 22 countries. The forum was part of the celebrations of the Via Francigena, which celebrates its 30th anniversary of European certification in 2024.

The European Association of the Via Francigena ways (EAVF) had the honor of organizing this event, together with the European Institute of Cultural Routes, which supported the realisation of this international showcase in a symbolic place of the Via Francigena in Southern Italy, namely the city of Brindisi.

At the inauguration ceremony, moderated by Rosy Barretta of the “Brindisi e le Antiche Strade” Association, speakers included Mayor Giuseppe Marchionna, the director of the tourism department and EAVF vice president Aldo Patruno, the president of the Italian National Tourism Agency Alessandra Priante, Maria Giusi Luprano from the Italian Ministry of Culture, and finally Stefano Dominioni, director of the European Institute of Cultural Routes in Luxembourg and executive secretary of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe.

The Academy featured six working sessions focused on themes of governance, tourism, mobility, cooperation, and international project planning. These sessions saw great participation and interaction among the contributors.

For the Via Francigena, speakers included Luca Bruschi, EAVF director; Elena Dubinina, EAVF European projects manager; Angelofabio Attolico from the Apulia region and EAVF technical manager for the development of the Via Francigena in Southern Italy; Anna Introna and Basel Sai, also from the Apulia region. A specific session was dedicated to slow tourism projects along the Via Francigena with EAVF partners. Tullia Caballero from SloWays brilliantly moderated the panel, where important best practices were shared by showcasing Flixbus for mobility (Marco Zucchetti), Ferrino for technical equipment (Giorgio Rabaiolo), and CAMCO for technical clothing (Matteo Corrado). Valerio Barchi also spoke, sharing his experience as a traveler on the Italian section of the Via Francigena and the creation of “Bona Via!”, the first comic book dedicated to the journey.

During the Academy, there was a strategic meeting between EAVF and the European Federation of Saint James Way, represented by the Spanish President Ildefonso de la Campa, to lay the groundwork for strategic projects in view of the 2025 Jubilee.

During the four days, the cultural programme that was organised to accompany the event also played an important role. The international delegation was able to get to know the city’s museum, cultural, and archaeological heritage, as well as walk a short stretch of the Via Francigena. Local gastronomy was also at the centre of the event, with tastings, street food, and the discovery of local companies and producers, as well as musical shows and artistic performances.

In addition to EAVF’s organisation, the event was supported by the Apulia Region and the Municipality of Brindisi, with the cooperation of the “Brindisi e le Antiche Strade” Association, coordinated by Antonio Melcore. On-site coordination was handled by Catherine Hannequart.

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Via Francigena International Awards 2024

The European Association of the Via Francigena ways (EAVF) has launched the third edition of the “Via Francigena International Award”, with the aim of highlighting the good practices implemented by its Members and Friends for the development and promotion of the itinerary.

EAVF Members and Friends are invited to submit their applications, one for each theme, briefly describing an activity related to the Via Francigena that has been carried out in in their reference region between 01.01.2023 and 31.12.2023. The application form lists 5 different themes: a maximum of 5 forms can be submitted, which means 1 activity per theme. Deadline for applications is Friday 30.06.2024.

➡️ Click here to apply for Via Francigena International Awards 2024 ⬅️

Good practices will be collected and made available to all Members and Friends within a dedicated section on the website www.viefrancigene.org/en/.

The three best good practices, selected by an international evaluation group nominated by the EAVF President, will be awarded at the next General Assembly, scheduled in Monte Sant’Angelo, Puglia, on Friday 18 October 2024.

Our sincere appreciation to all those who will participate!

👉 Discover the 2023 edition

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The EAVF General Assembly was celebrated in Vevey with an extraordinary cultural program

From April 25th to 27th, the European Association of the Via Francigena ways held its annual General Assembly in Vevey, Switzerland, with the presence of numerous members from the four countries crossed by the Via Francigena: the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, and Italy. This highly attended international meeting took place within the prestigious salle del Castillo, overlooking Lake Geneva.

Following the official greetings from Mayor Yvan Luccarini and Vincent Bailly, representative of Lavaux Patrimoine Mondial, the assembly commenced with the presentation of a diploma by EAVF Vice President Francesco Ferrari to the municipal administration of Vevey for joining the association.

In plenary session, numerous important agenda items were discussed, starting with the approval of the budget forecasts and the financial statements. Also highlighted was the quadrennial evaluation by the Council of Europe for the confirmation of the European certification of the Via Francigena, which, in 2024, marks its 30th anniversary of this recognition. A new section of the website www.viefrancigene.org is dedicated to these thirty years of history, featuring a timeline of the most significant events during this period and a collection of written thoughts and reflections. The page is also enriched with material that, work in progress, narrates the Via Francigena in a social media version. Lastly, the Vevey Declaration is included, affirming the AEVF Assembly’s commitment to continue the promotion, dialogue, and cooperation on the Via Francigena.

During the assembly, strategic projects concerning the Via Francigena in the national sections were shared: particular attention was given to the progress of the approval process for the Via Britannica, a historic itinerary from London to Canterbury within the AEVF network. Additionally, developments of the emerging Itinerary Committee, which will be officially launched on June 18, 2024, in Troyes, France, for better governance of the French stretch, connecting the eight departments and three regions involved.

An important moment of the GA was dedicated to welcoming new members joining the international network. Besides the Swiss municipality of Vevey (Vaud), the French municipality of Braux-le-Châtel (Haute Marne, Grand Est), and the Italian municipalities of San Rocco al Porto (Lodi, Lombardy) and Formia (Latina, Lazio) were welcomed. The total number of members now stands at 243, including municipalities, provinces, and regions. Two new “friendly” associations were also welcomed: Pro Loco Oriese APS (Orio Litta, Lombardy) and Accoglienza Pellegrina (Valpromaro, Tuscany), bringing the total to 92 members.

In addition to the assembly, participants had the opportunity to engage in various activities offering a comprehensive immersion into the cultural heritage of the Via Francigena, with a focus on the city of Vevey and this splendid Swiss stretch of the route.

The three-day program kicked off with the theatrical performance “Legend of Sigerico”, staged by the beloved company (Italian-French) directed by Carlo Boso. Spectators were transported back in time through the adventures of Sigerico, Bishop of Canterbury, in a captivating narrative crafted in the style of commedia dell’arte. Knowledge of the territory was also imparted through gastronomy, with a tasting of local wines and fondue, in a convivial and welcoming atmosphere. The tourist part included two significant moments: a guided tour of the city, in three languages, allowing participants to discover Vevey’s hidden treasures, from its charming architecture to its picturesque streets, offering a comprehensive overview of the city’s life and history. Particularly appreciated was the walk through the villages and vineyards along the beautiful stretch of the Via Francigena between Lausanne and Vevey. The cultural landscape characterizing this route is one of the most iconic and breathtaking points of the entire European journey: here lie the famous vineyards recognized by UNESCO for their perfect integration between the ecosystem and an authentic and dynamic civilization.

Among the cultural events, two were highlighted: the Conference on Cultural Itineraries in Switzerland, during which experts shared knowledge about the cultural itineraries traversing Switzerland, exploring their cultural, social, touristic, and economic implications; and the exhibition featuring panels on the Via Francigena, at the Market Square. Participants had the honor of attending the opening of the exhibition illustrating the history and heritage of the Via Francigena through a rich selection of photos with 16 informative panels aimed at the general public. This exhibition fits well within the celebrations of the thirty years of the Via Francigena, a European cultural itinerary.

The three-day event was organized with the support of the Vevey municipal administration and the Association Via Francigena Suisse.

Members will reconvene in Monte Sant’Angelo, Puglia, for the next AEVF autumn assembly.

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The Via Francigena welcomes the European Cultural Routes Training Academy in Brindisi

From 4 to 7 June, more than 80 representatives from 21 countries and 37 certified Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe will participate in the European Cultural Routes Training Academy in Brindisi.
The Region of Apulia and the City of Brindisi as Capital of the European Cultural Routes

The 11th edition of the Training Academy on the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe will take place in Brindisi, at the Accademia degli Erranti – Statio Peregrinorum, from 4 to 7 June 2024, organised by the European Institute of Cultural Routes (EICR) and the European Association of the Vie Francigena ways (EAVF), the supporting network of the Via Francigena, with the support of the Region of Apulia, the Municipality of Brindisi, and in collaboration with the Association ‘Brindisi e le Antiche Strade’.

This event is organised as part of the celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the Via Francignea, Cultural Route of the Council of Europe 1994-2024. The theme of the Training Academy 2024 will be “European cooperation and sustainable development”, with an important focus on the best practices of the Via Francigena presenting good practices along the route.

The aim of the Training Academy in Brindisi is to provide operators of the Cultural Routes with training on specific topical issues in the field of cultural heritage management and tourism promotion.

The Cultural Routes Training Academy offers practical approaches through the participation of academic or professional experts with whom Cultural Route operators can exchange views. The four days of training and exchanges aim at enhancing cooperation between the operators and managers of the Routes.

Participation is limited to representatives of the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe.

More than 80 representatives from as many as 37 certified Cultural Routes and 21 countries participate in this international event.

Discover the programme:
https://rm.coe.int/2024-training-academy-draft-programme-21march/1680af084c

Contacts: training.academy@viefrancigene.org

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Francigena Fidenza Festival 2024. The fourth edition closes looking at Canterbury

The Francigena Fidenza Festival 2024 has closed the curtain after four vibrant days with great participation of the general public. It was a long “cultural bridge” connecting northern Europe with the Mediterranean via the city of Fidenza, which is located exactly halfway along the route (3,200 km long) and has been home to the headquarters of the European Association of the Via Francigena ways (EAVF) since 2001.

A glimpse of the 2024 edition

From April 11 to 14, the Festival hosted 50 outreach events, in-depth talks, scientific meetings, talks of national relevance, animations, music, and many hikes to discover the European cultural route of the Via Francigena.

On the morning of the closing day, an impressive 300 people set out on the Fidenza-Costamezzana-Medesano-Fornovo stretch for the “Lenti alla Meta” event.

The presence of Connie Nolan, city councilor of the city of Canterbury, gave great international relevance to the Festival and laid the groundwork for future collaborations with local governments, associations, and schools with a view to dialogue and cooperation. Nolan was received by Fidenza Mayor Andrea Massari and Councillor Maria Pia Bariggi. She also met with the mayors of Cadeo, Fiorenzuola, and Calendasco (Marica Toma, Romeo Gandolfi, Filippo Zangrandi), three municipalities located in the province of Piacenza. A special moment of discussion took place with the EAVF, the Festival’s partner, in the presence of President Massimo Tedeschi, Vice President Francesco Ferrari, and the entire Via Francigena staff.

AEVF contributed to the Festival with the organisation of three significant cultural and entertainment events: the Roveleto di Cadeo-Fiorenzuola-Fidenza walking relay on 12 and 13 April, which made it possible to visit abbeys and points of great historical and artistic interest; the workshop on the ‘Camminini in Emilia-Romagna’ (walking routes in Emilia-Romagna) on 12 April, in collaboration with APT Emilia-Romagna; and the scientific conference ‘Via Francigena towards UNESCO certification’ on 13 April, in collaboration with the University of Parma.

The Festival has reached its fourth edition and has now become not only a reference appointment,
but also a good practice to be made known throughout
the European network of Via Francigena ways.


We would like to thank the partners who supported us during the event for their cooperation: CAMCO, Garmont, and Ferrino, who have long been on the road with us to improve the experience of wayfarers 👣

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Italian Ministry of Tourism and EAVF sign a protocol to promote and internationalize the Via Francigena

The European Association of the Via Francigena ways (EAVF) and the Italian Ministry of Tourism signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at promoting and enhancing the Via Francigena as a cultural and tourist itinerary of international relevance.

The MoU aims at consolidating the Via Francigena as a hub for slow tourism and pilgrimage in Italy and Europe, in line with the Strategic Tourism Plan 2023-2027. It aims thus to develop shared actions to structure, enhance, and promote the Via Francigena route at both national and international levels.

The Via Francigena, recognized as a Cultural Route by the Council of Europe in 1994, celebrates in 2024 thirty years since this prestigious European recognition. The application dossier was presented by the then Department of Tourism of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the Italian Ministry of Tourism, in agreement with the coordinating committee led by the Emilia-Romagna Region.

The 3,200 km route, which traverses England, France, Switzerland, and Italy, involves Italy for almost 2000 km along an axis that touches over 400 Municipalities, often located outside tourist circuits or rural areas. These so-called “minor” territories are interconnected thanks to the work of the EAVF, founded in 2001.

Among the objectives of the protocol is to disseminate, through the EAVF network, information and activities of the Ministry of Tourism, which has included the Via Francigena and the pilgrim routes as one of the main axes for the development of slow tourism in Italy.

At the heart of the agreement is a technical coordination action, especially with the Italian regions crossed by the Via Francigena and the involved local authorities, to activate and share projects related to the route, hospitality, and promotion, also in synergy with ENIT (the Italian State Tourist Office). The aim is to attract an increasingly international audience, considering that in 2023 pilgrims who walked the Via Francigena came from 55 countries and generated an economic impact of over 25 million euros in the territories.

Activities included in the protocol also concern communication through the portals of the Italian Ministry of Tourism and EAVF, allowing interoperability between the two channels. Finally, emphasis is placed on common projects in view of the Jubilee 2025.

As Minister Daniela Santanchè recalled during the two-day event she spent last year on the Via Francigena, walking for two stages in Tuscany: “The Via Francigena represents a great opportunity to showcase the rural areas, the inland areas, the villages, and the cultural sites of Italy and minor Europe. The Ministry of Tourism is working to enhance the route through an integrated system of promotion, communication, and signage. There is a great opportunity not to be missed, called Jubilee 2025. Let’s make the Via Francigena our Camino de Santiago, making it the backbone that gives life to the system of Italian routes.”

The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding, which will be presented in Milan at the inaugural conference of the Grandi Cammini Fair on March 22 during the “Fa’ la Cosa Giusta!” Fair in the presence of Minister Santanchè, represents a significant step towards the promotion and enhancement of the Via Francigena as an important tourism and cultural resource, consolidating the collaboration between the European Association of the Via Francigena and the Ministry of Tourism.

The signing of the Memorandum at the inaugural conference of the Grandi Cammini Fair in Milan on March 22nd, coinciding with the “Fa’ la Cosa Giusta!” Fair, marks a significant step forward. In the presence of Minister Santanchè, this MoU strengthens collaboration between the European Association of Via Francigena ways and the Italian Ministry of Tourism, promoting and enhancing the Via Francigena as a key cultural and tourism resource.

Rome, March 21, 2024

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Embark on a journey to wellbeing: new European project by the EAVF

Get ready to lace up your hiking boots and explore the enchanting walking trails of the Mediterranean basin. EAVF starts its new European project in the framework of the Erasmus+ programme: “HIKE : Hiking for a healthier lifestyle along European Cultural Routes”.

Kicking off on 1 April 2024, this project is managed by the Culture Routes Society in Türkiye together with AEVF and Paths of Greece and has a duration of 18 months.

The HIKE aims to promote healthier lifestyles by organizing engaging hiking events along the stretch of the Via Francigena in Puglia region (September 2024), Via Egnatia in the area of Greek Edessa (October 2024) and in Türkiye next to Izmit (November 2024). Through workshops, animated activities, and community involvement, the project seeks to enhance well-being, encourage physical activity, and foster a sense of community.

EAVF is set to organize captivating hikes in the picturesque region of Puglia, offering workshops and animated activities to make each step a celebration. The arrival to Brindisi will be merged with the celebration of the European Week of Sports. The project involves some local bodies and associations such as the CAI of Viterbo, the Antiche Strade Association, the Puglia Region, the cities of Brindisi and Polignano a Mare and many other entities still in the confirmation phase.

EAVF takes the lead in spreading awareness about the project. From creating informative kits to crafting engaging communication guidelines, the association ensures that the spirit of HIKE reaches everyone. This isn’t just about hiking; it’s about embracing a lifestyle that nurtures both body and soul.

The hikes welcome all participants. More details on participation and a detailed schedule will be published shortly.