Via Francigena

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Pas de Calais: a participatory strategic plan for the Via Francigena

The Agglomeration of municipalities ‘Bethune-Bruay Artois Lys Romane’ in Pas de Calais, France, is preparing the Strategic Plan 2023-2025 dedicated to the Via Francigena – an important resource for sustainable and green tourism in the area.

Imagining and building together the Via Francigena of tomorrow‘ is the title of the meeting held in Allouagne (Municipality that joined the EAVF in 2022), in northern France, Pas de Calais. Local stakeholders were present: municipal administrations, tourism offices, universities, associations, economic categories.

Interesting ideas for working together on research, cooperation, recreation, service management and tourist enhancement on the Via were offered through 5 participatory workshops. Tourism is hence confirmed as an important driving force for the development of the territory from a cultural and economic point of view. The organisers also mentioned the important event ‘Road to Rome 2021. Start again!“. The passage of the event through Pas de Calais strongly rekindled interest in the Via Francigena. Furthermore, it enabled local authorities to work in synergy, with the prospect of its candidature as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In summary, Sigeric’s itinerary is at the heart of strategic development in a 250 km geographical area, which can be walked in twelve stages, from Calais to the Pays de Saint Omer, passing through the Béthune-Bruay area to Arras.

EAVF’s representatives

EAVF’s Director Luca Bruschi attended the event, stressing the importance of this initiative, which could be replicated in each of the 60 provinces crossed by the Via Francigena. Bruschi recalled that the results of these ateliers will be included in the three-year Strategic Plan that EAVF is working on all along.

Jacques Chevin, EAVF’s responsible for the development of the Via in France and Switzerland, also pitched. Indeed, he animated and coordinated himself the cooperation atelier.

Imagining and building together the Via Francigena of tomorrow‘ is the best slogan for continuing to raise awareness of the route. In 2024, it will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its certification within the Council of Europe.

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Explor Games®: Sigeric in the land of the 4 rivers

In June 2022, the French Federation of Municipalities of the Four Rivers launched the app “Sigeric in the land of the four rivers”. It’s an Explor Games® game promoting historical, cultural and natural heritage of the area of the four rivers.

The game is mainly based on the important history that connects the Via Francigena with the river Saône. Explor Games® are adventure games
where players are the heroes! In a clever mix of treasure and digital scavenger hunt, participants alternate real and virtual world, game and information content.

You only need a smartphone or a tablet to play. Download the app “Sigeric in the land of the four rivers” for free from Google Play or App Store.

Sigeric, archbishop of Canterbury, is popular for the Via Francigena as we know that he walked it in 990 to get the pallium from Pope John XV. He wrote the 79 stages of his journey back home on a parchment, today kept at the British Library in London.

We imagined that, while passing through the land of the four rivers, Sigeric would be robbed of his belongings. Here starts the adventure, since Sigeric cannot return without the legitimacy of his sacrament!

A game offering 4 paths, with 4 themes and 4 objects to collect, besides a themed walk! You’ll cross Champlitte with the Via Francigena, Ray-sur-Saône with its castle, the forest of Renaucourt and its arboretum, the majestic canal of Savoyeux, Dampierre-sur-Salon and its history.

The CC4R led the project with a total budget of 154,000 €. They were co-financed by the French government, the Region and the Saving Bank of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.

All you must do is set out with Sigeric on this adventure as you walk along the Via Francigena!

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New information point for the Via Francigena in the Veio Park in Lazio

The Veio Park, on the Lazio section of the Via Francigena leading to Rome, has intensified its information network also outside its territory, with a new information point dedicated to the itinerary.

The Lazio Region is increasingly enhancing and developing services for pilgrims on the Via Francigena, also in view of the Jubilee 2025. Just in these days, in fact, a new information point of the Park has been inaugurated in Nepi, at the Sansoni farm, with new maps and publications dedicated to ramblers to Rome. Within the Veio Park, based in Nepi, there are in fact also 27 kilometres of the Via Francigena: the last stages towards Rome. Nepi therefore represents an ideal ‘gateway’ to the protected natural area for pilgrims on their way to the eternal city.

It is also important to give value and promote,’ said Veio Park President Giorgio Polesi, ‘the points close to our protected area to stimulate knowledge of our places and points of interest. We have 27 kilometres of Francigena within the Park, passing through Campagnano, Formello, Isola Farnese, to reach La Storta and then Rome‘.

The inauguration, in a splendid natural setting along a stretch of the Via Francigena, was attended not only by Polesi but also by the Vice-president of the European Association of Via Francigena Ways, Silvio Marino, the Mayor of Nepi Franco Vita, the town Councillor of Monterosi, Maurizio Tamantini, the Councillor of Campagnano, Pietro Mazzarini, the Director of the Museo del Pellegrino, Michele Damiani, the Councillor Roberta Bellotti and the Councillor of Formello, Roberto Amadio. There were also Ilaria Bartolotti from the Italian Corps of San Lazzaro, Mario Porcu, President of the BCC of the Province of Rome, Danilo Casciani, Director of the Veio Park, and Fabio Neri, Head of security. Doing the honours, Giuseppe and Olivia Sansoni. Also present was the Sutri municipality’s tourism Councillor Claudia Mercuri.

The next information point, on which the Region is currently working, will soon be inaugurated in the municipality of Sutri, along the ancient Roman Via Cassia.

For further information: +39 338 8374598

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Winning shots of the “Share your route 2022” photo contest

After four months, on 31 October 2022, the “Share your route” photo contest officially closed, with the participation of pilgrims, walkers and tourists from all over Europe to document their experience on the Via Francigena and other routes.

The initiative, organized by the European project rurAllure linked to the enhancement of the heritage along the routes, collected over 3,000 photos, of which more than half related to the Via Francigena.

A great result that contributes to improving the experience of those who travel the cultural routes on foot or by bicycle every year: congratulations to all participants!

Below are the names of the winners of the photo contest for the Via Francigena, who can request their prize by sending an email to contact@rurallure.eu:

  1. Nappa Travels
  2. Antonio Mastropaolo
  3. Roy Bella e Papà

You can consult the complete list of winners and view the shots at this link

A special thanks to the partners of the initiative: Garmont®, Ferrino and SloWays.

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Hiking backpack: how to choose and what to put in it for a long-distance trip

The departure date is approaching; you feel like you took everything but can’t help repeating the list of “I’ve got it, I’ve got it, I’m missing it!”, tempted to empty your backpack and do it all over again… Calm down! First of all, we want to tell you that it’s perfectly normal to have doubts about what to take with you (and what to leave at home) on a walking or cycling trip. Fear not: today we will take a look together at which backpack to choose for a long-distance trip and what to put in it.

Choosing a backpack

Let’s start with the first step: which backpack to choose?

The backpack is one of the most important pieces of equipment: it is our “home” during the trip and must be chosen with great care (second only to the shoes). A careless purchase could put you in more or less difficulty during the walking experience.

There are many models of backpacks, with different capacities and shapes. We distinguish at least three categories, suitable for different experiences and uses:

  • 20/40 litres: small but sufficient for a 1-day hike;
  • 40/60 litres: suitable for multi-day hikes, usually without a tent, with an overnight staying in hospitality centres along the route;
  • 60/100 litres: ideal for long walking trips, where a tent, cooker and sleeping bag are required.

To choose a backpack, attention must also be paid to the season, picking a larger model in winter, due to the bulkier equipment to carry, and a lighter and more breathable summer model, given the high temperatures. Pay attention to weight too! The backpack should not exceed 10% of our body weight and it is best to limit it to a maximum of 7-8 kg, well distributed.

We have long been using Ferrino Outdoor‘s backpacks for their practicality, compactness and colourful, elegant style. In particular, we have become fond of the ‘Finisterre’ model, designed specifically for pilgrims who travel long distances. The Association’s staff had the opportunity to try them out during the 4-month Road to Rome 2021 and we couldn’t be happier with our choice!

Click here to discover all the models on the Ferrino website

What to put (or not) in your backpack?

Ok, here we go back to the crucial question. After choosing the model, let’s try to work out together what to take with us for a long-distance trip:

  • Clothing in lightweight, technical material: we usually carry a maximum of three pieces for a week-long walk. You will also need a (light) fleece, a k-way, a woollen cap (or sun hat in summer) and gloves. Pay attention to the choice of socks: choose the most suitable for your shoes to avoid annoying chafing on your feet.
  • Foot cream: to prevent blisters, you can put talcum powder on your feet before setting off and, at the end of the stage, a cooling, refreshing mint cream or shea butter.
  • First emergency kit: to keep at hand at all times.
  • Utility knife with hacksaw, headlamp and a small sewing kit.
  • Map and practical information on the route: we recommend downloading GPX tracks (tracks for those walking the Via Francigena are available at this link) but also to bring a map in case you have to cross areas with poor coverage or to avoid unforeseen low battery problems. It is also important to have all the information related to reception facilities, water points and refreshments.
  • Tent and sleeping bag, for those who decide to walk for several days without relying on reception facilities. You will often find organised campsites or private areas where you can easily set up your tent (take a look at our Accommodation & Facilities section).
  • Walking stick or trekking poles, which are useful for several reasons: to give rhythm when walking, mobilise the arms and provide support on ascents and descents. Many walking sticks have the option of being shortened to fit into the outer side pockets of your backpack when not needed.

When preparing your backpack, we advise you to pay attention to how you store objects. There are a few basic rules you can stick to: heavy objects should be placed either on top or in the middle, all close to the spine; never put sharp or hard objects in direct contact with your back; keep your first-aid kit and water bottle within easy reach (in the pockets of your backpack), as well as all those objects you take out and put back in several times a day while walking.

What are you waiting for, now? Get your backpack ready, all that’s left to do is set off!

‘Buon cammino’ and… don’t forget to share your journey on your social networks by tagging us!

Facebook: @ViaFrancigenaEU

Instagram: @viafrancigena_eu

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From Paris to Jerusalem walking the Via Francigena

On 1 October 2022, Edgar Le Bras set off from Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris with the aim of arriving in Jerusalem. Edgar knows the Via Francigena very well: he worked with us in 2021 as an AEVF intern, preparing the great Road to Rome 2021 march!

He set a goal of 8 months to reach Jerusalem on foot, walking stages of around 25 kilometres per day. Once in Rome, he will continue on the Via Francigena in Southern Italy to Bari, where he will take the boat to Tirana in Albania and continue his expedition following the Via Egnatia through Macedonia, Greece, Turkey and Syria, to finish the last stretch from northern Israel to Jerusalem.

A few days ago, he joined the Via Francigena in Bar-sur-Aube. On 17 October he arrived in Haute-Saône and received a warm welcome in Leffond before arriving in Champlitte, headquarters of the EAVF, the following day. Together with the town hall, we organised a warm welcome for him!

To prepare for the journey, Edgar contacted the municipalities along the route and the network of scouts and guides to which he belongs. EAVF actively supports Edgar’s project as a promoting partner, and invites all municipalities and friend associations along his route to welcome him and organise meetings to support the important motivation of his journey: to highlight the theme of peace between peoples.

You are all invited to join, walk part of the itinerary and get to know Edgar, help him find hospitality and share with him part of this great adventure.

If you would like to follow him and/or walk a few kilometres, do not hesitate to contact him on his social networks!

Facebook: En avant Jerusalem 2023

Instagram: enavantjerusalem2023

Good luck and buon cammino!

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From Rome to Finisterre covering 2,700 km at the age of 70

Joaquin Balibrea, pilgrim by profession. “Chimo” is from the Spanish city of Murcia, and in July 2022 he completed an itinerary of almost 3,000 km that took him from Rome to Finisterre in four months, at an average of 22 km per day. And this was certainly not his first walk: ‘Chimo’ has walked a dozen routes or so, of around 1,000 km each, to reach the same destination over the years: the Tomb of Santiago in the famous cathedral that attracts millions of pilgrims every year. This time, intersecting stretches of the Via Francigena between the Alps and the Via Aurelia with the Spanish Way, Chimo went further to reach Finisterre, believed to be the end of the world in ancient times.

I started walking 20 years ago out of curiosity and now I can say that I spend more time walking than at home!” he said in a recent interview published in a local magazine. A way of exploring the world, which has become his life: “it’s a much cheaper trip than the plane or the car, depending only on your feet and allowing you to challenge your fears“.

The staff of rurallure.eu, with which the EAVF association works to promote cultural heritage along the main European routes, contacted him for an exclusive interview, which you can read here.

May Chimo’s story be an inspiration to all those who would like to embark on a walk but don’t know where to start: good physical preparation, a light but complete backpack (here are our tips) and… all that’s left is to put one foot in front of the other and set off!

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Via Francigena speaks at the Stati Generali del Turismo Italiano

On 28 and 29 October in Chianciano Terme (SI) Luca Bruschi, director of the European Association of Vie Francigene, will speak at the Stati Generali del Turismo Italiano to talk about sustainable and responsible tourism and to share the good practices of the Via Francigena.

The Italian Ministry of Tourism is promoting the organisation of the Stati Generali del Turismo (States General of Italian Tourism), the first national technical meeting to discuss with operators and trade associations of the tourism sector. The initiative is configured as the first important moment in the process of elaboration and adoption of the Strategic Plan for Tourism (STP) 2023-2027, a planning and programming tool envisaged by the national legislation to be submitted to the Government for adoption. Within the planning document there is a section dedicated to slow tourism with a focus on cycle tourism, historical trains, food and wine and walking journeys.

This is the context for the Stati Generali del Turismo in Chianciano, attended by representatives of the Ministry of Tourism, institutions, economic and tourism categories, and the world of associations. On 28 October, Luca Bruschi, director of the EAVF, will speak about the experience and good practices along the Via Francigena.

Walking is not just physical activity, but a way of discovering ourselves or a tool for taking care of our psychophysical well-being. It is a green, responsible tourism, which has no impact on the environment but has a profound effect on local communities and the territories it crosses, often located in rural areas. Walking is a new trend that can also generate a significant economic and social impact, also offering new job opportunities in the sector.

The whole of Italy is a Land of Routes that favour territorial sustainable development policies. Italy already has its own Way of St. James, namely the Via Francigena with its 2,000 national kilometres that attract thousands of pilgrims and hikers from 70 countries around the world‘, Bruschi explained.

Click here for the full programme (in Italian)

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I Love Francigena: 7 hikes in October with free participation organised by Coop

Coop has always supported healthy and sustainable lifestyles, and in this post-Covid19 relaunch year it chooses to be a truly active promoter of outdoor physical activity and slow tourism. With these objectives in mind, Coop organised a series of walks free of charge, suitable to all and open to the public at the beginning of summer, and offers 7 more hikes during October 2022!

In particular, Coop approached Francigena Service S.r.l. as its organising partner and as technical-logistical creator of the events along the Via Francigena route. Starting on 1 October 2022, we will be holding a total of seven walks with free participation along the Italian Via Francigena, with the format of the well-known ‘I Love Francigena‘ events. The next tours will cover the regions Piedmont, Lombardy, Liguria and Emilia-Romagna and will require registration (free of charge) at least 5 days before the hike.

Do you want to participate? Discover the stages, register and join us for the stage you prefer!

◆ HERE IS THE CALENDAR OF OCTOBER’S HIKES ◆

Saturday 1 October – Lombardy, from Villanova d’Ardenghi to Pavia: sign up here or visit Coop’s website.

Saturday 1st October – Piedmont, from Palazzo Canavese to Viverone: sign up here or visit Coop’s website.

Sunday 2 October – Piedmont / Lombardy, from Vercelli to Palestro: sign up here or visit Coop’s website.

Sunday 2 October – Liguria, from Castelnuovo Magra to Sarzana: sign up here or visit Coop’s website.

Saturday 22 October – Emilia-Romagna, from Cassio to Berceto: sign up here or visit Coop’s website.

Saturday 22 October – Piedmont, from Borgofranco d’Ivrea to Ivrea: sign up here or visit Coop’s website.

Sunday 23 October – Emilia-Romagna, from Roveleto di Cadeo to Fiorenzuola d’Arda: sign up here or visit Coop’s website.

Click here for the full list of events organised by Coop

The hikes are organised with the aim of exploring and promoting the cultural, historical and natural heritage as well as the products of local gastronomy along the route of the Via. The itineraries we cover are suitable for everyone and groups will always be accompanied by an experienced environmental and hiking guide.

We also walked with Coop Outdoor in June and July 2022!

Here are some of our latest itineraries:

Piedmont: from Palazzo Canavese to Viverone

Emilia-Romagna: from Cassio to Berceto

Liguria: from Ponzano Superiore to Sarzana

Tuscany: from Gambassi Terme to S. Gimignano and from Strove to Monteriggioni

Lazio: from Sutri to Capranica

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Walking gives you appetite: Montana is with us on the Via Francigena

The Francigena community continues to grow, as does the network of partners supporting the Association: among the new entries is Montana, a historic Italian company leader in the production of canned meat, which had already accompanied us during the Road to Rome. Convenient and pocket-sized, it is an ideal food for pilgrims embarking on a journey!

Montana’s #CamminareMetteAppetito (‘Walking gives you appetite’) project was created to collect the best Italian walks and outdoor routes and make available the experiences, information and advice of pilgrims and lovers of outdoor activities.

More and more people, in fact, are choosing a healthy lifestyle, made up of outdoor sports activities and a conscious diet and at the same time respectful of the environment. Montana recognises itself in these values, which are common to those who, like AEVF, love the land, and has taken steps to support them with us.

Montana meat comes from an entirely Italian production chain and is the ideal travelling companion along the way because it is light, practical, tasty and high in protein. It is suitable for allə because it is gluten-free and environmentally friendly thanks to the 100% recyclable aluminium packaging. It is the first jellied beef in Italy to have the EPD environmental certification, which measures and certifies the environmental impact of a product on the environment in an objective and comparable way.

We therefore begin with Montana a great new journey as a spokesman for slow and sustainable tourism at local, national and European level.