Social Media Manager and English translator of the Via Francigena, Sara Louise is a multitasking juggler passionate about nature, music, and mindfulness. She’s writing on the social media on the one hand, collecting suggestions and opinions from the community of walkers on the other. While telling you our story of the Via Francigena, she’s hoping to listen to yours too.
The Gruppo dei Dodici Association, together with other local associations in Lazio, has set up the Help Pellegrini Network to follow and help walkers and pilgrims passing between Rome and Teano along the Via Francigena in Southern Italy.
The help group consists of 18 people coordinated by Giuseppe Pucci of the Gruppo dei Dodici, who keep updated through a new group on WhatsApp. The aim is to offer support to travellers with regard to accommodation (overnight stays, food, etc.), emergency situations and accidents, loss of the route, or critical situations that prevent or make it dangerous to pass along the route. It is also important to record the number of walkers and pilgrims travelling along the Via Francigena in southern Lazio in order to collect data and promote the infrastructure along this stretch, so the group will be distributing a survey sheet.
If you are in transit along the Via Francigena in southern Lazio, or if you are planning your journey, you can ask for support from the Gruppo dei Dodici at any time via the contacts listed here:
Do you want to walk in winter and enjoy the mountains in a different way? It’s time to go snowshoeing!
The Via Francigena crosses 5 countries and many different landscapes: villages, countryside, cities, plains, forests and mountain areas. It is usually walked or cycled in the summer, spring and autumn seasons, but less so in winter. Its mountain sections crossing the Alps, at the Great St Bernard Pass, and the Apennines at the Cisa Pass, may seem the most difficult. Yet, walking on snow-covered paths has an unusual charm all to discover, even more so if armed with snowshoes!
Thousands of years ago, mountaineers trekked across snow-covered peaks carrying some kind of snowshoes on their feet, which today are attached under their boots. They wore snowshoes, also known as snowshoes, because they offered a number of advantages: they did not sink, and therefore allowed us to float on fresh snow without sinking into it, while metal crampons helped us not to slip on the snow when it was hard.
Today, snowshoeing is a recreational and affordable activity for everyone, suitable for spending a day outdoors even on the coldest days of the year. Snowshoes are indeed an effective way of hiking in fresh snow and being in contact with nature all year round.
When going out in the snow, and on a winter hike in general, keeping warm and dry is essential if you don’t want to risk making the experience truly unbearable!
Here are the 3 essential tips for a warm and safe snowshoe trek:
1. Suitable equipment
Choose snowshoes that are suitable for your weight, foot and outdoor weather conditions; use poles and wear warm, waterproof hiking boots. For the choice of snowshoes and poles, we recommend you visit the website of our technical partner Ferrino Outdoor.
Remember to hydrate often, wear sunscreen and stay as warm and dry as possible. Finally, check the forecast to predict the possibility of avalanches and snow conditions before you go out. When walking in fresh snow, there can be a risk of avalanches: take care to choose suitable routes and days, be accompanied by someone who knows the area and always have a GPS with you. To follow the GPS tracks, download the AllTrails App by clicking here.
Snowshoeing is an intense activity and a little more strenuous than walking. However, it allows us, in a season when we tend to lethargy, to enjoy unparalleled scenery and views that feed the mind and heart with pure wonder!
2023 will be rich with days off from work, so you can already start thinking about your hiking calendar and plan your next walk or bike ride along the route. Especially in Italy, this year will be full of long weekends due to national holidays. By organising yourself properly and optimising your holidays, you can plan several long weekends for walking in all seasons, at any time of year!
The ‘low season’ has many advantages: you have the chance to experience nature without the hustle and bustle of the high season, without the excessive heat, and you can take a real break from tasks and accumulated stress during daily routine at any time.
What better way to start the year than by recharging your batteries and taking in the beauty of the winter landscapes of the Via Francigena? Despite the cold and sometimes snow on the roads, winter is a perfect season to pull out your backpack, rain jacket and walking shoes, and head out to enjoy the charms of the Via’s route, step after step.
Of course, one must always choose carefully which stages to walk, because it can be a demanding experience: you will have to take the necessary precautions to undertake a winter hike in total safety. Here are some tips:
Choose an itinerary appropriate for your experience and physical preparation (between levels T, E, EE, but also the number of kilometres to cover and the altitude difference). To consult the maps and find out the details of the stages, you can use the AllTrails App (try it for free by clicking here).
Equip yourself with appropriate clothing and accessories to stay dry at all times. You can find lots of advice on this topic by clicking here.
Pay attention to signposting and try not to walk in the dark: remember to always check sunrise and sunset times as well as the weather before setting off.
All that is left is to set the next departure date and take the opportunity to enjoy landscapes that are often crowded in summer, immersing yourself in nature, food and traditions of the Via Francigena territories. In spring, the events organised along the itinerary will also return, such as our ever-lasting ‘I Love Francigena‘ group hikes.
Follow us on our channels so you don’t miss the upcoming events!
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
The Via Francigena south of Rome is an extraordinary journey in time and space, allowing us to see historical memories from different periods juxtaposed among each other. In this article, we will present 12 unmissable places, presented in the order you will come across them as you travel along the route from Rome to the border with Campania.
1. The Regional Park of the Ancient Appian Way
The largest protected urban area in Europe and a green belt following the Regina Viarum, south of Rome. History and nature come together and create a unique landscape, containing remains of mausoleums, Roman villas and aqueducts.
2. Castel Gandolfo
A town famous for having been the summer home of various Popes for centuries. As well as admiring the wonderful panorama of Albano Lake, walkers can visit the gardens and the papal villas: unmissable places.
Another village built in a beautiful panoramic location is Nemi, overlooking the volcanic lake that shares the same name. In the town, you can visit the ancient Temple of Diana Aricina and the Museum of Roman Ships, built in the 1830s to hold the two gigantic ships of Emperor Caligula (37-41 AD) that were recovered from the lake, unfortunately lost in a fire in 1944.
The townis a hub of historical and natural attractions: along the route, walkers will pass through the beautiful green space surrounding Giulianello Lake, and on arrival in the historical town centre, they can visit the Chapel of Santissima Annunziata, which holds one of the most important paintings in Lazio from the late-gothic period. They can also visit the Saint Oliva monumental park, where a medieval church incorporates the remains of an antique temple, a 14th century chapel featuring frescoes, a renaissance cloister and a convent.
5. The Norba Archeological area
The area was founded in the 5th century BC, in an area dominating the entire Pontina plain. It had been destroyed in 81 BC, in an incident where the residents preferred to kill each other and set fire to their houses rather than let the area fall to enemy hands and leave them with something.
Dominated by Caetani castle, it is another marvellous town along the Via Francigena in Southern Italy. Before taking on the climb towards the historical centre, you can visit the Valvisciolo abbey, one of the most impressive masterpieces in Romanic-Gothic-Cistercian style. At the foot of the town, the Ninfa Garden is worthy of a visit, a typical English garden constructed in the 1920s in the area occupied by the medieval town of Ninfa, of which today only some ruins remain.
7. Fossanova Abbey
The abbey is situated within the municipality of Priverno and is one of the oldest examples of Gothic-Cistercian art in Italy. The complex was completed at the end of the 12th century after transforming a pre-existing Benedictine monastery, and was later given over to the Monks of Burgundy guided by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.
The historical centre of Terracina is a place where the marks of Roman, medieval and modern history can all still be seen, such as the ancient Appian Way which passes through Piazza del Foro, and is still cobbled to this day. Further examples are the Roman Theatre, the Capitolium, the Cathedral of Saint Caesarius built on the ruins of a Roman temple, Castello Frangipane, Palazzo Braschi. The town is dominated by the Temple of Giove Anxur, built in the Roman era on Mount Saint’Angelo, in a beautiful position from which you can admire the beautiful panorama looking out over to Mount Circeo and to the Pontine islands.
9. Valley of Saint Andrew
One of the most suggestive parts of the ancient Appian Way south of Rome is through the Valley of Saint Andrew, between Fondi and Itri, forming a three-kilometre path parallel to the modern Via Appia. The Roman Road was built on the rocky side of the mountain, held up by strong walls up to 12m high, which date back to the third century BC, the era of Appio Claudio, the builder of the road.
Gaeta offers visitors a spectacular view from the historical centre and from the Angevin-Aragonese Castle, made up of two linked buildings that were built in two different historical periods. The lower building was built during the period of Angevin governance, and the higher building was ordered to be built by Sovrans during the reign of the Kingdom of Naples, part of the Aragonese dynasty. Before arriving in the town centre, the Via Francigena passes by Serapo Beach, from which you can see the Sanctuary of the Montagna Spaccata. The sanctuary was built in the year 930 by the Benedictine Fathers on the ruins of a Roman General’s villa.
11. Cicero’s tomb in Formia
Although around 1.5km from the Via Francigena, the tomb in Formiais worth visiting: it can be found along the Via Appia and is a mausoleum dating back to the Augustan era. It is where Cicero, the famous Roman politician and orator, is supposedly buried. Additionally, in the town hall building dating back to the 1700s, Formia plays host to the National Archeological Museum, which displays an impressive collection of excellent sculptures dating back to the period between the 1st century BC to the 1st century AD.
12. Minturno Archaeological Area
Before leaving the Lazio area, you cannot miss the Minturno Archaeological Area, an ancient port city that was part of the Pentapolis Aurunca, destroyed by the Romans in 314 BC and subsequently rebuilt. Next to the archaeological area, the bourbon bridge which crosses the Garigliano river was the first iron suspension bridge ever to be built in Italy, built between 1828 and 1832.
Along the ancient pilgrimage way, as well as the spiritual highlights, numerous places stand out for their historic and social value, not forgetting their beauty. In this article, we will present 10 unmissable places in Northern Lazio, presented in the order you will come across them as you travel along the route from the border with Tuscany to Rome.
1. Proceno Castle
A historicalbuilding that dominates the first urban area the Via Francigena passes through on entering Lazio. It has been owned by the Cecchini family since 1644. Part of the castle has now been converted into a hotel.
2. Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Acquapendente
Consecrated in 1149, it is a fascinating place which features two staircases carved into the rock leading to the sacellum. This holds the oldest copy of Jesus’s sepulchre, giving Acquapendente the nickname of “Europe’s Jerusalem”.
3. Basilica of Saint Christina in Bolsena
It dates back to the 11th century. As well as holding the relics of the Saint, it became famous for the eucharistic miracle that happened in 1236: while a Bishop was holding Mass, at the moment of the consecration, the sacramental bread bled. From then on, the event has been celebrated during the Corpus Christi festival.
4. The panorama from the Pilgrim’s Tower in Montefiascone
The view makes it worth undertaking the tiring climb to the summit of the Papal fortress which dominates the historical town centre. From here you can take in the breath-taking views of Bolsena Lake and a large part of the Tuscia area.
5. The San Pellegrino area of Viterbo
One of the biggest medieval areas of any city in Europe. It hosts wonderful examples of 13th century architecture, with its maze of streets, towers, arches and medieval buildings.
6. The Torri di Orlando in Capranica
A monumental collection of two Roman funeral monuments dating back to the first century BCE and a bell tower belonging to a Benedictine church from the 10th century. A peaceful place enriched by large oak trees where, according to the tale, paladin Orlando loved lying down to rest.
7. Roman Amphitheatre in Sutri
Oneof the most surprising historical constructions along the whole Via Francigena: it is an amphitheatre that had over 9,000 seats and had entirely been dug out of the hillside. It was rediscovered between 1835 and 1838 by the local population.
8. Sanctuary of the Madonna of Sorbo in Formello
Built in the 15th century on the ruins of a castle that previously dominated the Sorbo valleys. It became a pilgrimage location dedicated to the Madonna: according to the story, she had a shepherd’s lost hand grow back.
9. The Veio archeological area
An Etruscan city that was a famous rival to Rome for its control of the Tevere river, conserves important monuments like the Portonaccio Sanctuary, and the oldest painted tombs of Etruria: the tomb of the Roaring Lions and the tomb of the Ducks.
10. Monte Ciocci in Rome
A green space in Monte Mario park. It is here where pilgrims arriving in Rome can first see the great cupola of Saint Peter’s Basilica. Here, they will understand why in medieval times it was called Mons Gaudii, “the mountain of joy”.
Ciriaca+Erre is a Swiss-Italian artist from Matera. Since 22 April 2022, World Earth Day, she has begun a life as a nomad and pilgrim, returning to inhabit the planet as her home. She left on foot without money, from the caves of her home town, Matera, and headed for Africa – to the cave where Homo sapiens survived the Ice Age. She thus created her latest performance, which combines art and life: ‘2 years, 2 weeks, 2 days, Homeless Fearless Borderless‘. A slow journey of awareness, back into human history.
Ciriaca discovered her passion for travel at the age of 18, travelling through India. Her artistic practice ranges from painting to photography and urban installation, from performance to video. She has won important prizes and exhibited in various museums, galleries and institutions, from Italy to Switzerland and as far as England. She has exhibited at the Venice Biennale, in New York, Los Angeles, Moscow and Berlin, but has always tried to actively take art outside of museums. She has produced several works on human rights and women’s rights for which she has travelled to Africa in search of remote villages where women condemned as witches are still isolated.
Here is our interview with Ciriaca+Erre:
How did this project come about?
‘It was born during the pandemic in response to the fear that dominated the world and the borders that became increasingly suffocating to the point of exiling us into our homes. It was born to regain courage and confidence in ourselves, in others and in life, overcoming intimate and social boundaries. It is born to return to inhabiting the planet as our true home. It is born in order to ‘experience’ life as a journey of awareness, inspired by the book ‘Siddhartha’ by Nobel prize winner Hermann Hesse – 100 years old this year – written in the very place where I lived the last few years in Switzerland.
It stems from the desire to live at a slower pace as opposed to a world that, after the pandemic, has gone back to speeding up as if nothing had happened. In all this there is the idea of living the present day by day, of letting go and simplifying.
This performance was born as an evolution of another performance I did a few years ago at the Museo della Permanente in Milan, where I donated over 500 personal objects from 80% of my clothes, motor bike, bicycle, chairs and more. Even then I felt that one day I would have gone further, leaving everything behind me.
It took me a year to prepare psychologically, rather than physically, to completely change my life. Of course, you can never really be ready for such a project… because, as in life, you learn as you go. Life is a journey of awareness’.
What are the added values of undertaking this journey alone?
‘A solo trip is a great act of self-confidence. Definitely a great challenge but also a great opportunity. This is a lonely journey but also one of connection with myself, with others and with nature.
Embarking on this journey alone as a woman is very significant for me, since my artistic research has often touched on themes related to women’s rights and their history. One of the milestones in this journey is also a visit to the world’s last matriarchal community in China.
Travelling alone allows you to grow, have confidence in yourself and your strengths, facing your fears. It allows you to open up to a very valuable inner dialogue, opening up internal and external landscapes that may surprise you. When travelling alone, intuition and instinct are awakened: we discover that we are much stronger than we think or others believe. Of course there are moments of fatigue and discouragement, in which the only travel companion that will give us support and motivation to build resilience… is ourselves.
Travelling alone is also a meaningful choice of freedom. But freedom comes with a great burden: that of responsibility. Being able to choose to change, to make mistakes, to respect our own rhythms, what to eat, where to go, what to see, when to stop, gives a wonderful sense of freedom. We are the solo makers of our choices and consequently we also take responsibility for them.
On this journey I do not feel alone – I feel like I am part of a whole again. I must say that sometimes I have felt more lonely being among many people or with the people I love’.
What is your goal?
‘The goal is to unite Life with Art, to return to “being” before “doing”, which is among the most difficult things to do today. The goal is to bring art and culture, which are a heritage of humanity, back to the streets. Just as the philosopher and mathematician Hypatia of ancient Greece also wanted.
Through this project I seek utopia and a more authentic life.
I am looking for new ways of living in harmony with nature, with oneself and with others, inspired by the first utopian ecological and vegetarian community in Europe, born in Switzerland in the early 1900s, on Monte Verità.
The goal is to undertake a sort of march for peace and for the planet.
In this pilgrimage I seek ‘humanity’ in the highest sense of the term. We forget that this name, which we have given ourselves, condenses significant and indispensable values such as solidarity, empathy and brotherhood, which we are losing sight of.
The aim is also to remind us that we are all migrants, as evidenced by the discovery of the so-called traveller gene (DRD4-7R) present in 20% of the population. Human evolution began with migration on foot from Africa: we are all migrants. I want to remind you that in the old days, pilgrims and travellers were not left outside to die but were welcomed into homes and given a hot meal.
I started walking because it is an act that is as much a part of our nature and human history as thought and speech are. It is a ‘symbolic’ act, revolutionary and peaceful at the same time. Every time we take a step forward, we leave our centre of gravity, a pre-established balance to find another. And this is what thought and art does, it questions something pre-established’.
Which stretches of the Francigena have you travelled?
‘I started my journey right from the caves of Matera, my home town, which is part of the Via Francigena. I immediately had to take a diversion to Apulia to visit one of the first utopian communities, where private property does not exist, and that is part of my research.
I was able to resume the Via Francigena in Southern Italy, in Apulia, passing through the significant stage of Monte Sant’Angelo, and from there towards Rome, with some necessary detours to pursue my research.
From Rome, I travelled along the ‘Via di Francesco‘: I would have liked to arrive in Switzerland on the Via Francigena but I had to take another route that touched on places significant to my project.
It was with great joy that I resumed the Via Francigena from Vileneuve, Switzerland. I resumed with a significant peace walk together with a Japanese Buddhist monk who has done walks all over the world and came especially from London.
I am still on the Via Francigena heading to Canterbury. I will miss this historic route that retraces the steps of the ancient pilgrims when I have completed it. A route kept alive today by those who, like me, cherish a different, slow and ecological way of travelling.
On these walking routes, I have had the opportunity to meet extraordinary people from all over the world with great human depth. To cross these small villages, inhabited by a few dozen or a few hundred inhabitants, and to find hospitality in families or municipalities that are sensitive to welcoming pilgrims, is truly precious. To know that you are retracing the steps of ancient pilgrims is exciting’.
EAVF General Assembly, Pavia (Italy) | 20 October 2023