“Thanks for allowing me to discover the Via Francigena” is the phrase with which the presenter Alessandro Cattelan and the Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino salute each other after a conversation on the relationship between happiness and religion. In the background stands the Tuscan countryside along the Via Francigena, while some passing pilgrims stop to say hello.
The historic route defined by Sigeric was, in fact, the location chosen by the film-makers to record the second episode of “Una semplice domanda“, a mini-series already available on Netflix since 18 March which is quickly climbing the top of the charts. It develops in six episodes with speakers that are famous in Italy and abroad, exploring the meaning of happiness, but above all where to search it and where to find it.
“Does belief make us happy?” is the question that allows us to relate to the director from a new, particular standpoint, discovering memories of his grandparents and great-grandparents, Fellini-style reminiscences, rules and prohibitions, rituals, and the lifetime that flows past each of us in those last moments of existence.
“I am a moderate walker, just as I am in everything else“, says Sorrentino as the video shots from above show us cypress trees, blue skies and puffy clouds – which take us back to the marvelous stages we covered in Tuscany last summer, during the relay march “Via Francigena. Road to Rome 2021”. If you want to jump back into those memories with us, just take a look at our photogallery.
Interaction, connection, sharing, experience, discovery, and opportunity: these are the key ideas that emerged on 24 February during the Virtual World Cafè organised by MOHU – Centre for Advanced Studies in Mobility & Humanities at the University of Padova.
A brainstorming session with students of the Master program in Mobility Studies, divided in 5 groups, who shared their ideas with 5 experts coming from the most various work fields.
Among them was Simona Spinola, EAVF’s communication officer, who led her audience on a discovery of cultural itineraries in their various forms and structures, to reflect with the group on how walking mobility generates opportunities. From the discovery of cultural heritage to the promotion of small villages far from the main tourist circuits, slow tourism is an inexhaustible source of discovery for those who choose mobility on foot or on two wheels. The Via Francigena is tangible proof of this, as it has been connecting municipalities, institutions and local associations for years to create a shared European identity.
The virtual classrooms, moderated by lecturers from the Department of History, Geography and Antiquity, offered an interactive afternoon of enriching exchange for all parties involved. In addition to slow tourism and cultural itineraries, participants spoke with Christophe Gay from the Mobile Lives Forum about mobility and the sustainable transition as a new implementable lifestyle. They spoke with Elena Muscarella, from Fondazione Acra, about the experience of Migrantour, an intercultural urban walk that compares tourism with migration trends. With Laura Ronzon, from the Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology, students reflected on the role of scientific and technological heritage, and with Kirsten Rüther, Senior Lecturer in the Mobile Cultural Studies doctoral programme at the University of Vienna, they analysed the implications of mobility in today’s society.
We wish to thank all participants and, in particular, Chiara Rabbiosi, researcher and expert on the geography of consumption and tourism, for involving the EAVF. Mobility is a value to carry forward, step by step – above all along the Via Francigena.
On 18 February, the European Association of Via Francigena ways (EAVF) took part in an international conference in Venice regarding Italian cultural routes of the Council of Europe.
The meeting was organized by the Italian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and by the Italian representation of the Council based in Venice, headed by Luisella Pavan-Woolfe, former ambassador of the European Union in Strasbourg.
Institutions, authorities and representatives of cultural routes attended the event with the common objective of analysing challenges and opportunities of cultural routes that cross Europe, defined as “tangible solutions for the tourism sector, compromised by the pandemic” by Filippo Maria Carnici, Vice-President of the Ateneo Veneto that hosted the conference.
Sustainable development and the recovery of tourism in the post-covid phase are the issues highlighted by Stefano Dominioni, Director of the European Institute of Cultural Routes. He recalled how “the Council of Europe can reaffirm the values of public participation and democratic citizenship within a shared Europe that belongs to everyone: an illustrious example is the Via Francigena, which, through the joint work of authorities, municipalities and territories, contributes to the shaping of a common European identity“.
This was confirmed by Massimo Tedeschi, EAVF’s President, who recalled, during the session dedicated to European heritage and history, how the historic journey undertaken by Sigeric to reach Rome is a continuous opportunity to break down stereotypes and create a sense of common belonging: “relaunch, Europe and tangible and intangible heritage, as in people and their ideas. These were the cornerstones of the event Via Francigena. Road to Rome 2021 – the European relay race with which we celebrated the Association’s 20th anniversary“.
The Cultural Routes programme, launched by the Council of Europe in 1987 with the Declaration of Santiago, is a warranty of excellence that offers a model for transnational cultural and tourism management, fostering synergies between authorities and stakeholders at the European level and contributing to the creation of a community spirit. Out of the 45 certified itineraries, 29 pass through Italy, as the director of Venice’s Office Luisella Pavan-Woolfe reminded; she also highlighted the importance of Venice, an academic center and important cultural hub recognized on the European level. The city is actively involved in the Council of Europe’s activities related to the promotion of cultural heritage and freedom of expression. “Cultural routes can create and spread continuous exchanges of ideas and best practices also thanks to European funds, as witnessed by the European project “rurAllure” financed by Horizon 2020, born with the aim of enhancing the rural heritage of European routes“.
European identity, memory and heritage were the three key words of the day, which featured the Via Francigena and the Way of St James alongside the Phoenicians’ Route, the Via Romea Germanica, Atrium – dedicated to the architecture of Totalitarian Regimes – the European Mozart Routes, the Jewish Heritage Route and the Route of Historic Thermal Towns, as well as the Route of the Liberation of Europe and the Route of Historic Gardens. Roberta Alberotanza, member of the Task Force for the Italian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, concluded the conference by saying that “it would take a lifetime to travel across all the itineraries presented today“. She then led the participants on a tour of the movable exhibition dedicated to the 29 Council of Europe itineraries with Italian network members.
The international meeting of rurAllure took place in Padua and Montegrotto on 27 – 29 January 2022. This Horizon 2020 European project is focused to the development of innovative digital tools for promotion of heritage in the vicinity of cultural routes.
Having won twice the ERASMUS + calls for mobility of youth in 2019 and 2020, the European Association of the Via Francigena ways provided an opportunity to 170 graduates in tourism, market and communication, to obtain vocation training abroad.
On 29 September – 01 October 2021 takes place the annual advisory forum on cultural routes. Organised by the Council of Europe, the event brings together stakeholders from the cultural and tourism sectors united by the common topic – cultural routes.
The event, which took place in Portuguese Vila do Conde on 8- 10 September 2021 brought together Consortium partners of rurAllure, the European Union financed project, focused on enhancement of heritage in the vicinity of cultural and pilgrimage routes.
On Thursday the 5th of August, two important occurrences converged on the Via Francigena stage, to celebrate, on foot, the bicentenary of the death of Napoleon and the 20th anniversary of the Association.