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!
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“.
Travelling by foot, as the story of Chimo teaches us, is not just an activity for experienced hikers, but a possibility for anyone wishing to explore the world with their own eyes (and feet). The All Trails app, as a partner of EAVF, was created with the very aim of helping walking “professionals” and novices not to get lost both in the preparation and during the route, providing downloadable maps and information as well as the possibility of joining a community of outdoor activity lovers who share their experiences with tips, photos and travel stories.
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!
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.
The city of Viterbo (Lazio) wonderfully welcomed the international representatives of the European Association of Via Francigena Ways (EAVF) who held the General Assembly within a rich cultural programme.
Two intense days on the Via Francigena took place in Viterbo with great participation by institutional delegates, associations and universities of EAVF’s network. The EAVF General Assembly met again in presence after the event in Canterbury last 27 April: the Mayor of Canterbury (UK), Ben Fitter-Harding, was in the front row at the meeting in Viterbo, confirming the important role of ‘cultural bridge’ that the Via Francigena represents by uniting the four countries involved.
Also from northern Europe, representatives of the Bethune Agglomeration (Hauts-de-France, FR) were present, while from the opposite geographical pole, i.e. the Apulian section in southern Italy, there were representatives of the Puglia Region (Bari) and the Brindisi e le Antiche Strade Association (Brindisi). A long route of 3,200 km through England, France, Switzerland and Italy, which in Viterbo brought together people from all over the European axis of the Via Francigena.
The significant participation in the General Assembly of six vice-presidents is worth mentioning: Tricia Marshall (Municipality of Canterbury, UK), Gaëtan Tornay (Pays du Saint-Bernard, Orsières, CH), Francesco Ferrari (Municipality of Orio Litta, IT), Francesco Gazzetti (Region of Tuscany, IT), Silvio Marino (Region of Lazio, IT) and Aldo Patruno (Region of Puglia, IT).
The Assembly, led by President Massimo Tedeschi, began with greetings from the Mayor of the City of Viterbo Chiara Frontini.
Here are the main points on the agenda of the meeting:
brainstorming on the new strategic plan 2023-2025 of the European Association of Via Francigena Ways, a document which will be created in a participatory way and shared with all members, institutions and associations;
progress of the candidature as UNESCO World Heritage;
main animation activities carried out in these ten months of 2022 along the entire route;
the European Heritage Atlas project along the VF;
the project to promote and develop the accessibility of the Via Francigena in Lazio, supported by the Lazio Region and implemented by EAVF in collaboration with local associations.
During the conversations between members, special attention was paid to the specifics of the route and to accommodation, with reference to the important topic of universal accessibility of the itinerary.
In this context, new members were welcomed, spanning from north to south: Municipalities of Amettes (Pas de Calais, Hautes-de-France, FR), Dampierre-sur-Salon (Haute-Saone, Burgundy-Franche-Comté, FR), Union of Communes Grand Pontarlier (Doubs, Burgundy-Franche-Comté, FR), Clées (Vaud, CH), Aigle (Vaud, CH), Massongex (Valais, CH), Sembrancher (Valais, CH), Fiorano Canavese (Turin, Piedmont, IT), Lessolo (Turin, Piedmont, IT), Castelforte (Latina, Lazio, IT). The total number of EAVF members increased to 216. Three new ‘friend’ associations also joined: Associazione Costiera di Calafuria APS (Livorno, Tuscany, IT), Sezione Club Alpino Italiano di Viterbo (Viterbo, Lazio, IT), Associazione Via Francigena in Tuscia.
Aside the Assembly, numerous cultural events were organised by Viterbo’s municipal administration:
the inauguration of the Pilgrim’s Monument (with the signatures of hundreds of pilgrims from all over the world)
the guided tour of the historic centre, the visit of the underground Viterbo and the Museum of the Knights Templar, and the visit to the botanical garden. In Piazza del Plebiscito, there was a performance by the flag-wavers and musicians of the Centro Storico committee.
Finally, the ‘I Love Francigena thermal by rurAllure‘ walk was organised on Saturday 15 October. A 6-km walk to discover the local section of the route, highlighting the thermal and cultural heritage that characterises Viterbo. The event, which was attended by 30 people, was realised as part of the European ‘rurAllure‘ project (Horizon 2020 programme) involving EAVF.
The next meeting of EAVF’s members is the General Assembly in Calais (Hauts-de-France, FR) in spring 2023.
The Cultural Routes Programme celebrated its 35th anniversary in Chania with three days of interactive sessions, workshops, debates in the presence of 430 international delegates.
The city of Chania, on the Greek island of Crete, hosted the event from 5 to 7 October, which was attended by over 430 delegates: from the Council of Europe to the European Union, from the World Tourism Organisation to UNESCO, from representatives of over 50 European Cultural Routes, certified and non-certified, to representatives of the Ministries of Culture of the countries that are part of the Council of Europe’s Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes.
This year’s theme was ‘Council of Europe Cultural Routes: Safeguarding European Values, Heritage, Dialogue‘.
The European Association of Via Francigena Ways (EAVF) was represented byLuca Bruschi, Director, and Elena Dubinina, head of European projects and international relations.
Luca Bruschi spoke during the plenary session dedicated to ‘Safeguarding Cultural Heritage‘, with a focus on the main challenges for the protection of cultural heritage and sustainable tourism use of the Via Francigena.
Elena Dubinina intervened in the session together with all the representatives of the routes to share the EAVF’s experience within the European project rurAllure (Horizon 2020 programme), which focuses on cultural heritage and museums along the pilgrimage routes.
During the Forum, the EAVF was able to strengthen relationships with the delegates of the cultural routes that have similar themes: Way of St. James of Compostela, Via Romea Germanica, St. Olav, Way of Stevenson, Via Romea Strata (in the process of certification).
It was also an opportunity to meet the representatives of the Ministries of Culture of the countries crossed by the Via Francigena, such as Italy and Switzerland, but also the ministerial representatives of the countries present along the extension of the path towards Jerusalem, following the ancient Via Egnatia: Albania, Greece, Turkey.
The Via Francigena reaffirmed the European values underlying this cultural itinerary, which connects local communities, supports the economy in rural Europe, generates job opportunities for young people, and encourages cultural, interreligious and intergenerational dialogue.
The EAVF continues offering thematic hikes in the series of “I love Francigena” events along the most beautiful stretches of the route.
This time the circular hike will be conducted on 15 October 2022 and will run around the city of Viterbo in the quest for its natural thermal baths with ever hot mineral water. The group will be accompanied by a guide and will have a chance to enjoy the healing properties of mineral waters by taking a bath in the pools upon arrival.
* participants who are not members of the EAVF may only attend the Assembly as auditors, as voting rights are reserved for members
The General Assembly and the events in Viterbo are open to the public upon registration.
The EAVF’s international network returns to meet in physical presence after the well-attended General Assembly in Canterbury (Kent County, UK) in April 2022. The main item on the agenda will be the discussion on the status of the candidature of the Via Francigena as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Attention will then turn to the main projects underway in England, France, Switzerland and Italy. Finally, a special focus will be on the best practices concerning the route, reception and signposting.
The meeting in Viterbo includes, in addition to the statutory assembly attended by the 214 member municipalities and 70 friend associations, a series of discussions, cultural events, guided tours, convivial moments and a ‘I Love Francigena‘ walk from 13 to 15 October.
The World Tourism Day was established by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1979. This year celebration stresses the importance of tourism for a greener, smarter and safer future. A special attention is paid to the post-pandemic recovery of tourism and its transformation into the tool of inclusive and accessible mobility, community empowerment and innovative change.
The Via Francigena was already selected by the UNWTO as a “best practice” for sustainable development in the tourism sector in 2021, when the cultural route conducted a relay march along the 3200 km of the historic itinerary from Canterbury (UK), via France, Switzerland and Italy to Rome to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the European Association of Via Francigena Ways (EAVF). The richness and uniqueness of the areas crossed by the route, its history, landscapes, cultural and natural heritage, gastronomy traditions and local communities represent a strong basis for the development of both outdoor and cultural tourism offers.
Join our hikes in France and Italy to celebrate the World Tourism Day 2022:
Hike 1: from 21 to 23 September 2022 between Vitry-le-François and Brienne-le-Château (Grand-Est, France)
Hike 2: from 30 September to 2 October 2022 between Bruay-la-Buissière and Blessy (Hauts-de-France, France)
Hike 3: from 7 to 9 October 2022 between Mamirolle a Saône and Besançon (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France)
The collaboration between the European Association of Via Francigena Ways and FlixBus does not stop with the end of the summer, but will go forth in the coming weeks to continue offering an integrated, convenient and green travel solution for pilgrims who decide to undertake the route during the low season. In fact, FlixBus reserved particular care for the attenders of the Via Francigena, dedicating a special discount to them (it is sufficient to have an official credential).
By extending the collaboration over time, EAVF and FlixBus continue to pursue the objective of making the most of the territories which are covered by the agreement, revealing all their treasures and allowing people to discover them in a new and unprecedented way, thus encouraging the affirmation of increasingly sustainable modes of tourism according to the deseasonalisation and devolution of flows.
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!
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 experiencedenvironmental 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
EAVF General Assembly, Pavia (Italy) | 20 October 2023