Via Francigena

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Via Francigena returns to the “Fa’ La Cosa Giusta!” in 2023

Fa’ La Cosa Giusta! – 2023 edition, the fair of sustainable journeys

The Via Francigena did not miss the 2023 edition of “Fa’ la Cosa Giusta!“, the fair of critical consumption and sustainable lifestyles. The fair was conceived in 2004 by the Terre di Mezzo publishing house, which every year draws in Milan operators, institutions, associations and visitors interested in good practices related to critical consumption and the enhancement of territories’ excellence. The 2023 edition recorded an attendance of 34,000 people who visited the nine thematic areas. Among the exhibiting realities set up inside the fair space were the numerous stands of the area dedicated to “Conscious Tourism, Great Walks and Outdoor,” which is also part of the second edition of the “Fiera dei Grandi Cammini“, the most important and unmissable event in Italy on walkable or bikeable paths.

The Via Francigena booth amongst meetings, visitors and lots of news

The EAVF displayed at the fair all of the richness of the path for the public, through materials freely distributed including informative flyers and postcards. Numerous activities animated the booth, with the valuable collaboration of partners, including historical and new alliances, such as Garmont, Ferrino, Trenitalia, FlixBus, and AllTrails.

Each day an average of over 500 people visited the booth and a total of more than 700 people took part in the initiatives created with the contribution of Garmont and Ferrino. These included a quiz designed in collaboration with the European project Horizon2020 rurallure for which AEVF is in charge of communication – to test visitors’ knowledge of the Via Francigena. The quiz recorded over 200 responses, of which as many as 72 answered all 6 questions correctly. Alongside the quiz, the game “Guess how much the staff’s backpack weighs” involved more than 500 users. Participants tried their luck by lifting a sample of the 28-liter Ferrino Finisterre model backpack, filled for the occasion. The audience showed great enthusiasm toward both the fun activities and the walk itself. He especially brought technical questions regarding the overall length of the trail, the best time to tackle it, and asking for tips and advice on the most beautiful sections. Valuable was the support of 8 special guests, Ambassadors of Road to Rome and bloggers who are experts in walking and cycling, as well as the presence of many familiar faces, partners and friends of the Association who helped animate the booth.

EAVF’s online visibility at the fair was no less. In fact, an average of 15 stories were posted daily on the Association’s Instagram profile. The reel published at the end of the event in collaboration with @falacosagiusta_mi obtained more than 8,000 views. Highlights included more than 500 subscribers to EAVF’s newsletter and rurAllure‘s newsletter dedicated to the three Vie Romee and the cultural heritage of the itineraries.

Official meetings

There was no shortage of institutional moments such as the meeting between EAVF’s President Massimo Tedeschi, Director Luca Bruschi and Italian Tourism Minister Daniela Santanchè. They highlighted the importance of the paths within the country’s tourism offer in view of the upcoming Jubilee 2025, as well as shared a moment of reflection on the candidacy of the Via Francigena as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Our Association’s participation in the national fair “Fa’ La Cosa Giusta!” for walking routes achieved important results. It made it possible to promote the Via Francigena, as a European itinerary from Canterbury to Rome and to Santa Maria di Leuca, to the event’s attendees and to meet hundreds of people, walking enthusiasts, from all over Italy and even from outside Italy.

Several regions crossed by the Via Francigena itinerary participated in the fair. A moment of great value and satisfaction for me and for all of us was the meeting with the Minister of Tourism Daniela Santanchè, who confirmed the government’s support for the Via Francigena project and its candidacy as a UNESCO heritage site,” said Massimo Tedeschi, president of EAVF.

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Tourism: Italian Minister Santanchè is walking the Via Francigena

Seeing an Italian minister such Daniela Santanchè walking the Via Francigena is a truly important sign that testifies to the great interest at the institutional level in getting the itinerary off the ground. An event that really has few precedents, even at an European level.

Two stages in the Tuscan stretch, from San Miniato to Gambassi Terme and from Gambassi Terme to San Gimignano.

How did the initiative come about? It all started three weeks ago in Milan, on the occasion of the ‘Fa’ la Cosa Giusta!‘ walking fair. Invited by EAVF, our European Association of Via Francigena ways, Daniela Santanchè joined us to talk about the Via Francigena. What emerged was a beautiful, authentic and brilliant dialogue with EAVF’s president Massimo Tedeschi, director Luca Bruschi and Miriam Giovanzana, coordinator of the fair. And at the very end of the meeting, the Minister publicly committed to walking a couple of days on the Via Francigena to get to know this itinerary in person.

Said and done. Word kept. On Saturday 15 April, the Minister joined us in a pilgrim version along the beautiful stretch of the Via Francigena between San Miniato and Gambassi Terme. Before embarking on the journey, the Minister wanted to visit the well-equipped hostel that accommodates pilgrims, the church of San Rocco (where she stamped her credential) and the Frederick II tower. In the splendid City Council hall, there was a brief meeting with Mayor Simone Giglioli and EAVF’s President Massimo Tedeschi.

Then they set off on foot from the Pieve di Coiano, along a bucolic route of ups and downs and olive groves immersed in the Elsa Valley, all the way to the Pieve di Santa Maria in Chianni, where the group was welcomed at the hostel by the Mayor of Gambassi Terme Paolo Campinoti and the entirely female staff that runs the facility. Also awaiting the pilgrims was EAVF’s President Tedeschi.

On Sunday 16 April, the walk covered the stretch to San Gimignano, another 15 km of beautiful trails. Arriving in Pancole, the pilgrims stopped at Le Renaie, where the mayor of San Gimignano Andrea Marrucci was waiting for them. After refreshments, the group continued on to the historic centre of San Gimignano where councillor Carolina Taddei was waiting for them.

The Via Francigena represents a great opportunity to promote the rural areas, inland areas, villages and cultural sites of Italy and minor Europe. The Ministry of Tourism is working with its excellent team to develop the route through an integrated system of promotion, communication, and signposting. There is a great opportunity not to be missed, which is called Jubilee 2025. Let’s make the Via Francigena our Way of St. James, making it the backbone that feeds life the Italian walking system,” Daniela Santanchè said in an interview while walking accompanied by EAVF’s director Luca Bruschi.

These two stages were organised with the technical support of SloWays and the hike was led with great professionalism by guide Sara Zanni, a great walking expert.

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Walking together: Disabilincorsa-ODV is on the road for peace and inclusion

The Disabilincorsa-ODV Association, created to support blind people and their love for sport, organised with the Via Francigena a walk along the stretch from Pontremoli to Santhià, starting on 23 April and arriving on 6 May 2023, for a total of 333 km and 13 stages. During the hike, a guide will accompany blind and visually impaired participants to ensure a safe and peaceful journey.

Disabilincorsa-ODV and Via Francigena united for peace and against prejudice

Already in 2019, Disabilincorsa-ODV walked a stretch of the Via Francigena from Rome to Siena, involving blind people (together with their guide dogs) and willing companions. Participants then resumed the event in 2022 to walk the next stretch: from Siena to Pontremoli.

The initiative aims to make the walk accessible to all people, breaking down prejudices and barriers between people with disabilities and those ‘without’.

During the 2023 edition, the project ‘On the Via Francigena against prejudice‘ will be launched, with which seven blind people, a dozen of accompanying persons and a guide dog named Fucsia, will walk the Via Francigena and deliver 1000 Peace Cranes to pilgrims along the way. The reference is linked to the message of peace of Sadako Sasaki, the Japanese girl who died of leukaemia after surviving the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. She had tried to realise her wish to heal by building a thousand paper cranes, according to the legend of the thousand origami of Senbazuru: “I will write peace on your wings and around the world you will fly so that children will no longer die like this.”

Let’s join forces: walk with us!

The initiative is open to all those who share the idea of inclusion, equality, peace and solidarity that characterises it, and which, like any self-respecting sporting and social enterprise, requires a big effort in terms of time and means. Thus, those who wish to contribute to the hike can contact the Disabilincorsa-ODV Association, while those who wish to participate in the creation of the 1000 Cranes can try their hand at the enterprise. Follow the guide:

The delivery of the cranes does not have a deadline. Specifically, you can deliver them by hand (by appointment) or by post, at the Disabilincorsa-ODV Association’s head office located in: Romano di Lombardia, Italy – vicolo Vincenzo Gioberti, 11 (BG).

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Erasmus+ F.O.R.R.Es.T and F.O.R.R.Es.T 2.0 to promote the Via Francigena

The EAVF aims at adding value to walking experiences and their peculiarities, as well as promoting slow and sustainable tourism through the education of the young generations. It also promotes exchange between cultures and a sense of European identity, which have always characterised the work of our association and the values of the itinerary itself. This is how Erasmus+ projects become focal points for the tourist promotion of the Via Francigena territories!

Having been awarded funding twice, through consecutive calls under the Erasmus+ programme, KA1 Individual Mobility for Learning Purposes, and as lead partner, the EAVF intended to enable Italian university graduates to gain practical experience through training placements in France, United Kingdom, Ireland and Spain, in order to contribute to the development of a strategic vision for the tourist and sustainable promotion of the Via Francigena, to the training of new professional figures, as well as to foster youth entrepreneurship and a greater participation of communities in the care and enhancement of their territory.

The numbers of the Erasmus “F.O.R.Es.T” projects

Together with the network of schools, public bodies, associations and technical partners, the Via Francigena achieved 170 mobilities: with the first project “FORREsT: new skills FOR expeRiEntial Tourism70 young students from tourism schools on the Via Francigena north of Rome were given the opportunity to do work experience in the fields of Tourism, Marketing and Business Information Systems. Through the second one, ‘F.O.R.R.Es.T. 2.0 – FOsteR an euRopEan identity through the Trainees mobility‘, 100 young people from tourism school institutes on the Via Francigena, including the itinerary south of Rome, tried their hand at work concerning the promotion and development of slow tourism along the Via Francigena.

“F.O.R.Es.T” and “F.O.R.Es.T 2.0” in the EPRP database

The Erasmus+ National Agency INAPP, i.e. the Erasmus+ Italian Agency for Vocational Education and Training, has identified the two Erasmus projects “F.O.R.R.Es.T” and “F.O.R.R.Es.T 2.0” as best practices to be included in the Project Results Dissemination Platform (EPRP), i.e. the European database of Erasmus projects to enable the sharing of experiences and results at EU level. This was done within the framework of the annual selection of best practices among the best project proposals with a score of no less than 80 out of 100. On the basis of specific criteria such as capacity to generate impact, transferability of outcomes, innovation, sustainability, communication and management capacity, the two projects emerged as outstanding cases that can be a source of inspiration for future projects at the European level.

Find out more and stay updated on Via Francigena’s role and activities in the two projects:

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Via Francigena and Camino de Santiago meeting in the mountains of Galicia

On 29-31 March 2023 in Galicia took place biannual meeting of the European project rurAllure, Horizon 2020 programme, focused on the promotion of the cultural heritage in the vicinity of the European pilgrimage routes. The participating routes are Via Francigena, Camino de Santiago, Via Romea Strata and Germanica, Way of Mary in Hungary, Slovakia and Romania and the Norwegian St Olav ways.

The EAVF involvement in the project focuses on rurAllure’s communication and dissemination and research about the thermal heritage in Tuscan Via Francigena, in San Quirico d’Orcia, San Casciano Bagni, Gambassi Terme – San Gimignano and Viterbo in Lazio.

Over 30 international participants joined the meeting organised in the Spanish region of Galicia in several locations – thermal town of Ourense, Monforte de Lemos along the Winter way and Courel mountains in the literary house-museum of the Uxio Novoneyra Foundation.
The project, launched in 2021, is in its final year now and achieved such results as a digital platform, manual of good practices along the pilgrimage routes and over 100 of associate partners by March 2023.

Elena Dubinina, international relations advisor, Simona Spinola, communication manager and Nicole Franciolioni, project assistant, represented the EAVF. They presented the teamwork in communication, as they have already reached appointed indicators, showing a blue-print in management of the European projects. Intensive work on the “thermal Via Francigena” during past two years reinforced the connections with the Tuscan municipalities in question and the region, as well as with the private stakeholders working in tourism and thermalism. In 2022 there were two thematic hiking events focused on Via Francigena and thermal water, which will be replicated in 2023 in Colle Val d’Elsa and Torrenieri – Bagno Vignoni (Tuscany) on 15 and 16 April.

The cultural visits and the next meetings

The cultural visits in the Uxio Novoneyra Foundation, Otero Pedrayo Foundation, Wine Museum and the Palace Museum “Pazo de Tor” in Monforte de Lemos and its pilgrims’ office introduced the partners to the Galician heritage and allowed to learn about the best practices from the Camino de Santiago. Meetings with the representatives from Ourense and Monforte de Lemos provided an opportunity to establish close contacts on the ground and offer project methodology to the interested partners.

The next meetings for the project will be in Norway along the St Olav ways (in Lillehammer, Hjerkinn, Trondheim) on 26-29 June and the final conference at the TTG Rimini tourism fair in Italy on 10-13 October.

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Also Montana is on the move: after 70 years in business it becomes a historical brand

Our partner Montana offers a Italian product that is a forerunner by definition, which reflects and incorporates , today more than ever, trends in pilgrims’ consumption: practical, simple, convenient, protein-packed, lean, local and committed to the environment.

A walk along the Via Francigena is a journey to discover history. It is lost in the mists of time, winding its way through different countries, passing through evocative natural landscapes, ancient villages, and leading travelers to discover the authenticity of a territory – savouring its customs, traditions and flavours. Eating a local meal helps to immerse oneself in the culture of the territory, but along the way it can sometimes be neither easy nor comfortable, so it is also necessary to make practical and quick choices.

70 years of Montana

On the eve of its 70th anniversary, the Montana brand has been included in the register of historic brands of national interest, set up by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development to protect industrial properties and enhance the excellence of Made in Italy in the world. The recognition is awarded to brands that are historically linked to the national territory, have been registered for at least 50 years and have demonstrated continuous activity over time, making them iconic and strongly recognizable for consumers. It is a further certification of the brand’s longevity and ability to innovate over time, always remaining faithful to the values of tradition and Italian character.

Like the Via Francigena, which has characterized the soul of the territories along its long route over the centuries, Montana has accompanied the transformations of Italian society. It is able each time to grasp – and sometimes anticipate – the changes and habits of people at the table and outdoors.

Montana’s restyling reflects the green style of the Via Francigena

The Via Francigena turns its attention to the promotion of sustainability, sensitising pilgrims to environmentally friendly behaviour along the route, also in their diet. Montana embraces this vision even in the restyling of its packaging. It has a new graphic design that emphasises distinctive aspects of the brand such as the Italian production (100% meat from Italian farms), the short and supervised supply chain, and a jelly made from its natural meat stock. Montana is now the only product on the market with an environmental product declaration (EPD) on the label.

Montana’s #CamminareMetteAppetito (i.e. Walking Gives you Appetite) project was set up to collect the best Italian outdoor routes and provide experiences, information and advice from and for pilgrims: click here to find out more.

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‘Vie Romee. L’Europa in cammino’

A meeting dedicated to the three Vie Romee was held in Rome on 23 March. The President of the European Association of the Via Francigena ways, Massimo Tedeschi, the President of the Capitoline Assembly, Svetlana Celli, the Vice-President of EAVF, Silvio Marino, and the representatives of the itineraries involved, namely Mirko Pacioni, Board Member of the Italian Association Via Romea Germanica and Aleksandra Grbic, Project Coordinator of the European Association Romea Strata, attended the event.

It was an important moment to reflect together on the challenges of the three routes that have united Europe since the Ancient Roman Empire and created a crossroads of ideas and cultural exchange.

‘Via Francigena (from Canterbury), Via Romea Germanica (from Stade), Romea Strata (from Tallin) are on the road together,’ said the President of our Association. ‘Already on 11 September 2021, on the occasion of the arrival in Rome of the march ‘Via Francigena. Road to Rome 2021. Start again!” celebrating the 20th anniversary of the EAVF, the three Major Vie Romee signed an agreement to promote collaboration and create synergy at the service of pilgrims and travelers who, on foot or by bicycle, or by other means, arrive in Rome. Thus, at the heart of this agreement is Rome, final destination of the pilgrimage, where ramblers from all over the world arrive to visit and pay homage to the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul’.

The three Vie Romee are already collaborating in the framework of the three-year European Horizon 2020 project rurAllure. The project promotes cultural cooperation and accessible tourism along historic European routes, such as the Via Romee, the Via de Compostela and the Via de Sant’Olav in Norway. Moreover, an entire pilot project is dedicated to the three Vie Romees, focusing on thermal heritage pilgrims may encounter on their way to Rome.

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I Love Francigena 2023: 16 hikes organized with Coop

New year, new events on the Via Francigena together with Coop: our partnership is renewed and the 2023 calendar is enriched with 16 organized hikes, free of charge and suitable for everyone, including two excursions by bike.

Coop is one of Italy’s largest retail chains. By involving its 6 million members, it wishes to promote a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, organising with the EAVF the well-known ‘I Love Francigena‘ events in the Italian regions of Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Liguria, Tuscany, Lazio and Apulia across April, May, June, September and October.

The excursions are organised by the European Association of Via Francigena way with the operational support of Francigena Service S.r.l., aiming to explore and promote cultural, historical and natural heritage as well as the products of local gastronomy along the route. The trails we will follow are suitable for everyone and groups will always be accompanied by an expert hiking guide.

Want to participate? Check out the dates below, sign up and join us for the stages you prefer!

◆ HERE IS THE HIKING CALENDAR 2023 ◆

Saturday 15 April – Liguria, from Castelnuovo Magra to Sarzana: sign up here.

Sunday 16 April – Tuscany, from Torrenieri to Bagno Vignoni: sign up here.

Saturday 22 April – Emilia-Romagna, from Fidenza to Salsomaggiore Terme: sign up here.

Sunday 23 April – Emilia-Romagna, from Costamezzana to Medesano: sign up here.

Saturday 13 May – Puglia, from Polignano a Mare to Monopoli: sign up here or visit Coop’s website.

Sunday 14 May – Puglia, from Montalbano (Fasano) to Ostuni: sign up here or visit Coop’s website.

Saturday 17 June – Tuscany, cycling loop from/to Lucca: sign up here.

Sunday 18 June – Piedmont, from Palazzo Canavese to Viverone: sign up here.

Saturday 24 June – Emilia-Romagna, from Cassio to Berceto: sign up here.

Sunday 25 June – Emilia-Romagna, from Berceto to the Cisa Pass: sign up here.

Saturday 23 September – Latium, cycling loop from/to Rome (Appia Antica): sign up here.

Saturday 23 September – Emilia-Romagna, from Collecchio to Gaiano: sign up here.

Sunday 24 September – Tuscany, from San Gimignano to Gambassi Terme: sign up here.

Saturday 30 September – Tuscany, from Strove to Monteriggioni: sign up here.

Sunday 1 October – Lombardy, from Villanova d’Ardenghi to Pavia: sign up here.

Sunday 1 October – Lazio, from Nemi to Castel Gandolfo: sign up here.

Click here for the complete list of events organised by Coop

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Tourism: the Italian Minister Santanchè meets the Via Francigena

On 25 March 2023, a meeting was held in Milan on ‘Slow tourism, towards the Jubilee 2025: the role of the Via Francigena ways and the routes connecting Rome‘ as part of the ‘Fa’ la cosa giusta!‘ fair, at which EAVF‘s President Massimo Tedeschi and Director Luca Bruschi spoke with the Italian Minister of Tourism Daniela Santanchè.

It was a nice discussion to talk about the development of the Via Francigena as the backbone for the future of the walking system in Italy. It was a meeting organised by Terre di Mezzo Editore and the EAVF on the occasion of the great annual fair dedicated to walking itineraries.

Miriam Giovanzana, director of Terre di Mezzo Editore, led the talk dialoguing with her guests. She also introduced a reflection on the development of the Via Francigena and walking routes in view of the Jubilee in 2025.

This very event will be a great opportunity for the entire network of slow routes and for the city of Rome to welcome travelers from all over the world. In fact, 25 million pilgrims are expected in Rome, but the hope is that at least 100,000 will get there on foot or by bicycle, choosing the slow way of travelling following the ancient bundle of roads of the Vie Romee.

Santanchè’s speech focused on the government’s intention to pursue the slow travel project with determination. It is in fact a motor for tourism and economic development in Italy. A catalogue with the first 35 Italian religious routes has been published on the Ministry of Tourism website: a slow and sustainable form of tourism that becomes even more topical in view of the Jubilee. Santanchè recalled that ‘the Via Francigena can become our Way to Santiago de Compostela, attracting an increasingly international audience. The ENIT offices in the world can become an important promotional tool and a flywheel to make the Way known‘.

The dialogue between the speakers also focused on highly topical issues related to the walking network. Route maintenance, signposting and reception, as well as monitoring the flow of walkers, are increasingly central.

Today, the Via Francigena is preparing for 2025 with significant restyling and safety work on the entire Italian section. This is happening thanks to a 13 million euro investment made available by the Ministry of Culture with the Culture strand of the 2014-2020 Cohesion and Development Plan funds. This is the largest route regeneration initiative to date.

This fund also includes two million euros for communication and digital development of the route, as well as one million euros to advance the candidacy dossier of the Via Francigena as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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General Assembly in Calais on 26 May 2023

The European Association of the Via Francigena ways (EAVF) will meet up in Calais (Hauts-de-France region, France) on 26 May for its General Assembly.

The city of Calais, source of inspiration for many artists, is a symbolic place of the Via Francigena, where pilgrims arrive after crossing the Channel Strait, embarking from the city of Dover (Kent, England).

The General Assembly, in Calais as in each of its semestral editions, brings together the 224 members and 80 EAVF friend associations operating in the four countries of the Via Francigena: England, France, Switzerland and Italy. The number of members has been growing in recent years, demonstrating the importance of this international network, which was founded in 2001 and has been recognised as réseau porteur by the Council of Europe since 2007.

The plenary meeting, at the splendid Town Hall of Calais, will be on Friday 26 May from 14.00 to 18.00 and will bring up the discussion of very significant points for the EAVF and for the future of the Via Francigena: the final balance sheet and the provisional budget, the UNESCO candidacy, the strategic plan 2023-2025, the international planning, the best practices among territories for the promotion of the route. On the morning of 26 May there will be an institutional meeting with the French municipalities for an update on the Via Francigena and UNESCO candidacy.

A rich programme of cultural activities is planned to accompany the Assembly: on 24 and 25 May there will be walks in collaboration with the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome and the Arras Compostelle Francigena Association; on the morning of 26 May the excursion to the Côte d’Opale and on the morning of the 27 May a walk in the city of Calais.

Here is the programme for the walk on 24 May from Shepherdswell to Dover, England:

CPR is organising a walk from Shepherdswell to Dover, with the possibility of continuing to Calais for the Assembly. Here is how the day will unfold:

  1. Canterbury (9am) – Blessing at the Cathedral;
  2. Walk to Canterbury East station to catch the train (10.41am) to Shepherdswell;
  3. Arrival at Shepherdswell station (10.58am) and walk to St Andrew’s Church for refreshments;
  4. Walk from Shepherdswell to Dover (approx. 13 km / 8 miles);
  5. Arrival at the ferry at 14.40 for the 17.25 journey to Calais;
  6. Arrival in Calais at 19.55 local time and dinner with CPR.

To participate, please send your reservation by clicking here.

Here is the programme for the 25 May walk from Calais to Wissant, France:

Departure from Wissant Place de l’église at 9.30 am. To reach Wissant, there are 2 possibilities:

  1. Park your car in Calais, near the train station, then take the line 427 bus from Wissant at 8.16 am (arrival in Wissant at 9 am)
  2. Drive directly to Wissant and then take the bus to Wissant in the afternoon on arrival in Calais (16.45 and 18.23).

The show “La légende de Sigeric” will be performed in Calais at 5 pm. There will be a snack break during the hike.

The Via Francigena, cultural route of the Council of Europe, is growing in popularity with international pilgrims coming from more than 40 countries. In 2022, approximately 50,000 walkers walked at least seven-day on the VF. The passage of these cultural tourists generates great benefits and economic impact for the territories, but at the same time makes it necessary to increase the infrastructure of the route, accommodation, and signposting.