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The project PER VIAM – Pilgrims’ Routes in Action was launched in Turin

The kick-off meeting of the European project Per Viam – Pilgrims’ Routes in Action was held in Turin at the headoffice of SiTI- Higher Institute on Territorial System for Innovation, on 4th April 2012.

The project PER VIAM is coordinated by the European Association of Via Francigena in partnership with Italian Ministry of Cultural Affairs, European Institute of Cultural Routes, Regione Toscana, Canterbury City Council, Università di Bologna, SiTI – Higher Institute on Territorial System for Innovation, Nidaros Pilgrim Center.

During the meeting project partners could exchange about project objectives, expected results as well as planning project activities during the 12 months of project implementation. Project PER VIAM aims at improving European governance of Via Francigena as well as launch a platform of exchange with other pilgrimage routes certified by the Council of Europe: Saint Olav Way, Saint James of Compostela Pilgrims’ Routes, the Route of Saint Martin of Tours, Saint Michael’s Way.

 

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Myra Stals will be the face of the EAVF for the event “Via Francigena Road to Rome 2021. Start Again!”

Dutch, polyglottal and cosmopolitan 36-year-old Myra Stals has just joined the staff of the European Association of the Via Francigena Ways – the EAVF. She will be the Social Media Manager of the event “Road to Rome 2021” as will walk and cycle along the entire 3,200-km route from Canterbury to Rome and Santa Maria di Leuca.

Myra’s face and voice will be on the social media of the Association every day to tell us about her long journey. Pictures, livestreaming, podcasts, videos and radio interviews – she will have a number of tools available to get people to follow her on the journey. Video makers, bloggers, influencers will always be with her, along with all the pilgrims that the cheerful “Road to Rome 2021” group will meet on the Via Francigena. Members of the EAVF staff will also be present along the itinerary: Luca Bruschi, Luca Faravelli, Angelofabio Attolico, Jacques Chevin, Edgar Lebras, Elena Dubinina, Sami Tawfik, Micol Sozzi, Eleonora Martinelli, Marika Massotti, Martina D’Agostino, Sara Louise Costa, Nicole Franciolini, and Garance Potier.

“I’m in trepidation. I can’t wait to start this big adventure! Mentally, I’m more than ready. Physically, I know I must train carefully for the event because I know it will be demanding”. It is not the first time that Myra has embarked on such an adventure: in the last years she has travelled 16,000 km throughout Europe by bicycle for her project Cycle 2 Recycle.

“I’m super happy I have received my new Garmont shoes and my Ferrino backpack, so that I can start using them in training and make them perfect for me in these last weeks before the departure. I’ll be more than ready on the 16th of June!“, she says enthusiastically. “Anyway, I know that the mental challenge will be the hardest part because I will have to speak with many different people every day and I won’t have any quiet moment to recharge my batteries – very different from what I’m used to when travelling by bicycle. However, people will be my strength, not my weakness”. Myra says she feels the responsibility to represent the EAVF during such an important event; however, there’s not single hint of concern in her words, only huge pride. After all, she is the perfect ambassador for the Via Francigena: a world citizen speaking several languages and knowing different cultures, a “slow” traveller with an eye for sustainability. In other words, she embodies all that EAVF values.

Have a nice long journey, Myra!

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A tastier Via Francigena, with MITO single portions of Parmigiano Reggiano

Three new “Stop & Taste” spots are now open where pilgrims can have a taste of delicious Parmigiano Reggiano thanks to an agreement between the European Association of Via Francigena ways (EAVF), the Consortium of Parmigiano Reggiano and the Official Via Francigena Magazine emitted by editor Studio Guidotti.

We may hypothesise that Sigeric, archbishop who travelled between Rome and Canterbury in 990 a.d. describing his 79 itinerary stages in a diary – now base for the development of the route of the Francigena – had a chance to taste one of the earliest forms of Parmigiano Reggiano during his passage in the province of Parma.

This leads to the idea that modern pilgrims should have an experiential visit along the Via Francigena, devoted to the discovery of Parmigiano Reggiano. The title “Stop & Taste” already underlines the nature and the intention of the project: pilgrims are now able to stop at locations that take part in the initiative and taste this product, discover its characteristics, such as various aging techniques, and explore the variety of production sites spread across the thirteen municipalities in the province of Parma along the Via Francigena.

The list of locations taking part in the initiative is quite long, building a flavourful network of actors who want the Via Francigena experience to be increasingly special and tasty. The list can also be explored on the official EAVF website, in the purposely made section “Sosta e Gusta”.

  • Twenty cheese factories
  • Five markets
  • Fourty-one restaurants

The real news for Spring 2021 is the inauguration of three “Stop & Taste” spots in

  • Fidenza: Ufficio Turistico IAT Casa Cremonini Piazza Duomo, phone +39 524 83377
    From April to October: every day, from 9.30 to 12.30 and from 15.00 to 18.00.
    From November to March: from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9.00 to 12.30 and from 15.00 to 17.30. Closed on Mondays. Closed 25 – 26 December and 1 January.
  • Fornovo di Taro: Ufficio Turistico IAT Via XXIV Maggio 2, phone + 39 346 9536300
    Open year-round from Monday to Sunday. From Monday to Friday 8.30/12.30- 15/17; Saturday 8,30/12,30; Sunday 9/12
  • Berceto: Info Point, Piazza Don Giovanni Bosco 2, tel. +39 5251939109
    Open every day from 9:00 to 13:00

Pilgrims who visit these three “Stop & Taste” locations will receive a ‘MITO’ single portion of Parmigiano Reggiano and an informative pamphlet about the collaboration, explaining where to find this precious cheese along the Via Francigena. Whoever feels comfortable with it will also be photographed with their special sample, to share images on EAVF’s social media and with project partners.

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The legend of Sigeric: la Commedia dell’Arte sbarca sulla Via Francigena

“The legend of Sigeric” is a cultural and animation initiative of the Via Francigena. This Art Comedy is based on Charles Myber’s idea, and is written and directed by Carlo Boso.

This performance aims to display a theatre action characterized by expressive techniques that are typical of the Renaissance’s popular theatre. Dance, singing, and pantomimes compose the repertory used by the young talents that build this epic performance, whose goal is to educate and entertain a broad audience.

Most of the research on the history of Sigeric was conducted by students of the AIDAS in Versailles. Two versions are being prepared: one in French, for the French-Swiss territory, and one in Italian for the Italian territory.

‘The legend of Sigeric’ is not only an occasion to enjoy a fun moment, but also an opportunity to recall the atmosphere of social and cultural events of English, French, Swiss and Italian Middle Ages history. It is a journey across eras, with stops in rich and evocative places in time.

Thanks to this colorful theatre invention, eight expert actors will carry you across the legend of Sigeric. For the happiness of a local, regional, national and international audience.

Viva viva Sigéric!

More information: charlesmyber2@gmail.com

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7-year accreditation of the ERASMUS+: EAVF leading the vocation training

After having won two ERASMUS+ calls in 2019 and 2020 (with overall 170 young people participating), the European Association of the Via Francigena ways was granted the VET ERAMSUS mobility card.

This card allows to receive annual and continuous funding for the next 7 years of the ERASMUS+ programme on the axis K01 in the field of vocational education and training.

One of the objectives of Erasmus + is to increase the quality of mobility in vocational education and training (VET) and to support the internationalization of organizations active in the VET field.

The objective of the Mobility Card is to encourage organizations that have a proven track record in organizing quality mobility activities in vocational education and training for learners and staff to further develop their internationalization strategies European.

More information here http://www.erasmusplus.it/formazione/risultati/

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EAVF supports the conference “Regenerating European Tourism through Culture, Heritage and Creativity”

Taking place on 21-22 October 2021 in Athens, Greece, the conference “Regenerating European Tourism through Culture, Heritage and Creativity” is organised by European Cultural Tourism Network (ECTN) with support of the Europa Nostra, European Travel Commission, the Network of European Regions for Competitive and Sustainable Tourism (NECSTouR) with support of the European Association of the Via Francigena ways (EAVF).

The conference will discuss the latest trends in the field of culture, heritage and sustainable tourism, including innovation, digitalisation, creativity and cultural tourism product development. The emphasis will be on the important role of culture, heritage and creativity in regenerating the European tourism, following the pandemic crisis in 2020 and 2021.

Walking tourism theme, supported by the EAVF is included as one of 6 main topics of this event.

The event will host an award “Destination of Sustainable Cultural Tourism 2021”, which features a category “Walking Tourism and Slow Travel – Synergies with Cultural Tourism”, hosted by the EAVF.

How to apply to the award?
The application form and the required declaration can be downloaded in Word format from the website:
www.culturaltourism-network.eu/award-2021.html. The Application form and the Declaration together should be sent by e-mail to  awards@culturaltourism-net.eu by 1 June 2021.

Call for Presenters

The call for presenters can be found following this link. Presenters are invited to showcase relevant experience, share their best practices, give detailed examples and provide practical recommendations to preserving, restoring, deploying and promoting culture and heritage values, with innovations for sustainable and responsible tourism development. The regeneration of European tourism sector is of particular interest in the 2021 Conference.

The event is aimed to be conducted onsite in Athens, however, depending on the sanitary situation it might be held as a hybrid event with limited physical presence in Athens and digital streaming facilities for online participation.

​​ More information: http://www.culturaltourism-network.eu/conference-2021.html

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Walking with the French Federation of the Via Francigena

EAVF and FFVF are working together to animate and promote the French section of the Via Francigena.

The European Association of Via Francigena ways (EAVF) and the French Federation of the Via Francigena (FFVF) signed a partnership agreement to animate and promote the French section of the route. Such a partnership builds a network between two complementary associations, with the objective of developing together the Via in France (GR®145).

Both associations work at the service of local institutions and pilgrims, providing technical and functional support to the French section of the route. In particular, EAVF and FFVF are already co-working, this year, to prepare the event “Via Francigena Road to Rome 2021. Start again!”, celebrating EAVF’s 20th anniversary. They have also joined forces to promote the book “Francigena, Word of Pilgrims”, created by writer and photographer Céline Anaya Gautier, and to accomplish an itinerant photographic exhibition along the Via Francigena.

The FFVF is composed of over 3,700 volunteers and takes care of coordination between French Pilgrims’ Associations in 39 departments – not only the ones directly on the French section of the Via Francigena. Since 2007, FFVF helps and welcomes walkers-pilgrims on the road of the Via Francigena in the territories of Hauts de France, Grand-Est, Burgundy and Franche-Comté. It also commits to the development and maintenance of connecting routes, to allow walkers-pilgrims to inflow on the VF from their territories: for example, from Ile-de-France, Lorraine, Alsace, Brittany and other regions further South, such as Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur.

FFVF’s website: www.ffvf.fr

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“Road to Rome” will take place, confirms the EAVF General Assembly

The march, celebrating the European Association of Via Francigena ways’ 20th anniversary, received a green light from members and departure has been confirmed for mid-June.

The past 30th of March, EAVF’s General Assembly deliberated the confirmation of the great march “Via Francigena – road to Rome 2021. Start again!”. The highly participated Assembly confirmed the event with enthusiasm, yet with awareness that the pandemic is not over.

The march will start on Wednesday 16th of June with a small ceremony, symbolically very important, in Canterbury, next to the “km 0” stone of the Via Francigena. On the 17th of June, the group of walkers transporting the pilgrim stick (https://www.viefrancigene.org/it/resource/news/road-rome-2021-pronto-il-bordone-del-pellegrino/) will be in Calais, in the very north of France, where, for the occasion, the municipal administration will open its “Via Francigena rose garden”.

The French section of the Via Francigena will then be crossed, by foot and partly by bicycle, with resting days in Arras (27th of June), Reims (5th of July), Champlitte, French headquarters of EAVF (14th of July, French national holiday) and Besançon (18th of July). Friday 23rd of July, once traversed the Franco-Swiss Jura massif, the group will arrive in Orbe, Switzerland (Canton Vaud). From there, the Swiss section will be crossed in eight stages, finally reaching the Great Saint Bernard pass (the highest point of the Via Francigena, at an elevation of 2473m), where the group will take a day to rest on Saturday 31st of July. On the 1st of August (Swiss national holiday), the march along the Italian section will start, leading the group of walkers to Rome on the 10th of September and to Santa Maria di Leuca on the 18th of October. The event will evolve in due respect of anti-covid-19 norms and will shape around sanitary rules in place in the single countries it crosses.

Who will walk with EAVF during these 127 day and 3,200km?

Some representatives of EAVF’s team will always be on their feet, in particular Myra Stals, official walker and Social Media Manager of the trip, who will walk (and cycle) for all four months of the journey. Myra is well-known in the Francigena environment, especially in Italy, where, last year, she cycled from Turin to Santa Maria di Leuca (https://www.viefrancigene.org/it/resource/news/bicicletta-ambiente-plastica-rifiuti-raccoltafondi/ ) with her project Cycle to Recycle.

Walking with her, a few video-makers will collect images and shootings with the ambition of creating a documentary on the Francigena route. Another important role is held by associations, which will join the group at single stages with local representatives; referents of municipal administrations and involved partners will also be participating.

On top of this, a call for influencers and bloggers who want to join the march has been launched. The hope is to involve many participants locally and between stages, once again in full respect of the evolving covid-19 situation. All updates will be available on the page of the event.

The march aims at:

  • Restarting after the pandemic period, by valorizing the sustainable, cultural and responsible tourism of the Via Francigena and all European walking routes.
  • Sensitizing regional and national governments and religious institutions, in order to provide increasing value to the Via Francigena as a crucial example and driver for the sustainable development of tourism.
  • Verifying the conditions of the path, highlighting best practices and possible weak points along the entire route, and suggesting improvements in light of the added value it can provide for tourism in single regional stretches.
  • Supporting the application of the Via Francigena to the UNESCO World Heritage list.

 

Find detailed information here:

https://www.viefrancigene.org/it/road-to-rome/

The roadmap schedule is available here:

https://www.viefrancigene.org/static/uploads/rtr_calendario_31_03_2021(1)(1).pdf

You can consult the project brochure here:

https://www.viefrancigene.org/static/uploads/min_it_rtr_brochure.pdf

Download the Press kit:

https://www.viefrancigene.org/static/uploads/min_it_rtr_press_kit.pdf

Find out who the project partners are:

https://www.viefrancigene.org/it/Road-to-Rome/Partner/

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EAVF teams up with UK publishing house Cicerone to launch new Via Francigena guides

An exciting new collaboration between EAVF and publisher Cicerone Press has led to the upcoming launch of 3 new Via Francigena guidebook volumes, the first of its kind to cover the entire stretch from Canterbury to Rome. 

Cicerone is a publishing house located in the UK known for its many walking guides along pilgrim routes and other itineraries across the entire globe. The new guide for the Via Francigena has been divided into 3 different volumes:

  • Part 1 from Canterbury to Lausanne
  • Part 2 from Lausanne to Lucca
  • Part 3 from Lucca to Rome.

    All 3 guides are written in the English language.

These comprehensive travel guides represent the perfect opportunity for tourists and pilgrims alike to venture outside again and discover the Via Francigena in all its natural and cultural glory. Moreover, with these guidebooks we aim to support the relaunch of sustainable tourism throughout Europe after the covid pandemic.

BOOK LAUNCH

Join our panel of expert guests this Thursday 15 April at 18:00 to celebrate the launch of Part 2 and Part 3 of the new guidebooks. During the LIVE broadcast Sandy Brown, Luca Bruschi, and Myra Stals will be sharing their travel experiences along the Via Francigena.

Sandy Brown is an ordained minister, community activist and long-distance walker from Seattle, Washington. He is the author of the new guidebooks to the Via Francigena, as well as guidebooks to the Camino Frances and the Way of St Francis. Currently walking the California Mission Trail, Sandy has walked over 10,000km on pilgrim paths in Europe and the US since 2008.

Joining us from the EAVF headquarters in Fidenza (Italy), Luca Bruschi is the executive director of the European Association of Vie Francigene. A fervent hiker himself, he has walked thousands of kilometres along various European pilgrimage routes over the past few years. Luca will introduce the route as well as the important work of the association.

Myra Stals is passionate about cycling and fighting plastic pollution and has recently joined the EAVF team. In 2020 she cycled the Via Francigena in Italy, collecting litter along the entire route. She will talk about this trip as well as introducing the EAVF’s Road to Rome project for 2021.

You can watch the event live online on Thursday 15 April at 18:00 on the Cicerone website, Cicerone Press Facebook page or YouTube channel. Send your questions for our panel of expert guests to live@cicerone.co.uk in advance or during the live event.

GET YOUR COPY NOW

Purchase Part 2 from Lausanne to Lucca here: https://www.cicerone.co.uk/walking-the-via-francigena-pilgrim-route-part-2

Purchase Part 3 from Lucca to Rome here: https://www.cicerone.co.uk/walking-the-via-francigena-pilgrim-route-part-3

Part 1 from Canterbury to Lausanne will be released in 2023.

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Happy 20th birthday, EAVF! A beautiful story!

On the 7th of April 2001, the association of municipalities along the Via Francigena was founded in Fidenza, initially only with Italian municipalities.

It then became, in 2005, the European Association of the Via Francigena ways. Today, we celebrate a prestigious achievement: twenty years of activity of this bottom-up association, based on voluntary participation, that brings together municipalities and regions, local associations and enthusiasts, cultural operators and various economic realms, as well as academics. Here we share our conversation with the EAVF President Massimo Tedeschi, who had the early-on intuition and long-term mindset to create an environment for this international network, which is now active and in great turmoil in all territories crossed by the route and in its surrounding areas.

1) Let’s start with the history. In 2001, you were Mayor of Fidenza. What are the reasons that pushed you, that year, on the 7th of April, to found a network of municipalities, initially in the Italian section, along the Via Francigena? Looking back at it today, was it a good decision?

A. The reason was rooted, then and today, in what I would call European pride: the pleasure of being part of a European community which, after long historic developments, represents the world’s best example of respect for human values (political democracy, civil rights, human rights, intercultural dialogue, tolerance). These values were then transferred, on the 5th of May 1949, into the Statute of the Council of Europe in London (capital, not by chance, of a country where the liberal mindset thrives). The United Kingdom left the European Union but not the Council of Europe, similarly to Switzerland, which continues to be part of it since 1963.

Back to the 7th of April 2001: I remember that when I was elected Mayor, in 1991, a few enthusiasts (very few!) in my hometown Fidenza and its province started telling me about the Via Francigena, a totally unknown subject to people at that time. Nevertheless, when the Via Francigena obtained the certification “Cultural Route of the Council of Europe” in 1994, and in anticipation of the Great Jubilee in 2000, the number of the Via Francigena pioneers increased. I was then lucky to meet the French Middle Ages historian Jacques Le Goff (1924-2014). I first met him when he visited the Cathedral of Fidenza on the 21st of May 1998, then I met him again on the 21st of October 2000 in a crowded municipal theater, to award him with the honorary citizenship of the city – one of the most remarkable moments of my mandate. Six months later, on the 7th of April 2001, with representatives of 34 Italian local public authorities (who were the first, out of 150 entities, that accepted my invitation), the association was founded. Twenty years later, I am increasingly convinced that it was an excellent idea.

2) What are the key achievements obtained by the EAVF, and what are the most important moments it has seen in these 20 years of work? Today, the EAVF’s network is composed of 193 municipalities, 70 associations, and more than 400 private stakeholders.

A. The key achievement reached in these 20 years of activity is the double-faced benefit, both cultural and economic, that the Via Francigena has produced on small communities along the 2000 km route and its surroundings: thousands of people, from all over the world, have walked along the path and through these areas. The kilometers have become 3200 in 2019, when the “Cultural Route of the Council of Europe” certification was extended to the South of Italy, from Rome to Santa Maria di Leuca. When I speak about economic benefit, I think of the impact of tens of millions of euros, given the average duration and daily expenditure per person on the route, exactly on those territories that are virtually excluded from main tourism circuits.

When I speak about cultural benefit, I think of the exchange and intangible enrichment between newly met people: people who walk and people who live along the route. They learn and speak different languages, gain confidence with each other, admire various architectural styles, taste simple but delicious foods, exchange phone numbers, and create occasions to meet again.

Four years after the foundation, in 2005, the first non-Italian municipality joined the association: the prestigious city of Canterbury, whose leader was, at the time, Harry Craig. Following, the inter-municipal district of Bas Valais joined in 2010 as a first Swiss entity, thanks to the urge of abbot Joseph Roduit (1939-2015) of Saint-Maurice. In 2016, the first French municipality joined: Bucey-les-Gy (with only 600 inhabitants, in the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté), thanks to the long-term thinking of Mayor Emile Ney, who still collaborates with us. I would like to point out the importance of membership in the network not only of the 193 local entities and 70 friend associations, but also of 400 small enterprises that provide hospitality and restoration services to pilgrims. This network is continuously expanding.

 

3) The ongoing pandemic certainly had strong impacts also on the tourist sector and on the accessibility of heritage sites. However, the Via Francigena and pilgrimage walks and outdoor activities in general are sectors that will grow in the coming years, exactly because of their rural character, their connection with nature and with sustainable development. Can this segment, connected to Cultural itineraries and pilgrimage routes, really continue to grow?

A. The pandemic brutally made us realize the enormous importance of tourism as a form of exchange and consciousness and therefore as a way of protecting heritage and developing culture and economy. The Via Francigena and the entire Cultural Routes family can greatly contribute to the post-pandemic re-launch, as they allow to safely experience nature and society, two of the elements that people are missing the most today.

4) The Camino de Santiago has been recognized Cultural Route by the Council of Europe in 1987, 7 years before the Via Francigena. Even in numerical terms, the difference between the two routes is evident. What is the Via Francigena missing to gain greater international popularity and consolidate its identity?

A. The number of walkers on the Camino de Santiago has five zeros, whereas the one on the Via Francigena has four zeros. The main difference is that the Government and the Church in Spain aimed to the development of the Camino without dissipating investments on minor distracting objectives. This way, they managed to create a ‘narrative’ that built worldwide positive reputation, using cinema and literature as divulgation channels.

A similar investment, both cultural and financial, has not been devolved to the Via Francigena (road to Rome), neither in Italy nor in other countries crossed. This is partly comprehensible. In Rome, for example, millions of pilgrims always arrived from all over the world, thus it was not easy for civil and religious authorities of the country and of the city to identify and select the few thousand pilgrims that came walking from the Via Francigena.

Nevertheless, I think that, after the pandemic is surpassed, this argument will be tackled: we must understand how to give strength to the arterial system of the “vie romee” (roads to Rome), so that, in turn, it can spread blood along the entire venous system of walking routes, without any waste. We must also find a way to reserve a ‘special’ welcome to those who arrive to Rome after walking hundreds of kilometers.

 

5) After 20 years, EAVF decided to celebrate its anniversary with a long walking-event from Canterbury to Santa Maria di Leuca, involving all the 657 municipalities crossed. It sounds like a great challenge, almost an anticipation of the Jubilee! How is the organization of such a large cultural initiative progressing?

A. On the 30th of March 2021 the EAVF General Assembly decided to confirm the great march “Via Francigena. Road to Rome 2021. Start again!”. Its organization is keeping us very busy but is experiencing an incredible level of enthusiasm and collaboration of internal and external parties. You are right: this march is our Jubilee. We will leave Canterbury on the 16th of June (where sanitary restrictions will only allow a symbolic ceremony developed by our English friends); on the 17th of June we will leave from Calais (France), on the 23rd of July we will be in Orbe (Switzerland) and on the 1st of August we will enter Italy from the Great St Bernard Pass. On the 10th of September we will arrive in Rome and on the 18th of October in Santa Maria di Leuca, our Finisterrae.

This march is not only a simple initiative, although quite challenging, is a deep and complex occurrence because it puts all of us on the front line, physically walking. When we arrive in Santa Maria di Leuca on the 18th of October, 4 months later, we will have changed. We will have put in practice the principles and values of the Via Francigena, which I mentioned earlier: meeting new people, learning languages and stories we did not know; exchanging ideas and experiences; hiking and biking, and many more. We will be different people when we arrive, and I am certain we will have changed for the better.

 

Interviewed by Luca Bruschi, EAVF Director