Via Francigena


Birth of the Swiss Via Francigena Association

Meeting at their constitutive General Assembly in Aigle on 5 May, the municipalities involved by the Via Francigena – a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe that crosses the cantons of Vaud and Valais – decided to found the Swiss Via Francigena Association.

A European cultural route

The Via Francigena connects the city of Canterbury in England, to Rome and, since 2019, to Santa Maria di Leuca in the south of the Italian peninsula. This route was recognised as a cultural itinerary of the Council of Europe in 1994. It crosses Switzerland by entering through the Col de Jougne or the Col de Sainte-Croix to reach Orbe, Cossonay, Lausanne, Vevey, Aigle, Saint-Maurice, Martigny, Orsières, Bourg-Saint-Pierre and the Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard.

Local promotion…

The Swiss municipalities crossed by the Via Francigena wanted to set up a Swiss association to focus on the promotion of the itinerary in Swiss territories. The new president Gaëtan Tornay says: “The association wants to realise simple and concrete projects by creating promotion tools (leaflets, website, social networks, newsletter, etc.) but also events such as guided walks. It also wants to become a link between public and private actors to strengthen the reception of walkers, which must be at the heart of our concerns“.

…Internationally coordinated

This promotion/animation/coordination work will be carried out in close collaboration with the European Association of Via Francigena ways (EAVF), which has been active since 2001 in England, France, Switzerland, Italy and the Vatican State. Its President Massimo Tedeschi welcomes the birth of the Swiss Association of the Via Francigena (ASVF) with these words: “We need local references to help us better promote this magnificent European route in each country concerned. The creation of the ASVF is, therefore, a big step forward!

Source: Press Release of the Swiss Via Francigena Association


Via Francigena, GR® 145, a beautiful synergy!

Two names build a strong message to give life to an emblematic itinerary.

From Canterbury, UK, to Santa Maria di Leuca in southern Italy, along the footsteps of Bishop Sigeric.

And the GR® 145 in France, which starts in Calais to reach the Swiss border after a journey of more than 700 km, building the Via Francigena.

It was here, in the north of France, that a partnership began when the FFRandonnée was invited by the EAVF to create a GR® (with the number 145) to promote this cultural route and facilitate its journey to Switzerland.

But who is the Fédération Française de Randonnée Pédestre? And what is its role within France and its territories?

Without going back over its history, let us recall that the FFRandonnée was born in 1947, when a few people passionate about walking and discovering the natural wealth of France created the first GR® routes (GR® 1, GR® 2, GR®3, GR®4, etc.), and today there are almost 350 GR® routes of various lengths, totalling nearly 120,000 kilometres. Over all these years, the FFRandonnée has developed a know-how through its committees that is now recognised.

This know-how concerns the design and development of the GR® routes and its criteria, the work for signposting and maintenance, digitisation with the enhancements that allow to share data, IGN maps, geographical information systems or mobile applications to be kept up to date.  The FFRandonnée has recently revisited and strongly reaffirmed its major orientations in the current federal plan 2021-2028. It is important to share its ambition here:

-To make the FFRandonnée a protagonist of outdoor sports;

-To make the FFRandonnée an important social player, responding creatively to a changing demand for walking routes.

The collaboration between our two structures was natural. From 2021 we have an agreement to coordinate our actions. A team of walkers participated in part of the great itinerary set up for the twentieth anniversary of the European Association of the Via Francigena, Road to Rome 2021, and relationships were forged marking a turning point in our approach in this field, confirmed by cross-participation in our respective general meetings. A fine programme of collaboration project is in perspective, close to all our departmental committees and for the benefit of all hikers!

Claudie Grossard, President of the National Commission for Trails and Itineraries

Jean-Claude Marie, Vice-President FFRandonnée


Via Francigena in Southern Italy: the new guide by Terre di Mezzo

The new guide dedicated to the Via Francigena in Southern Italy is now on sale in Italian bookshops, as well as on the official website of the publisher Terre di Mezzo.

The guide was presented and sold in preview at the Fa’ la cosa giusta! 2022 fair, at FieraMilanoCity, where the EAVF participated from 29 April to 1 May 2022: the fair, now in its eighteenth edition, devotes its attention to sustainable lifestyles and critical and conscious consumption choices, with an entire department specifically focusing on the great walking itineraries of Italy.   

Angelofabio Attolico, EAVF’s representative for the Via’s stretch south of Rome and one of the authors of the guidebook, presented the guidebook to the public in the hall, in the company of Gianfranco Lopane, Councillor for Tourism of the Region of Puglia, Roberto Battista, from the Tourism Agency of the Region of Lazio, Rosanna Romano and Felice Casucci from the Region of Campania, and EAVF’s President Massimo Tedeschi. The presentation was moderated by Andrea Mattei, journalist for the national Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper. 

This is the first printed guide dedicated to the 930 km of the Via Francigena stretch linking Rome to the Apulian Finis Terrae, Santa Maria di Leuca, crossing territories in Lazio, Campania, Basilicata and the whole length of Puglia. Starting from the Appia Antica Park, the route continues to Terracina, Gaeta, Sessa Aurunca and Benevento, a strategic junction point between the Via Appia and the Via Traiana.  

Approaching the Apulian section, pilgrims can take a number of different trails, travelling along the Matera route; arriving in Monte Sant’Angelo on the Gargano peninsula and then the coastal path linking it to Bari; heading towards Brindisi, to reach the ports linking Italy to the Holy Land and from there perhaps continuing walking to Jerusalem; or they can continue their journey along the coast towards Salento to arrive in Santa Maria di Leuca, reaching the end of the ‘Italian heel’, where the Adriatic and Ionian seas meet. 

For each stage the guide indicates a detailed map, the altimetry, the points where to stock up on water, indications on the type of terrain on which you walk (dirt or asphalt), information on where to sleep and what to visit, etc. There are also suggestions for some short trips and the key information for the Bradanica route leading to Matera.

The guide is currently only available in Italian and is focused on walking trips, although most of the route, as it is described in the guide, can also be undertaken by bicycle.  

Click here to learn more about the new guidebook or to buy a copy.


Region of Lazio and the EAVF join forces on (and for) the Via Francigena

We are happy to announce that, starting today, the Region of Lazio officially collaborates with our Association. Together we aim to enhance the quality of the Via Francigena legs that cross this territory.

The Lazio section of the Via Francigena is, in fact, particularly important for the development of the itinerary: not only because it accompanies pilgrims to their destination – Rome, the Vatican City – but also because from there the path leads them to Santa Maria di Leuca, the Italian Finis Terrae of the route. Lazio is therefore the bridge, the crossroad, the meeting point between the Via Francigena of Sigeric the Serious and the Via Francigena in Southern Italy.

Tappa Capranica - Campagnano di Roma
Capranica – Campagnano di Roma

The Via has 21 stages on foot in Lazio, 10 north – starting from Proceno, the Tuscan border – and 11 south of Rome, along the ancient Via Appia, leading to Minturno and the Campania border. Crossing the territory of Lazio allows exploring an infinite variety of landscapes, stories and eras, traveling among views that bridge between sea and land, local traditions and traditional gastronomic specialties.

Visit the official website to discover the region of Lazio

Lazio therefore earns the privilege (and the responsibility!) of being one of the longest regions to cross. This is a challenge that we have decided to take up with the Region of Lazio, in partnership: by joining forces, we will be able to offer pilgrims a safe route where accessibility, signposting and refreshment points can make the experience of the itinerary unique, whether on foot, by bicycle or on horseback.

Tappa Cori - Sezze
Cori – Sezze

We will periodically update you on this important collaboration. If you have any reporting to share with us regarding the Via Francigena in Lazio, please do not hesitate to contact us: the opinion of our pilgrims is of essential importance to offer an itinerary which is increasingly beautiful to experience, one step at a time.


The EAVF starts again from Canterbury

The assembly of the European Association of Via Francigena ways took place in Canterbury, symbolic location along the Via Francigena.

For the first time in the history of the EAVF, after 21 years of activity, the general assembly was hosted in the city of Canterbury, whose administration has been a member since 2005.

It was here, the following year, that the stone marking the km zero of the European route from the North Sea to Rome, to the shores of the Mediterranean, was unveiled.

On 27 April, the EAVF assembly was held in the Cathedral Lodge, in front of both the Cathedral and the symbolic km zero stone. Ben Fitter-Harding, City Leader at Canterbury City Council, emotionally welcomed all the participants from the four countries of the Via Francigena: England, France, Switzerland and Italy.

Before the beginning of the meeting, President Massimo Tedeschi recalled the difficult period for Ukraine and Europe:

“The Via Francigena is in fact a “Cultural Route of the Council of Europe” and is thus part of the programme launched in 1987 in Santiago de Compostela. This was two years before important historical events: the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism. The programme was born in coherence with the principles and values of the Council of Europe, founded – as we know – on 5 May 1949 with the Treaty of London, to promote, in the immediate post-war period, the principles of democracy, respect for human rights, intercultural dialogue and tolerance.

United Kingdom, France and Italy were the founders of the Council of Europe together with seven other European states. Switzerland joined in 1963; and the Vatican State, the place where Peter’s tomb is located, has the status of ‘permanent observer’. This means that all the states through which the Via Francigena passes are part of the Council of Europe. This is a fact that should be remembered and that we appreciate very much. The Via Francigena unites peoples”.

Important points were addressed on the assembly’s agenda: the economic budget for 2021, which includes the budget for the fantastic event held from 16 June to 18 October 2021 “Via Francigena. Road to Rome 2021. Start again!“; the renewal of the associative offices for the three-year period 2022-2025; the UNESCO candidacy of the Via Francigena and the projects of international cooperation such as rurAllure, Horizon2020 project.

Through the presentation of the docufilm “Road to Rome” we experienced, once again, the great emotions of the long journey across Europe that has connected 658 municipalities. A 20-minute video collecting faces and interviews from the event. In addition to this docufilm, 16 regional videos, 1,000 high-resolution photographs and 55 reels were made available to members.

The members confirmed Massimo Tedeschi as EAVF’s president for the next three years. This confirmation was voted for and applauded unanimously by all members. Also confirmed were vice-presidents Martine Gautheron (France), Gaëtan Tornay (Switzerland), Francesco Gazzetti (Italy), Aldo Patruno (Italy) and Francesco Ferrari (Italy), as deputy vice-presidents. The list of vice-presidents now also includes Tricia Marshall (England), Natacha Bouchart (France) and Silvio Marino (Lazio).

The renewal of the offices saw a substantial confirmation of the outgoing Executive Board with some new entries. Provinces and Departments Haute-Marne (Grand-East), Communauté d’Agglomération Grand Besançon (Doubs, BFC), Unione Montana Valle Susa (Piemonte), Lodi (Lombardia), Pavia (Lombardy), Communauté d’agglomération de Béthune-Bruay (Pas-de-Calais, Hauts-de-France). Municipalities: Orbe (Vaud), Aosta (Valle d’Aosta), Ivrea (Piemonte), Pavia (Lombardia), Medesano (Emilia-Romagna), Santo Stefano Magra (Liguria), Pontremoli (Tuscany), Altopascio (Toscana), Monteriggioni (Toscana), Gambassi Terme (Toscana), Montefiascone (Lazio), Acquapendente (Lazio), Donnement (Grand Est), Wisques (Hauts-de-France), Fasano (Brindisi, Puglia). The member regions and the municipalities of Canterbury and Rome are also members by right, as well as the municipalities of Champlitte, Fidenza and Piacenza, which host the offices.

As for the associations, the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome (England), the Fédération Française Randonnée (France) and the Gruppo dei Dodici (Lazio, Italy) are members of the Executive Board.

The day following the general meeting was dedicated to the discovery and reconnaissance of the English route section of the Via Francigena. Administrators, volunteers and the EAVF group were on the trail, led by Giancarlo Laurenzi of the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome and Peter Morris of North Downs Way, responsible for the maintenance of the route.

The signage is in excellent condition, with markers, trail signs and tourist information boards. Along the route there are contemporary art installations between Bekesbourne and Shepherdswell. The project has been funded under the Interreg Europe “Green Pilgrimage” scheme, which has provided significant resources for the restyling of the walk. Great news for all ramblers who will walk along this path.


The Road to Rome stick, a symbol of peace, returns to the Km zero in Canterbury

On the occasion of EAVF’s General Assembly, the 26th of April at 5 pm, a special ceremony takes place in Canterbury’s Cathedral: the blessing of the “Via Francigena. Road to Rome” stick that traveled across 3,200 km in 2021, along the entire itinerary.

The “Via Francigena. Road to Rome” stick, after almost one year, returns to the ‘km zero’ – the majestic Cathedral in Canterbury, departure point of the Via Francigena. The stick was the absolute symbol of the long march that crossed Europe from north to south in four months, between 15 June and 18 October 2021, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the EAVF. A journey full of emotions, encounters, unexpected events, extraordinary moments and difficult moments, joy and tears. In the year of the 2021 Olympics, the stick was also metaphorically an important symbol of dialogue between 658 municipalities and 4 countries, as it was carried firmly in the hands of pilgrims on their way, as if it were an Olympic torch.

The story of this hazelwood stick is beautiful. The idea of making it a symbol of the ‘Road to Rome’ initiative came from Giancarlo Laurenzi, a pilgrim, President of the London-based Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome. But where did this object come from? It was made by Michael Walsh near Holycross Abbey in Tipperary, Ireland. The stick was seasoned, cleaned and prepared for the long journey with more than 10 layers of boiled linseed oil. The subsequent decoration on the stick, with the recognisable icon of the pilgrim symbol of the Via Francigena, was engraved by an artist from London, Julie Helen Sharp, and the rope grip on the handle was prepared by specialist craftsman Declan O Shea.

The stick, blessed before the beginning of “Road to Rome” by Brother Celsus Tierney, set off on 15 June from km zero in Canterbury, in front of the Cathedral, to walk the distance to Dover in the company of enthusiasts, pilgrims and representatives of the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome and of the Kent County Council, who handed it over to Captain Nick Jones (P&O Company) in the port of Dover on the morning of 17 June. He transported it on the ship to Calais, on the French shore on the other side of the English Channel. Welcoming the stick at the port were EAVF’s President Massimo Tedeschi, Calais municipal delegate Dominique Darré, EAVF’s Director Luca Bruschi and the event’s social media manager Myra Stals. This moment was particularly emotional.

From there, the continental journey of the stick began, passing into the hands of the various representatives of local institutions and associations, as well as other pilgrims who accompanied the Road to Rome group on the four-month journey.  An epic journey, narrated with photos, videos and a travel diary that put people and local communities at the centre of this experience.

Six months after its exciting arrival in Santa Maria di Leuca, Puglia, the stick returns to Canterbury where a ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday 26 April in the Cathedral. On this occasion the staff will be blessed by Reverend Robert Willis in the presence of representatives of the European Association of Via Francigena ways, the city of Canterbury and the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome. It will be an emotional and symbolic moment which strongly links the journey of the Road to Rome to the meeting of peoples – sending out a strong message of peace at a delicate moment in history, with the ongoing war in Ukraine, at the gates of Europe. The stick of the Via Francigena is meant to become a symbol of peace and hope.

After the EAVF Assembly on 27 April in Canterbury, the stick will return to Italy, in Fidenza (where the EAVF headquarters is located). This geographical position is perfectly in the middle of the whole European journey. As well as being a beautiful reminder of the Road to Rome march, the stick will continue to be a symbol of unity between peoples. It will continue to meet pilgrims from all over the world.


The perfect souvenirs for the Via Francigena? Discover Artio Design with us

Every pilgrim has a personal amulet. Some bring it from home, some find it along the way. An object of symbolic value, a good luck charm, a souvenir, or a mascot that accompanies us. What really matters is the meaning that will be forever associated with it, and with the experience of the journey.

From this realm of memories and evocations comes the work of Mirko and Silvia, two artisans, architects and passionate pilgrims who dedicate themselves to the creation of personalised souvenirs, mainly made in wood or ceramics, specifically dedicated to pilgrims travelling along the Via Francigena.

Together they founded the Artio Design workshop in Aosta, becoming the official designer of the Via Francigena in 2020, offering objects made with natural materials which you can carry during your pilgrimage. Water bottles, key rings and wooden pins to hang on your backpack, leather bracelets, ceramic or stone necklaces, and much more: Artio Design also produces custom-made stamps and stickers, as well as shapes and signs in the style of a ‘medieval shop’ that tag places where you can receive a stamp on your credential. Each product can be 100% personalised with details, texts and images that make it unique and unrepeatable, just like each person’s experience along the way. We are delighted to renew our collaboration with this important company for 2022!

Our aim is to provide pilgrims with a product adapted to their needs for lightness, compactness and recognition, and to offer retailers exclusive articles that will identify and enhance them on the Way“, reads the official website.

Click here to browse the catalogue of products dedicated to the Via Francigena


UNESCO: the Mayor of Calais writes a letter to President Macron. The candidacy of the Via comes back to the fore

The long walk “Via Francigena. Road to Rome 2021. Start again!”, which took place during summer 2021, celebrated the 20th anniversary of the EAVF. The event prompted the candidacy of the Via Francigena to join the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Good news finally arrives from France as well, as for the revival of the candidacy process. The letter of Calais’s Mayor Natacha Bouchart to the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron has a remarkable value.

The Via Francigena is a “Cultural Route of the Council of Europe” since 1994, hence it is part of the prestigious network of itineraries created in 1987 by the Council of Europe in Santiago de Compostela. Following such certification, in 2015, the Via Francigena network settled a second major objective for the route: its inscription in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The starting point was the meeting on 15 June 2015, requested by the municipalities of Fidenza and Monteriggioni, which was attended by numerous representatives of municipalities and regions, but also of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage. As a next step, the Italian Regions, coordinated by the Region of Tuscany, signed an important collaboration agreement on 4 March 2017 in San Miniato, which led to the drafting, in 2017, of the preliminary analysis of the UNESCO candidacy of the Italian section of the Via Francigena. In 2019, the thematic study of the entire European route, from Canterbury to Rome, had been prepared as well. The EAVF coordinated the technical and scientific work process of the two documents, which list the 540 eligible assets along the 2000-kilometre route, in accordance with criteria number 2, 4 and 6 of the UNESCO Regulations.

Four relevant events occurred during 2021:
  • During the “Road to Rome 2021” march, between 15 June and 18 October 2021, the topic of the UNESCO candidacy was systematically mentioned in all meetings with local institutions and associations. Parliamentarians and local authorities mobilised with regards to the French section. In particular, on 14 June, the Council of the Union of Municipalities of Béthune-Bruay, Artois Lys Romane (Pas-de-Calais department; Hauts-de-France region) and the councils of the twenty municipalities of the Union crossed by Via Francigena unanimously voted a motion of support for the candidacy sent to the French Minister of Culture, Roselyne Bachelot. On 10 February 2021, the Minister and the Director General of Heritage and Architecture at the Ministry replied to all the letters received, assuring that the dossier was under examination in their offices.
  • On 25 February 2021, the Council of the Region of Tuscany unanimously approved a council resolution committing the Region to the promotion of the UNESCO candidacy, in collaboration with the other Italian Regions and the EAVF.
  • With decree no. 749 of 29 September, the Italian Ministry of Culture formally included within the Development and Cohesion Plan “Stralcio Cultura e Turismo CIPE” (FSC 2014-2020 ex delibera 3/2016) an allocation of 1.1 million euros for the UNESCO candidacy dossier of the Italian section of the Via Francigena.

The path towards the UNESCO candidacy has therefore been fully resumed and the Region of Tuscany, in collaboration with the EAVF, is organising a meeting in Florence in the coming weeks to overlook the current situation and ask for renewed consultation between the competent Ministries of United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Italy and the Vatican State.

Natacha Bouchart

In the meantime, the EAVF continued its activities by organising five meetings with local administrations in the French section of the Via Francigena: Calais and Béthune (2 February), Bruay-la-Bussiere (3 February), Bar-sur-Aube (3 March), Wisques (4 March). Natacha Bouchart, mayor of Calais and vice-president of the Hauts-de-France Region, fully shared the common objectives of the project and gave a strong political impulse by directly involving the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, to whom she sent the preliminary candidacy dossier asking for full support from the French Government.

Since the great “Road to Rome 2021” march last year, I have noticed a renewed and widespread interest in the UNESCO candidacy of the Via Francigena. The meeting with mayor Natacha Bouchart and the interest of the President of the French Republic are very significant steps. Today we can say that the objective of presenting the candidacy proposal in conjunction with the 2025 Jubilee is realistic. The Via Francigena is a precious source of European heritage, and the UNESCO inscription would enhance it even more by bringing together public institutions, private individuals, associations and volunteers. We want to place the values and the tangible and intangible cultural value of this great European itinerary at the centre of the project”, commented Massimo Tedeschi, President of the EAVF.


For the first time, EAVF’s Assembly will be in Canterbury, km zero of the Via Francigena

On Wednesday 27 April 2022, members of the European Association of Via Francigena ways (EAVF) will meet in Canterbury (Kent County, England), km 0 of the Via Francigena.

For the first time in the history of the EAVF, founded in 2001 in Fidenza (Italy), the assembly will be hosted in England, in Canterbury, inside the prestigious Cathedral Lodge. The event is hosted by the Canterbury City Council and organized with the collaboration of the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome and North Downs Way. It will be attended by representatives of municipalities, provinces, departments and regions from the four countries crossed by the Via, as well as numerous associations of walkers and volunteers.

Canterbury Cathedral

On the agenda there are some very important bulletpoints: the approval of budget and reporting of the last activities carried out; updates on the candidacy process of the Via Francigena as Unesco World Heritage; the renewal of the association’s office charges. A preview of the final docufilm about last year’s epic journey “Via Francigena. Road to Rome 2021. Start again!“, which celebrated the 20th anniversary of the EAVF, will be presented. The initiave was long relay race that lasted 127 days and was 3,200 km long, networking 658 municipalities and consolidating unity between peoples and cultures along the Via Francigena.

Pilgrim's staff

Important cultural events will take place alongside the assembly. On the afternoon of the 26th, a religious celebration is planned at the Cathedral in the presence of a group of pilgrims from the Confraternity Pilgrims to Rome, led by President Giancarlo Laurenzi. These pilgrims will walk the historical London-Canterbury trail and arrive the day before the Assembly to meet EAVF’s representatives. All participants will then visit Canterbury’s Cathedral. The pilgrim’s stick will be blessed in the crypt; a stick made by the Irish craftsman Michael Walsh that accompanied the group of walkers during the entire Road to Rome march last summer. On the morning of 27 April, there will be a guided tour of the old city centre, whereas on the 28th a 10 km walk is organised along the Canterbury-Dover stretch. Such a walk will allow the group to explore the first section of the route, well maintained and signposted by North Downs Way. EAVF’s staff will walk the entire 32 km of the first stage with the same pilgrim’s staff, to symbolically close the relay which started last 17 June from Calais.


The Via Francigena is on Netflix with Cattelan and Sorrentino

“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.

Segnaletica VF

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.

Riprese Netflix sulla Francigena
Il gruppo lungo la Francigena per Netflix