Via Francigena

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Latest travel updates from the Via Francigena

The time has come to re-start travel along the Via Francigena with the utmost precaution and a strong sense of responsibility.

Along the way follow the necessary safety measures to contain the spread of the virus: 1-meter social distance, carry a mask to enter a closed space or to meet other people, use sanitizing gel, etc.

Page updated on 23 July 2020.

Please consult the pilgrim’s regulations and the list of open accommodation facilities along the route. This mapping, containing information about hospitality facilities and pilgrim’s services, is being regularly updated by the EAVF in collaboration with members and stakeholders.  In any case, please always contact hospitality receptions in advance.

Below is information about the route in Italy, Switzerland, France, and England.

Italy

Since 3 June 2020 Italy has opened the possibility of walking and moving from region to region and also re-opens to non-Italian tourists. For more information, see the attached guidelines for the reopening of Economic, Productive and Recreational Activities (Conference of the Regions and Autonomous Provinces).

Attached is a summary made by the group “Io Cammino In Italia”.

Switzerland

No directives concerning the paths and outdoor activities, as they are open for walking for groups of less than 5 persons.

Hotels and restaurants have regulations to follow, which are available on www.hotelleriesuisse.ch (the site is also available in Italian and English).

In general the majority of services are already open.

France

We can hike again, continuing to apply physical distance and precautious measures (clean your hands regularly, cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, use and dispose of a disposable tissue, greet without shaking hands, avoid kissing).

A travel certificate is no longer required. Wearing a mask remains compulsory in public transport and in many shops. Meetings are still prohibited. The restaurants, cafes, bars have been open since Monday, 15 June 2020.

Consult the guidelines of the French Hiking Federation: https://www.ffrandonnee.fr/actualites/18967/la-ffrandonnee-precise-les-conditions-de-reprise-de-la-randonnee-pedestre.aspx

More information at the following link: https://cms.ffrandonnee.fr/data/SIEGE/files/rando-indiv-deconfinement-5-juin.pdf

 

England

At the moment there are no precise indications regarding the practicability of the paths. Please consult the regulations defined by the National Trails: https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/north-downs-way/

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Pilgrims’ welcome restarts!

Travel along the Via Francigena restarts and many reception facilities reopen.

After a predictable slow start of the season, many hostels, religious structures, hotels and B&Bs have reopened their doors in the last few weeks. The European Association of the Via Francigena ways EAVF regularly updates the hospitality files divided into “pilgrims” and “tourists” sections. This work is done weekly by the staff with valuable help of volunteers and local associations.

It is understandable that many facilities struggle to coop with daily management, in particular reference to sanitation and cleaning due to the health emergency. Furthermore, management costs have significantly increased as the current situation requires great attention, responsibility, and precaution.

That is why it is essential to carefully follow the health guidelines while travelling along the route. Furthermore, it is equally important to leave a donation to your host, which is usually “forgotten” by 20% of pilgrims, damaging the entire Via Francigena hospitality system.

What is the current hospitality situation along the way right now? The route is indeed well equipped with pilgrim and tourist accommodations even if in most cases available places are currently reduced. It should not be forgotten that given the situation, this year it is mandatory to book your bed / room in advance.

The French section of the route does not report any particular criticalities with most of facilities being open.

Verification of the Swiss section confirms available beds along 200 km of the route; efforts are also being made to publish new parochial and offer-based structures online.

Along the Italian section, starting from the north you can find pilgrim hospitality in five stages with the sole exception in Aosta which offers a range of other accommodations. Numerous facilities have reopened in Piedmont, welcoming tourists with reduced prices. Lombardy has an accommodation gap on the border with Piedmont up to Mortara, however in Palestro in Torre Merlata you can sleep in a tent.

The situation in Emilia-Romagna is a little more critical, as hostels in this region have not yet reopened between Piacenza and Berceto. However, tourist facilities there offer preferential rates for pilgrims.

In Tuscany and Lazio many facilities actively welcome pilgrims. In cities of Lucca and Siena historic hostels are closed, although there are alternatives of campings, guest houses and traditional tourist facilities.

The accommodation situation along the Via Francigena in the South is being updated and monitored, as well as route conditions, safety and signs in accordance with the European Via Francigena manual.

You can download accommodation lists from the Visit Via Francigena hospitality platform. Other facilities are expected to reopen in late July and will be inserted in the accommodation files accordingly.

Find more information about the route following the link https://www.viefrancigene.org/en/covid/

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The Via Francigena in 2019: pilgrim numbers and estimates

A snapshot of the Via Francigena development in 2019 through a sample analysis of 2,000 EAVF pilgrim passports and rest stops. This non-exhaustive estimate provides a useful base for understanding of the route tourism trends and economic potential, hiker’s profile, travel motivations and needs. The full version of the document can be consulted and downloaded here.

2019 Via Francigena highlights:

  • The Via Francigena becomes increasingly international, hosting hikers come from over 60 countries. In Europe, Italian walkers dominate the route, followed by visitors from France, Germany and Switzerland;
  • Hikers from the United States of America and Canada are top visitors from the American continents. The Asian segment on the Via Francigena is dominated by China, South Korea and Japan;
  • 80% walkers travel on foot; 19.7%  – by bicycle, 0.3% – by horse;
  • Most popular departure points: Lucca, Siena, Fidenza and Pavia in Italy; Grand Saint Bernard Pass and Lausanne in Switzerland; Canterbury in England – zero kilometre of the path;
  • The Via Francigena embraces hikers of all age, ranging from 16 to 80 years old. The age group of 25-34 is ever growing;
  • Pilgrim’s profile: educated, passionate about culture and nature, curious, in search of experience, gastronomy amateur;
  • The Via Francigena favours territorial economic development;
  • 2019 walkers estimate is 50,000 along the entire route;
  • Website https://www.viefrancigene.org registered over 4 million page visits and 620,000 users;

Pilgrim Passport. Number of distribution points for the EAVF pilgrim passports has increased, thanks to collaboration of many tourism offices and local associations. It has grown from 52 to 74 distribution points along the entire route, including those in Canterbury in the UK, Paris in France, Orsières in Switzerland; Aosta, Milan and Viterbo in Italy. Along the southern section the new entries are Monte Sant’Angelo and Barletta. The distribution centres are important as they are the first contact points for pilgrims with the Via Francigena world.

Travellers’ Profile. Means of transport: 80% on foot, 19.7% by bicycle and 0.3% by horse. Hikers’ average age: 8% – 18-24 years old; 21% – 25-34 years old, 18% – 35-44 years old, 19% – 45-54 years old, 22% – 55-64 years old, 10% – over 65 years old, 2% – young people under 17. The ratio between men and women was registered as 52% men and 48% women.

Preferred Departure Months (in order of attendance): August (19%), September (16%), April (12%), October (12%). Cold months from December to January gathered over 10% of walkers.

Hikers who purchased the EAVF pilgrim passports were predominantly Italians (70%), followed by pilgrims from France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium. From American continents, tourists from the United States of America and Canada top up the list, followed by Brazil and Argentina. From the Asian segment an increase in pilgrims from China, South Korea, Japan, Australia has been significant. In total there are over 60 countries represented along the route, including Singapore, New Zealand and Taiwan.

Departure and Final Destination. Starting points of the Via Francigena in Italy are in order of attendance: the Grand Saint Bernard Pass – 17%, Lucca – 15%; Siena, Fidenza and Pavia – 6%. They are followed by Siena, Acquapendente, Viterbo. However, there are many other departure points in each of the four countries, well connected by means of transportation. In England, the symbolic departure point is Canterbury, kilometre zero of the route. In Switzerland, Lausanne is confirmed as the most popular start of the journey.

For 48% of travellers the final destination of the trip was the city of Rome and St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican. The other intermediate destinations are primarily those of Tuscany, such as Monteriggioni, Siena, Lucca, Pontremoli; as well as Ivrea in Piedmont or Viterbo in Lazio. In view of the development of the Via Francigena in the south, other destinations such as Monte Sant’Angelo, Bari, Brindisi, Santa Maria di Leuca in Apulia have potential to become journey’s terminus.

Motivations. Spiritual motivation dominates the reasons for travel, linked to soul searching and immaterial aspect of the journey experience. It is often combined with cultural tourism. Among other motivations there is a will to share and to live a shared experience, followed by nature, sport and religion.

In some ways, the 2022 trend confirms what has already been recorded, for example the preference for walking over cycling, and the nationality of pilgrims confirming the attractiveness of the Via Francigena mainly to Italians, although interest in the route is growing both within and outside Europe. Among the motivations for embarking on the journey, there is a spiritual component for some, but the reasons are mostly linked to a preponderant desire to experience nature by practising sport and to a large extent to discover new tastes and flavours.

The experience of walking the Via Francigena is a shared journey, as many set off in groups or in couples. This is because, even for the most experienced pilgrims, living the walk together allows them to face the beauties and difficulties while sharing emotions, a factor that makes the experience truly unforgettable. Over time, groups have sprung up and grown up, also online, for the exchange of advice and information, as well as stories about journeys along the Via Francigena. In this, the All Trails app can certainly be useful, with which it is possible to exchange suggestions and reports along the routes of the walk and download maps, which can also be used offline, as well as photos of one’s journey in real time.

Travel Duration and Budget. The time spent travelling along the Via Francigena is on average 7 days. The estimate of pilgrims, wayfarers and walkers of 2019 along the entire Canterbury-Rome axis is 50,000 persons. The average expense of those who travel on foot was 50 € per day, while bicyclists spent 60 € per day. Thereby economic benefits from the route can be estimated 20 million euros per 2019.

Future challenges. In more immediate future, the primarily challenge is a matter of understanding how the Via Francigena and all its hospitality, catering and service systems will be able to react to the ongoing COVID health emergency, based on the directives from local and national authorities.

In the upcoming future the Association is to focus the attention at the communication tools and promotional campaigns with on an international scale in cooperation with national governments and regions. The Via Francigena candidacy to the UNESCO World Heritage List is another priority of the association.

The attention should also be paid to pilgrims’ hospitality and religious hostels. The EAVF will be working to raise awareness and activate the Lazio region – the “Galicia” of the Via Francigena – to take a decisive role in the Via Francigena network of paths that arrive to Rome.

Improvement of permanent route maintenance system along the entire European route is one of the strategic actions to be undertaken together with the creation of a single observatory capable of collecting and analysing pilgrims’ data.

The full version of the analyses is attached.

Fidenza, 18 April 2020

Luca Bruschi
EAVF Director

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EAVF participates in the final conference of the «Italy, Greece and Turkey on Foot» project

The European Association of the Via Francigena ways (EAVF) participated in the final conference of the «Italy, Greece and Turkey on Foot» project, which took place on 6 – 7 February 2020 in Izmit, Turkey.
The conference was a closing event of a 12-months project, financed by the European Union, and led by a Turkish NGO Culture Routes Society in cooperation with the EAVF and the Greek NGO Trace Your Eco.

The final conference gave an excellent opportunity to present the results of the project, share best practices along the Via Eurasia and strengthen cooperation between the partners. It brought together over 80 international participants from institutions, associations, civil society, universities and private sector.

The Via Eurasia hiking route presents an opportunity of becoming a “cultural bridge” connecting Europe and Turkey crossing five countries: Italy, Albania, Republic of North Macedonia, Greece and Turkey, which will facilitate sustainable tourism development, intercultural dialogue and rural revitalisation.

During the morning session on 7 February the following results achieved within the project were presented:

  • involvement of municipalities along the proposed cultural route in Turkey, Greece and Italy;
  • study visit in Apulia, Italy and roadshows in Turkey and Greece;
  • new visibility material as website, brochures, flyers, panels;
  • exchange of good practices in terms of governance, capacity building and promotion;
  • mapping cultural heritage along the way;
  • development of strong partnerships and intercultural dialogue among the partners and local towns.

Luca Bruschi, EAVF director, shared best practices of the Via Francigena governance model with a special focus on the Via Francigena of the South.

A lead university of the Via Eurasia Scientific Committee – the Bogazici University – conducted workshop on sustainable tourism during the afternoon session.

On 7 February the Scientific Committee and the Management Board of the Via Eurasia discussed the consolidation of the route’s management structure and future actions to develop animation of the route.

During the project an intensive analysis and research was done by the Scientific Committee, in cooperation with the Head of the Management Committee Elena Dubinina, in order to prepare the dossier to be certified as a Council of Europe Cultural Route.

The submission of the dossier is scheduled on 30th September 2020.

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Via Francigena Capacity Building: the EAVF Training Proposal for Public Bodies, Local Communities and Private Sector

To train local stakeholders and meet the demand for increasing experiential and sustainable tourism – this is the objective of the ” Via Francigena Capacity Building” training module launched by the European Association of the Via Francigena Ways (EAVF).The training is addressed to public bodies, tourist offices, trade associations, private sector and local communities. During the pilot phase, the project will cover the Italian section of the Via Francigena, to be extended to the entire European route in the nearest future.

Why Capacity Building?

To improve hospitality sector, stimulate increase in tourism flows and generate concrete economic benefits, it is essential to qualify the tourism product at a local level by training and direct involvement of stakeholders of the Francigena world. Numerous Italian routes compete thanks to infrastructure development and elaboration of tourist products and offers. To keep  a high level of quality and an outstanding offer it is necessary to respond with professionalism and excellent services to the specific needs of pilgrims and walkers.

Objectives of the course:

In this context the training offered by the EAVF intends to involve and train the main actors along the Via Francigena. Its focus is to improve hospitality services at local level for diverse users (pilgrims, hikers, tourists, cyclists, campers, etc.); increase customization of existing services or creation of new services (luggage transport, bicycle rental, hospitality, etc.) and promote knowledge and usefulness of already active territorial information and promotion tools (App, website, logos, events, etc.).

The training request emerged from the questionnaire realized by the EAVF and addressed to the municipal administrations along the Via Francigena. 80% of respondents consider it essential to increase skills of economic operators and local associations by focusing on the characteristics of tourism demand, communication, marketing and current issues such as sustainable and responsible tourism.

Methodology:

The EAVF offers a training course of different levels, adapted to the needs of a recipient. It offers a lab alternating theoretical / debate phases with practical and interactive experiences, work exercises useful for experimenting with different case studies. Specific sessions are foreseen to foster knowledge-sharing, information exchange, group cohesion and networking.

The adopted experiential methodology is interactive and homogeneous, with innovative didactic tools used onsite and remotely. The training course will be conducted by trainers – experts in tourism marketing, management of tourist destinations and participatory process, highly experienced in enhancement of Cultural Routes.

An EAVF certification is provided for Municipalities and operators who undertake the training course. A certification of participation or excellence is based on the achieved level and examination taken. Excellent achievements will be published on the website www.viefrancigene.org.

For info and contacts: Tel. +39 0523 492792. Email: formazione@viefrancigene.org

Attached is the downloadable brochure.

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AEVF depliant Formazione.pdf

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I love Francigena, success of the walking events in Emilia Romagna

The 2019 edition of I love Francigena closes with a more than positive outcome.

The event created by the European Association of Via Francigena Ways (EAVF) brought dozens of walkers to discover the route with two dates: 7th September along the Cassio – Berceto section and 14th September from Pontenure to Fiorenzuola d’Arda.

The initiative, free of charge, was included in the  “I love cammini Emilia Romagna” events, the project promoted by  APT Servizi Regione Emilia-Romagna, in collaboration with the Episcopal Conference of Emilia Romagna and the AIGAE association to experience the historical paths of Emilia Romagna from Piacenza to Rimini.

The first walk took place in the woods and along the dirt tracks from Cassio to Berceto, the last historic village before the Cisa Apennine pass towards Tuscany. The initiative took place with the collaboration of the municipality of Berceto, which welcomed the participants with a buffet with the mayor, Luigi Lucchi.

The second outing, in the Po countryside, was organised in collaboration with the Fiorenzuola in Movimento association, the municipalities of Pontenure, Cadeo and Fiorenzuola d’Arda. Walkers, accompanied by EAVF staff, were also able to admire some cultural and naturalistic places such as the Paderna castle, the castle of Cerreto Landi, the ford of the Chiavenna stream to finally arrive at the Collegiata of Fiorenzuola d’Arda. This last walk saw the participation of some local administrators: Manola Groups, mayor of Pontenure; Marco Bricconi, mayor of Cadeo; Toma Maria Lodovica, deputy mayor; Alessandro Genesi, Councilor for Public Heritage Works and Romeo Gandolfi mayor of Fiorenzuola d’Arda.

On this occasion the last stop also dedicated some time to tasting local dishes, thanks to the collaboration of the Parish of San Fiorenzo, the participants could appreciate the delicious taste of ‘torta fritta’ cooked by volunteers.

I love Francigena represents an opportunity to meet new people, discover the territory and enhance the route. With this perspective, the two mayors, Marco Bricconi and Romeo Gandolfi, took part in the walk and gathering after the ford of Chiavenna. The participants also helped the EAVF staff in the maintenance of signage and collection of waste. The two Francigena dates were organised with the support of Banca Generali Private.

More information here

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I Love Cammini along the Via Francigena, two dates of slow walking in Emilia Romagna

Our appointment with “I love Cammini Emilia Romagna” returns in September. There are two dates dedicated to the Via Francigena to experience and get to know the route at a slow pace: 7th September from Cassio to Berceto and the 14th September from Pontenure to Fiorenzuola d’Arda.

The initiative is a project promoted by APT Services Emilia-Romagna Region in collaboration with the Bishops’ Conference of Emilia Romagna and the AIGAE association to experience historical paths of Emilia Romagna, from Piacenza to Rimini.

On Saturday 7th September we are offering the opportunity to walk 10.4km of the Cultural Route of the Council of Europe from Cassio to Berceto, the last historic village before the Apennine crossing of Cisa to Tuscany.

On 14th September “I Love Cammini Emilia Romagna” will lead you to the discovery of the Francigena in the Padana countryside from Pontenure to Fiorenzuola. The French dates are organised by the European Association of Via Francigena Ways (EAVF) in collaboration with Banca Generali and the association Fiorenzuola in Movement.

How to participate? The excursion is free, the only thing you need to do is to book at: camminiemiliaromagna.it

What do you need? Just a pair of trainers, preferably with a stiff, thick sole, a cap, a backpack and you are already ready to book on to one of the free weekends of the first edition of “I love Cammini Emilia Romagna 2019”.

The routes almost never exceed 10km – most of them are limited to 7 or 8km – and are suitable for everyone. We leave at around 9.30am and return in the afternoon. Each re-entry has been calculated so that you can get public transport home.

For more information visit: www.camminiemiliaromagna.it and https://www.viefrancigene.org/en/i-love-francigena-en/

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Interim management meeting of the cooperation project “Italy, Greece, Turkey on Foot”

On 23 – 24 July 2019 the Via Francigena participated in the interim management meeting of the 12-month  project “Italy, Greece and Turkey on foot“, which took place in a town of Misi, in the vicinity of Turkish Bursa.
The project, led by a Turkish NGO “Culture Routes Society” in partnership with the European Association Via Francigena Ways and Greek “Trace Your Eco“, aims to develop a transnational cultural route of Via Eurasia from Bari to Demre crossing Italy, Albania, Northern Macedonia, Turkey.

The management meeting was focused on governance and Council of Europe cultural routes priority areas – sustainable development, enhancement of memory, youth participation and artistic practices.

Mr Luca Bruschi, the director of the European Association of Via Francigena Ways, presented  best practice examples and their work of extension of the Via to the South.

The Municipality of Nilüfer, the host of the meeting, demonstrated their route development methodology and community based projects along the Mysian Ways.

In the framework of the meeting the EAVF participated in the study visit to discover the Mysian Ways (300km), the route of ancient Mysian civilization, which starts in a picturesque village of Misi and takes you to the Doganci Baraji lake.

During the visit the participants met representatives of associations and volunteers and visited a bakery founded by a local women’s association. The trip ended with an excursion to the museum of exchanged population which exhibits a story of migration in the region.

More information on the topic:

Culture Routes Society: Turkey, Greece & Italy on Foot Project – Bursa Meeting

Municipality of Nilüfer: Türkiye İtalya ve Yunanistan’ın kültür rotaları Nilüfer’de birleşiyor

The project is co-financed by the European Union.

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Awaiting ‘I Love Francigena’, inspections concluded

The European Association of the Via Francigena Ways (EAVF) and Fiorenzuola in Movimento have completed their inspections in the Piacenza and Parma areas of ​​the Via Francigena.

The initiative, realised with the support of APT Emilia Romagna, has permitted verification and management of the route, from the Guado del Po to the Passo della Cisa, two landmarks of Sigeric’s route.

“We have verified the status of the route in Emilia Romagna and no particular problems have emerged – explains Sami Tawfik, EAVF project manager – where necessary we intervened by strengthening the adhesive signs. These days were also an opportunity to meet with the tourist information offices and people of the territory dedicated to the development of the Via Francigena”.

“We were really happy and proud of the important task that has been entrusted to us by the EAVF: the signage is a fundamental step of the journey – adds Daniela Ceresa for Fiorenzuola in Motion – It was a wonderful experience that led us to rediscover the places between Piacenza and Fidenza. From one sticker to another we crossed our countryside in full splendour and the town crossed by the route”.

Step by step, between stickers and smiles, volunteers and EAVF staff members met many pilgrims on the road, enthusiastic about the initiative. “These days have allowed us to prepare the ground for the two walks in September which will be followed by a further verification of the route,” adds Tawfik.

On 8th and 15th September the “I Love Francigena in Emilia Romagna” project will be brought to life. The travel event organised by the European Association of the Via Francigena Ways (EAVF), in collaboration with APT Emilia-Romagna, with the technical support of ItinerAria S.r.l. and Fiorenzuola in Movimento, will see the walkers along the Emilia-Romagna stretch of the Francigena. More information on the programme and registration will be announced in the next few days on the website www.viefrancigene.org, https://camminiemiliaromagna.it and https://www.viefrancigene.org/en/I-love-francigena/

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Travel to Apulia for the project ‘Italy-Greece-Turkey on Foot’

On 27 May – 1 June 2019 the European Association of the Via Francigena Ways has conducted a study visit to the Apulia region in the framework of the cooperation project ‘Italy, Greece and Turkey on Foot’.

The study visit brought together participants from Italy, Turkey, Greece and the Netherlands and was a great success.

With an objective of learning Via Francigena best practices of pilgrims’ hospitality and routes development, the attendees explored the Apulia Region and discovered local traditions, customs and cultures.

On the first day having tasted famous local bread of Monte Sant’Angelo, the participants visited the ancient Sanctuary of Saint Michael the Archangel, the UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as were welcomed by local associations and representatives of the municipality.

The following day the group visited San Giovanni Rotondo – a place well-known for its Saint Padre Pio and saw a pilgrim’s hostel developed by the local government in a historic tower. Then the group had a chance to trek through magnificent Gargano National Park.

In the last days of the trip, the visit was focused on coastal towns of Trani, Polignano a Mare and Monopoli and their hospitality facilities, such as an Italian concept of ‘albergo diffuso’ – type of accommodation with rooms and apartments spread over in town with one information/ reception point.

The 7-km hike along the South Via Francigena on the coast was an exciting opportunity to experience the Via in real life.

Last two days were spared for enchanting city of Bari where Basilica San Nicola is erected with its all grandeur. In Bari the group had fruitful meetings with representatives of the Apulia region and the AEVF to learn good practices in terms of network governance, capacity building and promotion.

The study visit was a great opportunity to learn best practices of welcome and hospitality and a real discovery of the region.

We thank the organizers and all stakeholders who contributed to the study visit. The project ‘Italy, Greece and Turkey on Foot’ is financed by the European Union under the ‘Civil Society Dialogue V’ programme and implemented by the Turkish Directorate for EU Affairs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Cultural Routes Society

Via Eurasia

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