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The EAVF participates in the international conference on Italian cultural routes by the Council of Europe

On 18 February, the European Association of Via Francigena ways (EAVF) took part in an international conference in Venice regarding Italian cultural routes of the Council of Europe.

The meeting was organized by the Italian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and by the Italian representation of the Council based in Venice, headed by Luisella Pavan-Woolfe, former ambassador of the European Union in Strasbourg.

Institutions, authorities and representatives of cultural routes attended the event with the common objective of analysing challenges and opportunities of cultural routes that cross Europe, defined as “tangible solutions for the tourism sector, compromised by the pandemic” by Filippo Maria Carnici, Vice-President of the Ateneo Veneto that hosted the conference.

Sustainable development and the recovery of tourism in the post-covid phase are the issues highlighted by Stefano Dominioni, Director of the European Institute of Cultural Routes. He recalled how “the Council of Europe can reaffirm the values of public participation and democratic citizenship within a shared Europe that belongs to everyone: an illustrious example is the Via Francigena, which, through the joint work of authorities, municipalities and territories, contributes to the shaping of a common European identity“.

This was confirmed by Massimo Tedeschi, EAVF’s President, who recalled, during the session dedicated to European heritage and history, how the historic journey undertaken by Sigeric to reach Rome is a continuous opportunity to break down stereotypes and create a sense of common belonging: “relaunch, Europe and tangible and intangible heritage, as in people and their ideas. These were the cornerstones of the event Via Francigena. Road to Rome 2021 – the European relay race with which we celebrated the Association’s 20th anniversary“.

The Cultural Routes programme, launched by the Council of Europe in 1987 with the Declaration of Santiago, is a warranty of excellence that offers a model for transnational cultural and tourism management, fostering synergies between authorities and stakeholders at the European level and contributing to the creation of a community spirit. Out of the 45 certified itineraries, 29 pass through Italy, as the director of Venice’s Office Luisella Pavan-Woolfe reminded; she also highlighted the importance of Venice, an academic center and important cultural hub recognized on the European level. The city is actively involved in the Council of Europe’s activities related to the promotion of cultural heritage and freedom of expression. “Cultural routes can create and spread continuous exchanges of ideas and best practices also thanks to European funds, as witnessed by the European project “rurAllure” financed by Horizon 2020, born with the aim of enhancing the rural heritage of European routes“.

European identity, memory and heritage were the three key words of the day, which featured the Via Francigena and the Way of St James alongside the Phoenicians’ Route, the Via Romea Germanica, Atrium – dedicated to the architecture of Totalitarian Regimes – the European Mozart Routes, the Jewish Heritage Route and the Route of Historic Thermal Towns, as well as the Route of the Liberation of Europe and the Route of Historic Gardens. Roberta Alberotanza, member of the Task Force for the Italian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, concluded the conference by saying that “it would take a lifetime to travel across all the itineraries presented today“. She then led the participants on a tour of the movable exhibition dedicated to the 29 Council of Europe itineraries with Italian network members.

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The 4th edition of the Via Francigena Marathon in the Susa Valley is coming

Despite the difficulties given by the pandemic, once again this year ASD IRIDE in Rivoli is organising a Marathon along the Via Francigena which touches upon the most characteristic points of interest in the Susa Valley.

This non-competitive walk, for its 4th edition, will take place on Sunday 19 June 2022 with departure from Avigliana, medieval city known as ‘city of the two lakes’, followed by the passage at the Sacra di San Michele and arrival in the city center of Susa, both ‘Orange Flag’ locations classified by the Italian Touring Club.

Subscriptions, which opened at the end of January, already count 1500 participants. The closing of subscriptions, on the other hand, is expected for 1 June 2022 – or once the available 3000 subscriptions are sold out. During the last editions, 3000 subscriptions were reached as soon as 3 weeks after the launch of the event, therefore we highly recommend subscribing as soon as possible!

This year there are two available routes: with and without the passage at the Sacra di San Michele. There are also 3 available itineraries: 1) from the point of departure to the Sacra di San Michele 10 km (Family Marathon); 2) up to the Villarfocchiardo 21 km (Half Marathon); 3) the full marathon up to Susa, walking for 44 km. Similarly to last years, it is possible to select the Easy option without reaching the Sacra di San Michele, and reserve a shuttle service for your return.

The marathon #FMV2022 is open to everyone and must rigorously be walked, without running, to taste the beauty of this itinerary at its best.

The trail will be controlled by the Civil Protection public service and by the many Associations involved in the organisation. Local Police, law enforcement officers and the local Pro Loco will check the passage through towns. Volunteers will surveil the route, support participants and arrange resting and restoration spots located along the entire itinerary.

Click here to submit your subscription

In the above website you can also find the rules and details regarding the individual awards, transports, restorations, assistance, options for hotel bookings, etc.

Asd Iride also has other activities planned for this spring! First of all, the 4th gathering of ‘walkers of the two lakes’, which will take place in Avigliana on 24 April 2022, and following, on 8 May 2022, they will participate in the 16th stage of the ‘Giro d’Italia Plogging 2022’, in the municipalities of Avigliana, Grugliasco, Rivoli and Settimo.

For more information:

ASD IRIDE from Rivoli: mail info@viafrancigenamarathonvaldisusa.it

Leo Zappalà: phone 3398822333

Facebook and Instagram

To always be updated, join the Facebook group and community #FMV2022: @viafrancigenamarathonvaldisusa

Source: Press Release Via Francigena Marathon Val di Susa 2022

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Hot baths along the Via Francigena featured in Italian magazine ‘Viaggi e Cammini’

On 18 February 2022, the new edition of Italian magazine ‘Viaggi e Cammini’, published by Sprea Editori, will be available in national news-stands. The magazine focuses entirely on walking trips and pilgrimages, with a broad selection of trails described in each edition.

This number contains an article dedicated to thermal heritage along the Via Francigena, object of studies of the European project ‘rurAllure’. The EAVF is one of the principal collaborating partners of this project. Indeed, the EAVF’s team which is working on the project has prepared the article together with partners from the universities of Madrid and Venice. Such international project aims precisely to shed light and enhance historical heritage bordering the main European routes, including, with particular focus, thermal heritage along the 3 key itineraries that lead to Rome (i.e., Via Romea Strata, Via Romea Germanica and Via Francigena).

Not everybody knows how many thermal sites exist along the Via Francigena route in Italy – some of which are freely accessible, others upon payment. These sites are not only great stops along your journey, but they also have an immense historical and cultural value and attraction, as the Etruscans and ancient Romans themselves used to love visiting them.

Discover them all in the magazine, which can be purchased in all Italian news-stands. Otherwise, it is possible to order a copy by clicking here.

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Luca Bruschi and Angelofabio Attolico enter the Italian National Tourism Promotion Committee

Through the decree n. 2016 of 8 February 2022 by the Italian Minister of Tourism Massimo Garavaglia, two new expert members were nominated for the Italian National Tourism Promotion Committee. The new members are Luca Bruschi (1978), graduate in Conservation of Cultural Heritage and today Director of the European Association of Via Francigena ways (EAVF), and Angelofabio Attolico (1983), with a PhD in Archaeology, now technical manager of the Via Francigena in the South.

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EAVF participates in rurAllure General Meeting

The international meeting of rurAllure took place in Padua and Montegrotto on 27 – 29 January 2022. This Horizon 2020 European project is focused to the development of innovative digital tools for promotion of heritage in the vicinity of cultural routes.

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EAVF participates in the third European meeting for project “rurAllure”

From 27 to 29 January 2022, the University of Padova, Italy, hosts researchers, universities, representatives of cultural routes and institutions coming from all over Europe to talk about the relaunch of tourism during the post-Covid phase. The focus? Heritage sites which the main pilgrimage routes offer along their itineraries, that can be reached by foot or by bike.

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AEVF and Garmont: a successful collaboration continues in 2022

This year we are happy to continue our collaboration with Garmont, company specialised in the production of outdoor and hiking footwear. During Road to Rome 2021, they were able to scare away one of the enemies we feared the most: blisters.

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The Via Francigena in 2021 set off again: here are the numbers

The European Association of Via Francigena ways (EAVF) analysed a sample of 1430 credentials distributed during 2021 to provide some important statistical data.

There is a renewed desire for the Via Francigena and for walking trips, but especially for starting to travel again. This was one of the motors behind the organisation of the relay march “Road to Rome” by EAVF in 2021, indicating the relaunch after Covid-19 and promoting the Via Francigena on an international level. A European event built to celebrate EAVF’s 20th anniversary.

With these premises, an analysis of credentials distributed by EAVF in 2021 was undertaken.

The result is a set of estimates, which are not exhaustive but can stimulate reflection on the potentialities of the Via Francigena: together with the other routes, the Via represents an ideal example for post-pandemic tourism. The itinerary, in 2019, had registered about 50 thousand pilgrims walking for at least one week along sections of its trail. During 2021, estimated pilgrims were around 40.000.

CREDENTIALS

The number of distribution locations of EAVF’s credentials across Europe increased from 84 in 2020 to 95 in 2021 (+13,10%).

The internal analysis is based on a sample of 1430 EAVF credentials distributed in 2021 between Canterbury and Rome mostly from May to September. The main distribution points are concentrated in the northern Italian section of the Via Francigena, i.e. Ivrea, Lucca, San Miniato, Piacenza, San Gimignano, Siena, Viterbo e Roma. There has also been a remarkable increase in distribution points along the route in Switzerland.

Regarding the use of credentials, some considerations can be useful: as a result of questionnaires undertaken by EAVF in 2019 and 2020, it seems that about 30% of pilgrims uses the same credential in multiple years, walking or cycling an average of 7-8 days per year along the Via, in different sections. 20% of walkers who do not sleep in pilgrim hospitality facilities, instead, declares that they do not buy the credential at all.

As for distribution numbers, many different entities, locally and nationally, lay or religious, currently distribute their own credentials.

There is no way to verify the total number of distributed credentials, and most of all it is hard to observe the number of pilgrims that arrived in Rome, as there is no observatory in the city that can measure these numbers quantitatively and qualitatively – which happens, instead, in Santiago de Compostela.

PROFILE OF TRAVELERS

Means of transport. Compared to 2019, the number of travellers by bike (20%) and by foot (80%) is stable.

Age group. Compared to 2019, the most significant and relevant datum is the increase in the number of young people traveling along the route: 5% are under 17 years old (2% in 2019), while 13% is among the age group 18-24. The highest rate is among the age group 45-54 (21%). The presence of young people on the route is a very important element witnessing the attractiveness of such an experiential and cultural journey for a new target, which has been mostly absent on the Via Francigena until now. Young travellers are mostly students traveling for their summer holidays, alone or in small groups, having a life experience and not only a holiday break.

Sex. The proportion between men and women is respectively 44% e 56%.

Nationality. Due to the pandemic, which limited international movements and encouraged proximity tourism, almost all pilgrims were European (98%). Within this numerous group, most pilgrims are Italian, French, Swiss and German.

Sections covered and destination. The most popular sections of the route are Italian, and are the regions of Lazio and Toscana, respectively chosen by 49,10% and 31,05% of total pilgrims. Following, in order of attendance, are: Piemonte, Puglia, Valle d’Aosta, Canton Valais, Liguria, Lombardia, Emilia-Romagna and Campania. The high presence of walkers in the southern section of the Via Francigena, especially in Puglia, is a very significant result which will increase in the coming years.

The main destinations chosen by pilgrims are Rome (42,73%) and Siena (15,72%) followed by Viterbo, Lucca e Ivrea. Usually, Rome is chosen as final destination by pilgrims who walk the Via for over three weeks, whereas the other locations are chosen by those who walk an average of few days to two weeks.

Departure period. In 2021, the favourite departure period was summer: June (14%), July (17%) and August (29%). High numbers are registered also in the months of May (10%) and September (14%).

Departure locations.  Siena, Lucca, Great Saint Bernard and the city of Aosta.

Journey motivations. The main motivations behind the journeys of pilgrims are the hospitality and sharing spirit, the spiritual dimension of pilgrimage, the tourism attractiveness of crossed places and the cultural dimension. Following are environment, sports, and religion.

Together or alone? Most pilgrims prefer to travel as a group (55%), 32% as a couple, and 13% departs alone.

In light of these numbers, which we specify being simple estimates and not scientific data, we can make some final considerations.

“Via Francigena – Road to Rome” effect. The relay march organised by EAVF between 15 June and 18 October 2021 certainly contributed to increasing the international popularity of the Via Francigena and deserves credit for involving 638 local communities along the route. From the estimates above it results that about 10,000 people in England, France, Switzerland and Italy met the Road to Rome group of walkers, while 3,500 walkers accompanied the group for one or more stages.

Social-economic impact of the Via Francigena. The Via Francigena today generates an estimated monetary flux of 20 million €, distributed in a differentiated way across the European route and proportionally to the attendance of pilgrims in that area. The average expense of a walker is 40/45 € per day, whereas that of a cycler is 60/65 € per day. On top of the total monetary value that falls on territories along the route (bars, restaurants, accommodation, services), we must add the expenses of pilgrims for technical equipment, clothing, transports to reach the points of departure and to return from their destination.

Finally, we must not underestimate the interaction of pilgrims, coming from different countries and regions, with local communities. With them, they sometimes create a proper cultural osmosis.

The IRPET study and the flux increase

Supporting the social-economic impact of the Via Francigena, Regione Toscana presented in August an update for the IRPET study on the flux of walkers and tourists along the Via and in bordering areas. To summarise it, the net effect of restoration in terms of overall additional presences is 613 thousand additional presences in the decade 2009-2019, including all 37 municipalities in Toscana (10 of which are already large tourism destinations).

Arrivals, presences and the number of facility structures increase as one comes closer to the route: e.g. within 10 km the percentage variation is respectively 62%, 35% and 40%, while it drops to 30%, 12% and 30% between 10 and 20 km of distance from the route. The final version of the IRPET study will be presented in early 2022 by the Tuscany Region.

For further information on the IRPET study click here

These important numbers demonstrate unmistakably that investment in infrastructure and promotion of the Via Francigena can generate social-cultural-economic development among crossed territories. The post-Covid pandemic period that we are still experiencing shows that experiential tourism related to the Via can easily keep growing. This growth will increase at the increasing of investments in pilgrims’ hospitality structures, in safety and maintenance of the trail, and in signposting.