Via Francigena

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New pilgrim hostel in Felegara, in the area of Parma

The completion of work on the new hostel on the Via Francigena in the Parma section in Felegara (Medesano) was inaugurated in the presence of the Mayor of Medesano Michele Giovanelli, EAVF’s Vice-President Francesco Ferrari, the President of the Province Andrea Massari and the President of the Emilia-Romagna Region Stefano Bonaccini.

The hospice is dedicated to former President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, who passed away last year.

The facility will be fully operational by the beginning of 2024 and will accommodate 24 beds. The project is part of a package of interventions, explains the Emilia-Romagna Region, which concerns, in addition to the hostel for pilgrims, the redesigning of a small section of the route to make it more accessible and connect it to the cycling path between Medesano and Felegara, already completed, and the renovation of an adjacent Tower House that will become a cultural centre – currently being completed, with works due to be completed by 2023.

The hostel, with a total cost of 1.2 million euro, was financed with 452,000 euro of regional contributions from Por-Fesr funds, over 428,000 euro from the Municipality of Medesano, and additional funds from local companies, the Diocese of Parma and Cariparma.

Mayor Giovanelli expressed words of great satisfaction: “We are grateful to all those who contributed because they share the vision of usefulness of this pilgrim reception to improve accommodation and implement services along the Via Francigena. The recovery of disused buildings and urban regeneration are and will always be at the centre of our administrative activity“.

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The photo contest “Share Your Route” is back for 2023: join with your photos along the Via

After the great success of the first edition, on 1 June the photo contest dedicated to the most striking photos and videos along cultural routes in Europe starts again. “Share your route” is the initiative launched by the European project rurAllure, which communication is managed by the EAVF. The contest is aimed at pilgrims, walkers, cyclists and tourists who want to document and share their experience on the Via Francigena and other paths on their social media networks.

Participating is very simple! Just follow these 3 simple steps:
  1. Publish by 30 September a post or reel on your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter profile sharing your travel experience and the cultural heritage along the route.
  2. Tag the location of the shot, like and tag the @rurAllure page (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), and don’t forget to include the contest hashtag #rurallure. It is essential that your profile is public, so to be certain that we will not miss your post.

Don’t hesitate to share a short text describing your experience, your emotions on the road, or your tips and tricks for other travellers: we will take it into account as well!

Via Francigena and many other itineraries

If you are travelling along one of the following routes, you can enter the photo contest:

  • Via Francigena. Don’t forget that you can be guided along your walk by the AllTrails App, which reserves a discount on the premium version for walks during this high season. The app, allows you to get the ‘trails’, i.e. the routes in the area for easy walking according to difficulty or other characteristics.
  • Via Romea Strata  
  • Via Romea Germanica
  • Camino de Santiago  
  • Sant’Olav Way – the pilgrimage routes to Trondheim (Norway) across Norway, Denmark and Sweden
  • Paths to Csíksomlyó / Mary’s Way / Via Mariae / Mária út

If there are too many photos to choose from, you can publish them all: a special prize will be awarded to the person who posts the highest amount of photos, while another category will reward the author of the most interesting publication.

The authors of the most beautiful and interesting posts will receive special hiking equipment (Ferrino backpacks and Garmont shoes) as a prize.

The deadline for posting photos and videos is 30 September 2023. After that date simply stay tuned through rurAllure’s website and social media channels for the announcement of the winners: the announcement will take place on 16 October 2023.

For more information you can consult the Terms and Conditions

Consult winning photos 2022 for the Via Francigena.

WITH KIND SUPPORT OF: AITR Associazione Italiana Turismo Responsabile, Attrezzatura Trekking, Cammini d’Italia – Plan, Walk and Share (camminiditalia.org), Cicerone Press | Guides for walkers, hikers, cyclists and trekkers, ehabitat.it, Free Wheels ODV | Cammini Accessibili, per Tutti (freewheelsonlus.com), Ospitalità Religiosa, Smart Walking

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Appetite comes by walking! Healthy and tasty ideas with Montana along the route

Eating well along the route is very important – not only to recover after walking several kilometres, but to stay healthy throughout the journey. The Via Francigena and its partner Montana continue to promote slow tourism throughout the Italian peninsula, together with an idea of sustainable nutrition, without giving up tasty flavours, with the Cammini Montana initiative.

The right nutritional intake during the journey

With the Cammini Montana initiative, the company intends to enhance the experience of a pilgrimage, such as the journey on the Via Francigena. This happens through the stories of a large community of walkers who love outdoor activity or have recently discovered this passion and want to undertake the itinerary with the right amount of energies, proteins and taste – to make the journey even more enjoyable.

Hence, Montana meat, accompanied by a slice of crunchy bread, can be a good compromise between a dish rich in ingredients – which can however make you feel heavy and lead to drowsiness – and a meal that is too poor or unbalanced in terms of nutrients and energy.

For a proper protein intake and a tasty meal, what is the best way to eat canned meat? You can combine different elements and create quick recipes such as garlic, coriander, beans, chickpeas, olives, feta, mozzarella… there are no limits to imagination, never forgetting to keep quality and sustainability in mind! So, watch out for the best products and above all, don’t leave any waste behind you!

Flavoured meat, yes or no?

How to season your meat without adding excessive fat or salt, is a recurring question that becomes even more pressing if you want to prepare a dish that is nutritious but not too caloric for the walk.

To overcome this, there is no need to think of incredibly unexpected versions of spiced meat. The secret is always simplicity and a balance between an appropriate nutritional intake and a yummy flavour. Montana has thus come up with a product that combines meat and vegetables and is a great Italian classic: gluten-free and preservative-free veal stew with peas, ready for use in only a few minutes (because it is already cooked!). Perfect to take on hikes and suitable for the entire family.

We can only wish you bon appetite…and buon cammino!

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Mission: Sustainability. An interview with Enzo Ruini from Banca Generali Private

The Mauri Area of Banca Generali Private has been supporting the Via Francigena for many years now, organizing and supporting a number of initiatives such as the walk-events “I Love Francigena”. We interviewed Enzo Ruini, Sales Manager of the banking company, to delve into the ongoing collaboration with the EAVF.

Tell us about your personal passion for the world of walking and cycling itineraries and the Via Francigena in particular

I grew up in the countryside surrounding Florence with a passion for geographyas a relationship between man and nature. Despite the countryside was mostly neglected at the time, I developed such an attention to slow travel in the mid-1970s, at the point that I decided to involve my family and friends. Since then, many routes and paths have become central to slow tourism. The Via Francigena – of which I appreciate the richness oflandscapes and cultural heritage as well as the state of maintenance and accessibility – is certainly an example, and can be a driving force to revive the areas of Italy that are off the beaten tracks.

What does “sustainability” mean to Banca Generali Private and what pillars does the company lay upon to create a long-term system of values?

Even though we have a future-oriented attitude, we cannot forget about sustainability, which is the first pillar of the Bank’s corporate strategy as well as our modus operandi to relate with stakeholders; it is a core value, linked to the growth and enhancement of people, to the care for social contexts and environmental impacts. The other pillar is the trustful relationship between customers and their financial advisors. Their role goes beyond business goals in order to spread responsible investment principles and to contribute to sustainable development based on integrity, social responsibility and innovation.

The Via Francigena creates a network of local communities, people and companies. How do the values of Banca Generali Private intersect with the sustainable development of the areas crossed by the Via Francigena?

Banca Generali, which ranks first in the world – according to Sustainalytics – in the asset manager category as for the new ESG rating (Environmental, Social and Governance), cannot avoid walking side by side with the Association; in fact, we share the same respect for the land and its diversity, for natural and human biodiversity and for those values enshrined by ancient routes like the Via Francigena.

In the end, as the American entrepreneur James Rohn once said: “the key factor that will determine your financial future is not the economy; the key factor is your philosophy”.

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EAVF: members met in Calais for the General Assembly

The beautiful Town Hall of Calais (Hauts-de-France, France) was the setting for the General Assembly of the European Association of the Via Francigena ways (EAVF), held on 26 May.

The EAVF network, réseau porteur of the Council of Europe for the protection and development of the Via Francigena, extends to 232 members along the entire European route and 92 friend associations.

The Assembly was introduced by EAVF’s President Massimo Tedeschi, and the Mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart gave the official welcome on behalf of the entire local administration. On the agenda was the approval of the final balance sheets 2022 of EAVF and the subsidiary Francigena Service S.r.l. and the forecast balance sheets 2023. The balance sheet was presented in detail and transparently to all members and those who attended the proceedings. Among the other items discussed: an update on the activities in the English, French, Swiss and Italian sections; the presentation of the EAVF Strategic Plan 2023-2025; updates on the Council of Europe’s evaluation for the renewal of the certification to EAVF and on the progress of the project for the candidature of the Via Francigena as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Two significant moments

Two particularly significant moments also took place during the meeting. Firstly, the presentation of the public aknowledgements that AEVF awards to personalities who have distinguished themselves for their great work in support of the Via Francigena. The award went to Rev. Sandy Brown, pilgrim, writer and author of the three official guides on the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome published by the Cicerone Publishing House in London. Also awarded were Didier Morel, contact person of the Arras Compostela Francigena Association, for his great support for the ‘Road to Rome 2021‘ project and the development of the route in France, and Brigitte Soulary, President of the French Hiking Association (FFR) with whom the AEVF has signed a promotion agreement to promote the VF – GR 145 in the French section.

This ceremony was accompanied by the awarding of the prizes for international good practices along the Via Francigena. From over 80 proposals received, three initiatives were selected that combined culture, tourism and territorial development. The good practices collected by AEVF will be made available to all members to make them known internationally. The three prizes were awarded to the Kent Pilgrims Festival 2022, organised by the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome, to the theatrical performance ‘The Legend of Sigeric‘ by the Amata Compagnie, and to the project ‘Your step is already history‘, promoted by the association ‘La Via Francigena in Tuscia-APS‘ and the municipality of Viterbo.

The new EAVF members

At the end of the assembly, 17 new members were welcomed: Union of Municipalities of the Pays de Lumbres, municipalities of Zudausques, Allouagne, Bruay-la-Buissière (Pas-de-Calais, Hauts-de-France); municipalities of Framont, Autet, Etuz (Haute-Saône, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté); municipality École-Valentin (Doubs, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté); municipalities of Cossonay and Villeneuve (Vaud); municipalities of Saint-Vincent and Issogne (Valle d’Aosta); municipalities of Capranica (Viterbo, Lazio) and Bassiano (Latina, Lazio); municipalities of Martano, Andrano, Tricase (Lecce, Puglia). The growing number of local authorities joining the EAVF (1 English, 42 French, 16 Swiss, 173 Italian) testifies to the level of awareness of the local territories to work together to continue to grow the Via Francigena in all its dimensions.

Finally, four new friend associations are also welcomed: L’Abbaye de Mormant revivra (Leffonds, Haute-Marne, Grand Est), Iride ASD (Rivoli, Turin, Piedmont), Asini nel Cuore APS (Sala Baganza, Parma, Emilia-Romagna), Toscana Vie Francigene 2.0 APS (Monteriggioni, Tuscany). Finally, the variant to stage 16 Orio Litta-Piacenza and the variant to stages 36-37 for Abbadia S. Salvatore were approved.

At the end of the meeting, it was announced that the next members’ meeting will be held in Pavia, on 20 October 2023, with the support of the municipal administration.

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“Cammini in Europa”, a success for the exhibition dedicated to cultural routes

From 18 to 21 May 2023 the town of Fidenza hosted the Francigena Fidenza Festival, an event entirely dedicated to the Via Francigena and European cultural routes. Among the numerous activities taking place during the third edition of the Francigena Fidenza Festival was the photographic exhibition “Cammini in Europa“, which shared shots taken by pilgrims from all over Europe during their walking or cycling trips with institutions and the public.

Share your route

The exhibition is combined with the “Share your route” photo contest organised by the European Horizon2020 project rurAllure, which last summer launched a call on social media to involve pilgrims and tourists walking along the routes: the three Vie Romee, the Way of St. James, the Way of St. Olav and the Way of Mary. More than 3,000 photos were collected during the summer of 2022, which recounted on Instagram and Facebook the “on the road” experiences through images of the most significant moments.

During the exhibition in Fidenza, some shots from the routes were projected in loop on a canvas positioned at the apse of the church, while the winning images of each category were displayed on roll-ups accompanied by the biographies and stories of each traveller. More than 50 people took part in the inauguration, which opened with greetings from Mayor Andrea Massari and the Councillor for Culture Maria Pia Bariggi, and continued with musical accompaniment by singer-songwriter Jack Jaselli, author of the book ‘Torno a Casa a Piedi‘. One of the highlights of the inauguration was the award ceremony for some of the winners of rurAllure‘s photo contest, such as @Nappatravels who shared their experience with the present public.

rurAllure and the promotion of European cultural routes

More than 50 events enlivened the four-day festival, including exhibitions, walks, guided tours, in-depth studies, projects for schools, concerts and entertainment. “The beautiful way of Europe” is the claim chosen this year, a reminder of the thread between the past and the future that celebrates the union between the realms of itineraries, culture and spirituality, food and wine and the promotion of the territory.

The Festival was also an opportunity to present a Council of Europe Cultural Route, and this year’s choice fell on the Saint Olav’s Way through Norway. The second edition of the rurAllure photo-contest returns on 1 June 2023 with the aim of giving space for expression to pilgrims on their way across Europe.

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POP: the new hospitality network for pilgrims

POP: pilgrims hosting pilgrims“, a new hospitality network, was born from the idea of a group of private individuals to create hospitality by pilgrims for pilgrims.

The network is developed at the Italian national level and covers several routes, including that of the Via Francigena.

Why a POP hospitality network?

The hostel managers, who have set up the network, want to achieve 100% pilgrim hospitality, and for this reason the accommodations adhering to the network must meet two essential requirements:

  • those running the hostel must be pilgrims
  • the offered dinner (and possibly also breakfast) is communal

This is because a pilgrim who offers hospitality knows perfectly well what the traveller needs: they know their basic needs, both physical and emotional. Taking off one’s shoes, soaking one’s feet, and having a cool drink take priority over registration and stamping the pilgrim credential.

Eating together on the other hand encourages discourse between people of different genders, ages, nationalities, and life experiences.

The POP network was created with several purposes:
  1. To increase the visibility of pilgrim accommodations that are often little visited because they are not positioned at canonical stage ends (several accommodations are situated in the countryside because of a lifestyle choice that associates hosting pilgrims with contact with nature and sustainability).
  2. To stimulate discussion among like-minded people on issues of common interest (issues related to bedbugs or other sanitation issues, hosting pets, donations, sleeping bags or blankets, etc.).
  3. Above all, the POP network wants to convey a certain spirit of sharing that distinguishes pilgrimage routes from ordinary treks. Until a few years ago, pilgrimage routes, of historical/religious origin, were traveled by a limited number of people, in search of something, often not definable, nor conscious. Over the years, the number of routes has multiplied, the types of accommodations and services as well, and consequently the typology of pilgrims, or perhaps better to say walkers turns out to be much broader, more and more corresponding to the varied humanity. We think that the opening of the paths to a wider typology of people is a good and positive thing. Nonetheless, we think that the spirit that many of us have experienced on the paths and that prompted us to open our homes, is being somewhat lost and the creation of POP is meant to stimulate walkers to experience it.
Current POP accommodations

For now, 5 facilities along the Northern Via Francigena, one on the Via Francigena in Southern Italy, and 4 others on other routes have joined the POP network, all run by specific people throughout the opening period; however, this is not a prerequisite, the POP network is open to any facility that shares the two cornerstones, regardless of who owns the facility and who runs it. Think, for example, of facilities that are church-owned and run by volunteer pilgrim host associations.

POP is still fledgling, for now we have a FB group, and we are asking different parties and guides who publish accommodation lists to call identity us with the “POP” abbreviation. The 5 accommodations along the Northern Via Francigena have also produced a promotional flyer.

Facilities (not individual pilgrims) who wish to join our network can contact Federico of POP Biutiful, Cavazzola, Federico and Rossana 3335287812, against_the_winds@hotmail.com, www.biutiful.it.

POP facilities include:
Via Francigena and Via Romea

POP- Domus Peregrini, Montefiascone (VT) Immacolata Coraggio (+39 3381838216) and Franco Steri (+39 3207772586), immacolatacoraggio1958@gmail.com, on Facebook Immacolata Coraggio and the Domus Peregrini group.

POP- Lento e Contento, Vetralla (VT) Paolo Valotti (+39 3515039074) and Nino Muakyna (+995593905390), paolovalotti7@gmail.com, on Facebook Lento e Contento and Instagram Lento e Contento Hostel

POP- Road to Rome, Capranica (VT) Travis Criddle (+39 3483595971) and Juliane (+49 15258918235), roadtorome.org@gmail.com, on Facebook Road to Rome

Via Francigena

POP- Biutiful, Cavazzola, Federico and Rossana (+39 3335287812), against_the_winds@hotmail.com, www.biutiful.it

POP- Temperance, Groppodalosio, Marco and Greta (+39 3757825734), temperance1617@gmail.com

Via Romea, San Francesco in Toscana, via Clanis

Pieve la Sassaia, Rigutino (Arezzo), Giovanni Roberto (+39 3409812896), gallorobinson@libero.it, on Facebook La Sassaia Rifugio del Pellegrino

Via Francigena in Southern Italy

Point 113, Strangolagalli (Frosinone), Enzo Cinelli (+39 3384422532), cinellips@gmail.com, on Facebook Point 113 Via Francigena del Sud

St. Francis’ Way in the Sacred Valley, Via di Francesco, Di qui passò Francesco, St. Benedict’s Way

Casetta Mariani, Cantalice, Valeria San Felice (+39 3494639384) casettamariani@gmail.com

POP-Le querce di Tara, Rieti, Mauro (+39 3484273023), mauro.rinaldi@lequrceditara.it

Way of St Benedict

Violin House, Casamari Stage (Castelliri locality), Valeria Fiorini (+39 3497937639), valeria.fiorini19@gmail.com

The POP network is ready to receive new adhesions from many other accommoations in order to grow and become larger, similar to the one already existing on the Camino de Santiago!

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Smart Walking: a project for a smart life starts in the Via Francigena in Southern Italy

Working to live and not living to work“, is a phrase that has become a slogan regarding the working or super-working conditions of many people. It relates to the lack of time to devote to oneself, or simply to relax and catch breath. In Davide Fiz’s ‘Smart Walking‘ project, work balance seems more like a reality than an utopia.

Davide Fiz and his ‘Smart Walking’ revolution: mornings on the road, evenings at work at the desk

Davide Fiz, a freelance salesman of the Generation X, is no stranger to the experience of walking, as a lover and practitioner of outdoor life, but always in the free time slots from work. Taking up ‘arms and baggage’ and walking along a few trails, Davide was able to rediscover the pleasure of contact with others, of feeling the caress of the wind and the smell of the rain as well as the scents and flavours of the places visited – sensations he cannot be without.

That’s why in 2022 he started his ‘Smart Walking’ project: a journey that took him 2,500 km across Italy for a total of 20 long distance walks, accompanied by… his work. The revolution has been precisely this: to carry on his business (from early afternoon) without missing out on the enjoyment of the journey (5 hours of trekking per day taking advantage of the morning daylight hours). He does this along routes rich in nature and culture to be shared through his blog, to show everyone that this is a possible mission: to have a healthier lifestyle where (itinerant) work is in balance with one’s passion!

Visit the Smart Walking blog

Among his routes was also the Romea Strata for which he contributed to mapping points of interest for the European project rurAllure, discovering suggestive locations that characterise the itinerary and experiencing the stories of local inhabitants.

“Smart Walking” coast to coast on the Via Francigena in Southern Italy

This year, the “Smart Walking” project started on 9 March for its second edition “Smart Walking coast to coast: paths that cross – paths that unite” along the Via Francigena in Southern Italy, and more precisely with a walk departing from Minturno in Lazio in the direction of Monte Sant’Angelo in Puglia. An occasion not only to promote digital nomadism, but also to shed light on the itinerary and in particular the stretch in Southern Italy, as a destination not only for walkers, tourists and enthusiasts, but also as a symbol for a possible alternative, in which to experience the surrounding reality on foot as well as taking time to work!

Welcoming Davide in Minturno was Roberto Rotasso, the Via Francigena delegate for the Municipality of Minturno and manager of the Gruppo dei Dodici, an association for the historical and cultural promotion of the Via Francigena route in Southern Italy. In the Apulian stages (Via Micaelica), Davide had the support of Enopolio Daunio – which welcomes pilgrims and manages the Via Francigena infopoint in San Severo – and on arrival he was welcomed by Monte Sant’Angelo Francigena, an association for the promotion and enhancement of culture along the route.

Many subjects, including administrations, associations and private entities, supported the project, such as the Italian National Agency Enea, the Network Movimento Lento and the Italian Association of Responsible Tourism. Among these there naturally also is EAVF, which firmly believes in the value of this edition of Smart Walking, to promote the beauty of slow tourism and the Via Francigena, but also to contribute to the evolution of man from homo laboris to homo mobilis.

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Spotlight on the Via Francigena in Piacenza

The project ‘The Via Francigena in Piacenza’ has been presented, aiming at promoting the ancient route, supported by the Piacenza and Vigevano Foundation, in collaboration with the European Association of the Via Francigena ways (EAVF), the Diocese of Piacenza-Bobbio, municipalities and local associations.

The spotlight is shining on the city and territory of Piacenza thanks to the European cultural itinerary of the Via Francigena. It is precisely the city of Piacenza, a crossroads of pilgrims’ paths, that is at the centre of a fine tourist project that enhances the route.

Three “I Love Francigena” group hikes free of charge are planned, guided by the EAVF, in collaboration with the municipalities of Piacenza, Calendasco, Fiorenzuola d’Arda, Cadeo, the Diocese of Piacenza-Bobbio, the CoolTour cultural cooperative and the Fiorenzuola in Movimento Association.

Here are the three itineraries proposed in the province, open to all and with free participation:

  1. 20 May 2023: trekking on stage 17 (Piacenza-Fiorenzuola d’Arda) of the Via Francigena: from Roveleto di Cadeo to Fiorenzuola d’Arda (approx. 9.5 km);
  2. 21 May 2023: urban trekking in Piacenza along the route of stages 16 and 17 of the Via Francigena (6-8 km);
  3. 4 June 2023: trekking from Orio Litta to Calendasco on the route of stage 16 (Orio Litta-Piacenza).

Links to register for the 3 free events will be added to this article shortly. In the meantime, you can get more details on these and other initiatives by consulting the events calendar. “I Love Francigena” is a series of events that highlight the cultural itinerary of the Via Francigena and offers a unique opportunity to discover sections of the route through its cultural, natural and gastronomic heritage. These walks, which are free of charge, bring together travellers, pilgrims, enthusiasts, local associations and administrators to jointly promote the area.

The promotional project also includes the production and printing of the official map of the Francigena to promote the territory of Piacenza. Produced in a bilingual version (Italian and English) and accompanied by images, the map will present the official route and provide an indication of the main services that can be found in the territory, descriptions of the stages (km, duration, altimetry, brief historical introduction), and useful information on local tourist offices.

The project also envisages support for the communication of activities within EAVF’s official channels, with the aim of increasingly internationalising the visibility of the Piacenza stages within the European context of the route.

It is significant that so many different subjects are committing to promoting the Via Francigena,” commented Mario Magnelli, vice-president of the Piacenza and Vigevano Foundation.Only through a systemic action, in which the Foundation firmly intends to play its part, can this significant experience of faith also lead to the rediscovery of the territory in its many dimensions, from the environmental to the cultural one, extending to food and wine. In order to take full advantage of this opportunity and strengthen the role of local communities, it will also be necessary to deal with the issue of hospitality for the public along the itinerary and with that of offering initiatives that favour integration between pilgrims and residents“.

A meeting that focuses on the importance of networking with the realities of the territory and for which the Municipality is ready to act as coordinator, collector, and promoter of initiatives, resources, and proposals for the awareness of the great cultural and tourist opportunity that the Via Francigena represents,” says Piacenza Municipality Councillor Christian Fiazzathe Via Francigena, which, we will never cease to repeat, is a natural promoter of territorial marketing“.

The initiatives fully pursue the objectives of the Association: to make the Via Francigena known and populated,” illustrates EAVF’s President Massimo Tedeschi, “EAVF is the only body appointed by the Council of Europe for its enhancement. We applaud the Foundation, the Municipality of Piacenza and the Diocese of Piacenza-Bobbio for having initiated this valuable collaboration aimed at promoting the European itinerary in the Province“.

The journey is nothing other than a metaphor for life. The pandemic made us rediscover how the journey was a fundamental requirement of life. In particular, slow travel has been rediscovered, the kind of travel that puts you in relation with the environment, the landscape, but above all with people, thus nourishing new relationships and cultural exchanges” explains Manuel Ferrari, Director of Worship Buildings of the Diocese of Piacenza-Bobbio, “The pilgrimage experience implies walking towards a destination, leaving behind the everyday routine, which sometimes traps us and prevents us from growing, opening up to new experiences. The Via Francigena is a European cultural route. Being on this route therefore means meeting people from cultures other than our own, getting in touch with other European countries and nurturing a citizenship rooted in one’s identity roots, but at the same time opening to be a citizen of Europe.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Official meetings

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

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

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