Via Francigena

Celebrating the Napoleonic 2021 by foot on the Via Francigena

Simona Spinola
Simona Spinola
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On Thursday the 5th of August, two important occurrences converged on the Via Francigena stage, to celebrate, on foot, the bicentenary of the death of Napoleon and the 20th anniversary of the Association. 

Two significant events for Destination Napoleon and for the Via Francigena, Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe which joined forces within the Road to Rome 2021 event, walking together between Verrès and Bard, in the Aosta Valley. The objective? To promote the cultural heritage shared by the two itineraries, contributing to create a connection, on the European level, between the specific needs of this territory. 

The 6th edition of Napoleonica 2021 promoted a historical re-enactment, and we could not miss the opportunity for a moment of strong cooperation between two authentic pieces of history that unify Europe: on the one hand, the passage of Napoleon Bonaparte in the Aosta Valley with his troops during the Second Italian Expedition, in May 1800; on the other hand, the important pilgrimage route, surviving from the Middle Ages to today. 

At the crossroads between the two routes you find the Fort of Bard, a fortified complex restructured in the 19th century by Casa Savoia, above the village of Bard, open to the public since 2006. In this location, Charles Bonaparte and Massimo Tedeschi, Presidents of Destination Napoleon and the Via Francigena ways, together with Silvana Martino, Mayor of Bard, Remo Chuc, Director of the Regional Service of Tourism and Ornella Badery, President of the Fort of Bard Association, had a meeting with the public. 

“The representatives of the European Association of Via Francigena ways (EAVF) and of the “Destination Napoleon” European Federation (FECN) meet today to reaffirm their full agreement on the principles of intercultural and interreligious dialogue, of tolerance, of political democracy, of respect of the human rights defined by the Council of Europe, institution they both refer to – declared Massimo Tedeschi – Encountering in such a symbolic location as the Fort of Bard, an iconic crossroad, is a very significant event which reminds me of the words of Jacques Le Goff, famous French historian: ‘If we consider reality and look carefully at history, there is something more important than soldiers and products carried along roads; that something is culture’. Today we could add: no more soldiers, yes to products, but especially we carry encounters and exchanges of cultures”. 

We wish to thank Destination Napoleon for having involved us in this sixth edition, which seemed impossible to realize in the context of pandemic restrictions; it instead revealed itself being an authentic success, thanks to the Eight hundred atmosphere that had been created and the beauty of the territory we crossed together. After all, as Napoleon used to say, “the word impossible is not part of my vocabulary”: see you again in 2023 with the next edition!