Via Francigena

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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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