For a pilgrim, hostels are more than just accommodations. They represent, in fact, a place of welcome and refreshment after the stages of the journey, but not only that: over time they have taken on a deeper meaning thanks to the stories of the wanderers that intertwine with those of their hosts, in an exchange of ideas and opinions.
In addition, the opening of new hostels along the Via Francigena gives space for different opportunities and cooperation between local realities. Strictly speaking, it improves pilgrim reception and the services available accessible to all. Secondly, it allows the enhancement of each territory where the ancient path from Canterbury to Rome passes. All this with a view to the cultural, scenic, and economic enrichment of each individual place.
For this, the Via Francigena hostels in the Tuscan-Emilian area that were recently inaugurated require special mention.
- The Pilgrim Hostel in Camaiore, in the province of Lucca, is located inside the monastic complex of the Badia di San Pietro di Camaiore and has 24 beds divided into rooms for 4, 6 and 8 people. It represents a unicum in all of Versilia and is a model for new hostels throughout the Tuscan region. It is managed by the Società Coop Consortile Promozione Turistica Versilia, which organized the inauguration last September 9. An exhibition by artists Adolfo Saporetti, Pietro Paladini and Luciano Regattieri was set up for the occasion, and each pilgrim had the opportunity to discover Camaiore’s traditions and share travel memories.
- “Il pane e la rosa” (The Bread and the Rose) is the pilgrim’s home that was inaugurated in Montignoso in the province of Massa-Carrara last June 25. The hostel, which consists of eight beds, a kitchen and communal toilets, was reopened after many years thanks to the synergy between the Pilgrim Reception Association, the municipality and the parish of Santa Maria. In fact, “Il pane e la rosa” today represents a source of pride and socialization for citizens and pilgrims.
- Recently renovated hostels, on the other side, include the Hostel of Costamezzana, a hamlet in the municipality of Noceto in the province of Parma, and the Hostel of Felegara, in the Parma section near Medesano.
The first one, formerly a school, following Jubilee investments in 2000 became an accommodation facility offering 22 beds and an elevator. It is open year-round and welcomes pilgrims, including those with disabilities.
The second one was inaugurated last June and will be open to the public starting in 2024; it is the result of an urban redevelopment project and recovery of disused properties, aimed at having a second chance and offering services for pilgrims traveling along the Via Francigena in Italy.
This was made possible with the help of Por-Fesr regional funds and cooperation between the Municipality of Medesano, local businesses and the Diocese of Parma and Cariparma.
Redesigning hostels and hospitality is much more than offering a place to sleep. There is a lot at stake, and it concerns the development of the paths and the future of the Via Francigena.