Via Francigena. The Road to Rome

20 YEARS ANNIVERSARY OF THE ALPINE SEGMENT OF THE VIA FRANCIGENA

The alpine segment of the Via Francigena has been partially built and open to pilgrims 20 years ago. In order to celebrate this anniversary, the “Compagnons” of the Via Francigena organised a commemorative festival on the 2nd September 2017, at the Great St. Bernard hill.

The event will gather the Aosta Valley and Vallese authorities, the staff of tourist offices from both slopes of the Italian-Switzerland border and the friends of this historical via. During the opening of this alpine route, there wasn’t a Via Francigena, yet. At that time, it was called TAM (Aosta-Martigny Tour) from Italian and Swiss municipalities. The realisation of the Via was made possible thanks to the dedication of the “Compagnons”, through an employment project for unemployed.

The main preoccupation of the “Compagnons”, properly proud of the work done, was the maintenance of the good travel conditions of the route and its safety. Therefore, they decided to establish a day of inspection over the year. Initially, the event happened on casual dates, based on everyone’s availability, but it became increasingly harder to organise it. Fittingly, it should have been held in spring, at the beginning of the best period for the use of the route. However, in 2002 the date still wasn’t found! The “Compagnons” decided, then, to establish a fixed date, that is the first Saturday after Easter and our dear departed Monsignor Roduit said: «Ah! But this is Quasimodo’s Saturday!». The name was largely appreciated and since that moment, every year the visit is organised on Quasimodo’s day!

As highest point of the Francigena, the alpine segment deserves particular attention for topographic difficulties. In winter, during the months from November to June, the path is not accessible for excursionists, except the ones provided with adequate equipment for the path and accompanied from a guide. However, this route can be equally travelled during winter time, thanks to a service of busses that travel regularly between the two cities, that is to say from Martigny to Aosta. Excursionists who could not cover the path during winter, will be able to walk on this prestigious route in summer, visiting the Hostel of the Great St. Bernard and its famous dogs.

Bernard Delasoie

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