On the Road with Stefano Dominioni, a European Look at the Via Francigena

"It was an authentic experience, I hope that one day my children will decide to travel a cultural route of the Council of Europe like the Via Francigena maybe with their friends". Summer brought a special pilgrim along the Francigena.#

Stefano Dominioni, Executive Secretary of the Council of Europe’s Cultural Routes and Director of the European Institute of Cultural Routes spent a few days with his family in the Aosta Valley taking advantage of the holidays to walk some stops of the ancient route of Sigeric.

"I think it is appropriate to know on the ground and to experience the 38 European cultural itineraries certified by the Council of Europe (www.coe.int/routes). It is not only about walking but also about places, European territories linked by the same kind of cultural heritage, I am also thinking of the European itinerary of historic thermal cities.- explains Dominioni -On the Via Francigena I have been there several times but for conferences and conferences. I hadn't walked it yet and it seemed important to me."

Backpacker, Dominioni, chose Aosta as the starting stage for two days of walking to one of the landmarks of the Francigena: the fort of Bard. "Our journey started from the tourist office in Aosta where I found some kind and helpful operators. There we bought the credential and obtained information about the route and reception in the area. Step by step we arrived in Chatillon without giving up a tasty valdostana lunch at a farmhouse in Nus".

Dozens of km between the views of the Valley and the summer sun of the mountain: "We would have liked to sleep at the Monastery of the Franciscan Cappuccini but it was all full so we decided to continue to Saint Vincent bringing home, with difficulty, 33 km of walk!". On the second day, stop in Verrès (20km) and then get to Bard: "I had been in April at theBard fort for a meeting organized by the Valle d'Aosta Region as part of our program with the European Commission for the Alpine Macro Region (Eusalp). We slept in the rooms of the fort: a nice experience. The next day we returned to Aosta by bus."

A short but intense experience during which, Dominioni was able to experience the Via Francigena as a pilgrim: "The signage along the ground is good. We could have walked following the directions but the use of the EAVF Smartphone App was supportive and the gps tracks guided us with greater confidence. I appreciated the food outlets and the facilities reported and contracted with the Visit Vie Francigene network - points out the director of the European Institute of Cultural Routes - it was nice to bring home as a souvenir the credential and to cover the stamps with the pilgrim of our stages. We found a great welcome; the locals are aware of the potential of this itinerary."

A growing journey, a bridge between cultures and territories that unites Canterbury with Rome and looks at the extension of the certification of the Via Francigena of the South: "The importance of the Via Francigena lies precisely in its European dimension, because it is a path that historically unites peoples and cultures around the ideals that are that of the Council of Europe: human rights, cultural diversity, dialogue and intercultural exchanges - explains Dominioni - the extension of certification is to be read in this way. Personally, I find interesting the enhancement of the local cultural heritage and the socio-economic development of the territory where local communities with their identities network, the development of intelligent slow tourism, cultural tourism. Along the way there is an exchange of experience fundamental even for small villages, an experience of openness to Europe"

Will he return to the Via Francigena? "Certainly! Next time I'd like to delve into the Francigena in France. A few years ago I had walked part of the Santiago journey with my son. This year I had the opportunity to live a bit of Francigena together with my wife and daughter. We hope to pass on to the new generations the desire to walk and discover our extraordinary cultural heritage!"

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