A new leap for the Via Francigena on a European level

“The Via Francigena is a daily adventure that moves, step by step, in the footsteps of pilgrims of the past, present and future. We are here today to add another page to this magnificent tale, which unites communities and cultures and has now been added to the ‘National Tentative List’ to be put forward as UNESCO heritage.”

It was with these words that Raffaella Senesi, mayor of Monteriggioni, opened the 6th edition of the “Comuni in Camminointernational forum, which took place in Abbadia Isola last Saturday, after she remembered the director of Tuscan Touristic Promotion, Alberto Peruzzini, who went missing last November. Many guests were present from all over Italy and other countries crossed by Sigeric’s route: Switzerland, France and Britain.

With this occasion – says Massimo Tedeschi, president of the European Association of Via Francigena Ways (EAVF) who organise the Forum every year, together with the municipality of Monteriggioni – we would like to reaffirm the internationality of the Via Francigena. We’re not talking about a national Italian route, but a European route, a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe since 1994.

The cultural and ethical importance of the Via Francigena was also underlined by Stefano Ciuoffo, Councillor of Tourism for the region of Tuscany, who emphasised the work towards “safeguarding Sigeric’s route and, by doing so, the founding values of our society and European identity”. The European dimensions of the Via Francigena and its cultural value were also highlighted by Silvia Costa, MEP, who recalled how this route is “increasingly a forge of innovation, creativity and sustainable development of the territories crossed, where the other is not an enemy, but a walking companion, laying the foundations for the future of Europe”. Among our international guests Stefano Dominioni, Executive Secretary for the Partial Expansion Agreement for the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe, also stood out with his description of the Via Francigena as “the crown jewel of the agreement due to its ability to develop actions and synergies on a regional, national and European level, uniting municipalities and regions crossed in a sign of diversity and intercultural dialogue.

The Forum gave voice to many local and regional administrators working hard along the European Francigena, putting hospitality and accessibility first, as well as the many events and projects along the Italian section of the route. Then leaving room for a comparison with other European routes, welcoming experiences along the Cammino di Sant’Olav, Cammino di Santiago, via Romea Germanica and via Romea Strata. There was also time to announce the finalists of the second edition of the “Intanto Parto” award, organised by Betti Editrice; the project of Milanese singer-songwriter Jack Jaselli, called “Torno a Casa”, which will keep him busy on a tour along the Via Francigena until next April; and lastly the awards for the European Festival Vie Francigene, Cammini, Ways, Chemins 2018, with director Sandro Polci.

Lunch was hosted in the Pilgrim’s Hall, a space in the monumental complex of Abbadia Isola, recovered by the municipality of Monteriggioni with European funds made available through the region of Tuscany and enriched by the doorway, which was restored for free by a local business, New Design Porte, using the ancient beams of Abbadia Isola.

The Forum was organised – as it is every year – by the municipality of Monteriggioni, in collaboration with the European Association of Via Francigena Ways (EAVF) and the support of the region of Tuscany. All speeches from the “Comuni in Cammino” Forum are available as podcasts on the Radio Francigena site: www.radiofrancigena.com.

EAVF Press release – municipality of Monteriggioni.

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