Via Francigena. The Road to Rome

COAST ROAD, A BET ON THE FUTURE IN THE ROUTE ERA

In the geography of European routes there is a hidden treasure. It is called Coast Road and it crosses Liguria from the French border to the Tuscany one. An itinerary of about 300 kilometres of walk from Mentone to Sarzana. A Middle Earth that connects Santiago de Compostela to Rome and is only waiting to be enhanced and officially recognised by institutions.In the route era, the Via of Liguria represents a bet. And it is one for many reasons: first of all, because it is strategically important, placing itself as an alternative path to the one passing by the Alps and taking you to discover Liguria, the French Riviera and the Via Tolosana, reaching the door of Spain. It is a bridge between the French routes of St Jacob and the via Francigena.

The Coast Road is also a one-of-a-kind itinerary: thanks to a mild weather, it is virtually accessible all year round and offers a slow travel route, between the extent of the sea and its uneven hinterland. Liguria is a via of saints, devotion and history. A route where past and present cross and the pilgrim can find him/herself.

A path with extraordinary potential, that has been foreseen by Silvio Calcagno and Anna Rocchi in 2003, during the walk from Imperia to Rome. A journey that raised in them the need to create an alternative pilgrim path from the via Aurelia in Liguria. The Coast Road was born like this, marked by two pilgrims from Imperia who, after years of study and examinations, identified 12 pit stops, showed on the www.viadellacosta.it website and in the guide "Via della Costa. Una balconata tra cielo e mare sulle strade di pellegrinaggio in Liguria" (“Coast Road. A balcony between sky and sea on the streets  of pilgrimage in Liguria”), published by Fusta Publisher.

A route that has also been described by Monica D’Atti and Franco Cinti, for Terre di Mezzo, in the volume “La via della Costa, l’itinerario ligure per la via Francigena” (“The Coast Road, the itinerary of Liguria for the Via Francigena”), which depicts a path with 14 stopovers, partially coinciding with the one of Calcagno and Rocchi. It was created following the experience of the Brotherhood of San Jacopo di Compostella in 2004 and in 2008 and it is also inspired by the Verdeazzurro path for the east part.

The Coast Road is not marked as a unique route, nor has it an official path. Whoever travels on it can simply follow the shells and the yellow bidirectional arrows (recognised in the segment of the Imperia province), the signs of the Liguria Trail, the urban signs, the white and red signs of IAC. With regard to accommodation, there are many possibilities as well. After a verification, it is possible to address parishes, religious houses or single citizens, as well as B&Bs and hotels. There is no organised accommodation network, as opposed to beyond the Alps along the French routes.

Path and accommodation therefore represent two fundamental basis for the launch of this route, that is well known and loved for its beauty, however still travelled by few pilgrims. At the beginning of the candidacy of the Via Francigena as UNESCO World Heritage, the segment of Liguria needs an institutional attention and an official recognition, which will actualise the work made by pilgrims and enthusiasts during the years. The route that connects Santiago, Rome and Jerusalem passes also through here. In the route era, the Coast Road cannot be forgotten.

Silvia Iuliano

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