Voluntary Hosts, courses in Italy

The road doesn’t end in Santiago, but continues in everyday life” wrote Paulo Coelho. Once back home, the need to give what to others what was received on the road remains in the heart of pilgrims; and there’s a way to do just that: by becoming a voluntary host.

The group Accoglienza Pellegrina, Italian branch of the Hospitaleros Voluntarios (Spanish federation of Friends of the Camino de Santiago), has organised courses to become voluntary hosts. For the first time, the training weekend will also take place in Acquapendente, province of Viterbo, for the first time in March. In a symbolic place of donation hospitality along the Via Francigena: Casa di Lazzaro.

The course dates and cities are published on the official site www.caminosantiago.org. In Italy, the course begins in Vercelli. The Ospitale Sancti Eusebi will host the first scheduled meeting from 22nd to 24th February. After that, the weekend in Acquapendente, at the Casa di Lazzaro, from 8th to 10th March, and the last, in Tuscany. The Casa del Pellegrino a Valpromanro, in the province of Lucca, will host the course from 26th to 28th April 2019. From North to South, until arriving at Sicily. From 3rd to 5th May, at Trecastagni, in the province of Catania, will be the second edition of the course.

“Accoglienza Pellegrina will send instructors to Sicily for a course dedicated to voluntary hosts. In this case organisation was managed by the association Ultreya Pedara, while Accoglienza Pellegrina will only handle training – confirms Roberta Gallina, spokeperson for Accoglienza Pellegrina Vercelli, Valpromaro and Acquapendente are the “historical” headquarters where we give service as voluntary hosts and also where we organise the courses – she states – this year we will also be present as volunteers at the donation accommodation in Lamporo, province of Vercelli, crossroad for pilgrims on their way to or from Santiago.

What is a voluntary host? As volunteers, hosts welcome pilgrims in hostels which operate a donation system and collaborate to promote artistic, cultural and spiritual aspects of routes. The group Accoglienza Pellegrina, in particular, is made up of volunteers who have resolved to safeguard traditional hosting along the Camino de Santiago, the Via Francigena, as well as other routes.

The necessary precondition is to have walked at least one route – informs Roberta Gallina – it is fundamental to have experienced route hospitality. Our aim is to spread the values of donation hospitality, where everyone donatives what they can. Becoming a host may seem easy, but an internal route is necessary. It’s not just about welcoming people and tidying the house, it’s also about staying with the pilgrims and sharing moments, such as preparing dinner together or even just a simple hug.

At the end of the preparatory course, the future hosts, based on their availability, will be able to offer their free hospitality service in donation structures across Italy, along the Francigena or in Spain for pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago. The training courses are offered to a maximum of 25 people.

For more information and to sign up, send an email toaccoglienzapellegrina.corsi@gmail.com. Info on Facebook: on “Ospitalieri Volontari di Accoglienza Pellegrina”, page “Accoglienza Pellegrina”. To sign up to courses in Sicily, please contact Lisa Schillaci: ultreyapedara@gmail.com.

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