The 2019 edition of the European Festival "Vie Francigene, Cammini, Ways, Chemins 2019" is dedicated to the theme "The feminine way. Sensitivity in Human and Natural Landscapes". One experience this year is that of Cristina Menghini, pilgrim, president of the non-profit association Walking on the Via Francigena and environmental hiking guide.
The interview - Cristina Menghini: With more than 30,000 km of road under your feet
"Can you cage a bird that wants to fly free? The Road for me is like wings that give me the opportunity to live life fully, in a continuous search for an encounter with myself and the beauty of the world. It's a great love that, like the North Star, directs my thoughts and actions towards achieving an increasingly light and sustainable lifestyle. It is my instrument of free action, free and conscious action, in my aim to improve myself and the reality that surrounds me. And it could be for everyone!
The Road is in fact a great experience that involves every aspect of being, both physically and intimately; a process of transforming the heart, the mind and the spirit, which occurs through the effort and acceptance of our own limits, an encounter with the diversity of our neighbours and the emotions experienced at each step. A curious and attentive step, ready to get involved and keen on contact with nature, sharing and comparing, but always with respect.
Walking slowly for several hours every day in contact with nature, is an activity that not only trains the body, but frees the mind and raises the spirit. As our eyes get lost in the beauty of our surroundings, our hearts calm down, relieving stress and bringing us back to a state of serenity. Walking immediately becomes a way to "switch off", making us return to our time and to the spaces nature gives us. Step by step, our focus shifts from the problems of a hectic and conditioned life to the appreciation of small gestures, while our minds allows us time to think and reflect, thus stimulating new ideas and points of view. Our hearts lighten the sufferings of the past and focus on the emotion of the present, while the beauty we encounter along the Way begins to vibrate in our soul.
Over time, the Road makes us slow down and regain that lost dimension, made up of smiles and helping hands, of sincere emotions and gratitude, of simple and shared gestures, and lightness and essentiality. A "modus vivendi" that once found should no longer be lost; inevitably generating a positive change in our existence, and consequently, in that of the people we visit.
How many people have returned from their journeys wanting to rethink or transform their lives? For me, the Way was such an enlightening experience that it became not only one of my main tools for personal well-being but also a great opportunity to serve others.
My work as a hiking guide and as a "walking promoter" aims to promote and share the benefits of this incredible experience as an exceptional instrument to get to know the self and a world that can be transformed into a great opportunity for reflection, for inner dialogue and personal growth with the consequent improvement of our psycho-physical well-being and lifestyle.
Think about it for a moment. Can you imagine living without something that changed your life for the better?"