2017 was a year full of important milestones for the Via Francigena. The Cultural route of the council of Europe continues to grow and unite pilgrims headed to Rome, Santiago or Jerusalem. A walking route made up of concrete steps and actions which now looks towards Unesco.
The year which is about to end saw the launch of the preliminary analysis, which is now well under way, for the recognition of the Via Francigena as Unesco heritage, beginning from the Italian tract and handled by the working group coordinated by the European Association of the Vie Francigene (EAVF).
The Via Francigena is an 1800km route which connects England, France, Switzerland and Italy and plays an increasingly important role in the sphere of cultural and sustainable tourism. A centrality which was reaffirmed in Lucca last September, during the VII European Forum of Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe which celebrated its 30th anniversary of cultural routes.
"2017 was a year rich in projects and initiative along the Francigena. The flow of people who cross Europe along the path, over forty thousand, reawakens the pride of each territory, it makes them cohesive and generates an economy of heritage and series which contribute towards sustainable development - affirms the president of the European Association of the Vie Francigene, Massimo Tedeschi, - the management of the route remains fundamental, that of maintenance and of a uniform standard of signage and hospitality".
The European Association of the Vie Francigene, 'réseau porteur' of the route on a European level, is at the forefront of promotion for the Francigena. A constant task in collaboration will associations, regions, and municipalities which has given important results. As well as the inclusion of new French municipalities of the Bourgogne/Franche-Comté, Grand-Est and Hauts-de-France regions, and the establishment of the headquarters of the French EAVF in the municipality of Champlitte, 2017 has perfected the Vademecum of the European standards of the route, of hospitality and of the signage manual of the Italian tract. An agreement with Trenitalia was also signed which allows pilgrims with Pilgrim Passports to benefit from a 10% discount on regional trains of the qualified routes.
2017 also marked the exceeding of a million visits to the EAVF portal (www.viefrancigene.org). Visits which prove people's increasing interest, also from the perspective of media and communications. The publication of the official guide: "The Via Francigena. 1000km on foot from the Great St Bernard Pass to Rome" in English, edited by "Terre di Mezzo", Milan, in collaboration with the EAVF and the seven regions of Italy which the route crosses. In addition, the Italian tract of Sigeric's route will also become available in digital form, thanks to the realisation of an e-book.
The Via Francigena is already ready for 2018. Among the main aims will be the official APP of the Italian-Swiss tract and the preparation of the "Official guide of the Via Francigena from Canterbury to the Great St Bernard Pass" edited by the Swiss company "Suisse Itinérance". The EAVF will work towards a cooperation agreement with Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pedestre (FFRP) and the preliminary analysis for the recognition of the Via Francigena as Unesco world heritage will be concluded.
The Via Francigena will continue to be the subject of attention in regards to the regions crossed, with the intention of networking the route from Rome to Santa Maria di Leuca. The first main appointment of the Francigena for next year will be on Saturday 27th January in Monteriggioni, in Tuscany, for the V Forum "Comuni in Cammino". An occasion to talk about "Europe and the Via Francigena: an intercultural dialogue".
Via Francigena, challenges and projects for the European route