Via Francigena. The Road to Rome

Via Francigena and Italian hiking routes contribute to the slow tourism relaunch

The Via Francigena can undoubtfully be considered a mother of routes, with its dense historic, cultural and religious elements along the network of itineraries, recognised by the Council of Europe.

The attention of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Activities and Tourism MIBACT towards the Via Francigena comes from afar, since the first funds allocation by the former Minister Francesco Rutelli, aimed at an initial tracking and promotion of the path.

In 2014, with the inauguration of Minister Franceschini and the transfer of tourism expertise to the MIBACT, renewed attention to historic and cultural itineraries resulted into recognition of slow tourism segment in Italy. It was celebrated by the event “2016 – the Year of Routes”, having fully entered the Italian Strategic Tourism Plan.

20 million euros were later allocated to the Italian stretch of the Via Francigena (another 40 million euros we allocated to the Franciscan Way, San Benedetto and the Appia) to standardize the entire route and ensure its safe use  from the Aosta Valley to Apulia. These very important resources were distributed among the regions involved in the route management.

The Ministry has been also supporting the Via Francigena candidacy to the UNESCO World Heritage List via general coordination and technical and scientific assistance of the secretariat in collaboration with other interested States – the United Kingdom, France and Switzerland - with technical support from the Tuscany Region and the European Association of the Via Francigena ways.

In the post-Covid 19 phase, it is essential to continue supporting the cultural and tourism stakeholders engaged in the sustainable tourism practices, such as the campaign " Io cammino in Italia / I walk in Italy ", consistent with the Strategic Tourism Plan.

The Via Francigena crosses both renowned tourist sites and unknown places, which gain significant socio-economic benefits from the exponential growth of the route.

A policy of relaunching proximity tourism guarantees a slow, widespread, seasonally adjusted and quality use of tourism resources. The Via Francigena and a vast network of walking routes are key elements of the relaunch presenting extraordinary beauty of Italy and other three countries crossed.

To put in place a coordinated promotion of slow tourism, a relaunch of the Digital Atlas of Routes of Italy is planned, which will most likely become a platform, combining routes, excursions, hiking networks, tourist trains and cycleways.

Lorenza Bonaccorsi 

State Secretary of the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage, Activities and Tourism

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