The Via Francigena in Lombardy: meeting in Pavia with the Province, mayors and cultural and tourism stakeholders

A meeting of the European Association of the Via Francigena Ways (EAVF) and of the Province of Pavia with Mayors and cultural and tourism stakeholders on the Via Francigena took place on Tuesday 24 September 2019 at the headquarters of the Province of Pavia in Piazza Italia.

The meeting was attended by the representative of the Province of Pavia - administrators and officers -  Linarolo, Nicorvo, Gropello, Garlasco, Belgioioso, Tromello, Cergnago, Olevano, Mortara, Robbio, as well as the representatives of cultural and tourism stakeholders, in addition to the AEVF, represented by the president Massimo Tedeschi and the project manager Sami Tawfik .

The president of the province, Vittorio Poma, and the vice-president, Daniela Bio, stressed the importance for the territories to welcome the opportunities presented by the Association, which since 2001 works for the development of the Via Francigena and collaborates with the province - one of the founders together with the Lombardy region, the other Italian regions and municipalities and the countries crossed by path: United Kingdom, France, French Switzerland and Italy.

Many projects concluded and many objectives achieved, one of them is the recognition of the Via Francigena as a European Cultural Route of the Council of Europe. But the new challenge now is even more ambitious: the candidacy of the Via Francigena to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

In Lombardy, the Via Francigena crosses from west to east the provinces of Pavia and Lodi. Pavia with its 126 km has launched a challenge: to make this cultural route one of the most important factors of development of the local economy. The president of the EAVF, Massimo Tedeschi, explained the strategies of the European Association of the Via Francigena Ways at the European level, while Sami Tawfik, project manager of the association, highlighted that the smallest communities are those who benefit the most from the pilgrims. The pilgrims’ profile is characterized by a medium / high cultural level, good economic resources and an aim of deepening the knowledge about the territories which they slowly explore, being attentive to surroundings and enriching themselves with lived experience.

Before going in details with the project "La Via Francigena in Lombardy. Towards the UNESCO candidacy", Sami Tawfik explained projects "I love Francigena", "Sosta & Gusta" and "Terres de la Via Francigena" which provide development opportunities for all territories, even to those not directly crossed by the Via Francigena - the opportunity to thematically connect to the Via Francigena and to propose their own tourism and cultural offers.

The communication tools of the EAVF to disseminate and give visibility to the activities undertaken are multiple. First of all, there is the portal Visit.ViaFrancigena, containing accommodations and other service providers along the Via Francigena, a sub-site related to the Lombardy region and www.viefrancigene.org.

The meeting was focused on the project "Via Francigena in Lombardy. Towards the UNESCO candidacy ", which has obtained the approval and funding of the Advisory Cultural Council of the Lombardy Region, as it will define the study and develop the World Heritage nomination strategy, starting from the results already obtained in January 2019- the official insertion of the Via Francigena in the Italian tentative list.

The project also includes publication of a special edition dedicated to the territories of Pavia and Lodi in the official AEVF magazine "Via Francigena and the European Cultural Routes", as well as production of an official map in 3,500 copies of the Via Francigena in the province of Pavia.

Then the cultural and tourism stakeholders and public servants took the floor, representing an important public-private partnership, deeply appreciated by the Provincial Department of the Environmental Protection, Promotion of the Territory and Sustainability. Will the territory want and will accept the challenge? The province and the AEVF are surely ready to accompany and facilitate the work ahead!

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