The route of the Via Francigena in Switzerland is bordered by two mountain ranges, the Jura and the Alps.
From the Col de Jougne to the Great St. Bernard Pass – the highest point of the route – the way passes through very diverse landscapes. In the canton of Vaud, it wends its way for more than thirty kilometres, running along Europe’s largest alpine lake, namely Lake Geneva.
After intersecting one of the Jacobean routes in Lausanne, the Via Francigena begins its lakeside way. The town of Evian-les-Bains, whose mineral water is known all over the world, is situated on the opposite shore. Then, the route reaches the Lavaux Vineyard Terraces.
Water and wine coexist and face each other as the vine has been cultivated here since the Middle Ages. This landscape, shaped by man over the centuries, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Villa Le Lac, designed by the architect Le Corbusier between 1923 and 1924 and considered as one of the most symbolic works of the architect.
In Vevey, the Via Francigena joins the path that descends from the Swiss Plateau; the town is home to the world headquarters of the company established by the German chemist Henri Nestlé. The Fête des vignerons, the Winegrowers Festival, is organised here every twenty years: the next edition of this event, which is classified in the list of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, will take place in 2019. As it reaches Montreux, the Via Francigena resembles a high society promenade: thanks to a favourable climate, the region has earned the name of Vaud Riviera.
From the Quais de Montreux, the stunning lake side promenade lined with flowers and palm trees, the view extends over the majestic peaks of the Dents-du-Midi. A little further on, the narrow passage where the mountain touches the lake is guarded by Switzerland’s most visited historic monument, i.e. Chillon Castle. The Belle Époque side-wheel steamboats sail offshore.
Villeneuve is situated at the eastern end of the lake; it used to have a hospice, es- tablished in 1236 to offer hospitality to pilgrims headed for Rome. Today, like yesterday, the landscape of Lake Geneva is the magnificent setting for the way to Italy.
The article is taken from the latest issue of the official AEVF magazine "Via Francigena". The magazine, published by Studio Guidotti, can be consulted free of charge online at www.rivistaviafrancigena.it and can be purchased online. Lots of news, information and interviews to read at a slow pace in English, French and Italian.