Via Francigena. The Road to Rome

The Via Francigena Regions meet in Brussels on 2016 activities

On 15 and 16 June the IXth European meeting among the Regions of the Via Francigena, cultural route of the Council of Europe, took place in Brussels, at the Emilia Romagna Region EU liaison office. 

The meeting was organized by the EAVF in cooperation with Regione Emilia Romagna and had the aim to present the interim results of the Action Plan 2016 of the interregional network.

During the meeting the procedure to examine and approve variations to the Via Francigena was discussed with the aim to provide the European network with a Regulation for the evaluation of the proposal of variations to the main route certified by the Council of Europe. It was also planned the publication of the Manual on European common standards for the route and accommodation, in close cooperation with the University of Bologna as well as the partnership agreement with the Federation Française de la Randonnée Pédestre, being the national body in charge of guaranteeing the quality level of the national hiking trail network.

The European database on accommodation along the Via Francigena which was developed by the Regions in line with agreed quality standards will be soon publiched on the European website. The Manual on signposting along the Via in Italy have been also examined for finalization. This Manual will be added to the other national manuals in order to provide technical information on signs along the entire itinerary, in compliance with the relevant law, while assuring coherent visibility to the distinctive graphic features of the route.

The preview of the Via Francigena guidebook-from the Great Saint Bernard Pass to Rome-was also presented. Edited by Terre di Mezzo edition, in close cooperation with EAVF and the seven concerned Regions, this guide provides cultural and technical information on the route certifed by the Council of Europe. The following volume will include the route from Canterbury to the Great Saint Bernard Pass.

The last and future activities of the projects which EAVF is currently carrying out in cooperation with international networks were also recalled in order to facilitate synergies with the several activities carried out by the Regions in favor of the Via Francigena:

The cooperation project with the Turkey’s cultural routes gathered within the Association Culture Routes Society, which has recently concluded a study visit along the Via Francigena between Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Turcany, coordinated by the EAVF and with the participation of representatives of municipalities and cultural and tourism operators of Demre, İnegöl e Eğirdir. The study visit aimed at increasing the euro-mediterranean cooperation along the Via Francigena and transferring good practices on cultural routes develoment (European project “Europe to Turkey on Foot - Preparation of a cultural route between Europe and Turkey”, cofounded by the Civil Society Dialogue Programme - Regional Policy and coordination of structural  instruments).

- The project “Eurovelo 5 Via Romea Francigena”, co-funded by the COSME Programme, will boost joint planning of the Via Francigena by bike from  Canterbury to Apulia, within a specialized international partnership and according international quality  con un partenariato internazionale specializzato e secondo standards.

The interregional meeting continued on June 16th within a conference organized by Regione Emilia Romagna in cooperation with the European Association of the Via Francigena, entitled “Promoting Cultural tourism in Europe: European cultural routes as a driver for a smart territorial growth”. The main subject of the conference was the role of cultural routes in the European policies for the proomotion of the destination Europe and the diversification of a cultural, inclusive and sustainable tourism.

The debate was attended by the Minister for Tourism of Regione Emilia-Romagna, Andrea CORSINI, the Members of the European Parliament Arne LIETZ, Claudia TAPARDEL and Isabella DE MONTE, Fabrizio COLACECI, of Italy’s Permanent Representative Office at the EU, Giuliana DE FRANCESCO, Member of the Governing Board of the Council of Europe ENlarged Partial Agreement on cultural routes, the European networks NECSTouR and ERRIN and the European Associations leading the networks of European cultural routes. Conclusion were expressed by Carlo CORAZZA, Tourism Head of Unit at the DG GROW of the European Commission.

In this context, the Vice President of the European Association of the Via Francigena, Velia COFFEY, illustrated the objectives, actions and outcomes of the interregional cooperation developed within EAVF.

Through a joint and pluralistic work, the EAVF interregional network intends to consolidate the importance of the cultural tourism sector within the international market, while facilitating mutual support and constant exchanges between local territorial policies and European policies.

Silvia Lecci

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