Via Francigena. The Road to Rome

Markets and Traders along the Via Francigena - the Sarzana Conference

The Via Francigena, a cultural route of the Council of Europe and a pilgrimage itinerary, has been considered one of the main trade routes since the Middle Ages. On this topic, on 30 November 2019, the conference took place in Sarzana in the hall of the Municipal Council of the Town Hall.

After the introductory speech by the Economic Development Advisor Roberto Italiani, the following spoke:

Luca Bruschi, director of the European Association of the Via Francigena Ways (EAVF), “The Via Francigena, privileged opportunity for connections and exchanges of products from Canterbury to Rome"; the architect Roberto Ghelfi, "Sarzana in the golden age of the Via Francigena, the city and its commercial places" and Monica Baldassarri, "The types of goods on the Via Francigena in Val di Magra through archaeological discoveries" .

The participants of the event discussed the role of the Via Francigena on the European and local level as a commercial axis and transit of goods, with reference of the archaeological studies on the medieval sites of Val di Magra in Liguria. An invitation to a virtual and cultural journey through the goods of Via Francigena from the 12th century where, rich and poor, men and women, young and old, all in search of bargains, made the marketplaces maddened and full of life.

In the market, you could buy and sell everything, from food to clothing, from animals to fabrics, from leather to household utensils, but the shops were very different from today's stores: in general, they were made up of very small precarious structures in wood and fabric installed side by side along the streets of the city.

The increasing use of the Via Francigena as a trade route has led to an exceptional development of many cities along the way, as in the area of ​​Sarzana, which is located at the intersection between Via Romea Francigena towards Rome and Via Compostella towards Saint James’ Ways.

The route has become strategic for the transport of products from the East (silk, spices) to the markets of Northern Europe and their exchange, generally at the fairs in the Champagne region for Flemish Brabant clothing. In the 13th century, commercial traffic was developed to such extent that many alternative routes were developed, and the path lost its unique character and was divided into numerous routes connecting the North to Rome.

Even today the path continues to play an important role due to its size linked to trade, commerce and the economic development of the territory.

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