SantiaGoToRome begins! The project created by Associazione Movimento Lento, sponsored and supported by the European Association of Via Francigena Ways, comes to life. Having achieved its first fundraising goal, the initiative to unite the Camino de Santiago and the Via Francigena has officially been launched.
Two pilgrims decided to return to Sigeric’s route backwards, crossing France to reach their destination in Spain: new steps to test the route. Valentina Prestigiacomo, from Sicily, left Rome on Sunday 13th May and will travel along the Via Francigena of the Valle di Susa up to the Montgenèvre, to Arles on Via Domizia. Luca Mattei, will also start from Rome, in June, on the route that crosses Liguria from Sarzana to Ventimiglia.
It’s a journey - half dream, half challenge - to reunite two major European routes of over 3 thousand km at a slow pace. How was this idea born?
"In the Middle Ages, the Via Francigena and the Camino de Santiago were both part of a large communication network. Even today, these two paths are connected through France with the GR (Grande Randonnée). So we decided to throw a stone into the pond: the Via Francigena can connect Rome to Santiago and from here the SantiaGoToRome project started," explains Alberto Conte, president of Associazione Movimento Lento.
How is the project structured?: "We invented a "guerrilla" communication style. As the path of Santiago is marked towards Santiago, we said: "Why not put signs on the other side?" It is a service to pilgrims and a communication operation to publicise the way to Rome - adds Conte - a volunteer, Sara Pezzuto, enthusiastically joined the project; she started the journey and took care of the first signs. At the same time, we launched a two-month crowdfunding campaign; we exceeded the target thanks to the contribution of sponsors and friends, collecting about 3 thousand euros to repay part of the costs of starting the project".
SantiaGoToRome has captured web attention and the dream continues. "We will follow Valentina and Luca on their journey. It will help us to test the route - adds the founder of Movimento Lento - Luca Mattei will follow the stretch from Liguria. The route that crosses Liguria is wonderful, it has strong potential for development but has not yet been valued as a link between the Via Francigena and Santiago. One of Luca's objectives will be to explore and narrate this path. If we succeed, we want to raise awareness among administrations, stakeholders and communities to develop the route. Liguria, from marginal territory, could become a central hub of European paths".
What’s next for SantiaGoToRome? "Our goal is to open the "western front" of the Via Francigena by creating a flow of pilgrims from abroad to Italy, from France in particular. We will contact the various associations of the ‘Friends of the Way of Saint James’ of France to explore their interest, in collaboration with the European Association of the Via Francigena Ways"says Conte.
"This project aims to recall the appeal of the Camino de Santiago brand and propose locally, as well as creating microeconomics. We know when sustainable tourism is important for territories; we’re talking about a target that has economic value but above all a strong socio-cultural value, an intangible aspect that should not be underestimated. Since we opened our hostel in Piedmont (the Casa del Movimento Lento in Roppolo, in the province of Biella) getting in touch with people coming from all over the world has become a very important form of personal enrichment".
The project has just begun. Pilgrims step up. SantiaGoToRome awaits you!
To join and participate, visit www.santiagotorome.org