Luca Bruschi, EAVF director, and Elena Dubinina, International Relations advisor, travelled along the Swiss part of the route for 220 km from 26 July to 8 August 2020.
Having walked from Orbe to the Grand Saint Bernard Pass, one of the most fascinating points of the Via Francigena, during a 10-day trip, the team explored the route and its landscapes and, at the same time, met several representatives of local authorities, tourism offices and stakeholders.
The team conducted four meetings with political representatives of the EAVF members, which greatly reinforced the network, facilitated the best practice exchange and enhanced the membership benefits. Luca Bruschi and Elena Dubinina walked together from Romainmôtier to Cossonay with Julien Vuilleumier, the Swiss representative to the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes from the Ministry of Culture. During the last stage the team walked together with Gaëtan Tornay, the EAVF Vice-President and director of the Orsières tourism office.
Eight meetings with tourism offices along the Via Francigena conducted during the walking trip provided an opportunity to discuss strategies for common promotion of the route and pilgrims’ accommodations in Switzerland. Recently published guide of the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Grand Saint Bernard Pass by Favre publisher was also presented at the meetings.
The initiative was closely followed by public on the EAVF website, where the travel blog was updated daily. The social media articles reached 100 000 views on Facebook, while Instagram posts and stories together were viewed by 96 000 users. 400 photos of high quality and two videos were produced during the travel. The travel was also transmitted by RadioFrancigena in ten podcast.
An article in Le Nouvelliste followed the adventures of the team, providing a closer look on the travel, as well as the Council of Europe Programme on Cultural Routes, publishing updates on the official website and social media. The walking trip will also be featured in the December edition of the magazine “Via Francigena and the European Cultural Routes”.
The Initiative clearly demonstrated the potential of developing the Via Francigena in Switzerland as a sustainable, inclusive and slow tourism product. In times of post-Covid-19 recovery, the Via Francigena becomes an opportunity to create a new way of travelling and slow discovery. The European route of the Via Francigena represents a perfect synthesis of what could be a wonderful renaissance of experiential, cultural, sustainable and outdoor tourism.