Via Francigena

Road to Rome 2021 arrives in Italy!

Simona Spinola
Simona Spinola
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The “Via Francigena – Road to Rome. Start again!” relay march, organized by the European Association of Via Francigena Ways with the support of ENIT, on August 1st reaches an important checkpoint. 

The group, on the road since the 16th of June, arrives at Colle del Gran San Bernardo, the pass over the Alps, hence starting to walk the Italian section of the Via Francigena crossing, in the coming weeks, 10 regions in the country: Valle d’Aosta, Piemonte, Lombardia, Emilia-Romagna, Liguria, Toscana, Lazio, Campania, Basilicata and Puglia. 

Leaving from Canterbury, after a month and a half along the French and Swiss Via Francigena routes, EAVF’s representatives continue their walking and biking trip along the total 3,200 km of the itinerary. 657 Municipalities, belonging to 4 countries (England, France, Switzerland, Italy) and to the Vatican State are touched by the route and by the march, supported by Enit, Italy’s National Tourism Agency, always on the front line when it comes to slow tourism and to valorizing small towns and villages. 

A long journey representing the relaunch after months of lockdown and restrictions; a positive message to value this historic itinerary, walked in year 990 by Sigeric the Serious, archbishop of Canterbury, to receive, directly from Pope John XV in Rome, the pallium, a wool cape decorated with the symbol of the cross, representing his episcopal investiture. 

Today the Via Francigena represents a form of unity between Italy and Europe and unfolds as one of Europe’s most important cultural routes, as the increasing number of walkers coming from all over the world demonstrates. A new tendency that supports cultural and sustainable tourism, promoting intercultural dialogue between different communities. 

 “There are three keywords for this event: relaunch; heritage – material and immaterial; Europe. In this first phase of the march, entering Italy from the mountain of Colle del Gran San Bernardo, tallest peak of Sigeric’s journey, I have followed the walkers stage after stage, and I can say that sympathy and enthusiasm have accompanied us wherever we passed. This demonstrates that the choice of organizing the “Via Francigena. Road to Rome 2021. Start again!” initiative was fruitful and rewarding. I am certain that the journey along the Italian section will confirm this success”, declares Massimo Tedeschi, president of the European Association of Via Francigena ways. 

The event, supported by ENIT – National Tourism Agency – and by international main partners such as Intesa Sanpaolo and Snam, collected broad encouragements and appreciation, witnessed by the hospitality of institutions, the enthusiasm of local communities, with many people joining the walk for a few stages, and, last but not least, the success of the initiative on the media: official press such as Il Sole 24 Ore, La Repubblica, Corriere della Sera, and many more, reserved much space to present the project. 

A report of the first 30 days of the trip was developed by the Association in the official blog that you can find at this link, whereas the trip is updated in real-time, day by day, on the Road to Rome travelblog. 

“The route becomes a place in itself. A string of people who meet along the way, a story of return to true experience. The Road to Rome trip from Europe to Italy charges travelers with emotions and expectations, excited by the arrival in Italy, by its tangible impact and its unique lifestyle” declares the President of Enit Giorgio Palmucci 

“Road to Rome is a flowing discovery of the beauty of Italy: enchanted villages, landscapes, and welcoming and hard-working communities. Intesa Sanpaolo identifies in the values of this project: we promote territorial sustainable development and value the cultural heritage of our country, supported by our strong structure and the commitment of the people who build it. It is a growth process that makes us a reference point for families and for companies”, argues Andrea Lecce, responsible for Sales Management & Marketing for Privates and Retail Companies in Intesa Sanpaolo. 

“We are happy to welcome the European relay march in its Italian section, which overlaps in many locations with Snam’s network. In the sections where the Via Francigena meets our infrastructure in Tuscany and in Apulia, walkers will find our “poles”, symbols of their underlying network, wearing special covers dedicated to the initiative. An omen to the meaning of the march: just like Snam, it aims to connect territories, communities and cultures, in a sustainable and capillary manner”, says Simone Nobili, Senior Vice President of Network Management in Snam. 

Road to Rome is sponsored by: Visit Canterbury, French Ministery of Culture, Swiss Federal Office for Culture, Italian Ministery of Culture, Valore Paese Italia Project, ANCI, Pilgrimage green Project. It is moreover supported by gold partners: Regione Lazio and Regione Puglia; silver partners: Department Doubs, Regione Valle d’Aosta, Regione Piemonte, Regione Emilia-Romagna, Regione Campania-SCABEC, municipality of Montefiascone, municipality of Viterbo, association Civita, Montana enterprise; bronze partners: Department Haute-Saone, Grand Besançon Metropole, Communaité de Communes du Pays de Lumbres, municipality of Champlitte, Pays du Grand St. Bernard, municipality of Siena, Banca Generali Private, Credit Agricole agency of Dampierre-sur-Salon, Zurich, Sport Power Patch. The initiative’s technical partners are North Downs Way, Confraternity Pilgrims to Rome, Federation Française de la Randonnée, Federation Française de la Via Francigena, Federturismo di Confindustria,Trenitalia, Trenord, Artio Design, SloWays, Itineraria. Companies Ferrino, Garmont and Alpek bike are technical partners providing products for walkers and bikers. Editors Cicerone Press, Favre, Terre di Mezzo, magazines Le Pélerin and Via Francigena, Radio Francigena and Movimento Lento are media partners. Finally, the project is supported by many local administrations and tourism offices in the crossed territories, which welcome and host the walking group and, together with administrations in their territories, organize animation initiatives.