After 79 days on foot and bicycle, the Road to Rome group has officially reached Rome: the group of walkers, the EAVF delegation, and alongside, the Italian National Tourist Board-ENIT.
Over 1,000 people have joined the group, on foot or by bicycle. Almost 500 municipalities in Europe and rural Italy have been crossed.
5 countries, 16 regions and 657 municipalities make up the extraordinary 3,200 km “Road to Rome” march, which reaches Rome, the Eternal City, on the 10th of September, before continuing on to Santa Maria di Leuca along the Via Francigena of the South. A long, leisurely walk, aiming to look forward with optimism at starting again after the pandemic, and at raising awareness among institutions of the Via Francigena’s candidacy as UNESCO World Heritage.
The twentieth anniversary of the foundation of the European Association of the Via Francigena ways is proving to be an excellent opportunity to celebrate ‘slow’ movement, which – in part due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic – has reached record levels. There are more and more holidaymakers choosing to undertake the walk, in order to discover the open air and outdoor activities, all of which are also helping to boost the economy of small towns and villages that are away from classic tourist routes.
Irpet, Regional Institute for Economic Planning of Tuscany, has released important statistics analysing the growth of the Way over the ten-year period 2009-2019: the Tuscany Region takes the top spot with a 63% increase in pilgrims through its 37 municipalities, while a positive trend can be seen all across Italy. The Francigena therefore becomes a bridge across Europe, and presents an opportunity to put the territory ‘on the map’, especially thanks to the “Road to Rome” event, which has involved dozens of high-quality partners such as Intesa Sanpaolo, Credito Sportivo and Snam, to name just a few. Furthermore, it presents an opportunity for businesses and institutions to benefit from the economic and cultural boost. The estimated 60,000 pilgrims per year, who walk for more than a week, bring an economic benefit of over 20 million euros to the territory.
“Via Francigena. Road to Rome 2021. Start again! is a very important opportunity to present the Via Francigena project to an international audience – a project which has generated great interest everywhere”, EAVF President Massimo Tedeschi declares. The welcome given to the group of walkers has been very friendly, both from local authorities and walkers who, on every stage, have joined and accompanied us. The initiative also aims to support the candidacy of the Via Francigena to UNESCO, promoted by the Italian Regions and the Italian Ministry of Culture”.
“Via Francigena Road to Rome has arrived in Rome after two months of travelling, and will stay in the Lazio region until the 22nd of September” Pierluigi Monceri, Regional Director of Intesa Sanpaolo for the Lazio and Abruzzo regions, outlines. “It is an exciting journey discovering magical places which we, Intesa Sanpaolo, have supported with great enthusiasm as we strongly believe in adding value to the territories in our splendid country, as well as the promotion of cultural, sustainable tourism which can have important economic benefits for communities and geographical areas that are less well-known among the general public, though that does not mean they are less interesting.”
On the 10th of September, the “Road to Rome” group will be welcomed in the Vatican City, in Saint Peter’s Basilica, where they will symbolically visit Saint Peter’s tomb.