Seeing an Italian minister such Daniela Santanchè walking the Via Francigena is a truly important sign that testifies to the great interest at the institutional level in getting the itinerary off the ground. An event that really has few precedents, even at an European level.
Two stages in the Tuscan stretch, from San Miniato to Gambassi Terme and from Gambassi Terme to San Gimignano.
How did the initiative come about? It all started three weeks ago in Milan, on the occasion of the ‘Fa’ la Cosa Giusta!‘ walking fair. Invited by EAVF, our European Association of Via Francigena ways, Daniela Santanchè joined us to talk about the Via Francigena. What emerged was a beautiful, authentic and brilliant dialogue with EAVF’s president Massimo Tedeschi, director Luca Bruschi and Miriam Giovanzana, coordinator of the fair. And at the very end of the meeting, the Minister publicly committed to walking a couple of days on the Via Francigena to get to know this itinerary in person.
Said and done. Word kept. On Saturday 15 April, the Minister joined us in a pilgrim version along the beautiful stretch of the Via Francigena between San Miniato and Gambassi Terme. Before embarking on the journey, the Minister wanted to visit the well-equipped hostel that accommodates pilgrims, the church of San Rocco (where she stamped her credential) and the Frederick II tower. In the splendid City Council hall, there was a brief meeting with Mayor Simone Giglioli and EAVF’s President Massimo Tedeschi.
Then they set off on foot from the Pieve di Coiano, along a bucolic route of ups and downs and olive groves immersed in the Elsa Valley, all the way to the Pieve di Santa Maria in Chianni, where the group was welcomed at the hostel by the Mayor of Gambassi Terme Paolo Campinoti and the entirely female staff that runs the facility. Also awaiting the pilgrims was EAVF’s President Tedeschi.
On Sunday 16 April, the walk covered the stretch to San Gimignano, another 15 km of beautiful trails. Arriving in Pancole, the pilgrims stopped at Le Renaie, where the mayor of San Gimignano Andrea Marrucci was waiting for them. After refreshments, the group continued on to the historic centre of San Gimignano where councillor Carolina Taddei was waiting for them.
“The Via Francigena represents a great opportunity to promote the rural areas, inland areas, villages and cultural sites of Italy and minor Europe. The Ministry of Tourism is working with its excellent team to develop the route through an integrated system of promotion, communication, and signposting. There is a great opportunity not to be missed, which is called Jubilee 2025. Let’s make the Via Francigena our Way of St. James, making it the backbone that feeds life the Italian walking system,” Daniela Santanchè said in an interview while walking accompanied by EAVF’s director Luca Bruschi.
These two stages were organised with the technical support of SloWays and the hike was led with great professionalism by guide Sara Zanni, a great walking expert.