A 3,200 km walking route from Canterbury to Rome and then to Santa Maria di Leuca, which demands a few months’ time to be completed: the Via Francigena is a great example of what is called ‘slow tourism’.
It is an opportunity for responsible tourism that prioritizes the local habitat, allowing to live the landscape in its most authentic dimension, with the slowness of steps, and to better observe what surrounds us, to appreciate its beauty and, sometimes, to recognize the environmental impacts and challenges of our society.
The European Association of the Via Francigena ways (EAVF) explicitly declared, in its statute, mission statement and strategic plan, that sustainable tourism is at the core of its activity. Indeed, the mission of the association is to develop the sustainability performance of the VF itinerary by engaging all parties, from European institutions to local stakeholders, to provide recognition and consolidation to regional identities, cultures and traditions. This allows local realities to gain visibility and positioning as cultural heritage and touristic products of their territories, not only in the areas that are directly crossed by the Via, but even in the surrounding off-route areas, which, in many cases, are otherwise excluded from the major European tourism tracks.