2016 ends successfully for the Via Francigena, with the achievement of a lot of outcomes and objectives aimed to increase the usability of the path, the reception and the signage. 2017 is looking to be full of initiatives and new projects aimed to enhance the European itinerary. Here is the letter from EAVF’s President Massimo Tedeschi, addressed to the members at the beginning of the year.
The just-ended 2016 was a rich year of planning on the Francigena. The stream of people, over 40 thousands, who go across Europe by means of the Via Francigena rouses a territorial pride and creates an economy of goods and services, which contributes to sustainable development.
There is still a fundamental ongoing work on the management and maintenance of the path, as well as on the creation of uniform standards of signage and hospitality.
The Francigena reiterated strongly and with certainty its impetus to be a European itinerary, capable of raising interest in a worldwide public.
These are the main results of 2016.
- EAVF’s status as “réseau porteur” of the Via Francigena at a European level has been renewed after the triennial evaluation of the Council of Europe, for the 2016-2019 triennium (March).
- The 15-years-anniversary of activity of EAVF has been celebrated with a great event on the 28th and 29th April in Fidenza and Piacenza. Dr. Caterino composed a summary of all the important speeches, that will be delivered to the members on the occasion of the meeting in Monteriggioni on the 28th January 2017.
- Subscription of the first six French Municipalities (from the Bourgogne/Franche-Comté and Grand Est regions) and two new subscriptions by Canton Vaud;establishment of an operation centre of EAVF in France in the Municipality of Champlitte (Bourgogne/Franche-Comté).
- Acceptance of the vademecum of European standards on path and hospitality and of the Signage manual of the Italian section (December).
- The website www.viefrancigene.org reached one million visits.
- The 6th edition of the European Festival “Via Francigena Collective Project”, with more than 700 events all around Europe; two editions (April/October) of the magazine “Via Francigena and the European Cultural Routes”
- Publication of the first official guide of the section Great St Bernard Pass/Rome of the Via Francigena by the publishing house “Terre di Mezzo” (Milan), in collaboration with EAVF and the seven Italian crossed regions (July).
- Participation to three European projects: 1. Europe to Turkey on Foot; 2. Eurovelo 5; 3. The spaces of numerical cultural heritage: topology and topography of cultural itineraries: the case study of the Via Francigena. In collaboration with the University of Lille.
- Establishment of the Coordination group aimed to present the candidacy of the Via Francigena to the UNESCO heritage. We start with the Italian section (April).
- Approval of the foundation of an Ltd as the “operative hands” of the Association, with reference to the economical operations within the mission of the Association itself (December).
An equally rich 2017 awaits, full of initiatives that will culminate with the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Program of Cultural Itineraries of the Council of Europe organised in Lucca (Tuscany) at the end of October. Italy and the city of Lucca will have the honour to host the annual Advisory Forum of the Cultural Itineraries of the Council of Europe, a very important moment of exchange and exposure at an international level. The real work on the candidacy of the Via Francigena to UNESCO heritage will start and will contribute to build, along with the validation of the Council of Europe, a bigger international reputation to our cultural itinerary and always better quality standards for the people who travel along it.
Here are some of the important aims for 2017:
- official APP of the Via Francigena for the whole European trace;
- restyling of the website www.viefrancigene.org;
- official guide of the section from Canterbury to the Great St Bernard Pass;
- agreement with the Federation Française Randonnée Pedestre for the French section;
- agreement with the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism/Italian Regions, in order to work together on the UNESCO candidacy;
- agreement with the regions that are located along the Via Francigena in the South for the implementations and the upload to the web of the Itinerary that goes from Rome to Santa Maria di Leuca;
- start of a systematic analysis on the flow of pilgrims;
- new pilgrim’s credential, in collaboration with the railway transport companies, in order to promote the use also of trains as a sustainable means of transport;
- promotion of the “pilgrim’s pouch” and of projects bound typical local products;
- involvement of European tour operators.
In conclusion, I would like to say that, as always, everything will be possible thanks to the combined work of all the people – the members of the Bureau and of the assembly, staff members, members of the institutions and of the associations – that work with passion and professionalism, in order to make the Via Francigena even more like a bridge between different cultures, religions and traditions.
I will wait for you in Monteriggioni (Tuscany) on the 28th January and I wish you all a great 2017.