Canterbury is in. The beautiful medieval city, kilometre zero from the Via Francigena, becomes increasingly more involved in the ancient route of Sigeric.
Over the past few days the European Association of the Vie Francigene (EAVF) found itself in the famous city of Kent for several meetings with institutional representatives of the city, including the leader of the council, Simon Cook, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
Days of amiable dialogue which underlined the city’s interest in the Via Francigena route’s progress towards UNESCO. An interest expressed directly to the president, Massimo Tedeschi, and the director, Luca Bruschi, in the presence of Velia Coffey, deputy chief executive of Canterbury City Council and vice-president of the EAVF.
“Before us we have a geographic figure (the only English leg from Canterbury to Dover, 30 km in length) with great cultural, historic and linguistic value, these 30 km represent English culture along the Via Francigena – confirms president Tedeschi – the acceptance of our proposal by the leader of the council and the Archbishop of Canterbury brought us great satisfaction.”
The Via Francigena will be able to count on the support of Canterbury in its progress towards UNESCO certification. “The leader of the council, Simon Cook, proved to be very attentive, he gathered the importance of the Via Francigena and the work to be carried out for the UNESCO project to further increase awareness – underlines Tedeschi – the Archbishop, Welby – dressed in the Franciscan manner, that of Pope Francis, with whom he has frequent contact – immediately expressed a strong interest in the Via Francigena and the UNESCO project, guaranteeing interest among the representatives of France, Switzerland and the Anglican Centre in Rome.
It is in this spirit of collaboration that the 2019 European Association of the Vie Francigene general assembly will be in Canterbury. After Champlitte in France on the 18th May 2018, it will be the United Kingdom’s turn. “It would be this event takes place in England, a great event for the Francigena family – Tedeschi comments – we just need to decide whether it will be in spring or autumn”.
The trip to England allowed the association to develop other aspects: exchange of portal visibility for Visit Canterbury and Visit Francigena of the EAVF; growth in hospitality opportunities; co-operation with the Interreg Green Pilgrimage project; support for Julia Peter’s Charity Walk. Two buildings have already been identified as ‘walkers oriented’ and others will be added to the hospitality list.
“The city already registers pilgrim and hiker movement due to the extended network of regional routes. We are now beginning to also see people who arrive and leave from Canterbury to walk along the Francigena. – adds Tedeschi – We delivered the first Pilgrim Passports to the tourist office and already some visitors have shown interest in the route. We’re talking about a small number of people but growth begins with small steps, as it did in Italy.”
The leader of Canterbury City Council, Simon Cook, has displayed his willingness to participate in the fifth edition of the “Comuni in Cammino” (Municipalities on the Road), in Monteriggioni the 26th and 27th January 2018. “The Association’s dedication to the English route is a step in the right direction; we must not only work hard towards the Italian tract – concludes Tedeschi – The first step? Including the Swiss tract of the Valles and Vaud Cantons in the UNESCO project and then the French tract, with an extended establishment of the Association through an increase of contact with municipalities along the tract.”