The past 20th of February, at the Officine Cantelmo in Lecce, the results of the South Cultural Routes project were presented, with the valorisation of the Salento tract of the Via Francigena in the South.
The meeting was organised by the association of “La casa delle comunità ospitanti degli Itinerari Francigeni della Puglia meridionale” as an event of the project, with the support of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, Regione Puglia, Puglia Promozione and the European Association of the Vie Francigene.
Speaking at the event were Loredana Capone – Assessor of Tourism and Culture of Regione Puglia, Carlo Salvemini – Mayor of Lecce, Angelofabio Attolico – European Association of the Vie Francigene, Anna Trono – University of Salento, Gianluca Bambi – University of Firenze, Michele Del Giudice – Association of Cultural Routes, Renato Di Gregorio – President of IRIFI, Gaetano Cusenza – President of Unione dei Comuni Foggiani, Maria Rosaria Buri – President of Soroptimist Lecce. The meetings were moderated by Luigi Del Prete of the association of “Le Comunità ospitanti degli Itinerari delle Vie Francigene della Puglia meridionale”.
The main element of the South Cultural Routes project is the integrated valorisation of cultural, landscape and environmental heritage of the Salento tract. The events were developed by Regione Puglia, Puglia Promozione, the European Association of the Vie Francigene, in collaboration with Itineraria e In Itinere, association of “La casa delle comunità ospitanti degli Itinerari Francigeni della Puglia meridionale”, experts and scholars of the area.
The study and project. Over the past months the three “Francigena” directions which cross Puglia-Salento from North to South were decided: one along the Adriatic coast (via Traiana-Calabra), one along the Ionian coast (via Sallentina) and the third internal (via Leucadense). They are ancient historical routes which, over the Middle Ages, were utilised to reach the ports of the Salento peninsular to the Holy Land, as well as to reach Leuca: “Finis Terrae” the last beacon of Italy, first sanctuary of Europe and the World of the Marian cult.
These three routes have been defined as archaeological routes thanks to the materials published by academics and local historians: precious in the sense that they are the result of the contributions of Universities in Puglia, whose research teams spent the past twenty years identifying the ancient communication carriers. After studying the sources and definitions of the archaeological route, they proceeded with the delineation of the contemporary viability both through research and reconnaissance and examinations in the field, followed by communication with associations and residents of the rest-stop towns. The project expects to lay vertical and horizontal signage, utilising the parameters of the signage abacus of the European Association of the Vie Francigene.
On site examination and results. The survey work and checking of the pedestrian route of the Francigena in Puglia aims to take a GPS measurement of the Via Francigena-Via Traiana Calabra routes, of the Via Francigena from Otranto to S. Maria di Leuca, of Via Sallentina from Taranto to S. Maria di Leuca, of Via Leucadense from Lecce to S. Maria di Leuca. This work has been accompanied by a technical report which marks the route’s criticalities and opportunities for improvement, it marks the route’s attractions (points of interest, services, accommodation), it documents the data collected regarding cultural, landscape and environmental heritage, regarding accommodating structures and the services along the route.
Around 20,000 geo-reference photographs have been produced, as well as maps of the route; GPS tracts; documents describing the cultural, landscape and environmental heritage; and lastly the implementation of vertical and light signage (stickers and paint) along the three directions, with the involvement of local communities and the coordination of the “Casa delle comunità ospitanti degli Itinerari Francigeni della Puglia meridionale” (House of the hosting communities of the Francigena Routes of Southern Puglia).
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