The march, celebrating the European Association of Via Francigena ways’ 20th anniversary, received a green light from members and departure has been confirmed for mid-June.
The past 30th of March, EAVF’s General Assembly deliberated the confirmation of the great march “Via Francigena – road to Rome 2021. Start again!”. The highly participated Assembly confirmed the event with enthusiasm, yet with awareness that the pandemic is not over.
The march will start on Wednesday 16th of June with a small ceremony, symbolically very important, in Canterbury, next to the “km 0” stone of the Via Francigena. On the 17th of June, the group of walkers transporting the pilgrim stick (https://www.viefrancigene.org/it/resource/news/road-rome-2021-pronto-il-bordone-del-pellegrino/) will be in Calais, in the very north of France, where, for the occasion, the municipal administration will open its “Via Francigena rose garden”.
The French section of the Via Francigena will then be crossed, by foot and partly by bicycle, with resting days in Arras (27th of June), Reims (5th of July), Champlitte, French headquarters of EAVF (14th of July, French national holiday) and Besançon (18th of July). Friday 23rd of July, once traversed the Franco-Swiss Jura massif, the group will arrive in Orbe, Switzerland (Canton Vaud). From there, the Swiss section will be crossed in eight stages, finally reaching the Great Saint Bernard pass (the highest point of the Via Francigena, at an elevation of 2473m), where the group will take a day to rest on Saturday 31st of July. On the 1st of August (Swiss national holiday), the march along the Italian section will start, leading the group of walkers to Rome on the 10th of September and to Santa Maria di Leuca on the 18th of October. The event will evolve in due respect of anti-covid-19 norms and will shape around sanitary rules in place in the single countries it crosses.
Who will walk with EAVF during these 127 day and 3,200km?
Some representatives of EAVF’s team will always be on their feet, in particular Myra Stals, official walker and Social Media Manager of the trip, who will walk (and cycle) for all four months of the journey. Myra is well-known in the Francigena environment, especially in Italy, where, last year, she cycled from Turin to Santa Maria di Leuca (https://www.viefrancigene.org/it/resource/news/bicicletta-ambiente-plastica-rifiuti-raccoltafondi/ ) with her project Cycle to Recycle.
Walking with her, a few video-makers will collect images and shootings with the ambition of creating a documentary on the Francigena route. Another important role is held by associations, which will join the group at single stages with local representatives; referents of municipal administrations and involved partners will also be participating.
On top of this, a call for influencers and bloggers who want to join the march has been launched (https://www.viefrancigene.org/it/resource/news/invito-di-partecipazione-influencer-blogger-e-cont/). The hope is to involve many participants locally and between stages, once again in full respect of the evolving covid-19 situation. All updates will be available on the page of the event.
The march aims at:
- Restarting after the pandemic period, by valorizing the sustainable, cultural and responsible tourism of the Via Francigena and all European walking routes.
- Sensitizing regional and national governments and religious institutions, in order to provide increasing value to the Via Francigena as a crucial example and driver for the sustainable development of tourism.
- Verifying the conditions of the path, highlighting best practices and possible weak points along the entire route, and suggesting improvements in light of the added value it can provide for tourism in single regional stretches.
- Supporting the application of the Via Francigena to the UNESCO World Heritage list.
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