Via Francigena

The Via Francigena loses Palmira Orsières, hiking ambassador. The EAVF remembers

Picture of Redazione AEVF
Redazione AEVF

The European Association of Via Francigena Ways (EAVF) expresses its condolences for the loss of Palmira Orsières, in love with the Via Francigena, nature and hiking. A true ambassador of the values ​​linked to the European journey, especially those of friendship, listening and sharing.

Palmira Orsières, had been a naturalistic hiking guide of the Valle d’Aosta since 1991 and exclusive guide of the Gran Paradiso National Park since 2001. She had vast experience of guiding groups of walkers along the Francigena in Valle d’Aosta and bordering regions of Liguria, Tuscany, Lazio and in the Swiss section. It’s with the precious help of Palmira that the path of the Via Francigena in the Valle d’Aosta tract was traced.

Palmira has collaborated with the European Association of Via Francigena Ways and in the creation of numerous publications of a hiking, naturalistic and historical nature. She had great knowledge of history, traditions, alpine culture, medicinal plants and pathways. She guided numerous wayfarers and enthusiasts along the paths of the Via Francigena, making herself appreciated for her human talents and for her deep passion of her land. 

The EAVF remembers Palmira with great affection and esteem.

Below is an excerpt from the interview conducted by the EAVF with Palmira 5 years ago ( Here is the link to the full interview).

–  How did your passion for routes and the Via Francigena come about? How many days a year do you spend on the trails?: 

“I have always walked along paths, it is a passion I inherited from my family. It was almost natural that I should become a hiking guide and accompany people on the Valle d’Aosta trails and bordering regions, Valais, Savoy, Haute Savoie and Piedmont.

I came into contact with the Via Francigena in 1995-1996, during the creation of a hiking trail between Aosta and Martigny, along existing paths which retrace, in large part, the routes of Roman and medieval roads. The Aosta-Martigny route has since become the Via Francigena path. This gave the Valesan Association the idea to travel on foot to Rome; led by its president, Willy Fellay, and the abbot of Saint-Maurice, Joseph Roduit. And I was a part of the group.

Thus began my beautiful adventure of walking, of sharing experiences and friendships. For six years I walked along the paths of the Via Francigena eight or nine days a year. After completing the journey in Rome, we travelled the Via Francigena from Saint-Maurice to Canterbury. I walk along the Via Francigena on day trips two or three times a year: the Valle d’Aosta and Canavese sections cover it entirely. I accompany groups to Rome and to Canterbury, walking 9-10 days each year. In 2014 we traveled a stretch in Italy, between Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany and in France, between Besançon and Chaumont“. 

You’ve been on the road for a long time, particularly in the Valle d’Aosta and Swiss parts of the route. From your point of view, how do you see the development of the Francigena in recent years and what are, in your opinion, its future prospects. How can the Francigena represent Valle d’Aosta in the cultural, social, tourist and economic sphere? 

The passage of pilgrims along the Via Francigena in recent years has increased considerably and statistics confirm this. The Via Francigena represents a great opportunity for the tourist and economic development of places that aren’t really affected by great tourist flows, places often defined as “minor”, but which contain a heritage of rural architecture, but not only, they also have a heritage of art, culture, traditions and history. I have often heard the phrase:  If I hadn’t passed these places on foot, I would never have had the chance to visit them. In my opinion the Via Francigena is a great opportunity for tourism, economic, cultural and social development and deserves to be valued. This applies to Valle d’Aosta, but also to the entire route“.