Via Francigena

The Via Francigena parchment, testament to history

Redazione AEVF
Redazione AEVF

On Saturday 21st July at the Abbey Museum of Abbadia San Salvatore the facsimile of the 4th May 876 parchment was presented, the oldest known written attestation of the Via Francigena.

The inauguration of the Abbey Festival has reignited the attention on this document, its original copy preserved in the State Archives of Siena and illustrated for the occasion by the project’s curator, the Amiatino geographer, Leonardo Porcelloni.

This parchment was kept in the Abbey along with more than 2500 other parchments. The document testifies the passage of the Via Francigena in lower Tuscany, in the valley of Paglia, enabling the climb to the Longobard abbey through the path already recognised as a variant by the European Association of the Via Francigena Ways (EAVF) in 2016 “explains Porcelloni.

The document was transcribed in the seventies by German professor, Wilhelm Kurze, who died in 2002, to whom the first edition of the Abbey Festival has been dedicated. The medieval historian worked on the Diplomatico Amiatino di San Salvatore, containing thousands of parchments dated between 736 and 1198. “Thanks to this work it was possible to reconstruct much of the history of the territory and of the Abbey – adds the geographer – and Mario Marrocchi, has resumed and continued his studies as a researcher at the Germanic Historical Institute in Rome specifically for this project on the parchment. He made a new transcription in Latin and translated the parchment into Italian with a historical study“.

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The project, supported by the European Association of the Via Francigena Ways, will continue through the distribution of further copies in other important sections of the European route: in Fidenza, EAVF headquarters, Saint Maurice in Switzerland, in Champlitte, a reference point for the Francigena in France, and in Canterbury, km zero point of the route.

The importance of this parchment – concludes Porcelloni – does not lie only in the value of the document of almost 1200 years old, but it is also an opportunity to give concreteness and to affirm the identity of a very complex and articulated European Way defined as a bundle of streets. Through enhancing the historical cultural heritage, the project becomes an opportunity to promote the areas of these rich, rural villages to be discovered through slow-paced, high quality tourism“.

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