In beautiful settings of the “Cercle des Voyageurs” of Brussels, the European Association of Via Francigena Ways (EAVF) participated in the General Assembly of the association Les Amis de la Via Francigena en Belgique (AVFB) – The Friends of the Via Francigena in Belgium.
The AVFB presented its activities and a financial plan of the past year. The association is accredited with sales of Via Francigena Pilgrims’ Passports and guides, as demand for them is ever growing.
“Since 2013, more than 300 official passports have been distributed to pilgrims in the Brussels region. Every pilgrim usually comes to our headquarters before leaving: it is an opportunity to get to know each other, to exchange information on the Via Francigena and the trail – said President Vincent Imperiali in his introduction – The interest around Via Francigena continues to grow. There are also many pilgrims of Italian origin of the second generation who are enthusiastic to go to Italy, Rome or other places in Apulia on foot to reconnect with their land of origin.”
Imperiali then presented an interesting project to connect Brussels, a city in the heart of Europe, to the French city of Reims where the road joins the Via Francigena. The route includes a long trail of about 250 km that passes through Naumur, a town connected to Saint James’ Ways. It is about an 8-9-day route, which has already been identified with its mapping and geolocation underway. Many members and volunteers of the association have provided support for light signage actions along the route.
Following Imperiali’s introduction, the European Association of Via Francigena Ways presented Via Francigena as part of the Council of Europe’s Cultural Routes Programme. The president of the EAVF, Massimo Tedeschi, praised this initiative that unites two emblematic European cities of Brussels and Reims. “It is a project that strengthens the European soul of the Via Francigena and connects us directly to the capital of Europe,” he said.
EAVF director Luca Bruschi then presented ongoing projects of the Via Francigena, in particular preparation of the UNESCO World Heritage candidacy and creation of a paper-based guide of the English and French-Swiss sections of the route. Concluding with the EAVF vademecum on signage, he presented the European reference standards of the Via Francigena to be taken into account on the section Brussels-Reims, connected to Via Francigena.
During the Assembly, the exciting experience of Joahn Swinnen, Leuven University Professor active in cancer research, was shared. During the 2019summer he ran from Brussels to Rome with an average of 80-100 km per day in the name of his son’s battle against cancer. Swinnen has raised funds, sensitized institutions and wrote a book published in recent days.
Les Amis de la Via Francigena en Belgique (AVFB) is chaired by Vincent Imperiali who founded it in 2013 after having travelled the entire Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome. The association plays an important role in information dissemination for all pilgrims and travellers who want to start the Via Francigena. On the first Saturday of each month, the AVFB organizes an information session at the “Travelers Club” in Brussels open for everyone.
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