To expand the experience of a journey through a proposal dedicated to well-being. This is the idea behind “Via Francigena Terme” the project launched by the municipality of Gambassi Terme, in collaboration with Regione Toscana, the European Association of Via Francigena Ways (AEVF) and FEDERTERME.
The meeting was presented in Florence in the Palazzo della Regione Toscana. The Via Francigena is a route linked to slow and experiential tourism. From September, those traveling will be able to combine the walk with relaxation of the body using thermal water. In recent months, a pilot project has been set up in the Tuscan stretch of the route with the aim of offering a facilitated service to those who follow the Via Francigena on foot or by bicycle. The spa facilities are committed to welcoming pilgrims with an appropriate offer related to transportation, reception and care of the body with moments of thermal well-being and reduced rates for those traveling with the EAVF Pilgrim Passport. To date there are six thermal establishments, including Montecatini and Chianciano, which have joined the still expanding project.
Tuscany is a land strongly characterised by thermal resources, many of which are along the Via Francigena itself or within a short radius, within 15 kilometres. The thermal water is combined with a pause and an important moment of psycho-physical recovery after the efforts of the journey. For many centuries it has been a source for regenerating one’s body. Thermal water, therefore, as a refreshment, purity, well-being for the pilgrims’ bodies, is a precious and beneficial resource that joins the path.
“The Terme della Via Francigena will help us to discover the values of the region of Tuscany with an even slower time that allows us to get in touch with the territory – says Stefano Romagnoli for the region – The project will start in mid-September with the spa offers for pilgrims, a reception system adapted to the needs of slow travellers, integrated communication and special rates for those interested in using this service“.
The Mayor of Gambassi Terme, Paolo Campinoti, expresses satisfaction for this new project born from collaboration with the territory. “The Baths of Gambassi – he says – have been specially dedicated to the Via Francigena and attract many visitors every year, tourists and travellers who come here via the Via Francigena. Our spa becomes a place of wellbeing, not only physical but also cultural“.
The EAVF President, Massimo Tedeschi, hopes to be able to extend the project to other territories. “Via Francigena Termale affects all the Via Francigena on a European scale – explains Tedeschi – It enters the philosophy of the journey, that is to promote and develop the route in all its dimensions. From dialogue, to social cohesion, to the development of the territory, it invites us to be a part of the Council of Europe to which the Via Francigena and the cultural routes refer themselves“.
Dedicated support also comes from Federterme and the world of spa companies, such as those of Chianciano, represented by Mauro Della Lena, who stressed the importance of the combination of physical well-being and experiential tourism along the paths.
The project will find ample space and visibility on the European Association of Via Francigena Ways website, which supplies information, proposals, and offers for pilgrims looking for moments of thermal refreshment along the Via Francigena.