On 13th June, in the Sala Imperatori of the Associazione Civita (non-profit organisation) in Rome, the presentation of the 8th edition of the Festival of the Vie Francigene was held, which this year became the "European Festival Vie Francigene, Cammini, Ways and Chemins 2018" .
The Festival has been promoted by the European Association of the Via Francigena Ways with the collaboration of the same Association CIVITA.
"Since 2011, the year of launch, the creativity and organisation of many other accredited routes have been added to the organisation of the Festival - said the president of the European Association of Vie Francigene, Massimo Tedeschi - so it is not just the Via Francigena festival, but of the many European paths. A fact - underlined Tedeschi - of philosophical and political significance: the almost complete involvement of rural areas sheds a light on the small villages and the most inland and unknown areas".
Not being able to attend the press conference, the MEP Silvia Costa, historical "godmother" of the Francigena, sent greetings via video, underlining "the importance of the initiative in the European Year of Cultural Heritage". In addition, Nicola Maccanico, new secretary of CIVITA wanted to remember the European frame of the festival. "It is initiatives like these - he said - that make us understand that the European Union makes sense, even as an opportunity for all countries that are part of it. Sharing the richness of one's own culture and routes to be explored on foot avoids the danger of even putting this collaboration into question. Connecting tourism to agriculture, to food, as this year the festival is dedicated to "Food as Path of the Soul" - concluded Maccanico – It can also bring an important contribution to cultural heritage".
Sandro Polci has reviewed the most significant projects recorded in the festival calendar or realised in collaboration with organisations that have interests in common with the path and the protection of the environment. Like the pilot project Fitwalking/Walkin of the Di Liegro Foundation, dedicated to users with psychiatric disorders who, in "walking well", they also pay attention to the idea of hiking correctly to avoid injury, posture problems and misuse of the exercise, led by an expert coach. The experimentation of the journey, which will now be launched by the Foundation, “led the members of the "pilot" group towards the progressive acquisition of greater concentration, positively influencing the improvement of one's self-esteem and the perception and mastery of oneself and one's own body, as well as increasing social relations". Still considering disability, the festival this year, Polci points out the film "I'll push you",released in October, directed by Chris Karcher and Terry Parish. "This is a documentary on the 500-mile journey made by two friends who together face the Camino de Santiago, despite Patrick's serious neurological illness, forcing him into a wheelchair".
The research Borghi e Cibo shared by the Associazione Nazionale Borghi Autentici among other statistical data collected, has highlighted how food is emancipation. The agricultural enterprises in small towns - according to the research - support the food supply chain thanks to the participation of women, young people and foreigners. Women's farms account for 30.2% of the 448 thousand total: a growing cultural heritage, both in the recent past and in the present. Young people manage 15% of the 215 thousand start-up companies, which are expanding compared to other economic sectors. Foreigners are at 6.5%, while in the larger municipalities at 1.5%, with a differential of over 4 times that outlines the social and integration value of ‘little Italy’".
The long march in the mutated lands - continued Polci in his overview - is a journey-event that will start from Fabriano on 27th June to arrive in L'Aquila on 8th July. Twelve days of walking, over 200km through the lands "mutated" by the earthquake, to promote sustainable tourism and contribute to the economic and social re-launch of the territories crossed. The route winds through twelve municipalities of the regions in the Heart of Italy (Marche, Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzo) and follows the hiking trails of two important National Parks (Monti Sibillini National Park and Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park).
Polci recalled the great work of Legambiente's summer camps, at the presentation table with the national president, Stefano Ciafani, and organised by the environmental association in Italy and abroad. Also new is the collaboration with the National Council of Architects on the theme of: "Architects on the road", which was also dedicated the fifth edition of the Raffaele Sirica award that required the design of a circular hostel, or a "mobile hospitality module, eco-sustainable and of temporary use, in areas without accommodation or service infrastructures" that will be able to fill the gaps of some sites currently lacking infrastructures for hospitality along the way.
Among the long list (more than 500) of events dedicated to the theme of Food and the Soul, the two that are repeated over the years are: the "Francesco to Francesco" relay presented by President of Unpli, Antonino La Spina, who will leave from Rome the 14th September to end in Assisi on 4th October, retracing the places visited by San Francesco; and the Monteriggioni Slow travel Fest from 21st to 23rd September: three days of art, music and meetings in the splendid monumental complex of Abbadia a Isola, with a rich program of excursions to fully enjoy the territory of the Sienese Francigena on foot, on horseback, and by bike.
Simonetta Giordani, vice president of CIVITA and responsible for Sustainability and Institutional Affairs of Atlantia Spa, a company of Autostrade Spa, said that "as an infrastructural sector we wanted to support the organisation of the festival of the Francigena streets and roads that has important influence on the territory, at this favourable time for the hospitality industry and tourism in general, to become central to the government's agenda". Then the President of the Via Romea Germanica, Rodolfo Valentini, spoke of "a reality which began almost as a joke, which today measures 2200km, fully equipped for the use of pilgrims and well documented in the guides of Terra di Mezzo".
A positive reaction to the earthquake was one narrated by the President of the Unione Montana dei monti Azzurri, Giampiero Feliciotti, who spoke about the projects, the work and the strong resilience of the people of the Apennines, from the "voluntary taxi for those without cars to the great design of the "Quadriciclo" network of rural cycle-pedestrian routes of over 400km". The street art made in Macerata, under the sign of the journey, was presented by the deputy Stefania Monteverde, who defined the fact that 51 municipalities deciding to all unite as a "political miracle", in order to overcome the citizens’ resistance of the use of access tunnels to the elevators to the historical city because they are considered insecure and in any case not welcoming. "The idea - Monteverde said - was to paint the walls with the technique of anamorphosis, which dates back to the 1600 and which obliges the viewer to move, that is to walk, to see the figures, otherwise distorted, in their real size and shape".
Lastly, the Tourism Councillor of the region of Puglia, Aldo Patruno spoke of the Via Francigena in the South, finally ready to start from an administrative perspective. "We are aware of a partial infrastructural weakness. But the Francigena, as immaterial as it is real, is, together with the Via Appia, our element of identity for the strategic planning of tourism, in a network, and part of a single path in which Europe finds itself".
The president of the National Association of Authentic Villages and mayor of Melpignano, Ivan Stomeo concluded the meeting: "to walk - he said - means above all to guard the territory, control the territory. Respect for agrarian landscapes is a duty: if the soil is protected, food will be good and even the "social and shared" soul will be able to express itself at its best".
On the website www.festival.viefrancigene.org you can organise your own trip by consulting the maps and the calendar of events, depending on the period that everyone will have available for their holidays, short or long. Just choose the events or route by clicking the "buttons" where, when, which. Follow the event on Facebook through the official "Via Francigena" page.
Source: official press release