La via Francigena

Via Francigena

The Via Francigena, that goes from Canterbury to Rome, is a main road used in the past by thousands of pilgrims travelling to reach the tombs and places of the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul.

It was the most important of the great connecting roads that crossed Europe in the Middle Ages. For seven centuries, the entire medieval Western world travelled this road: it was the first real road to unite Europe.

Its name comes from the fact that it was used as a gateway to the Alps by the Frankish, who made it the most important connection between the Central European areas and the Mediterranean regions.

It was also the road taken by the Knights Templar who had to reach Jerusalem during the period of the Crusades. Because it is a route that crosses Europe and runs through much of Italy, from Gran San Bernardo to Rome and then Brindisi, it was an opportunity to bring together different local cultures, especially those moved by religion and tied to the monumental, artistic, historical and landscape heritage.

In history, the Via Francigena, like all major crossroads, made it possible to establish communication between different local cultures, also encouraging trade and relations between populations. It is no coincidence that the Council of Europe, on  April 21, 1994, declared the Via Francigena a “Great European Cultural Route”, like the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Another tradition is the Via Francigena del Sud, which went from Rome to the Adriatic coasts to continue the journey to Jerusalem. And, vice versa, from southern Italy it converged towards Rome, creating a network of routes, alternative routes as well, making it possible to cross swampy and malarial areas.

The route through the South in Lazio, today defined and well-marked, is the connection between the two great destinations, Rome and Jerusalem, the passage through a threshold dedicated to the discovery of the roots of memory. Through this route, it is possible to pass through a number of other regions, Campania, Molise, Basilicata and Puglia, along two roads, the Via Prenestina and the Via Appia, recomposing the unity of meaning and history with the Via Francigena del Nord.

The southern part of the Via Francigena, in its entirety from Lazio to Puglia, is in fact waiting to receive recognition as a Council of Europe route, in order to create a proper institutional continuity with the Franciscan route that runs from northern Europe.

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