Canterbury: AEVF meets Mr Robert Thomas, a new elected Leader of a municipal government

North and South of the Via Francigena are getting closer and closer. While the members are looking forward to participating in the upcoming General Assembly of the European Association of the Via Francigena Ways (AEVF) in Bari, to take place on 18 October 2019, the future of the European Cultural Route has been discussed in Canterbury. Recently, the president of the AEVF Mr Massimo Tedeschi has met Mr Robert Thomas, new Leader of the Canterbury City Council (CCC), elected in May 2019.

The meeting was focused on the following: the UNESCO World Heritage candidacy of the Via Francigena, the realisation of the official guide from Canterbury to Grand Saint Bernard Pass and a possibility of holding the AEVF’s General Assembly in Canterbury. Mr Colin Carmichael, the Chief Executive of the CCC, and Ms Velia Coffey, former Deputy Director General, attended the meeting and expressed their interest in the above-mentioned activities.

"The new administration led by Mr Robert Thomas pays close attention at the Via Francigena and the UNESCO World Heritage candidacy project. The CCC is committed to promote the Via together with the county of Kent and the government of London. It is an important development towards the next project step involving Italy, France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom: presentation of the European framework - excellently drafted by the working group coordinated by our Association – in order to proceed with the Via Francigena nomination to the UNESCO World Heritage List ”confirms Mr Tedeschi.

The Cathedral of Canterbury was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988. Next to the south portico of the Cathedral lays the stone that indicates the zero kilometre of the Via Francigena - a symbolic place for all pilgrims. The Via Francigena becoming UNESCO World Heritage in its integrity would bring a great added value to the route, which heritage is already present on the UNESCO List as singular sites along the path.

The English section of the Via Francigena always works on infrastructure development. "There was a discussion about the 30 kilometres section of the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Dover: it already has good signage and maintenance - explains Mr Tedeschi - All without forgetting promotion and communication activities focused on the pilgrims who want to start the journey. For those departing from Canterbury, I remember that the city's tourist office at the Beany Museum provided official AEVF pilgrims’ passwords. Just in these days, four pilgrims from Parma leave from this splendid city in a southern direction”.

Cultural route and publishing: the first official Via Francigena guide on the stretch from Canterbury to the Grand Saint Bernard Pass is to be printed by the Swiss publisher Favre from Lausanne.

So many goals are set for this year. The idea of holding the AEVF General Assembly in England can soon materialise, as the proposal, launched by the President Tedeschi a long time ago, was positively received by the interlocutors, who are to propose a suitable date in spring next year.

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