The Movimento Lento association, in collaboration with the European Association of Via Francigena Ways (EAVF), came up with the idea to create a network among associations along the Italian Francigena from the Great St Bernard Pass to Rome, who would become "Trail Angels", inspired by volunteers who look after routes in the USA and other foreign countries.
Movimento Lento organised the first meeting in Milan on 9th March 2019 during the 'Fa la Cosa Giusta' fair, inviting all active associations of the territory to attend. The turn-out was huge, with over 25 delegates representing 19 associations and companies. Other entities who could not make it also expressed their interest in the project.
During the reunion, they decided to create an information channel for the associations through a Google group, so interested and available associations can look after the route and assign sections to each one. The EAVF offered free signage stickers necessary for maintenance and visibility on social media for initiatives linked to the care and animation of the route.
Until today there was no coordination among associations, nor a "map" of safeguarded routes. The Via Francigena, like all routes, needs constant care and attention. Some Italian regions and municipalities have grasped the importance of maintenance, they've collected funds and created requirements to guarantee the route remains protected, secure and accessible. Other administrations, perhaps not because they lack the will or sensitivity, but because funds are more and more scarce, have not done the same.
Along some sections of the route, local associations have been passionate about route maintenance and signage for years, carrying out excellent work greatly appreciated by pilgrims, but not considered and supported enough by local administrations.
Maintenance is currently under way and associations are evaluating the idea of organising a 2020 relay along the whole Italian section of the Via Francigena, to celebrate the importance of route care and coordination among the many entities which dedicate time and resources to this important objective.
- Alberto Conte president of the Movimento Lento Association -