Are you tired of the overcrowded places and long queues in Italy?
If you want to live a Slow Tourism experience, keep reading and check out how you can make it possible walking the Via Francigena.
Discover what means being part of this new slow movement while traveling in the Bel Paese.
The Via Francigena, a route across Europe
- 1 The Via Francigena, a route across Europe
- 2 Sigeric and the Via Francigena in the 10th Century
- 3 Slow Tourism and pilgrimage: a new trend
- 4 Why should I choose a Slow Tourism experience?
- 5 The meaning of Slow Tourism in the Via Francigena
- 6 What are the effects of my choice into the destination I visit?
- 7 Why should I choose to walk during my holidays?
- 8 If you are still not sure about the benefits from the slow tourism…
The Via Francigena is a route that starts in Canterbury and crosses 4 countries (Uk, France, Switzerland and Italy). It’s 1900 kms long!
Also known as the route of the French, this beautiful itinerary is a wonderful opportunity to get to know the people, the landscape and the history of each of these countries in a deeper way.
This pilgrimage is less known than others more popular (like the Camino de Santiago), but has an enormous historical and traditional value. Today, this can be seen as a slow tourism alternative to enjoy the best these countries can offer.
Moreover, it’s interesting to see the different meanings that this route covered during the centuries. Through the ages, it has not only been transitioned by pilgrims. In fact, merchants and armies used this path, too.
Sigeric and the Via Francigena in the 10th Century
The first who reported his travel along this long itinerary was a man called Sigeric.
After being nominated Archbishop of Canterbury in 991, Sigeric “the Serious” walked back home from Rome and recorded all his accommodations and places where he stopped.
Somehow, we can consider him as the first travel influencer of the history.
Thanks to his book we could understand some of the main historical and architectural features along the road.
Now, we have to consider all of this in a specific context. We have to imagine pilgrims in the Middle Age with sandals and tunic crossing the Alps (even in winter)!
Yes, exactly! This would look completely crazy nowadays but it’s what pilgrims used to do back then.
Definitely quite far from our modern idea of hiking.
Slow Tourism and pilgrimage: a new trend
Besides the incredible experience of discovering these four countries while walking, this is a unique opportunity to really get to know what you are visiting, at a slower pace.
Pilgrimage became more and more popular in the last years, due to a deep transformation in the travelers’ attitude.
Most of the times, pilgrimage doesn’t have much to do with its mystic- religious meaning. Mostly, it refers to the change we are looking for while having a walking challenge.
Apparently, people concern more than before and this has a consequence on the final election of the experience.
To begin with, we worry more about our impact on the planet, and there’s a significant growth in the eco-friendly opportunities to travel.
Then, there is a deeper assessment of their responsibilities over the local communities. Such as seeing on how travelers’ presence can have a positive or negative percussion on them.
In these past years, the most touristic cities protested against the unsustainability of tourism massification and this topic is now part of the political agenda of each European country.
Furthermore, there is a general trend in preferring quality to quantity.
Travelers give more importance to a real experience of few days than to have a void encounter of a longer period of time.
As a matter of fact, if you are among those travelers who choose this way, you want to achieve a true and real experience.
If you want to know how you can apply this way of traveling along the Via Francigena, you should first understand what the new philosophy of the Slow Tourism means.
Why should I choose a Slow Tourism experience?
Society has been changing in the last decades and we can recognize a stronger interest in having a mindful and authentic approach to the destination we choose.
Whereas, in our lives we are used to be in a rush all the time, working and living at an accelerate rhythm, on our free time we want to slow down and enjoy little things.
Nowadays, who travels to a foreign country is not only interested in taking pictures of the most famous monuments and coming back with a nice suntan.
On the contrary, they are looking for something more.
For this reason, this new travel phenomenon is seeking a full immersion in the country that people visit.
Therefore, they want to live something that can strenghten understanding between different cultures and increase the awareness of identity treats.
Moreover, this more relaxed way to enjoy the new countries, will allow the travelers to have enough time to see what happens around them.
Such as, participating in the traditional festivals and discovering the less known local habits.
In the end, is not this the real meaning of traveling?
The meaning of Slow Tourism in the Via Francigena
Certainly, if you are part of this group of people, in Galiwonders we think that you might be interested in walking the Via Francigena.
Even though the itinerary pass by some very touristic places, like Lucca, San Gimignano and Siena in Tuscany or Viterbo and Rome in Lazio, you will have the opportunity to walk on your own most of the time.
However, this doesn’t mean that you have to be alone during this experience.
On the whole, many other pilgrims will walk on the same route with you. As a fact, choosing this experience you will test out how interculturalism is a very important feature of this experience.
You will meet people from all around the world, who share your same values. Also, you will be able to get closer to the daily life of who live in the place you decided to visit.
Slow tourism along the Via Francigena will make you know the real side of the destination.
You will live a 360º experience!
During this experience you will have the opportunity to get to know the less known villages and admire Italy from a unique point of view. Far from the noise of the most typical destinations, you will have time to discover beautiful gems such as San Miniato, Monteriggioni or Sutri.
For instance, living like locals, in places where people can talk to you with calm and patience, without the stress of attending many other tourists at the same time.
This walk will give you time to breath, watch, listen, taste and touch. Immersed in the nature you will be able to wonder in the heart of the Bel Paese.
What are the effects of my choice into the destination I visit?
If you stop in a typical Italian village, you can get to know the real traditions and this will contribute in maintaining that tradition alive.
For example, you can see how the hand made products are still done after centuries and how it taste the real local food. This will mean an economic income for who still works in such a traditional way and will help him/her to not make these knowledge disappear.
Secondly, this trend in tourism is making possible a different and more sustainable approach to the cultural heritage management, too.
In sum, small villages, museums, interpretation centres and infrastructures of small dimensions, can’t count on the same amount of money than the main cities. So the impact of your travel in these areas, will make a difference within these places.
Lastly, your footprint will be less heavy. Because of your choice to move in an alternative way along the country, you won’t cause as many negative effects on the destination as mass tourism does.
Why should I choose to walk during my holidays?
Many of you might think in one of the following questions:
Why should I decide to spend my holidays in making effort instead of relaxing?
Why should I walk 20 km per day instead of lying down on a sandy beach?
Well, to be honest, I can’t give you a unique convincing answer to this, but let’s give it a try.
First, I could tell you that it has been demonstrated that practicing sports is good for your health and your mind.
But, you already knew this, right?
Also, I could remind you that walking is a soft activity, not too hard to practice, and you can do it at any age. As consequence, this activity will increase your dopamine levels. And eventually, you will feel happier and more motivated.
In addition to this, you will be part of an innovative community.
You will create strong relationships with people from all over the world, who share your same idea of traveling.
If you are still not sure about the benefits from the slow tourism…
Getting enough sunlight, sleeping enough hours and eating good are also good practices that will make you release more dopamines. And, as we said, this will consequently create feelings of reward and pleasure.
If you are going to walk in Italy you will definitely find sun and good food and there’s no doubt that your sleep will be deep and intense if you walk 20 km per day or more!
Moreover, while you walk in the nature, you will be experiencing something similar to the meditation. This won’t require you to stop and sit down to meditate for an hour, even though you can do it if you’ ld like to.
In fact, the “meditation” we are talking about, is a connection with the landscape, with the threes, the water and the air. Due to this, you will get many benefits from an authentic dialogue with the natural world that surrounds us.
This will partially change you and somehow you will be back home different.
That’s why, I suggest you to read about another post about the therapeutic effects of walking. Even though, it’s talking about the Camino de Santiago, it’s working with any walk.
In conclusion, we can consider this new travel philosophy as a will to return to the most basic values of tourism. In part depending on the development of our society, this new slow movement is a great opportunity to think in which way we want to dedicate time and attention in our experience abroad.