The Via Francigena has represented over the centuries, since the early Middle Ages, the itinerary followed by pilgrims from central and northern Europe, to reach Rome, seat of the Papacy and the heart of Christianity.
What is now known as the Via Francigena is the 1600 km itinerary. (80 stages) traveled in 79 days by Archbishop Sigeric in the year 990 to return to Canterbury from Rome after the investiture of the Archbishop's Pallium by Pope John XV.
Sigeric, at the invitation of the Pontiff, noted all the stages, one by day, that brought him back to Britain through Europe.
His diary is therefore the most authentic testimony of the route of the Via Francigena from Rome to the English Channel of that era.
This route in 2004 was declared by the Council of Europe "Great European Cultural Route", similar to the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
The name "Francigena" not only indicated a devotional path for the exclusive use of pilgrims, but a route traveled by merchants, armies, politicians and cultural men, thus creating a primary channel of communication and exchange and allowing all those interrelationships that led to the substantial unity of European culture between the 10th and 13th centuries.
With men and goods the Via Francigena brought ideas, technical and ideological innovations, favoring the comparison and integration of the various cultural currents.
The Via di Sigerico thus becomes an opportunity for the knowledge of European cultural identity in its historical, artistic and religious aspects as well as a real opportunity for territorial enhancement of the places crossed.
Along this path there were numerous stages for the refreshment of the Spirit and the body, for this reason it is still possible today within the territory to meet a series of Romanesque testimonies that lead us to relive the suggestions of the time.
It is in any case intuitable, that one cannot speak of Via Francigena as a well-defined route, but of a set of roads and paths.
There was therefore an ideal basic itinerary that connected the most famous places, while the route that connected them has never been known in detail, except for some sections obliged by the morphology of the territory.
The pilgrim's journey was therefore not a single itinerary, but a network of roads and paths used according to the seasons, political events and the Religious Order belonging to the same wanderers who often encountered marshes, marshes, impenetrable stretches of forest, adverse weather conditions, dangerous animals, banditry. These unforeseen events often forced pilgrims to look for easier and safer routes, thus creating countless local variants, without prejudice to the basic itinerary.
For all these reasons, choosing a route among many today is not easy, hence the choice of a route that combines and takes into account the different needs of the contemporary pilgrim, such as: spirituality, culture, tourism, associated with a safe route, possibly far from vehicular traffic and asphalt, with adequate water, services and rest areas.
The Canaveran stretch of the Via Francigena of Sigeric
The Canavesano route of the Via Francigena, in the Province of Turin, extends for a stretch of about 40 km, from the border with the Valle d'Aosta Region to the border with the Province of Biella; crossing the territory of the municipalities of: Carema, Settimo Vittone, Borgofranco d'Ivrea, Montalto Dora, Ivrea, Cascinette d'Ivrea, Burolo, Bollengo, Palazzo Canavese, Piverone.
This route, which respects the main itinerary taken by Archbishop Sigeric in 990 AD on his journey back from Rome to Canterbury and officially recognized by the Council of Europe, was traced and mapped by the Association "La Via Francigena di Sigerico", in full agreement with the municipal administrations concerned, who contributed with advice and indications to the drafting of the route.
The Association "La Via Francigena di Sigerico" has extended its intervention also to the three municipalities of the Province of Biella, with their full agreement: Viverone, Roppolo and Cavaglià, up to the border with the Province of Vercelli.
He has also collaborated and collaborates with the municipalities of the Valle d'Aosta Region for the final stretch of the itinerary coming from the Passo del Gran S. Bernardo and which ends with the Municipality of Pont Saint Martin also affiliated with "La Via Francigena di Sigerico".
The type of route has been designed to meet the needs of people who proceed on foot, by bicycle or on horseback; un trafficked roads, cartways and trails were selected. For cases where it was essential to travel for short stretches the busy and paved roads, safety measures were planned and requested from the local administrations.
The itinerary also took into account all the most important historical and cultural monuments present on the route, as well as the most significant naturalistic and environmental aspects.
At the same time, studies and research are underway aimed at enhancing some significant variants to the main route, motivated by the presence of important monuments of historical and cultural interest as well as significant landscape aspects and particular naturalistic situations near the main route but not touched by the same.