It’s a fearless choice to start a walking trip, and the first step is usually the hardest. The same happens for this Festival, enduringly dreamt and imagined in Fidenza as potential “cultural capital” of the Via Francigena: here the European Association of Via Francigena ways operates and was born; here began, a few years ago, the Via’s candidacy to the UNESCO’s heritage list; here is, geographically, the center of this long European itinerary. Such centrality appears to be a vocation.

The Festival emerges with the intention of sharing and valuing the entire route of the Via Francigena in its international, geographic and cultural context, starting from its recognition, in 1994, as “Cultural Route of the Council of Europe”. Not only: it also aims to value and promote the territories along the axis of the Via, such as Fidenza and its surroundings, and to strengthen the relationship between local inhabitants and the passage of the Via Francigena, through a form of storytelling that engages communities and builds awareness about local history and culture.

The purpose of the Francigena Fidenza Festival is to be an opportunity both to develop knowledge and culture about pilgrimage routes and to reflect and gain insights on sustainable tourism, locally to internationally, in line with current European directives applicable to the sector.

Restrictions related to Covid-19 hinder the Festival’s capacity to bloom at its maximum potential in this very first edition, especially impacting the desire to involve other territories, students from local schools, and volunteers assisting the events. However, there are many ideas to cultivate from now to next year’s edition. Our call to participate, from now on, is open to everyone.

In the meantime, 2021’s edition will take place safely and in line with anti-Covid rules. We can already announce that participation in conferences and hikes requires online reservations in advance through the official website (we request to fill a very simple form). Reservations will open on the 23rd of August.

The geography of the Festival
The Festival will take place along the city axis Cathedral – former Jesuits in Fidenza, with conferences and concerts in the beautiful Magnani Theater and art exhibitions and info points for visitors and citizens in the former high-school building, properly equipped. Information panels and city squares will also be set up for the occasion.
We already expect, in the next editions of the Festival, that events will be scattered across the entire territory, involving all neighbouring stages of the Via along the section between the Po river and the Cisa pass.

Polarity and plurality
The Festival will be over in a few days, but it aims to be a long lasting project that settles in the memory and in the vivacity of the city. A form of polarity exists between single events, the ephemeral, and their impacts, stable and enduring.
A form of plurality also exists within the Festival because of its many dimensions and the diversity of standpoints and languages used to describe the realm of Pilgrimage routes.

The Festival is developed by the Municipality of Fidenza with two strategic partners, collaborating for its creation and realization: the European Association of Via Francigena ways and Terre di Mezzo Editors, cultural reference point for Italian and European pilgrimage routes.

Photography: Lorenzo Moreni