The Francigena Road has been over the centuries the itinerary followed by the pilgrims from central-northern Europe to reach Rome, home of the Papacy and the heart of Christianity.
What is now known is that the Francigena Road is a 1600 km itinerary. (80 stages) It was crossed in 79 days by Archbishop Sigerico in 990, while returning to Canterbury from Rome after his investment by Pope John XV's.
Sigerico, as suggested by the Pope, noted all the passages that brought him back to Britain through Europe.
His diary is therefore the most authentic testimony of the Francigena route from Rome to the English Channel at that time.
In 2004 the route was declared a "Great European Cultural Route" by the Council of Europe, like Santiago de Compostela’s Path in Spain.
The "Francigena" name did not only indicate a devotional path just for the pilgrims: it was in fact a route used by merchants, armies, politicians and artists, thus creating a primary channel of communication and exchange, allowing the connections that led to the unity of European cultures between the X and XIII Century.
With men and goods, the Francigena Road brought ideas, technical and ideological innovations, favoring the integration of different cultural currents.
The Sigerico Street thus has becomes an occasion to understand the European cultural identity in all its historical, artistic and religious aspects as well as an opportunity for territorial enhancement.
Along this route there were many refreshment areas for the Spirit and of the body, and today it’s still possible to see a series of Romanesque constructions that revive the atmosphere of the time.
The Francigena Road is not a well-defined route, but of a series of roads and paths.
There was a route connecting the most well-known areas, while the pathway that joined them was not known in detail, except for some areas bounded by the land.
The pilgrim's journey was not a single itinerary, but a network of roads and paths used according to the seasons, political events and the Religious Orders: travelers would often encountered swamps, impenetrable woodlands, difficult atmospheric conditions, dangerous animals, and bandits. In these unpredictable times pilgrims were often forced to look for easier and safer paths, thus creating endless local variations.
Choosing a single route is not an easy task, so it’s up to the travelers to choose the path which suits their interests: spirituality, culture, tourism, a safe route, possibly far from traffic and concrete, with adequate water supply, services and parking areas.
The Canavese part of the Francigena Road of Sigerico
The Canavese route of Via Francigena, in the Province of Turin, is about 40 Km long, from the border with the Val d'Aosta Region to the border with the Province of Biella; crossing the councils of: Carema, Settimo Vittone, Ivory Borgofranco, Montalto Dora, Ivrea, Cascinette d'Ivrea, Burolo, Bollengo, Palazzo Canavese, Piverone.
This route follows the main route followed by Archbishop Sigerico in 990 AD. on his return journey from Rome to Canterbury, and is officially recognized by the Council of Europe. It was traced and mapped by the Association "La Via Francigena di Sigerico ", in accordance with the relevant Municipal Administrations, which provided advice and guidance during the preparation of the route.
The Association "La Via Francigena di Sigerico" worked on three council areas of the Province of Biella, with their complete agreement: Viverone, Roppolo and Cavaglià, to the border with the Province of Vercelli.
The Association also worked and collaborated with the municipalities of the Aosta Valley Region for the final part of the route, from the Passo del Gran San Bernardo and ending with the Pont Saint Martin municipality also in collaboration with "La Via Francigena di Sigerico".
The route has been designed to meet the needs of people walking, cycling or hiking; mostly quiet roads and trails were selected. When it’s necessary to travel along busy and paved roads for short distances, local authorities have provided safety measures.
The itinerary has also taken into account all the most important historical and cultural monuments on the way, as well as the most significant natural and environmental features.
There have been plenty of studies and research aimed at valorizing some significant variations to the main route, motivated by the presence of important monuments of cultural historical interest, as well as landscapes and naturalistic views close to but not touched by the main path