MAGNA VIA FRANCIGENA
Magna Via Francigena – Il Cammino di Sicilia is a project created by the association ONLUS Amici dei Cammini Francigeni di Sicilia. The project involves a part of the historic ways, 180 km of almost 1000 km of roads, paths and “trazzere” (in Sicily, road that crosses the fields and serves the passage of herds) along the entire island. The project began in 2009; since 2012 a group of volunteers study, search and work on the ground and map new stretchs of road. A network that includes more than 80 local authorities, 6 diocese and people who decide every day to show the reality of Sicily, among lights and shades. The project was presented in 2017, in collaboration with Assessorato al Turismo della Regione Siciliana and 12 councils of Sicily. In this first year, around 1000 excursionists discovered the 180km of the Magna Via Francigena.
The project of the Magna Via Francigena, the Great Frankish Road, has historical roots. As the main ground connection between the north and the south coast, the ancient road between Agrigento and Palermo has always been an important trade route in Sicily which facilitated the cultural diffusion from the north to the south by moving people, animals and goods across the island. This route was shaped by numerous civilizations. The Greeks who settled in Sicily in the 8 th century B.C. and founded their Sikelian city-states, poleis, the Romans who followed this route to seize Panormus after having conquered Akragas, the Byzantines who arrived shortly thereafter and established Sicily as a theme, a district of their empire, the Muslim warriors from northern Africa, Arabia and Spain who invaded the island in the 9 th century and transformed the roads and the villages which prospered during the following centuries and were eventually abandoned, until the Frankish knights arrived from Normandy and re-christianized the entire territory. The Norman knights restored the Greek-Byzantine churches, built new Catholic churches and thus laid the foundation for the cultural mix that had a lasting effect on the Sicilian society.
The Magna Via is more than just a series of paths leading across the countryside and through the towns. It is a legacy of past civilizations, a system of royal roads marked by the Bourbons in their royal land registers towards the end of the 19 th century. Thanks to this historical background the project of the Magna Via delivered a walkable route. A way that reflects what Sicilians use to sing about in their traditional songs: “We are Sicilians, we sing cheerfully, the strength of the ancient knights runs in our blood, the Normans, Greeks, Arabs and Spanish that are Sicily’s pride…”.
The credential and hospitality
The credential is the passport that evidences the pilgrim status of the bearers, it gives access to the pilgrim hospitality along the way and it allows pilgrims to collect stamps at each stage to obtain their Testimonium, a completion certificate of the pilgrimage.
For more information:
Magna Via Francigena
Magna Via Francigena Facebook
Guide: Terre di Mezzo Editore
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