The Way of St. Francis of Assisi

Project RECULTIVATUR Best Practice The Way of St. Francis of Assisi Name of Project Partner: LANCM – Lanciano Municipality 1    1. GENERAL INFORM...
Author: Myron Cross
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Project RECULTIVATUR Best Practice

The Way of St. Francis of Assisi

Name of Project Partner: LANCM – Lanciano Municipality




Name of the organisation: Central Office for St. Francis’ Way

Status of the organisation: Tourist Board of Rieti

Address: Cintia, 87 - 02100 Rieti Contact person: _____________________ Phone: +39 0746 201146 Fax: +39 0746 270446 E-mail : [email protected] Web site :


2. SUMMARY DESCRIPTION Short description of the project (6 to 10 lines):

Context and significance (location, partnership, main source of funding): Significance (religious and tourism) St.Francis’ Way is the path that the Saint walked in the Sacred Valley. The journey runs through trails and roads that St. Francis deeply loved, in a spectacular landscape where pilgrims feel an unique experience of spirituality and purity. St. Francis made the Rieti Valley his homeland, along with Assisi and La Verna. This magnificent plain, surrounded by hills and mountains, was by then known as the Sacred Valley. The Walk in the footsteps of St. Francis was born thanks to project "La Via Francigena of St. Francis-The Way of Rome," and produced and promoted by the Region of Umbria, the Lazio Region, the Catholic Organisation “Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi” and the Routes of Europe G.E.I.E.

A brief project description (objectives, field of activity, target audience and approach followed) The Way is the brainchild of the Director of Rieti’s Tourist Board, Mr. Diego Di Paolo, and was made possible thanks to the contribution of the State Forest Department and the synergy with the institutions of the territory. The Walk, opened in 2003, is 80 km long and is divided into 8 stages. The route can be entirely covered on foot, on horseback or by mountain bike.

Results Currently, the Walk has been integrated with other stages that have played an important role in the Saint’s life. From Assisi the path goes to Rieti, and then to Rome through the Sacred Valley, for a total length of 276 km in the Umbria Region, with eighteen stages on foot and eight stages reachable by bike. The traveler can choose to travel it all (about 16 days) or do the stages accordingly to his/her liking and physical training.


3. CATEGORIES Ownership / main stakeholders

Target Audiences 

Interest area  X Citizens X Public Sector

X Stakeholders

F Private Sector X Tourist Sector

X National tourists

X Religious Sector

X International tourists

X Culture Sector

X Local and regional authorities

F Other F

X Pilgrims F Other



  4. TOURIST SERVICES 10 - 15 lines (Describe the tourist services and also the type of services which are provided in the study area)

The pilgrims and religious tourists might prefer forms of hospitality that meet their own personal motivations, such as religious houses, monasteries and convents. The census of this sector has identified more than 150 accommodation facilities in the regional territory that are characterized by services specifically offered to religious tourism; these are mostly concentrated in or nearby Assisi. Related activities include thirty religious museums located throughout the region; several essential services are provided, consisting of professional religious tourist guides ( , and specific religious services and rites, like masses, spiritual retreats, prayer meetings, as well as conferences, courses, camps etc. Information and Welcoming Offices are present all throughout the region. Franchising of religious products is a well established activity and many kinds of items can be purchased in the stores located across the territory, as well as inside the Basilica of St. Francis, and also through the folllowing websites:, %20oggettistica%20varia%20e%20gadgets&localita=Centro%20Storico%20/%2 0Historic%20Centre&ling=I&nv=0&prov=pag=1&p=




5.CONTEXT   10 - 15 lines (Describe briefly the background of the case study. Specify the location, and the socioeconomic and technical reasons for the project being carried out)

Francis was born in Assisi (1181/1182) and his holy presence lives now in the small towns and isolated places where he loved to retreat and pray. The extraordinary human and spiritual life of St. Francis, the patron Saint of Italy, is the key point of the history of Umbria. This splendid region exploded on the international scene by just telling the world the story of the Saint, wonderfully depicted on the walls of the Assisi’s Basilica. After St. Francis, not just Christian philosophy but also the Italian art and architecture were never the same, revolutionized by the wonderful example of the great church built to honor the relics of the Saint and his companion St. Clare, in that incomparable "workshop" that was Assisi in the thirteenth century. Needless to say, technical and socioeconomic reasons for this project derived from the flow of pilgrims and tourists eager to know the places of St. Francis and learn more closely his message, rich of elements of glorious spiritual and social originality that led to the Saint’s great success at his time and that is still relevant and deeply meaningful today.


6. OBJECTIVES   6 to 10 lines (Formulate the aim of project, specific objectives and strategies to achieve them)

The realisation of the St. Francis’ Way that from Umbria, throughout the Holy Valley of Rieti, reaches St. Peter’s burial site in Rome, is part of this broad cultural framework and aims to reestablish and strengthen the value of the pilgrimage, as common heritage of the European civilization. The project is promoted and enhanced through a system of signposting on the site of each sanctuary along the way, as well as integrated into communication programs, advertising campaigns in print and on billboards and direct mail to religious groups. Furthermore, the project commends eco-tourism, hiking and biking and is promoted through four websites.



7. KEY POLICIES   6 to 10 lines (What are the policies affecting the development of the project? eg market barriers addressed, multi-year funding levels.) –

Character of intervention (quantitative and qualitative information)

The project documentation and reference material have been prepared by the Region of Umbria, the Regional Tourist Board, the provinces of Perugia and Terni, the twelve Tourist Services Associates and the Umbria Municipalities. The Region of Umbria has been one of the most active institutions also on the occasion of the 2000 Jubilee, to create and foster religious trails through different kind of enterprises, carried out in a institutional context as well as with regard to European Union financing.


8. PROCESS AND PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION   (20 to 30 lines) (Describe the project including key concepts and approach followed. – –

Outcomes and results of intervention Useful experiences, adaptable ideas

After a series of meetings, in 2008 the partnership between Assisi and Santiago de Compostela was formalized. The link between the two cities is ancient indeed: Assisi and the Portiuncula in Umbria, Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, along with Rome and Jerusalem, were the four cities where the faithful could gain the plenary indulgence. In 1090, the church of St. James of Muro Rupto was built in Assisi in order to replace a pilgrimage to Santiago. In the fourteenth century, a brotherhood welcomed numerous pilgrims who returned from Compostela, fostering a devotion that, in the fifteenth century, will be depicted in the Oratory of the Pilgrims, in one of the most beautiful representations of the famous miracle "of the pilgrim, the gallows and the rooster". What gives meaning and value to the relationship between the two cities and regions is the pilgrimage of St. Francis to Santiago, as written in the fourth chapter of his Fioretti and most likely occurred during the Saint’s journey to Spain. The agreement was formally signed in two solemn ceremonies attended by the Mayors and City Councils of Assisi and Santiago de Compostela, along with the delegations of the Italian Centre for Compostelan Studies and the Rector of the Confraternity of Saint James of Compostela. The agreement falls within the full calendar of cultural events aimed to tighten over the years the relationship between the two regions and their cities, and praise the Franciscan and Compostelan values and traditions they do have in common.



      9. PROJECT EVALUATION AND ADAPTABILITY   (6 to 10 lines) (Describe the main elements associated with the project evaluation and adaptability. Activities related to project evaluation and feedback mechanism should be detailed.)

Along the paths, pilgrims will be guided by wood signs and directional arrows placed on the towns’ stre echanism should be detailed.) ets. To monitor the number of pilgrims, the Testimonium viae Francisci was established, with a certificate issued jointly by the Papal Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli (Saint Mary of the Angels), the Diocese of Assisi and given to the pilgrims who travel the paths on foot, by bicycle or on horseback. In order to obtain the Testimonium viae Francisci, the traveler must submit in person the stamped and dated credential, as proof to have traveled the paths for at least 75 km on foot and 150 km on horseback or riding a bike to reach the burial site of St. Francis.



10. FINANCIAL RESOURCES AND PARTNERS 6 to 10 lines (Mention the amounts (in EUR) and the sources of funding. Describe the partners and specify the role of the promotor in the project.)

The project has initially been focused on the identification of the routes that are currently being proposed to the pilgrims, with the aim of enhancing the Umbria Region as a religious tourism destination. This has been done also through initiatives and projects carried out by public Authorities institutionally responsible for promoting tourism in the region: the Umbria Region, the Tourist Board, the Region’s provinces, the Regional Tourist Services Associates, all regional Municipalities. The information obtained thus far has been implemented with itineraries and tourist packages proposed by religious orders, associations of Catholic inspiration, and other private entities.



11. RESULTS   10 to 20 lines (Please provide: details of press coverage, significant meetings held, etc. Describe to what extent the objectives listed above were realised, e.g. decision making process influenced, behavioural change, jobs created, tourist procedure, tourist destination etc)

Within the project, it was set up a religious tourism "rating" to measure the capacity of the Region to offer a comprehensive product. So, key factors have been identified and recorded for each regional tourism district, like religious accommodation and places of religious interest. The purpose of this survey is to provide the customer with a set of cognitive elements qualified and promoted as products aimed to religious tourism. To integrate and compare the results of the survey, some local stakeholders were involved in the project; their different visions and proposals helped to better identify the criticality of the program and offered appropriate tools to ameliorate it.


12. SUSTAINABILITY and MARKET EFFECT   (6 to 10 lines) (Give the project outcome in terms of tourism)

Religious tourism is a cultural phenomenon in constant evolution, conveying spiritual and religious quest as well as cultural and social needs. The new religious tourism proposal is based on the presence in a specific territory of two groups of offerings: one aimed exclusively at religious tourism, the other including also regular tourism. According to the World Tourism Organization, religious tourism is today a sector of the travel industry with the highest growth rate. Eurispes estimates an annual growth rate of a steady 4.3%; every year over 14 million pilgrims visit the Italian sacred places, for an estimated income of 60 billion euros. Ultimately, a destination must respond to opportunities offered by religious tourism but must also be ready to handle visitors specific needs in order to be sustainable in the course of time and to protect the integrity and significance of the religious sites.