Along the last 170 km of Saint Olav’s Way with Elena

25 July 2023

After the last rurAllure General Meeting in Norway, the Team Leader of the project for Communication Elena Dubinina from the European Association of the Via Francigena walked along the Saint Olav Ways along 140 km till the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. Below she shares her experience in a short interview. 

  • Could you tell us more about yourselves and you passion for walking?    

Considering myself a citizen of the world, I love wander around with my backpack on the shoulders, feeling a bit like a nomad and a bit like a snail – with all the necessary belongings on my back. 
Many years ago I left travelling in Asia, falling in love with this style of life which I try to continue on work breaks.  
After starting my job for the European Association of the Via Francigena ways, I was introduced to the world of historic routes and was immediately curious to discover them.  

  • How did you organize your trip along Saint Olav? 

I organised the trip all by myself, using a guidebook and the website of the St Olav ways in Norway. I followed the proposed stages which are in average of 20 km each and booked recommended accommodations.  

I started my trip in Oppdal, 140 km from the Nidaros Cathedral, and got there on 2 hours train ride from Trondheim, booked in advance.  

I had geo-tracks received from the guide and interactive map by the St Olav website.  My backpack was about 5-6 kg with a minimum of essentials.  


  • Which are the main points of interest of the route in your opinion? 

I really enjoyed the nature around – the bogs, swamps, forests and mountains. Walking in valleys and watching the fog covering mountains or observing little white flowers all over the swamps was a magic experience. It gave a feeling to be in a different word untouched by a human being.  

 It was also my very first time when I drank crystal clear water directly from rivers and creeks.  

I’ve also been amazed by traditional wooden architecture, looking like they came out of the fairy tales. The villages and farms I’ve passed were very bucolic showing off little wooden houses with roofs covered by grass and even little trees. 
I was fascinated by the wooden “stave” churches, those built with no nails. They say there is only 28 of them left in Norway out of hundreds built back in a day. I had a chance to visit 3 or 4 and enjoyed the wooden carvings and altars, painted walls and horse figures on the roofs. 
But the most of all I loved the hospitality and warm welcome by owners of farms I slept in. Those are usually traditional wooden cabins or houses from 18th century, which were used as smoke houses, animal barns or bread baking places. You share with other pilgrims and owners dinners and breakfasts, both cooked with the produce from the farm or near-by area. Walking along the Orkla, the best river in Norway for salmon fishing, I was treated with this delicious fish, jams and deserts made with local berries, traditional pancakes and waffles to list the least. 

Saying all this, I’m forgetting to mention the white nights or midnight sun phenomenon in Norway. The sun is always in the sky with a short break of a few hours, which gives you out-of-this-world experience. Such insolation gives energy, you don’t feel tired, the laundry gets dry overnight and…you cannot sleep in night! During the sleepless moments I would get out of my cabin to watch the nature, sun and the sky – all looking like it was 3pm!  


  • Have you ever walked other routes before?   

Every year I take my time to walk along one of the routes. Working for the Via Francigena for many years, I’ve been lucky to walk along its many stetches, such as the one in France in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Switzerland, Valle d’Aosta, Tuscany and Latium among others. 

Many years ago I also completed the Portuguese route of the St James ways and later the Menalon trail in Greece.  

St Olav way has always been on my agenda and I’m very happy to have finally done it.  


  • Any tips for pilgrims interesting in planning a walk in Norway? 

I would recommend to be prepared for any types of weather – during the hike the weather was very unstable and sometime it could have rained, be windy, stormy and very sunny on the very same day with a temperature rising and dropping rapidly. That is why I didn’t regret taking 2 pairs of walking shoes – one waterproof and one light and breathable. I changed them many times after heavy rains, walking in the forest with lots of moist and getting wet in the swamp.  

I also recommend taking a waterproof jacket, a wind-breaker and some thermic underwear.  

Three necessarily items in your backpack should also be sunscreen (it’s undeliverable how sunburn you can get in Norway), an anti-mosquito spray to protect yourself from these monsters in the forests and the mask to get a good-night sleep despite the midnight sun.  

One more recommendation is to check the public transport and learnt the schedule of a bus you can take in case you cannot walk anymore. On the stretch I picked there were very long and difficult for me stages, sometimes it was rainy and stormy, that’s why a possibility of taking a bus for the last kilometres of the stage was always a plan B.  

The route of St Olav doesn’t have a mobile app, but it has a very precise geo-mapping on their website also working offline. The signage along the route is super well done, however, I do recommend consulting the map, as sometime it can offer an alternative shorter route or help navigate, that’s why you might need to take a power bank to be always sure you can recharge your phone.  

Bon camino! 


Miguel Anxo López

FUN Technical Assistant for Heritage Management and Disseminations. Filmmaker and Writer he has studies on Cinema Direction and Laws. Guide to Novoneyra’s House Museum.

María González Borrajo

Responsible for Administrative task & management. Diploma in Social Work, specialized in Public administration and inclusion. More than 10 years of experience in management of various social care programs with different groups, developing and implementing projects of sociocultural social intervention.

Lía Pérez Domínguez

FUN Technician for Tourism Strategies and Internationalization. Phd in Journalism & Media and Postgraduate in Tourism Destination Marketing. More than 10 years of work experience in local tourism policies and strategies. Comms Officer for the European Cultural Route of Historic Thermal Towns (EHTTA) between 2016 and 2018 and certified SICTED Agent.

Cibrao Cabo

FUN Technician on Cultural Management. Phd in History and Postgraduate in Digitization of Cultural Heritage. Trained on Heritage Management, Museums and Archaeology he is responsible for the management of the FUN Archives and guide at Novoneyra’s House Museum.

Bruno Arias

FUN Junior Technical Assistant on Communications. Degree in Audiovisual Communications. Graphic design, audiovisual contents and DigitalMarketing tools.

Branca Novo Rey

FUN Arts Director and Member of FUN Board. Technician on Cultural Management. Phd on Art Education and Political Sciences and Master in Digital Publishing. Between 2015 and 2019 she was the Deputy Mayor of the City Council of Santiago de Compostela and Cultural Policies Councillor and since 2019 opposition councillor.

Ana Lombardero

FUN Technician on Sustainability and Environmental Awareness. PhD in Biology and MSC on Biodiversity and Conservation Biology. Experienced in Environmental Education (formal and non-formal, she has volunteered with organizations including the Max Planck Institute of Ornithology and the Doñana Biological Station (CSIC).

Silvia Cavinato

Silvia has a Master’s degree in History of Arts and Conservation of Artistic Heritage, obtained at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. From 2009 to 2012 she worked at the Diocesan Pilgrimages Office with the task of organizing pilgrimages to the Middle East, managing the collection of books “Bible and the Holy Land”, organizing the international cultural event “Lymph of the Olive” and to coordinate volunteers. Since 2012 she has worked at the Girolomoni Cultural Foundation in the Marche Region, with administrative tasks, organization of events and editing of the magazine Mediterraneo Dossier dedicated to biology, religion and current affairs. Since 2019, she has worked for the Homo Viator – San Teobaldo Foundation where she has the task of managing pilgrimages, the communication of the Foundation and supporting the Romea Strata project.

Raimondo Sinibaldi

Raimondo Sinibaldi has been the Director and the legal representative of the Pilgrimage Office of the Diocese of Vicenza for ten years and the President and the legal representative of the Homo Viator Foundation, wanted by the Diocese of Vicenza. For thirty years he has accompanied groups of pilgrims in Biblical Lands and in significant places of pilgrimage, such as Rome, Santiago de Compostela, Częstochowa, Lourdes, etc. In particular, as far as the Holy Land (Israel-Palestine) is concerned, he has the official guide certification issued by the competent ecclesiastical authorities, having completed studies in the Theological Faculty of Vicenza and at the Jesuit Community in Jerusalem. He contributed to the ideation and promotion of the Romea Strata project.

Luisa dal Prà

Romea Strata coordinator. has a Bachelor’s Degree in “Forest and Environmental Sciences and Technologies”. She worked at the “Regional Forest Service” in Veneto Region managing the administration of projects, as Director of extinguishing forest fire department and teaching courses in the
environmental sector. Since 2015 she works at the Pilgrimage office (now Homo Viator Foundation) managing the Romea Strata project. She traced the route, georeferenced it and collaborated in the realization of European projects for the Office.

Aleksandra Grbic

Aleksandra has a Master’s Degree in Sociology and social research. After graduation, she also attended two advanced training courses in “Innovation in social enterprises”(2015) and in “Project Management”(2019). In her last experience she worked for 4 years in a social cooperative as Accessible travel and tourism manager where her main tasks were: implementation of new accessible tourism services; organisation of holidays option for users with disabilities; management of fundraising activity; participation in EU-funded projects; care and management of the PR and communication activities; start up and management of a new accomodation facility. Since October 2019 she has worked for Homo Viator San Teobaldo Foundation as a referent for EU projects related to Romea Strata and its implementation.

Myra Stals

rurAllure project officer for EAVF. Myra has a background in Italian Language and Culture, and has previously worked in the field of International Higher Education. She will be managing the rurAllure communication channels and contribute to the Thermal Heritage pilot. Myra has a great love for bike touring and the environment, and is the founder and president of environmental initiative Cycle 2 Recycle.

Luca Bruschi

EAVF director. Leading the EAVF since 2013, Luca has extended work experience in international organisations and public bodies. With a background in art history and tourism, he is a freelance journalist, consultant, and a hiking enthusiast. Among his publications there are numerous articles in Italian internet media and a book “Via Francigena – una Strada Europea”.

Elena Dubinina

European projects and International relations advisor. With her extended work experience in international organisations and academic background in cultural management, Elena oversees international relations and manages European projects of the EAVF. A travel enthusiast, she spends her free time backpacking all over the world.

Maria Laura Gasparini

Maria Laura Gasparini is a tourism professional with over 10 years of work experience in the travel and hospitality sector. She has a degree in Tourism Economics and Management from the University of Bologna and has specialised in the role of sustainability indicators as policy making tools. Her main research interests are sustainability monitoring, community-based tourism and regenerative tourism. She is currently Research Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in Tourism, Bologna University, where she is contributing to the management of several EU funded projects, such as rurAllure and Fab Routes, focused on cultural routes and rural development.

Antonello Scorcu

Antonello Scorcu is a UNIBO Economic policy and Cultural Economist. His research interests in cultural economics are focussed on pricing and quality evaluation of fine art items. He served as a Director of the Bachelor Degree in Economics and Management of Tourist Services (2001-06) and of the Bachelor Degree in Economics, Markets and Tourist Systems (2006-09). Co-founder of the European Workshop on Applied Cultural Economics he has been a member of its Scientific Committee in 2001-17. Former Director of the UNIBO School for Higher studies in tourism, he is currently member of CAST, the UNIBO Center for tourism study. Among the publications in the field, “Cultural tourism and temporary art exhibitions in Italy: a panel data analysis”, in Statistical Method and Applications, 2011, with F. Di Lascio, S. Giannerini and G. Candela; “Seaside tourism and eco-labels: The economic impact of Blue Flags”, in Tourism Management, 2015, with C. Capacci and L. Vici and “On the relationship between reserve prices and low estimates in art auctions”, in Journal of Cultural Economics, 2018, with M. Castellani and P. Pattitoni.

Patrizia Battilani

Patrizia Battilani is a UNIBO Economic Historian. Her research focuses on cultural heritage valorisation, public history and economic history. She has been visiting scholar at the University of Sidney (2013) and Glasgow (2018 and 2019). She served as director of the Bachelor degree in Tourism Economics (2012-2016). She has experience on participating and managing national and international projects as Head of CAST, the UNIBO Center for tourism study. She is responsible for the UNIBO Unit of the Interreg Italy-Croatia project Recolor (Reviving and EnhanCing artwOrks and Landscapes Of the adRiatic). Between 2018 and 2019 she coordinated a transnational research on dissonant heritage focusing on the European cultural route ATRIUM. Her last publications include How to cope with dissonant heritage: a way towards sustainable tourism development in Journal of Sustainable tourism (2018) with A. Mariotti and C. Bernini.

Fiorella Dallari

Fiorella Dallari has been a Professor of Alma Mater (PAM) since 1 November 2018, former associate professor of Political and Economic Geography since 2004 at the Rimini Campus of the Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna in the Department for Life Quality Studies. In 1972 she began his research activity in the Faculty of Economics and from 1980 on didactic activity in the geographic field (disciplinary sector M-GGR / 02), with a 1st level national qualification (2012). In the field of research, she deals with tourism geography, economic-political geography and regional geography. Currently his research topics are: Local and sustainable development; Heritage and sustainable tourism; Pilgrimages, cultural itineraries and tourist routes; cooperation and sustainable tourism; Heritage, social participation and citizenship; UNESCO Heritage and Religious Heritage.

Fiorella is also founding-editor of “AlmaTourism, Journal of Tourism, Culture and Territorial Development”, a scientific journal of the University of Bologna. Engaged in national and international research projects, she collaborates with UNESCO (UNITWIN Network “Culture, Tourism, Development”; UNESCO Italian Chairs “Territory, Sustainability, Tourism” – TEST, of which she is responsible for tourism; Mediterranean Unesco Chairs – MUNCH), ICOMOS (International Scientific Committee on Places of Religion and Ritual – PRERICO member and coordinator of the Prerico National Committee). For nearly twenty years she has collaborated and collaborates with some itineraries recognized by the Council of Europe (in particular, she is president of European Association of the Vie Francigene, the Via Romea Germanica and the Romea Strata Scientific Committees).
Author of over 150 publications, she received the Vallega prize for research on cultural-historical itineraries (2008).

Alessia Mariotti

Alessia Mariotti was the head of the Center for Advanced Studies in Tourism (Rimini Campus) between 2014 and 2018 and is Associate professor in Economic Geography. Her main research interest are: cultural heritage, culture and local identity in a regional development perspective, participatory processes in local tourism development,
territorial partnership strategies and territorial promotion policies for sustainable tourism development, management plans and monitoring indicators for World Heritage sites, cultural routes and cultural itineraries. She teaches Tourism Systems and Cultural Routes, Geography
of Sustainable Tourism, Cultural Geography of Tourism, Local Development and Cultural Routes, Cultural Geography of Local Development, Tourism and Sport Geography. She is a member of the PhD doctoral committee in “ARCHITECTURE, DESIGN, PLANNING” – University of CAMERINO and Responsible for the University of Bologna of UNESCO/UNITWIN Network
“Culture, Tourism, Development”.

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