On 9 July 2022 the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and the European Association of the Via Francigena ways organised an accessibility workshop in Bagno Vignoni in the heart of Tuscany, Italy.
The workshop conducted for the visually impaired was focused on the enhancement of sensory skills to experience the Via Francigena and its thermal heritage. The event was attended by Marco Bartoli, Vice Mayor of San Quirico d’Orcia, Virginia Pecci, Responsible for Administrative Area, and Massimo Vita, the President of the Siena and Florence section of the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired, with other volunteers. In his speech, the Vice Mayor in charge of tourism and culture stressed attention that “it is essential to try to understand the needs of all types of public because this landscape belongs to everyone, without exception”. Indeed, Bagno Vignoni is famous for its emblematic thermal pool at the central town square and thermal heritage, venerated since the pagan times.
During the workshop, the group was guided by the sound of water that flows from the central pool into the canal, now partially covered, and then gushes into the Park of Mills (Parco dei Mulini) below. The urban maps and 3D models of the topography designed by the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid team and the Italian geologist Riccardo Rocca allowed the participants to understand the geographic formation and geological composition of this area, including differences in height and indications in Braille. Also, a street map created by Laura García (UAM) and a geological section drawn at the Geology and Geochemistry department of the UAM were printed in relief by @ilunion including text in Braille.
“It was not a guided tour, but a moment of sharing where the feedback of those present played a fundamental role in creating an itinerary that is increasingly accessible to those with visual impairments ” – said Simona Spinola, EAVF communications manager.
The UAM team, made up of the archaeologist Silvia González Soutelo, the geographer Laura García Juan and the geologist Miguel Gómez-Heras, underlined that inclusive knowledge is a way to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Following the philosophy of “nothing for us, without us” people with different disabilities are invited to be active creators of content and not mere receivers. This workshop has been crucial to integrate and develop experiences and content for all kinds of people based on the design of inclusive dissemination materials.
The event ended with a “sensorial tasting” of thermal waters collected from the sites along the Via Francigena and other sources, to understand their properties and characteristics through smell and taste.