On 27 and 28 January 2022 the University of Padua hosted European researchers, associations and cutting-edge technological organisations to discuss innovative solutions for the recovery of tourism in the post-covid time, placing an accent on the rural heritage along the main cultural and pilgrimage routes, in particular the Saint James’ Ways, three Roads to Rome – Via Francigena, Strata and Germanica, Saint Olav in Norway and the Maria Ut in Central Europe.
The enhancement of cultural heritage is the focus of the three-year rurAllure project (www.rurallure.eu) funded by the European Union and coordinated by the University of Vigo, Spain. The project conducts digital mapping of the points of interest along and in the vicinity of the routes to highlight literary, thermal, ethnographic, and naturalistic heritage and enrich travellers’ experience. After all, long-distant walkers and pilgrims represent a growing tourism segment due to the boom in outdoor activities and increasing interest in sustainable travel. “The project stems from the success of the famous Camino de Santiago – explains Martin Lopez, a researcher at the University of Vigo and rurAllure coordinator – which made us understand how the pilgrim’s experience can be more complete and not limited to simply moving between two geographical points.”
“The enhancement of cultural heritage, present in a widespread and multifaceted way in rural contexts, represents an extraordinary opportunity to learn about areas often seen as of lesser importance – adds Paola Zanovello, Associate Professor of Archeology at the University of Padua – Montegrotto and nearby Abano constitute the heart of the Euganean thermal springs and provide a privileged entrance to the protected territory of the Euganean Hills Regional Park, member of the EUROPARC federation since 2012 and holder of the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism.”
Fifteen rurAllure partners from six countries (Spain, Italy, Portugal, Norway, Hungary and Slovakia) participated in the meeting in presence and in virtual mode, taking part in numerous networking opportunities, such as the online press conference, and on-site visits to the Museum of Ancient Thermalism and Territory and an archaeological area of Montegrotto Terme, accompanied by Tiziana Privitera and Chiara Destro, archaeologists and founders of Lapis Archeologia.
“It is a great honour for the city of Montegrotto Terme to host such an ambitious project as rurAllure, which can allow small towns to make known their most ancestral characteristics. Montegrotto Terme, a thermal destination since 1000 BC, welcoming the best universities in Europe, can look towards the future linked not only to thermal tourism but also to cultural tourism “, said the Mayor Riccardo Mortandello who greeted the group. “RurAllure provides an interesting opportunity to implement ad hoc actions that have a positive impact on our territory – added the Councillor for culture of Montegrotto Terme Pier Luigi Sponton.
Thermalism, local areas and walking routes are keywords for this sector of the Veneto region, with its Euganean Hills, crossed by the Via Romea Strata on its way to Rome. Thermal water that flows naturally along the three Roads to Rome is at the center of the research conducted by the University of Padua, IUAV Venice and UAM Madrid together with the European Association of the Via Francigena and the Homo Viator Foundation.