A cultural geography of via Francigena: historical and modern mobilities along a European cultural route

Porcelloni, Leonardo (2023) A cultural geography of via Francigena: historical and modern mobilities along a European cultural route. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

PDF (Thesis post Viva) (Thesis - as examined) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Available under Licence Creative Commons Attribution.
Download (201MB) | Preview


This thesis investigates historical and modern mobilities and their interrelationship. The via Francigena, and its reinvention as a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe, is the principal focus of study. Conceptually and methodologically, the road networks and the people that travel on them become the perspective through which to investigate the territory. The via Francigena has an articulated and heterogeneous composition, both with respect to its medieval context and as a cultural itinerary.

It therefore poses challenges both in terms of its geo-historical documentation and the ongoing material and cultural delineation of the itinerary. The investigation was carried out in two case study areas located in the Italian regions of Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Lazio. A wide range of methods were used to qualitatively approach the investigation of mobility, both medieval and contemporary. These included archive studies, field surveys, GIS analysis, questionnaires, interviews, and lastly an itinerant ethnography. This detailed investigation of the territory was necessary precisely because the identity of the via Francigena, in addition to its importance as a unifying dimension of medieval Europe, is also and above all composed of lateral and capillary routes with a nebulous and fragmentary history.

Following a review of the literature on the general topic of ancient roads and modern mobilities, historiographical work was conducted specifically in regard to studies of medieval roads in relation to the via Francigena and thus with respect to the interest of associations and institutions in the topic. This made it possible to define the multi-layered and controversial identity of the Francigena routes. In sequence, the geo-historical survey, the census of the routes-related heritage, and the mapping of the medieval communication channels allowed the identification of intrinsic values, both material and cultural, identified with the via Francigena; or at least of its remaining traces. The quantitative and qualitative investigation of today’s experience of pilgrimage and travel along the Francigena demonstrated differing territorial and cultural narratives associated with mobilities.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Watkins, Charles
Balzaretti, Ross
Keywords: mobilities; medieval roads; via Francigena; Cultural Routes; pilgrimage; mapping; GIS; road networks
Subjects: D History - General and Old World > DG Italy
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Geography
Item ID: 76258
Depositing User: Porcelloni, Leonardo
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2024 13:45
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2024 13:45
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/76258

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View