Archaeology & pilgrimage. Studies around the rurAllure European project
Editoriale di Engramma 204
edited by Maddalena Bassani, Maria Bergamo, and Silvia González Soutelo
From the earliest times, certain places have been favored as travel destinations, either for reasons related to the very sacredness of their contexts, or because they were located at a transit point along routes where people, objects, and imaginaries travel. In and around these places, which are characterized by special phenomena such as natural thermalism, and are often pervaded by a sacral aura connected to various cults to pagan deities and Christian saints, sites of worship have been built, alongside lodgings for travelers, shops selling objects to be used on site or along the way, as well as places for productive activities. In addition, during the Roman, Medieval and Modern ages, some human settlements linked to these routes were in charge of adapting and maintaining the paths mostly used by pilgrims and wayfarers, while in other cases some routes were abandoned in favor of new routes and new destinations. In other cases, it was the routes that encouraged the creation of new settlements that provided services to walkers, becoming thus a key point in the territory.
It was precisely around the common thread of traditional pilgrimage that the European project rurAllure. Promotion of rural museums and heritage sites in the vicinity of European pilgrimage routes https://rurallure.eu has been organized and promoted: the objectives, methods and results are presented in the two contributes of the first section of this issue, both written by the people in charge of the main project: the article by Martín Lopez et alii, The Horizon 2020 project rurAllure: studying pilgrimage as slow tourism, territorial development, social cohesion, and the one written by Alessia Mariotti, who is responsible for the Italian pilot, Thermal heritage on the ways to Rome. The role of knowledge for enriching tourism experiences along three Italian pilgrimage ways.
The project, which involved several European institutions that have been collaborating since January 2021 until December 2023, has allowed an in-depth study of some topics on the sidelines of rurAllure's objectives, bringing together scholars from different and interdisciplinary perspectives to examine such a complex phenomenon as the pilgrimage together with the exploitation and use of territories over centuries. The second section of the issue, in fact, opens with a contribution by Paola Zanovello and Andrea Meleri Paesaggi d’acqua. Il fenomeno del termalismo nel comprensorio euganeo tra antichità ed età moderna: it is an interesting reconstruction of the history of the settlement around the Euganean area in the Veneto region, and its exploitation, during the ancient, Medieval and Modern times. This includes a particular consideration of the region around the Euganean Hills which is better-known for the towns of Montegrotto and Abano Terme, but where other sites that have received little attention due to the limited evidence of ancient remains, hold instead a potential and cultural richness. Maddalena Bassani's article follows with a study devoted to two ancient contexts of sacred nature located near the Via Romea Francigena and the Via Romea Strata in northern Italy, Pilgrimages to mineral springs between Antiquity and Middle Ages. Through the analysis of structural, material and epigraphic traces, the contribution outlines the cultic and cultural horizon in which the presence of pilgrims and travelers should be considered, including some reflections about continuity and discontinuity of cults and rituals, that is to say the ways in which pilgrims arrived and stayed in contexts linked to sacredness through mineral water.
In The Roman centuriations of Patavium and Altinum: a water management system in the central Venetian plain Jacopo Turchetto expands on the problem of water management in the ancient territories of the Roman cities of Patavium and Altinum in the Veneto region, offering a reflection about the centuriation and the cultural possibilities of the exploitation by the inhabitants of those plots of land delimited with gromatic precision. In fact, from the centuriation derived wealth for the owners and widespread community welfare that contributed to the development of the St. Anthony road and the pilgrimage to holy sites.
Two articles devoted to two particular contexts close the second section of this issue. The first is the contribution by Silvia González Soutelo, Miguel Gómez-Heras and Laura García Juan, Thermal heritage on the Via Francigena in Tuscany: a diachronical overview from the European rurAllure project, which focuses on the reconstruction of the settlement and moving patterns of the Bagno Vignoni thermo-mineral site close to the Via Romea Francigena. Here, aspects related to mineral waters and their curative potential are outlined, as well as some considerations about the productive and industrial exploitation attested in the Modern age around the mineral springs. The second article, Ancient history for tourism development. Building content for meaningful travel itineraries authored by Alessia Mariotti and Mattia Vitelli Casella, proposes a pragmatic example for a plan of a cycling tourism experience in the site of Argenta, starting from the official itinerary of the Via Romea Germanica in the Po Delta River area.
The third and final section consider the latest scientific research panorama related to pilgrimages and archaeology between ancient and contemporary times. Ludovico Rebaudo's contribution Un pellegrinaggio ‘archeologico’ di fine Quattrocento. Bernardo Michelozzi e Bonsignore Bonsignori in Anatolia e nell’arcipelago (1497-1498) offers an interesting insight about documented discoveries and reports reports of ancient artifacts in Anatolia, compiled in the late XV century by antiquarians like Bernardo Michelozzi and Buonsignore Buonsignori. Finally, Jacopo Tabolli's article Digging into a Display: the ‘Voices’ of the Bronzes from San Casciano dei Bagni closes the issue with a presentation of the exhibition at the Quirinal Presidential Palace in Rome, which displays the objects left by pilgrims who went, between the Republican and Imperial ages, to the mineral springs of San Casciano ai Bagni (Siena).
Therefore, this issue published in the Summer holydays is an opportunity to delve into the subject of travelling, whether this is guided by health, faith or simple curiosity: it is a viaticum along the routes of travelers from ancient to contemporary times.
Engramma 204 collects researches and findings of several Italian and European scholars who have dealt with aspects related to ancient, Medieval and Modern pilgrimage along the main three European Routes (Via Romea Francigena, Via Romea Strata, Via Romea Germanica), or along other routes to the Holy Land. The issue is divided into three sections. The first one is dedicated to the European project rurAllure by Martín López Nores, José Juan Pazos Arias, Susana Reboreda Morillo, Óscar Penín Romero, which focuses on the enhancement of minor sites along the pilgrimage routes of Europe, and it is accompanied by an overview on the development of promotional activities for some Italian cases supervised by Alessia Mariotti. The second section presents a series of studies related to some contexts that are close to mineral springs or important waterways and were frequented by pilgrims throughout the centuries: these are articles by Paola Zanovello and Andrea Meleri's on the Euganean Hills (Padua), by Maddalena Bassani's on the sanctuary of Minerva Medica in Val Trebbia (Piacenza) and that at Timavo’s Sources (Monfalcone), by Jacopo Turchetto on the centuriation between Padua and Altino. Furthermore, the articles by Silvia González Soutelo, Miguel Gómez-Heras, and Laura García Juan on the Bagno Vignoni area (Siena), and by Alessia Mariotti and Mattia Vitelli Casella on the Argenta site (Po Delta). In the third and final section one can read two important contributions, the first by Ludovico Rebaudo, devoted to the study of manuscript evidences recorded during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land about archaeological remains in Anatolia; the second by Jacopo Tabolli, who presents an exhibition on votive bronzes left by pilgrims in the sanctuary at the ‘Sorgenti di San Casciano ai Bagni’ (Siena) that recently opened at the Palazzo del Quirinale in Rome.
keywords | Slow Tourism; Pilgrimage; Ancient History; Archaelogy.