Pella travels... and meets Venice
The occasion is the "Back and Forth: Camino de Santiago, Via Francigena, Via Egnatia" exhibition, which was inaugurated on Thursday, May 11th, 2017 at the atrium of the University of Iuav in Venice and will remain open to the public until Friday, June 9th, 2017. A truly happy occasion for the Pella region to make its monuments and antiquities known in a cosmopolitan center of the North, which at the same time accommodates the 57th Art Biennale, attracting the artistic public from all over the world.
This is a two-faced exhibition, with references to the distant past and to the future. The "Historical Paths" Workshop of the above University of Venice recalls its routes, from 1999/2000 until today, along the ancient famous roads, i.e. the Via Appia (connecting Rome with Brindisi and consequently Rome with the Via Egnatia), the Via Francigena (connecting Rome with French and North during the Middle Ages) and Camino de Santiago (the most important mediaeval road, linking Italy with Spain, which pilgrims followed in order to visit St. Jacob’ s Cathedral, Santiago de Compostela, NW Spain, where, according to tradition, the apostle’ s relics were buried). Thanks to a massive archive work by FuoriVia Cultural Association, pictures, maps and videos imprint the story of more than 1,000 students walking across Europe through all these years. From 2015, the Iuav University of Venice and the FuoriVia Association walk the ancient Via Egnatia and work together to promote the restoration of the ancient Roman road linking West with East. They aim to complete the project by 2019. Last summer (2016) they completed the section passing the Regional Unity of Pella. For the first time, institutes and organizations meet in Venice to talk about the famous road built by the Romans around 140 BC connecting Western with Eastern Mediterranean. Maps, photographic and audiovisual material depicting ancient cities, monuments, shelters for night (mansiones) and stations for changing horses (mutationes), mentioned to the ancient itineraria and encountered by travelers on their long journeys, come again to the foreground.
Along with the inauguration of the exhibition at the University's atrium, an International Conference entitled "Via Egnatia and Historical Cultural Routes: Bridges between Europe and the Mediterranean" was held at the same venue (Aula Magna), in which many speakers from Greece, Albania, The Netherlands and Italy participated. It should be noted that a large part of the conference focused on Pella's Regional Unity, as a conciderable party of representatives of both the Ephorate of Antiquities and the Municipality of Pella participated. Thus, those who attended the conference had the opportunity to be fully informed on the ancient route in this section from the time of its construction to the Ottoman period. Dr. Nikolaos Pappas and Giorgos Stalidis (Archaeologists, representatives of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Pella) referred to the course of the Via Egnatia along Pella’ s Regional Unity ("Roads and Monuments. The route of the Via Egnatia in the Prefecture of Pella"), Dr. Georgios Skiadaresis (Archaeologist of the Ephorate of Antiquities of the City of Thessaloniki) focused on the course of the road during the Ottoman period ("The Ottoman city of Yenice Vardar (Giannitsa) on the axis of the Via Egnatia") and Maria Triandafyllidou and Anastasia Serkelletzi (representatives of the Municipality of Pella) talked about the road after the liberation of Macedonia from the Ottomans in 1912 and the possibilities for its exploitation by the local municipality ("The Via Egnatia and Giannitsa in the 20th century Building a Municipal Cultural Policy").
Also, from Greece participated Charalambos Tsougaris (Archaeologist of the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki), who referred to the ancient road within the borders of the Metropolitan Unity of Thessaloniki ("Thessaloniki and Via Egnatia"), Thalia Valkouma (Egnatia Odos S.A. representative"), who spoke of the benefits of the modern homonymous street ("Egnatia Odos Motorway: The gateway to the East, the entrance to the West") and Efrosyni Boskou (Municipality of Kavala representative), who talked about how modern route can become an international thoroughfare and contribute to the development of all connected areas ("Towards a sustainable planning of the Via Egnatia cultural route: from the local to the transnational").
Except for the exhibition and the international conference, there were three following workshops held at the University, i.e. "Exploring and discovering ancient itinararies", led by Moreno Baccichet (Architecture and Planning Professor), "Planning and regenerating walking trails" led by Leonardo Filesi (Environment and Applied Botany Professor) and "Telling Stories, Writing History from the territory and beyond" led by Angelo Chemin (History of Territory Professor).
In closing, it is important to mention what the organizers of the whole project also keep pointing out: "In order to regenerate the ancient Via Egnatia, we must have, like Janus, a double gaze: deep when digging into the past and acute when measuring the future"…