PREMESSA E PRESENTAZIONE DI PHILIPPE SEURRE
(di Enea Fiorentini)
INTRODUCTION OF PHILIPPE SEURRE
(by Enea Fiorentini)
An individual and charming pilgrim
.... and then, onto Philippe Seurre
What can I say about him?
I do not know where to begin...
It would be better if he could tell something about his own story and his own journey.
It was a surprise for me to meet this Brussels-born Frenchman who had left Belgium many years ago to live in England, not far from London.
Since his childhood, Philippe had spent a month or two each year in Menton, close to the Italian border, where his family used to have a summer residence.
To this day, he always does his shopping in Ventimiglia as he much prefers the taste of Italian food and ice creams.
A rare appreciation coming from a Frenchman!
I can understand this better as I did not find him to be full of the "French grandeur", a self perception usually associated with people from the other side of the Alps.
Perhaps his profession helped, as an international marketing man, he had to be flexible and pragmatic.
He has walked many trekking trails around the world, like one in Nepal at great altitude and also on the main historical and pilgrimage trails.
I think his motive for walking the Via Francigena was essentially religious.
Philippe contacted me by e-mail at the end of August 2013, on the advice of some mutual friend who suggested he should do so, and he requested a meeting when he would arrive in Aosta.
I met him in Aosta on September 10th, 2013 and we visited the historic centre of the city together, at the same time I gave him useful tips and information for his walk on the Via Francigena in the Valley which was to begin the next day, and also for the following stages.
I spoke with him in French as in the Aosta Valley, French is almost obligatory, and for me, it is more simple and familiar.
Even today, as we have kept in touch, I write to him in French.
Later, on September 13th, 2013 morning, I joined Philippe in Verrès and walked the final stage of the Aosta Valley: Verrès -> Pont-Saint-Martin.
It is about twenty km including the small detours which I felt were obligatory so he could see the beautiful things and places that many other pilgrims neglect through lack of knowledge, trying to make sure he would not miss the historical and archaeological points of interest and the scenic views.
Philippe is a pleasant guy who speaks many languages (English, French, German) and he also tries to say a few words in Italian, even if he cannot understand very well the people speaking (quickly) back to him in our language.
I told him, in broad terms about the history of my region.
I also told him about the patois of the Aosta Valley (Francoprovençal), and mentioned that in my Italian-French guide book - published later in April, 2014 - I added some specific boxes dedicated to stories and / or legends, in the various patois of the relevant places, at the end of each chapter.
This was to encourage curiosity on the part of the French-speaking pilgrims.
Then, on October 11th, 2013, I left Aosta for Siena, and there, I met Philippe again with other friends who had already arrived in the city.
Thanks to the help and hospitality of Paolo, another friend of Siena and a great walker and connoisseur of the "Via", we visited the city and were also received by the City Mayor.
The next day, I continued to walk in Tuscany with Philippe, and my friends Paolo, Maurizio and some other Italian and foreign pilgrims, and on for three further stages along the historic trail, up to Radicofani (close to the border with Lazio), about 85 km in total.
Other commitments forced me to go back to Aosta and leave my comrades on their way to Rome.
A journey that Philippe successfully completed on October 25th, 2013.
I am sure Philippes Italian path on the Via Francigena was enjoyable and interesting, a place where he also made many friends - foreign and Italian alike - among them, in addition to the undersigned, many members and supporters of our Association "Giovane Montagna", which this year is celebrating its first 100 year anniversary.
This year, 2014, Philippe is back on the road and onto other historical paths of faith, and therefore, from these new pages of the guide, Id like to bid him farewell and wish him a good journey, and do that in the way that is traditional for pilgrims:
Philippe, greetings and thank you for your friendship!