Il cammino del mondo. Vita avventurosa e meravigliosa dei pellegrini di Santiago de Compostela

An earthly journey toward eternal redemption

Il cammino del mondo”, published by Libreria Pienogiorno, offers exactly that: a concrete depiction of how it was the road that decided the wayfarer’s path, established its rules and ultimate goal, and led him to his destination. A perilous journey through the history of the Compostela pilgrims and their ups and downs.

“It is in the journey that we experience what the desert fathers called xeniteia, to be xenos, a stranger”. The pilgrimage as “a metaphor for our life: an open path towards another future”. This is explained by the essayist monk Enzo Bianchi in the book’s introductory note.


The two authors, Pierre Barret and Jean-Noël Gurgand, famous journalists and writers, write ‘The Way of the World’ in which they retrace the lives of pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela, an experience they themselves had recounting their personal experience. They also propose a kind of collective travel diary by combining the testimonies of a number of pilgrims, who lived in different and also very distant eras – ranging from the 12th to the 18th century – as well as considerations on what it meant to undertake a pilgrimage on the path to Santiago de Compostela. So that they are accompanied by five very special traveling companions.

The idea is as follows: the writings of travellers of the past will tell the story of the Pilgrim’s Santiago de Compostela. In the accounts of those who will become our fellow travellers, it will be possible to follow the route taken by pilgrims through the centuries, following in their footsteps.

The first is Amery Picaud, a monk from Poitou, a historic central-western province of France, who undertook the walk in the 12th century with his «peremptory, chauvinistic, prudent and full of verve» manner. There is also the walker from Flanders, Jean de Tournai: «quiet and sure of himself and the value of the florin, a great lover of good food and feather beds, a strong and tenacious fellow». Then there is the Italian priest Domenico Laffi, who leaves Bologna with his friend, the painter Domenico Codici. There is also Guillame Manier, 22 years old, orphan, tailor in Picardy. And the little Bonnecaze who, despite being opposed by his parents, plans the trip with three of his companions and hides the «bundle with some shirt and books» in a wheat field. He, fragile of health, poor and with bad shoes, is the example of who never stops.


Six centuries pass between the fellow travellers and yet «the winds and the miseries of the paths, the great labours of the evening, the wonders of the miracles, the legends and the glorious shrines» remain timeless, crystallised in the elsewhere towards which the pilgrimage leads.

Whether it is «a vow, an impulse or, simply, the voice of horizons», all that remains is to set out and let oneself be led by the hand along the steps of millions of men and women on their way to the world.


Anna Rita Mileti



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