Local authorities have supplied Danilo Parisi with a new ferry to carry Via Francigena pilgrims across the River Po. The river crossing and time spent with Danilo is invariably one of the high points of today’s pilgrim journey to Rome.
The photo captures the inaugural journey of the San Colombano carrying a group of Tuscan pilgrims on the first passage across the River Po in the New Year.
Danilo runs his ferry back and forth from the quay at Corte Sant’ Andrea to his home at Soprarivo down the same four kilometre sweep of the river that pilgrims in previous generations crossing from Lombardy to Emilia-Romagna would have taken in a boat propelled by sails and oars.
Pilgrims on foot and bicycle can book his ferry by mobile phone (+390523771607). He charges only a modest fee, and chiefly plies the river for the love of it.
The Via Francigena is his passion. Danilo is not just a ferryman; he is one of the gatekeepers of the modern pilgrim journey to Rome.
Danilo keeps a statistical account of pilgrims passing through his domain and we will be updating these shortly with the 2016 figures.