From the Sky to the Ground: RecRoad at CHNT22

Last week I had the opportunity to present part of the results obtained through the RecRoad project at the Cultural Heritage and New Technologies 22nd Conference in Wien. Here are, as usual, the slides of the presentation!

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On the road – day 28: Belgrade – Fortress of Belgrade (12 km)

Listen to the travelogue (in Italian and in English): http://radiofrancigena.com/podcast/da-aquileia-a-belgrado-sara-zanni/

This morning we came back to the borders of Belgrade, where we stopped walking yesterday evening. It was a cold and windy morning. We decided to leave the main Street leading to the center of Belgrade and we took a parallel one along the Danube river. I made a mistake and we ended climbing on the four paths across an abusive landuse. It was very steep and I had to give up: my shoes have the soles completely consumed and don’t grip anymore, especially on a terrain so subject to landslides. I went back, completely covered of dust and with some new scratches on my hands and on the nose. After only a few minutes I managed to reach the road and then meet my friends again. We recovered from the adventure with a tea and an orange juice and hit the road again. After something more than an hour, we crossed the river Sava and reached the fortress of Belgrade. It was difficult to let sink in the idea that the journey was finished: we were there, looking at the confluence if the Sava and the Danube, impressed and silent. I was thinking of all the past days: of the people we met and the things we saw and learned and I was a bit overwhelmed.

But tonight I wouldn’t like to write about me, but about all the people and institutions who helped us arriving at the end of this journey. First of all, my gratitude goes to Université Bordeaux Montaigne, especially to my Institute, Ausonius, which allowed me to be here and undertake such a singular communication activity. My thoughts go to Francis Tassaux, my boss, who is more than a boss, but a great man who made this journey pleasant and much more interesting, teaching us many things about the history of the places and about food and wine, sharing with us the tiredness of the walk and the joys of the spare time.

Then, I’d start from Fondazione Aquileia: especially Erica Zanon and the director, Cristiano Tiussi, thanks for your hospitality and support! Thanks also to the Associazione Nazionale per Aquileia and to its secretary, Luca Villa for his enthusiasm and for hosting the presentation of the project.

Then, I’d recall the municipality of Logatec: with a special mention for Romana Hribar, who took care of us and of all the organization details, to the mayor and to the staff of the public library.

My gratitude goes also to the City Museum of Ljubljana: to Bernarda Županek, curator of the Roman collection, and to the group of people from the museum who walked with us from Logatec to Ljubljana.

I must also recall the hospitality we received at the Archaeological Museum of Zagreb: a special thanks to Dora Kušan who was so kind to organize our stay in Zagreb and in Velika Gorica too, to Tara Pivac, Branimir Ivić and Ivan Radman and also to the Etruscan mummy who didn’t come to wake us up in the middle of the night.

I’m also grateful to the Tourism Council of Velika Gorica who hosted us in their nice city.

I thank also the Director of the Archaeological Museum of Sisak and the colleague, Rosana Škrgulja, who showed us the excavation of the northern wall of the Roman city.

Another great thank you goes to the Municipality of Slavonski Brod and to Danijela Ljubičić-Mitrović and Ivana Artuković, of the Muzak Brodskog: I hope this will be the beginning of a positive cooperation!

Once again, my special thanks go to the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural Monuments of Sremska Mitrovica, scientific partner of this project, and to the Tourism Council of Sremska Mitrovica: coming back to Sirmium is always the best.

I thank also Radio Francigena, who supported the communication project, editing and publishing my podcasts every evening: in particular, Alberto who received my comments and reminded me my duties, giving me support in the hardest moments (and accepting my horrible musical taste!).

Finally, since this is a research project but a journey like this becomes forcefully a very personal experience too, I’d like to express my personal gratitude. First of all to Ivica and Zdenka, who walked with us until Sisak, supporting us, telling us so many anecdotes about local history, translating for us, never complaining and always balancing the exceeding manly component of our group. We’ve missed you a lot, but I honored your salami at my best! Thanks to Zdenko Jakop who was walking elsewhere, but who sent us plenty of friends from all the corners of Slovenia, with food, drinks and useful advices to take the best paths across the Country. I’m looking forward to looking together!

I’ve already thanked the institutions but I must go further on a personal plan and I must mention in my thanksgiving list Biljana Lučić and her whole family, together with Svetlana Sabo, who literally adopted us and made us feel loved and at home for all the time we spent in Sremska Mitrovica. Things always happen for a reason: I will always be grateful to archaeology for meeting you.

A special thanks also to Vladimir Petrović, archaeologist and professor at the Institute of Balkanic Studies of Belgrade, who welcomed us at the end of this journey and explained us a lot about The history of the Balkans after the fall of the Roman Empire: I’m looking forward to see you in Bordeaux!

Another thanks goes to the logistic team: Alessandro and the Car, who gave us a roof every night and never left us in the middle of nowhere.

Thanks also to Fiorenza ho designed and created the interactive shirt and the stickers and who was always with me.

My gratitude and my apologies to my whole family: you were always with me, even if I was able to call home only 5 or 6 times over this whole month… thanks for your love and support that never failed.

To all those who stopped us to offer a kava, a glass of rakja, a cup of tea or a spoon of honey, to take a picture with us: thank you! Meeting you was the main goal of this project. Thanks for listening to the speech in my poor Slovenian-Serbo-Croatian to explain why three crazy people would walk from Aquileia to Belgrade. Thanks also to the policemen, who listened to me and didn’t even arrest me: it was very kind of you!

And,last but not least, a special thanks to my walking mates. Roberto, well organized, precise and extremely respectful: I couldn’t have done it without you. To Dan: without you this journey would have been much less artistic. Thanks to both of you for your flexibility and acceptation of all the unexpected events that occurred to us, for never complaining and also for accepting the bad temper of this old Italian lady too much used to her own habits. It’s been a honor to share this experience with you.

At the end of this journey, I must admit that I’ve received much more than what I’ve given and I feel really blessed for this. Thanks also to all of you who followed this blog and our program on Radio Francigena: please, continue following us and stay up to date with all the activities that will follow in the next months! Srečan put to all of you!

On the road – day 27: Popinci – Belgrade (33 km)

Listen to the travelogue (in Italian): http://radiofrancigena.com/podcast/da-aquileia-a-belgrado-sara-zanni/

This morning, we left Popinci after having said goodbye to our friends in Sremska Mitrovica. Unfortunately (…) I had had a very short night of sleep, because saying goodbye to friends requires a little bit of rakja, so I was not in a perfect condition. But my legs were, so I kept the pace of my friends and we made it to the entrance into the city.

It was a nice walk from Popinci to Vojka, and then towards Nova Pazova, along dirty roads in the middle of fields and of the bushes that were hiding hundreds of little birds. We decided to cut across the fields and we gained some km, but, at the end, we had to go into the traffic. We arrived to the sign marking the entrance of Belgrade and we only had the time to get it. Anyway, it was a great satisfaction to take the picture celebrating our arrival.

On the road – Day 26: Sremska Mitrovica-Popinci (39,2 km)

Listen to the travelogue (in Italian): https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B05xg22O-gX-aUltb2R0ZkR6NDA

Today we walked the longest stage up to now, but we found it easier than the one that led us to Bijeljina. For the first 15km, we followed the road along the Sava river to Jarak. For the first time, we saw fields of watermelons, that will be common enough in the rest of the day. When we arrived in Jarak, a kind man invited me to drink a coffee into his house and I shared with him and his wife a bottle of wine. We had planned to walk a little bit longer than planned, so that we will be able to arrive in Belgrade in the early morning of September 29th and have some more time to visit the city.

In Jarak, we took the path along the Jarcina channel and we arrived in Dobrinci at 1:30 p.m., but we skipped the lunch break. In Dobrinci, we took a shortcut a bit recklessly and we had to walk across the garden of a kind man who opened his gate to let us pass, when he heard what we were doing. We kept walking to Donji Petrovci, where the archaeological site of the Roman city of Bassianae is located. We finally walked 5 more km, pretty much all along Jarcina, to arrive to Popinci.

On the road – day 24-25: Bijeljina – Sremska Mitrovica (51 km)

Listen to the travelogue (in Italian): http://radiofrancigena.com/podcast/da-aquileia-a-belgrado-sara-zanni/

I am a bit late with the daily updates of the blog, but the last two days were very intense and I couldn’t really find the time. After the hardest stage of this journey, we left Bijeljina heading to Serbia. We decided to break the 51km to Sremska Mitrovica in two legs of 37 and 14 km, so that I could arrive on time to make the presentation at the city hall of Sremska Mitrovica.

These were two of the most enjoyable stages of the journey. Nice weather, a good mix of secondary and dirty roads and also a puppy that walked with us for 15km.

We spent both nights on Sremska Mitrovica and I must personally thank my friends Biljana and Svetlana both for organizing the presentation and for hosting us. It is difficult to understand how precious is meeting friends after so many days of walking in foreign countries. Of course, beside the personal side of all of this, staying in Sremska Mitrovica was very important also because here was Sirmium, the most important archaeological site we are visiting along this journey, with Aquileia. We had time for a guided tour of the main sites around the city and the archaeological museum. A stop here to visit the imperial palace and to understand the importance of this city in ancient times is compulsory.

On the road – day 23: Brčko – Bijeljina (38,8 km)

Listen to the travelogue (in Italian): http://radiofrancigena.com/podcast/da-aquileia-a-belgrado-sara-zanni/

This day was the longest by now, and possibly the longest of the whole journey. Even if this was not the longest distance I’ve ever walked, I must say it was probably the hardest one.

We left Brčko on the M-14-1, which we have followed from Gradiska Dubica across Bosnia.

We’ve been walking on it for the whole day and I must say that I was not much focused on the trail: in part because I knew that I only needed to follow the road to get to the destination. In part because I was anticipating the next days and our arrival in Sremska Mitrovica. In the end, I got my first blister of this journey: let’s admit it… my head wasn’t there, and here is the reward.

On the road – day 22: Županja – Bršcko (29 km)

Listen to the travelogue (in Italian): http://radiofrancigena.com/podcast/da-aquileia-a-belgrado-sara-zanni/

Today it was a day full of surprises. We left after a good night of sleep, a homemade dinner and an homemade breakfast, well rested and fed, with some rays of sunshine in front of us. Soon after leaving Županja, a nice man called us inside his mechanics workshop to offer us a coffee and a sip of homemade rakija. Then, after a short walk on a dirty – and quite muddy – path, we took the main road. We spent some 40 minutes trying to save an abandoned puppy in the woods: we could hear it whimpering and sometimes see it, but it didn’t let us come closer without running away in the underbrush. We had lunch, waiting for it to come closer, but we gave up and left it a can of chicken pašteta.

Soon after, we took a dirty road cutting across a curve of the main road. But the path died in the bushes. So we cut into the fields, drawing a geography of scratches on our legs. When we came to the main road again, a kind woman saw our conditions and offered us a coffee. We were in the city is Gunja, which coat of arms bears Saint James dressed like a pilgrim.

After only 3km, we crossed the Sava river and border and arrived in Bosnia i Herzegovina again, in Brčko. Now I’m going to sleep dreaming of the učtipsi that I’m going to order for breakfast!

On the road – day 21: Novi Grad – Županja (35,5 km)

Listen to the travelogue (in Italian): http://radiofrancigena.com/podcast/da-aquileia-a-belgrado-sara-zanni/

This morning we had quite a difficult start: in the hotel there was no water at all and toilets were pretty much useless. So, no water, no breakfast and some rain just to begin. But soon the morning improved a little when the rain stopped and after 10km we found an open bar to have a cappuccino. We spent most of the morning walking on dirty and muddy roads. It was a bit engaging because the mud was sticky and we were walking with an increased weight on our feet and on a slippery surface. But it was a diversion from the continuous rain of the last days, so we didn’t complain and enjoyed the change, taking pictures. The dirty roads brought us in the middle of the corn fields and of the woods, where many small eagles were flying in circles, hunting: the countryside is full of small country mussels.

After some 30km, we crossed the Canal Bosut, that gave the name to the Roman station Ad Basante, which location is still unknown. We entered the city of Županja following the bike path on the levee of the Sava, with the welcome of some sun rays coming down from the clouds on the river.