The European Orienteering Championships Tour on the Via Querinissima: with the Confraternity of Bacalà an ever stronger link between Veneto and Norway

1 Aug 2023

The European Orienteering Championships Tour on the Via Querinissima: with the Confraternity of Bacalà an ever stronger link between Veneto and Norway

From August 1st to 10th, the Organising Committee of the orienteering event will be on the route of merchant Pietro Querini to seal a union among history, sports and the iconic “bacalà”

It has started from Norway’s Røst in the Lofoten Islands, north of the Arctic Circle, the special relay of the Organising Committee of the 2023 European Orienteering Sprint Championships, valid as World Cup finals, which intends to celebrate, between past and present, the strong link between Norway and Veneto, the venue for the first time of the event, thanks to the partnership with Pro Loco of Sandrigo, Confraternity of Bacalà alla Vicentina and Via Querinissima.



From October 1st to 8th, 2,000 athletes will be engaged with map and compass in Veneto, with the main races in Verona (Sprint, October 4), Soave (Sprint Relay, October 6) and Vicenza (Sprint Knock-Out, October 8), coming especially from Norway, the birthplace of orienteering, and the Scandinavian countries, the protagonists of the discipline in the orienteering world. The international event, under the aegis of IOF – International Orienteering Federation and FISO – Italian Orienteering Sport Federation, also boasts the patronage of Sport and Health, Veneto Regional Council, Provinces of Verona and Vicenza and the Municipalities of Verona, Vicenza and Soave.



The EOC 2023 Committee chose, therefore, to symbolically retrace the main stages of the Via Querinissima, the historical and identity itinerary established in June 2022 by the international association that unites the names of the Most Serene Republic of Venice and Pietro Querini. In 1432 the legendary Venetian merchant, in fact, following a shipwreck in the Lofoten Islands, managed to return to Venice, making the same journey through 14 European countries that stockfish, dried in the northern winds and discovered here, already did to reach as far as Switzerland. We owe, therefore, to Querini the development of its trade between Italy and Norway, drying being an effective method of preserving cod: its growing popularity in the Veneto region gave rise to the ancient recipe of bacalà alla vicentina, which has become an icon of Veneto gastronomic culture with over 400 years of history and since 1987 has been protected and promoted by the Confraternity of Bacalà alla vicentina.



The relay race, organised with the support of the project leader for the Via Querinissima in Norway Stefano Agnoletto, will touch on some of the route’s landmark locations that emerged from the merchant’s diaries: Røst (August 1-2), Bodø (August 3-4), Trondheim (August 5), Lillehammer (August 6), Gothenburg (August 7) and Venice (August 10). There will be several meetings with local representatives to seal this synergy.

It will start with Røst Mayor Elisabeth Kristin Mikalsen with a passage to Sandøya, the uninhabited islet on which Querini found refuge and on which a stele has been erected in his honor. Members of the Røst Opera Choir will perform the “Stockfish Song”, a piece from the Querini Opera, the opera production about the origins and history of the centuries-old union between Italy and Norway, which will be staged October 27-28-29 at the Arsenale Nord in Venice. The Mayor Ida Maria Pinnerød will also welcome the Committee to Bodø, which will be 2024 European Capital of Culture and host the City Festival on the days of the visit. Continuing the tour, in Trondheim there will be NTNUI Orienteering, a historic club linked to the city’s university and 2023 Tiomila winner, the prestigious night orienteering relay.

In Lillehammer, site of the 1994 Olympics as Veneto will be in 2026, the meeting will be held with Erik Unaas, board member of the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports, and Bernt Bjørnsgaard, former world champion in the discipline and official EOC ambassador to Norway. In Gothenburg the EOC ambassadors Jörgen Mårtensson and Anders Björklund, representatives of the International Development Commission of the IOF-International Orienteering Federation. This last city will be location of the 2026 O-Ringen. Finally, the tour will end at the Region’s Palace in Venice with a meeting with Roberto Ciambetti, President of the Veneto Regional Council and the Via Querinissima Association.



The European Championships will also be officially presented as part of the 36th Festival of Bacalà alla Vicentina in Sandrigo (September 14-25), which is attended by as many as 50,000 people each year. On Sunday, September 24, a non-competitive orienteering challenge will be held in the historic center of the village to allow interested parties to approach the discipline and test themselves. At the same time, the Confraternity will attend the awards ceremony of the final Sprint Knock-Out in Vicenza on October 8, after which there will be a tasting of the succulent dish in the hospitality area of the Race Arena.



“Sport and culture form a winning combination that, thanks to orienteering, offers extraordinary new possibilities not only to the practitioners of a fast-growing discipline, practiced by many associations affiliated with the Italian Federation of Orienteering Sports of the Coni – says the President of the Veneto Regional Council and the Via Querinissima Association, Roberto CiambettiOn closer inspection, Pietro Querini’s own return to Venice from the Lofoten Islands in 1432 was an exceptional exercise in orientation and the search for the safest possible route: on that journey Querini experienced time and again the value of hospitality, welcome and solidarity that was offered to him on several occasions along routes that crisscrossed Europe in the twilight of the Middle Ages, and today, organizing races and events in the topical places of Querini’s feat can, I believe, revive the idea of a brotherhood and sisterhood that must be the true glue of Europe. A sport as challenging, but also exciting, as orienteering has taken on this opportunity. This astonishes and impresses, and my hope is that these athletes, their associations, can have the right success and recognition: orienteering means finding and finding one’s way, one’s path, never forgetting that, Chatwin said, ‘Man’s true home is not a house, it is the road. Life itself is a journey to be made on foot’. The proposal of these orienteering races revives this extraordinary idea and I congratulate those who believe in this sport and its values”. 

“I look forward to visiting Italy and the EOC Tour in early October – says Erik Unaas, since 2019 a board member of the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of SportsThe concept, both for elite runners and us exercisers, looks impressive and will undoubtedly give orienteering a step forward. In 1995 I co-founded the Park World Tour, which introduced new, more audience friendly forms of orienteering in cities, parks and forests worldwide. I am both proud of, and impressed by, how good friends at PWT Italy have followed up and developed the product we created back then. There are many who have much to learn from this. Orienteering is a large and traditional sport in Norway. It has gradually gained a foothold and many active and enthusiastic leaders all over the world. Not least thanks to the enthusiasts in PWT Italy. As a Norwegian politician, I also look forward to further developing the good Norwegian-Italian relations within food and eating experiences, tourism, business, culture and sports”.

In the forefront is the General Manager of the 2023 Championships Gabriele Viale, accompanied by Fiso Veneto President Mauro Gazzerro and PWT Italy athlete Alessandro Bedin: “The numbers of the European Championships speak of a coverage of 12 million viewers, thanks to the live coverage carried out by 10 European TV stations – Viale continues – and of 2 million euros of economic relapse on the Veneto territory, through the massive involvement of Scandinavians and Swiss. The connection between Norway and Veneto is, therefore, and will always be stronger. We are proud that it is also sanctioned through orienteering and a major sporting event such as the European Championships. Finally, as an organizer from Vicenza and a former athlete who lived in Norway and Sweden, I can only be excited to honor it with this symbolic relay”. 

“We are happy and proud to support this special tour – adds Antonio Chemello, Vice-President of the Confraternity del Bacalà and President of the Pro Loco of Sandrigowhich celebrates, through sport, the strong cultural bond and friendship between Norway and Italy. A bond that is particularly dear to us as well, thanks especially to the stockfish that is caught in the Lofoten Islands and then prepared with such skill until it becomes the famous dish ‘bacalà alla vicentina. We look forward to meeting you in Sandrigo on Sunday, September 24th, at our Festival of Bacalà for the official presentation of the European Championships and later, in Vicenza on October 8th to introduce and taste our typical dish”.