Lu Settembrini, M.A. Sustainable Cultural Heritage
 
Visitor Trends on the Via Francigena in Lazio: My Internship at the Regione Lazio, Rome, Italy.
 
I was excited to intern at the Regione Lazio. It was my first chance to be part of a governmental institution abroad and the perfect opportunity to put my Master's coursework in Sustainable Cultural Heritage into practice. But like most experiences, the outcome was different than I had imagined.
 
The internship was under the Cultural Heritage department. My specific role was to research and collect any demographics on pilgrims walking on the Lazio tract of the Via Francigena pilgrimage. My tasks consisted of finding and listing any hostel registers that recorded information on pilgrims / walkers, the numbers, sex, nationality, age, group size, mode of travel, length of journey, motivations and so on. From the data collected, I then had to identify the relevant fields to create a data-based standard model for data collection on the pilgrims / walkers in Lazio. This culminated into a standardized pilgrim questionnaire that I created for the Lazio Region to distribute to stakeholders (businesses, hostels, churches) along the Via Francigena as a starting point for a unified method of collecting standardized data.
 
The role of my internship was created and defined uniquely for and by me along with my supervisor. I had imagined that I would be more of an aid for current projects but we built an active internship from the ground up, which means that I had a lot of independence and self-management. I felt that one of the unexpected outcomes of the internship was becoming a community liaison between those working at the hostels and local spaces in the communities and the Regione. I was able to use my student status and youth to gain trust with most community members who generally do not trust or like most governmental institutions. In that context, I think that the best part of the internship is how we found a solution for bettering the relationship between state institutions and the public through a third party, a student. This created the foundations for future AUR student interns interested in valorizing the territory of Lazio to reach out and strategically work with the Regione Lazio.