[Emilia Romagna Villages] Berceto: the border village
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
A stone’s throw from the Parma Apennine, the village of Berceto has always been a renowned tourist destination thanks to its mild climate and its proximity to the Tyrrhenian coast and the Cinque Terre. Also characterized by a wide variety of landscapes, its territory includes a wide stretch of Apennines between the Taro Valley and the Baganza Valley, delimited on south by the Cisa pass, regional border with Liguria.
Berceto village probably was born in the 7th century with the construction of the Benedictine Monastery at the work of Liutprando, King of the Lombards, and by intercession of the then bishop of Rennes, Moderanno (now also Patron Saint of Berceto ).
The legend tells that in 718 the bishop of Rennes was on a pilgrimage trip to Rome carrying with him some relics of San Remigio, just bought in the city of Reims. During the journey, Moderanno came near the Cisa pass, where he leaned the relics on a plant, which however neglected at the resumption of the journey; as soon as he came back, he was not able to reach the branch on which he had attached his precious charge due to the extraordinary grown of the tree; the plant collapsed only when the bishop promised to leave the relics in Berceto. The following year, the King Liutprando founded the monastery of “Bercetum” near the site of the miracle.
It was around this religious building which has developed the history of the nascent Berceto village, which has since become a symbol of Via Francigena, the ancient pilgrimage route from the time spent by many pilgrims to Rome, due to its role of refreshment village on the paths crossing the Apennine valleys and which would have led them through the mythical Tyrrhenian coasts through Lunigiana.
After being donated by King Carlomanno to the bishop of Parma in 879, Berceto in the twelfth century became the property of the Parma Municipality and, from 1308 until 1666 – the year he passed under the control of the Farnese Family – was the fief of the Rossi family.
Under this powerful family, which has made Berceto Castle its home, the village has lived a great period of time. Among the most important actions taken during the 1400’s by Count Pier Maria Rossi and later by his son Bertrando there is the last reconstruction of the castle and the first magnificent restoration of the ancient abbey of San Moderanno, which made Berceto the most beautiful village of the whole mountain.
Today, the village of Berceto includes a vast natural area that stretches to the Apennine ridge and a renowned and well-equipped summer resort, a great starting point for hiking along the hippodrome of the Taro and Ceno valleys. Last stop on Via Francigena, before the Apennine valley, the ancient village preserves the typical character and atmosphere of the Middle Ages, with stone houses, palaces of the XII-XVII century and ruins of a castle.
Berceto has beautiful views that bear witness to its long history and its natural landscapes along the Via Francigena and the Apennines. The Duomo is an example of the prestige that the Borgo had over the centuries and manifests itself as an imposing structure placed in the center of Via Francigena, a synthesis of artistic styles from different eras: Lombard, Romanesque and Renaissance. The Chapel of S. Apollonia is next to the Duomo, while at the top of the pinnacle you can admire Piazza San Giovanni, known as the “Canons” by the Bercetesi.
Another imposing building that we recommend to visit is the Castle of Rossi Family, dating from 1221, whose surrounding area has been transformed into an archaeological park. The village of Berceto also has a very large number of fractions with interesting architectural and natural elements. In the hamlet of Corchia, for example is an extraordinary settlement that preserves a medieval nucleus with stone houses, paved paths, underpass arches and a structure dating back to the 12th century. For those who want to venture into the area, we also recommend a visit to the hamlet of Fugazzolo, which is generally divided into two separate nuclei: the one of “Sopra”, with stone buildings with portals from the 16th century and the “Di Sotto “where is the Church of San Ciriaco and a series of paths leading to the “Sentieri del Diaviolo” [The Devil’s Jump]. This place is perhaps the most suitable for mountain lovers, offering pleasant walking and cycling routes.
The hamlet of Pietramogolana also retains the remains of an ancient fortress which today remains a mutilated tower on the hill and the church of St. John.
The autumn season with the first rains after the summer heat has always been the right time for the fungus researchers, which is one of the products of excellence in this area. If you are passionate about walking in the mountains, we would like to point out That the Berceto – Lake Santo Parmense stage is the first stop of the Alta Via dei Parchi, the great hiking trail running along all the Apennines of Emilia Romagna.
The mountains, the snow and the magnificent glimpses halfway between Emilia Romagna, Tuscany and Liguria: the winter at Berceto is recommended for those who love snowshoes and the winter sports. In the evenings you can always take refuge in front of the fire or in the typical taverns of the area, eating and drinking the delicious delicacies of the Appennines.
The territory of Berceto includes many other natural itineraries to go on both foot and by bike, such as some stages of the Via Francigena. For nature lovers we suggest also the natural blossoms that could be find in these woods, the beautiful and intimate Apennine landscapes and the views of the Lunigiana and the 5 Terre.
Always suggested for all those who feel the need to escape from the summer heat; Berceto is a great place to restore mind and body from the chaos of the city. A hermitage of peace and fresh tranquility, a few kilometers from the Cinque Terre National Park; a great place for those who love the mountain, without giving up on the sea.
Like all areas of the Italian Apennines, Berceto also has a rich and consolidated gastronomic tradition. It goes from the renowned Porcini mushrooms of the area to the production of the famous Parmigiano Reggiano, a real pearl of local dairy.
We have to mention also the Spongata di Berceto, a typical sweet Christmas originally consumed by the pilgrims who cross the Via Fancigena, and the Prunolo Fungus among the most tasty and tasty mushrooms in the high Val Taro. The long list of local specialties ends with the Corchia typical sweet with chestnut and the typical Flavous of the Woods, which cover the forests of the mountains in the area.
Berceto is one of the main stages of Via Francigena in Emilia-Romagna. From here there are hundreds of pilgrims passing through this historical and spiritual path in every season of the year.
How to Reach
Ferrovie dello Stato – Stop in Parma (52 km)
Urban & extra-urban line – TEP Parma
From Parma, lines Parma-Fornovo or Parma-Calestano, connections to Berceto
InfoPoint Berceto –Piazza San Giovanni Bosco, 2 43042 Berceto (PR)
Tel. +39 0525 1861969
Opening hours: Wed-Sun, 10.00-12.00 and 15.00-18.00
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays