Berceto began to take shape probably in the 7th century, when the Benedictine monastery was built by Liutprand, King of the Lombards and by the intercession of Modran, then Bishop of Rennes (now also the village’s patron saint).
Legend has it that in 718 the bishop was on a pilgrimage to Rome, carrying some relics of St Remigius that he had just bought in Reims. During the journey, he stopped for a rest near the Cisa pass, where he hung the relics on a bush but forgot to take them with him when he resumed his journey; realising his mistake, he doubled straight back but was unable to reach the branch where he had placed his precious cargo, because the bush had grown into a tree. It shrank back again only when he promised to leave the relics to Berceto.
The following year, King Liutprand founded the monastery of Bercetum near where this miracle took place.
The village of Berceto grew up around this religious building and became a landmark where the many weary wayfarers on the Via Francigena, the ancient pilgrim path to Rome, would break their journey. Duly refreshed, they would continue through the Apennine valleys to the legendary Tyrrhenian coastline via the Lunigiana area.
After being given by King Carloman to the Bishop of Parma in 879, Berceto became part of the Municipality of Parma in the 12th century. It was the fief of the Rossi family from 1308 until 1666, when it came into the hands of the powerful Farnese family.
They made Berceto castle their home, and the village flourished.
Count Pier Maria Rossi and later his son Bertrando did a great deal in the 1400s to make Berceto the finest hill town in the area, include the last reconstruction of the castle and the first magnificent restoration of old St Modran’s abbey.
The town is set in a great expanse of rolling countryside stretching up to the Apennine peaks and is a popular summer resort with great facilities that makes an excellent base for horse trekking along the Taro and Ceno valley bridleway. The last stop on the Via Francigena before the Apennines, old Berceto retains all its old medieval character and atmosphere, with stone houses, 12th- to 17th-century townhouses and a ruined castle.