[Emilia Romagna Villages] Bobbio: between cinema and legends
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
A medieval village that fascinates travelers between modern cinema and ancient legends, in the heart of the High Val Trebbia, defined by Hemingway as “the most beautiful valley in the world”. A village, between culture and nature, so much to be part of both the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages of Italy and that of the Orange Flags.
A magical place, whose origins are lost in the centuries and whose history is closely linked with that of the famous Abbey of San Colombano and its legendary Gobbo Bridge or Devil’s Bridge. A land border between four regions, suitable for lovers of culture, nature and sport.
Visiting the village of Bobbio is like making a leap in the Middle Age, and reviving for a long time the prestige of the fashions that this territory has enjoyed. A remote corner of the Apennines, which thanks to the faith and foresight of an Irish monk, has become the pulsating heart of medieval religious culture in Europe. It is around the Abbey, in fact, that a village is first built and then the village is irregularly shaped. The abbey, which became a large monastic complex, a lighthouse of culture like Montecassino, houses the ancient scriptorium and the library to which Umberto Eco has inspired for “The name of the rose”.
Among the many legends linked to the Gobbo Bridge, the most famous one tells that Satan built him in a single night resting on the backs of his devils, in exchange for the soul of the first being that would cross him and that San Colombano mocked him by passing first his faithful bear. A medieval village, which is a wonderful setting every year at the Bobbio Film Festival, where it is nice to have a coffee under the arcades of Piazza Duomo and take the cobbled streets of the village to its discovery. Visited a few years ago on a weekend in Brugnello I would like to recommend it to anyone who wants to take a weekend away from everyday routines, maybe not far from home.
The village originates from the name of the stream that descends from Mount Penice, in Latin saltus Boielis deriving from the boiel site of Celtic-Ligurian origin. The Romans in the 14th century, on the left bank of the Trebbia River, took a strategic location for controlling the Salt road that reaches Genoa, the capital of the Byzantines, along the Val Trebbia. It is 614 when the hermit monk Colombano arrives from Ireland, who, having received the land from the Lombard king Agilulfo and Queen Teodolinda, founded a Benedictine monastery. Since then and until 1203 the monastery enjoys an ever-increasing importance, even obtaining an autonomous Diocese. With the Unit it is annexed to the Province of Pavia, passing only in 1923 under that of Piacenza.
My advice is to start with its symbol, the Gobbo Bridge, one of the most interesting to visit in the region. Perhaps of Roman origin, certainly existing in the Longobard period, since beyond the bridge used the salt pans and there was a furnace, crossing the river Trebbia with 11 irregular arches. Completely made in stone, it has subsequent refurbishments and baroque superstructures. From there, besides admiring its sinuous lines, you can admire the skyline of the village.
Then I would visit the place that gave rise to the fame of Bobbio, the Abbey. Founded by the Benedictine monk was built where now the castle stands and was moved to the present place in the ninth century by the abbot Agilulfo. On the Proto-Romanesque building there was, between the ‘400 and the’ 500, the current basilica. Two things to admire absolutely: the mosaic, the original pavement of the Agilulfo basilica, a real praying carpet for the faithful where biblical scenes and the months of the year are found and the sarcophagus of San Colombano in the crypt. Surely it is a place where you still breathe an atmosphere of extreme peace. From Piazza San Colombano you can reach the 14th century Malaspina-Dal Verme Castle, which with its powerful quadrangular doorman dominates the village. Next to the remains of the Medieval Tower of the Bishop.
You can not miss the visit of the small sitting room in Piazza Duomo, crowned by porches, and the Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral, whose facade dates back to 1463, while the two side towers are original in 1075. Inside a mix of styles: from the aisles decorated in neo-Gothic-Byzantine style to the 14th century frescoes. To be immersed in the Roman, longobard and carolingian wonders, the Abbey Museum, set up on the premises of the ancient scriptorium, presents exhibits related to both the monastery and the city.
The 13th century San Francesco Monastery with a 16th-century cloister, the “Teodolinda Queen” palace, the thirteenth-century Palazzo Brugnatelli, the ancient town of S. Giuseppe with stone buildings dating back to the 1100s and the Ocelli Mill, remain to be seen. To visit before leaving the village also the Shrine of Our Lady of Aid, a baroque building with a nave built in 1640 on a church of the ‘400.
– Have a cool bath in the clear and bathing waters of the Trebbia River and sunbathe in the quiet little beaches that many seek from the bathers.
– Discover the Upper Val Trebbia on foot, by bike, by bike, on horseback or by rafting.
– Go for mushrooms, truffles and chestnuts, and take advantage of the autumn festivals dedicated to them.
– Visit the Ethnographic Museum of the Trebbia Valley in Callegari and the castles of the Valley
– Penice Pass Descent: Thanks to the lighting system, you can extend the pleasure of a day in the snow until evening.
– Cross-country skiing in Vallette resort to experience the 10 km of tracks with 7.5, 5, 3 or 2 km rings.
Bobbio Film Festival in the charming cloister of the Abbey, the prestigious film festival that awarded the Gobbo d’Oro prize.
Snail Festival and Christmas Market – December For the streets of the village, fun stalls with Christmas items, games and children’s entertainment while in the restaurants you can enjoy the famous snails at the bobs, a typical Christmas Eve dish.
Food and Wine
In Val Trebbia, good food and typical menu at km 0 are assicurate. Sausage Appetizer with 3 D.O.P. (cup, bacon and salami), tris prime with maccheroni alla bobbiese, malfatti (gnocchetti made of ricotta and beetole and baked in the oven) and pinoli, bis of seconds with brachettone (bacon sauce made with the shoulder of the often served pig with polenta, or legumes) and snails alla bobbiese. How sweet the crunchy made with almonds and sugar-like basket. All “watered” by one of the over 20 Doc labels of Colli Piacentini. Looking out among the shops of the old town you will find that in addition to the salami the local gastronomy also pops porcini and truffles mushrooms.
San Colombano – founder of the Abbey of the same name was recently defined by Pope Benedict XVI as a saint since he was the first to use the Latin expression “totius Europae”. It is also patron of motorcyclists, frequent guests of the village.
Marco Bellocchio – the artist from Piacenza, was one of the most renowned film producers and filmmakers in Italy who created the cinematic “Farecinema” lab in 1995, which in 2005 becomes the Bobbio Film Festival.
Path and Pilgrim Ways
For trekking enthusiasts we point out that the first regional stage of La Via degli Abati, also called “Mountain Francigena”, starts from Bobbio.
If you love nature and especially trees, we point out the monumental ones in the area:
– Platano in St. Francis Square in Bobbio
– The Oak in Cascina Stavello, Vaccarezza – Bobbio