The Abbots’ Road, an Apennine variant of the Via Francigena, is one of the devotional paths recently reevaluated not only by pilgrims but also by the whole walkers’ movement: the desire to retrace an ancient road, witness to many human events, and the pleasure of knowing a territory that, between hills and mountain landscapes, is one of the most beautiful of the Northern Apennines and it offers interesting food tastings too.
The trip starts from Pavia and gets to Pontremoli after 192 km, in the footsteps of St. Colombano’s Abbots who used this path to go to Rome. The path pass through the Po Valley, across the Apennines of Piacenza and Parma, up in Lunigiana, through forests on ancient sheep tracks.
The path meets many ancient villages: Caminata, Pometo, Canevino, up to Bobbio, then towards Bardi, Borgo Val di Taro and down to Pontremoli. The most iconic crossing point is the famous Abbey of St. Colombano in Bobbio, a resting place for pilgrims because here it’s located the grave of the Irish missionary monk.
The Abbots’ Road is walkable but it can be done also by mountain bike and it can be divided into two tranches:
First stage: from Pavia to Bobbio
A 66 km long flat path, sometimes hilly, on a trails, mule tracks, dirt roads and some short stretches of asphalt near the villages.
Numerous points of interest along the way: Pavia and its beautiful landscapes of the Oltrepò’s vineyards, San Colombano al Lambro, the Tidone valley, the old fortified town of Caminata and finally Bobbio, a center of religious and cultural life.
Second stage: from Bobbio to Pontremoli
The route starts in Bobbio to continue towards Bardi, it crosses Borgo Val di Taro and goes down to Tuscany in Pontremoli. It is a mountainous path, that develops on trails, mule tracks and dirt roads, with some short stretches of asphalt.
This route can be divided into two sections:
I) Bobbio - Boccolo dei Tassi - Bardi: a bundle of roads allows to cross the territory of Coli and the Nure valley, using from time to time the possible paths to get to Boccolo dei Tassi, point of support for the abbots of Bobbio, who could stop and rest here before arriving in Bardi.
I) Bardi - Borgo Val di Taro - Pontremoli: it partially overlaps the so-called "Monasteries’ Road", which connected the royal foundations of the plain with those of Val di Tolla, Gravago and Pontremoli, then going towards Rome.
Many points of interest along the way. In the Coli’s church it is preserved the Crux Michaelica, a Celtic style cross with Latin inscriptions, dating back to the tenth century; the mountain ‘Sella dei Generali’ Pass, the highest point along the Road (1,217 mt.); the river Nure; Mount Lama, where lived the Neanderthals; the Bardi Fortress, jewel of military architecture and luxurious home.
At Borgo Val di Taro there is the ‘Via Crucis' Traversi, in Castel Sant'Elmo the church of San Rocco; then the forest of Borgallo and the scenic ridge between Emilia and Liguria; the Pisciarotta waterfall; Lake Green and finally Pontremoli, with the Museum of the enigmatic ‘Stele Statues’, menhir-statues within the megalithic phenomenon.