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The Via degli Abati

A route rich in history and tradition that runs through a land of utterly unique landscapes, unchanged over time

The ancient Via degli Abati, the Francigena mountain route, travelled every year by more than a thousand pilgrims through centuries-old woods, gullies and streams, connects the medieval centres of Pavia, Bobbio and Pontremoli before going on to Lucca and ending in Rome on the Via del Volto Santo.

Starting from the 17th century, the Via degli Abati was used by monks to reach Rome and by Irish clergymen on pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint Colombanus, as well as for the transport and distribution of the products from the monastic possessions of the town of the same name to Piacenza territories, the Valleys of Ceno and Taro, and Tuscany.

The 190-km long route is much more challenging than the better-known Via Francigena and winds along paths, mule trails and cart tracks, crossing valleys and ridges for an overall difference in altitude of 6,000 metres. There are countless hamlets, churches, rocks and places that have remained unchanged over time, where the natural elements and abandonment by mankind contribute to the current fascination.

The Lombardy route, which runs from Pavia to the hills of Oltrepò and the Apennine crest of Mount Penice, is made up of three parts of almost equal length (each around 20 kilometres): the first covers the plain from Pavia to Broni and the first hill; the second is through the hills and ends at Pometo/Caminata; the third is in the high hills and mountains between Caminata and the crest of Penice. From here, the route descends to Bobbio.

At the eastern outskirts, continue along the Via Francigena until the end of the houses, then head south, following the Green Way of the Parco del Ticino. The path continues parallel with the river up to the Ponte della Becca, in the province of Pavia, built between 1910 and 1912 on the confluence between the rivers Ticino and Po.

In 1944, it was partly destroyed by bombardments during the Second World War but was reopened to traffic in 1950. After crossing the bridge, the majestic bank of the Po is on the left, unsurfaced and without traffic, hugging the river before turning towards the hills in the direction of Broni-Stradella.

At Broni, the old Via dell’Acqua Calda climbs to Colombarone, at the start of the ridge of the hill that separates the Scuropasso valley from the Versa valley.
From Colombarone, it continues along the whole ridge through various districts: Castana, Sannazzaro, Cella, Spagna and Francia and then Ca’ Tessitori, where it deviates along the carttrack to Canevino and, finally, Pometo.
There are few stretches on asphalt roads and they are only found near the most important centres.

 

5 REASONS TO COVER THE ROUTE

1. Walking to Broni, tasting the delicious products offered by this ancient land, visiting its cellars and sipping the various wines: a sensory explosion!

2. The experience of a walk to Pavia. The wealth of places of faith in this splendid city is among the most abundant in the great panorama of Lombardy: Pavia has always been the natural crossroads of many historic routes.

3. The architectural beauty created by the genius of mankind: evidence of this can be found in Broni with its various palaces,including Palazzo Arienti, Villa Gallotti and Villa Maccabruni.

4. The immense, ordered expanse of vines, which take on warm, bright colours in autumn,from yellow to fire red.

5. Genuine hospitality and good cuisine at every stage of the way.

 

 

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