top of page



A mountain paradise on the Via degli Abati




The Sella dei Generali is a plateau that offers, among other things, a magnificent view of the Valtrebbia and Valnure. Particularly frequented by grazing animals, this area is rich in springs which are probably fed by an underground lake.


The pass is basically made up of two steps. The first place on the ridge between the Trebbia and del  Nure, while the second is located a few hundred meters away, between the valley of the Perino stream and the valley of the Nure.


Here it is possible to enter with a still intact nature, where to rediscover the pleasure of the environment, pure air and silence, and where oral testimonies recount the presence of the ruins of a watchtower once placed to control the path.


You can go up to the Sella da Perino, in the direction of Passo del Cerro / Bettola. After 3 kilometers continue over the bridge, along the road that leads to the small town of Aglio, crossing the splendid wood to Pradovera. From this point, after another three kilometers, you reach Passo Santa Barbara , turning left, where the plateau begins to take shape.


The other access route is the one that goes up from Coli, about a kilometer and a half after Bobbio, towards Genoa. Turn left, crossing the bridge over the Trebbia, then climbing towards Coli, from which you continue following the signs for Peli, turning left and continuing for another three kilometers.




Coli is a small mountain town at 639 meters above sea level, located between the valley of the Curiasca river and Mount Sant'Agostino, near the Via degli Abati and the Sella dei Generali . The area was inhabited by the Ligurians in the 1st century AD, and it was probably they who gave the place its name. Later, it passed under Lombard control, and then became an important monastic cell after the foundation of the Monastero di Bobbio.  In its surroundings there are some interesting destinations to be included in the route towards the Sella.


In fact, near Coli stands the famous Spelonca di San Michele . It is a rocky ravine where tradition has it that San Colombano used to retire in prayer, where he apparently moved to the Curiasca, and where he died on November 23, 615. After Colombano's disappearance, the Spelonca became a pilgrimage destination, and a small church was built here. In the 10th century the small church built in the cavern was enlarged and officially dedicated to the Irish saint, and another not far away and wider was erected, also dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel. The two buildings fell into disrepair in the 19th century, and today only some partially recovered remains remain visible.


Since 2003, it has returned to being a place of worship with an official rededication. The ancient Micaelica Cross , in carved stone, was instead transferred to the church of Coli together with the wrought iron cross, replaced by a copy left at the hermitage.


The dedication to St. Michael, on the other hand, seems to be attributable to the link between St. Michael, the angel-warrior defender of the faith, also considered the protector of travelers and pilgrims.


From the thirteenth century, after the period of monastic dominion, Coli passed to the Grassi family, of Ghibelline belonging, who built the Castello dei Magrini . The castle was then abandoned by them to move to that of Faraneto. The fortress ended collapsing in 1969, and today only a few ruins of a watchtower are visible.


Another castle in the area is that of Faraneto , which was inhabited by the Grassi in 1441, and which in the 1600s was abandoned by its owners, who moved to Piacenza. The building has come back to life thanks to the intervention of the current owner Marco Ferreri, and retains two beautiful portals, a large hall 43 meters long and 22 wide, as well as bounty wells and traps and instruments of torture.


In the surroundings there are also other fortifications, such as the so-called Torre di Macerato , a surviving part of a castle dating back to the early medieval period. The manor belonged to the Monastery of San Paolo di Mezzano, then passed in the 13th century to the Anguissola and Caracciolo family, and was then sold to local farmers in the 19th century. Not far away, moreover, stands the Castello di Pozzo , an outpost of the Macerato Castle, highlighted by a square-plan crenellated tower and a courtyard surrounded by stone houses


A few kilometers from Coli, the Sanctuary of Sant'Agostino is visible, surrounded by a thick pine forest. It was built by Bishop Abbiati di Bobbio starting from 28 August 1622, the feast of Sant'Agostino, but in 1629 a plague epidemic caused the interruption of the works, which were never resumed. Only in the 1900s were the reconstruction and expansion completed, with a new facade built in 1968.


In the center of Coli stands the Church of San Vito, Modesta and Crescenza , built between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, on the site where the oldest church of 1014, which depended on the Monastero di Bobbio, once stood. The Micaelica Cross from the Spelonca di San Michele, dated between the 8th and 9th centuries, was placed on the counter-façade, which in the center bears a solar symbol, reminiscent of Celtic crosses.


Excursions along the Via degli Abati


The Sella dei Generali is a destination for hiking trails of different levels of intensity and difficulty, starting with families up to trekking enthusiasts. The paths touch, among other things, Cima Liscaro , to reach the summit plateau of the Sella, a place that stands out for its magical and mysterious atmosphere, and which hosted numerous hunting camps in the Mesolithic.


The routes closely follow the course of the so-called Via degli Abati, which is an attraction in the process of being rediscovered. It is in fact a still little known historical path, which was born in the Lombard period to ensure the crossing of the Apennines from Pavia to Pontremoli, in order to facilitate trade contacts and the flow of pilgrims to Rome.


The creation of the stretch of the Via degli abati between Bobbio and Pontremoli was opened between the seventh and ninth centuries, and drew its importance above all in reference to the activity of the powerful Abbey of San Colombano . From Bobbio, in fact, it was necessary to maintain contacts with Rome and the Papacy, as well as favoring trade between Lombardy, Tuscany and Lazio.


The Via therefore maintained its importance for a long time, and then began a phase of decline, which began when the control of the Cisa Pass was taken away from the Byzantines as a place of transit, along the Via Francigena di Sigerico. However, the path today is going through a phase of rediscovery and relaunch, thanks also to the activity and commitment of the Via degli Abati Association.


Starting from Bobbio, you cross the famous Ponte Gobbo , go up gradually to Case Gambado, Bellocchio and Santa Cecilia, arriving then in Coli, near the cave-cavern of San Colombano. After passing the remains of the Castello dei Magrini, you cross the clear waters of the Curiasca stream , which forms small pools and waterfalls along its route. From there you reach Faraneto, in sight of Peli, where a fortification once stood. Later we reach Pescina, where the remains of an early medieval building were found, and then go up to the Sella dei Generali.


The entire route of the Via degli Abati is well signposted, also thanks to the fact that some of its sections coincide with the Via Francigena. Despite numerous stretches of the route through dense and shady woods, it is always easy to keep the direction. Along the way it is possible to stay overnight in bed and breakfast but also at the special hospitality places managed by the parishes along the way.


Its route has been included among the nine most beautiful walking routes in Italy, chosen from all the itineraries that are articulated along the religious paths and transhumance routes of the Bel Paese.

bottom of page