Pristine nature and thermal waters


The waterfalls of the Carlone stream represent one of the most fascinating naturalistic destinations in the Bobbie area. Placed as they are in an uncontaminated place, near San Cristoforo, they offer an unmissable opportunity for an excursion and a total immersion in nature.


The Carlone Valley


The Carlone stream crosses the homonymous valley in the province of Piacenza, near the medieval village of Bobbio, after being born in the middle of the Rocche del Casone, near the Cima delle Scalette, in the province of Pavia. Its route, which is 10 kilometers long overall, ends by flowing into the Trebbia river, near San Martino di Bobbio.


Ancient stone quarries were active in the valley, which were used, starting from the 7th century, for the construction of buildings both in the area and in Bobbio and Val Trebbia.


This area is particularly popular with trekking enthusiasts, especially along the medieval path that leads to the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Monte Penice, a variant of the Via Fracigena that connected Bobbio with the Lombard Salt Road.


The valley can be accessed thanks to four asphalted roads. One of these rooms from Bobbio to the Valgrana area and then to San Cristoforo and Mogliazze. Another goes from San Martino to Moglia, then there is the one that from Brallo di Pregola goes down to Dezza, and finally the last one that goes from Corte Brugnatella down to Bobbio above Moglia.


The waterfalls


The waters of the Carlone stream along their route form a series of three waterfalls and other waterfalls, which include the Cascata Alta and the most famous Thermal Waterfall . At the foot of the latter there is a small lake of thermal water, of a bromine-iodine-sulphurous nature, as well as being rich in magnesium and a saline source of salsa water. The waters of the stream, in fact, have thermal properties, thanks to the high concentration of salt minerals.



The hike


The path leading to the Carlone Falls is initially flat, and passes through beech and oak woods, then going up the mountain ridge, announcing the Carlone stream thanks to some glimpses of the wild valley below. Numerous dry stone walls and ruins are also visible, which testify to an intense agricultural activity, including the cultivation of medicinal plants once used in the Monastery of San Colombano .


Halfway along the path, the path approaches the stream, where the roar of the water begins to be felt. Then you come to a crossroads and, taking the road that goes down, you get to the thermal waterfall of Carlone , thanks also to a rope that allows an easy descent towards the base.


In this stretch, the stream makes three jumps: between the first and the second a small lake opens - a sort of natural swimming pool - where you can cool off and stop. By following a small path, you also reach the base of the waterfall to enjoy the spectacle offered by the triple jump of the waters.


Returning to the crossroads, take the uphill road, which climbs up the right side of the mountain, then descends again to the stream, to reach the Cascata Alta del Carlone . Then go up along the Sentiero dei Lupi, crossing a beech forest, and reach a small saddle at 1120 meters above sea level.


San Cristoforo


The inhabited center of San Cristoforo , part of the municipality of Bobbio, is the reference point for those who want to visit the waterfalls. At 650 meters above sea level, the village stands on the left bank of the Carlone torrent, under the Costa Ferrata and in sight of the Bricco di Carana del Monte Alberto.


The area, inhabited since the Neolithic era, was populated around 1100 BC by the Ligurian Bagienni, and then by the Celtic population of the Galli Boi. The latter became part of Hannibal's army, which passed by Monte Penice, where he stopped to pay homage to the divinities of the sacred place where, then, the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Penice would rise. Immediately after, the great Carthaginian general descended along the valley of the Carlone torrent, touching Costa Ferrata and Mogliazze, directed to what would become the place where the famous Battle of the Trebbia took place, in 218 BC


Later, as in the case of many other towns in the area, San Cristoforo saw the birth of a monastic cell, called Viulio, which in Roman and later Lombard times was called Vidulium.


During the eighth century San Crsitoforo and the Valle del Carlone became part of an independent priory, and the territory, rich in sheep farms, became a fundamental resource for the production of the parchments that were used at the Scriptorium of the Bobbio Monastery . In addition, with the constant increase of monks in the area, numerous hamlets arose, which hosted new monastic cells, together with a refectory and a small chapel.


The monks also exploited the salt pans in the ravines of the Carlone thermal waterfall, together with the pond. The salt was produced by evaporation and boiling, and its quality was considered superior to that of sea salt, thanks to its high mineral content, including iodine and magnesium.


In the first half of the 11th century, San Cristoforo became part of the domains of the Bishopric, and was mentioned in the Diploma of Corrado II, in 1207.


On the occasion of a plague epidemic that hit the region in 1498, the monks used the Carlone waters, which were defined as "miraculous", to take baths, mud and inhalations as a remedy for the disease, saving the lives of the inhabitants of the area. and to the pilgrims who passed through the Via Francigena bound for Bobbio.


The small village housed two chapels, one of which was dedicated to San Giacomo, and was located under the ancient monastery, then transformed into a private building in the 1600s, while the other, dedicated to San Cristoforo, became the main church.


Nearby was also active the Solia monastic cell, today Moglia, with an ancient chapel of "La Chioccia" , to which land and some mills were annexed. The oldest church stood near the current cemetery, in the Chiesa Vecchia area, but was abandoned in the Napoleonic period, and today only the remains of the floor and the underlying crypt remain visible.


In the heart of the village, in a dominant position over the inhabited area, the fortified house , formerly the seat of the monastic cell of the monks of San Colombano in the seventh century, is visible, together with the remains of the chapel of San Giacomo. It is a building partially reinforced by massive escarpment walls, with one side that stands out for its curious curved shape.


The house is mentioned for the first time in 972, when San Cristoforo, which at the time was called Viulio, is mentioned in a Diploma of Brass I, within a list of monastic cells founded by the Monastery of San Colombano. In 1207, however, the building passed into the domains of the bishopric of Bobbio.


In the upper part, the new Church of San Cristoforo di Bobbio dominates, which, together with the rectory, was built in 1910, following the abandonment of the ancient parish church on the hill of Chiesa Vecchia. Inside you can see a plaque of the last pilgrimage of the statue of the Madonna del Penice, which was carried on the shoulder from Mount Penice along the medieval road in memory of the healings from the plague.




From San Cristoforo it is also possible to reach the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Monte Penice , on the summit of the homonymous mountain and of the Pass, which connects Val Trebbia with the Staffora Valley, at 1460 meters above sea level.


Between Bobbio and Brallo di Pregola, in the La Costa area, stands the Ramari Fountain . It is a double source that flows from under two limestone boulders, with a flow rate of 180 liters per hour. Pilgrims heading to the Sanctuary of Monte Penice stopped there.


An ancient legend also handed down the story of the so-called Miracle of the Ramari Fountain, according to which prodigious healings of some lumberjacks took place, injured nearby, after drinking the spring water.


How to get


From Bobbio take Via del Bargo, continuing to the hamlet of San Cristoforo and park in the center of the town, under the Romanesque style church, already active in the seventh century as a place of worship for the monastic cell of Viulio.


From here, take the path, for a path of just over 10 kilometers, which does not present particular difficulties, and is provided with frequent indications along the whole CAI and the Path of the Wolves route.


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