The history of BOBBIO
The first human presences in the Bobbio area date back to the Bronze Age . Subsequently, the territory was inhabited by Ligurians and Celts, up to the Roman conquest, in the fourth century. In that phase the Pagus Bagiennus arose and, later, the garrison of Bobium became the property of the Lombard Duke Sundrarit.
And it is precisely in the Lombard era that the history of Bobbio begins as we know it today. A story closely linked to the arrival in these lands of San Colombano , an Irish friar who went so far to spread the Catholic faith and, with it, the culture.
Colombano, in fact, restored the church of San Pietro, thus creating the first nucleus of the Abbey of San Colombano , which became a real religious and cultural lighthouse, as well as one of the most powerful monasteries in Italy.
The abbey was enriched with a Scriptorium and a library and schools and, around it, the first houses inhabited by civilians were also built, giving life to what would later become the village of Bobbio. Its affirmation continued also under the dominion of the Franks, who conferred new goods and possessions on it.
The monastic complex reached its greatest expression of power also as a production, commercial and breeding center. Especially sheep, fundamental for the production of the parchments destined for the Scriptorium, where the monks tirelessly copied religious works and Latin writers.
The illuminated manuscripts of San Colombano, inspired by Irish style and culture, imposed themselves with their unmistakable writing, and the Library collected a large number of authentic masterpieces, such as the Purple Code of the Gospels.
In 1014 the abbots of San Colombano were recognized for their dignity and episcopal jurisdiction, which led to the birth of the autonomous Diocese of Bobbio, with the monastic village which thus became an episcopal city.
Then followed the internal struggles linked to the division of the role of abbot and bishop and, then, in 1230, the occupation by the city of Piacenza. In 1387, Bobbio became a fiefdom of the Dal Verme family until the 18th century.
A fascinating place to discover
Traveling the streets and squares of Bobbio is equivalent to taking a journey through time and history. Entering the narrow alleys of the ancient village, breathing the atmosphere and reliving the ancient settings of monastic life and fascinating historical events is a truly priceless experience.
The discovery of the village can start from the so-called Ponte Gobbo , one of the most relevant symbols of ancient Bobbio, which does not fail to exercise all its charm for the singularity of its forms and for the legends of which it is wrapped.
After crossing the bridge that crosses the Trebbia river, along the via degli Abati, you enter the ancient village, in view of the complex of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta , which also includes the Bishop's Palace, the Diocesan Museum, the Old Seminary and the Historical Archives bobiensi.
From Piazza del Duomo you then reach the Abbey of San Colombano , the real historical and architectural heart of Bobbio, full of memories, but also of legends and mysteries. The complex, which dates back to the late 15th and early 16th centuries, preserves some parts of the oldest proto-Romanesque structure, and includes the 11th century Refectory, which today houses the City Museum, the Basilica, the Cloister, the Internal gardens and the ex-prisons In the spaces that were once occupied by the glorious Scriptorium, instead, there is the Abbey Museum. A step away from the Abbey, then, to see the Church of San Lorenzo , with the ancient and mysterious inscription present on the Tombstone of Segnorino.
From the Abbey go up towards the Castle. Along the way it is worth a visit to the Porticoes of the Contrada del Castellaro , for an authentic journey through time, to discover the ancient and typical medieval houses of Bobbio.
The Malaspina Dal Verme Castle stands in the highest part of the village, and looks like a fortification closed by an internal wall, with the Mastio and a circular tower, the remains of the Torre del Vescovo and the Pozzo dei Coltelli, to which it is linked a dark legend.
Going down again towards the city center, from Contrada Castellaro you can follow the Via dei Mulini, where you can still see the ancient mill of the municipality or the mill of San Giuseppe.
Afterwards, after the ancient porticoes of Porta Frangula, you reach Palazzo Malaspina , an important and historic noble residence dating back to the 12th century, which also includes the Noble Archive, with the Diploma of Federico Barbarossa, and the Historical Library , which also houses ancient incunabula and the precious Sommola of peaceful consciousness of Pacifico da Novara.
Museums and Events for all months of the year
A visit to the historic center of Bobbio is enriched by the possibility of an interesting museum itinerary to be undertaken within the complex of the Abbey of San Colombano, in the name of a journey through the centuries and the arts.
The Abbey Museum, founded in 1963, is set up in the premises where the Scriptorium of the Monastery and the Library once stood, and preserves artifacts from the first centuries of the Christian era until the mid-16th century.
The City Museum is located in the internal Cloister, in rooms dating back to the 9th century, and includes the ancient Refectory and the fresco of the Crucifixion attributed to Bernardino Lanzani, the Kitchens and the underground cavedium, and the large cellar with icebox. The exhibition itinerary reconstructs the history of the Abbey of San Colombano, the Scriptorium and the city of Bobbio.
The Mazzolini Collection Museum is a museum of modern art and an art gallery housed in the upper rooms of the Monastery Library. The Mazzolini Collection includes 899 works, including paintings and sculptures, which bear the signature of artists such as Giorgio De Chirico, Mario Sironi and Lucio Fontana.
Among the main events that is part of the cultural and traditional life of Bobbio there is the Palio delle Contrade , which is held in June. The Contrade are five: Alcarina, Agazza, Nova, Legleria and Fringuella. Each of them takes its name from the gateways of the medieval city. The events, which include a historic court, involve the teams of the Contrade in a series of five skill races, competing for the conquest of the Drappo, which will remain in the possession of the "Contrada Regina" for a period of one year.
Another event that marks the rhythms of the cultural life of the city is undoubtedly the Bobbio Film Festival , a cinematographic event born in 1999 on the initiative of the director Marco Bellocchio, and which has become, over time, an important event in the sector. The Festival takes place every year at the Cloister of the Abbey of San Colombano.
In addition, the Piazza San Colombano also hosts Ireland in Music , a festival that celebrates the historical bond that unites Bobbio to the island that gave birth to San Colombano. An international event dedicated to Celtic music, which attracts hundreds of fans and tourists every year.