PARCELLARA AND PERDUCA
The crested newts and the "Beds of the Saints"
The Parcellara Stone and the Perduca Stone are two reliefs present in the territory between Bobbio and Travo, which stand in an environment defined by many as "magical". The two stones are ophiolitic rock cusps that erosive processes have brought out from the clayey landscape of the Piacenza hills, and which houses seven different natural habitats.
The ophiolites, in fact, are rock formations that were formed as a result of the movement of the plates of the earth's crust, following melting processes and, subsequently, solidification of the mantle.
The entire area of the Val Trebbia was inhabited already from the most remote prehistory.
The territory that includes the stones was then inhabited by Celtic-Ligurian populations around the fourth century BC, and here, according to some scholars, the traces of ancient cults would have remained, which would then have evolved through the Roman era and then the advent of Christianity.
In fact, not far from Caverzago , an ancient deity was venerated which the Romans then assimilated to the goddess Minerva Medica. Subsequently, the region was affected by the first process of Christianization, thanks to the work of Bishop Savino.
The Parcellara Stone
The Pietra Parcellara is a mountain of 836 meters high, which is part of the territory of Bobbio, together with the locality of the same name and Brodo , in its south-west side, while the north-east one falls in the territory of Travo, together with the localities of The Bobbiano stone. From its top you can enjoy a panoramic view of the whole Trebbia Valley, the Bobbiano Valley, the Luretta Valley and Monte Penice .
In ancient times called Prescigliera , the mountain hosted in the Lombard era a monastic castrum which was part of the wide domains of the Abbey of San Colombano. Subsequently, the place grew in importance, so much so as to see the construction of the Castle of Prescigliera . Today only a few traces of this military building are visible on the summit.
Later, the stone became a property included among the possessions of the Monastery of San Paolo di Mezzano Scotti, to then be included in the fiefdom of the Malaspina family. In 1120 it was occupied by Guelph troops, during the war against the Ghibelline part of Bobbio, but it was the Malaspina who got the better of it and took possession of it. In 1155 it came into the possession of the Perduca family, feudal lords of Pietra Perduca, a fortified center with a castle.
At its feet stands the Oratory of the Madonna di Caravaggio , in Brodo, which depends on the parish church of Mezzano Scotti . It is a lovely little church, built by the joint work of the inhabitants of Brodo, Gazzoli and Pietra, and restored in 1990.
In addition, in this area there are also some sources of water considered curative, including the Acqua Marcia, which was used by the monks of Bobbio, in medieval times, for healing purposes.
The Perduca Stone
Perduca is also an ophiolithic cliff, whose profile is varied by a saddle, which emerges forcefully from a gentle and undulating hilly landscape.
La Pietra was probably a place of worship in antiquity, and today still preserves an ancient Oratory dedicated to Sant'Anna, and some tanks for the collection of rainwater of unknown origin, known as "Beds of the Saints" , probably dating back to 'Bronze Age.
The name of these tanks would be linked to the legend that wants them as the fate of beds in which the holy men of the place rested after having performed their miracles. Another of the dark aspects that concerns them, also reported by popular stories, is the one that wants the water in the pools never to change state: it never evaporates even during the hottest summers, and it never freezes even in the most rigid of winters.
One of the tanks is particularly famous for the presence of a colony of crested newts , particularly delicate and ecosystem sensitive amphibians, which usually live in pure water and with zero acidity. In spring, the males of the species change their appearance, with crests, caudal fringes and bright colors, to then proceed to the fertilization phase and the birth of tadpoles. The singular aspect, with regard to their presence on Perduca, is precisely that of habitually living in a water that is practically stagnant, and therefore not ideal for their biological characteristics.
Then there is an empty tank, only sketched, perhaps made as a shelter for the fire. In addition, carved in the rock, there are also small circular niches, perhaps of the cupels, probably used for ceremonial purposes.
Another curiosity, then, is linked to the fountain on the Perduca. It seems, in fact, that many people here go up specially to draw and drink the water, which some also take home.
The Oratory of Sant'Anna
The Oratory of Sant'Anna , nestled between the rocks, stands isolated on what was probably the site of a twelfth-century military outpost, replacing another church dating back to the tenth century, and subjected to various alterations in the following centuries .
The building is in exposed stone, with a gabled façade and a single rectangular portal, which is accessed via a staircase. On the portal a lowered window opens, and the bell tower stands out on the left side.
The architrave on the entrance door, an ancient rectangular recovered stone, there are Latin inscriptions and some letters belonging to the Celtic alphabet. The latter have speculated, in fact, a frequentation by Celtic populations of the site, especially for ceremonial and religious purposes.
Inside, according to popular tradition, a boulder would be preserved on which the footprint of the Madonna appears imprinted. Of considerable interest are the frescoes dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries, which have been effectively restored. They represent San Michele weighing souls, Sant'Antonio Abate, San Nicola di Bari, San Colombano, San Giorgio and a Madonna del Latte with Child.
A staircase carved in the rock leads to the highest part of the stone, where another basin is visible. Furthermore, on the site there is news of the existence of a castle, which was however razed to the ground in 1170.
Excursion to the Stones
Starting from Località Pietra, a hamlet of Travo, follow the CAI path n. 185, which quickly leads to a crossroads: on the left you reach Pietra Perduca, while turning right you reach instead the CAI path n. 167, which leads to the Oratorio della Pietra Parcellara. The path leading to the Parcellara peak starts immediately behind the building, where there is a small cross and statuettes of saints.
From this point it is possible to enjoy a 360 ° view from the Dorba torrent to the Perduca, from the Torre di Bobbiano with the Church of San Michele to the Corso del Trebbia and Bobbio. Going down the path used to go up, and you start from the Oratory to return to the crossroads in case you want to point towards the Perduca Stone.
Along the way you can see the built-up area of Montà and reach a new crossroads, where you turn left following the CAI trail signs, to reach the stairway leading to the Perduca stone immediately afterwards.
In the forest at its base there are tables for picnics and a fountain. From there you go up to the Church of Sant'Anna, and then go up the steps that open on its left side, with which you reach the top, which houses the famous tank carved in stone and the colony of crested newts.
Legend has it that the name of Travo derives from the Gallic leader Triverio, but there is also a theory that connects it to the Celtic word "trev", which means "villa". Probably, then, the term derives from the Latin Tres Vici, which would refer to the presence of three villages in the area.
The small center, which after the Romans and the Lombards became part of the domains of the Abbey of San Colombano, can be visited to discover its monuments.
Among the many sacred buildings, also scattered in the different hamlets, we recommend the Parish Church of Sant'Antonino, which was martyred nearby, the Church of the Beata Vergine Addolorata , built in the 4th century on a previous pagan temple, which retains its ancient medieval aspect, the Church of San Michele Arcangelo, dating back to before 1037, and the Church of Santo Stefano Protomartire.
In addition, the Anguissola Castle is visible, dating back to the XII century, at the time of the Malaspina, then passed to the Anguissola at the end of the XVIII century, which today houses the Civic Museum. In the hamlet of Caverzago , however, stands the Rocca of the same name, located on a cliff overlooking the Trebbia river.
The building was built near the Temple of the goddess Minerva , a Roman sanctuary that returned numerous votive stones, which were then transferred to the local church. Next to the ruins of the fortress, the medieval church of Santo Stefano is visible, with the remains of the watchtower of 1337. According to tradition, the legionary Antoninus was martyred near the ancient sanctuary, then proclaimed saint and patron of Travo and of Piacenza.
In the hamlet of Bobbiano stands the homonymous Tower, the remaining part of a Malaspina castle, and other military and defensive structures are numerous in the various hamlets of the country, such as the Torre di Campedello, the Chiosi Castle and the Chiosi Castle, of where there are now only a few remains.
Finally, in the Sant'Andrea area, there is the Archaeological Park of the Neolithic Village of Sant'Andrea , on the bank of the Trebbia river. Inside there are the remains of houses and the surrounding wall of a Neolithic village.
How to get there
By car, from Milan follow the A1 to the Piacenza Sud exit. Then follow the SS 45 of the Val Trebbia, up to the branch of Travo. From Piacenza and Perino it is possible to reach the Pietre by bus, with the ACAP bus lines to Bobbio.