Bobbio and San Colombano are inseparable. The first is a place, the second a man.
The history of the village is linked to the monk arrival and the development of the monastery, he founded.
Located on the left bank of the Trebbia River, in an area inhabited since prehistoric times, Bobbio is the most important town of the valley. It’s a river beach tourist spot and ski resort thanks to its proximity to Mount Penice.
The history of Bobbio is bound up with the history of Saint Colombano abbey, founded in 614, which during the early Middle Age became one of the most important seat of the middle age religious culture in Italy. It had a famous scriptorium and its important library.
After the Unification of Italy, Bobbio was incorporated to Pavia; only in 1923 it came back to Piacenza province. The area was already inhabited during the Stone Age and it was successively populated by some Ligurian settlements.
After the Ligurians, the Gauls took over and after a while Bobbio became part of the Roman empire. The name of the village comes from the name of the stream, which reaches the village from south.
How Bobbio and San Colombano met
In 614, the Irish monk Colombano arrived with his disciples in Bobbio, this specific land was donated to him by Agilulfo, the Lombard king. In this place Colombano found only a little crumbling church, dedicated to Saint Pietro, he decided to restore it and create there a new monastery.
At that time, he was more then seventy years old, tired and probably sick: he died on the 23rd November 615. His disciples buried him in the little church of San Pietro and kept on leading the monastery. The convent got start to be crowded: already in 643 one hundred monks lived there. Around the convent, the first civil houses were built.
The political power of the abbey
The abbey of Bobbio, with its schools, the Library, the Scriptorum, the monastery and its economical system, became soon an important political power.
During the Lombard Time, the properties of the abbey were already extended to the all North of Italy. In 774, Charles the Great, conquered Pavia and its land, in the meanwhile he put an end to the Lombard Kindom. After few days the monks of Bobbio received many important goods as donations, which made them silenced by the new king. Bobbio was in a strategic position to open the Franks victories to the direction of Liguria and the center of Italy. The abbey of Bobbio became a imperial monastery, and the Abbey was a rich fiefdom.
In 1014 the abbot obtained the episcopal jurisdiction and in the same year the independent diocese of Bobbio was born. During the first years the abbot and the bishop were the same person; after a while the two positions got divided to two different persons with the relative division of property.
From this ruling, the decline of Bobbio began. The inner fights between the abbot and bishop and some more internal conflicts and the new communes influenced the fast decadence of the town.
Nowadays the abbey building is hosting the Museum of the Abbey, mainly consist of archaeological objects collections and art pieces related to the figure of the Saint from the IV to the XVIII centuries; and then the Museum of the city, with an opening educational tour to the city, exhibited inside of the previous dining hall and the shared hand washing room. The upper floor hosts the Museo Collezione Mazzolini, which includes works of art of the XX century.