The Abbots’ Way, also called Pilgrim’s way in the Mountains, is an ancient Middle-Age itinerary that the monks from St. Columba’s monastery in Bobbio used to tread since the 7th century, during their journeys to Rome, before the Pilgrim’s Way of Sigerico became the popular trail that we know today. The path had already been used by Longobards in the 7th century when Byzantines, occupying the Cisa territory, blocked their passage from Pavia towards the lands in Tuscany and Latium, thus forcing them to us an alternative road through Passo Penice and Bobbio.
The Abbots’ Way traverses Pavia province and Tosco-Emiliano Apennine through Piacenza, Parma, Massa Carrara, to pass by Pavia, Broni, Castana, Canevino, Pometo, Caminata, Romagnese, Bobbio, Coli, Farini, Bardi, Borgotaro, Pontremoli.
The trail is about 190 km long, more challenging than the renowned Pilgrim’s Way, because it unwinds along mountain paths, mule tracks, dusty tracks once treaded by carts, moving through valleys and steep tracks for an altitude gap of over 6000 metres overall. The trait Bobbio-Pontremoli is marked in red and white horizontal lines (CAI path) and is also georeferenced with GPS.
The ancient itinerary in the Bobbio-Pontremoli path was discovered at the end of the 1990s by Giovanni Magistretti, a scholar from Piacenza. His findings were published in May 2011 in a Cartoguida (map) of the Abbots’ Way, which is available in tourist info points in the areas traversed by the path (but also available upon request from the Via degli Abati association). In this publication the complete trail is presented, 120 km, divided on two spreads in colour, on a 1:25000 scale map.
In 2012 Giovanni Magistretti, with the support of Mario Pampanin – the President of the association Amici di San Colombano, also reconstructed the path that connected Pavia with Bobbio.He considered the testimony of the Longobard historian Paolo Diacono.
The path goes through Caminata, Pometo, Canevino, Cella and other historical centres and is 66 km long. It can be considered an extension of the Abbots’ Way, thus becoming the Apennine variant of the Pilgrim’s Way that links Pavia and Bobbio to Pontremoli. Since 2008, Mr. Elio Piccoli – marathon runner and president of the association “Lupi d’Appennino”, has been organising “The Abbots Way” ultra-marathon from Pontremoli to Bobbio. This is one of the most famous ultra-marathons immersed in nature, with only 10% of the trail on tarmacked roads.