Bobbio and Coli, villages in the Apennines of Piacenza, have long been important crossroads for communication, the salt trade, and the travels of abbots. Abbots followed along the path from Pavia to Rome passing through Pontremoli. Pilgrims also followed these routes. The abbots of Saint Columban’s in Bobbio journeyed on the roads to visit the Pope and to check on the monastery’s distant possessions in Pavia Oltre Po and Tuscany.
The history of Bobbio and Coli is strictly linked to the Irish monk Columban who, after travelling Europe, reached Bobbio in 614. There he founded a monastic center which became the most important cultural centre in Northern Italy.
Saint Columban did not spend much time in his monk’s cell at the monastery. He preferred to pray in solitary places and in difficult to reach hermitages. In the area of Coli, in the Curiasca Valley, close to Bobbio, the Saint chose a rocky cavern called Saint Michael or Coli’s grotto. According to the legend, it’s where the Saint died on November 23rd aged about 73 years.
The European Association of “The Way of Saint Columban” has been founded to bring to attention and develop all the places the saint crossed during his journey from Ireland to Italy. The historical and spiritual journey is still under construction and will end in Coli, where the Saint ended his long earthly journey.