Berceto: a journey back in time to the Middle Ages among the Parma Apennines
Berceto is a charming village set in the Parma Apennines, located 852 metres above sea level, halfway between Parma and La Spezia. The last stop on Via Francigena before the Apennine pass is Berceto, small in size but rich in monuments and sites of interest, including the Cathedral of St Moderanno and the ruins of the Castle of Berceto.
You are sure to be immediately struck by the medieval atmosphere that permeates the historic centre, among ancient alleyways, stone houses, elegant palaces built between the 12th and 17th centuries, and the cathedral overlooking the iconic, short Via Romea.
From the Cathedral to Saint Apollonia chapel
The Cathedral of St Moderanno dates back to the 12th century, though the neo-Romanesque façade was rebuilt in the late 19th century due to land subsidence. The central lunette is dedicated to the theme of redemption from sin, with reliefs depicting Jesus on the cross surrounded by Mary, St John and St Moderano, the patron saint of Berceto.
The interior was also remodelled during the Renaissance, but the presbytery, which dates back to the medieval church, contains two centuries-old relics: the bones of St Moderanno and of the martyr St Abbondio.
Inside the cathedral you will find the Saint Apollonia chapel, which is home to a small museum where you can admire an ancient glass chalice that dates back to before the 11th century.
The imposing castle of Berceto once dominated the town in its prime. Today, only a few ruins remain, but they are nevertheless well worth visiting. The castle was built in 1221 by the Commune of Parma, before being abandoned over the centuries and later used as a stone quarry to supply the construction of houses in the historic centre.
Just a few steps from the cathedral you can admire the restoration work on the ruins that began in 2004.
Unmissable sites around Berceto
Berceto doesn’t stop at its small historic centre and delicious dishes prepared with PGI Porcino Mushrooms and the ever-present Parmigiano Reggiano. Around the village, you can experience the High Apennines by horseback during the summer, exploring the small neighbouring villages.
On your way down the valley from the centre of Berceto, we recommend stopping at the village of Corchia and strolling among the stone houses and paved alleyways.
Continuing in the direction of La Spezia, you will come across the Cisa Pass, with the iconic Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Guard built in the early 1900s in the neo-Romanesque and neo-Gothic style - a truly unmissable site.