Oratory of Saint Bernard

During medieval times, Via dei Monti passed through the centre of Brugnato, passing under its still-standing gates: Porta Soprana, guarding the west, and Porta Sottana, looking over the East. The hamlet grew around the abbey of Saint Columbanus, built between the 7th and 8th century, and enjoyed a central position in Val di Vara, this made it a strategic node where many roads crossed, some of them connecting the coasts of Luni and Sestri Levante with Pianura Padana.

This disposition to being a crossway is told to us by the oratory of the Brotherhood of Saint Bernard, towering over the eastern entrance, it was most likely built around the same time as the abbey to function as a place of prayer for wanderers who found shelter in the near Peregrinario, the hospital of Saint Anthony. If one was coming from the sea, following Via dei Monti, Brugnato would be the cornerstone of the first stretch and the starting point of the most difficult one. This last stretch touched Serò and, through the pathway known as Reigada, reached the village of Zignago, which was destroyed, likely from a fire. The population that lived there moved in the more recent hamlet of Pieve, seat of the old Cornia parish, dependant of the diocese of Luni, continuing the settling tradition of this area.

Via dei Monti left Zignago to continue upstream the divide between this territory and Zerasco and then descended towards Pontremoli. This stretch from Brugnato to Pontremoli is now clearly visible unlike the opposite one, leading from Brugnato to Borghetto di Vara. There Via dei Monti is compromised by a network of recent roads and a highway tollgate, radically changing the overall road network.

Oratory of Saint Bernard and entrance to the oldtown of Bruganto

Entrance to the oratory


Decorative detail at the entrance to the oratory

Detail of Brosini square and remains of the old well

Detail of Brosini square and remains of the old well


Passage facing onto piazza Brosini