An ancient religious route between Santiago de Compostela and the Via Francigena

The Via dei Monti, or the Via de Pontremolo, originated in the 14th century as a trade route between Levanto and Lunigiana, at the behest of the Republic of Genoa, which was interested in developing trade by land and sea towards the Po Valley. The Levanto canal port was the point of arrival and departure for navigation along the coast in the direction of Spain throughout the Middle Ages, representing a sea route and later a land route to reach Santiago de Compostela. Levanto and Pontremoli are connected by their devotion to Saint James, which is still evident today with the presence of a chapel dedicated to the saint in the historic center of the village, not far from the ancient canal port that was built to make a portion of the Cantarana stream navigable. A large religious temple is also dedicated to Saint James near the point of arrival and departure of the Via dei Monti in Pontremoli. The building is imposing and simple in its design. It’s worth mentioning the close connection between Brugnato, whose diocese was founded in 1133, and Pontremoli, where the Church of St. Peter in Confluentu, located near the now-vanished Porta Fiorentina, served as a priory for the bishops of Brugnato and, for two centuries, as the seat of the diocese itself.

The route is characterized by numerous churches and chapels. In particular, there is the 14th-century Church of St. Andrew in Levanto, the Romanesque parish of St. Siro in Montale, which was part of the ancient Diocese of Luni, like the parish of St. Peter in Cornia in Pieve di Zignago, on the Ligurian side. In the Cà Vagine area in the hills of Levanto, you’ll find the Tadei Chapel, now incorporated into a residential building, built on a stone altar that attests to the presence of ancient Ligurian settlements. At Cassana, the Via dei Monti encounters the churches of St. Mary of the Mouth and the parish church, which developed on the site that served as a defensive structure for the Brugnato Abbey. Just outside the village of Borghetto di Vara, you’ll come across the small religious building of the Accola, which recalls the connection between the Lombards and the monks of San Colombano. In the historic center of Brugnato, the ancient monastic building that later became the episcopal seat and the cathedral, constructed on the foundations of two pre-existing paleochristian churches, represent a rendezvous with the history and spirituality of a bygone era.

Decree to supplement the catalog of Italian religious paths with the inclusion of the “Via dei Monti o de Pontremolo”.