Hermitage of San Viano

The Hermitage of Blessed Viviano, known as Viano by the inhabitants of Vagli, is located at an altitude of about 1090 metres, on the eastern slopes of Mount Roccandagia, not far from the path that joins Campocatino to the Arnetola Valley.

The small church is a santuario d'abri, a sanctuary sheltered under rock. Of the saint we do not have precise information: tradition has it that he retreated to these inhospitable lands and fed on wild cabbages, known locally as the “Cabbages of San Viano”. These plants, according to legend, sprang up miraculously after the prayers of the starving Saint. It is narrated that the same Viviano caused three jets of water to spurt from a rock to quench his thirst in the summer heat.

Many other legends revolve around this ascetic figure. It is also said that, as soon as this pious man came to the land of Garfagnana, he was frowned upon by unenlightened men of the land, with some mocking him and casting stones at him. However, the stones turned into loaves of bread before reaching their target.

Historical notes

A pastoral visit dated 1568 documents the presence, inside the church erected after the death of the hermit, of an urn containing the mortal remains of St. Viano. For centuries it was thought that the urn had been lost or hidden, until it came to light in 1993. Scientific tests were conducted on the bones and identified the buried remains of a thirty-year-old male who had lived and died during the medieval ages, confirming the hypothesis that the bones might belong to Viviano.

The small church can be reached by a thirty minute walk. Nearby, there is also a large marble boulder with seeming knee and foot impressions, said to be the result of the continuous kneeling there of the saint.


Hermitage of San Viano, general view of the village of Vagli