Have you ever heard of the San Romedio sanctuary? I am sure you have because this gem is the envy of the whole of Europe! The building is an ancient hermitage where, according to legend, Saint Romedio lived with his bear. Is this why everyone up here is said to be a bit grumpy, like a bear with a sore head? Joking apart, let me tell you this: if you come to the Val di Non, put San Romedio right at the very top of your list of things to see.
Why’s that? I will give you at least three good reasons. Let’s leave the bear until last, trust me, there is much more. Above all, there is the magic of the place. Five little churches stacked on top of each other, all built on a rocky outcrop joined together by a long staircase with 131 steps. Exhausting! But don’t complain, when you get up there you will thank me for it.
Second reason? The path in the rock that leads to the hermitage. Enchanting, relaxing, a little bit vertiginous: in short, it is the perfect way to prepare yourself emotionally for your visit to the San Romedio Sanctuary.
And, last of all, the famous bear. Don’t rush to judgement. Hear me out about why the bear is here.
You see, in the Val di Non everything has a reason, let me explain.
The legend of the Trentino bear and San Romedio
The San Romedio Sanctuary is often best known for the nature reserve next to the entrance where a bear lives in semi-captivity, a mascot for all the children in the Val di Non.
The presence of a Trentino bear in this place of worship is linked to the legend which says that Romedio, by then an old man, set off for the city determined to meet the bishop of Trento, Vigilio. Along the way, his horse is said to have been mauled by a bear but Romedio remained unbowed and as he approached the beast he was miraculously able to calm it and ride it to Trento. When he returned from Trento, Romedio decided to dedicate his life to the hermitage and the bear became his sole companion until his death.
In memory of this legend, in 1958 the Senator Count Gian Giacomo Gallarati Scotti, honorary member of the founding committee of the WWF in Italy, bought Charlie, a bear which would otherwise have died because its fur had been sold and donated him to the San Romedio Sanctuary. Since then, the nature reserve at the San Romedio Sanctuary has offered shelter to other bears from Trentino and elsewhere which otherwise would met a similar fate. Today, the San Romedio Sanctuary is home to “Bruno”, a beautiful Abruzzo bear.
La leggenda dell'orso trentino e di San Romedio
San Romedio è sempre raffigurato al fianco di un orso, ecco perchèDetails
Gli ex voto del Santuario di San Romedio
Conosciamo la storia degli ex voto che affollano le pareti della ripida scalinata del Santuario di San RomedioDetails
5 modi per arrivare a piedi al Santuario di San Romedio
"Tutte le strade portano a Roma" dice il proverbio... Beh, da noi in Val di Non invece "tutte le strade portano a San Romedio"!Details
The history and architecture of San Romedio Sanctuary
The history and legend of San Romedio SanctuaryDetails
Fausto e Bruno, storia dell'amicizia tra uomo e orso a San Romedio
Fausto e Bruno, una storia unica. Fausto è l’uomo, indaffarato e serio, Bruno è l’orso, possente e giocoso. Un incontro di quelli belli che è passato dalla diffidenza alla fiducia e poi, inevitabilmente all’amicizia.Details
San Romedio festival
On 15 January, the San Romedio festival returns, the annual event in honour of the hermit saint.Details
The Val di Non, a place of pilgrimage
The Val di Non has forever been criss-crossed by pilgrims in search of the San Romedio Sanctuary.Details
San Romedio sanctuary: useful information
Everything you need to know about the most distinctive hermitage in Europe, perched atop the rock.Details
Val di Non Multimediale
At the turn-off for the road to San Romedio, don’t miss the little interactive museum about the Val di Non!Details