Hermitage of San Cerbone (Poggio)

The Hermitage of San Cerbone is located on the slopes of Monte Capanne, at a height of 530 m asl, overlooking the villages of Marciana and Poggio, submerged by centuries-old chestnut trees.

The origin of the Hermitage of San Cerbone dates back to the escape of the bishop of Populonia to the Island of Elba due to the Lombard raids. Cerbone chose the valley of Monte Capanne as a refuge. According to tradition, the church was built immediately after the saint’s death, in 575, but is explicitly mentioned only in 1421, in relation to the Franciscan Observance convent built on the site. The friars soon abandoned the convent which was later transformed into a hermitage. The façade has a granite portal with a projecting frame and interrupted arch and two small windows with railings on the sides. The interior with a single nave with a gabled roof preserves the ancient altars and terracotta floors. A nineteenth-century canvas on the high altar depicts “San Cerbone”.

There Cave of the Holy

In a rocky wall 300 meters from the hermitage is the There Cave of the Holy (with a negligible depth), the place where Bishop Cerbone lived for two years.

The Hermitage of S. Cerbone

Founded by S. Cerbone between the year 573 and 575 this hermitage is the oldest place of worship on the island of Elba. rebuilt in 1421 by the prince appiani at the suggestion of S. Bernardino di siena, it fell into disuse during the second half of this century. it was emptied of its original furniture, vandalized and covered in graffiti and left in complete abandonment. A group of international friends, who chose the quiet and peace of the island after the Second World War, wanted the restoration of this historic church as a thank you to the people of Elba for the happy years they spent here. The work lasted 14 years and was finished in 1993.

Who was Cerbone bishop of Popuonia

San Cerbone, originally from Africa, was bishop of Populonia at the time of the barbarian invasions, in the 6th century. Pope Saint Gregory the Great speaks of him in his Dialogues, defining him as “a man of venerable life, who gave great proof of sanctity”. The most famous of these tests was given when Totila was looking for some Roman and Christian soldiers. The holy bishop of Populonia hid them and for this he incurred the wrath of the barbarian king, who decreed his death by means of wild beasts. He sent Cerbone to the so-called Campo del Merlo, where a ferocious bear was supposed to tear him to pieces, in the presence of the sovereign himself. The show seemed to promise great emotions, but Totila had not foreseen a fact that astonished him: when the bear arrived before the bishop (San Cerbone) he remained for an instant almost petrified in the act of aggression, with his front paws raised and his jaws wide open. Then, slowly, he fell back on his claws, closed his mouth and began licking the saint’s feet with unexpected gentleness. Totila released Cerbone, but after Totila’s Goths the Lombards arrived to drive out the bishop of Populonia, who therefore took refuge in the island of Elba.

San Cerbone and Elba

Legend has it that San Cerbone, now old and close to dying, asked to be buried in Populonia, still in the hands of the Lombards, recommending his followers to return to the sea immediately after having provided for his burial. Once the saint died, the followers crossed the Piombino Canal without being miraculously seen by the enemies due to the clouds and fog. In Poggio on the island of Elba the oral tradition is still alive which tells of an imposing south-westerly storm which, as the boat with the body of Cerbone subsided, creating a flat sea route from Marina di Poggio towards Baratti. His family were thus able to bury Cerbone’s body in the gulf of Baratti, in which a small building dedicated to the saint, the Chapel of San Cerbone, still stands today.

The body of San Cerbone, however, was later transferred to the cathedral of Massa Marittima, when this was chosen as the new seat of the diocese.

How to reach the San Cerbone Hermitage

The San Cerbone hermitage is 2 km from Poggio, the first 500 m can be done by car, then around the height of the Fonte di Napoleone you have to continue on foot for another 1500 m, the road is comfortable, but uphill, with a difference in altitude of around 200 m. It is located on the trail n. 101 between Poggio and Marciana, at an altitude of 530 meters above sea level on a small plateau on the slopes of Monte Huts.


Location Romitorio di San Cerbone