Grotto of San Cerbone
The Grotta di San Cerbone, the place where Bishop Cerbone would have lived for two years, is located in a rocky wall 300 meters from the hermitage. The cavity, with a negligible depth, had been used as a goat by local shepherds, who had partially occluded it with a stone wall. In September 2006, by the Bishop’s Curia of Massa Marittima, the cave was restored with the removal of the wall structure.
Hermitage of San Cerbone
Who was Cerbone bishop of Popuonia
San Cerbone, a native of Africa, was bishop of Populonia at the time of the barbarian invasions, in the sixth century. Pontiff St. Gregory the Great speaks of him in his Dialogues, calling him a “man of venerable life, who gave great proofs of holiness”. 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 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 would have to tear him to pieces, in the presence of the king himself. The show seemed to promise great emotions, but Totila had not foreseen a fact that astounded him: when the bear came in front of the bishop he was almost petrified in the act of aggression, with his front legs raised and his jaws wide open. Then, slowly, he fell back on his claws, closed his mouth and began to lick the saint’s feet with unexpected meekness. Totila released Cerbone, but after the Goths of Totila the Lombards came to drive out the bishop of Populonia, who then took refuge in the island of Elba .
How to reach the Grotto of San Cerbone
The cave is located 300m from the hermitage which is 2km from Poggio , the first 500m can be done by car, then around the height of the Napoleon Fountain you have to continue on foot for another 1500 m, the road is comfortable, but uphill, the difference in height is about 200 m. It is located on the path n. 101 between Poggio and Marciana , at an altitude of 530 meters above sea level on a small plateau on the slopes of Mount Huts.