Eremo di S. Colombano

Useful Information

Location: Località S. Colombano, 38068 Trambileno TN.
Trambileno, near Rovereto.
(45.878471, 11.061628)
Open: Mid-APR to SEP Wed-Sun, Hol 10-18.
Additional open days 24-DEC, 2nd Sun after Easter (St. Colombano day).
Fee: free, donations welcome.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church SpeleologyErosional Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Comune di Trambileno (a.c.) (2010): L'eremo di San Colombano, La Grafica, Mori 2010, ISBN 978-88-86757-85-0. Italiano - Italian
Address: Comitato Amici di San Colombano, 38060 Trambileno (TN), Tel: +39-0464-424615, Tel: +39-0464-433051. E-mail:
ApT Rovereto e Vallagarina, Piazza Rosmini, 16, 38068 Rovereto, Tel: +39-0464-430363, Fax: +39-0464-435528. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


753 cave used by a hermit.
11th century cave church constructed.
1319 first written mention of the hermitage.
1782 practice of hermitage was abolished due to Josephinism.
1996 church renovated.


Eremo di S. Colombano, Italy. Public Domain.
Eremo di S. Colombano, Italy. Public Domain.

The Eremo di S. Colombano (Hermitage of Saint Columban) is dedicated to the Irish Saint Columban, who lived between 543 and 615. According to legend he came to this cave where a dragon lived. This dragon caused the death of children, but he was picky and killed only those baptized in the waters of the Leno stream below. After killing the dragon he took over the cave and lived there as a hermit for some time. Frescoes in the church are depicting the fight between Saint Columban and the dragon.

The hermitage is located in the gorge formed by the Leno di Vallarsa torrent. The road is on the opposite site of the gorge, a narrow road goes down to the hydroelectric power station San Colombano. From here a trail with a long stone staircase with 102 steps cut into the rock leads to the hermitage. The rock face shows an almost horizontal layering, with a slight dip to the right. Some softer layers in the middle, which are less resistant against weathering, form a series of natural caves. Those caves are the result of the erosion by the river Leno di Vallarsa, when it was flowing at that heigt, before it cut deeper.

The place was first inhabited by a hermit around 753, there is an inscription with this year on the wall next to the bell tower. He probably came from the Monastery of Bobbio, but there is little known about him. Actually it is unknown if he came from Bobbio, which was founded by San Colombano, or from the nearby monastery of San Colombano of the priory of Bardolino. Both would explain why the hermitage was dedicated to the Irish saint. Bobbio was not only founded by Saint Columban, it was also the largest abbey he founded. He lived here to the end of his life and died on 23-NOV-615 at the age of 72. Monks from both monasteries came to the cave to live as hermits for centuries. It seems the rule prescribed the complete isolation of the monk in meditation in almost inaccessible natural places during Lent, and so they used the hermitage once a year for this purpose. At this time it was named Grotta degli Eremiti (Cave of the Hermits) or Grotta dell'eremita. Around the late 10th and the early 11th century a small church was built into the cave. The completed hermitage was first mentioned in 1319 as Hermit's Cave. The hermitage was abandoned in 1782 because of the abolition of the eremite practice due to Josephinism. The buildings were then maintained by the locals.

The church was renovated in 1996 by the Province of Trento. It is maintained by the non-profit Comitato Amici di San Colombano (Committee of Friends of Saint Columban). Main sight of the church is a 15th century Madonna with Saints, a fresco behind the altar. Beneath the frescoes of the fight between San Colombano and a dragon in te cave, there is a huge fresco of the Saint on the front wall of the church. An evocative torch-lit procession is held every year at Christmas, after which a mass is celebrated in the church.