After three years he was in Rome: he found Saint Peter's and other churches utterly deserted, since the Pope's seat was at that time in Avignon. He went north through Rimini, Novara and Piacenza. In Piacenza he became infected with the disease. The plague sign appeared on one leg and, not to burden anybody, he left the town and approached the bank of the Po river, to die there in solitude. Tradition is he took refuge in a hut, where he would have starved, if a stray dog had not brought him a loaf of bread every day and if a miraculous fountain had not sprung out to satisfy his thirst.
From this refuge a rich lord, Gottardo Pallastrelli, took him to his mansion until he recovered completely. After that he left Piacenza and headed north, but in the proximity of Lago Maggiore, at Angera, he was mistaken for aspy and imprisoned for five years, until he died in 1327. Another version says that Rocco went back to his native Montpellier and died there
In statues and paintings he is represented as a strong young man, with long beard and a traveller's apparel, a walking stick and a zucca for the water, and almost always accompanied by a dog who offers him some bread. In the statues San Rocco is always shown as he uncovers the wound on the left thigh, in memory of his disease. This image passed through 600 years in the worship, the wound came nearer to the knee, and changed slightly its meaning from the protection against pestilence to a protection of the knees and junctions.