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The Sanctuary of Madonna di San Luca

After our climb up to the top of Asinelli Tower, we enquired at the tourist office the mysterious lone building on a hill top just outside of the city. We were told that it is the Sanctuary of Madonna di San Luca, located approximately 5km to the south-west of the city and easy to get to. There are ways to help cut the journey shorter but we opted to walk the route in entirety.

Madonna di San Luca

Madonna di San Luca

We started the walk up from at Porta Saragozza, conveniently located about 10 minutes walk away from our B&B. This is one of the several original remaining city gates from the 13th century, largely ignored until the Portico di San Luca was built in the 17th century. It lends itself to be the connecting gate from the city to San Luca and used in annual procession of a Byzantine icon of the Virgin and Child.

For about 4km in length, a series of porticoes with 666 column-supported arches – they are numbered so I didn’t count them – links Bologna to San Luca. This is touted to be the longest arcade in the world, and its pilgrimage value can still be seen today. Faded wall paintings show traces of religious mural paintings, and some bore them with coat of arms to ensure the soul of the contributing family is well looked-after.

Madonna di San Luca

Madonna di San Luca

Madonna di San Luca

Madonna di San Luca

Madonna di San Luca

Part of the aisle beneath the columns, as well as niches, are today used as small shops, restaurants and cafés. These are largely found along the first 306 arches between Porta Saragozza and the Arco del Meloncello. The elegant Arco del Meloncello itself is an interesting feature, appearing like a simple arch on one side, but actually curved when viewed from the other side. This baroque work was created by Carlo Francesco Dotti.

The next stretch of 360 arches between Arco del Meloncello and colle della Guardia is more solemn, interspersed with 15 gated chapels that illustrate the mystery of the rosary. Most arches on this uphill stretch had previously underwent restoration works, the acknowledgement plaques indicating most of the donations in commemoration of someone in the family. (It’s time for another new round of renovation fund too!)

Madonna di San Luca

Madonna di San Luca

Madonna di San Luca

Madonna di San Luca

Madonna di San Luca

We eventually arrived at the Sanctuary, of which the church that stands today was also built by Carlo Francesco Dotti (of the Arco de Meloncello fame). Its two tribunes, however, was the work of Carlo’s son, Giovanni Giacomo, who cleverly drawn inspiration of curves and large free columns of his father. The church within was oval in shape, with tall dome, and prohibition from photograph. Ok, so I sneaked one in… Those wishing to see the relic could move quite close to it.

Outside, the sky had cleared up since we made our way up the hill, and we were treated to a gorgeous view of Bologna and its environs. To one side, we see rolling hills that stretch into the yonder, and to the other, the well developed city of Bologna. What a perfect setting, and timing, for us to pull out our packed lunch and had an impromptu picnic. When we were done, we leisurely trotted downhill back towards the city.

Madonna di San Luca

Madonna di San Luca

Madonna di San Luca

Madonna di San Luca

Madonna di San Luca

We spotted an abandoned villa not far from the Arco del Meloncello and decided to have a peek at what could have been a glorious small museum with sculpted lions gracing its front stairs. Villa delle Rose is apparently used only for as an outpost of temporary exhibitions for the Modern Art Gallery, and clearly we came at the wrong time thus finding it in a sad, neglected state. The garden behind the villa was understandably underused, despite its pretty setting.

There is a Museum of Tapestry in the adjacent propoerty, on Villa Spada, but we didn’t check it out because tapestry is really not a subject that we’re passionate about. Instead, we continued our slow walk back in town, and you could imagine our delight to find a branch of La Sorbetteria at Saragozza. Of course we need to buy a cone, as reward of climbing thousands of stairs in a day ;)

All posts in this series:
Italy: Postcards: Centro Storico di Roma | Flickr Photoset
Italy: Postcards: 2-hours in Florence | Flickr Photoset
Italy: The walled city of Lucca | Flickr Photoset
Italy: Dining in Lu.C.C.A – L’Imbuto
Italy: Sunsets of Cinque Terre
Italy: The villages of Cinque Terre | Flickr Photoset
Italy: Postcards: Lost in Parma
Italy: Bologna: the city of a gazillion porticoes | Flickr Photoset
Italy: The Sanctuary of Madonna di San Luca
Italy: Verona: a lot more than a Shakespearean drama | Flickr Photoset
Italy: Postcards: In search of Padua
Italy: A very picturesque Bassano del Grappa | Flickr Photoset



Category: Europe, Italy, Travel

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2 scribbles & notes

  1. med says:

    Nice!!! and perfect to end it with ice cream eh kekeke ;)

Scribble a note to med × Cancel reply


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